I'm not sure if any of you have ventured up to Evanston, but if you're in the mood for an upscale adventure into French seafood, Oceanique is worth the trip. This amazing restaurant has been operating since 1989 under Chef/Owner Mark Grosz and is a local institution, creating dishes from the best organic produce and seafood from sustainable eco-friendly sources. The wine list might be even more impressive than the food, comprised of grower Champagne, white and red Burgundy (including a full page of Domaine Romanee-Conti!) and a very nice collection of Grands Crus Bordeaux dating back to 1961. The program is run adeptly by Chef Mark's son, Wine Director Philippe Andre. Not only has he compiled quite a collection, but has also made great relationships with many a producer.
This leads me to the wine dinner of which I was invited to meet Maison Champy winemaker, Dimitri Bazas. Champy was established as a negociant (a wine merchant who purchases produce of smaller growers and winemakers) in 1720 with holdings in Morey St. Denis and Montrachet. They were purchased by Maison Louis Jadot in 1990 but Pierre Meurgey purchased the name and final holdings (10%) of Champy. They acquired more land and began to create Savigny, Corton-Charlemagne, Mazis-Chambertin, Pommard and others. Dimitri came from Greece to Burgundy in 1991 and consulted for many wineries before settling at Champy in 2003. He wishes for his wines to taste as the terrior does instead of to taste like "Champy".
Now onto the pairings. First we tried 2005 Corton-Charlemagne (always 100% Chardonnay) which was full and powerful with oak spice and tropical fruit. This was a wine everyone should experience at least once. It paired with Wild Maine Lobster, Day Boat Scallop and English Peas. A rich seafood is always great with this wine as they play off each other well, accentuating fruit, freshness and full flavor.
Next we tried the 2006 Corton-Charlemagne, which was a totally different wine than the '05. It had more fresh fruit and acidity, but less power. They were like amazing fraternal twins- fantastic for their differences. It was paired with Organic Spanish Turbot, Favas, Green Garlic and Saffron-Yuzu sauce. The dish needed fruit and acidity and the Corton-Charlemagne was up for the task.
Moving onto red, we tried the 2007 Mazis-Chambertin, a very cool and racy wine with plenty notes of fresh berries and game. The pairing was Wild Maine Skatefish with Asparagus. I'm not crazy about Pinot Noir and asparagus, but the fish went well as it is mild with slight nuttiness.
I clearly loved the last wine- a 2009 Mazis-Chambertin. It had grippy tannins, loud and ripe fruit, bold acidity, it was a complete wine. But, it was quite young also- a pleasure to enjoy now, but one to cellar. It was paired with Hudson Valley Duck Confit, Spaetzle, Belgian Endive and Kumquat. The wine definitely stood up to the rich duck and the acidity and tannins stood hard against it. Buy this wine if you have the opportunity.
Chef made an amazing Berry Sorbet with Creme de Cassis which left everyone satisfied. I would do this again, but remember, Oceanique will be closed in July for renovation and will reopen with a brand new look, which I cannot wait to see. Another 24 years to you Chef Mark and Philippe!