Thursday, April 18, 2019

Spectacular Wine Flight highlights Etta Restaurant Dinner

Spectacular Wine Flight highlights Etta Restaurant Dinner

Our hosts Mike and son Matt
Friend Mike D flew in from NYC to host a special wine dinner and brought a spectacular wine flight for the occasion. He generously featured a few of his favorites as well as some extraordinary premier labels representing the best of the best of their varietal or appellations and vintages.

This dinner follows an earlier gathering of this group when colleague Matt hosted a dinner with Chef Zubair Mohajir who prepared a Wazwan Supper Club dinner.

Tonight's dinner was held at Etta neighborhood restaurant in trendy Bucktown Wicker Park on the near northwest side of Chicago, one of the hottest new venues in the City.

Etta is the latest sensation of Danny Grant who earned two Michelin stars for RIA Restaurant and who also overseas popular Maple & Ash steakhouse on Chicago's Gold Coast.

“For the Table”

Etta is rustic, bright and lively with large windows and an open patio deck upstairs. The main ground floor dining room is centered around a wood-fired hearth serving wood-fired pizzas, six different house-made pastas, and salads all featuring farm fresh ingredients from locavores across the region, served in their “For the Table” family style.

For the dinner, Mike selected a special menu to accompany and complement the spectacular wine flight featuring a selection of the finest labels from some of the best vintages from a range of old world and new world regions, that he brought from his cellar for the occasion.

The Etta staff provided superb attentive, professional wine service of the BYOB wine

Mike D's wine flight for the occasion
 The menu and wine pairing selections:

First Course  

Second Course

Giuseppe Quintarelli Rosso del Bepi
Veneto IGT Corvina Blend 2002

Soldera (Az. Agr. Case Basse)
Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Sangiovese 2004

Château Mouton Rothschild
Pauillac Bordeaux 2000

Bryant Family Vineyards
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Glazed Lamb and Big Reds flight

Château d'Yquem
Sauterne Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend

Tom R and buddy, Owner/proprietor
checking out special menu and wine flight

The Etta proprietor/owner checked in on us and our special menu selection and joined us for a taste of some of our premier labels.

The flight shown below featured a selection of the finest labels from some of the best vintages from a range of old world and new world regions.

Rick Wine Note and Comments:

Pol Roger "Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill" Brut Champagne 2006 

This is a classic special labeling, made only in the very best vintages, from this legendary Champagne house. This label is a blend that is predominantly Pinot Noir, as preferred by the label namesake, Sir Winston Churchill, the exact blend is a closely guarded family secret.

This vintage release got 98 points from Wine Enthusiast, 95 points from Wine Spectator's James Suckling and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 

Readers of these pages know, while I love Champagne, I do not represent to have a discriminating palette for such, hence I defer to the pundits on such tastings. Robert Parker wrote about this label, "Very clear, precise, ripe and complex bouquet with fruity and refreshingly chalky, nutty and brioche notes. Full-bodied and complex on the palate, the 2006 is supple, round and rich but also fine, elegant, fresh and well structured. It has a harmonious yet tight, persistent and very promising finish that puts this silky textured,  with rich and expressive flavors of peach tart, raspberry sorbet, candied ginger and orange peel, and sleek acidity that leaves a mouthwatering impression on the satiny finish."
92 points from Wine & Spirit - "A classical style of grande marque Champagne, Pol Roger’s tête de cuvée has seamless elegance and clarity of fresh citrus flavor. Rather than minerality and ripe fruit, it’s more about airy fragrance and spicy lemon zest, firm and cool."

Jean-Louis Chavy Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Perrières 2015  

Giuseppe Quintarelli Rosso del Bepi Veneto IGT Corvina Blend 2002 

Rosso del Bepi is named after Valpolicella founding father Giuseppe Quintarelli. The 2002 Rosso del Bepi was a declassified release of their legendary Amarone yet showed the Quintarelli signatures, according to Vinous Anthony Gallous.

This was imported by the legendary Kermit Lynch who brought Loire Valley and many other French wines to America. This is the first non-French label I've seen from them.

Dark garnet color, medium full bodied, more approachable than a fully classified vintage Amarone, never-the-less big, bold, deep and complex yet nicely integrated and balanced black cherry fuits with notes of prune, earth, spice, tobacco leaf, hints of cigar box and vanilla.

RM 90 points.

Soldera (Az. Agr. Case Basse) Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Sangiovese 2004


Mike cited this as his absolute favorite or one of this favorite wines. Anthony Gallon of Vinous gave this 97 points and wrote in his review of this wine, "Soldera’s 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is just as beautiful as it has always been. Super-refined and finessed, the 2004 is one of the most aristocratic, nuanced wines Soldera has made over the last four decades. I imagine the 2004 will reward readers with several decades of exceptional drinking. It is of course quite young today, but all the elements are so balanced, the wine is pretty much impossible to resist." (AG) 1/2015.

I love Sangiovese, especially with zesty Italian pasta dishes with cheese and bolognese sauces. Unfortunately, this was served with the Spicy meatballs with "Sunday sauce" that was very bold and aggressive and overpowered my pallet and this wine. Thankfully, I begged off finishing the course to save my discernment for the rest of the wine flight. I may tolerate big over the top bold assertive wines, but I'm a wimp when it comes of pepper spices.

Cellartracker consensus score for this wine is 95.2 - high praise, indeed.

Château Mouton Rothschild Pauillac Bordeaux 2000 

A classic First Growth Bordeaux from a classic vintage. Mouton Rothschild of course are known for their artist labels, each vintage release adorning a customized label featuring art from a renowned artist - even the empty bottles are collectors items!  I have a Mouton  Rothschild Artist Series Label Library page devoted to the subject. The 2000 vintage release replaced the painted label with an enamelled illustration of the gold-encrusted Augsburg Ram from the Chateau’s own Museum of Wine in Art. 

This release was awarded 97 points by Wine Enthusiast, 96 points by  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points by Vinous and Wine & Spirits, 94 points by Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, 93 points James Suckling and Wine Spectator.

Dark blackish ruby garnet colored, medium full bodied, complex but balanced and polished with black fruits accented by smoky cedar, violet, kirsch, coffee and notes of mocha, floral, spice and oak with elegant silky tannins on the lingering finish. 
This is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Merlot and while balanced, polished and elegant has firm full tannins that should provide graceful aging for fifty years. 

RM 94 points.

Bryant Family Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 

Another classic label, from Napa Valley, Bryant Family Vineyards from Pritchard Hill, in the neighborhood of exclusive legendary cult-producers Harlan, Screaming Eagle and Colgin, and more earthly yet respectable premium labels David Arthur and Del Dotto's newest ultra-premium brand and label from their new property Villa Del Lago.

This 2009 Bryant Family release got 97-98 points from Wine Spectator's James Suckling, 97 points from Vinous, and
96 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast and Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, and 95 points from Wine Spectator. (I share these metrics because many of us find our preferences align with certain reviews and it provides a good basis of comparison). 

Robert Parker cited this is a candidate for 'wine of the vintage'. Wine Spectator cited it a "Cellar Selection" as a notable Collectable.

Dark garnet colored, full bodied, rich concentrated and powerful yet elegant and polished with nicely balanced and integrated bright vibrant blackberry, plum and black currant fruits with tones of spice, oak, mocha, expresso and hints of cassis and cedar turning to a firm but silky smooth long lingering finish. 

RM 96 points.  

For all the pomp and fist pumping through the flight, while some of the other wines were more complex, or richer or more concentrated fruit, this had the best balance of complexity and pure enjoyment of bold vibrant flavors, my favorite of the evening! Not surprising perhaps that California Napa Cabernets represent the largest holding in our cellar.

Penfolds Grange (Hermitage) Shiraz/Syrah Blend 2005  

It is always a treat and special pleasure to taste Penfolds Grange. In the photo above of flight of the Big Reds above, this one is on the right, based on tasting order of lightest to heaviest, most concentrated wines. I suggested that tasting order and it proved to be correct, being the biggest and most concentrated, complex of the Big Red portion of the tasting flight. This is a style we love and hold much of in our cellar. Its a bit over the top for some, but a style we favor.

Penfolds Grange is the 'First Growth' wine of Australia if there was such as designation. Penfolds Grange has been Australia's classic premium label going back to the 1950s, it is highly sought after by collectors. It has been listed as a "Heritage Icon of South Australia."

 One of my prized holdings in my wine cellar is a OWC (Original Wood Case) of this label from the 1990 vintage, designated Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator, and birthyear of son Alec. I still remember picking that case up at Berry Brothers & Rudd wineshop in London and carrying it back on the plane! So it was back in the day!

Another fond memory of this wine was tasting it with Penfolds Grange Global Ambassador, DLynn Proctor. What fun to meet DLynn in person having enjoyed watching his pursuit of his Master Sommelier Certification in the entertaining documentary movie SOMM which is a feature on Netflix. What irony that I read recently that DLynn is now Wine Director for Fantesca Winery in Napa, one of our favorite collectables.

Folks that have followed this wine over the decades still refer to it as "Hermitage", a moniker if carried from the early years till it was dropped in the early nineties.

This release was awarded 97 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator, and 96 points by James Halliday.  

This vintage release is a blend of 4% Cabernet Sauvignon highlighting the Syrah, aka Shiraz fruit, 85% of which is from the Barossa region of South Central Australia with the remaining proportions coming from McLaren Vale and Coonawarra.

Dark inky garnet colored, rich concentrated, full bodied, Wine Spectator describes the nose as "a bit animal with some smoked game, mincemeat and bacon notes'. The fruit is ripe blackberry and black currant with a hint of blueberry with notes of tar, coffee, earth, black truffles, anise and hints of pepper and spice on the long finish of fine grain nicelly integrated tannins and crisp acidity.

RM 95 points.

Château d'Yquem Sauterne Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend 1990  

This Classic First Growth Bordeaux dessert wine is pure nector in a glass. From the historic 1990 'vintage of the century' that was provided no less than three Wine Spectator 'Wines of the Year' (1992,93,94).

This vintage release was awarded 99 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 96 pointsby Wine Advocate's Neal Martin, and 95 points by Wine Spectator and 94 points by Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar.

Parker wrote that this "is one of the richest Yquems I have ever tasted, with 50-100 years of potential longevity. An awesome Yquem! Anticipated maturity: 2003-2050+"

Medium gold honey colored, full bodied, unctuous, concentrated and layered but superbly balanced and elegant, spice, honey and dried orange peel aromas. flavors of caramel, toffee, honey with smokey notes. extraordinary sweetness cut by harmonious acidity on the long finish that lingers for a minute or more.

RM 94 points.