The elegance and complexity of Bordeaux red wines cannot be debated when sipping a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc often adorned with varying amounts of Petit Verdot, Carménère and/or Malbec. The Médoc area, on the left bank of the Gironde estuary, is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape with a character that demands a dish able to withstand its intensity. Here is where rich meats like beef, lamb, venison and, in this case, mighty bison, all go on stage.
The tannic structure of Cabernet Sauvignon and the plush texture of Merlot in the blend presents an appropriate match to the richness of the proteins these meats bring to the palate. The bold character of these “left bank” blends allows for an interaction that coats the mouth and at the same time cleanses all traces of the fat content natural to the food. A Canadian-style burger, even in its simplicity, can certainly provide the right flavours to enjoy with a revered wine.
The strength of young Bordeaux blends has traditionally been softened by the use of oak ageing, for which 12 to 18 months is not unusual. The contact of the wine with the wood confers structure and flavour upon it, which is usually perceived in the nuances of vanilla, spice and brown sugar on the most approachable side of the spectrum. Canadian-treasured maple syrup on mouth-watering bacon becomes one with such flavours from the wood, as well as the black pepper already integrated with the burger.
For a graceful finish, usually experienced in the Bordeaux blends with herbaceous notes such as garrigue and mint, the addition of rosemary and chopped mint in the burger is the refreshing touch that calls for a next bite and another sip.
Traditions and old ways always find new horizons. This is how a dish from this side of the pond can bring French favourites a flavourful alternative that, far from taking away refinement, adds sophistication.
Bison Burgers with Maple Glazed Bacon and Cheddar
1 lb ground bison chuck
2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
2 oz Sherry
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp salt
4 hamburger buns
8 slices bacon, drizzled with maple syrup
Aged white Cheddar
1 tomato, sliced, for garnish
Mint, chopped, for garnish, optional
Directions: Preheat your barbeque to medium. Combine the ground bison with all other burger ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Form the ground bison mixture into four equally sized patties. Cook the burgers for approximately 7 minutes per side or until the juices run clear. Remove the burgers from the grill. Place the burgers on hamburger and garnish with the maple glazed bacon, cheddar, tomato and any other toppings. Freshly chopped mint will add a further connection to the Cabernet component of the blend.