Monday, 23 February 2009

Brie and Château Marquis de Perissac

It's rather fitting that the King of Cheeses should be paired with a claret bearing a the noble name of a Marquis! That's not why I chose the wine though – it's because Chateau Marquis de Perissac (£5.62) is such a lovely wine. It's made by a small, traditional co-operative of wine makers in Perissac itself. There is a little museum of wine making in the hamlet which records their centuries old techniques. Perissac is right at the heart of wine making country and has an ancient history. It was once an important stronghold that was destroyed in the 16th century and the countryside around the hamlet is famous for it's standing stones and dolmens. Coming from the famous Haut Medoc this wine is a very typical example of its region being a nice bright colour with a good fruity aroma. It has good soft tannins which gives a nice soft fruity release in the mouth with a hint of cherries and blackberries.

Haut Medoc wines have complex aromas of red and black berries, as well as liquorice, and, sometimes, menthol and spice. Aged in oak barrels, they offer an elegant and pleasant woody fragrance. As they age, they develop wonderful bouquets of leather, roasted coffee, prunes, cedar and truffles. Marquis de Perissac is of the 2004 vintage and is scrumptious with Brie.
Brie is known as the King of Cheeses thanks to a competition started by Talleyrand at the Congress of Vienna in 1814. An argument broke out amongst the statesmen regarding which country made the best and finest cheese – Brie won.

The Congress of Vienna may have brought Brie to the world's stage, but it was no newcomer. The Emperor Charlemagne is chronicled to have tasted Brie in the year 774. Charles, Duke of Orleans (father of Louis XII) ordered twenty dozen Brie cheeses as Christmas gifts for his ladies and facing the guillotine in the aftermath of the French Revolution, Louis XVI is reputed to have expressed his final wish for one last taste of Brie before his execution.

Bacon and Brie Soup

½ large onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
75g rindless Brie, cubed
100g/ back bacon rashers, chopped
25g butter
150ml milk
2 tbsp single cream
450ml chicken stock
25g plain flour
1 tbsp oil
salt & pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan add the onion and celery and fry gently for 5 minutes until softened. Add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the stock and bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Fry the bacon in the oil in another pan. Remove any fat from the bacon and cut it into small pieces. After the 30 minutes cooking time, add the milk and cream to the vegetables and stir well. Add the cheese and stir until melted then add the bacon . Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

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