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Food and wine matching: Roast Beef

The temptation of The Parlour’s Roast Beef ‘To Go’ during lockdown, prompted us to start a series of posts about food matching. Here are some wine suggestions to compliment a roast beef.

Now as far we’re concerned, there are only two ways to roast beef – fast or slow.  We’ll come back to slow cooked beef at another time.

Rare Roast Beef

When we say fast, we mean rare.  Still pink and juicy inside, at most, red even.  

Although personally I draw the line at blue.  L and I once went to a friend’s house for Sunday lunch when we lived in France.  A beautifully prepared filet de boeuf sat on the side throughout aperitifs, throughout the starter and was eventually banged into the oven as the starter plates were cleared away.  It was then served 10 minutes later, vaguely warm and brown on the extremity but definitely cold and raw everywhere else, studded with shards of still raw garlic, to boot!  

Now I’m a fan of tartare and carpaccio, but I do like my roast beef cooked!  It’s easy to time – As your guests arrive and you open a bottle of Franciacorta, brown your prepared (yes, studded with garlic is good) room temperature joint in a very hot pan for 2-3 minutes then bung it in the oven while you join your guests for aperitifs in the sitting room. (Riverford recommend laying a leek alongside your roast to caramelise and flavour the meat juices, I note, which sounds like a fine idea.). Then when you return to the kitchen / dining room for your starter – a big pot of smoked mackerel pâté to scoop onto crackers?  (It’s a lazy Sunday lunch!)  With a nicely chilled glass of Falanghina or Macon Blanc, maybe? – take out the almost cooked beef, wrap it in foil or cling film (with the leek) and let it rest somewhere warm.  Under a towel moistened with hot water works.  By the time it’s time to carve, the beef should have relaxed and released its leek infused juices.

Now to the important question, what to drink with it?

Bordeaux

The obvious suggestion is Bordeaux. If you’re old-school, “claret”. Although claret, an evolution of the French word clairet – a clear or lighter wine – is a pretty dated term, not just because it’s used by old Buffton-Tufftons in tweed jackets and mustard cords, but because Bordeaux ain’t nowhere near as light as it was two or three centuries ago.  Keep up, Buffton-Tuffton!  

If you’d like a lighter Bordeaux our delicate but complex and great value, Roseville Saint-Émilion is the one for you.  

But with a beautiful, rare sirloin such as The Parlour provide, our temptation is to go darker.  Our Fronsac, a lesser-known appellation just down the road from Saint-Émilion, is a deep, smooth, great value, wine made from 100% Merlot. If you want more Cabernet grip, try a Médoc such as the inky dark Château Sigognac, or the more complex Margaux, Château Maucaillou.

We now stock a small but perfectly formed range of Boudreaux fine wines down in our cellar.  They are all listed on our website.  And click here to see our full range of Boudreaux wines.

Bordeaux-like

Away from Bordeaux, the world offers many Bordeaux-like wines:  The Paradoux Red from Bodega Alandes in Mendoza, Argentina springs to mind: Made by an interesting, non-vintage technique, a percentage of last year’s blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot is reserved to be blended into the following year’s wine, this adding ever evolving layers of age and complexity to every following year’s wine.  (A little like the method used by Champagne houses to produce consistent base wines year-on-year, or the solera method used for making sherries,)

Other Bordeaux style wines worthy of consideration include Hermandad Blend, a massive Malbec-led blend (yes, Malbec is one of the original six grape varieties of Bordeaux, although little grown there now) from Argentina; Hahn’s 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from California; Vuurberg Red or Meerlust Rubicon both from Stellenbosch, South Africa; or, a little lighter, Olé Ola an organic Cabernet/Merlot blend from Germany!

Other Beefy Wines for Beefy Beef

Other classic big wines such as Rioja work well too.  The Beronia Gran Reserva has enormous depth and character, having spent 2 years in oak barrels and a further three in the bottle before being released.  Alternatively there’s the massive, pungent Zarihs, a 100% Syrah (its name is Shiraz, backwards) from Bodegas Borsao in Campo de Borja, Spain.  Or a grippier Tempranillo from Argentina – Altocedro.

Another option is a big, chewy Côtés-du-Rhône, such as Domaine de Mourchon’s Grande Reserve.  There’s a little more ‘grip’ to this wine, it’s leathery, herbal Syrah element having spent a year mellowing in barrels before being blended with more fruit-forward, less tannic Grenache.

Maybe a “Super Tuscan” would be your thing?  Super Tuscans take the classic international grapes of Bordeaux – Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – and blend them with the famous Tuscan grape, Sangiovese.  These wines were pioneered in the 1970s by the likes of Tignanello and Sassicaia, both of which we stock, both of which are – how should we put this? – not cheap.  Alternatively, we stock two other wines from the Tenuta San Guido – Guidalberto and Le Difese.  Another great option is Quercibella’s organic Mongrana.

Good Value Alternatives

Now we are aware that most of the wines recommended above are priced at £20 a bottle and upwards, although the Chateau Mayne-Vielle Fronsac (£15), Roseville Saint-Émilion (£17) and Olé Ola (£16) are all less.  We reckon a joint of beef from the likes of Brooks ain’t cheap and Sunday Lunch is an infrequent treat not a quotidian trudge.

But we also recognise that good wine doesn’t have to blow the budget so here are some good roast beef friendly wines starting at a tenner:

Montagne Noir Cabernet Sauvignon
Terra Boa Old Vine Tinto
Grand Noir Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz
100% Marselan
Quara Tannat
Meerlust Red

November 12, 2020
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