Life in the Loire on lock-down. 3rd May. Day fifty.

Wow day fifty. That sounds like a long time. Counting down now to May 11th when the lock-down is eased (hopefully).

Lots to get on with today. More tasting notes to write and recipes to test. Today I’m concentrating on the home made burger that will pair with Chateau de Montdomaine’s Cuvée de l’Artiste.

I often make home made burgers for an easy, tasty dinner but am not in the habit of measuring what goes in. Very much a bit of this and a bit of that kind of cook, I need to note accurately what goes in and exactly how much.

It will be a Frenchie burger. A burger inspired by the flavours of France. A burger with a twist. And served with some moreish quick pickled onions. I absolutely love those, they’re so easy and I could sit and eat a bowl of them on their own.

Cuvée de l’Artiste is a robust Malbec with rich spicy fruit. 2018 was a brilliant year for Loire reds. They have great richness and concentration but on the whole are a bit young at the moment. That’s not a problem, a little air does wonders. Nigel decanted it to soften it up a little before we tasted it alongside the burger at lunchtime.

When I say decanted it, let me be a little more precise. He didn’t get out a fancy decanter, he fetched a big jug and poured the wine into it from a great height. You don’t need fancy gadgets, aerators or decanters. The aim is to expose the wine to oxygen which opens it up and softens the tannins.

And it worked a treat.

And so our lunch was the burgers. First, the base of the burger bun (not home made, that was going too far on a Sunday), slathered with mustardy mayonnaise, then the burger itself, a few thin slices of French cheese (we used Abondance as it was what we had but you could use cheddar, gruyère or any other hard cheese), a big slice of tomato, a sprinkle of sea salt, some lettuce leaves, a pile of quick pickled onions and finally the top of the bun, also slathered in mayonnaise.

A Frenchie style burger with French cheese and heaps of quick pickled onions

I brought them to the table and we both looked at them. “There’s no way I can eat all that” said Nigel. “Me neither” I replied “I think I’ll just eat half of the bun or maybe leave the bun”.

But I didn’t leave the bun, or even half of the bun. I ate the whole thing and Nigel did too. And what’s more, the Cuvée l’Artiste was so delicious that we enjoyed 2 big glasses each with the burger. Full, and just a little tipsy we decided that a snooze was in order.

Lunchtime drinking is a killer. We rarely drink wine at lunchtime. Just occasionally on a Sunday or if we have people over.

And so we came back to life late afternoon, had a cuppa and I resumed writing my tasting notes and recipes.

Meanwhile Nigel set to preparing dinner. A duck leg each cooked in the oven with little white coco beans and lots of fresh rosemary. Neither of us was feeling particularly hungry so we retasted the Artiste and watched a cookery programme on Netflix before eventually sitting down to eat at half past nine.

Roasted duck legs wih coco beans, rosemary and lots more quick pickled onions

The Artiste had opened up and revealed a real hedgerow fruit character that is most appealing. It really is a lovely wine. I’m sure it’s going to go down very well.

Our personal drinking this evening was Pierre-Jacques Druet’s Vaumoreau, Bourgueil 2009. Nearly 10 years older than Artiste and a different grape variety (Cab Franc), it’s hard to make comparisons but it did show clearly the difference between a young wine and an aged wine.

We finished the evening by raising a glass to my old au pair Sylwia and her fiancé David. We should have been in Poland this weekend for their wedding. She’d been planning it for over a year and people were coming from all over the world. Like many other weddings and celebrations, it had to be cancelled.

It’s funny. We were so looking forward to seeing them and having a couple of days in Warsaw but we were also worried about going away during what is normally the busiest month of the year for our business.

Who knew we’d be sitting here with no business at all.