Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Plateau des Fruits de Mer and a Pessac-Leognan Wine in Bordeaux City, France

Pictures: Annette and Christian G.E. Schiller in Bordeaux City with a Plateau des Fruits de Mer

Bordeaux – the first thing that comes to mind is wine, of course. But Bordeaux is also very close to the Atlantic Ocean, in particular the sea-side town of Arcachon, noted for its oyster production.

Pictures: The Opera of Bordeaux

So, when I was in Bordeaux recently (See also: In the Wine Capital of the World: the City of Bordeaux, France), at least on one evening I had to have a Plateau des Fruits de Mer. The one we chose, comprised the following:

6 Huitres #3

Interestingly, while in the US, you get very detailed information about the kind of oyster and the region where it was harvested, the main information in France is the size of the oyster. We ate 6 of the #3.

The Belon: The Belon, or European Flat, is Europe’s native oyster. The Belons are round and shallow. That’s why they are called Flats. They are also not very liquid and dry out fast. They have a long history. They used to grow in Brittany, Normandy, England, Spain, Holland, Greece and the Black Sea. But a disease is wiping them out worldwide.

The Pacific: Originally from Japan, the Pacific or Japanese oyster is the most widely cultured oyster in the world. It accounts for 75% of world production. In France, it has crowded out the Belon and now accounts for 99% of oyster production there.

The Olympia: Olympia is a native American oyster, which once flourished on the West Coast, before the Pacific took over.

The Atlantic: Another American native. Also called Eastern oyster, the Atlantic has a thick, elongated shell that ranges from 2 to 5 inches across. It's found along the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico in the US.

See also: Oysters and Wine

4 Langoustines

Langoustines and Langoustes are different creatures. Lobsters come in two general varieties:  the spiny lobster (common in France) and the smooth shelled lobster (common in Maine). The French (Germans) call the spiny lobster Langouste (Languste) and the smooth shelled lobster Hommard (Hummer). The spiny lobster and the smooth shelled lobster resemble each other, but the spiny lobster (Langouste) does not have claws (Scheren in German); instead it has long antennae.

We did not have Lagouste (spiny lobster), we had Langoustines. The French call large shrimps Langoustines (Kaisergranate in German).

5 Crevettes roses




6 Moules 



(Wellhornschnecken - Grosse Schnecken/ whelks)

3 Armandes 

(Grosse Muscheln/large clams)

6 Coques 

(Kleine Muscheln/small clams)

Crevettes grises 

(Nordseekrabben/small shrimps)

The Wine: Les Demoiselles de Larrivet Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan, 2008

We started with a Coupe de Cremant de Bordeaux and then moved to a Sauvignon-Blanc from the region for the Fruits de Mer.

A Château Larrivet Haut-Brion's second wine.

Picture: Les Demoiselles de Larrivet Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan, 2008

This Château was almost completely destroyed during the depression of the 1930’s. In 1987, the Gervoson family bought the estate and restored the estate's unity, once again combining the Château, outbuildings, 13 hectares of grounds, and 42 hectares of vines under one owner, as well as replanting 18 hectares of land.
A team of enthusiastic professionals has done a wonderful job of giving Château Larrivet Haut-Brion back its superb reputation, and the estate is once again universally recognized as one of the finest wines in the Pessac-Léognan appellation.

Brilliant golden color with green highlights, bouquet of citrus fruit, typical of Sauvignon Blanc, with honey and smoky notes on the nose, rich, with lemon flavors on the palate, good acidity and well-integrated oak.

Graves and Pessac-Leognan

Château Larrivet Haut-Brion is located in the area of Bordeaux, where it all began. Here is the birthplace of the phenomenal Bordeaux wine boom. It was here – in the Graves - that the region first gained its reputation, as early as the 14th century – hundreds of years before Dutch wine merchants and producers drained the marshes of the Medoc. In the Middle Ages, much of the Claret - as red Bordeaux is called in the United Kingdom - shipped to London was grown within in easy distance to the Quai de Chartrons in Bordeaux.

For centuries, Graves encompassed all the vineyards south of the border with the Medoc, in a great sweep around the city of Bordeaux with the exception of the sweet wine appellations of Sauternes, Cerons and Barsac, which are nestled within the boundaries of the Graves, but are independently recognized because of their outstanding noble-sweet white wines. But in 1987, the Pessac-Leognan appellation was carved out of the northern end of the Graves, encompassing Graves’ most respected producers.  The four key producers in Pessac-Leognan are Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion (both in American hands), Laville Haut-Brion and Pape Clement (named after Pope Clement V, who ordered its original vineyards to be planted in the 14th century).

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