Last night, we met Marcia and Stan at La Mirabelle, a lovely bistro in the West 80’s that we’ve visited from time to time in various locations for decades. Margaret reminded me that the restaurant is known for its venison and rabbit. Stan remembered it for Dover Sole.
As is his wont, Stan handed me the wine list. “Are we ordering two bottles tonight? If so, I’ll have to have an appetizer.”
And so he did, snails swimming in garlic and butter. I had the country pâté, while the girls ate cold artichokes with vinaigrette. We started out with a 2009 Clos de Beauregard Muscadet de Sévre et Maine sur lie. While typically paired with shellfish, as befits a wine originating so near the Atlantic, at the mouth of the Loire, the wine’s freshness and sharp acidity cleansed the palate of the fats and oils we took in. Leaving the wine on the lees, the dead yeast cells, imparts a creaminess to the wine; the lees are also an antioxidant that helps to keep the wine fresh.
While the varietal is locally known as Muscadet, it is officially known as Melon de Bourgogne, brought to the Loire Valley 300 years ago to replace the vines lost during the winter of 1709. Shortly thereafter, the Melon vines of Burgundy were ripped up, so pardon me if I refer to Muscadet by the same name as the people who grow it.
For the main course, Margaret ate shrimp scampi, served in a cute potato basket, Marcia ate snapper, Stan sweetbreads and I venison, though in fact I was hoping for rabbit. Our red wine came from the Rhone Valley, 2007 Domaine Brusset Gigondas. At one time, our wine would have been known as Côtes-du-Rhône-Gigondas, but due to the excellence of the terroir it was accorded its own appellation.
The wine was deep purple and smelled of fruit, spice and stone. Mostly Grenache, blended with Syrah and Mourvédre, it had body, power and silky, persistent tannins that invited you to take just one more sip.
“Assertive, but you have to admire its presumption,” said Stan. As we pondered the meaning of his critique, a silence fell, with each of us taking another bite, another sip. I think he was kidding, or maybe he was talking about me.
As we left the restaurant I chatted with the maitre d’. “Rabbit?” he said. “Just give us a call a few days before you come in and we’ll add it to the specials. And,” to Stan, “Dover Sole is every Monday night.”
I’m thinking it won’t be long before we return to La Mirabelle.