by Fred McMillin
for September 14, 1999


What's Your Beef?



My beef is Chateaubriand, because Sept. 14, 1768, is the birthday of the prolific French author and great gourmet, Vicomte Francois Auguste Chateaubriand. The steak that bears his name was created by his chef, Montmireil. James Trager (Food Chronology) says this occurred in London in 1822 when Francois was the French minister to the Court of St. James. In his Classic Recipes, Henry Smith tells us the distinctive feature was filling a pocket cut in a thick fillet with chopped shallots.

Betty Wason (Cooks, Gluttons & Gourmets) doesn't agree. She says Montmireil invented the dish in Paris to celebrate with fellow-gourmand Brillat-Savarin the publication of a new Chateaubriand novel. The distinctive feature was encasing the fillet between two flank steaks. The latter were seared until black and then discarded. (See the 9/l4/98 WineDay.)

So, while there may be uncertainty about the origins of the steak, there's none about the Cabernet we're recommending with it. The winery was founded in 1979 and the Cab was fermented in 1995.

Chateaubriand Recipe
About Steaks and Beef

Wine of the Day

Dry Creek Valley Swiss banker Jean-Jacques Michel established Domaine Michel in Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley exactly 20 years ago. In 1993, Domaine Michel became Michel-Schlumberger, when another Jacques became the majority owner. Jacques Schlumberger's family are Alsacian winemakers. He reduced production and raised quality even higher. In fact, last April 21 in WineDay we gave his 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. I put another bottle of the '95 into my lastest blind tasting and this time the rating jumped up to EXCELLENT.

1995 Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley
Michel-Schlumberger Winery, Healdsburg, CA.
Phone—(800) 447-3060, FAX (707) 433-0444
Food Selection—Chateaubriand Steak


The success of this '95 Cab was hardly a suprise. The '94 vintage tied for second best wine my panel tasted last year.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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