Aged Burgundy with Chicken Dracula
If you wander around the shop here at The Wine Connection, be sure to wander over to the four glass-doors of the temperature controlled Aged Rarities section, home to Classified Growth Bordeaux, collectable Cabernets etc. Many wine lovers make a beeline straight to these doors to find their vinous heart’s desire. They know what they like, more power to them! But if you are one of those march-to-the-beat-of-a-different -drummer types (you know who you are) turn around and look at the shelf bins that face those doors. This is currently home to one of the sections that I find most intriguing, the Aged Burgundy selection!
If you are a true Burghound or a new to the game Burghound in training, your pulse may already be rising in your veins. Well-aged red Burgundies from well-known growers and negociants, at these prices simply don’t come strolling down the pike on a daily basis! It seems that the gang at the Wine Connection have been seriously beating the bushes among various collectors’ cellars to get the good stuff!
As I stood in this section a few days ago searching for a special wine to serve on Halloween, I recalled Oscar Wilde’s words “I can resist anything except temptation.” Thus fortified by this famous quip, I picked up a particularly interesting bottle and found that I could not easily put it back down! A brief consultation with the resident Burgundy expert, Sean Fisher, confirmed some of my impressions about the wine.
It was the 2005 Frederic Magnien Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Blanchards. Frederic Magnien is a very well thought of negociant, located in the small town of Morey Saint Denis in Burgundy’s famous Cote de Nuits region. Negociants generally tend not to own their own vineyards but to contract with smaller growers and bottle and distribute their wines. Magnien notably seeks out outstanding parcels and is actively involved in both the vineyard and in the actual vilification of the wines.
Morey Saint Denis sits between the better-known Gevrey Chambertin and Chambolle Musigny appellations and in the old days much of its’ wine was sold as “Gevrey Chambetin”, a name with market “pizazz”. As a result the name Morey has tended to rest in the shadows, even though Morey is home to no fewer than five Grand Crus, including Bonnes-Mares and Clos du Tart and boasts 25 First Growths!
A quick consult with just about anybody’s vintage chart will reveal that 2005 was a top year for the wines of the Cote de Nuits, including a 98 point rating from Robert Parker and an indication that the wines of this vintage are particularly long-lived.
When Sean said “I’ve been looking at that one myself. Let me know what you think, we still have a few more bottles.” I knew I had found my wine!
The Halloween feast at Castle Clark is a long-standing tradition, featuring as it does the annual preparation and serving of the venerated Paprika Hendel dish served to protagonist Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. He enjoys the meal and asks for the recipe as he journeys to meet the sanguine Count Dracula in his castle in Transylvania. The recipe provided by Leonard Wolf’s Annotated Dracula is a classic paprika chicken with sour cream, but the dish has evolved over the years to include the addition of olive tapenade and a generous scattering of crumbly chevre cheese over the top. This dish has come to be known as “Chicken Dracula” by family members and friends who have eaten it.
Our 2005 Morey Saint Denis proved to be an excellent choice for the meal. While not particularly spicy, the dish was full-flavored and really called for a wine with some weight and structure. Coming from the Cote de Nuits, the Morey had both, showing lovey red and black fruit flavors with a mouth-filling body and lovely structural tannins that became silky with the sour cream and chevre cheese. A bit like it’s neighbor, Chambolle Musigny, it also showed an elegant, lifting acidity that brought brightness and life to the flavors of both the wine and the food.
“It’s a very old wine,” says Bela Lugosi on our television as we dine, “I hope that you will like it.” The longer the wine was open, the more it showed the beautiful bottle development that years of careful cellaring by the original owner had imparted. What began as a suggestion of caramel amid the plumy fruit developed into something suggesting a rather luscious barbecue sauce and finally into a distinct blood-like character (!!!) sometimes found in older traditional European reds. “The blood is the life, Mr. Renfield” Bela intoned as we toasted our good fortune in having found such a satisfying bottle.