Wine Focus: Chateau Sainte Marie Reserve and Venison for Christmas

I discovered Chateau Sainte Marie’swhite wine a few years back and was deluged by requests from customers to acquire their red. This has proved to be a wise choice as their Reserve Bordeaux Superieur 2008 (£9.95) is a lovely wine and its quality is belittled by its price. I am recommending it as a good match for venison this Christmas as it pairs beautifully with game.

The renown of Château Sainte Marie goes back several centuries, as the vineyard belonged to the 12th century Benedictine Abbaye de la Sauve Majeure (one of the most ancient abbeys in France, located just a mile from the Château). Much of the Château was devastated by fire and only the giant 400 year old sequoias remain.

The Dupuch Family have been making wine at Château Sainte Marie since 1956 with fierce commitment, talent and a great attachment to the originality of the terroir. The south facing vineyards stretch over 2 sunny hilltops which are amongst the highest points in the Gironde and resemble 2 small islands standing proud in a sea of green.

The Sainte Marie has a deep purple colour as well as a sweet perfume of mocha, vanilla, and black cherry jam. It has fresh acidity, super texture, and a heady finish. This is a serious food wine!

I have a super recipe for Chevreuil à la Montmorency which is basically Venison with Cherry and Port Sauce. Dishes à la Montmorency are made or served with cherries.

The term comes from the Montmorency Cherry which is a variety of sour cherry (Prunus cerasus) – the cherry tree was supposedly named for a valley in France owned by the Montmorencys, one of the oldest and most distinguished families in France.

Interestingly the Telegraph reported earlier this month that researchers have found that people who regularly consume Montmorency cherry juice have improved quality of sleep. Their finding could benefit those who have difficulty sleeping due to insomnia or jet lag!

Chevreuil à la Montmorency

½ cup port
½ cup cherries in syrup (Morello will do if you can’t find Montmorency)
½ tsp dried thyme
1 cup beef stock
handful of whole allspice
handful of juniper berries
½ tsp salt, divided
½ tsp pepper
6 venison steaks
2 tsp butter
4 minced shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 ttsp water
1 tsp cornstarch

Combine the port, cherries, stock and thyme in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Cover; set aside.

Place allspice and juniper in a spice or coffee grinder; process until finely ground. Sprinkle ½  tsp allspice/juniper mixture, ¼ tsp salt, and pepper over venison. Melt butter in a frying pan, add venison; cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Reduce heat to medium; cook 3 minutes on each side or longer if you prefer your meat well done. Remove venison from pan; keep warm.

Add shallots and garlic to the pan, sauté 2 minutes. Add cherry mixture, 1 tsp allspice/juniper mixture, and ¼ tsp salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until reduced to 1 cup (about 3 minutes). Combine water and cornstarch; add to cherry mixture. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Serve sauce with venison.

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