Imagine drinking wine made from grapes grown in the same soil as many of the ingredients used in the food served at the restaurant owned by the man who owns the vineyards that produced the wine that was served at Le Rouge Restaurant & Piano Bar on Saturday, September 17. Winemaker and owner John Barbier hosted wine-loving patrons at the special winemaker’s dinner in honor of the 20th Annual Colorado Mountain Winefest. Barbier was at his restaurant in downtown Grand Junction to pour the wine and talk about two of his passions, his restaurant and winery, Maison la Belle Vie. After two days of nonstop delicious wine and food, this fine meal was another example of the wonderful synergy between the grapes and produce that come from the terroir that is Palisade, Colorado.
Course 1: Maison la Belle Vie White Table Wine poured with Dungeness Crab Cake with black truffle, Pernod, and beurre blanc. This dry white wine with bracing acid and a floral aroma was made from 100% Muscat. It paired beautifully with the buttery, savory texture of the crab cake and its bed of greens with vinaigrette. Barbier said he picked the Muscat grapes at 21-22 brix (sugar content), rather than 25+ brix, which is when the grapes are picked to produce the more familiar Muscat dessert wine.
Course 2: Maison la Belle Vie Merlot Blend poured with Warm Tartiflette Goat Cheese Salad made with warm organic Antisana-style goat cheese, caramelized pine nuts, and walnut olive oil white Balsamic vinaigrette. The wine was a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged six months in oak. The wine’s smoke and rich red fruit created a smooth complement to the richness of the tartiflette and its potatoes, cheese, and lardons.
Course 3: Maison la Belle Vie Cabernet Sauvignon poured with Beef Tender Noisette with Chanterelle mushrooms and pearl onions in a port wine reduction with red currant mint salsa. The wine was a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% 2006 Petit Verdot. The umami of beef and mushrooms held up well against the bold fruit of the Cabernet.
Course 4: Maison la Belle Vie Vin de Peche poured with Strawberries Chocolate Toffee, or strawberries sautéed in Cabernet Sauvignon with a hint of black pepper and almond vanilla bean ice cream. The wine is a Muscat dessert wine made with 45% Palisade peaches – as Barbier said, “It’s very peachy.” The peach wine was a refreshing contrast to the decadent chocolate toffee, which was impossible to taste without having every last morsel melt in your mouth.
The buzz of a busy Saturday night and live music set the scene for a remarkable evening and another wonderful Winefest meal.
Le Rouge is located at 317 Main Street in Grand Junction, Colorado.