Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Pheasants and Red Wine

Pheasant is one game bird that most people will recognise - The Greeks knew the bird in the 10th Century BC and we have adopted their name for the species: Phasianus ornis (phasian bird), derived from the Phasis River (now Rion) near the Caucasus Mountains. The Chinese knew the pheasant some 3,000 years ago, but the Romans are considered responsible for the spread of pheasants in western Europe. When Julius Caesar invaded England in the 1st century BC, the pheasant followed. By the early 19th century they had become the most important game bird in the UK and in December 1913 King George V shot over a thousand pheasants out of a total bag of 3937 over a six day period, a total which still stands as the British record bag.

Pheasant With Pancetta - Slow Cooked

4 pheasant breasts
small bunch of sage
3 ½ oz sliced smoked pancetta
1 oz butter
8 shallots, halved
2 tbsp plain flour
¼ pint dry cider
¼ pint chicken stock
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 apple, cored and sliced
can of whole peeled chestnuts, drained
salt and pepper

Set the Slow Cooker to Low. Season the pheasant breasts with salt and pepper. Top each breast with a few sage leaves and then wrap in pancetta until covered. You can tie them with string to keep the pancetta in place if necessary. Heat the butter in a frying pan and fry the shallots until browned. Stir in the flour and then add the cider, stock and mustard. Add the apple and chestnuts and bring to the boil. Arrange the pheasant breasts in the Slow Cooker and pour the hot cider mixture over the top. Cover with the lid and cook on Low for 2 ½ – 3 hours until the birds are tender.

Clarets are super with pheasant and Château Clinet is a small estate which has dramatically risen in popularity over the past decade, receiving the highest possible scores from wine critics. The château is located at the highest point of the Pomerol Plateau on the famous Günz gravel terrace. The wines of Château Clinet are a radiant dark crimson and are aromatic. The bouquet is of sweet ripe blackcurrants and raspberries, truffles and smokey toast and wood. They are silky smooth and are often compared with those of Château Petrus and Le Pin.

Château Montrose is located in the east of St Estèphe (the northern most of the great Médoc communes), just north of the hamlet of Marbuzet, on a gravel knoll only 800 metres from the Gironde estuary. As far as the great wines of Bordeaux go Château Montrose is somewhat of a youngster having been founded in 1815. However this beautiful vineyard has produced one of Bordeaux's most consistent and respected wines for over 150 years. It is considered to be one of the top St Estèphe's and is known as the “Latour of St Estèphe”.

The wines age incredibly well and are some of the longest lived in the Médoc. Château Montrose wines are traditionally deeply coloured, austere and powerful when young, but when mature are quintessential St Estèphe clarets. They are highly prized for their prune and cherry fruit flavours and classic, well structured style.

Château Cos d'Estournel sits on a ridge immediately North of the Pauillac border and Château Lafite, separated by the stream known as La Jalle du Breuil (The Breuil Brook). Cos d 'Estournel is acknowledged to be the most outstanding cru of St Estephe.Cos's first harvests were sold in India where these wines graced the sumptuous tables of Maharajahs and Nabobs. Louis became known as “the Maharajah of Saint-Estèphe” as a symbol of his pioneering exports of his wines to the Far East and the château and vineyards were bedecked with exotic pagodas. The wines of Château Cos d'Estournel are a deep purple colour with notes of blackcurrant, blueberry, green peppers, spice, earth, cedar, and minerals. They are wines with great depth and power, are full bodied, tannic and complex. They are long lived and pure in style.

If you are dining in style then Château Haut Brion would be a fantastic choice. It is the oldest and by far the smallest of the First Growth's vineyards and one of the few remaining family-owned domains of the Bordeaux region. Since the 1950s the bottles of Haut Brion have resembled the shape traditionally used for Burgundy wines rather than the usual Bordeaux shape. The wines of Haut Brion are complex, powerful and very well balanced indeed. They have a bouquet of ripe cherries, earth and coffee and age well so should be properly cellared. The wines have notes of blackcurrants, smoke, toffee, plum jam, tobacco and have both a long aroma and finish.

If you are looking for a wine that offers good quality as well as a good price then Chateau Pessan (£12.72) is one I can highly recommend. Château Pessan hails from Graves – which is often considered to be the birthplace of claret. The château is owned by the Comtes de Bournazel who have 400 years of wine making experience. It is a deliciously velvety wine, deep and dense, perfectly balanced with hints of black fruits, spice, coffee, smoke, eucalyptus, pepper and oak. The wine is a superb buy and is starting to attract attention on the world market.

Alternatively Chateau Puyanche is another good choice at £5.36. Produced in the historic Côtes de Castillon which is now the most fashionable of all the Bordeaux satellites, located east of Saint Emilion and made by a family owned property since the turn of the century. It is a fabulous source of some tremendous value wines with some of Bordeaux's most talented wine producers setting up shop in the area.

Dark garnet in colour with the aromas of blackberry and plum compotés, leather and spices. Puyanché is a supple and complex wine, well balanced and silky. As an aromatic wine it will go well with many meats including Duck, Chicken, Pork and Lamb as well as Italian tomato and pesto pastas, roasted aubergines and moussaka.

No comments: