Dinner with JB and a couple of friends and clients in Philly, with the night starting at a spectacular location high in the Liberty 2 Tower, replete with cloud to ground lightning from a squall line raging through downtown viewed from our perch just above Billy Penn's chapeau, and the full expanse of the Delaware to the 30th Street station as a backdrop.
We started off with a 2000 Zind Humbrecht Heimbourg Riesling - Medium gold, nose of beeswax, petrol, lime blossom, and wet stones. On the palate baked apple, more lime and citrus, evolved and perfect and fresh, with firm minerality and more stony texture. From the ZH web site: "The Heimbourg of Turckheim is a small vineyard sloping 35% to the west, facing the east side of the Brand, then turning abruptly towards the south with the slope increasing to over 50%. Climatically, this hillside enjoys a lengthy period of evening sunshine, because thanks to its position facing the Munster valley, the vines are not in the shade created by the Vosges mountains. The west side is a late-ripening area, the grapes ripen slowly, always retain good acidity and develop noble rot late. The south side is naturally a lot warmer and early-ripening (the same goes for the Clos Jebsal), but always benefits from the wind from the valley which prevents the noble rot from developing too early.
The soil structure is a clay-limestone substratum (oligocene limestone and interbedded marl) where the yellow or white calcareous rocks are present in large numbers on the surface. We have chosen to plant the Pinot Gris in the upper part which faces west and has the poorest and stoniest soil. The Gewurztraminer lies just below, also facing west. The small south side was planted with Riesling in 1994. The wines produced on the Heimbourg are rich, opulent, often very spicy and affected with noble rot. The slower ripening of the grapes often produces more aromatic wines when young that its neighbor the Clos Jebsal."
After sopping up the last drops of the ZH in the posh environs of TK's apartment, we headed to Le Bec Fin for dinner. We started with a first Course of Pike Quenelles, Sauce American. Light, perfect, deceivingly rich yet delicate at the same time. With a lovely sauce served over fava beans all dramatically presented and assembled a table. This with a fantastic 2004 Puligny Montrachet Clos Mouchere Domaine Jean Boillot that started out great and only got better and better with a little time in the glass. In 4-6 years this lively, crisp but layered 2004 should be fantastic, and pretty good tonight!
Roasted Sweetbreads and Warm Shrimp, Sweet Potato, Burnt Orange Vinaigrette, Madeira Jus - Jean Boillot Volnay 2002 Chevret 1er Cru - JB had had a bottle or two previously that were off (oxidized) and so we were a bit worried, but this one was perfect: fresh, lovely dark cherry, beautiful fruit, still primary but having softened and just about to show some secondary tones (but not just yet), just beautiful, succulent, and pure, broadening and opening in the glass with time. The second wine was, of all things, a Janasse Chateauneuf du Pape 2009 Chaupoin - 100% grenache, ripe and saturated for sure but with floral fresh fruit tones amid all the power, and good acidity and fresh fruit tones underneath. Grape variety : 100% Grenache - stems removal : 80 % - maceration : 22 days , must pressing : once a day - elevage : 30 % barrels (1/4 new), 70 % vat - rendering : 25 - 30 Hl/ha - plantation : 1912 for the oldest part - keep time : 5 to 25 years. 2/3 in Foudre, 1/3 in 600 liter Demi-Muids. While the Burgundy worked best overall, seamlessly integrating with the sweetbreads, the sauce was pretty intense and the dish actually sort of held up to the Chateauneuf du Pape.
Kombu Cured Wagyu Beef, Tasting of Potatoes, Labne au Poivre , Sauce Bordelaise - Mouton Rothschild 1988 - a wine I have had on a few occasions but not in the last 3-4 years. Every time I have had it it was still quite tight, reflecting its coolish "classic" Bordeaux vintage, with a tannin structure I worried would ever resolve and lose its almost greenish notes. Well it has finally come around, still fresh, with cedar and #2 pencil tones, earth, lovely structure, and the cool, balanced focus of a wine newly emerged from its shell. Beautiful!
Dessert Cart - Cheesecake, light and creamy and perfect, chocolate double dark gateau, rich yet not heavy, a fresh fruit tart, and a double espresso for the road. As much as I would have loved to, I passed on the invitation for cigars back at the ranch and headed east to stay at my sister in laws to avoid the slog back to North Jersey. Thanks lads for a great night!