My sister-in-law and her best friend came to stay. Both are what the French would so elegantly describe as une bonne fourchette and they wanted to take us out somewhere nice for dinner. Le Mimosa in St. Guiraud was our choice. I first went to Le Mimosa with Aimé Guibert of Mas de Daumas Gassac back in the late 1980s, when David and Brigitte Pugh were just beginning to create their a reputation for elegant cooking and a fine wine list. These days the selection of wines, especially from the Midi, is stunning. David has two wine lists – entitled Vins d’Ici and Vins d’Ailleurs. This is the place to go for older vintages of some of the great names of the south, Mas de Daumas Gassac, la Grange des Peres, Tempier, Trévallon, Olivier Jullien and so on, and David also keeps abreast of newer names too.
If you choose the menu capricieux, the menu of the day, you can also ask David to choose you a glass of wine to accompany each course. We decided to put ourselves in his hands, and we were richly rewarded. In fact it was quite one of the best meals that I have enjoyed for a long time, with such a delicious choice of wines, that I felt I had to share it with you.
Our aperitif, to accompany an amuse bouche of hummus, with some red pepper and courgette, was 2009 Mas Conscience l’In, a beautifully mouth filling Grenache blanc, light golden in colour, rich and textured with notes of white blossom, with some good acidity on the finish.
The first course was home smoked salmon, with a leek terrine. This came with a glass of a Limoux from a producer that was new to me. At least I had heard the name, but never drunk the wine, Domaine Mouscaillou and the vintage was 2007. An elegantly oaky Chardonnay, with some firm minerality and good acidity.
Next came an elegant helping of a risotto with three different wild mushrooms, trompettes de mort, champettes roses and girolles. We opted for a red wine with the mushrooms and enjoyed the 2008 Pinot Noir, Pomarèdes from Domaine de Clovallon. This is one of my favourite Pinot Noir, from anywhere, not just the Midi. It was deliciously fresh, with raspberry fruit and some tannin and acidity.
Our fish course was a small helping of St. Pierre, with a coquille St. Jacques. David had three vintages of Olivier Jullien’s Blanc, on the go – in magnum – the 2007, 2006 and 2005. We got to try all three. The 2007 was fresh and lemony with good acidity and some firm minerality; the 2006 was beginning to fill out with some rounded nutty fruit, while the 2005 was broader and fuller, richer with a slightly honeyed note, showing just how well the white wines of the Languedoc can evolve.
Some pigeon came next, with some lentils cooked with smoked pork and some finely chopped chestnuts which added an intriguing texture. And to go with this was OlivIer Jullien’s 1996 Cailloutis, also en magnum. It was wonderfully stony and mineral, with some leathery notes, medium weight, with elegant concentration and a remarkably youthful finish.
The cheese trolley at Le Mimosa is to die for – with all manner of goats’ cheeses of different provenances and age; various cheeses from ewe’s milk and then some of the great names of the French cheese board, St. Nectaire, Epoisses, Livarot and so on. We all chose quite different cheeses, with the result that we were able to enjoy tastes of three quite different wines.
2008 Clapas blanc, from Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette (see my posting last week) This was fresh, with good acidity and a touch of oak, and still very young and went very well with my powerful Epoisses.
2006 Domaine de Montcalmès. As it happened, we had drunk the 2004 earlier in the week and I much preferred the 2006, which had more substance, with some attractive spicy fruit and a touch of oak.
And then some 2006 Clapas rouge appeared, with some dry mineral fruit, and spicy notes and a fresh finish.
Pudding presented another dilemma – again we all had quite different things, so we were presented with three different dessert wines. Olivier Jullien was responsible for two of them:
2008 Méjanne, the sweet version of this cuvée, which was beautifully honeyed, with fresh acidity on the finish
1996 Clairette Beudelle, which was amber in colour, lightly nutty on the nose, and wonderfully intense with some honeyed, nutty flavours.
And with my sliver of chocolate cake, I enjoyed 2005 Maury from the Préceptorie de Centenach, Think young light vintage port, rather than the rancio, oxidative style of Maury. It was a youthful red, with some sweet fruit and balancing tannin, which gave a satisfying contrast to the chocolate. A delicious finale to a wonderful meal. And since you ask, I woke up this morning clear-headed and alert, and ready to enjoy a walk in the bright autumnal sunshine.