Friday, Fish and a Venturesome White

Friday still seems to be associated with fish and our new fish shop deserves our support so monkfish it is. D used a Raymond Blanc recipe ‘Roasted fillet of monkfish with mustard and tarragon sauce’. The tarragon came from the garden and D served it all with sprouting broccoli; Blanc made no recommendation and we like our greens.

His suggestion of a viognier for the wine was a bit of a problem as we are right out of viognier. I did however have a small assortment of good Rhone whites from the 2004 vintage, none a pure viognier, none even a majority Viognier, but a Marsanne in the same Rhone style as suggested by M. Blanc seemed a good alternative. It had better be; it wasn’t cheap. It was a St Joseph, Domaine Ste-Epine, 2004 bought from the Wine Society for about £12.50 a few years ago and fit for many years yet. Not many people are familiar with Rhone whites, they are full, fruity, oaked, and built to last. This one had the very beginnings of a little honey.

It went very well, though I have to say that this isn’t our type of white wine, interesting as it is – too much oak no matter how well integrated. It worked because the firm monkfish, the mustard and faintly aniseed flavour of the tarragon demand a wine with some backbone, not just fruit. An interesting choice for some might be a chardonnay from Jura whose overt sherry-like oaking might do a similar job, but M. Blanc comes from that region so it’s probably significant that it’s not what he recommended. Certainly it needs something full and with some oak. I’m sure we would both have been happy with a Pouilly Fuisse or a white Burgundy, but backbone is essential.

Incidentally we finished with Nigella’s Chocolate Fondant; the remains of my glass of the St Joseph surprisingly didn’t clash. I mention that in passing, something to do with chocolate and the combination of peachy fruit and oak in the wine. Not at all a recommendation, just a ‘didn’t clash’ surprise.

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