Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

This IS a Birthday Party: Mouton Cadet Turns Eighty!!

Mouton Cadet: The Beginnings
If you fancy yourself as a knowledgeable wine person, the names "Mouton" and "Rothschild" are not only immediately familiar but also synonymous with the finest of wines. Mouton was a favourite of Thomas Jefferson and later became a part of the Rothschild family. It was classed as a Second Growth in the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux Wines. Baron Philippe de Rothschild inherited the chateau in 1922 and proceeded to work tirelessly to change the status------succeeding in doing so in 1973 when Mouton was upgraded to First Growth standing along with Lafite, Latour, Haut-Brion and Margaux.
The vintages of 1928 and 1929 were legendary but the 1930 was not as great. The wine was used to develop a new brand called Mouton Cadet. It was successful enough to be repeated the next year and so on with only the Second World War interfering. After the war the brand was resurrected and as the years progressed, Mouton Cadet went through several incarnations developing a white Bordeaux, several reserves and a rose. Initially is was an AOC Pauillac then became an AOC Bordeaux. Now with the 80th Birthday Celebrations, the wine has gone full circle and is once again an AOC Pauillac with the special anniversary issue having the original 1930 label.
The Party
With the delicious appetizers came a new Rothschild Blanc de Blancs Non- Vintage Champagne from houses Mouton, Lafite and Clark. The wine was magnificent with tiny tiny bubbles that seemed to last forever. The taste was a mastery of elegance with subtle tastes of apple and pear along with hints of exotic fruit coming to a clean and refreshing finish. It went very well with the appetizers.
First Course
Green and White Asparagus Risotto with a seared scallop and carrot reduction was delicious with the Mouton Cadet Graves Blanc Reserve. This white wine exhibited an initial citrus with a touch of herbal qualities with nasal hints of figs and flowers as the wine remained in the glass. The wine had a pleasant mouth feel with a pleasant lemon acid finish. Great with the meal!
Main Course
The Mouton Cadet Limited Edition 2006 AOC Pauillac came in the original blend that Baron Philippe had prepared in 1930 (43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 22% Merlot). It was served with Rack of Lamb, Potato Mash and Vegetables. The wine had a nose of black fruit (black cherries, plums,figs) with a round and soft velvety palate with a hint of anise at the finish. Ideal with the traditional accompaniment, it would have also sufficed well with the next course.
Cheese Tray Of Hard Cheeses
I have this thing for hard, salty cheese but when you combine them with a great vintage such as 1978 and a superb wine Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1978, then you have something really precious. The wine went very well with the tray of three varieties of hard salty cheese. The wine by itself was supple and elegant with vanilla, cherry and red berry notes. It was supple on the palate with strength left to carry it for some time yet. Delicious by itself, it came into its own with the cheese. The residual sweetness and soft tannins (what was left) was amazing.
I mentioned that I still had several bottles of this wine left in my cellar and everyone laughed thinking I was joking. I wasn't !!
Simplicity in desserts brings out the best in wine accompaniments. The Strawberry Shortcake fill with Vanilla Bean Custard was nice enough on its own but bring into the picture a 2007 Mouton Cadet Sauternes Reserve and the melding was divine.
The wine by itself had nasal qualities of apricot, honey, fig, peach with a palate that was silky smooth with a great sugar/acid balance with enough acid to tame the creamy texture of the custard. Lovely!
When one has an evening such as this what would one highlight? The venue which was chosen because Carlu was the artist chosen by Baron Philippe to develop his first Mouton label? Was it the fine meal? Maybe it was the fine wines? Or---maybe it was in meeting Julien de Rothschild himself and having him sign a Magnum of his 2006 Mouton Cadet for me? Still was it in meeting the large number of guests? The answer is of course: All Of The Above.
****I would like to acknowledge Philippe Dandurand Wines for its gracious invitation to this event. Philippe Dandurand Wines spans the entire country and is the largest wine focused company in Canada****