Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bordeaux Winemaker and Owner Marc Pasquet - Château Mondésir-Gazin - at Del Ray Café in Alexandria, Virginia, USA

Picture:  Marc and Laurence Pasquet, Christian G.E. and Annette Schiller, and Other Guests

“Marc Pasquet’s wines are not in the class of Château Petrus, but they do not cost as much as Château Petrus” said owner Laurent Janowsky of Del Ray Café, when he introduced his guest of honor, Marc Pasquet. Marc Pasquet and his wife Laurence make what is called “Petit Château Bordeaux” wines, i.e. good Bordeaux wines at affordable prices.

Picture: Del Ray Café in Alexandria

Frank J. Prial (New York Times): Everyone knows about the first growths, even people who never drink wine: Lafite, Latour, Mouton, Margaux, Haut-Brion, Petrus, Cheval Blanc, Yquem, maybe a couple of more. They're the superstars of the wine world. But they are not Bordeaux, any more than Romanee-Conti is Burgundy or Ridge Vineyards is California. In a good year, Chateau Lafite-Rothschild may produce 160,000 bottles of wine. In the same year, all of Bordeaux may produce 500 million bottles.

There are thousands of these Petit Château winemakers in Bordeaux, who make excellent wines for little money. And Marc Pasquet is one of them. His wines are widely available in the greater Washington DC area.

Marc Pasquet was in the greater Washington DC area for a week “to work the market”. Part of this effort was the winemaker dinner at Del Ray Café, which Annette Schiller and I attended.

We were about 20 guests and enjoyed very much the wines of Marc Pasquet and the menu prepared by Executive Chief of Del Ray Café Vincent Damman and his team. The dinner was excellent: Simple, but well thought through and very tasty; and very well presented.

Overall, it was a marvelous, joyful evening, and, at US$89 including tax and tip, reasonably priced.

Marc Pasquet and Château Mondésir-Gazin 

Marc Pasquet and his wife Laurence hail from the Bretagne region in the northern part of France, known for cheese and seafood, but not for wine. Marc used to be a photographer. His passion for wine brought him to the Bordeaux region, where he learnt the art of winemaking in St. Estephe on the left bank, before establishing his own winery on the right bank..

Picture: Marc and Laurence Pasquet

In 1990, Marc and Laurence, encouraged by the optimism and faith of their families, took the plunge and bought land and a winery in the Bourg area.

Laurence and Marc Pasquet: Situated in Plassac, this estate is called after two hillside vineyard parcels – “Gazin”, facing directly south, and “Mondésir”, overlooking the Gironde estuary. The natural beauty of this landscape and the extremely high quality of these terroirs, incited us to acquire this property in 1990. Over the past 25 years, we have been unrelentingly committed to the elaboration of wines fully expressing the characteristics of this microclimate.

Pictures: Marc Pasquet

Laurence and Marc Pasquet explained further: Château Mondésir-Gazin is situated along the Gironde. The estuary regulates the climate, thereby limiting certain excessive weather conditions such as frost and hail.

The vines are 5 to 50 years old. Merlot is the chief variety, however an important proportion of the estate is also planted with Malbec, thereby reinforcing the special character of the location’s wines.

The latest plantation, representing 3 hectares, comprises 7,400 rootstock per hectare. This high density is an essential element in the production of top quality grapes.

Pictures: Laurence and Marc Pasquet and Christian G.E. Schiller

The tilled parcels are treated without the use of chemical weed killers, pesticides and insecticides. We also limit the use of sulphites during the maturation of our offerings. These growing choices are environmentally friendly and allow us to provide customers with healthy wines.

The extremely flattened shape of the vats offers a large contact surface between the marc and the juice. As a result, the future wine is gently extracted. Big open vats make it possible to carry out cap pumping (a technique pushing the marc into the juice).

Maturing: There is a cellar for the first year of ageing and one for the second year. The estate favors a long maturation period (22 months), instead of using a lot of new oak (limited to a third of the barrels).

Del Ray Café

Del Ray Café is owned and run by the French/American couple Margaret and Laurent Janowsky. They met in the mid-1990s, supposedly when they were both walking their dogs. “She was an accountant. He was a restaurant manager. She was the daughter of Patsy Ticer, the then Mayor of Alexandria. He was from the Alsace region of Eastern France and had immigrated to America.”

Pictures: Laurent Janowsky

Bitches Who Brunch: The Del Ray Cafe is a neighborhood gem. It’s in two-story white house just off Mount Vernon (Del Ray’s Main Street). It looks like a house that Grandma converted into a restaurant 50 years ago but kept in impeccable shape. It’s got a screened-in porch, window boxes full of pretty flowers, a lovely garden, even a Christmas tree in the front yard. Inside, it’s all wooden floors and wooden tables, kitchen tchotkes on the walls. You feel like you’re walking into someone’s house, only to be seated upstairs at a big table by the window and handed a menu that is decidedly French. Also resembling Grandma’s house: The food is all natural and organic. Oh, and the restaurant is completely peanut-free, for you allergic folks.


We started out with a reception in a first floor room.

Hors d’Oeuvres

Château Mondésir, Côtes de Bordeaux, 2011 US$16.50

100% Merlot. A deep ruby color, this full-bodied wine has loads of black fruit, spicy plum, vanilla, pine wood box and blackcurrant. On the palate, there is harmonious black fruit with notes of licorice, black currants, oak, and minerality. It has a supple finish with definite length in the mouth. Excellent with grilled steak.

Pictures: Reception


The dinner was in the second floor. We were sitting at 3 tables. Annette had the privilege to sit next to Marc Pascquet.

Pictures: Dinner

First Course

Gascony Salad
with Gizzards, Walnuts and a Raspberry Vinaigrette

Château Haut Mondésir, Côtes de Bourg, 2010, US$30

90% Merlot, 10% Malbec. 18-20 months in oak barrels. Thickly textured, deeply colored, & scented with dark ripe fruit, spices, oak, licorice. Wrapped in an incredible balance and harmony, full-bodied, full-flavored.

Decanter Magazine 91 Dark fruit and chocolate, liquorish notes on the nose. Spicy barrel-aged bouquet supported by Mediterranean body and ripe tannic structure. A certain complexity evident. Plummy aftertaste retains freshness. Lashings of fruit. Characterful, with firm, fresh finish.

Pictures: First Course

Second Course

Veal Cheeks on a Wild Mushroom Cheesy Polenta
with a Veal Reduction Sauce

Château Mondésir-Gazin, 2010 US$30

65% Merlot, 35% Malbec. This wine shows a dark color, intense & profound nose of black fruits, spices, cedar, lead pencil, and spicy oak, in which it ages for 18 months, in 33% new barrels. More of the same flavors on the palate, in a full-bodied style, extremely round, juicy, & supple, with a tightly knit yet very ripe structure and concentration. Superb finish with hints of licorice.

Wine Spectator 89 This has a dusting of cocoa, but the fruit is fleshy and pure, with a caressing feel to the steeped plum and blackberry notes, which then give way to bay leaf and sage on the finish. Offers good chalky grip. Drink now through 2016. 2,000 cases made. –JM

Pictures: Second Course

Third Course

Tournedos of Black Angus Beef à la Bordelaise

Château Gontey, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2010 US$37.50

80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. From a small 3 ha estate located near Pomerol. Aged for 18 months in 1/3 new oak. Very ripe, deeply colored; intense jammy berry fruit, spices, sweet oak tones, cedar, showing amazing structure, gorgeous concentration, and great balance.

Pictures: Third Course



Picture: Minatures

Importer and Distributor: Elite Wines

In 2002, Laurent Michel Givry, a native of Toulouse, France and a veteran of the wine industry, started Elite Wines with small, eclectic, and yet good valued wines from France and Spain. Right from the beginning, he was very successful with his concept. Today, the portfolio includes a large number of French and Spanish wines as well as Australian, New Zealand, Argentine, Chilean, German and American wines.

OmbiasyPR and WineTours: Looking forward to Going Back to Bordeaux

Annette Schiller owns and runs ombiasyPR and WineTours, focusing on wine tours to Germany and France. The 2015 program includes a tour to Bordeaux.

Picture: Annette Schiller and Marc Pasquet in at Del Ray Café

September 15 - September 24, 2015: BORDEAUX (USD 4,995 per person / dbl occupancy) - Spend 10 days in Bordeaux! ”Bordeaux” embodies more than just wine. In France the interplay of wine and food is very important and plays an integral part of our journey through the Bordeaux wine region. Drawing on our love and deep knowledge of the region as well as our personal ties to many of the players in the Bordeaux wine scene, we will visit many of the hidden gems that other tours pass by, but which are essential to feel what Bordeaux is all about. In a nutshell: this is an on ground Bordeaux wine class.

Pictures: Annette Schiller and Corinne Chevrier-Loriaud at Château Bel-Air la Royère in Bordeaux

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