Monmousseau Ammonite Vouvray: Gussying-Up an Ad Hoc Holiday Feast

Front Label

For our December event, the French Winophiles celebrate the multi-faceted wines from Vouvray, in the Loire Valley of France. Made from Chenin Blanc, a white grape known for its high acidity and honey-apple flavors, Vouvray is not one wine, but many. Our host is Jeff from FoodWineClick! and you can bone up on your Vouvray facts by reading his invitation post.

Within the region of Vouvray, located along the banks of the Loire River, Chenin Blanc is transformed into almost any style of wine you could imagine: there are steely, dry wines with a distinct mineral component; others are slightly sweet or sweet. And they come in still and sparkling versions. There truly is a Vouvray for every palate.

Our gang of food and wine writers is getting together this Saturday, December 21st, at 11 am ET. You can find us on Twitter via #Winophiles. If you’re curious about Vouvray and how it might fulfill many of your holiday wine requirements, please join us. Just remember to append the hashtag to your tweets and responses so we can welcome you!

Here’s what each of us will be talking about:


What to Do When Your Holiday Plans Go Bust

Gabe and I had planned a wonderful Thanksgiving: we were invited to dinner at his brother’s house, for a big family feast with all the trimmings. Both of us were looking forward to it. The wintry weather nipped at our noses and revved up our ho-ho-holiday spirits. It would be the perfect start to the season.

And then Gabe got sick. Really sick.

Thanksgiving morning he awoke with a fever, lots of aches and pains and black circles under his eyes. He could barely talk and wasn’t able to get out of bed. No Thanksgiving for him. Good thing I had stocked the pantry with tasty treats and whatever I needed to prepare a few meals.

Except – oops – I hadn’t done that. My plan was to shop on Saturday, after feasting with the family for two days. Our cupboards were (almost) bare, leaving me with few options. Ugh. I had to find a way to improvise a Thanksgiving dinner with what I had on hand, supplemented by whatever was left at the grocery store.

Even though Gabe wasn’t too hungry, he was so disappointed about missing dinner. I knew I had to come up with something special for the two of us.

Cobbling Together a Dinner for Two

I had some fluffy pita from the Turkish restaurant down the street; it was a couple of days old and would make a great stuffing. Just needed some chicken broth, an onion, and a few links of sausage.

Starting the Stuffing
Getting the stuffing ready to go!
Stuffing in the Oven
Into the oven . . .

Three russet potatoes would become a small bowl of mashed potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes
Nice and fluffy – just like my mom used to make.

Two Granny Smith apples and a couple of Bosc pears tossed in cinnamon, brown sugar, and a sprinking of flour, with a refrigerated pie crust became a rustic crostata.

Crostata all Done
Apple-pear crostata. Even easier than pie!

All I needed was a bird and a vegetable. Off to the market I went . . .

There was no turkey left (obviously) so I picked up a d’Artagnan organic roasting chicken, a bag of frozen French-style green beans, and some chicken broth and headed home.

The Chicken
Not turkey, but delicious nonetheless!
As a kid my job was to help Mom-mom make the gravy. I did her proud today!

The Logistics of Cooking Multiple Courses in a Tiny Kitchen

This boils down to two iron-fast rules: do one thing at a time; and clean up as you go. There’s no extra space for dirty bowls, used cutting boards, or empty cartons. Literally do something, clean up, then do the next thing.

It took me a few hours but I managed to get everything in order, with suitably agreeable aromas wafting from the kitchen. Gabe felt a little less disappointed as he lay on the couch watching football.

The Easiest Part Was the Wine!


I had purchased the Monmousseau Ammonite Vouvray Sec a few weeks before. It was already chilling in the wine fridge as I went through my paces. And it was a delightful reward for the cook after a day’s worth of baking, boiling, and buttering.

2018 Monmousseau Ammonite Vouvray Sec (12.5% abv; $18 retail)

Bottle and Glass

Alexandre Monmousseau’s family has farmed the 20 hectares of vines known as Chateau Gaudrelle, since 1931, when his grandfather purchased the property. Wine was made long before that though, as local records indicate that grapes were grown as early as 1537.

Today the family makes Chenin Blanc in sparkling, still, sweet and dry styles. They also make a sparkling rosé that’s a blend of Grolleau and Cabernet Franc.

Split Ammonite wikimedia commons John Alan Elson
photo via Wikimedia Commons: John Alan Elson.

This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc from 35-year-old vines grown on granite slopes along the Loire River between Tours and Amboise. It was named for the ammonoid marine fossils common in the soils of this area. Although they resemble shellfish (they look a lot like nautilus shells) they are most closely related to the coleoid family, which includes octopus, squid, and cuttlefish. The name ammonite refers to the spiral shape (or ram’s horn) of the protective shell.

Grapes for this wine were hand-harvested and gently pressed. Fermentation occurred in large, neutral barrels at cool temperatures using indigenous yeast, taking between 10 and 12 weeks to complete.

Color: Pale gold, fading to clear at the rim.

Nose: Lemon, honey, peach, and beeswax.

Palate: Dry, with pronounced flavors of citrus, honey, orchard fruit (apple and quince). High acidity electrifies the palate (in a good way!) and leaves a long finish of tart green apple. This wine was delicious! It had an energy that reminded me a bit of grand cru Chablis. It vibrated on the palate. It also worked really well with my improvised Thanksgiving meal.

Whole Plate Full
The whole megillah!

Although Gabe managed to enjoy only a few bites of his dinner, his spirits were lifted. As I sat next to him I made a toast to us both: to good health and happiness. I was thankful to know that, although restoring Gabe to mint condition would take a few weeks, we already had plenty of the latter. (And there were tons of leftovers!)

Crostata with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
Crostata served with dulce de leche ice cream (of course there was no vanilla!)


  1. You managed to pull together this dinner brilliantly Lauren. I wasn’t familiar with the ammonoid fossil, nice photo of that split. Here’s to cooking in small kitchens, quick decisions, and Vouvray!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awww poor Gabe! (I can empathize though, this exact same thing happened to Greg on NYE a couple of years ago.) I’m super impressed by what you pulled together last minute though! Interestingly, I’m familiar with their sparkling rosé but not this one. Will be on the lookout!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an impressive cobbling together of a fantastic Thanksgiving feast! Thank you for the details on the name of the wine (and the photo of the ammonoid really puts it all into perspective, that was really helpful!) Here is hoping that Gabe is better and ready to enjoy the December holidays and New Years!

    Liked by 1 person

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