Terroir by the glass

By Mike Peters ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-09-17 09:08:53

Marrying food and wine

By bringing Menard, who once ran the three-star Michelin restaurant L'Osier in Tokyo, to Chile to absorb the basis and the blending of the wines, the chef was able to develop a French menu with Asian elements to take on tour. While the menu has been the same from Tokyo to Seoul to Taipei to Beijing to Chengdu, the chef has looked to local farms to assemble his ingredients - always a challenge in new venues.

Menard, who joined the Lifetime channel's MasterChef Asia show as one of three judges in 2015, finds that kind of challenge very stimulating.

"A traditional wine dinner starts with a sparking wine, then maybe goes to a sauvignon blanc, then a more full-bodied white like a chardonnay, before finally getting to the reds," he says. "This dinner is all about cabernet sauvignon - it's very different to be drinking red wines from start to finish."

The opening vintage was the youngest of the night, the 2013. It's the most recent arrival on the market, 91 percent cabernet sauvignon and 9 percent cabernet franc. "That was the coolest year in the history of Don Melchor," says Tirado, and the wine is smooth with a lot of red fruit and a long finish." For that, Menard created a geranium-essence scented beetroot tartare with cacao vinegar and seasonal herbs.

Next came the oldest wine on the table, Don Melchor 1988. Menard married that richness with a combination of smoked eel and pan-fried foie gras, served on a French black-truffle flavored risotto made with buckwheat and a bit of perilla.

The third course was built around the 2005 vintage, a warm year that produced a softer wine and the first year the winemakers included cabernet franc in the cabernet sauvignon blend (3 percent). "The first aroma is sweet," says Tirado, "and then comes freshness, energy, and a long finish with refined tannins." Menard responded with duck, roasted at 39 C for one hour with a white miso and orange-marmalade glaze.

The final wine, from 2010, was ranked No 9 on Wine Spectator's Top 100 list that year. Also with 3 percent cabernet franc, it is a wine of many layers, and it was served with Menard's similarly layered made-for-the-occasion dessert: griotte and cabernet sauvignon "granite", griotte confit, chocolate biscuit with licorice and five-spice Chantilly.

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