Vive la Difference – vive la Monopole

Far be it from us to accuse the female of the species of being contradictory. ‘Vive la difference’ the French say, in celebration of the fact that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. However this week Mother Nature has thrown such a ‘volte face’ of ‘difference’ in our direction weather-wise that we might just feel justified in claiming contradictory forces at work.

If you read last week’s blog you will know we were crying ‘disaster in the vineyards’ as temperatures plummeted to well below freezing and frost-bite struck the vines. This week we have had some glorious hot days as Mother Nature has sprung out of winter garb in an explosion of buds and flowers and greenery.

One of our favourite Burgundian wine buddies has a theory for this that translates as ‘frost bite is Mother Nature’s way of telling us not to take wine for granted’.  We think he has a fair point in that the ‘vendange’ (grape harvest) in recent seasons has been good all round. Certainly it gave us food for thought.

More importantly on Le Papillon it was ‘wine for thought’ and, whilst we were thinking about it, we rummaged in the cooler for a bottle of our benchmark white Burgundy to take on deck and sip in the sunshine. If you’ve cruised with us you’ll recognise the label. If not, it’s a Clos de Carbonade Bourgogne Monopole from Domaine de Borgeot.

Bourgeot Monopole

We love Pascal Borgeot’s wines. He’s based just outside Santenay, a few kilometres from Beaune. The term ‘Monopole’ is interesting as it means the grapes come from one single vineyard over which Borgeot has the ‘monopoly’ – he gets all the grapes. As such it counts as a single vineyard wine and that makes it a bit special. Otherwise all his grapes come from the area bordered by Puligny-Montrachet, Chassange-Montrachet and Meursault. It’s known locally as the Golden Triangle but could equally be renamed Pascal’s Triangle as there’s definitely a wonderfully coefficient pattern to the wines he makes.

Actually Borgeot makes a great range of wines. He very kindly invited our crack tasting team to explore his cellar on December 26th (a working day in Burgundy) and took us right through his entire list.

Borgeot bottles

These are just his white wines ranging from a Bourgogne Aligoté, through several Santenays, to a fabulous Chassangne Montrachet. After sampling these we simply had to go through the same number of reds – well, it would have been rude not to. We left feeling very festive, luckily having a designated driver, along with the opened bottles for our Boxing Day supper. Although they lasted several days!

Borgeot cellars

Le Papillon’s crack tasting team in the cellars Chez Borgeot

Clos de Carbonade is a classic chardonnay with stacks of fruit that is very full on the palate with a long and subtle buttery finish. For us it punches well above its weight in the Pantheon of white Burgundy at a price that doesn’t break the bank. If you want to get hold of some in America our great pal Dennis Sherman offers it through his Elden wine business at $20 a bottle.

Otherwise come and have a glass on Le Papillon – we have a couple of dates this summer we’re selling ‘by the cabin’ for those who don’t want a full charter. Come back and see us, or come for the first time. We guarantee you a vacation with a difference.

With summer finally here the last thing you want to do is spend too much time in the kitchen so this week is one of the quickest recipes in Eleanor Garvin’s glorious book The Papillon Recipes (available from Amazon). Even in Burgundy foie gras is a real treat. Classically the French have always accompanied it with a glass of Sauternes – but we reckon you could easily get away with the fruity butteriness of Clos de Carbonade.


Salad of Artichoke, Foie Gras and Espelette Pepper – Serves 6

A simple recipe, the flavors pulled together by the espelette cream. Ideally the dish calls for ‘foie gras mi-cuit’ which refers to fresh foie-gras lightly cooked, but you could happily use a ‘bloc’ from a good delicatessen.

dcoupe de foie gras avec un couteau beurre

A simple recipe, the flavours pulled together by the espelette cream. Ideally the dish calls for ‘foie gras mi-cuit’ which refers to fresh foie-gras lightly cooked, but you could happily use a ‘bloc’ from a good delicatessen.

½ pound foie gras entier mi-cuit

3 large artichoke bottoms cooked

12 slices of smoked duck breast

2 cups watercress leaves

Espelette (or similarly mild) pepper

Chilli Powder

¼ cup heavy cream

For the vinaigrette

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 small shallots finely minced

½ teaspoon fine salt

1 tablespoon want oil

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon water

Slice the foie gras and artichoke bottoms thickly into ½ inch cubes. Stack the slices of duck breast then sliver into strips.

Whip the chilled cream until it holds soft peaks then whickk in 2 teaspoons of espellet pepper and chill.

In a salad bowl mix the sherry vinegar and shallots with the salt. Add the oil and water and whisk until emulsified. Add the watercress, foie gras and artichoke to the bowl, toss lightly and divide amongst 6 serving plates. Top each with a spoonful of cream and serve.

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