Invited three couples to dinner last night. I did a southern themed menu, and advised them by email that I would provide all the food, the aperitif and dessert wines, plus one wine for each of the three savory courses we'd enjoy at table. My guests were each given descriptions of the food planned to choose a course to also pair a wine with. The wines would be served blind.
With an amuse bouche of spicy sweet potato soup and peanut garnish:
2005 Gramona "Illustros" Grand Reserva cava: I fell for an offer not long ago of this higher end cava ($40ish). Highest rated Spanish bubbly ever, and all that. Well, sorry wabbit, but I was wobbed! Flavor wise, nothing special, seems a bit sweet on the midpalate and like it's going to go into a bitter place, though it doesn't--you just fear it--and as such a lot closer to cheap prosecco than good champagne. No mousse, just big loose unrefined bubbles that deflated in about three sips added insult to injury. Poor. Thank God I served it first, because the:
2003 Roederer L'Ermitage, Anderson Valley, California was stunning. Possibly the best California sparkling wine I've ever had, with totally en pointe champagne flavor and richness and satisfying, persistent, tiny pin-prick bubbles. Great length on the finish. Excellent.
With shrimp in an andouille sauce and stone-ground Georgia grits:
2010 Gainey Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills, CA: Pale yellow in the glass. Apple, pear and marshmallow flavors with unsalted butter and no toasted oak, which is meant as a compliment. There's good, bright cool-vintage acidity here while heavy malo (probably 100%) gives it a creamy, balanced personality in the glass. A spot-on choice by my guest, which we compared to my wine:
2005 Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Vineyard chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, CA: classic California chardonnay in a burgundian style, richer and very different from the Gainey. More developed color and secondary richness suggest some age at a not-inappropriate level for a seven year old California wine, however I was personally disappointed because the last bottle of this we opened a few months ago (from a different source, I should point out) was astonishingly youthful and not showing it's age at all.
With a cold terrine of ham and mustard greens in bourbon aspic with spicy herb salad in browned butter vinaigrette:
2010 Edith, Walla Walla WA: a grenache rose (and rare bottling I never dared hope to lay eyes on) from Cayuse. The guest who brought this admitted that he was a bit flummoxed by the description of the course and leaned more toward either of the others. But he read the email just as the nurse called his name, so decided to make a final decision during his short visit with the doctor. When he eagerly went back to his iPhone 15 minutes later to stake his claim, he found both other courses were dibbed and he was stuck with this one. Am I glad! Pale golden coral in color, before I smelled or tasted it I thought "orange wine". But after tasting, I was in Provence with grenache. I could think of no other place it could be from, but it's richness gave it an exceptional presence that spoke to exceptional pedigree in the way that Tempier does, though I didn't think it Tempier (wrong color, wrong grape). No way did I consider for even one second that such a wine could be made here in Washington state. Outstanding, my WOTN. I treasured every sip. That said, it was not better with the food than my wine below, just different, and the wines were surprisingly complimentary to each other.
2003 Arcadian Dierberg Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, CA: Classic Santa Barbara here with cherry fruit, tomato skin, tomato leaf and thyme. Nicely evolved but at peak. Very good.
With sage-roasted Bryan Flannery prime rib cap, red eye jus (demi glace thinned with brewed coffee), and collard green gratin:
1992 Beaulieu Cabernet Sauvignon George La Tour Reserve, Napa: Transluscent ruby red. Aromas of cedar and a little funk with cherry, leather, earth and cocoa dust on the palate. The sweetness suggested California cabernet and the color pointed to mid-90's. Delicious wine of which my over-achieving guest brought TWO bottles; and both were drunk! Excellent, noble and and holding nicely here, but it's definitely time to drink any remaining bottles.
2001 Clos Pegase Hommage, Napa: Knowing who chose this course, I was fairly certain his wine would be aged new world cab so I chose another Cal Cab to pair with it. Decanted four hours prior. Concentrated black cherry and blackberry fruit with dark chocolate undertones on a frame both statuesque and elegant. Commanding, yet classy with silky tannins. In that middle-aged place I love where primary fruit hobnobs with interesting secondary development. Drinks well now but has a good cellar future ahead of it. Of the two wines, this was the better food wine for the way it enhanced the coffee-flavored demi-glace.
With fresh pear slices, fig preserves and orange peel baked puff pastry with vanilla bean sugar, fresh raspberries and some washed rind cheeses:
2004 Climens, Sauternes: This was a lemony, non-botrytised vintage for Climens (or at least that's how it tastes to me), which is my favorite style from my favorite house, and I stocked up at recession prices. From 750, bright, clean flavors of meyer lemon and dried apricot with nuances of honeysuckle, white grapefruit and kaffir lime leaf.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov