Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron Wine Dinner at Equinox
Last Sunday night while the DC area prepared for the big storm, I attended an intimate Burgundy wine pairing dinner at Equinox Restaurant (818 Connecticut Ave., NW). Wine Producers of the recognized Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron in Burgundy, France came into town (despite the hurricane warning) just to attend our little wine dinner. Fourth generation winemaker, Sophie Meunier-Confuron took over the vineyard at the young age of 21 when her father passed in 1988. Today, after twenty years of being an organically-run domaine, it is one of the most recognized stars of Burgundy. She and her husband Alain, work together as a team in the vineyards and the cellar to produce fantastic Burgundy wines. JAO Wine Imports hosted a group of about 18, perfect number for getting to know each other and the wine.
We had a unique opportunity to enjoy the company of the winemakers, the Burgundy wines, and three dishes prepared by White House endorsed, State Department appointed, ”Culinary Diplomat” Chef Todd Gray.
As guests arrived, we mingled a bit and enjoyed the pink effervescent NV Crémant de Bourgogne with Chef Gray’s canapés Tuna tartare with crispy nori, radish sprouts, and spicy mayo and Truffle Risotto fritters with preserved lemon creme fraiche. The truffle risotto fritters are addicting, and were of course, a crowd pleaser. Everyone including Sophie herself, loved them! Don’t worry, the truffle risotto fritters are offered as appetizers on both Equinox’s lunch and dinner menus.
For the First Course, Chef Gray prepared an early Autumn squash Orecchiette pasta with braised prosciutto, Tuscan kale, and tomato shallot butter. The pasta was light and shaped roughly like small ears, hence the name (orecchio, ear, orecchiette, little ears). It was my first time having both Orecchiette and Tuscan kale. It was delicious and hearty – perfect for a cold, wet night like we were having. It was paired with Cotes de Nuits village La Montagne Blanc 2010, a white wine made from Chardonnay grapes. I enjoyed the dish and the wine pairing. The pasta made with early autumn squash may be offered on the Equinox menu for a short time; however, the menu changes daily based on seasonal ingredients that are available.
According to Sophie herself, Côte de Nuits Villages is an appellation which spreads over six villages in the Côte de Nuits area (Brochon, Comblanchien, Corgoloin, Fixin and Premeaux-Prissey). Grapes coming from these different villages can be vinified together. This Côte de Nuits comes from a single vineyard, La Montagne (the mountain) located, as its name indicates, high up on the slope, not far from Bois de Bise (Bise Wood) in the village of Corgoloin, next to Ladoix. The vineyard was replanted five years ago by Alain Meunier, who was present at the dinner (but didn’t speak much English). I liked the white wine. I was pleased to know that Burgundy wine isn’t all red. It has soft notes of apple, white blossom, with just the slightest hint of honeysuckle in the finish. Reminds me of my favorite Riesling from Santa Barbara, CA.
For the Main Course, Chef Gray prepared a succulent Red Wine Marinated Pennsylvania Duck Breast, with Preserved Grapes, Quinoa, Ginger, and Saba-Beet Vinaigrette, which was hands-down my favorite dish of the evening. The duck was perfectly cooked to my preference (not too pink in the center) and the quinoa gave the dish a lovely texture. Sophie said that ginger was very new to her palate; however, I’m a sucker for ginger. I love the flavor and find it quite fragrant. Quite brilliant. It was a light, refreshing twist to such a classic dish.
The majority of the guests in the room, especially our distinguished guests from Burgundy, France, were dining at Equinox Restaurant for the first time and were unfamiliar with the style of Chef Gray’s cooking. But after just two courses, the wine dinner attendees were starting to understand that Chef Gray cooks seasonally, and uses ingredients that are sourced regionally, hence the Pennsylvania Duck Breast.
The dessert was paired with the Nuits St Georges 1st Cru Les Chaboeufs 2004. Winemaker Sophie said that she preferred the Cru to be paired with cheese. Ironically, Chef Gray did actually suggest that we pair the wine with cheese to conclude the meal; however, I thought that the American guests would expect something sweet for their last course. You live, you learn.
For more information about the wines:
La Montagne Blanc http://www.jaowineimports.com/
Les Vignottes http://www.jaowineimports.com/
Les Chaboeufs http://www.jaowineimports.com/