Friday, June 4, 2021

Pour Boys Wine Dinner at Del Ray Beach Wine Kitchen

Pour Boys Wine Dinner at Wine Kitchen Wine Cellar in Del Ray Beach

The Pour Boys descended upon Del Ray Beach to visit Bob & Gloria in their sunshine state home for a mini-reunion. We held a wine dinner in the private cellar dining room at Wine Kitchen in Del Ray Beach. We dined there on our previous trips to the area and planned a dinner in their cellar private dining room on our next trip into town. 

I first wrote about the Delray Beach Wine Room Kitchen Wine and Cheese Bar after our first visit back in 2019. They boast to have "The World's Largest Selection of Wine by the Glass!"  with over 200 hand-selected wines available through their Enomatic wine dispensing machines. Bill and I visited there again when we were in town later in the year and had a Spectacular Wine Cheese Pairing featuring Cliff Lede Poetry 2004.

Rick & Bob with Wine Director Ron Mitchell
in the cellar during our winter visit last year

A major attraction of the venue for serious wine aficionados is their extensive wine cellar of fine wines with a Reserve List of top vintage wines dating back several decades. Most importantly, they offer such wines at close to retail prices rather than marking them up 1.5, 2 or two and a half times retail or more.

The Reserve Wine List includes extraordinary vintage selections of premium and super premium wines including First Growth classified Bordeaux that are also offered at fair market price or current retail prices for such wines, a fraction of what most other restaurants would charge.

With this enticement, we reserved the private dining room for our gathering. Dr Dan and our two Lindas and I flew in from Chicago, and Bill and Beth C drove down from Charleston. 

We selected a flight of extraordinary wines, perfectly paired with the selection of artisan cheeses and charcuterie, our pre-entree selections, our entrees and the dessert courses. 

One of the showcase highlights of the Del Ray Wine Kitchen, beyond the wine BTG (By-The-Glass) selections and the Fine and Rare Cellar Collections, is their Cheese program. The Cheese program is designed and developed by world-renowned Maître Fromager and James Beard award-winner Max McCalman. He was America's first restaurant-based Maître Fromager. Max was honored by L'Esprit Alimentaire (French Food Spirit Awards) in NYC. 

Max is the author of Mastering Cheese which received the World's Best Book on Cheese award in Paris at the 16th Annual Gourmand World Cookbook Awards and was designated a finalist by the prestigious International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Max has also written two more books on cheese - "The Cheese Plate" (Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2002), which was nominated for awards by the James Beard Foundation and by the International Association of Cooking Professionals, and Cheese: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best (Clarkson Potter, 2005), an expansive reference on the world's finest cheeses and their wine pairings, which won a 2006 James Beard Award. 

Max personally currated our cheese and charcuterie plates from the incredible selection of over 80 cheeses and a broad variety of charcuterie meats in a Mix & Match offering. In addition to the cheeses were olives, almonds and artichoke hearts. 

Max was so into the cheeses and the whole culinary experience, he made no effort to leverage the opportunity to promote or commercialize his brand. Earlier in the day I asked that he come in and meet us and bring and sign copies of his book which we looked forward to purchasing. We never got around to it. A missed opportunity for all.

The Wine selected was guided by Wine Director Ron Mitchell. 

Our wine flight journey started with this extraordinary white with the cheese and charcuterie selections. 

Kongsgaard Napa Valley Carneros Chardonnay 2016

John Kongsgaard and his wife Maggy are fith-generation Napa natives. They began their Napa Valley wine experience in the 1970s planting The Judge vineyard on the Kongsgaard estate family land near Napa. The inaugural Kongsgaard wines came in 1996. 

Today, in addition to their legendary signature estate The Judge labels, they produce a portfolio of Napa Valley varietal wines - Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Albariño. They craft their wines in their underground winery — a cave dug into the volcanic rock, high on the eastern rim of the Napa Valley where they have also planted their spectacular mountain vineyard. 

My son's and I had the Kongsgaard Carneros Hudson Ranch Syrah for my father-son birthday celebration dinner just a couple weeks ago. This is sourced from the same vineyard as tonight's Chardonnay. 

Kongsgaards source the fruit for this label as well as their Syrah from several perfect acres in the Napa Carneros, of which they direct the farming under long-term contracts. They also source fruit from several sites near the winery. They write that "these intensely farmed, shy-bearing vineyards and their traditional low-intervention winemaking produce powerful, graceful wines—vivid expressions of vineyard and variety". Production is limited to what they, along with their son Alex, hand craft in their own proprietary labels. 

This release was awarded 97 points by The Wine Advocate and 95 points by Vinous / IWC (International Wine Cellar). It should be noted that the 2016 Kongsgaard "The Judge" Napa Valley Chardonnay was awarded 100 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

Golden colored, medium full bodied, rich, focused, complex, round, decadent fruits of what Wine Advocate calls "nectarine, spiced pears and apple pie... and candied ginger", with stunning sprites of what I struggled to describe as nutty almond and nutmeg with a long smooth sumptuous finish. 

RM 95 points.

We then moved to a flight of red Bordeaux blends wines that were a perfect pairing with our next courses. This provided a nicely diverse but balanced trio to compare.

From the charcuterie we shared a 56 ounce tomahawk ribeye steak sliced for sharing by the group. 

Château Beychevelle St Julien Bordeaux 2010

We hold more than a dozen vintages of this label in our cellar dating back to the eighties. We visited Château Beychevelle and had a private tour and tasting during our visit to Beychevelle St Julien, Bordeaux in 2019. 

As usual, we were attentive to the tasting order of the wines based on our experience and knowledge of their character, profiles and the vintages. We tasted this first in our flight of three reds. In the end, we were correct in our approach in all respects. 

The Chateau Beychevelle 2010 blend consists of Cabernet Sauvignon (54%), Merlot (38%), Cabernet Franc (5%) and Petit Verdot (3%).

This release was awarded 95 points by James Suckling,  94 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast, 93 points by  Wine Spectator, and 91 points by Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar.

Suckling summed this up well, "Beautiful aromas of blackberries, currants and flowers. Very aromatic. Full body, with ultra-fine tannins and gorgeous fruit. It's polished and very refined. One of the best Beychevelles in years."  

Wine Enthusiast also captures the style and approach, "Beychevelle's style privileges elegance over weight, and such is the case with the 2010. It's a pure-fruited, ripe and lightly tannic wine, emphasizing a blackberry note."

This was the lightest, and most approachable of the three labels. Ruby colored, medium bodied, soft, nicely balanced, initially slightly astringent on opening (what Stephen Tanzer referred to as 'medicinal'), it opened up and that blew off after 1/2 hour to reveal pleasant black currant and black berry fruits, notes of floral, earthy leather, herbs and hints of plum on the smooth moderate finish. 
RM 91 points.

Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac 2011

We toured the estate and grounds of the Pichons, Chateau Pichon Baron and the adjacent Chateau Pichon Lalande (shown left), during our Bordeaux trip to the Medoc, the same trip we visited Château Beychevelle. 

This is another one of our favorite labels that we hold going back more than three decades, including our kids' birth-year vintages, several in large formats. 

Next in the tasting order, despite being from a lesser, lighter vintage, this was bigger and more complex than the Beychevelle. 

Classic Pauillac in its profile and character, dark garnet colored, full bodied, more tight and firm with its structured backbone, complex black berry fruits with notes of smoke, anise and graphite with a firm long tannin laced finish.

This was a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 12% Cabernet France, and 2% Petit Verdot.

This was awarded 95 points and a *Cellar Selection* by Wine Enthusiast,  93 points James Suckling, 92 points by Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, and 91 points by Wine Spectator.

Dark garnet purple colored, full bodied, concentrated with weight and power, rich black fruits with blackberry, dark-chocolate, cassis, spice, tobacco and hints of cedar with firm tannins on a long, intense finish. 

RM 93

Peter Michael Les Pavots Sonoma County Knights Valley Red Wine 

Fellow Pour Boy Ernie was not with us tonight. but we toasted him with this super premium Sonoma County Bordeaux Blend that he collects as a member of their club. In retrospect, as I research and write this blog, I see Ernie served this same label to us at our OTBN wine gathering tasting in 2014

We hold a few bottles of this in our cellar. 

The 2005 Les Pavots is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc, 12% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot.

This was awarded 95 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, and 92 points by Wine Spectator.

While this was last in our tasting order it might've been best placed in the middle but it was great to compare the Bordeaux and then move to the Californian. 

This was the most elegant, polished and refined of the three wines, more complex, fuller, more round than the Beychevelle, but more approachable than the more powerful brutish Pichon. 

Parker likened this wine more to a Right Bank Merlot based blend, "a sensational wine, with a style that suggests a hypothetical blend of a great St.-Emilion and Pomerol". 

Ruby colored, medium full bodied, smooth and harmonious layers of black berry, black raspberry and currant fruits with notes of tobacco, mocha and hints of anise and graphite on a soft silky tannin laced lingering finish. 

Consistent with my earlier tasting six years ago, "Dark ruby colored, elegant and polished, full bodied with full complex concentrated layers of blackberry, black raspberry and blackcurrant with tones of black tea, cigar box and hint of dark mocha and cedar on a silky smooth finish." At that time I gave this 95 points. 

RM 94 points.

 After dinner we had dessert selections, Parisian Beignets, Crispy Pâté à Choux, Cinnamon & Sugar, Salted Caramel, Spiced Ganache, Passionfruit Curd and decadent Double Dark Chocolate Cake, Coconut Dulce de Leche, Sweet Shiraz Jam, Dried Blueberries, Hazelnut Crumble.

With the delicious dessert course we took advantage of the BTG program and tasted two perfect accompaniment dessert wines. 

Dolce Napa Valley Late Harvest 2013

This Dolce Late Harvest White dessert wine is a meal course in itself! Dolce is one the most notable late harvest wines in America, first crafted in 1985 by the partners of Far Niente. Dolce stands as standard bearer. Wine Enthusiast lovingly calls it "one of the greatest sweet California wines in memory". 

Dolce’s 20-acre vineyards are located in Coombsville, east of the city of Napa, and are situated at the base of the Vaca Mountains, which define the eastern border of the valley. The volcanic soil is loose and well drained, and the west-facing vineyard is protected from the prevailing winds so that the damp, morning fog of autumn—a very important factor in the development of Botrytis cinerea—hangs longer amongst the vines, often until midday. A combination of high humidity followed by drying conditions encourages, but does not guarantee, the growth of Botrytis. As the mold develops, its coverage is seemingly random with individual berries succumbing to Botrytis at different rates, if at all. 

With a classic blend of late harvest Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc varietals in the style of a classic Bordeaux Sauterne, Dolce is the only American winery dedicated to producing a single late harvest wine. 

Dolce has produced a wine in every vintage, yet in small, unpredictable quantities; testament to the incredible difficulties presented every year in the effort to make Dolce. "Dolce is an extraordinary wine bred from a combination of sunshine, soil, fog, expertise and dedication; a wondrous luxury, limited by nature to always being a gift of absurd rarity." 

Dolce is a blend of 89% Semillon and 11% Sauvignon Blanc.

Winemaker's Notes: "The 2013 Dolce offers lifted and youthful aromas of orange zest, vanilla bean and butterscotch with subtle notes of minerality and oak-derived spices. The entry is juicy, and Dolce’s signature texture is lively and enduring on the palate leading to a mouthwatering finish. Flavors of orange, pear and dried apricot mingle together with rich caramel notes and hints of minerals that make this vintage a delicious expression of the season’s exceptional ripeness." 

After nearly three years in French oak, this luxurious vintage shows bright stone-fruit aromatics and flavors, elegant caramel undertones and has a texture like silk.

RM 94 points.

Fonseca Vintage Port 2016

Winemaker's Notes: "Dense purple black with a narrow purple rim. The nose opens with very fine pure black fruit, a fusion of black cherry, cassis and blackberry jam aromas, with notes of crushed mint, an ethereal fragrance of violets and undertones of ripe tropical fruit. The year has added an additional layer of purity and refinement to the subtle, complex Fonseca fruit character, as well as an attractive minerality. The palate is supported by a vibrant acidity and taut, wiry tannins that provide structure but also texture and volume. The fresh berry flavours carry into the long finish A finely crafted and perfectly balanced Vintage Port."

This was awarded 98 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and James Suckling, and an extraordinary consensus 97 points by Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, Decanter and the Tasting Panel.

Parker said, " Don't even think of buying it if you aren't prepared to cellar it. The 2030 start date that I have will not be even close to late enough if you want harmony and complexity. To me, this is the best of the three 2016's from the Fladgate Group this issue (Croft and Taylor being the other two), thanks to its pure intensity, but time will tell if it becomes as sexy as I'm sure Taylor's will be. In the meanwhile, Fonseca looks like one of the greats of this vintage."

We're holding in our cellar releases of this label dating back to the eighties, most notably the 1985 vintage, birthyear of son Sean. 

Dark ruby colored, full bodied, dense, mildly sweet with notes of figs, sweet cassis, vanilla, hints of creosote and toast with tongue puckering gripping sweet tannins on the lingering finish. 

RM 93

Max McCalman's works available at DelRay Kitchen Wine and Cheese Bar: