Match of the week | Palais Royal and Roquefort

Match of the week

Palais Royal and Roquefort

We’ve been down in the Languedoc for the past week, revisiting some of the winemakers we haven’t seen for a while. They included Domaine de l’Arjolle, one of the first wineries we bought from when we bought a holiday home down here in the early 1990s.

Like most wineries in those days they were running the whole thing on a shoestring and the winery was pretty ramshackle. I seem to remember an old mattress being propped up against the cellar wall (maybe for some unfortunate cellar hand who was deputed to keep an eye on the tanks overnight) but nowadays they have a pukka tasting room and cellar and obviously welcome a fair number of visitors.

The owner Louis-Marie Teisserenc (right) remembered that I was interested in food and wine pairing and produced a series of impromptu snacks to partner the wines as we went along. I have to confess I couldn’t resist trying some superb foie gras sprinkled with red wine-flavoured ‘sel de vin’ which was sensationally good with their late picked - but dry - Dernier Cueillette Chardonnay 2007.*

What Teisserenc referred to as ‘black pooding’ (aka boudin noir) was a pretty good match with their oddball Zinfandel ‘Z’ de l’Arjolle though the 2008 vintage was much lighter than the luxuriant 2007 I enjoyed earlier this year (which still seems to be available in Oddbins at £16.49).

But the pairing I think worked best was which the domaine has modelled on Banyuls. It's less sweet than port which I think worked particularly well with the salty Roquefort, just adding a nice touch of macerated cherry fruit. I'm sure it would be terrific with dark chocolate too.

Frustratingly the wine only seems to be available in France and Holland but I’d give Banyuls a try as an alternative.

* This is, I have to confess, the second time I’ve eaten foie gras recently, despite my resolution to give it up a couple of years ago. I can resist it on a menu - it's just hard when someone waves it under your nose. I just wish it wasn’t so delicious.

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