Wine + Recipe Pairings. Week 2. Right Bank Bordeaux and Steak Au Poivre.

Wine Loves Food

From our table to yours
This week, we're sharing a classic recipe pairing of Steak Au Poivre with Bordeaux. The inspiration to share these traditional dishes and pairings come from our Champion Wine Cellars dynamic and background. Suthap, who usually shows up to save the day, is just as phenomenal in the kitchen. The recipes we share are those he loves to make. Suthap is one of those rare humans who can cook both efficiently and soulfully. As a result, I (Erin) am usually left to pair the meal. Thankfully, it tends to work out, as wine (and eating) is a passion of mine. This pairing is a favorite of ours, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

We'll be back next week with another wholesome recipe and wine pairing.

Happy cooking,
The Champion Wine Cellars team

La Sacristie de la Vielle Cure, Fronsac, 2012

• Bordeaux. Right Bank. Fronsac, which is due west from Pomerol. Terroir very close to Saint-Émilion. La Sacristie is the second wine of Vielle Cure.
• Soils are composed of chalk, clay, and limestone. South-west exposure (here, a good thing!).
• Vineyards planted to mostly Merlot, then Cabernet Franc, with just 4% Cabernet Sauvignon vines.
• World's best Merlot comes from the Right Bank of Bordeaux.
• Very old vines, some approaching 100 years of age. La Sacristie's vine age is generally around 25 years.
• 20 hectares of homogenous vineyards. A rarity in Bordeaux. Viticulture: Practicing organic.
• Winemaker: Jean Luc Thunevin, owner of Valandraud, Saint-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe B Bordeaux

Fronsac is a lesser-known winemaking appellation located in Bordeaux's Right Bank. It is due west of the famed region of Pomerol and shares pockets of similar soils to both Pomerol and Saint-Émilion. Merlot is the dominant varietal in the Right Bank, with Cabernet Franc, then Cabernet Sauvignon rounding out the final blend. Often, what producers put in the bottle will mimic the plantings in their vineyards.


Bordeaux (the region as a whole) is a specialist in blending to make the perfect wine, and will often separate cuvées by vine age and oak regimen (determined by parcel or assessing each barrel). The Grand Vin or main wine of each house will typically blend 'juice' from the oldest vineyards, which usually require receiving a higher percentage of new oak upon aging. The Second Wine is from parcels that don’t make it into the Grand Vin, typically from younger vines and with less new oak for aging. Keep in mind that these are generalizations and the actual process for each house could vary year to year, with a million different variables.


For the consumer, Bordeaux’s second wines are some of the best for "sooner than later" consumption. The prestigious Grand Vin wines are beautiful, but the premise and price that go along with it aren't always meant for immediate enjoyment. In contrast, Second Wines are delightful without the fuss of cellaring or decanting. Second Wines and lesser-known appellations in Bordeaux are gems to any wine lover whose palate can relate to the refrain: "Champagne taste, beer budget."


Most importantly, this 2012 La Sacristie de la Vielle Cure is delicious. Luxurious, rich but not weighty, textured, with a long peppery finish and ever-evolving fruit. Lovely perfume, with loads of classic black fruit balanced by earthy spices.


When enjoyed alongside this meal, the key to this pairing is balance. Tannins to cut through the meat, sure, but the richness and weight of this Bordeaux won't overpower your steak and vice versa. The brandied cream and pepper are plenty rich; you don't need something that's going to weigh your palate down more. This wine has got a lot of aromatic intensity and vibrancy but will leave your taste buds on a high note. Finally, while this wine drinks well right out the bottle, it will change quite a bit over time, and I do recommend drinking it slowly with dinner and the below steak au poivre to witness its evolution firsthand.


Steak Au Poivre

By The Everyday French Chef

2 thick-cut steaks, 6 to 7 ounces each (170-200 grams)
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
2 tsp. sunflower oil or another light vegetable oil
1 tsp. butter
2 tbsp. cognac or brandy
4 tbsp. crème fraîche or heavy cream
salt to taste


As I noted above, Suthap is pretty skilled in the kitchen. Part of what's lent to his ability is his attention to detail and research. This recipe is most often found in bistros throughout France, but not so often on the dinner table. Initially, I had tried to cut down the information but found it necessary to read everything before making the dish. The links below will take you directly to the Everyday French Chef's website and blog. Reading both will ensure a successful dinner and keep your skillet from catching fire.

Read This First!

Step by Step Preparation Instructions by the Everyday French Chef

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