Monday, December 26, 2011

An Alexander Pope Christmas Eve

A friend  phoned two days before Christmas to ask a favor.  He lives on a large farm in the area and several folks were coming on Christmas Eve for a pheasant hunt and they were short a dog.  Scott volunteered to help them with their problem.  His manners weren't the best in a hunting sense, but he did find and point the birds well enough that the day was a success.  It was successful enough that as a reward he provided dinner on Christmas Eve.

"See! from the break the whirring pheasant springs,
And mounts exulting on triumjphant wings:
Short is his joy: he feels the firey wound,
Flutters in blood, and panting beats the ground."

Alexander Pope
Windsor Forest 1.111

The wine was one that I purchased three years ago based on past experience with it. It had been resting in the cellar since it arrived.  The wine was a Fontodi, Chianti Classico Riserva, Vigna Del Sorbo from the 2004 vintage, a blend of mostly Sangiovese with some Cabernet Sauvignon added.

For dinner we cleaned and then cut up the pheasant into serving pieces.  The pieces went into a pan with some rendered bacon and were browned.  I added some shallots, a small clove of garlic, a carrot, some bay leaves, white peppercorns, mint and parsley and a cup of red wine.  I covered the pan and braised the bird for half an hour.  The pheasant pieces were removed and some fresh cranberries and some honey were added to the pot and the sauce reduced until the berries popped and softened.  Add the last minute I added some sour cream.  There was also some soft polenta flavored with black truffle salt and mascarpone.

The nose on the wine was unmistakable as a Chianti, dry and dusty, fruity, cherry aromas and some herbs.  Very dark and very full bodied in the mouth, the cabernet gave an extra dimension to the wine.  Lots of acid and dry, earthy tannins here.  When the wine met the sauce on the pheasant they took things to another level entirely.  The cranberries and honey mixed with the dry, tart cherries in this wine for a nearly perfect flavor combination.  The flavors in the finish continued on for nearly 30 seconds.  Just a wonderful wine and a great match with the food - and there are two more bottles in the cellar.

14% alcohol and $80

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