Les Belles Perdrix, Saint-Émilion
October 13, 2015
On September 13, 2015, Martine drove Linda and me from Bordeaux to Saint-Émilion. Our first stop was Château Villemaurine, a Grand Cru Classé at the edge of the town of Saint-Émilion.
Our tour started in its vineyard, where we could taste the merlot grapes almost ready for picking. There is a good view of the town.
Underneath this vineyard are caverns carved out over the centuries to supply limestone for building Saint-Émilion and parts of Bordeaux. Most of the highly-rated vineyards in the area have limestone under a top layer of soil. We then went to the winery. The sorting, pressing and initial vinification in huge stainless steel vats were explained to us. Then we saw the area in a top level of the old quarry where the wine is aged in wood barrels before bottling.
We had a walk through lower levels of the caverns and finally went to the wine tasting room and shop.
We drove on to Château Troplong Mondot, Premier Grand Cru Classé, and its restaurant, Les Belles Perdrix de Troplong Mondot. (The Beautiful Partridges.)
Exquisite hors d’œuvres arrived:
An oyster with home-made sausage;
a red caramelized cherry tomato, a yellow cherry tomato with a black topping;
a piece of smoked trout on an avocado shellfish mayonnaise.
I had a glass of the white 2012 Château Marjosse (Entre-Deux-Mers.) We all had glasses of the 2007 Troplong Mondot; Linda and I followed with glasses of the 2006, which I found to be more interesting than the 2007, although both were very good. The sparkling water from the Auvergne, Saint-Géron, was particularly good; none of us had had it before.
Martine’s first course was
Cuisses et ailerons de poulette confites et laqués au miel/soja,
mousseline de panais du Périgord,
jus de poulet et jaune d’œuf confit
Chicken pieces had been braised and lacquered in honey and soy sauce. They were served with a parsnip purée and dressed with a chicken gravy and egg yolk.
The first course for Linda and me was
L’œuf bio soufflé, ris de veau de lait doré et son jus aux olives noires, oignons nouveaux et mousse légère au fromage fumé
An egg had been poached in its whipped egg white. Alongside were three deep-fried veal sweetbreads and crisp croutons colored with the juice of black olives, which was also under the sweetbreads. Three onion leaves were filled with a smoked cheese mousse. Nice.
Martine’s main course was
Mulet de ligne roti sur la peau,
Artichauts violets glacés aux algues, courgettes de pays,
roquette et emulsion parmesan
A crispy skinned piece of baked mullet was served on top of a parmesan sauce. With it was a small artichoke, zucchini slices and arugula.
Linda’s and my main course was
Pigeon au sang de Monsieur Duleau, suprême rôti en cocotte, cuisse confite comme une rotie, Cocos de Sainte-Terre glacés, carottes de couleur bio et abricot au vinaigre.
The pigeon thigh had been braised, but its skin was still crisp. The slice of breast on top of it was nice and rare, providing a flavorful contrast. The pigeon’s blood and Armagnac had been used to make the little glazed cylinder in the upper left corner. On the right is a deep-fried, breaded quail egg. The glazed beans and carrot slices were a good accompaniment, making the rich dish a bit lighter, but keeping to its style. The dab on the bottom was apricot. The sauce underneath was based on red wine and pigeon glaze. Excellent.
Martine’s dessert was
Crémeux au chocolat Grand Cru,
framboises au sucre de Monsieur Delrieu,
tuile chocolat et mousse légère caramel, crème glacée.
This combination included chocolate, raspberries and a caramel mousse.
Linda’s dessert was
Fraises Gariguette de Monsieur Delrieu au sucre et main de Bouddha, mousse légère cheesecake, tuile au sucre Bergamote et sorbet fraise
The thin sugary cover on the circular “cheesecake” cracked as it should. There were yellow raspberries as well as red. Light and good.
My dessert was
Crémeux à la mangue caramélisé au Rhum Agricole, noix de coco et fruit de la passion, tuile chocolat et sorbet mangue
Mango had been caramelized with good rum. It was served with coconut, passion fruit, chocolate and mango sorbet.
We certainly enjoyed our lunch at Les Belles Perdrix. It was surprising to find such elaborate cuisine out in the vineyards. Frequently I am put off by so much complication and frou frou, but that was not the case here, which shows the talent of the chef. The service, pace and ambiance were all excellent.
Walking back to the parking lot, we came across the Maître de Chai, responsable for the process after reception of the picked grapes until bottling. We had a nice chat with him. He was very optimistic about the quality of the 2015 vintage and was eager for the harvest to begin.