Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An Incredible Evening at Cafe Matisse

Had an awesome evening of food and wine at Cafe Matisse in Rutherford with delicious cuisine prepared by Chef and owner Peter Loria who came out from the kitchen and joined us from time to time with details of each complex and delicious dish he prepared. Food great, wines outstanding, company terrific - thanks everyone for bringing such great wines! We started the evening with a selection of delicious amuse, then each chose 3 selections from the tasting menu of about 12 or so offerings - a nice way to be able to graze through the creative menu.

Champagne Blanc des Blanc "Substance" Disgorged October 28th, 2008, Jacques Selosse . When will we ever learn??? Never, ever serve this as the first wine unless you have about an hour to spare because in my opinion that's how long it takes this mind blowing bubbly to show its true colors. Best advice: open a Sancerre or crisp white for apps, the open the Selosse and decant, wait about 15-20 minutes, pour into a good sized wine glasses, no wimpy flutes, and it will finally give you a full view of its extraordinary complexity. Not that it's not good right out of the gate, it's fresher and more lively in a way, still showing hints of its unique elevage both in its slightly amber hue and its lovely evolved and aromtic bouquet. But with a little air this wine unlocks grilled almonds, pain grille, hints of sherry, and a mouthful of complex, layered, flavors. It has a solid core, hard to call it "fruit" because this is different, transformed from raw fruit to something altogether more multi-faceted,  mineral and focused and weathered. The background information below is from the Rare Wine Company, importers of this outstanding Champagne Domaine:

Established: 1950-1960
First Vintage Bottled: 1960
Proprietors: Corinne & Anselme Selosse
Since assuming control of his father's estate in 1974, Anselme & Corinne Selosse have redefined Champagne with fastidious viticulture, innovative élevage, and intensely vinous Champagnes.

Soils: classic chalky marls
Vines: Approx. 0.85 hA of Pinot Noir, and 6.65 hA of Chardonnay in the elite villages of Avize, Cramant, Oger, Le Mesnil, Aÿ, Ambonnay and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ.
Appellation: Champagne
Harvest: by hand

Selosse features some of the lowest yielding vines in the region - leading to the region's ripest, most expressive fruit.
They encourage the natural growth and evolution of the soil so that it may express minerality in the wine.
Primary fermentations occur in a mix of pièces (228L), fût (400L), and demi-muids (600L).
Malolactic fermentations are free to occur (or not) as each individual lot evolves.
Wines are held for one year in barrel, with 16% new barrels added to the rotation each year. Reserve wines spend a year in foudre before being moved to INOX.

The winemaking notes included here are only guides. Because the Selosses' raw materials vary according to vintage conditions, they adapt their techniques each time they craft a cuvée. Their goal is always to maximize each wine's expression of identity and terroir.

Cépage: Each year, 22% is withdrawn from a solera (started in 1986) of two Avize parcels; a south-facing slope and an east hill-base.
Bottle Aging: The wine ages a further 5-6 years in bottle before disgorgement.
Dosage: 0-4 g/l
Production: 275 cases" Notes quoted From The Rare Wine Company.

First Course: Pan Seared Scallops and Foie Gras with Wild Mushroom Ravioli, Gingered Butternut Squash and Dollop of Mascarpone, Drizzled with Sage Pesto Topped with Apple Relish, Spiced Walnuts and Dusted with Star Anise
Puligny Montrachet Les Pucelles 1992, Paul Pernot - Youthful color, very fresh, better than a bottle of the same I had back in September, this was in positively perfect condition. Lovey, stony, cool mineral nose with hints of lemon creme - a wine in its prime and simply drinking great. Little cold at first, this opened and developed complexity for the entire evening - mouth filling, layered, beautiful white Burg! 

Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux 1985, Huet - Pale straw color that looks more like a wine bottled in 2005 offers a hint of the character of this nearly perfect example of Chenin Blanc. A lovely nose, perfumed, wet stones, hints of Irish wool, citrus blossom, quince, tangerine and white flowers. Comes in elegant, sanftig - pure and seamless and finishes clean as a whistle and leaving the impression that this ethereal wine could last another 20+ years and still only just be coming out of its shell. Pure, mineral, with sweetness to start and then almost dry into the finish that goes on and on. Could be wine of the night, and in this line-up, that's saying something! $80? Ridiculously cheap!
Second Course: Osso Bucco - didn't keep good notes here but a creative take on the classic.
Barolo Monfortino Riserva 2002, Giacomo Conterno - Potentially one of the great Barolos of all time? We shall see but this first taste since the impressive barrel sample I had back in 2007 shows a huge, promising future. Could it be that its struggle in the difficult conditions during the 2002 vintage has added a strength and complexity not found in perfectly sunny and more benign years? Spiced red fruit and spice on the nose at first, it developed a darker more brooding tone as it opened up - Cardamom and exotic spice hints follow., hint of that tarry petrol note Nebbiolo can have. On the palate it is mouth-filling and elegant at the same time, with a framework of very fine tannins, ample yet not harsh at all,  supporting a compact, intense yet elegant. For more about this wine or to buy it, if any is left, read my previous entry here.

Third Course: Pan Charred Filet Mignon Medallion over Garlic Potato Confit with Beef Chili and Roasted Potato Cheddar Jalapeño Broth Topped with Sautéed Jalapeno, Onions and Cheddar Glazed Shrimp Finished with Black Pepper Demi.
Hermitage 1989, J.L. Chave - Absolutely classic with perfumed cassis, bacon smoke and white pepper,on the nose and an elegant lovely reiteration of these notes in the fine, silky and perfect palate. Evolved and ready to drink. How many wines of the night am I allowed?

Barolo Monprivato  Castiglione di Falletto 1984, Giuseppe Mascarello -  14%. Tar. Black fruits. Old school. Grippy. Firm.  Solid old school Barolo that needs another 5-8 at least to shed its framework of tannins that surround the intense core of tarry, black earthy fruits here. Barolo for the purists, and while it could use some more time, I think it is a tremendous wine.

Brunello di Montalcion 1981 Soldera - Only dissapointment of the night, Bit long in the tooth.
And finally, we ended with some excellent desserts including a house specialty called Belgian White Chocolate Lattee - an off the charts, rich concoction of strong coffee, white chocolate, decadent whipped cream, shaved white chocolate and who knows what else - should be serve dwith digitalis and a nitro-glycerin pill but what a way to go!

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