Wine matching: Chocolate fondant

Rivesaltes Ambré NV 37.5cl

Banyuls cuvee leon parce 2011


The recipe

100g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
100g dark chocolate
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla essence
125g caster sugar
100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
4 tsp dulce de leche or salted caramel

cocoa powder or icing sugar, to dust
double cream, to serve

serves 4

Preheat the oven to 180c/fan-forced 160c/Gas mark 4. Heat the butter and chocolate together in a bowl set over a pan of just simmering water (don’t let the base of the bowl touch the water). Stir until melted and then remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush the insides of 4 x 175ml metal dariole moulds with melted butter. Arrange the moulds on a baking tray.

Beat the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla essence and sugar in a bowl using an electric whisk for 4-5 minutes until thick and fluffy. Sift over the flour and carefully fold into mixture with the chocolate, until smooth.

Spoon half the mix into the moulds, add 1 teaspoon of the dulce de leche to the middle of each one and cover with the remaining chocolate mixture. Bake for 12 minutes until the tops are set. Remove from the oven, cool for 3 minutes and then invert onto serving plates. Dust with cocoa powder and serve with cream.

Three matching wines

Domaine Cazes Rivesaltes Ambré 2000 (£14.56 for 37.5cl, Master of Malt)

Dark chocolate is an intense, complex flavour, and it coats the mouth when melted, making it notoriously difficult to match with wine. As a rule, sweet desserts are best paired with sweet wines. Golden styles like Sauternes won’t work however – their fresh, stone fruit flavours tend to clash with chocolate. Fortunately, there are several appellations in the Roussillon near the Spanish border that specialise in fortified sweet wines that brim with berries, nuts, herbs, spices and caramel – much more natural flavour matches with chocolate.

Rivesaltes is the largest, being made across most of the Roussillon, and comes in a variety of colours. The biodynamically-produced Domaine Cazes Rivesaltes Ambré 2000 may come from white Grenache Blanc grapes, but after 7 years on old oak casks, the wine has taken on a beautiful amber colour. It’s sweet, but not intensely so, and has defined flavours of candied citrus peel, dates, nuts and caramel. Let the dessert cool and add orange zest to the cream for an even closer match.

Domaine de la Rectorie ‘Cuvée Léon Parcé’ Banyuls 2011 (£19.00 for 50cl,

Banyuls is one of the finest sweet wines of France, and undoubtedly its most famous sweet red. Grenache Noir grapes are grown on sun-baked terraces that overlook the sea. Like all of these three vins doux naturels, it’s made by adding grape spirit to part-fermented grape juice, which stops the fermentation and leaves natural grape sugars and gives slightly elevated alcohol levels (around 16%) in the resulting wine.

Domaine de la Rectorie has been in the Parcé family for four generations. The ‘Cuvée Léon Parcé’, named after the owner’s grandfather, is a particularly fine and elegant Banyuls. Its perfumed and persistent blackberry and strawberry fruit flavours are inlaid with cinnamon and cedar, and the result is incredibly moreish.

Waitrose Seriously Plummy Maury (£10.99 for 37.5cl, Waitrose)

The least well-known of the three appellations is Maury, a tiny region in the northwest of the Roussillon. Mostly producing sweet reds, it is similar to Banyuls, and can be just as good, if sometimes more burly.

I was a bit doubtful about the Waitrose Seriously Plummy Maury due to its name – until I tasted it. Full-bodied, rich and sweet this has melted liquorice alongside raspberry, strawberry – and yes, plum – fruits. Turns out this delicious non-vintage blend is made by the excellent Domaine Pouderoux – winegrowers for six generations. No wonder it’s so good.

Based on a recipe by Louise Pickford. First published in Living France magazine.