Sunday, December 30, 2018

Festive Holiday Dinner at Hemingway's Bistro Oak Park

Festive Holiday Dinner at Hemingway's Bistro Oak Park

For son Alec's last night at home for the holidays before returning to NYC, we normally would've dined out at his 'alma mater' restaurant where he worked through high school and college, Angelis Italian, our favorite neighborhood Italian Trattoria. Instead, we opted for another favorite Hemingway's Bistro in Oak Park. We were accompanied by Sean and Michelle.

To accompany our authentic Provencal cuisine, I took a Bordeaux Blend from the cellar, Pirouette from Washington State Long Shadows, crafted by Frenchman turned California and subsequently Washington State winemaker, Philip Melka.

We're long time fans of the work of Philip Melka, named one of the top nine winemakers in the world by Robert Parker. He collaborates with Long Shadows to craft this label from small lots sourced from Washington State's finest vineyards. We visited Long Shadows during our Woodinville, Washington Wine Experience this summer where we tasted and acquired the current release of this label. Tonight we drank a fourteen year old 2004 vintage release.

Long Shadows Vintners is a collection of seven ultra-premium Columbia Valley wines showcasing the viticulture of the growing region and features internationally acclaimed winemakers who inspired them.

Founded in 2003 by Washington State wine visionary Allen Shoup, the Long Shadows project is based on the collaboration of notable winemakers from around the world, each known for a particular varietal based wine. Each vintner was given access to Washington State's best grapes and a winery to accommodate their exacting cellar specifications. The imaginative project has been an immense success and the wines have received critical acclaim vintage after vintage. Long Shadows has collectively  won numerous awards, including recognition as Food & Wine magazine's "Winery of the Year."

Philippe Melka is the creator of Pirouette, his first wine from Washington State, as he normally hails from Napa Valley where he is involved in cult favorites Hundred Acre, Seavey Vineyard, Dana Estates and Vineyard 29, as well as his own branded namesake labeled wines. Robert Parker Jr. wrote in the March 2013 issue of Food and Wine magazine, "Anything associated with (his) name is of undeniably high, high quality."

Melka had worked with Quintessa owner Agustin Huneeus, Sr. who introduced him to Allen Shoup and Long Shadows. Huneeus was a longtime friend of Shoup and became the first vintner to embrace Allen's vision for Long Shadows. He introduced Philippe as the perfect winemaker to craft the Bordeaux blend both he and Allen envisioned.

Philippe was born and educated in Bordeaux, earning a master's degree in agronomy and enology. He learned the trade and honed his skills at some of the world's most famous wineries including Château Cheval Blanc, Petrus and Château Haut-Brion, where he developed his passion for cabernet-based blends, like Pirouette. 

For our first course selections we drank from the winelist Louis Roederer NV Champagne with the Lobster Bisque, Foie Gras du jour and salads.

Hemingway's is known for a selection of fresh seafoods and most of us followed suit. Linda ordered the Striped Sea Bass, Alec had the diver sea scallops, Sean and Michelle had the crusted whitefish and I had the strip steak au poivre' entrees.

For dessert, Linda shared the chocolate souffle and I had the trio of sorbets, black raspberry, mango and strawberry. 

Long Shadows Pirouette Red Wine Blend 2004

I brought this Bordeaux Blend to accompany my Strip Steak aux poivre'.  While it is a blend of Bordeaux varietals Cabernet, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, it also contains a percentage of Syrah. It seems the Syrah almost predominated with a residual sweetness un-befitting the blend. The blend is 49% Cabernet, 37% Merlot, 13% Petit Verdot and 11% Syrah. It is showing no signs of diminution from aging at fourteen years and seems to still be at the apex of its drinking window.

The cork came apart on opening so the server had to decant this and strain it to remove the crumbled cork and residual sediment. Bright ruby colored, medium-full bodied, vibrant, rich concentrated forward black and blue fruits with highlights of black cherry, notes of cassis, spice and hints of cedar and creosote giving way to sweet almost obtuse bing cherry notes on the tangy lingering finish.

RM 90 points.