Dinner with friends in Châteauneuf du Pape

A dinner with good friends in Châteauneuf du Pape included two classic examples of Provençal cooking. Our hostess prepared a sensational grilled eggplant dish lacquered with tomato coulis and wonderfully fresh olive oil. There is something about the flavor of tomatoes and eggplant in southern France that turns on my olfactory circuits big time. The baby leg of lamb roasted over a woodfire was superb. Perfectly cooked, it was bursting with flavors of lamb and the garlic, garrigue and Provençal herbs in which it had been marinated.

The superb wines included the brilliant 2010 Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc, an equal part blend of Roussanne and Clairette, and a young, vibrant 2009 Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf du Pape red. The latter wine was somewhat forward for a Vieux Donjon, but 2009 is a very showy vintage. We finished with a spectacular magnum of the 2003 Saint Préfért Châteauneuf du Pape Charles Giraud. This fully mature offering is reeking of Provençal herbs, licorice, black cherry jam, earth and truffles. It is a sensational 2003 that can be enjoyed over the next 2-3 years.

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