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Apalta Excuse - Seared Duck Breast With Balsamic-Fig Jam

They say you shouldn’t save special things for a special occasion. I do have that tendency, however.

A few years ago, we bought several bottles of one of our special occasion favorites - Casa Lapostalle’s 2010 Clos Apalta. Wine Spectator since featured it, rating it at a 95 and it’s almost doubled in price.

They also recommended you drink it by 2022. So I had two excuses to drink some of this lovely wine - some beautiful duck breasts in the fridge and a recommendation by Wine Spectator.


Two Moulard duck breasts with skin

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

1 large shallot, very finely diced

1 large garlic clove, smashed


8 fresh figs, stems trimmed and coarsely chopped

1/8 cup Port or brandy

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, minced

1/8 cup thick, aged Balsamic Vinegar (Regular Balsamic will be too acidic)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 whole rosemary sprig

Salt & pepper to taste

In a saucepan, combine the fig sauce ingredients and simmer on low until the figs are softened and the sauce has started to thicken. Set aside.

With a sharp knife, score the skin of the duck breasts in a crosshatch pattern.

In a large, shallow dish, combine the olive oil with the thyme, rosemary, shallot, and garlic. Add the duck breasts and turn to coat. Let the duck stand at room temperature for 2 hours, turning a few times.

In a small skillet, melt the butter. Add the minced garlic and cook over moderate heat until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Scrape the marinade from the duck breasts and season them all over with salt and pepper.

Put the duck breasts in a large skillet, skin side down, and cook them over moderately low heat until most of the fat has been rendered, about 10 minutes.

Increase the heat to moderate and cook the duck breasts until the skin is browned and crisp, about 4 minutes.

Turn the duck breasts and pour a little of the sauce over the breasts and cook them until they are medium-rare, about 3-5 minutes longer.

Transfer the duck breasts to a carving board, skin side up, and let them rest for 5 minutes.

Slice the duck breasts crosswise and transfer to plates. Discard the rosemary sprig, spoon the fig sauce over the sliced duck breasts and serve.

Bill and I used to joke that our palate had a hard stop at $85-$95, meaning any wine that cost more than $100 would likely be wasted on us.

Of course, now we’re enjoying it and it’s a $138 bottle. Has our palate expanded with time, say commensurate with the Consumer Price Index or something?

Working now on coming up with a new appreciation barometer for palettes...

In any case, this is a great wine - largely Carmenere, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Merlot and it went beautifully with the duck.

Very special.

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