The dish is best known in the Loire and D has cooked variations on the theme for longer than she would want me to reveal. This kind of longevity is achieved only by classic combinations and that is what we have here – in fact D’s slight modification of a Raymond Blanc recipe.
In its region of origin it would likely be paired with a Bourgueil – pure Cabernet Franc – but I have none in my cellar at present. Instead I selected our last bottle of Chateau La Croix Canon 2009, Canon-Fronsac. I got it from the Wine Society for £8.86 and they describe it as “Stylish & fragrant … from old vines, hand gathered … largely Merlot”.
A search to find out more about the precise blend produced a wonderful example of how Bordeaux confuses even enthusiastic students. Berry Brothers & Rudd mention both Château La Croix (Canon Fronsac) which they say is owned by Michel Dorneau and is 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and only 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. But they list also Chateau La Croix-Canon (Fronsac) as being owned by JP Moueix and planted with 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. Another website listed the Dorneau grapes, but claimed Moueix ownership. My bottle bears both the compound name – La Croix Canon – and the compound region – Canon Fronsac – but the owner is shown as Jean Halley (as the Wine Society claims) but there is no detail of grape varieties. In Bordeaux there are too many names that are too much alike and not used consistently, plus data that is probably out of date. I’ll just have to taste it.
On its own it was very promising with lots of fruit and well integrated tannin, so a good backbone. I got some hints of violets and blackcurrants that make me believe that the second grape here is Cabernet Sauvignon, not Cabernet Franc. D just didn’t like it on its own, a measure of how far individual tastes vary. She thought it was OK with the meal, but would have been really good with a big winter casserole. I liked it with the meal because it complemented the prunes rather well, but I have to agree that its real soulmate is big and beefy, possibly also mushroomy (or kidney for those who are so inclined). Excellent, but even better in winter.