By Nicholas Harary
They celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at Nicholas’ school last month. The parents were told to arrive at 1:15 p.m. while the kids were out at recess. We were instructed to ransack the room and place shamrocks all over the floor with leprechaun footprints and green glitter. I may have gone too far by turning all of the desks upside down and dumping all the books off the bookshelf. Juliana came along and was in her glory, trashing the room right beside me. I hope she does not try this at home.
We then hid in the room across the hall as the kids came in to see what “the leprechauns” did to their classroom. The kids went crazy. I thought Nicholas’ eyes were going to pop out of his head. Their teacher taught them well because it only took 15 minutes for the entire class of green-clad kindergarten kids to get things back in order. They kind of looked like leprechauns to me. The kids worked fast because they knew green cupcakes and cookies were waiting for them. Just as the moms started to put the treats out, the principal walked in and told the teacher that it is against public school rules to serve sweets in the classroom. Ahhhh, bureaucracy never changes … the look on these little leprechaun faces was enough to break your heart. So instead, they each received a slice of green pepper and a handful of green grapes. Nicholas asked later, “Daddy, why did we get punished? We didn’t make the mess, the leprechauns did!” … Sometimes things don’t make any sense.
It makes about as much sense as buying Bordeaux futures. Plunking down a load of cash to buy a famous but overpriced wine that you won’t receive for two years and won’t be able to drink for another 10, is crazy to me. Maybe it makes sense if you are in the commodity business but if you drink wine as part of the dining experience like we do, it is senseless. But, fortunately, there are still a few rainbows in the clouded market of Bordeaux and Chateau Panchille is a pot of gold.
At Nicholas Wines, finding great Bordeaux to drink at the table is one of our hardest jobs. In Bordeaux, the number of labels greatly outnumber the number of actual farmers making wine. Small, family-run domaines farming their estates naturally and making wine representative of their place of origin are commonplace around the rest of France.
Not so with Bordeaux, where British banks and French insurance companies own every other chateau and their umpteen lesser labels. Pascal Sirat and his Chateau Panchille are a throwback to the Bordeaux of a generation ago. He makes classy, medium-bodied Bordeaux from a real vineyard, as good with a grilled rack of lamb as it is with a burger and priced to drink everyday. It’s a great bottle of wine, perfect for anyone’s table. Just $17 a bottle, $15 on all full case purchases ($180).
At Chateau Panchille, Pascal Sirat farms his family’s 11 hectare of Merlot and Cabernet Franc vines, rooted in gravelly soils laced with veins of iron-rich clay. He’s got fairly old vines whose roots run very deep in the poor soil, tapping the mineral groundwater far below the surface. The resulting wines are ripe but fresh, with an aromatic complexity and stony finish usually reserved for wine twice the price. This is medium-bodied Bordeaux with layers of pure cassis fruit, touched by just a bit of earth, cedar and spice. Pair this wine with the rack of lamb dish, page 142 in the Restaurant Nicholas Cookbook, perfect match.
Nicholas Harary is the owner and executive chef at restaurant Nicholas in Middletown.
In 2011, Restaurant Nicholas launched its Nicholas Wines program. Each month, Nicholas Harary selects one to two wines to sell in the online store (www.restaurantnicholas.com). Chef Harary’s long-lasting, personal relationships with winemakers and his commitment to storing wine at 56 degrees from Day One equates to unique access, value and quality for Nicholas Wines customers. Wines can be ordered by the bottle and/or case and shipped or picked up at the restaurant.