Happy Christmas everyone! It was on December 24, 1999 that I first met my husband. Every year we celebrate our anniversary by going to a great restaurant. For some years now we’ve been going to the Librije. But due to another lockdown, our dinner at Librije was first turned into lunch and then cancelled altogether. I contemplated going to Italy, but Kees suggested we stay at home and spend the budget for dinner at Librije on wine instead. Ten minutes later I had ordered these two bottles 🙂
The wines we usually drink are in the 10-30 euros price range, with some exceptions up to 80 euros. That is the ‘sweet spot’ as far as I’m concerned, because wine prices above 30 euros are mostly due to scarcity and not because it costs more to produce the wine. But some wines are scarce for a reason, and so it is interesting to taste more expensive wines once in a while.
The first wine I picked was a Marc Colin Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2010. This is a single vineyard wine of 100% Chardonnay from the Bâtard-Montrachet vineyard in Chassagne-Montrachet, Côte de Beaune, Burgundy, France. Bâtard is on the border between Chassagne and Puligny, but Colin has his vines in the Chassagne part only, which were planted in 1982. The wine is aged for 18 months in oak barrels. I picked this wine, because it is the favorite of my teacher at the wine academy, Frank Jacobs. I love white Burgundy Grand Cru and had never tried a Bâtard before. Within the Montrachet area, Bâtard is known to have the most powerful wines because of the soil type of clay with chalk.
The second wine was a Gaja Costa Russi Barbaresco 2013. This is a single vineyard wine of 100% Nebbiolo from the Costa Russi vineyard, part of the MGA (menzione geografica aggiuntiva) Roncagliette within the commune of Barbaresco, close to the river. It is aged first for a year in small oak barrels, and then for another year in large oak barrels. Costa Russi is a steep vineyard with very old vines. I picked this wine, because Gaja is the most famous producer of Barbaresco. I love Barolo and Barbaresco, but had never tried a Gaja Barbaresco before.
To fully enjoy wines like these, it is important to prepare a dish that enhances the wine. It should not have elements that are difficult for wines, like spiciness, sourness, sweetness, or bitterness. And in terms of creaminess/freshness as well as body it should match the wine.
For the Bâtard-Montrachet I prepared a lobster risotto, following this recipe. I used frozen lobster claws and shells that I had saved after using only the tails for a summer BBQ.
The Marc Colin Bâtard 2010 is a very fat wine with razor sharp acidity to cut through the fat. Together, the wine is in perfect balance with great strength. The aromas were perfectly integrated oak, fruit, and minerality. When the bottle was first opened, the acidity took center stage, but as the wine opened up and together with the lobster risotto it became more balanced and complex. The risotto needed only a tiny bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice to be in harmony with the wine.
To accompany the Gaja Barbaresco I prepared roe deer venison, following this recipe. All Nebbiolo wines work well with red meat to soften the tannins. The roe deer fillet is extremely tender and more elegant than beef or regular venison.
The Gaja Costa Russi Barbaresco 2013 is an extremely elegant Barbaresco. It needed a few hours in the carafe for the typical aromas of roses and violets to come out. Compared to other Barbareschi and Baroli I have tried, this was so much more elegant, with such velvity tannins. The wine was perfectly balanced and very precise, almost polished. No rough edges. With the venison and the sauce the wine became more complex. The elegancy of this Barbaresco worked very well with the elegance of the roe deer.
Let’s hope that next year we can celebrate at Librije again, but this wasn’t bad either 🙂