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Symbiose’s Jura event at Bocata

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Old Montreal wine bar Bocata has been holding a series of Thursday evening wine and food events in collaboration with various agencies. On January 23, the agency was Symbiose and the theme was the Jura. A friend from Besançon, just outside the Jura, and I made reservations.

With its stone walls, low, rough-beamed wood ceilings, fireplace, bookcases, warm lighting and seating for 30 or 40, the space is cosy, romantic and refreshingly unslick. The regular menu leans toward Spain and southern France, but ours was a Jurassic prix fixe: four courses for $40 or five for $45, wines included. We went the latter route.

The starter was a beautifully presented oyster on the half shell covered with a mince of sour apple and fennel, a credible match for the Côtes-du-Jura 2010, Naturé, Domaine Berthet-Bondet ($29.77, Symbiose, 6 bottles/case). Naturé, one of Savagnin‘s former aliases, is now used exclusively to refer to unoxidized Savagnins. This one had a nose of straw, brine and preserved lemon with a musky Sauvignon-like cat pee note. In the mouth, it was rich and round on the surface but had plenty of underlying acidity and a long, rainwatery finish.

The Côtes-du-Jura 2011, Rubis, Domaine Berthet-Bondet (NLA) is a blend of Trousseau (60%), Poulsard (30%) and Pinot Noir (10%). True to its name, the wine is a limpid pale red. With coaxing, the stern, faintly bretty nose of shale and burned match gave up scents of crushed raspberries (fruit and leaves). Light-bodied, minerally and tart, it had a silky texture, shy fruit and not much depth. The finish brought a surprising note of orange peel. What the wine needed was food to perk it up, and this it got in an earthy bowl of Puy lentils flavoured with smoky Morteau sausage.

Next, a dish – actually a shallow bowl – of mussels and scallops, the latter cut into mussel-size pieces, in a curry-scented carrot soup/sauce/purée: an excellent match for the L’Étoile 2008, Domaine de Montbourgeau, which had wowed the MWG in November 2011. (The 2010 is currently available at the SAQ ($21.55, 11557541).) Made from Chardonnay and possibly a little co-planted Savagnin, it spends around 18 months in 230-litre oak barrels and 600-litre demi muids. A middleweight that flowed smoothly on the palate, this had a classic, complex nose of browning apple, marzipan, hazelnuts, corn silage and dried pine needles. The lightly oxidized fruit was brightened by acidity and did a slow-fade on the long finish. A complete wine, lacking nothing.

By this point, we had become seriously impressed with the food – not just the execution, which was flawless, but also the clear knowledge of how to pair dishes with Jura wines. How many local chefs appreciate curry’s affinity for oxidized Jura whites, let alone use the spice with such an elegant hand? We asked the waiter to transmit our compliments to the chef. Before long, he stopped at our table: young, Limousin native Benjamin Léonard, who, it turns out, did a stint at Arbois’s top restaurant (two Michelin stars), Jean-Paul Jeunet.

The next wine was the Arbois-Pupillin 2009, Les Vianderies, Domaine de la Renardière ($29.84, Symbiose, 12 bottles/case), a small-production, old-vine Chardonnay cuvée. Fermentation and maturation last 18 months and take place in 500-litre tonneaux. This had a wafting nose of lemon, hawthorn and chalk with a hint of smoke and ash. On the palate, it was dry, fresh and pure – very chalky and citrusy – a lovely wine whose only weak point seemed its fleeting finish. Still, it made a fine pairing for the most accomplished dish of the evening: a moist, meltingly tender round of turkey breast stuffed with foie gras, cooked sous vide, served in a foamy vin jaune sauce and garnished with hedgehog mushrooms and a few tiny nuggets of sautéed foie gras.

Lastly, accompanied by an 18-month Comté, came a 2005 Château Chalon, Domaine Berthet-Bondet (NLA). Aromatically dazzling: walnut, curry powder, dried corn, almond, even a little banana peel. Delicate, minerally, subtly oxidized in the mouth. Rich but dry in a Fino-like way, with fine but sustained acidity. Not as deep or rich as some yet elegant and beautiful all the same.

To say we were satisfied would be the understatement of the century. The QPR was off the charts; we would have considered it a bargain to have paid $45 for the food alone. This may have been a case of the planets aligning – a Jura-trained chef egged on by a Jura-enamoured agent and given free rein to concoct a Jura-inspired tasting menu to accompany a series of fine Jura wines – but the overall quality was so high, I doubt it was only that. Both my friend and I plan to return to check out the regular menu.

Two more Bocata wine events – both even more affordable than the Jura tasting – are planned for February: Rézin and Beaujolais on the 21st and oenopole and Greek terroirs on the 28th. And it looks like there may soon be some interesting local developments on the Jura front. Stay tuned for details.

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Written by carswell

February 17, 2013 at 12:45

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