French food with French wine. Perfect.
Or so we thought.
The meal was definitely French. The wine was definitely French. Together they were...nothing spectacular.
I think it was the shock at how ordinary the pairing was. Nothing sung and we expected it to sing.
Meal: Marinated Flank Steak with sautéed mushrooms and onion tart on a bed of spinach
The star was the onion tart. Savory tarts = delicious and we don't eat them enough. This particular one had the onions at just the right point between cooked and raw. Great texture and the entire thing was beautifully seasoned.
The flank steak, which I liked more than Mrs. Ney was also perfectly seasoned and a perfect medium-rare. Great pepper that nicely liquified in the meat juice. Simple sautéed mushrooms that should have been a great pair with a Right Bank bordeaux. Properly-prepared mushrooms can be a Godsend and these were by themselves.
I loved the loving loveliness of the meal. Tasted French. With a different perspective though, it could have been mildly Californian.
Wine: 2003 Chateau Fombrauge ($35 Binny's) and 2005 Chateau Puygueraud ($35 WDC)
The Fombrauge was the wine that made Mrs. Ney stand up and take notice of Right Bank Bordeaux.
Truffle and plum on the nose. Deep, deep red in the glass. Very typical St. Emilion on the palate with that plummy quality with a bit of blackberry and earth, vanilla and mushroom, a little oak and soft, soft tannins. Bordered on rich but never got all the way there. I wonder what would happen with a few more years. Bought two more at $30 each from Hart Davis Hart to find out. Fantastic buy.
The Puygueraud was opened to contrast the two. Loads of blackberry, licorice, a bit of lavender and mineral (graphite?). Thinner than the Fombrauge. Fine enough but nothing special. Age wouldn't do much in my opinion. Comes from a region a few miles east of St. Emilion (Cotes de Francs). #32 on the Wine Spectator top 100 list of 2008. Probably wouldn't buy it again unless it was $25 or under.
Pairing: Never Quite Got There
This should have been perfect in our view. It wasn't. The Fombauge didn't elevate with the flank steak or the mushrooms. Performed best with the onion tart but overall, we felt it should have been better. In fact, with most of the meal, it became somewhat boring. We could still identify it as a very good wine with a spectacular quality-to-price ratio but it fell kinda flat.
The Puygueraud didn't perform much better. I vacillated over whether it was a good wine period but eventually fell into the camp of 'good enough'. Left a little to see what some air will do to it (and left a little because I was bordering on snookered).
I guess, in the end, we expected a pairing that would border on transcendent. It wasn't.
Maybe a New World wine? More fruit-forward with a nod to the Old World. Portuguese?