Sauternes with Lunch

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By Guest Blogger, Mira Advani Honeycutt

Campanille's pan sauteed scallops with Chateau Coutet wines
Campanille's pan sauteed scallops with Chateau Coutet wines (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Say the word Sauternes and you think of apres-dinner dessert wine. But this was not the case at a recent lunch I had with Aline Baly proprietor of Château Coutet, Bordeaux’s Premier Cru Classé. We had the honeyed-amber tinted Sauternes with the meal and not after the meal.

With a meal, it’s very verstaile, says Aline. “In France we drink it is an aperitif and with foie gras.” And, yes, it’s enjoyed after dinner too, she informs, not with dessert, but with cheeses such as parmigiano or blue cheese.

Aline arrived well before lunch at Campanille to plan out the menu. Her gastronomique concept is to pair the wine with salty and spicy foods to bring out the contrast, and taste the sweetness and freshness of the wine.

The floral taste of the 2004 contrasted deliciously with the parmesan in the Caesar salad. The sauteed scallop dish was a good match with the subtle mineral quality of the 1997. The 1989 vintage’s floral aroma had evolved into spicy notes that enhanced the touch of spice in the scallops.

Although Aline feels strongly about pairing Sauternes with lobster and foie gras, she also recommends serving it with roast chicken and turkey. “Its definitely a Thanksgiving dinner wine.”

Chateau Coutet located in the Barsac region traces its history back to 1643. In 1977, the Baly family purchased the property of which 95 acres are planted, producing 4,200 cases annually. The Coutet wine is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon with a touch of Muscadet.

For dessert we selected two cobblers – a whiskey pear and strawberry rhubarb. The pear didn’t work well, but the acidity of rhubarb worked heavenly with all three vintages.