Goose has a reputation for being difficult to match to wine. I really don't think it is. I always roast a goose at Christmas and usually on one or two other occasions during the year (I did one last month in southwest France and I've got a couple of fairly small ones in the freezer for, as yet unplanned, occasions here in London in 2018). That’s quite a lot of roast geese and matching wines in nearly 30 years. I vary the stuffings, but the recipe I return to for Christmas, because it's always popular, is a rich, flavoursome one that includes chestnuts, prunes, sausage, herbs and spices (here’s the recipe). I mention the stuffing because it needs to be considered, as do any powerfully flavoured accompaniments, such as braised red cabbage with apple and port.
Our small roast goose in France in November with roast garlic and potatoes and a stuffing of leek, fennel, apple, prune and rosemary
With last month’s goose, we had a 19-year-old Navarra Reserva: the Tempranillo-based Julian Chivite Gran Feudo Viña Viejas Reserva 1998. I thought it might be fading and not up to the bird, but it was a lovely mature wine and an impeccable match. I haven’t quite decided what we’re going to drink with the goose next Monday, although, after a very good bottle of 1998 Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape last night, that's the way I'm thinking at the moment. Whatever I decide, these are my guiding principles for choosing wines for goose:
• Red, full, mature and really good, Old World or New. • Depth of flavour is important. • You don't want obtrusive young tannins - they don't work. • The exception to the age 'rule' is Pinot Noir, but Burgundy, mature or otherwise, isn’t easy unless from a particularly ripe vintage. • Burgundy is also easily overpowered by rich stuffings (prune, apple, chestnut, bacon, spices et al) and by gravies enriched with sweet Madeira or Marsala. One notable Burgundy success was a mature Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru. It had the mellow sweetness of fruit and the concentration • With New World Pinot Noirs, I’ve had good matches with Felton Road (Central Otago, New Zealand) and Marimar Estate (Russian River Valley, California) but less success with the more Burgundian-style Rippon, also from Central Otago – lovely as the Rippon was. • Apple sauce and braised red cabbage with apple and port can be wine killers, but that doesn't stop me doing red cabbage sometimes (it's so helpful to have a vegetable dish cooked in advance). • Mature reds that have worked very well have included: Penfolds Grange (Shiraz, Barossa, Australia) several times, including last year (try any complex, mature, Shiraz-based red), Tim Adams The Fergus (Clare Valley Shiraz), Pesquera and other Ribera del Duero (Spain), Mas de Daumas Gassac (Cabernet Sauvignon-based, Hérault, Languedoc), Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 30-year-old Chateau Musar (Cabernet Sauvignon and Rhône varieties, Lebanon), 30+ years Torres Mas La Plana (Cabernet Sauvignon, Penedes, Spain), Masi and Allegrini Amarones (Valpolicella, Italy), in 2011 a spell-binding magnum of 1999 Serego Alighieri Valpolicella Classico Superiore (a special 650th anniversary bottling), Pio Cesare Barolo 2005 (one of last Christmas’s choices and a better match than I was expecting) and the Gran Feudo Viñas Viejas Reserva (Navarra, Spain) mentioned above. • I'm wary of Bordeaux when serving rich stuffings, gravy and other accompaniments, but Château Tertre-Rôteboeuf 1989 and 1990 worked well at 20 years old (both notably ripe vintages of this Saint-Emilion) and 1986 Château Mouton-Rothschild at 25 years old was a success – more so than I was expecting. • Alsace Pinot Gris and Pfalz Riesling Spätlese can work, especially with a fruity stuffing, but I prefer to drink red with goose.
I'm very tempted by this 1998 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape this Christmas