Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chapelle St Arnoux Cotes du Ventoux `09 ****

WARNING:  Vegetarians and PeTA Members stop reading now! (read here for a certified vegan review)

Whew, now that it is just us carnivores, let me tell you about one of the best meals I have ever had.  It was an annual Sportsmens Club Game Dinner. Just in case any pesky PeTA members are still reading this (hey, thanks for boosting my stats!) I am redacting all identifying information on the club from this blog post.  Suffice it to say that it was an all American experience (well, there was ONE French guy ooohhhlala to quote other women from our table) that could have been a Norman Rockwell tableau -  if Norman's relatives had hunted, killed, dressed, butchered then cooked that famous Thanksgiving turkey!

It was a Saturday night banquet with a cash bar.  Hiding behind a forest of supermarket brand Cabernet at the corner of the bar were some discrete green bottles.  I wasn't hoping for great wine at this dinner, and I briefly lamented not bringing a bottle of Tiburizi to go with the Bear, Moose, Elk and Venison that was being served, but when the bartender showed me the AOC Cotes du Ventoux label, well, I thought to myself, SCORE! 

The wine was a mellow, delicious Rhone blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault, it was a great table wine - perfect for the evening, and at 14% ETOH, it was a solid pairing for the game; a subtle red with a lovely hint of spice, and a full finish.  It was so easy to sip that I had polished my first glass off even before our table was called to the buffet for dinner.

This was a packed house of 250 Sportsmen and women who hunt for the sake of eating, and have a chef that transforms their game into haute cuisine to share with the community and raise money for local charities; it was the annual tasting of the year's bounty.  After some amazing appetizers of Mini Bear Wellingtons, smoked pheasant, Elk and Wild Turkey Pate, and a special shout out to the Rabbit and Squirrel Ragout, my first glass was gone, and I was heading back to the bar for my second.  All under the watchful gaze of a 11 point buck who more than likely could have been the sausage in that mini venison and elk sausage slider that I so eagerly savored.  I said "Thank you" to the deer, and chewed on.

Drinking this French Rhone at a game dinner in a Sportsmans lodge made me feel connected to the past.  And also connected to the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast.  I may have been caught singing "No one hunts like Gaston" after the tall, dark, handsome Frenchman left our table.


I sipped my wine and surveyed my tasting plate (and cup of delicious venison chili) I heard rumors of salad, but for me, the greens on my plate were Fiddleheads.  I love fiddlehead ferns, they grow on the banks of the stream back home in Maine, and every spring, I am reminded of just how wonderful they are.  It was an amazing night. I'll leave you with a slideshow:

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