Quick Weeknight Meal: Cod Packets with Graves – #Winophiles
Graves on a Weeknight
I usually prepare in advance for our #Winophiles group. Study the region, find a recipe, purchase the wines, prepare the meal on Sunday, work on the post during the week, post on Saturday morning, then chat. I was all set this week with Jura wines, right on track. Wednesday I realized that our Jura visit is in October; OOPS. And I had an event on Wednesday evening. Time to sprint!
I had a Graves wine in the wine frig, more luck than prepared. We also had some fish and shrimp in the freezer, and the makings for a grill packet. Let’s see if we can pull it off!
Graves is in Bordeaux
On the Bordeaux map above, you can see that Graves is in the region marked “Southwest” in the lower left corner. Graves is actually the general name of the whole region marked Southwest with smaller named areas inside, including Graves proper. While there are some premier red wines made from the region, it’s best known for its white wines and sweet dessert wines.
The white wines are made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. They are crisp and acidic and may taste similar to Sauvignon Blanc or not, depending on how much Semillon is in the blend.
Château Graville-Lacoste Graves AOC 2014 ($20 at France 44 or online)
Eye: Clear, pale lemon yellow color
Nose: Initially flinty and mineral, citrus and herbal notes emerge
Mouth: A touch more body than a typical Sauvignon Blanc, but balanced with strong fruit and tart high acidity.
Cod Packets Cooked on the Grill
In an attempt to introduce a French element in the dish, I cooked up some lentils, how often do Americans cook lentils; trick question. Never. I love the flavor and texture of lentils, but they are just about the most boring food in photos, so I added some finely diced carrots for color. Even with few spices, the combination of the shrimp, olives and garlic led to some big flavors, nicely balanced by the quieter lentils. The wine was just right, it had just enough body to go toe-to-toe with the flavors and the acidity to cleanse the palate, especially from the garlic!
Sweet Wines of Graves
Sauternes is the best known area for the sweet wines of the region, but it isn’t the only one. This particular area on the banks of the Garonne has perfect conditions for botrytis, or “noble rot” to form on the grapes in the fall. The weather needs to be just so: foggy evenings & mornings, sunny days and no fall rains until after harvest. The rot doesn’t form in every vineyard every year, but the grapes have plenty of time to hang and increase their sugars. Many Sauternes are incredibly expensive, coming from vineyards which are reliably afflicted by noble rot virtually every year. However, some lesser vineyards produce very pretty, enjoyable dessert wines that may be affected by varying degrees from year to year. So, if you see an inexpensive one, don’t hesitate to give it a try! For example, our Petit Guiraud is a second wine from a 1er Grand Cru Classe Sauternes winemaker.
Petit Guiraud Sauternes AOC 2013 ($13 locally or online)
Eye: Clear, medium lemon yellow
Nose: Clean, rich honey, lemons, oranges, something sweet and unctuous. Fun to just smell!
Mouth: Rich, creamy mouthfeel, ripe citrus fruit, bright acidity with a clean, long finish. Lovely with dessert or just by itself.
Your first thought for Sauternes would be for dessert and you’d be right. I like to pair it with fruit and cream types of desserts. Interestingly, a bit of care is required, as the wine needs to be sweeter than the food or else it will take on a thin, astringent character in comparison. The grilled peaches and ice cream were a nice pairing, although I might stick with just whipped cream as the ice cream was borderline too sweet.
A fascinating alternative is the other classic Sauternes pairing: foie gras. Served as an apertif or 1st course, the contrast of the sweet with the decadently rich foie gras is delicious. P.S. You can even use a rich, smooth paté to similar effect.
French Winophiles Tackle Graves
Illustrating the best in food, wine and travel from these spots are the following writers and bloggers:
Join us Saturday, September 17th at 10:00 am central for a live twitter chat using #Winophiles and share your favorite food, wine and travel experiences featuring Graves and Entre-Deux-Mers.
Join us for our upcoming tours:
October 15th – Jura
November 19th – Cahors and Beaujolais
This is a quick but flavorful weeknight meal with ingredients which are easy to keep on hand in the freezer and pantry. Served on a bed of green lentils with finely diced carrots and a side of grill-wilted swiss chard. Ingredients Instructions
This is a quick but flavorful weeknight meal with ingredients which are easy to keep on hand in the freezer and pantry. Served on a bed of green lentils with finely diced carrots and a side of grill-wilted swiss chard.