International cuisine in Bordeaux?
I have just arrived in Bordeaux for the annual tasting of the primeurs – a very, very, early assessment of the 2010 vintage where some 19,000 wine professionals descend upon Bordeaux for this annual shindig.
What does it prove? Not a lot. But it does give an early indication of what the vintage is likely to be like and who are the potential stars. This in turn, may determine the opening prices of the wines depending on how good a rating they achieved at this event – but things can change over the years, so you could be left with either the bargain of the year or a pig in a poke. Still, it’s a great game to play. By earlier assessments, 2010 is going to produce some great wines, but I have yet to be convinced from my limited exposure to the vintage (see my blog of March 18 at http://www.winebehindthelabel.com/blog.html) that the wines will be consistently and universally as good as those from the 2009 vintage. We shall see. It’s going to be a busy week starting later today with a visit to Stéphane Derenoncourt’s La Grappe tasting of primeurs from around the world – I’ll be reporting on this next.
Last year I concentrated on the lesser crus and the drinking value you could get out of them with several picks of great drinking wines you could have for under £20 as and when the prices came out. This year it will be the turn of the Grand Crus – first with my impressions of quality and then over the next three months or so, an assessment of the price/quality ratio on various wines that I will have tasted this week with hopefully, the best picks to meet that criteria.
But – as a kick off, here’s an interesting little tale about where we dined last night. Bordeaux is going to play host to wine professional from around the world this week and where we ate last night was an interesting take on how international Bordeaux is going to be. Thank goodness it’s a far cry from the dreadful grub you get at the airport (see the Malessere section of the site at.
We dined at Restaurant Dubern in the heart of Bordeaux. This restaurant is purported to be the oldest still functioning restaurant/brasserie in Bordeaux, founded in 1869 by the Dubern brothers. It enjoyed a fine reputation specialising in fish throughout most of the 20th century, but it had of late, gone downhill until it was recently taken over by a M. Dupuy. Still sticking to a fairly traditional restaurant/brasserie formula, but with a few modern twists, the quality was upped by limiting the choices in to different menu formulae with a short á la carte. We chose from the menu découverte at €25 with three choices of starter, main course and dessert. Starting with an amuse-bouche of some “caviar” of aubergine, you had a choice of terrine of foie gras and chutney, 6 nice oysters, or a seafood tartare with an oyster cream sauce. Main course choices were a filet of bass with a seafood sauce – potatoes and leeks, cut very small – sea bream with a Sauternes butter and a risotto of vegetables, or sliced duck breast with mushrooms. Dessert choices were either the cheese platter, crème brulëe à la mandarine, or a soft chocolate gateau with vanilla ice cream. My daughter, Simonette, had the foie gras to start whilst her partner and I had the oysters. To accompany the foie gras, we chose a Pacherenc de Vic Bilh 2009 Moelleux from Domasine Labrouche-Laffont and left the rest for the desserts, whilst a bottle of Clos Floridène Graves 2006 to accompany the oyster and the fish we all had afterwards. The Pacherenc was a good match for the well-prepared foie gras – not too sweet with good acidity and nuances of toffee apple on the palate – it also did a good job with the desserts. The Clos Floridène was a fine wine in itself but just a bit too oaky we felt, especially for the oysters, but also for the delicately cooked sea bass, really cooked à point and succulent.
Service was a little hesitant at times, especially from the student Chinese lady sommelier (I think a number of students were employed), but she did well and grew in confidence as the evening wore on. The international-ness of the brigade was emphasised when then restaurant manager told us that there were three Scottish chefs in the kitchen! We spoke to head chef Daniel Gallacher, originally from Glasgow, but had been working in France for several years, to congratulate him on the no-nonsense, tasty cuisine.
Apart from the menus, à la carte items included hot and cold starters such as a carpaccio of beef with a tartare of vegetables in a pesto sauce – sautéed foie gras and mains such as scallops and monkfish on the fish side and beef, lamb and veal on the meat side. All in all, the menu is fairly short and manageable. With lunch formulas starting at €8.90 and menus going up to the “Saveurs” at €50, this is a very useful place to know in the centre of Bordeaux.
The wine list is fairly short and whilst it mainly consists of Bordeaux wines, there were a goodly number of wines from other French regions and even a half dozen or so of what my French head waiter (when I had a restaurant) used to call “foreign wines”!
42-44 allées de Tourny
Tel: 0033 (0)5 56 79 07 70
Open lunch and dinner 7 days a week