Thursday, November 14, 2019

Donna Olga Brunello For IV Dinner

Donna Olga Brunello For IV Dinner

Tenute Donna Olga Brunello Di Montalcino and Sondraia Super Tuscan for Italian Village Business Dinner

For a business partner dinner, we dined at my usual haunt,  Italian Village Chicago, for all the reasons I cited in recent blogposts - close to office, central location, three restaurants, three chefs/menus, extraordinary wine cellar, Chicago historic dining institution, great food and dependable, professional service. 

As usual, Jared Gelband, Wine Director there, knew I was coming and pre-selected a special bottle for our dinner. Often, these selections are off the winelist, being evaluated for inclusion but not yet acquired in sufficient quantity to support listing. Or, they're end of bin selections being dropped from the list, as it was in this case being the last remaining bottle in the cellar. 

Managing a wine list of over 1200 selections is a mighty chore requiring diligent care and attention. With dozens of lists in print, its a significant effort to update the production volumes. You want to avoid the chance of presenting a wine offering and not being able to fulfill it thereby disappointing or aggravating a patron. Hence you don't want to produce a new version of the list with only one or few remaining bottles and risk not having it available for diners once that last bottle has been consumed before the list can be updated and republished. Regular customers such as me provide that buffer to consume remaining stock that may have fallen off and is being dropped from the list. 

So it was tonight, we consumed the last remaining bottle of a thirteen year old vintage label. Only restaurants with extensive or thoughtfully managed cellars and wine lists, or select ones that specifically acquire aged vintage releases, can offer aged vintage select labels to their diners.

Italian Village offers not only a broad and diverse selection but  also a vertical selection of numerous vintages of a label, as witnessed by their recent Wine Producer Dinner featuring Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta from Tenuta San Guido when they served eight different vintages of flagship Sassicaia from the winelist dating back to 1998 with the dinner. 

Tenute Donna Olga Di Olga Pulusa Brunello Di Montalcino 2006

From the Italian region Montalcino near Siena, the appellation or Italian DOCG Brunello di MontalcinoDonna Olga. Donna Olga is named for Olga Peluso Centolani, a passionate woman of wine and the producer. The estate consists of 11 hectares (24 acres), but only 4 of them are cultivated by Donna Olga with selected clones of Sangiovese Brunello for this label, with annual production of 20.000 bottles of this Brunello di Montalcino.
Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, firm structured backbone, nicely balanced, whisper of spearmint and vanilla highlight complex black berry fruits, notes of earthy spice tobacco and leather with nice balance of acid firm gripping but silky smooth tannins on the lingering finish. Must be at its apex at a dozen plus one years. 

RM 92 points.

We also drank this Super Tuscan. 

Poggio al Tesoro Bolgheri Superiore Sondraia 2015

As I wrote in an earlier blogpost about this wine, "Jared knows I favor Bordeaux varietals and big full bodied fruit forward complex blends. Wow! He pegged it with this selection. Who would think you would find this style in an Italian wine?'

"From the Allegrini brand known for Amarone comes this classic Bordeaux blend from the Bolgheri region - Cabernet Sauvignon (65%), Merlot (25%) and Cabernet Franc (10%).'

"I would've failed identifying this as an Italian wine opting for a California Cabernet with its rich full bodied rich ripe sweet fruit. It presented a residual sweetness almost extreme for a Bordeaux blend but much to my liking. This profile would probably be too much for most, especially Bordeaux enthusiasts,  but I found it wonderfully delicious and perfectly matched to the brown sauce of my Veal Marsala."

Winemaker's notes: "Intense ruby red in colour, the nose opens with nuances of cherry and plum and deep notes of black berries, followed by aromatic herbs and a pleasant spiciness. It is elegant and seductive on the palate, revealing considerable body, great structure and balance, and silky tannins."

I give this 91 points.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Chinn's 34th Street Fishery

Chinn's 34th Street Fishery JetFresh Seafood and BYOB Picque-Callou Blanc

Casual Monday night dinner with Sister Jan visiting from SoCal, we took her to a local favorite dining site, Chinn's 34th Street Fishery in Lisle (IL) featuring their JetFresh Seafood. Chinn's is a local treasure that is under the radar and under-rated.

As I've written in these pages, Chinn's features "jet fresh" seafood, literally jetted in daily from quality providers in the leading seafood markets - Hawaii, Alaska, the Atlantic, the Pacific, Florida, Louisiana and other centers where they have something to offer on any given day. 

Having a taste for something light and refreshing on a Monday night, and hosting Sister Jan in from Huntington Beach, it was a challenge worth taking, to showcase seafood selections in the flyover Midwest interior to someone living adjacent the California Pacific coast.

The menu at Chinn's is prepared daily, featuring that day's catch from the source seafood markets. I've often said that if you live in a coastal area that is a seafood producer, you are subjected to the day's catch from that port. Here, we have access to the day's catch from a number of ports from all the coasts.

Chinn's not only offers the broadest variety of fresh seafood, but they prepare a daily special 'Seven Ways' in their daily "7-way fish" - PREPARED ONE OF 7 DIFFERENT WAYS - CHARGRILLED • BLACKENED • BATTER FRIED • SAUTEED • BAKED GRECIAN • STEAMED ORIENTAL • STIR FRIED.

This nights fresh seafood offerings included:

Scampi - Grilled, Stuffed, Dejonghe, Stir Fried, Chili, Coconut

On this day, three of us ordered the Hawaiian Monchong, the fresh catch from Hawaii. Tacked to the wall in the entryway was the bill of lading showing the shipment arriving at O'Hare overnight delivered the previous day's harvest. It was delicious and the portion was huge - easily sufficient to share. Sean and Michelle order the Grouper, blackened. It too was delicious. Dinners are served with choice of potatoes, coleslaw and Chinn's signature garlic bread rolls.

Lastly, to top of the dinner, we brought BYOB from our cellar this French White Bordeaux. Chinn's have a liberally generous corkage policy making it an even greater dining bargain value.

Château Picque Caillou Blanc, Pessac Leognan, Graves, Bordeaux 2011

We hold a half dozen bottles of this White Bordeaux Blanc, too oft overlooked in the cellar, passed over for something more exiting as we're Red Bordeaux drinkers. Tonight, we pulled this to try and actually brought a back-up wine in case it wasn't up to the call. The gals liked it a lot.

Golden colored with slight brownish hues, nose of citrus and stone, notes of mineral melon with a layer of slightly grassy undertones, yet pleasant with nice balance and acidity. A nice match for the seafood entrees.
Time to drink.

RM 88 points.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Ducru Beaucaillou Vertical Showcases Pour Boys Wine Dinner

Ducru Beaucaillou Vertical Showcases Pour Boys Wine Dinner

Following our trip to St Julien - Bordeaux recently where one of the highlights of our trip was a visit and tour of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, and another, our visit to Château Branaire Ducru, we were eager to explore a vertical tasting of the Second Growth grand vin.

During our recent Pour Boys Sassicaia owner dinner, I suggested we focus our upcoming dinner on Bordeaux - St Julien and offered a range of producers I could support. Over the ensuing weeks we selected Ducru-Beaucaillou as our featured producer for this evening's dinner. As noted by the boys at dinner, not many small groups could muster a vertical tasting of such a great wine spanning three decades.

Our dinner was hosted by Lyle and Terry and it was our first time there to see their new wine cellar. Lyle and Terry's pied-a-terre is in the city in Chicago's trendy West Loop neighborhood. The area has exploded in recent years with the new McDonald's world headquarters and the nearby Fulton Market district and its emergence as a high tech mecca anchored by Google and many others. The meteoric rise in popularity and property values in the area not only justifies Lyle's investment in his custom designed and built cellar, but suits the upscale feature requirements of upscale neighborhood residences.

Lyle and Terry prepared a spectacular dinner of beef tenderloin with roasted potatoes, asparagus, butternut squash, all capped off by Terry's decadent orange cake and cheese cake desserts with chocolate ganache, fresh berries and cherry jubilee.


Before dinner, they served grilled breaded scallops, salmon and an assortment of artisan cheeses, cheese dips and olives. The opening dinner course included a dinner salad and cream of mushroom soup.

John kicked off the appetizers and early courses with a garagiste Champagne.

Tarlant NV Champagne

The white wine flight consisted of a selection of premium and ultra-premium chardonnays from Burgundy, south central California Santa Rita Hills, and north California Sonoma County, and a Riesling.

The white flight:

Domaine Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Ruchottes 2012
Sea Smoke Streamside Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay 2012
Peter Michael Ma Belle-Fille Sonoma County Chardonnay 2006
Dönnhoff Tonschiefer Riesling Dry Slate 2018 

To pivot or transition from the whites to the Bordeaux red flight Steve brought this Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Burgundy.

Domaine François Gerbet Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots 2010

The red Bordeaux flight:

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 1989
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 1998
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 2000
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 2009
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 2014

Le Croix de Beaucaillou 2008 
Château Branaire-Ducru 2016
Cos d'Estournel St Estephe 1996

After dinner, the dessert was accompanied by two dessert wines:

Chateau Coutet Premier Cru Classe Barsac 2013
Niepoort Vintage Port 1977

Friday, November 8, 2019

Andretti Montona Super Tuscan 2016

Andretti Montona Super Tuscan 2016

Friday night, dinner out, we dined at our favorite local neighborhood trattoria, Angeli's Italian where we took this BYOB Italian selection - Andretti Montona Napa Valley Super Tuscan. We wrote about Andretti Napa Valley Winery during a recent tasting blogpost.

We discovered and acquired this wine during our Napa Valley Wine Experience last year during our visit to the Andretti Napa Valley Winery and joined their club to get regular allocation deliveries of their Reserve premium selections. We should probably cancel our Andretti Club membership. We received the same wine down to the label and vintage release this year that we received a year ago.

Moreover, the wines are not necessarily Estate bottled, meaning the grapes for the juice in the bottles are not necessarily grown on the property, but rather, may have been purchased from contract growers. Lastly, with all due respect to the legendary Indy Racecar driver, Mario Anrdretti and his benefactor investor partner in the winery venture, former CEO of K-Mart, who also helped sponsor Andretti's racing team, they are tenant wine producers, not landowners or winery estate owners. I would prefer to support family owned farmer/grower winemakers who produce wines from grapes produced on their properties. This allows the focus on terroir and its impact on the wine from vintage to vintage, as a basis for comparison over the years, and as a comparison against other similarly situated terroir focused wines.

Andretti Montona Reserve Napa Valley Super Tuscan 2016

Having just written the comments above about this wine, and all the reasons that we may not continuing buying and collecting such, I now admit, this may be the highest performing Montona Reserve label we have tried from Andretti. This wine tonight exceeded our expectations for this producer and label release. At a super premium list price of $110, it should be a top performer.

This is a blend of Italian varietal Sangiovese (50%), and Bordeaux Napa varietals Cabernet Sauvignon (46%), and
Merlot (4%).
The Winemakers' notes on this wine: "The Montona Reserve Super Tuscan is an intense and complex wine achieved by blending our finest barrels of Sangiovese with our favorite Bordeaux varietals. Deep ruby red in color the 2016 Super Tuscan is bursting with aromas of rosewood and violet, followed by candied cherries and dark plum. On the palate the fruitiness explodes in your mouth with bright flavors of cherry, raspberry and plum layered with toasty vanilla and silky smooth tannins. Enjoy this wine with grilled meats, braised short ribs, or your favorite aged cheeses."

This was aged 20 months is 50% new French Oak.

RM 92 points. 

Sunday, November 3, 2019

BBQ Ribs and Syrah Syrah

BBQ Ribs and Syrah Syrah - Clarendon Hills Piggott Range and Marquis Philips '9'

The family gathered for son Ryan's birthday and Linda served Salmon and BBQ Ribs with buttered potatoes, asparagus and baked beans. Ryan and I went down in the cellar and he picked out two wines he wanted to try as an accompaniment.

With the BBQ ribs, son Ryan chose from our cellar two Australian Mclaren Vale Shiraz' - a Clarendon Hills Piggott Range and a Marquis Phillips '9' - both from the 2004 vintage.

Clarendon Hills Piggott Range Shiraz 2004

As written in my earlier tasting, this luscious Australian Syrah was given a 96 point rating by Robert Parker, stating "A superstar effort, it reveals off-the-chart richness, complexity and intensity. Floral-scented, exhibiting a distinctive minerality along with wonderful blackberry and cassis fruit, and a hint of wood. The mid-palate and finish are both long, textured and intense. It needs 2-3 years of bottle age and should keep for a minimum of 2 decades."

This winery Clarendon Hills is the namesake of the town and area around Clarendon which was established in 1845. Many of the vineyards surrounding the winery are over seventy years old; the gnarly and twisted bush vines are dry farmed and the grapes are hand picked. The soil profiles of each vineyard are very different with the Piggott Range known for the rock and shale. This is a hillside vineyard planted in the 1960's adjacent to the Onkaparinga Valley. The soil there is notable by it's absence rather predominant with solid rock and shale torturing the vine roots to reach deep for nutrients to survive. Low yields rarely exceeding two tonnes/acre produce deeply rich fruit with firm structure and tannins. 
Consistent with earlier notes, this exhibited a rich dark purple color, full bodied, and full smooth polished aromas and flavors of raspberries, blueberry, blueberries and smoked meat with notes of spice and floral elements with hints of oak with nicely integrated silky tannins on the lingering finish. However, the fruit was more subdued and a bit leaner than the full throttle profile of previous experience a few years ago.

This exhibited a rich dark purple color, full bodied, and full smooth polished aromas and flavors of raspberries, blueberry, blueberries and smoked meat with notes of spice and floral elements with hints of oak with nicely integrated silky tannins on the lingering finish.

It seems with this latest tasting of this label, the fruit seems more ripe or extracted so as to be a bit more raisiny with a subtle tone of graphite or a metallic note - perhaps or most likely attributable to aging at this stage of life - fifteen years of age. 

RM 92 points.

Marquis Phillips '9' McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004

Our Cellartracker records show we still hold almost four cases of this label from seven different vintages.

From previous tastings of this release I wrote: "This is huge full bodied, deep dark inky color. Almost overpowering forward over ripe black berry, raisin, blue berry fruits, hints of caramel, vanilla, glycerin and cedar. Firm, full chewy unctuous tongue coating tannins that reveal more blueberry, vanilla, mocha on a long alcohol finish. Begs for bar-b-que or like food."

Similar to the 2004 Piggott Range Shiraz above, this too is starting to show its age and lose some of the vibrancy of its fruit. At fifteen years of age this is starting to show a bit of heat from the alcohol as this starts to wane and pass its prime drinking window.

RM 88 points.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Eataly NYC Wine and Cheese Dining

Wine and Cheese Dining Experience at La Piazza Eataly Flatiron NYC

As I wrote the other day, we dined at Eataly in the NYC Flatiron district during our getaway weekend. We stopped back in again for a simple pleasurable wine and cheese experience. We dined in the La Piazza village center of the always bustling vast site that offers eight different dining experiences, each centered around a different cuisine and food type in an associated village market setting.

We selected the La Piazza for a Taglieri sampling of cheeses and a couple of glasses of wines. Its in the village center surrounded by a cheese bar, olive oils, breads, wines and the fish market setting.

The menu offers cheese plates and charcuterie selections accompanied by a selection of wines by the glass including some aged vintage select wines. We ordered the daily cheese plate - a selection of five cheeses and selected two wines by the glass (WBTG). The cheeses were accompanied by spreads of fig, apricot and honey and nuts with fresh baked bread.

The cheeses:

Liuzza Riccato Fresca
Gorgonzola Dolce
Taledoigo Dop
Fiore Sardo
Parmigiano Reggiano

The wines:
Poggio al Tesoro Meditérra Toscana IGT Syrah Blend 2016

The Syrah profile really shone through as the predominant varietal in the blend of 40% Syrah/Shiraz , 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30% Merlot.

Dark inky purple colored, full bodied, concentrated forward structured and robust fruits of blackberry, black raspberry accented by spice and white pepper with herbs, licorice and tobacco notes on a long lingering approachable tannin laced finish. 

RM 91 points.


Fontanafredda Serralunga d' Alba Barolo Nebbiolo 2014 

Winemaker notes for this release: "The results of lengthy ageing, above-all on account of their natural qualities, these robust, well-bodied wines are packed with structure and are well capable of withstanding the test of time. Barolo has an attractive ruby-red colour with garnet highlights which become orange with the passing of time. Its bouquet is clean, full and intense, with the wine's typical traces of withered flowers, dry leaves and underbrush."

Bright ruby colored, medium full bodied, tangy spicy notes of black berry and black cherry fruits. fruits with black truffles, tangy notes of dusty rose, hints of cedar and earth on the lingering finish.

RM 89 points.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Queensyard Hudson Yard NYC Dinesite

Queensyard Hudson Yard NYC Restaurant

Sunday afternoon dinner in NYC we visited the spectacular new megaplex Hudson Yards mall with its twenty plus dining options. We traversed the six levels exploring several checking out the view, ambiance and menus. We settled on Queensyard for our Sunday afternoon dinner site.

Hudson Yards is located in Manhatten on Tenth Avenue between 30th and 34th streets above the railroad yard at the Hudson River. It is the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States with investment exceeding twenty-five billion dollars. It is the new heart of New York and is a metroplex where people come together to work, live and play, and enjoy chef-driven restaurants or shop the world’s iconic brands. 

queensyard is a British restaurant where the layout is inspired by the rooms of an English country home. The all-day dining destination has seating for numerous styles - a wine bar in the café, a light lunch in the Kitchen, a board room for business or private dinners adjacent the wine cellar, and an airy light filled open dining overlooking the Hudson Yard Grand Plaza, the river and views of Hoboken across the river.

Having been to Britain literally two hundred times over the decades, having worked for a British company for over a decade, I am only too familiar with British 'cuisine', or lack thereof. I accepted queensland as our dining destination presuming it was Australian. If I had known it was British themed, I would have likely been resistant. What a pleasant surprise that the food was so good, and the ambiance and setting so delightful!

There are three dining options in queensland, the bar, the cafe or the restaurant. Sunday afternoon dinner in the restaurant is a two course price fixe menu, which we chose for our dining experience. It was spectacular in almost every aspect.

The north and south ends of the grand dining room features two great murals that pay homage to the English countryside entitled St. James Park and Somerset Countryside, created by Sarah Moore, a well-respected American artist.

The queensyard menu is modern British fare, that focuses on British cooking but features influences from both sides of the Atlantic.

For our starter course we chose three different selections. Each was tremendous. 

English Rose / chicken liver & foie gras parfait, bittersweet chocolate & stout,
pickled mushroom & pumpkin

Brooklyn Burrata / muscat grapes, local wax beans, pear mustard

 Marinated Yellowfin Tuna / avocado wasabi, fermented kohlrabi, lychee, finger lime 

For our main course, we all chose the Braised Atlantic Halibut with carrot & ginger purée, yuzu glaze, lobster grapefruit sauce. It too was delicious except for the fact that the lobster accompaniment was not fresh and was gamey or a bit too strong fishy. The lobster meat was not of the tail but rather from the claw, but that was not the reason for its diminution. Furthermore, Linda's Halibut was a bit undercooked, while Viviana's and mine were good. 

For dessert we shared Sticky Toffee Pudding with caramel sauce, rocky road and ginger ice cream.

Interesting that even the selection of sparkling water was British from Wales.  

To accompany our dinners, we chose from the winelist this white wine - a French Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc. 

 Jack Pinson Sancerre Domaine de la Voltonnerie Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2018

'Old World' wines are named for the region or area from which they are sourced such as, in this case, the commune of Sancerre in the Loire Valley. Those wines invariably are sourced from a single predominant varietal grape. Wines from Sancerre are generally comprised of Sauvignon Blanc. In the New World, wines are named for the predominant grape that is in the bottle, and this would be referred to as Sauvignon Blanc. 

Jack Pinson founded his 2.5-acre domaine in 1970 in the village of Crézancy-en-Sancerre. Today, the property is overseen by his daughter Alix. The property includes 31.5 acres planted in Sauvignon Blanc and 8.5 acres of Pinot Noir.  The terrior soil is generally clay and limestone. 

This was straw colored, light-medium-bodied, dry with aromas of orange blossoms and honey with a notes of lemon citrus, grapefruit, and herb turning to notes of with minerals on a crisp mildly acidic finish. 

RM 89 points. 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Parents-Son Dinner features Birth Year Wine of the Year

Parents-Son Dinner features Birth Year Wine of the Year

Visiting son Alec and his fiance' Vivianna in New York City for the weekend, we took a couple of very special wines from Alec's birth year. We drank the first bottle, Château Calon-Ségur that we took BYOB to Bobo French Wine Dine Experience on Friday night.

Tonight, Alec and Viv were preparing dinner and to celebrate their engagement and the occasion, we took from our home cellar a very special bottle that I acquired upon release for his birth year. The 1990 vintage was a very unique year in the release of vintage wines in that three times, the Wine Spectator Wine of the Year was from that vintage year.

In 1993, the WS Wine of the Year was Caymus Special Select, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 1990. In 1994, the WS Wine of the Year was Chateau Gran Vin Latour Pauillac Bordeaux, from the 1990 vintage. In 1995, the ‘Red Wine of the Year’ by Wine Spectator magazine was Penfold's Grange, 1990.

Tonight's bottle was part of an OWC - Original Wood Case of the 1990 Penfold's Grange that I picked up on release back in 1993. I actually purchased it a Berry Brothers & Ruud in London during one of my very frequent monthly trips there. In those days, they had a wine shop in Terminal Three at London Heathrow Airport. I purchased and hand carried the case of wine on the plane enroute home, and have stored it in our home cellar ever since.

For dinner, Alec and Viv prepared ribeye steak with wine reduction mushroom sauce, grilled diver sea scallops, asparagus and pomme frites.

For the starter wine, they opened a Orin Swift Abstract California Red Wine 2016

Penfolds Grange Shiraz 1990

For the main beef entree course, I served the Penfolds Grange. Readers of this blog know we drink a lot of Australian Shiraz' and that we like them big and bold. This Aussie Shiraz was a totally different profile than the usual shiraz we encounter. Naturally, this is an extraordinary wine that is in a totally different class, with a totally different profile than the once a week, once-a-month, or even the once-a-year wines that we drink. This is one of those very special occasion, or even once in a lifetime wines. Of course, this wine sells for more than $500, a price-point higher than we normally spend on once a year, once a month or other wines.

Grange is arguably the most prestigious and most historic, famous wine from Australia, first released back with the experimental vintage release in 1951. For its first four decades, the label was called Penfold's Hermitage Grange. With this 1990 release, the Hermitage moniker was removed and thereafter it is simply known as Grange.

The fruit for Grange is sourced from south central Australia Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and Coonawarra. The 1990 is one of the top Granges ever produced. The vintage year was an ideal completely trouble-free growing season that enabled the grapes to ripen perfectly and to be harvested at the perfect time under ideal conditions. The producer says the 1990 Penfolds Grange is one of the best ever, with the potential to eventually rival the classic vintages of 1955, 1962 and 1971. It should be aged carefully for a minimum of ten years and preferably for 25 to thirty years.

The blend of the 1990 vintage is 95% Shiraz and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was aged 18 months in new American oak hogsheads.

The fill level was proper and appropriate for its age, the cork was perfect, and of course the foil and label were perfect as it was still packaged in the original tissue and OWC - original wood case. 

Dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, flawless, elegant, polished, harmonious, perfectly balanced, silky smooth flavors of concentrated black berry and black raspberry fruits with notes of vanilla, licorice, spice, black truffles and oak with hints of spice and cedar turning to fine grained tongue puckering tannins on the long lingering finish.

RM 95 points.

Wine Spectator gave this 98 points, James Halliday 97 points, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate 95 points, and Jancis Robinson gave it 18 out of her twenty point scale. 

James Halliday said it was 'destined to be one of the greatest Granges'. Wine Spectator called it  'magnificent, exotic, a veritable cascade of opulent flavors'. The Rewards of Patience - Fifth Edition (2004) called it Outstanding and projected its Drinking Window from now to 2040. Southcorp Wines said, 'The 1990 vintage was the kind that winemakers only expect to see once or twice in an entire career'.


La Fine du Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf du Pape 1988

After dinner, Alec opened this special extremely limited release Chateau La Nerthe La Fine 1988.

We discovered, tasted, and Alec acquired this wine during our visit to the Château La Nerthe estate this summer.

La Fine de Château La Nerthe comes exclusively from the distillation of white wine in bottles of the Château. White wine is aged in bottles in the cellars before being tasted and distilled.

Château La Nerthe perform a triple distillation to obtain the finest and delicate aromas possible. They seek the spirit of their old white wines that make the reputation of Château La Nerthe. By its origin, its extraction, its requirement and its refinement of 10 years minimum in oak casks, the Fine of the Castle La Nerthe is the expression of the exceptional finest spirit of their wines.

Château La Nerthe have been producing these fine wines in the true tradition of fine wine distillation in Châteauneuf du Pape since this, their first vintage, 1988.

Tea honey colored, full bodied, delicious, smooth, harmonious, nicely balanced.

RM 93 points.

Beaubourg Le District NYC Wine Tasting

Beaubourg Le District NYC Wine Tasting

During our weekend visit to NYC we dined at Le District, a collection of three different French Markets and wine and dining options. Like Eataly, where we ate earlier in our trip, the Italian focused destination for all things Italian, Le District is a destination for all things French.

Le District has four different restaurants Beaubourg, classic French Brasserie, Le Bar featuring bar food and an extensive wine list, Bar A Vin offering 32 different rotating wines that can be paired with over 200 cheese and home made charcuterie, and L'Appart, a Michelin-star restaurant with a weekly, seasonal changing menu prepared under the direction of notable Chef de Cuisine Nicolas Abello.

The Market District features a series of market settings - a Boulangerie, Delices du chef, Bar a Frites, Cheese and Charcuterie, Rotisserie, Boucherie & Poissonnerie.
For our wine selection we ordered from the extensive winelist this Echo de Lynch-Bages Pauillac. 

There is an broad selection of wines by the glass, and an extensive wine list showcasing French wines from modest to extraordinary First and Second Growths from outstanding vintages. There are more than a hundred carefully chosen labels, mostly in the $100 to $400 range, and also some outrageous selections such as Chateau Petrus 1982 for $7500.

Following our recent trip to Bordeaux, I was hoping for a St Julien and was tempted by the Second Growths, Château Ducru Beaucaillou ($360), Château Gruaud-Larose ($260), two of the estates that were highlights of our tours, a broad selection of Chateau Talbot vintages, and several second labels of some top producers Pichon Lalande and Lynch Bages. In the end we chose this Echo de Lynch-Bages, the second wine of Lynch Bages, one of favorite producers we visited during our trip.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Bobo NYC French Wine Dine Experience

Bobo NYC French Wine Dine Experience

Visiting NYC we dined with son Alec and fiance Viviana at Bobo's in the West Village. For the occasion, celebrating their engagement, I brought a birth year vintage Bordeaux from our cellar to take BYOB with dinner. We also had a recent release Bordeaux with our French faire from the winelist.

Bobo is set in a stylish hundred year-old brownstone in the heart of the West Village. Opened in 2007 it is one of Carlos Suarez's Casa Nela restaurants, that include the Village hits Rosemary's, Claudette, and Roey's.

Like its sister restaurants, Bobo is a residential setting, 'paying homage to La Maison de Campagne - a neighborhood restaurant inspired by nature and by family.'

Bobo is entered off the bustling street corner to the subterranean street level into the bar, then upstairs are multiple levels of dining rooms. The restaurant is decorated in natural French country decor to match its country French cuisine.

Bobo's offers an imaginative well selected wine list of French wines from small and interesting producers as well as well known houses. The selection is superbly chosen for the menu with excellent wines at reasonable prices. They also accommodated our BYOB for a fee ($35).

For our dinner selections we ordered: 

Rainbow Trout Almondine with haricots verts, toasted almonds
Duck Leg Confit with  orange-scallion salad, green olives, truffle vinaigrette
Roasted Sasso Chicken with pommes purée, roasted brussels sprouts
Filet mignon au poivre with pommes frites 

The Menu

Château Calon-Ségur St. Estephe Grand Cru Classe 1990

From our cellar collection I brought BYOB this special birth year vintage selection. This label is famously popular for occasions such as the engagement celebration with the predominant heart on the label. This was also a special selection as we visited the Chateau in St Estephe during our visit to the Medoc this summer.

At twenty-nine years, while showing its age in the somewhat 'tired' color as being a slight bit cloudy, the full aroma and taste profile was predominant floral with hints of mushroom over the black berry fruit. This is still drinking very nicely, thoroughly enjoyable. It is time to drink over the next couple of years as it will not improve with further aging and will diminish further as the fruit gives way to non-fruit flavors.

The fill level was good, the cork was very saturated almost 7/8 of the way. I had my two pronged cork puller with me in my wine carry bag which I used to open the bottle. It would not have surrendered intact to a traditional cork screw.

I always wonder why Sommeliers don't use such a tool, also known as an 'ahso', especially in such cases. It's hard to believe they don't have the skill or technique for using such. I use mine almost always except when the cork is synthetic for which they do not work.

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, nicely balanced, elegant and refined, Jancis Robinson speaks of its "very attractive voluptuousness.. .and beautifully balanced". Aromas and bright taste profile of floral and violets, the layer of black fruits accented by the floral and tones of mushroom, spice, licorice, earth and leather and soft, velvety tannins.

RM 91 points. 

Wine Spectator gave this 93 points, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar 90 points, and Jancis Robinson 18.5 on her 20 point scale.



Grand-Puy-Lacoste Lacoste-Borie Pauillac 2012
From the winelist, we also ordered this Pauillac from the legendary Borie family who also own Ducru-Beaucaillou and Haut-Batailley. Our visit to the classic second growth Ducru-Beaucaillou was one of the highlights of our trip to the Medoc.

The history of Grand-Puy-Lacoste is a family saga going back to the 16th century.

The name Grand-Puy comes from the ancient term "puy” which means "hillock, small height” as true to its name, the vineyard sits on outcrops, with a terroir similar to that of the Médoc's first growths. The property was held by a single family from generation to generation, in a direct line through marriage from the 16th century until 1920, before connecting with another family in 1978—the Borie.

The family's history took a decisive turn in 1978 when the owner of Grand-Puy-Lacoste "chose” Jean-Eugène Borie to buy the property. Borie and Raymond Dupin, owner of Grand-Puy-Lacoste since 1932, were close friends which led Dupin to sell him the domain. After acquiring the estate Borie turned to his son François-Xavier to manage it; his challenge was to awaken this "sleeping beauty”.

François-Xavier Borie has directed the estate since its acquisition in 1978. He lives on the estate in the at the château, a rather rare occurrence in the Médoc. With him at the estate is his wife Marie-Hélène. Also involved in the business are their three children, the next generation who will manage the property.

Over time, the château became a true family home, with its traditions, celebrations, and ceremonies in its chapel. The three Borie children, Emeline (1982), Laurence (1983) and Pierre-Antoine (1986) were born there, grew up at the property, and attended school in Pauillac.

Today, François-Xavier and Marie-Hélène's eldest daughter Emeline is in charge of communication and public relations at Grand-Puy-Lacoste. She travelled widely as a student and received valuable international experience during two years with an importer of wines in Vietnam. I've had the pleasure of meeting Emeline at industry events over the years. 

François-Xavier Borie on the brand, "Grand-Puy-Lacoste is a classic Pauillac, that is to say, characterized by class, allure, harmony. We are fortunate to have one of the finest terroirs in Pauillac and our wines display what may be called a French taste: aromatic, with body and a great sense of balance."

We drove by the estate during our visit to Pauillac this summer. 

"These wines are structured, with a fine attack, great presence in the mouth and a remarkable length. Each stage of tasting gives harmonious pleasure. The tannins are never aggressive, an expression of elegance is always present."

Wineamaker notes on this label, "This wine presents a very ruby red color. The nose is dominated by black fruits with black cherry very much to the fore and by coffee aromas. The mid palate has the sweetness of ripe fruit and rounded tannins. The richness is well balanced by some bilberry freshness. This wine will need a little bite of patience before starting to enjoy it."

This is a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc.

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, nicely balanced and structured, black berry fruits, notes of coffee, hints of anise and forest, well integrated tannins and some nicely balanced acidity.

RM 88-89 points.