Tuesday, August 28, 2012

MRE Menu 7: Beef Brisket

At the sight of brisket, perhaps your first inclination is to uncork a malbec from Argentina.  Hold that thought, and instead go back to the Old World and the traditional home of malbec in the southwest of France, in Cahors, where it is known as auxerrois.  Don’t be fooled by the black color—these wines still have freshness and just a bit of palate-cleansing acidity to balance the black currant and truffle flavors.

Since I suggested such an inky black wine for a red pairing, I won’t go quite all the way to a white wine for contrast with the food.  Instead I’ll stop short at a rosé, but not just any rosé.  Imagine, in the southern part of the Champagne region, chalky hills that resemble those leading to remarkable expressions of chardonnay just a little farther north in the Côte des Blancs, but with pinot noir planted on these slopes instead.  This is not a sparkler as you might expect from the Aube.  These still wines are considered to be some of the most age-worthy examples of rosé, and perfect for this MRE that may have been sitting on the shelf just as long.

Complementary Pairing:  Cahors, Sud-Ouest, France
Try:  Château du Cèdre Cahors Le Cèdre
[www.chateauducedre.com]  You might think the hints of smoke are coming from your brisket, but after realizing it is devoid of flavor and aroma, you appreciate that the smoky notes are coming from this wine, followed by dark cherries and blueberries with a bit of cocoa sprinkled on top.  These flavors and the dark color come from malbec macerated for over a month with an assertive daily punching down of the cap, followed by up to 24 months of aging in mostly new wood.

Contrasting Pairing:  Rosé des Riceys, Champagne, France
Try:  Olivier Horiot Rosé des Riceys ‘En Valingrain’
[www.horiot.fr]  The darker color compared to a typical rosé from other regions comes from 5 to 7 days of maceration instead of the usual less than 24 hours.  The mineral undertones come from those steep chalk slopes.  The sense of satisfaction you’ll feel comes from knowing that you’re drinking one of the world’s great rosé wines with your brisket MRE while your friends are drinking pink-tinged plonk.

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