A Favorite from a Sommelier Shoot-Out

Pierre Usseglio & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de Mon Aïeul 2006
Thomas Matthews
Posted: September 19, 2011

In mid-September, Restaurant Daniel in Manhattan hosted a sommelier shoot-out: Wine director Daniel Johnnes invited the somms from six of chef Daniel Boulud’s restaurants to select two wines to pair with different courses at dinner. About 100 guests evaluated the matches.

There were classics from Champagne and Burgundy, and obscure selections from Friuli and the Côtes du Jura. On my scorecard, the best wines, and the best match, came from Michael Madrigale, from New York’s Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud.

Madrigale had the challenge of matching a dish of grouse with huckleberries. The breast, cooked rare, was served with a gamy forcemeat and earthy root vegetables, countered by the sweetness of the berries. It was a powerful dish, and it needed a powerful wine.

As not infrequently happens when evaluating pairings, I actually preferred Madrigale’s other selection, a laser-focused 2007 Cornas from Domaine Guillaume Gilles, on its own. But the rich fruit, mineral and garrigue notes of the Pierre Usseglio & Fils Grenache-dominated Châteauneuf—and its power, driven by 16 percent alcohol—made it a perfect partner for the grouse. My tablemate, Wall Street Journal writer Jay McInerney, apparently agreed, as he skillfully cadged a second glass to sip along with the cheese that followed.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Pierre Usseglio & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de Mon Aïeul 2006 (95, $105).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Châteauneuf-du-Pape reds, along with our quick list of Top Values among Rhône reds.

Photograph of Sommelier Shoot-Out.

Chef Daniel Boulud, with his sommeliers, including wine director Daniel Johnnes (seated, center) and shoot-out winner Michael Madrigale (standing at right).

Would you like to comment?

Want to join or start a discussion? Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!

To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. To learn more about member benefits, take our site tour.

MEMBER LOGIN

= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Free Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences

Classifieds

The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories