A fishy adventure paired with fine wine – Cod with Capers and Pouilly-Fumé.
My exploration of food and wine pairings at home is continuing with a rather special bottle of Pouilly-Fumé from Château de Tracy. Now, until recently, although I knew there were two wines that sound rather similar, Pouilly-Fumé and Pouilly-Fuissé, I wasn’t aware of what made them different. Both are French and although they might sound similar, they are from different grapes and different parts of France. Pouilly-Fumé is from the Loire Valley and is made from Sauvignon Blanc, while Pouilly-Fuissé is from Burgundy and is made from the Chardonnay grape.
The tasting notes for the Château de Tracy Pouilly-Fumé 2019 suggested I was in for a treat – and once I opened the bottle, I couldn’t help but agree. I’d already decided that this was a wine I would pair with fish or shellfish and I’d stocked up with a few options. My local farmers’ market has an excellent fish stall and I bought skate wing, cod and crab claws with a view to trying all three. In the end, my personal favourite was an easy dish of pan-fried cod with capers and cherry tomatoes. I started by trying the skate wing cooked with a caper and white wine reduction and, while the pairing was excellent I thought the dish could do with a little more acidity and sweetness.
I picked the crab claws and used the meat to make a crab and fennel risotto (I left out the chilli which I felt would overwhelm this stunning wine). It was delicious and really not a bad pairing, though this is a wine I’d probably serve as the star of a dinner party and risotto for me is either a light supper or lunch or a starter. My third attempt was, I believe, the best option if one of the simplest. I’m still enjoying the heritage cherry tomatoes that I grew in the garden this summer and I wanted to try a simple pan-fried fish dish with a similar sauce to the one I used with the skate wing, but with just a little more depth of flavour. Adding a little garlic, shallot and a few cherry tomatoes into the mixture made a dish that I think was visually better (and we do eat with our eyes) and a stronger pairing. In fact, if I cooked the skate wing again, I’d add the same mixture of cherry tomatoes, garlic and shallot into the pan along with the capers because the flavour was delicate and complex, while light enough to work really well with a very special wine.
Château de Tracy 2019 Pouilly-Fumé is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, made with grapes from vines that are on average 35 years old. The 2019 vintage was marked by relatively dry weather which limited the yields but at the same time added some texture to the grapes. There was no drought or heatwave so the grapes could reach optimum ripeness and develop the perfect rich, aromatic palate. A light, bright white wine, with fresh, fruit notes and a minerally, chalky finish, this is a wine I want to drink again…preferably with someone else cooking!
Here’s how to make my Cod with Capers and Tomatoes. It’s a recipe which works with most firm white fish (hake, turbot or sea-bass for example) but, as I believe everyone should do, I try to buy from my fishmonger by asking him what is fresh and local.
Pan fried cod served with a caper and fresh tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp light olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp capers rinsed of any brine
- 10-12 cherry tomatoes halved
- 2 medium fillets of cod
- 2 tbsp dry white wine or vermouth
- 2 small shallots
- 1 clove garlic
- salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large frying pan
Peel and finely slice the shallots
Add the shallots to the oil and gently soften for a few minutes over a low to medium heat
Peel and crush the garlic
Add to the pan and continue cooking for a minute
Add the capers and tomatoes
Cook for a minute, then turn the heat up just a bit
Season the fish with salt and pepper and add to the pan. If it has skin on, then add it service side (the opposite side to the skin) down.
Cook for 2 minutes, then flip the fish over carefully, add the butter to the pan and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes until the butter is melted and the fish is cooked through
Carefully remove the fish from the pan and keep warm while you finish the sauce
Add the white wine to the pan and turn the heat up to bring to the boil.
Reduce the mixture down for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste
Serve the fish with the sauce over and around.
Meanwhile, I’m genuinely impressed with the Château de Tracy 2019 Pouilly-Fumé and considering buying a few bottles for myself. Stored properly it should keep till around 2029 but is fine to drink now. I’m intrigued to learn that Château de Tracy is owned.by the Comte and Comtesse d’Estutt d’Assay, whose ancestors, the Stutt family came from Scotland in the 15th century to help the future King Charles Vll of France during the Hundred Years War. I’m not sure I could claim this as Scottish wine though – the historic estate has records dating back to 1396. The fairytale château is situated at Tracy-sur-Loire and is the grandest in these Central vineyards of the Loire You can buy their wines from various online retailers in the UK including Lea and Sandeman and Vinatis UK and the 2019 vintage retails for an rrp of £24-26
Finally, if you happen to be visiting the Loire Valley, the Château de Tracy is sometimes open to the public.
This wine comes from a member of the Vignobles & Signature, a club which brings together 18 winegrowing families in France with shared values, each with a history of winemaking going back several generations. It comprises a total of 1,550 hectares of vines, 11,500,000 bottles, 375 employees and a turnover of 84,000,000 euros, with members belonging to the leading family producers from France’s chief appellation areas. I’ve been trying three of their wines over the last few weeks and, as I’ve found when I’ve been lucky enough to go to one of their London tasting events, there’s a consistency of quality across everything they offer. Check their website for more about Vignobles & Signature wines.
For another fine wine pairing with a wine from Vignobles & Signature, check out our feature exploring pairing Roman-Style Chicken Cacciatore with Chablis Fourchame Jean Durup 2018.