Thursday, 27 August 2009

Black Grouse and Chateau La Fleur Morange

The Black Grouse or Blackgame (Tetrao tetrix) is a large bird in the grouse family. It is a sedentary species, breeding across northern Eurasia in moorland and bog areas near to woodland. The tails of black cocks have, since late Victorian times, been popular adornments for hats worn with Highland Dress. Most commonly associated with Glengarry and Balmoral or Tam O'Shanter caps, they still continue to be worn by pipers of civilian and military pipe-bands. Since 1904, all ranks of the Royal Scots and King's Own Scottish Borderers have worn them in their full-dress headgear and that tradition is carried on in the dress glengarries of the current Scottish-super regiment, The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Warm Salad of Heather Honey Glazed Grouse with Black Pudding and Bacon

2 grouse
50g butter
Mix of delicate salad leaves such as rocket, mizuna, chard
200g black pudding
200g streaky bacon
1 tbsp heather honey
2 tbsp reduced balsamic vinegar
100 mls mustard vinaigrette

Start by removing the breasts from the grouse. Pan fry them in the butter on a medium to high heat until golden brown on both sides (about 1 minute each side) then add a tablespoon of vinegar and a tablespoon of honey, Turn down the heat in the pan and toss the breasts in the mixture until it has evaporated and the breasts are sticky and glazed. This will take one or two minutes more.

Meanwhile cook the finely chopped bacon until crispy, and do the same with the chopped black pudding. Remove the grouse breasts from the pan and rest for 3 minutes or so to relax. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette, then place a ball of it in the middle of the plate. Sprinkle the black putting and bacon rubble around the salad and slice the grouse lengthwise into 6 slices. Lay these on top of the salad. Dress over the plate with more balsamic and vinaigrette and serve.

Chateau La Fleur Morange would be a beautiful choice to accompany this meal. It is a Saint Emilion Grand Cru which hails from a boutique winery in Saint-Pey-D'Armens. It is made by Véronique and Jean-François Julien and renowned consultant oenologist Claude Gros. La Fleur Morange is receiving high acclaim from wine critics the world over, including Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker. The vineyard is a 4 acre plot of unique soil with the added rarity of having 100 year old vines. The soil is sand and clay layers over limestone and clinker sub soil – the only complex mixture known to exist in Saint Emilion.

The vineyard's grapes are 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Merlot and Cabernet Franc vines are 100 years old and the Cabernet Sauvignon vines are 75 years old. The wines of Château la Fleur Morange are full bodied and fruit driven, impressively structured and sophisticated. They are a deep dark crimson purple with notes of raspberries, liquorice, blackcurrants, smoke and earth. They age well and should be cellared to allow the wine to develop further in the bottle. The wine is well constructed, smooth and oozes that quality which you associate with fine Bordeaux wines.

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