Sunday, February 28, 2010

Who says fund raising can't be fun?

Had a great dinner in a private home compliments of some generous clients who purchased and donated a wine dinner - complete with moi as your wine guest, Chef Gavin McLaughlin as personal Chef for the evening, and all the food and wines as well - to a fundraising auction. It was a win/win situation - the auction raised a nice sum, the purchasers got a wonderful evening of food and wine with friends, and Gavin and I got to meet some great people and potential new clients.  

I have worked with Gavin before (a freelance private Chef based in NYC, Far Hills and on Nantucket in the summers) and I am a big fan. This evening was no exception with a delicious selection of appetizers as guests arrived and unwound with a glass or two of  Champagne, followed by a multi-course dinner all paired with wines. If the following sounds fun (it was!) and you are looking to do something nice for a charity,  business clients, or just want to have a lovely evening with friends or family, please feel free to give Gavin or me a shout. My contact info is to the right, for more information on Gavin, or to sign up for his email newsletter (the menus are excellent!) contact him at Chef Gavin .

We started with De Meric Catherine de Medici Champagne (magnum), a rare Cuvee from the small family Champagne producer De Meric with only about 20-30 cases destined for the entire U.S. This cuvee is a multi-vintage blend, usually two, and is only made in the very best of years. The current release is 95/96, and was aged on the lees and disgorged in 2002. The last time it was made it was a blend of '89/'90 vintages, and the next will be 2000/02, so made just a couple of times a decade. Only available in magnums to us, this is a perfect format for great Champagne. They age better, seem to taste better - plus there is more! Fullish, dry and fine, with lovely mousse and mouth feel, and complex lemon creme, brioche and nuances that only come from long lees contact, bottle age, and time. Perfect with Butter Poached Maine Lobster with Tarragon in a bite-sized pastry, Nantucket Bay Scallop with Creamed Corn and Apple Wood Smoked Bacon and Scottish Smoked Salmon with Roe, Zest and Chive Creme Fraich on Buckwheat Blini. Each little bite was perfect: the lobster still warm, rich, buttery and sweet, the Scallops also sweet, fresh and melding perfectly with the smoky crunch of bacon and warm creamy corn puree, and the Salmon bites were cool, creamy and nicely tinged with hint of chive.

First course followed - Hamachi Crudo with Clunitra, Preserved Lemon, Radish, Scallion, Hawain Lava Salt and Shaved Wakame - paired with Didier D'agueneau Pouilly Fume Pur Sang 2007,  a perfect match. One of the Loire Valley's greatest winemakers, Didier sadly lost his life in a plane crash in the south of France and this is the last vintage made by the master. Cool, elegant and fine, with brilliant detail, citrus fruits, very pure, very intense, very focused. Ethereal and refined, seamless, with white flowers and citrus, lovely weight and purity into a long  finish. For more about Didier, his life and wines, click here and follow the links to Eric Asimov's NY Times Blog The Pour, where there is also a link to an article in Decanter Magazine. 

Second course was a salad, normally a wine-killer in my book, but the baked Coach Farms Goat Cheese and Baby Beet Salad with Heirloom Citrus, Pickeled Fennel, Windfall Farm Micro-Mesclun, Baby Dill and Pistachio worked well in this case. Kudos Gavin! Dressed delicately, with dashes of 35 Year Old Balsamic, the flavors of the beets and baked Goat Cheese added enough richness and savory flavor to eliminate any clashes with the wine. It definitely worked well, but the Corton Blanc Grand Cru 2005 Domaine Maillard was a lot of wine for this course. Still youthful and primary it is solid, compact, with a hint of oak, a wisp of petrol. very mineral and focused on the palate. Firm, fresh, youthful, and flexing plenty of power. Give it 5-10 years and this is going to be special! We are huge Maillard fans, stocking everything from his deliciously affordable Bourgogne Rouge, my fav pinot and house wine, to this delicious Corton Blanc, Corton Renards Rouge Grand Cru, and plenty in between. Visit the shop online to purchase or sign up for our newsletters to keep informed of new arrivals from my trip to Burgundy in January.

Third course was Red Wine Braised Short Ribs on Celery Root and Golden Potato Puree with Chanterelle, Blue Foot and Baby Shitake Mushrooms, Asparagus Tips and Beef Jus. I won't give up Gavin's secret, just enough to say that these were from de-boned short ribs and they were absolutely fork tender, rich and flavorful, with no dryness and no fattiness at all.  Hearty fare that was rich but not cloying - a great dish for a cold winter's night. This delicious course was paired with a magnificent, off the charts red, the Vega Sicilia "Unico" 1989. Still deep and dark, almost youthful color, with dusty warm earthy fruit. Solid, powerful, mouth filling, and elegant at the same time. Really a tremendous wine that showed even more after decanting. Still seems like it has 10-15 years of life in it, and not just hanging around: this will decidedly improve. If this is its adolescence, I can't wait until it grows up -  a real treat! For more info visit Vega Sicila . We only have three bottles left and a mag of '95.

Finally on to dessert with a Molten Valrhona Chocolate Cake with Liquid Caramel, Vanilla Ice Cream and Hazelnut served with a D'Oliveira Malmsey Madeira 1907. Cake delicious and wine absolutely rockin', with the intense Madeira jumping from the glass with super aromatics: cola, lime, sarsaparilla, carmel, notes. Razor focused on the palate, sweet with incredible focus, brilliant acidity and almost bracing, and a long, lingering finish. You can smell this a room away when it's opened - Wow! For information on D' Oliveira visit Polaner Selections .

Thanks Gavin,  M & J, and everyone for making this night happen! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Brooklyn Fare: One of the Greatest Dinners Ever!

It has taken forever to get around to writing this - mainly because I think I am still so utterly blown away by the incredible performance of Chef Cesar Ramirez at our recent dinner there. Not only did every dish present perfectly detailed, precise and complex arrangements of texture, temperature, and flavors, there was also the whole laid back experience of this tiny incredible restaurant. I am sure there are moments of chaos and hours of prep, but the whole night unfolded seamlessly as Chef Ramirez and his team of two assembled each creation right before our very eyes. All this is accomplished with a calm, cool demeanor and a running commentary on the food, his philosophy, family, influences, and how he ended up in an unassuming prep kitchen in a small (but nice!) market in Brooklyn creating  one of the  best meals I have ever had. To go into excruciating detail on the taste and flavor of each dish would be pointless and could never do the Chef justice - I just don't have the words to do it.  All organic, fresh ingredients, all impeccably prepared. You simply have to find a way to go and experience it for yourself - but don't wait - it's booked pretty solid and then closing in summer for some period of time to add a few seats, some new inspirations,  a wine list, and according to Chef Ramirez, to make it even better. Is it possible? I look forward to finding out! 

Brooklyn Fare
220 Schermerhorn Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

While the Chef prefers no cameras, no cell phones, and that you simply focus on enjoying  the experience, I did  bend the rules  a little and take some brief  notes just so I wouldn't forget anything!  Chef also relented and allowed a group photo at the end! Here's what we had, all the wine in magnum except the Sauternes. Again, mere words don't do justice: the nuance, brilliance and perfection of these dishes simply has to be experienced. I would love it if any of the team who was there wants to elaborate - leave a comment!  A note: we were forewarned by Joe to bring lots of white. Flavors here are really suited to whites, and his touch with fish is unbelievable.

Les Vins
Rodez Cuvee Crayeres Brut Champane
Demeric Catherine de Medici Brut Champagne
Bzikot Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatieres 2001
Bouchard Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 1999
Sinskey Pinot Blanc 2008
Levet Chavaroche Cote Rotie 1999
Raymond Lafond Sauterne 1986

Warm Beet soup and Hudson Valley fois gras  (delicious little hand warmers!)
Sardine in a potato crisp with sage
Crab with a sort of shredded crispy phyllo
Blue Fin Toro with mustard and crispy leeks
Kumomoto Oyster grapefruit creme fraiche, and a thin sliver of translucent oyster juice gelee
New Zealand Langoustine, saffron sauce
Hamachi, apple, celery root, lemon puree
Baby Japanese Shrimp Jalapeno, caviar
King crab, caviar, vanilla and fine diced pineapple (compote the right word?) - off the charts!
Duck fry/frites? (guess what part of the duck? Not near the top shall we say)
Fois Gras (hate to call these "balls" after the last dish, but they were - little and round, crispy outside and melted and mouth filling inside)
Cod creme (not a mousse, more velvety), black truffle - (one of the best things I have ever eaten, but there were many tonight!!)

Main Dishes
Dayboat scallop, pork belly, white truffle mousse, black trumpet mushroom
Monkfish, fois gras, parsley root, chanterelle creme, wrapped in a wilted green of some sort - wow!!
Rouget, escargot, razor clam, Iranian saffron
Porcelet (little baby milk fed pig, thin sliced, oh so delicate), mustard seed, kumquat sauce

Banana parfait
Creme caramel

Finally a big thanks to Joe Bembry for bringing us out of the 'burbs to Brooklyn on a cold, raw night for an exceptional experience. Nous vous en remercions!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lunch at 252 in Bedminster

Nipped in to the new "252" in Bedminster for the first time for a little lunch, with no idea what to expect at all. I was happy to see that what was an ice cream parlor in its last incarnation (and probably a private home originally) had been nicely redone in what I would call a fresh, clean, nordic-spare sort of look for lack of  better descriptors. Started with Tuscan white bean soup: perfectly al dente beans, nicely composed with some herbs, tomato, and a lively, fresh broth. Delicious, though I did find myself thinking a piece of good crusty bread to sop it up would be nice. With the sandwiches on the way, I just let that thought go. 
For a main I had the maple BBQ braised pork sandwich with cool, crunchy coleslaw, served on a grill-toasted brioche with a side of nicely dressed fresh greens. Sweet, warm, sour, cool, smoky, and crisp all at once - great! Poached enough of a bite of JB's "252" grilled cheese (braised short ribs, aged cheddar, pickled onion, Levain Pullman) to realize my sandwich was not a one-off success. Haven't had "Les Sandwiches" done like this since KC's went the way of so many a fledgling restaurant. We had to get some shoe string fries too, moderately thin and crispy, and just the right ratio of crisp outside to soft inside for me, with a sprinkling of grated parmigiano and rosemary, nice touch! There are sweet potato fries dusted with cinnamon and brown sugar too - next time. All this was washed down with a perfectly proportioned for lunch half bottle of Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts 2005 from Domaine Daniel Rion. Good way to warm up on a raw winter day.
While a quick bite is surely too little with which to form any strong opinion, first impressions do count. This short visit gave me a pretty good feeling that Chef/Owner Melissa Hill, who came out from the semi-open kitchen to say hello, has an idea of what she wants to do here. Organic ingredients, nice touch in the kitchen, and reasonable prices all bode well. While a commitment to fresh and local precluded a look at the current dinner menu, last weeks menu was provided and it looked enticing. Only note was that the lunch menu was a little limited in the sense that it doesn't offer much more than soup, salads, sandwiches (as good as they were!) and a dish of P.E.I mussels billed as heartier fare. I'd like to see a few more options, but I get the feeling that they are still feeling out what works in terms of hours open, menu selections etc. and so it's too early to say. It's a small, hands on place, and if it delivers will probably be a tough place to get a table - let's hope! Looks like they are also offering take out (we'll be ordering lunch!) and maybe some catering too. Meanwhile I am looking forward to testing my hunch with another visit (anyone up for dinner?) as soon as possible.

252 Restaurant
252 Somerville Road
Bedminster, NJ 07921

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What I'm Drinking

Tonight watching a great line up of winter sports with men's combined skiing and USA vs Canada in hockey. Take out Chinese from Ling Ling (it's excellent!) in Basking Ridge and a terrific bottle of 1990 Chinon from Olga Raffault. These are perhaps some of the best buys on the market if you are looking for old school, mature and lovely wine. 100% Cabernet Franc from vineyards around the Loire Valley village of Chinon, and cellared at the Domain, it has a good ruby garnet color and an expressive nose of earth, leather, & forest floor with sweetly scented herbs and a cool elegance from start to finish that keeps the mature tones fresh, in check, and in balance. It is long, lingering and thought provoking. If you are looking for inky, black/purple, saturated, unctuous, extracted, mocha, oak, berries and vanilla swimming in 15+ degrees of alcohol, this isn't your wine. This is cool, laid back and mature, all delivered in an elegant refined package weighing in at about 12.5% of alcohol for which I'll be thankful tomorrow! Available in limited quantities while it lasts. To purchase go to 56 Degree Wine and search on Olga Raffault or Chinon. An extraordinary value at $60/bottle.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The JvE Tasting at Triomphe

Thursday the JvE group gathered at Triomphe (great little private room in the back) for a tasting of northern Italian wines. It was, as always, a great evening, nevermind the fact that a few of us had Tuscany and Umbria located in the north of Italy - hey, they're north of Rome! Anyway, no one is getting kicked off the island for straying to the south, and the mix of Tuscan and Umbrian wines provided a nice diversity. The food was great, the wines and company terrific too. Thanks to all for the wines, and especially to JvE for all his work graciously organizing and hosting us and especially  for continuing such a great tradition! While the appointed scribe generally captures a little more of the color and flavor of the night, I have to apologize as the following notes suffer a little from "Dragnet Syndrome" - nothing but the facts. In the same theme, the names have been left out to protect the innocent - you never know who told their significant others they were working late at the office!

First Course: Scallops with Porcini Mushroom and Fois Gras Butter

Bruno Giacosa Arneis 2008: Had this as we arrived - lovely crisp, clean and refreshing - great way to start the evening!
Miana Sauvignon Saurint 2005: Mellow Sauvignon character, with only minimal herbaceous/citrusy varietal signature, with some secondary creamy honeyed tones. Nice weight and texture on the palate, moderate acidity. Drink it up now is my opinion.
Gravner Ribolla Gialla 2002: Medium amber straw color with a nose that changed from slightly mint/fennel to nutty and mildly oxidative and earthy. Totally dry on the palate, with grainy textural, mouth feel. As unique and individual a wine style as you can get, and for most this is a love/hate proposition. Whenever we sell this in the shop we have to provide ample warning that it ain't no Pinot Grigio!

Second Course: Rosemary Garlic Sauteed Quail with Baby Artichokes, Spinach and Lemon Segments

La Fortia Lamborghini Campoleone Rosso 2000: This is 50/50 Sangiovese and Merlot, and it was deep, dark, concentrated and sexy in a fairly modern style. Some sweet oak on top of extracted fruit, and just showing enough bottle age so that the opulent, ripe, fullness was underpinned with some leather, earth and mature notes.
Colpetrone Sagrantino di Montalfalco 1999: I love this grower but don't think this bottle was showing at 100%. Fruit knocked down and a little musty indicated a tinge of TCA. Should have been singin' and it wasn't for me tonight.

Third Course: Pasta

1979 Asili Reserva Barbaresco: Good moderate bricky/ruby. This was a little locked up and out of sorts right out of the bottle, but after 5-10 minutes really emerged from its funk and developed leather, dried cherry and autumn leaf characteristics. Still showing good acid and fine pure mouth feel.
1979 Montefico Reserva Barbaresco: Good color, lovely aromatics - right out of the gate this was dark, brooding; evolved with lovely mushroom, balsamic and dark earthy notes. Palate was still well defined, with lovely spice and still some power and depth. Fine old wines, these two were a real treat!
1997 Bruno Giacosa Falletto Barbaresco (magnum): Thought the 1997 would be a bit more evolved, but this is still quite youthful - magnum effect? Medium ruby color, still quite closed at first, with hints of dried red fruits. Still fresh, youthful, and elegant on the palate. Lively and a bit nervy,this did open up quite nicely to reveal some more breadth and depth along with some slightly darker fruits. A very good wine with excellent potential that still needs 5-10 more years to show its stuff.

Fourth Course: New York Strip Steak au Poivre with Truffled Creamed Spinach and Whipped Potatoes  

2001 Ceretto Bricco Rocche Barolo: Absolutely beautiful wine - explosive and bursting with youthful but expressive aromas, flavors and vibrant energy. Still primary, but plenty here with which to judge it. Tarry red fruit with perfumed floral top notes and spice. Focused and powerful yet still precise and detailed on the palate. Classic 2001, it needs a decade or more to really fulfill its potential.
2000 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate le Coste (magnum): Sweetly scented lacy red fruits and hints of cedar, perfumed dried cherry and floral notes. Mid-weight on the palate, balanced and pretty elegant in style and maybe just beginning to reach its window of drinking, though I'd still hang on to it for 4-10 years.
1990 Clerico Pajana Barolo: To me this was totally OTH. Dried, oxidative, and past it's prime. (and I brought it! Worst wine of the night, hands down - I owe BIG time)

Cheese Course

2001 Querciabella "Camartina": Deep, inky purple, extracted with plenty of power and dense, compact dark fruit, with a bit of spice and meaty gamey character underneath. Solid, mouth filling, compact and long with good structure into the finish.
2004 Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova Brunello di Montalcino: Fairly deep ruby purple in color. Ample red fruits and dusty earth notes on the nose, and a whiff of cedar and spice. Good solid fruit with moderately grippy tannins. Loads of potential, from 2014-2020.


Vaona Reciotto Della Valpolicella "Le Peagne" 2005: Sweetly aromatic dark cherry, with mild acetyl and oxidative notes. Deep and dark, sweet, plush and soft on the palate with hints of prune, cooked plum and cherry.
Vigna del Volta La Stoppa Colli Piacentini Malvasia Passito DOC: Orange blossom, quince, and citrusy on the nose and similar flavors on the palate. Sweetly concentrated on the front of the palate, then subtly changing and becoming a little drier and almost almond like and nutty in the finish.

In Store Tasting All Day Saturday and Sunday February 20th and 21st

Stop in the shop any time from 10-7 Saturday and 12-5 Sunday to taste some terrific everyday wines. Scroll down for todays tasting menu - to view on the web or to purchase online click here:

Domaine du Bagnol Cassis Blanc Provence
$27.00. SALE $24 on six bottles, $22.50 by the dozen.

This little known wine rarely makes it out of the picturesque region where it is grown in vineyards hugging the breathtakingly beautiful Mediterranean. It is one of my favorite whites (outside of Burgundy!) and we are happy to stock it every year while supplies last. Comprised of 50% Marsanne, 35% Clairette and 15% Ugni Blanc, Domaine du Bagnol has fashioned a wine that is the epitome of fresh white from Provence. The thing that separates this crisp refresher from the pack are the layers of flavors that unfold in the glass, making this a stimulating wine on many levels. Melons, white peach, honeydew with pears making an appearance as the wine resolves in a long finish. Lovely cleansing acidity, a wealthy of juicy fruit and nice texture. Ready to enjoy now so no need to wait.

Region: Cassis (Provence), France
Grapes: 50% Marsanne, 35% Clairette and 15% Ugni Blanc
Drink: Now - 2011
Cuisine: Seafood of all sorts -  seared or sushi style scallops, tuna, swordfish, rouget, fresh sardines, or as an aperitif with anti-pasti, olives, cheeses, saucissons, crusty bread.

Castel del Soave Aremcolo Salento Rosso 2008
Reg. $16.50 SALE $15.00

For over 40 years, the Marra family has farmed their picturesque hillside vineyards located near Brindisi. It is there that they produce this dynamite blend of 80% Negroamaro and 20% Malvasia Nera di Lecce, which actually could be classified as Salice Salentino. But the two Francesco's (Marra, and his friend, Winspeare) choose to not follow the barrel aging laws as they only seek to make the best wine possible from their gorgeous fruit. Juicy and ripe, with clean raspberry fruit, hints of spice and lilac. Versatile wine and great Cellar Defender candidate!

Region: Salento, Italy
Grapes: Negro Amaro 80%, Malvasia Nera di Lecce 20%
Cuisine: Pasta with tomato sauce, pizza, lasagne, grilled meats, chicken

2005 Chateau Les Hauts d'Aglan Cahors
Reg $17.50 - SALE $15.50

This family owned estate controls 12 hectares of pristine vineyards in Cahors. Utilizing organic farming techniques and choosing to vinify the wine completely in stainless steel, they put the emphasis on fruit purity. 100% Cot (Malbec), this wine is really showy with red fruits dominating, hints of black pepper, mixed wild berries and game. Excellent persistence and presence, it is a wine that is relentlessly rooted in its terroir yet delivers joys to those who love juicy, ripe fruit. A beauty to enjoy now through 2013.

Region: Cahors (South-West), France
Grape: 100% Cot (Malbec)
Vinification: Stainless Steel (No Oak)
Cuisine: Hearty dishes, beef, lamb, stews, cassoulet, game
Farming: Organic Practices
Drink: Now - 2013

WillowBrook 2008 Pinot Noir Sonoma County
Reg. $24.00 - SALE $24.00

Ripe, rich and ready to love, this Pinot Noir is another new find that I think you'll find hard to resist. Greg Lafollette of Tandem and Flowers does the consulting for this small outfit which comes from part mountain fruit and part Russian River Valley fruit. Dark cherry tones with good weight and succulent raspberry jam and subtle spice, the 2008 is a gorgeous example of the high quality, balanced juice coming from Sonoma these days. A remarkable, tasty treat that is ready to drink!

Region: Sonoma County, CA
Grape: 100% Pinot Noir
Drink: Now - 2012
Cuisine: Quail, Poussins, Roasted Chicken light meats like pork, grilled salmon or tuna
ABV: 14.3% 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wild Boar, Barrels and the Spectacular Wines of Didier Larue

The third day of our January visit dawned dark, damp and foggy (surprise!) and I bagged the walk I had promised myself late at night over Stella A's in the pub in Puligny. After our petite dejuener, the sky broke to a low, misty gauzy sun with patches of brilliant blue sky, the vineyards still with a layer of grey snow. Off to Larue in St. Aubin where we ran into Didier and some winemaker buddies butchering a freshly bagged wild boar - an awesome site, especially for those of us who slightly over indulged the night before. I have to say that any day that starts with butchering a wild boar shot in the vineyards of Burgundy that very morning is probably going to be ok, and from here it only got better. On the agenda, a visit to barrel maker Seguin Moreau's Burgundy facility for a look at how the wood gets in the wine, followed by a phenomenal tasting, lunch, and more tasting with Didier LaRue. 

More about the Barrel making will follow, but the experience with LaRue's over-achieving wines was once again a palate-opening experience. He has vineyards in St. Aubin and Puligny, but it is the wines grown in the former that command my attention. You expect brilliance from Puligny, but when St. Aubin rises to the occasion, I sit up and take note. Saint Aubin is tucked into a little valley which is apparently loaded with wild boar who are sort of like deer are to us in the suburbs of New Jersey, a pest. The valley opens up between Puligny Montrachet to the north and Chassagne to the south, and winds back to the west and south through the villages of Gamay and St. Aubin, with vineyards clinging to the fairly steep south and southeast facing hillsides.  The wines here have traditionally been seen as a bit more rustic and coarse than their more refined neighbors on the Cote, but the top wines from 1er Cru sites like Murgers Dents de Chene and En Remilly can truly be great, age worthy, complex and delicious. Not only from Larue, but from other top growers too (Colin, Lamy come to mind). Could be a string of pretty good vintages, could be that there is a market for the wines that has resulted in higher prices and allowing better viti/vini practices, but end result is that these days they are some of the best buys in white Burgundy you can find, and they seem to get better and better all the time.

A visit with Dider takes this even a step further, as not only are the current releases brilliant, but he amazes us with older wines from the cellar that are simply mind blowing. His generosity and love of sharing is only surpassed by his open attitude. He is always asking, probing, listening to what we sense and taste and think, making our visits with him not only hedonistically superb, but even more appreciated for the insight and educational side of it all. We have had the pleasure of having him visit us in the store, shared many great meals, and been able to offer some select releases of older wines with our clients. Look for great things from this producer this year and next with the lush fullish 2009's, reds look very promising, whites full and rich  and plush; and the delicious 2008 whites with their classic fruit and acids that seem to fall somewhere between the mineral and crisp 2007's and the fullish 2009's.

Wines tasted (notes are reserved until we receive them and we can taste the final product.)

Saint Aubin Les Combes  
Saint Aubin Vielles Vignes 
Saint Aubin En Montceau
Saint Aubin Les Cortons
Saint Aubin En Remilly
Saint Aubin Murgers dents des Chien 
Puligny Montrachet
Puligny Montrachet Sous Puits
Puligny Montrachet La Garenne
Puligny Montrachet Trezan
Saint Aubin Rouge
Saint Aubin Rouge Sentieres du Clou
Chassagne Boudriottes too?

And the magnificent lunch: Saint Aubin Murgers Dents de Chiene 2006 - Beautiful full bouquet, stony solid. Drinking great. Long and rich and delish! With a soup of creme of root vegetables, Boudin noir underneath, with puréed chives and drizzle of olive oil and and earthy warm sweet onion. Then reconstructed eggs en murette with bacon,  red wine sauce, escargots and caramelized onion confit - crazy presentation! Next the 2002 Murgers Dents de Chien - medium gold. Lovely aromas of clover honey, acacia, linden, corn silk and butter - silky, mature, mouth filling. Next course Sandre (mildish meaty fish) with creme du ciboulet. Red Cabbage and a smokey foamy sauce. Crisped skin, sweet sour cabbage with a hint of vinegar, chive, and a mousse of smoked garlic that sealed the deal!!! Saint Aubin Sentieres du Clou 2003 - full, lush and ripe -not burnt or over the top, just a bit chubby, perfectly suited to the braised beef cheeks, sauce reduction, and puree of pumpkin. 1999 grands Epenots Michel Gaunaux - good but not great, a bit muddled and murky. Cheese course was a creme d'Epiosses, a rich and frothy mousse on top like good cappuccino, cheesier and thicker deeper down, and a hint of truffle, all bubbling away in a little ceramic pot, with a crusty bread spread with, you guessed it, MORE Epoisses. How did they make this decadent cheese this much more so! Dip the bread and die and go to heaven!!! And when you get to the bottom and you haven't had a coronary, there is a crispy sweet graham-like spice and sweet bread crumb, saturated in Epoisses, to revive you. And finally, Sabayon gratin poached pear in wine - good, but would love to do this with apple! Great traditional Burgundian fare, with a little modern twist. And later, on day five at dinner, the lovely 1992 Blagny 1er Cru Sous les Puitssweet leather and spice. Amazingly fresh acidity, detailed and lacy, forest floor and autumn leaves, with dried cherry and asian spice. Great wine from an unsung vintage (but it was my wedding year!) Beautiful - Merci Didier!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Burgundy Day four: Joseph Roty avec phillipe Roty

Day four started with my first ever visit to one of my favorite properties in Gevrey Chambertin, Domaine Joseph Roty where we were on our own without a translator so my "cellar French" had to get us through. I am pretty sure I got the main gist of our conversation, but in any case, this beautiful line up of wines spoke for themselves. We met with Philippe, son of Joseph and 11th generation of Rotys (who arrived in 1710 in Gevrey Chambertin), and tasted through a brilliant line up of wines from the 2007 vintage - a vintage that can best be summed up at this estate as classic, pure, terroir driven wines with balance, harmony, precision and an incredible expression of each of the unique terroirs where they were raised.  This is a family run operation, with Mother, Brother Pierre Jean also working at the Domain. It is heartening to see that since the passing of Joseph in 2008 that the estate continues to thrive and produce beautiful, classic styled Burgundies from some outstanding plots of land. And while the transition is seamless from our perspective, I will note maybe an ever so slight signature of  Philippe emerging in the wines - a bit more freshness, finesse, and a tad less old school rusticity - albeit without sacrificing any of the soul and character and traditional nature of the wines. Or maybe it's just the vintage.... Philippe is married, with 2 young children, and it's nice to know that the 12th generation is on it's way. Here is the complete list of wines tasted - refer to our newsletter on the website at 56 Degree Wine

Bourgogne Blanc Pinot Blanc
Marsannay Blanc
Marsannay Rose
Marsannay Philippe Roty
Marsannay Champs St Etienne
Marsannay Ouzeloy
Cotes du Nuits VIllages
Gevrey Chambertin
Gevrey Chambertin Champs Cheny
Gevrey Chambertin Vielle Vignes
Gevrey Chambertin Les Fontenys
Gevrey Chambertin Les Brunels
Gevrey Chambertin Clos Prieure
Mazy Chambertin
Griotte Chambertin
Charmes Chambertin

Friday, February 5, 2010


Originally uploaded by Chris Cree MW
2006 Domaine Frederic Giachino Roussette de Savoie "Altesse"


I love this unique, delicious, expressive wine crafted in vineyards high in the foothills of the French Alps. It is redolent of Bergamont, clover, acacia - it's dry, mineral, refreshing and exquisitely fine. One of my favs - Buy it at 56 Degree Wine - only $15!

Region: Roussette de Savoie, France
Grape(s): 100% Altesse (Roussette)
Terroir: Granite and Slate soils
Farming: Certified Organic
Cuisine: FONDUE! Cheeses like Tome de Savoie, mild fish, shell fish,
Asian or Thai, all kinds of appetizers, pastas in light sauce.
Alcholol: a mere 12%
Drink: Now - 2012