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Wine: Morocco France

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Buried under tons of leftover holiday turkey last month, I put some of it to use making turkey chili and turkey tetrazzini, along with the mandatory turkey sandwiches and soup. And somewhere along the line, I had the questionable notion of pairing creamy, buttery tetrazzini with an expensive bottle of Viognier. I bounced the idea off of Franco, my personal wine consultant, asking if I should save the Viognier for another time or go for it. He responded, “I’ve never been one to delay gratification.” n

Well, the bottle at hand wasn’t just any old Viognier. It was 2005 Guigal Condrieu la Dorianne, a wine that normally sells for around $100 but which I found here marked down 50 percent, to $47 and change. Presumably, it was discounted because the rapidly aging 2005 vintage has seen better days. Even so, I couldn’t resist buying a wine that Wine Advocatemoi and not to be wasted. guru Robert Parker described as “spectacular,” “totally profound” and “one of the finest [Guigal] has ever made.” Condrieu is France’s (and probably the world’s) finest expression of the Viognier varietal, and I was going to sip it with turkey tetrazzini? I was having second thoughts. Even at half-price, Condrieu is a special-occasion beverage for

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So what’s all this about Morocco meeting France? Well, that bottle of Condrieu la Dorianne was really gnawing at me. I needed an excuse to drink it before it got a day older, or certainly before ’09. As it happened, for Christmas, I’d received a wonderful gift for the kitchen: a Moroccan tagine, which is sort of a clay “skillet” with a cone-shaped lid. It’s perfect, not surprisingly, for cooking up Moroccan stews called tagines.

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So there I was, in the midst of cooking chicken tagine, when I was suddenly bowled over by the fragrant aromas wafting from the stove. The chicken was spiced with traditional Moroccan seasonings like cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, garlic, red onion, honey, dried apricots and toasted almonds. It smelled fantastic. And then it hit me: I must drink the Condrieu with the tagine.

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The reason I came to this conclusion is that Condrieu is typically packed with lovely floral and fruit aromas: white flowers, apricots, honey and white peaches, in particular. So it made sense that this wine might just be a perfect partner for a dish made with apricots, honey and such. Condrieu also has a slightly sweet character, and so did my chicken tagine. So I cautiously uncorked the 2005 Guigal Condrieu la Dorianne.

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The 2005 vintage might be on its last legs, but it’s still a gorgeous wine. It’s incredibly concentrated, wonderfully acidic, but very elegant, with lots of fleshy fruit flavors dominated by those white peaches and apricots I mentioned. There’s also some dried pineapple flavor, along with hints of almond. La Dorianne is a stunningly rich wine with great length. The nose is so aromatic and floral that it’s hard to resist dabbing a little behind your ear. If Audrey Hepburn was a wine, she would be Condrieu la Dorianne.

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Well, I’m glad I resisted the temptation to combine the Condrieu with turkey tetrazzini, because I happened on a different food and wine pairing that was completely unexpected but also completely fortuitous. The chicken tagine paired absolutely beautifully with that bottle of 2005 Guigal Condrieu la Dorianne. I may never drink anything but Condrieu with chicken tagine again.

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By the way, if you’re looking to get into Condrieu for a little less cash, there’s a smokin’ clearance-priced Guigal Condrieu 2007 (not la Dorianne) available as of this writing for $25.75. Try it with tagine. tttt

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