I had some old friends over for dinner and decided to pour the wines blind, and gave some thought to matching wines and food, with mixed results, mostly good and in one case wonderful,
Lanson Black Label Brut – an NV Champagne released about 14 years ago and now showing some colour and lots of development. Decent complexity and balance. This is a duplicate of my first note taken a couple of weeks ago after stumbling over a half case of this in the cellar.
Served with chanterelles and shallot in a lemon verbena custard tartlet.
2000 Albert Mann Riesling Grand Cru Furstentum – I hadn’t tasted this for some time and felt it might be at peak and wanting drinking, so I came up with a course I felt should complement it. The wine was very light amber in colour and had obvious Riesling in the nose with mild petrol and more prominent spiced pear notes. It carries significant residual sugar but is impeccably well balanced with some faint marzipan notes at the end of a lengthy finish. Very good wine, at peak.
I paired this with a soup based on tomatoes and red lentils, but spiced with roasted cumin, ginger, a little jalapeno, turmeric, coriander and cinnamon, and to which a hearty helping of coconut milk had been added, and the result mated superlatively well with all aspects of the Riesling. I plead good luck, not skill, but either way it is gratifying when a plan comes together so well.
The next course was an asparagus bundle wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with fontina cheese, and dressed with a little crema di balsamico. I served a Chardonnay, 2009 Evening Land from near Beaune but with some Oregon input, but didn’t take a note on it.
The main course was pork tenderloin saltimbocca – fresh sage leaves on top and wrapped with prosciutto, then roasted until still faintly pink (145 deg.) and very tender, on a bed of sliced apples. The apples were reduced a bit and some grainy mustard added at the end, and a small pile of apple was served beside the sliced tenderloin, with a side of braised fennel. Simple and tasty. The first wine I’d chosen was my last bottle of:
1978 Ch. St. Pierre-Sevaistre – You don’t see much of this St. Julien any more, and I figured this was ready to drink (had the previous bottle about 3 years earlier). Colour pale and almost Burgundian, classic cigar box cedar nose, that just kept getting better and better with time in the glass, all tannins resolved now and yet the wine still hade good stuffing, complex and smooth. This was really good! This sort of Bordeaux is what I love, and the reason I have pretty much given up on modern clarets – if I want a big sweet fruit style, there are other places to find it. If I want this sort of subtle complexity, the clarets from this period can give it to you. This was back in the day when you could actually take a pretty good stab at commune, because the differences were still there, before the largely Parker driven ‘blender’ hit and provided a paradigm that all winemakers (or at least the ones that wanted to sell wine based on points) adopted.
1989 Ch. Chasse Spleen – this is a good wine, but in terms of choice between it and the St. Pierre, every one of us opted for the St. Pierre. The Chasse Spleen showed much deeper colour, lots of tannin, almost firm still, great amounts of cassis and berry fruit and good length. On another day we’d have all been enjoying this more, but because it lacked the complexity and elegance of the previous wine, it seemed almost awkward in comparison.
1983 Ch. Roumieu Barsac – this relatively obscyre house in Haut Barsac, (beside Climens and Doisy Vedrines) has always been pretty reliable, and when I came across this singleton bottle in my cellar, showing a medium to dark amber colour an decent fill, I figured it was time to drink it. I’ve got very little left from this good sweet wine vintage (maybe some Suduiraut) and it has never disappointed The nose was quite good, with hints of pear and some pineapple, and it was quite sweet in the mouth, but not soft as there was sufficient acidity. Decent showing.
The accompaniment I chose for the Sauternes/Barsac was one for which everyone present expressed doubt. I tossed some slices of form pear with a bit of cayenne pepper, and laid them over a bed of arugula on puff pastry, dotted it all with St. Augur cheese, and baked it. I served it with a ½ whipping cream, ½ crème fraiche and grainy Dijon mix, anointed with honey and lemon juice – a slightly sweet mustard sauce that we spooned over the pear tart. It turned out to be excellent with the sweet Roumieu and everyone agreed that their misgivings were incorrect. I’d do that one again as a dessert with a sweet white wine!