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04 November 2008

Roussillon Dessert Trophy 2008

This year's sweet-toothed challenge for sommeliers and pastry chefs to create the perfect pudding and Vin Doux Naturel (VDN) match was extended beyond the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium into... France. It might sound a bit odd that the CIVR (Roussillon wines trade association) only decided this year to open it up to restaurants in France, but traditionally VDN wines have been preferred as an aperitif by the French. I find the idea, and the practice in fact, of drinking something pretty sweet and strong as an appetizer before dinner a tad bizarre - as presumably do fellow VDN fans in northern Europe - so it's refreshing to see that the Roussillon lot are trying to shift French people's perceptions and get them to try these sometimes delicious wines with their dessert instead.

Anyway, enough of the waffle; who won then, I hear you ask? The final took place yesterday in Perpignan at Olivier Bajard's Ecole Internationale de Pâtisserie, chaired by Olivier himself along with other local chefs and wine types. Toulouse restaurant Le Metropolitan stole the title from Le Bistro des Saveurs in Obernai, Alsace (both Michelin-starred). Young Toulouse chef Timothée Dedievre's inspiringly named creation was "une barre crousti fondante au chocolat Alto El Sol millésime 2007, sorbet au citron jaune rafraîchi au gingembre" (crispy melting chocolate bar {07 vintage Alto El Sol?}, lemon yellow sorbet invigorated with ginger). Sommelier, or rather sommelière, Vanessa Bouisset impressed the judges with her VDN choice and thinking behind it: Rivesaltes Ambré Hors d’Age from Domaine Boucabeille. They now go through to the European final of the RDT on the 2nd February 2009, to be held in Perpignan during the third 'Rencontres Méditerranéennes du Muscat', a biennial trade event celebrating all things Muscat.

They'll be joined by the British winners, who were Dessert-Trophied in London last month: chef and sommelier partnership Thibaut Panas and Anne Coquelin from Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Oxford. The blurb says: "Le Manoir’s team wowed a panel of wine and culinary experts with their creation of Manjari Chocolate ‘Sable Breton’ with Black Provençal Fig dessert matched with a Rivesaltes from Domaine Gérard Gauby called Caricia, 2005 vintage." The UK final, held on 20th October at The Arts Club, central London, was between four pastry chef and sommelier teams: Compass Group – Restaurant Associates, Gordon Ramsay at Maze, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and Tom Aikens.

Stop press Feb. 2009 - click below to read the Decanter.com news piece on the European winners: Raymond Blanc’s Manoir wins dessert trophy
A team from Raymond Blanc’s Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons has won the European Roussillon Dessert Trophy...

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