Louis Latour Pinot Noir Bourgogne 2005
I bought two bottles of this $10 wine to use as a marinade and a sauce base in the Boeuf
á la Bourguignonne I prepared for the lady in my life on her birthday. The wines
(including a Pommard Premier Cru to drink with the meal) were
the first purchase; you've already read that you shouldn't cook with a wine you wouldn't
drink and I am going to second that sentiment. All good cooking wine of course should serve
to lubricate the cook as well as the food, especially when the cooking process is elaborate.
That extra bottle comes in handy, and gives extra cooking liquid if you ever miscalculate.
This Appellation Bourgogne Contrôlée Pinot Noir is dry, with light to medium acidity and mild tannins, cherry on the nose and added strawberry and black pepper on the palate; no surprises. The appellation allows the producer to source the grapes anywhere in Burgundy. The wine is good, but lacks a “place” association; it's more like a New World wine in that respect. It doesn't have a very complicated finish and leaves a little bitterness at the end.
The wine was nevertheless up to the task of adding the Bourguignonne to the Boeuf. You might as well know that I believe in what I call “Maximum Fuss Cooking,” (otherwise why bother.) I marinate the cubed beef with aromatics (carrots, celery, onions and shallots), thyme, bay leaf, black peppercorns and one of my secret ingredients covered in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Next I pick out the beef, dry the cubes carefully, and sear them in hot butter in my heavy cast-iron enameled pot.
I then pick out the vegetables and sautée them in the pot (this time in olive oil) until they caramelize. I throw in a few tablespoons of all-purpose flour to make a roux, stirring it to coat the vegetables. The meat and the remaining wine marinade goes back in with the vegetables, then the whole lot goes into the oven for several hours.
Don't think the wine is through just because the meat is tender. Out of the oven, I strain off and reserve the vinous liquid. I pick out and reserve the meat, discarding the remnants of vegetables, spices and herbs that remain in the strainer. The liquid goes back into the pot, this time on top of the stove, where I reduce it. As a final step, I add mushrooms (separately sautéed), and the beef, to meld as I see fit. Some people like to put in pearl onions at this point, but I think they distract.
I like to let the stew sit for a while (in fact it can be made days ahead and improves with the
wait) which gives me time to taste the dinner wine, which I have of course previously
decanted. Oh, the process!
Verdict: Allied In The Effort
Cooking with wine is one of the ultimate acts of faith; it's asking an awful lot of the wine.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman