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Jay Labrador

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WTN: Mostly Champagnes and Brunellos at Impressions

by Jay Labrador » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:25 pm

As promised last time we were at Impressions, we had another dinner there to bid Clem bon voyage before he leaves for California. Present were most of the guys from the last dinner except for Vince who had just gone back to Vancouver and Miguel who couldn’t make it. Happily taking their place were Rene and Richard.

I arrived ahead of everyone and so took the opportunity to have my champagne chilled to make sure it would be opened. I had no doubt we would have to have more than one champagne anyway as the menu would be heavy on seafood. Clem and Richard arrived next – Clem bringing the night’s whites, a Soldera Brunello and a Selosse champagne that escaped sentence last time while Richard, with a vast and deep cellar in Switzerland to draw on, brought another Brunello, this one a Biondi-Santi. It seems this was going to be an Italian night for the reds as I also brought a young Amarone.
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IMG_0458 by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
As Richard was thirsty upon arrival, we had my Champagne Victor Dravigny Hommage Brut Rose opened. This was given to me as a sample in Vinexpo Hong Kong but I can’t find any references to it. Fairly deep color, a decent, straightforward style that seemed a bit hollow to me. Good enough for whetting the appetite. Later on though, I think the air did it some good as it rounded out with some strawberry and sour cherry flavors.

With all of us assembled the food starting coming. First up was an amuse of mushroom meringue on truffle soil. Cute dish! A second amuse of Turkey confit with beetroot puree and potato allumettes. Not quite as interesting as the first amuse and not as strongly flavored. I would have preferred to start with this one.
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Victor Dravigny Hommage Brut Rose by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
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Turkey confit, beetroot puree, potato allumettes by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
The second champagne of Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart Brut 2000 was opened next. Nice baked bread, sourdough and green apple. There’s also just the slightest hint of nuts and coffee. The acidity hasn’t quite integrated yet so it seems a little shrill in the finish but the quality shines through and it just needs more time to come together.
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Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart Brut 2000 by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
Done with the preliminaries, we moved on to the first course of Gillardeau oyster and scallop tartar on tartine with Avruga and citrus dressing. As we enjoyed the oyster and tuna tartar and the roasted scallops so much last time, Chef Cyrille Soenen came up with a way to put the two ingredients together in a riff on the previous dinner’s tartar. Good as the last one was, this one was brilliant and beautifully presented. We finally got to open Clem’s Champagne Jacques Selosse “Initial” Brut to go with this and it was spot on. Unanimously considered the pairing of the evening. A big champagne with some smoky notes and candied orange, soft acidity makes it very appealing. A rich wine to go with the fat seafood. A real luxurious combination.
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Gillardeau oyster and scallop tartar on tartine, herring caviar, citrus dressing by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
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Jacques Selosse Initial Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
The second course was more seafood, one made by special request of Noel who has had it before. Pan-seared Brittany lobster, mushroom risotto, uni foam and morels stuffed with uni farce. Another delicious dish. One of the more anticipated pairings of the night would be the lobster and Clem’s Remoissenet Grand Cru Le Montrachet du Domaine Thenard 2000. A great match. The wine presenting gentle oak and citrus flavors to keep it fresh and to cut through the richness of the dish.
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Pan-seared Brittany lobster, mushroom risotto, morel stuffed with uni farce, uni foam by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
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Remoissenet Le Montrachet 2000 by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
Done with the whites, we shifted to a dish for reds. A hearty 48 hour veal shank with carrots and mushrooms, garlic and shallot confit. The veal was presented whole and carved table side. Well-flavored and moist throughout despite its hefty size, this is a dish I unreservedly recommend for committed carnivores. The Brunellos were opened to go with this.
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48 hour veal shank... by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
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...carrots and mushrooms, garlic and shallot confit by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
The Biondi-Santi Tenuta Greppo 1993 showed sour cherry and raspberry and although the fruit started out with some nice ripeness, prolonged exposure replaced that with high-toned acidity. This medium-bodied red seems to be just starting to fall off its plateau. I would drink this sooner rather than later.
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IMG_0465 by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
The Soldera Riserva Casse Basse 1994 was a little fuller and riper with some black fruits such as plum and blackberry dominating although there is also a bit of cherry in there. Definitely more structured than the Biondi-Santi, the Soldera seems to be at peak now but will probably stay there for quite some time.

Also reprieved last time was Alex’s Chateau Palmer 1986 which he brought again and which, this time, we were happy to open. Classic Bordeaux nose of cedar and pencil shavings. Textbook Bordeaux. Graphite, roast meat, blackcurrants and asphalt. A complex, many-layered wine that is showing very well. Excellent.
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Palmer 1986 by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
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Cheese platter by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
With cheese and/or dessert we also had Richard’s Chateau Guiraud 1983. The cork broke as it was being extracted so it had to be served from a decanter. The first time I’ve ever had a Sauternes decanted. Very attractive, almost copper color. Dried fruits, orange marmalade and candied orange rind are present here. It seems to be drying out a bit and starting to thin out. Definitely needs drinking up.
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IMG_0464 by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
Noel’s niece Nicole is in charge of the desserts at Impressions and was in the middle of making some new things under the direction of Cyrille. One of her creations that already got the green light was a Minestrone of compressed fruits with fresh strawberry and mint broth. Fresh and not overly sweet with a nice refreshing acidity. This light dessert was a great way to end the meal.
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Minestrone of compressed fruits, fresh strawberry and mint broth by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
We lingered over the dregs as platters of mignardises were brought out. Many thanks to Clem for the great wines and especially for an excuse to get us together to share some great dinners.
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More mignardises by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
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Noel, Richard, Rene Alex and Clem by jaylabrador.winesteward, on Flickr
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David M. Bueker

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Re: WTN: Mostly Champagnes and Brunellos at Impressions

by David M. Bueker » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:40 pm

Mind if I drool over that cheese plate?
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.

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