Total Pageviews

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Easter 2014

As usual, I’ll tell you what’s going on - it’s hard to choose what I want to listen to/watch, as there was the Papal canonization today, Turn is on, and the Yankee game is on - thank goodness for dvr!  And what wines tonight?  I opened 2 Portuguese wines, a Vinho Verde and a Douro red.  Fun evening for sure.

What I want to tell you about tonight is Easter dinner from last weekend.  I was so pleased with the food and wine selections and there was very little room for improvement.

The menu was appetizers - basket cheese, Swiss, prosciutto di Parma, orange peel stuffed olives, pizza grane, and chick peas.  Next course was pesto sauce on penne, which I topped with toasted pignoli and parmigiano reggiano.  And the main course was leg of lamb, roast potatoes, and stuffed tomatoes.  Dessert was flourless chocolate ancho chile cake with cinnamon whipped cream.  Delicious.

The wines were wonderful - I chose the Pierre Peters Brut Rose to open first - it’s a pink Champagne with a hint of bronze to the color, with notes of cranberry and lemon and mineral, and very bright, clean, lively acidity with a long finish, and a fine yet assertive texture.  Next up was the 2011 Pieropan La Rocca Soave (Veneto) - if you want to know how much I love this white from Italy, see my notes from the post on Gambero Rosso - it’s a lovely and smooth, satisfying wine with hints of citrus but mostly orchard fruit, delicate and floral, and clean but very textured.  I love this wine, and it’s everything I want to see and feel in a Soave.  The reds were fun - first up (and all were decanted) was the 2009 La Sirene de Giscours (Margaux) - just over half Cabernet Sauvignon, with ther est being Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot - plenty of fruit as expected on a 2009, both dark and red fruit, black currant, plum, pencil shavings, and purple blossoms, with a smooth feel and just flat out delicious.  Next was the 2007 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville, Napa) - it had softened quite a lot and opened up beautifully and showed characteristics of raspberry, chocolate, vanilla oak, bramble berry, and other dark fruits - what a delicious wine, and I’m not even a great lover of California wines in general, but this was a rock star in its own right, and I’ve been looking forward to tasting the 2007 Cabernet.  The order was correctly rounded out with the 2006 Haut Batailley (Pauillac) - soft, smooth, aromatic, balanced - dark fruit and red fruit, savory herbs, a touch of tobacco, flower petals, pencil shavings, just beautiful.  And we finished off with dessert and cappuccino and a glass of Ferrand Pineau des Charentes, luscious and sweet but balanced, perfect with dessert (but I can see some versatility there), with characteristics of candied orange, peach syrup, honey, white blossoms, and perfection at the end of dinner.

I’m thinking it might be a good idea to do individualized posts on the Here, Taste This! blog regarding recipes for pesto, leg of lamb, stuffed tomatoes, and flourless ancho chile cake.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

1998 Beaucastel and Creating a Special Experience

I’m watching the Yankees/Red Sox game (and of course the Yankees are winning!) - and a white Cotes du Rhone was what I had tonight.  But right now I’m eating - believe it or not - Rainbow Nerds. It’s ok to go outside of the box sometimes, and while I don’t usually advocate eating candy out of a box, I’m making an exception, as my mom placed it strategically in my Easter basket last week.  (For the record, I’m not an advocate of shaking anything out of a box to eat it.  Just a peeve I guess.)

And I’m thinking about a wine I opened recently.

As you may remember, if you read my 30th birthday post about the lineup of 1983 wines that I opened back in November, there was a 1983 Beaucastel present, and showed perfectly on that evening.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to a BYOB bistro restaurant nearby, with lovely French dishes that are nicely executed.  We decided that BYOB should mean Bring Your Own Beaucastel that evening.  And I opted for the 1998, which I had blind tasted not too long ago.  Stunning, to say the very least.  Beaucastel is special for lots of reasons - partly because they use all 13 permitted Chateauneuf du Pape grapes, partly due to the larger percentage than normal of Mourvedre,’s Beaucastel.  It’s rich in history.  It’s exquisite.

It’s no secret I prefer wines when they’re older, as long as they’re the kind that can age gracefully.  (Generally, it’s also no secret that I prefer nearly everything older, but that’s another story.  Or you could go back a while to I believe September 2012 and read about the Nebbiolo Man.)  But, as I said, it’s got to be the kind of thing, including wine, that can age gracefully and does in fact do so.  Beaucastel is one of those things.  Interestingly enough, I’ve never had a recent/current vintage of Beaucastel, so I’m just curious to experience it in its youth.  But I’d prefer to have it when it’s aged a while.  Anyway, it’s glorious when it’s aged properly - interestingly enough, the bottle actually threw off no sediment which I always find fascinating when an older red just doesn’t have any sediment or waste down the bottom of the bottle.  In terms of characteristics and appearance, the wine had a lovely dark red color with with a rust colored rim and was becoming more transparent.  The wine has become quite elegant and soft and clean, with notes of subtle red and dark fruit, plum, bramble berry, black pepper, savory herbs, dried flower petals, soft baking spices, a bit of tobacco, and stony mineral.  The wine still has plenty of energy, but everything has become balanced - acidity is in check, tannins are softened, and all flavors and aromas are present but none overpower the others.  And the finish is long and lovely.  Basically, it’s just the way we want it.

And for me, it’s a perfect evening.  Granted, I usually like to do the menu planning and cooking myself, but it’s fun to bring a great bottle to a very nice BYOB restaurant and enjoy ourselves for the evening.  And a wise friend and fellow wine professional likes to remind me that the situation often makes the wine experience even better - when I’m in a nice restaurant enjoying good food and conversation with someone I love - yes, the experience of a 1998 Beaucastel seems pretty perfect to me.  (And it helps that my very special someone is a seasoned wine industry professional who appreciates a wine like this, too, and being able to discuss the wine together makes it even more fun.)

My suggestion?  Try and find a great wine like that, something that you know you’ll enjoy, and open it with someone special.  You don’t have to choose a special occasion to open it - create a special occasion with the great bottle and the special person.  There’s no sense in opening a bottle like that alone.