There are unusual restaurants, and then there's Kinette Gautier.
When I received the invitation to this evening of rosé food and wine matching from Bordeaux Oxygene, I almost said no because I am on too many deadlines at the moment, but I couldn't resist for two reasons. Firstly because I am always looking for genuinely good Bordeaux rosés, and secondly because I had heard such interesting things about the venue, Kinette Gautier.
Many people don't even realise that Bordeaux makes rosé, but more and more good chateaux do... even if they have only just realised that it can be more than a by-product of their reds.
In fact, the Bordelais have been making this style of wine for almost 1,000 years. The original wine that was exported to England back in the 12th century was a version of today’s rosé. Known as clairet, (the origin of the word claret) it was a light red wine that would most likely have been undrinkable within about six months of production, because there was no clever technology at the time for preserving wines in ways that allowed them to age. With the addition of sulphur and other anti-oxidising tricks, this of course is no longer a problem, but the Bordelais still make both clairet and rosé wines.
Traditionally, it is made in Bordeaux largely by ‘bleeding’ off some liquid from the red wine barrels at the start of fermentation in order to concentrate what remains behind. Rather than just chucking it out, they bottle and sell it, but there is rarely the idea of treating the grapes differently to specifically make a quality rosé.
This is changing, however, as the market for this style of wine increases. And last night was a reflection of this increased quality: Kinette Gautier (the name of the 'restaurant', but also of the legendary woman who owns it, rarely seen without an extravagent hat and a keen turn of phrase) has recently had a revelation, after, as she says, 'a long time when everyone knew rose was not my favourite wine... until tasting Clara 2007 Bordeaux Clairet Clos Dubreuil from Benoit Trocard ; once tasted...'
Kinette and her husband Michel Gautier (a Maitre Cuisinier de la France) used to run a Michelin-starred restaurant on Cours du Chapeau Rouge in central Bordeaux, but now run what can only be described as a bespoke dining service with a bit of theatre thrown in. They cook in this very private place for clients who are invited by word of mouth - usually either through the CIVB bordeaux wine bureau, or through individual chateaux. Located in their private house, on a forgotten street of the Bordeaux Bastide (when they first moved here around 20 years ago, the Bastide was 'like the Bronx' as they said last night... 'but everyone wanted to know who was crazy enough to create a restaurant over there...'). You enter into the garden, then walk through into the kitchen, where there is a long table that can sit up to 12 people (we were 10 last night). And then just let them take over...
The evening was really so interesting, and I'm sure even the owners of these wines learnt new things about the flavours and nuances contained in their roses from the brilliant choice of foods that the Gautiers had chosen to accompany them.
The wines and food tasted were:
Château Thieuley Rosé 2008
Served with Rose petals in lotus leaf form, with avocado, beetroot heart and crevette rose. (I don't think I have ever eaten rose petals before, and they were delicious, possibly my favourite part of the whole evening. The roses were grown in Kinette's parents garden in Langoiran, Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux region)
Clos Fourtet, Rosé 2008
Served with Fliet de lisette (a dark oily fish a bit like mackerel), in a whisky-infused gelée, with raspberries and balsemic.
Clara de Clos Dubreuil 2007
Romeo and Juliette smoked salmon (smoked themselves, in a Demptos barrel), on a bed of smoked gelée, infused with truffle.
Les Hauts de Smith, Rosé 2008
Brochette of Arcachon Oysters, with cucumber vermicelli and 'Perles de France'. These turned out to be snails' eggs, from the Charente Martime, finely salted with fleur de sel. Definitely a first for me to taste snails' eggs (who knew snails even laid eggs??). They were bigger than caviar, white, and tasted really quite good, mushroomy, peaty, a bit like cress - but when you crack them a sweet liquid gets released that seemed good last night but the thought of it this morning was less appetising...
Malartic Lagravière , Rosé 2008
Aubergine tart (in fact it was more like a ratatouille, but food described in English never sounds as good as in French!) with fillet of veal, on a coulis of carrots.
Rosé by Michel Rolland 2008
'Air' of red fruits, with a coulis of strawberries. Served with ginger infused biscuits.
Reviews of each I have put onto the site:
And Kinette Gautier website here: