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Friday, December 16, 2011

Champagne and Pinot Noir at The Country House

People talk about being “home for the holidays,” but it’s a good time not just to be home but also at a “home away from home” which is where I was the other night - at one of my very favorite restaurants, and I’m lucky enough to live only a few minutes away from it.  That restaurant is the Country House in Stony Brook, and Bob Willemstyn (the owner of the Country House, and a dear friend of our family) makes each dinner and event special.

The Country House - Stony Brook, NY

The other night, Bob had selected the Laurent-Perrier Demi-Sec Champagne to pair with small lobster tails in a wonderful butter sauce.  It’s been ages since I’ve had a Demi-Sec style Champagne (while Demi-Sec sounds like it should mean “half-dry,” it’s actually a bit sweet in comparison to Brut style Champagne, with a sugar content between 32 and 50 grams per litre), and Bob had recently mentioned this particular Champagne and had it ready when our family arrived at the restaurant, and I was really excited to try it.  It paired excellently with the lobster appetizer.  The Champagne is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and a bit of Pinot Meunier, with a golden color and great depth and complexity, including white citrus and orchard fruit, nut, and a bit of a baked characteristic, but the feature that stood out most for me was the sweetness, mostly floral and honeyed.  I had been expecting the Champagne to be even sweeter, but in fact the sweetness was relatively subtle and the clean feel and smooth texture made for an elegant, luxurious experience.

Laurent-Perrier Demi-Sec Champagne

With dinner (I had duck), I chose the 2006 Buena Vista Carneros Pinot Noir.  I can hardly believe that it was my first time trying a Buena Vista wine but it was, and it certainly lived up to its reputation of being dependable, expressive, and of good quality.  Very “Pinot” in color, it’s red with a clear water rim, and characteristics of bright fruit, soft spices, an almost sophisticated earthiness, and lots of smokiness, with nice acidity and good balance, soft tannin and a long finish.  The wine is lovely and very food friendly and I’m so happy I finally tried a Pinot from Buena Vista.

2006 Buena Vista Carneros Pinot Noir

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