One of cooking’s most intoxicating aromas comes from the Maillard reaction. It’s the flavor associated with browned foods: think a well crusted steak, chocolate, bread crusts, coffee beans, and dark beer. First identified in 1912 by Louis Camille Maillard, the reaction is similar to caramelization, but produces earthier, more complex flavors.
There aren’t any Maillard reactions in the winemaking process, but from time to time the same aroma molecules appear in red wines. And in the context of wine, no Maillard reaction is a better match than that of a well-browned steak. Steak and Bordeaux is among the best food-wine parings around, and today’s wine even leaves room in your budget to trade up on a fine cut of meat.
Lafont Menaut is the project of Philibert Perrin, whose family also owns neighboring Chateau Carbonnieux (one of three visited by Thomas Jefferson in 1786). He employs the same care and expertise at both properties. The Cabernet adds dark, briary notes of blackberry and currant, with the Merlot adding notes of plum jam.
Lafont Menaut is a classic, dark-palate Bordeaux, showing figs and currants alongside notes of cedar smoke and earth. It benefits greatly from 30 minutes or so in a glass or decanter. The 2016 has just arrived in our warehouse and it’s surprisingly ready to drink. The texture is long, dark, and rich, with ripe, juicy tannins that are present but pleasant.
With both steak and wine on your table you may get confused about the source of some of the aromas — but we can assure you after a gulp of each the source won’t much matter.
Lafont-Menaut Pessac-Leognan rouge 2016
bottle price: $24
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