Tomorrow night I am tasting two wines from Château Maris in the Minervois. Le Touge 2017 and Les Planels 2017, both Syrah based wines made biodynamicaly from one of the regions pioneers of biodynamic farming.

La Touge and Les Planels from Château Maris

These are wines that are big on fruit, spice and alcohol. In this heat the alcohol can be a bit off putting so I am going to cool them down, I don’t want to serve them cold, but certainly not room temperature which right now is around 26ºC!!! 16ºC should be good. I shall also decant the Planels in advance to soften the oak.

So what to eat with these wines, if it was winter I would be cooking up a stew, but I dont fancy that much in this heat! A steak or some sausages on the barbecue would be delicious, but that isn’t exactly challenging recipe wise so I have come up with two alternatives for you to try.

Firstly with the Le Touge we will be enjoying Aubergine Stacks: slice the aubergine into 2 cm rings, dredge with olive oil, rock salt and herbs de Provence and pop into a preheated oven at 200ºC for 20 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove from the oven and place the largest rings onto an oven proof dish, top with a slice of tomato, a teaspoon of radish leaf pesto*, a slice of Serrano ham, a further slice of aubergine, fresh tomato sauce**, diced tomato, breadcrumbs, goats cheese and parmesan cheese! I realise that all sounds like a lot of work but once you have cooked the aubergines which is 2 minutes of preparation, and made the tomato sauce a further 10 minutes, it actually takes less than 5 minutes to assemble! Finish off with some salt and pepper, fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil and pop into the oven for a further 10 – 15 minutes. Serve warm.

With Les Planels I thought to be more adventurous and am serving a spiced duck magret with aubergines and a tamarind chutney. Take the duck breast remove any sinew and cut off any excess fat. Score the skin, ensuring that you do not cut the meat, and rub in a combination of garlic, ginger, salt, pepper and garam masala. Leave to marinade for at least an hour. When ready get an oven proof frying pan and cook the duck breast skin down, as the fat is released add cubed aubergines to the pan. They do not need any seasoning or extra fat as they will cook in the duck fat and the marinade and take on those flavours. Stir them continuously to ensure that they do not burn and are well coated. Cook the duck until pink, turning from time to time. It should take 10 minutes, depending on the size of the magret. Remove the duck breast and leave to rest on a plate. Meanwhile pop the aubergines into the oven for a further 10 minutes to finish cooking.

For the tamarind chutney take a heavy bottomed pan and cook a sliced red onion in olive oil with 2 garlic cloves until caramelised and turned brown. Then stir in 1 tbsp grated ginger, 1 tsp of turmeric, 1/2 tsp chili pepper and 1 tsp paprika and salt to taste. Add to this a chopped tomato, 4 dates and 2 apricots, all roughly chopped. Loosen with a splash of water and a tbsp of tamarind paste. Cook until it has a chutney like texture, roughly 15 minutes. Taste, you may need to add a bit of sugar if your tamarind paste is very sour, adjust the spice according to taste but you are not looking for it to be too hot here. Turn off the heat and add a tsp of garam masala and cool. Serve with a sprinkling of fresh coriander.

*the radish leaf pesto recipe can be found on this blog and in my book A Taste of le Sud.

**a simple tomato sauce will suffice, I just cooked off onions, garlic, tomatoes with seasoning and basil and then blitzed to make a smooth sauce.