Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Holiday Wine Dinner

We went a little over the top for this holiday version of Wine Dinner. BrooklynLady and I hosted, and we settled on the theme of Burgundy, in honor of our recent trip. Our very good friends Deetrane and his wife (and 2 month old son), and NorthCarolinaGuy and his wife NorthCarolinaGal wined and dined with us. Such a great way to spend some time with friends near the holidays - celebrate all good things together over a good meal. BrooklynLady and I prepared a 5 course dinner and everyone was asked to bring a mature red Burgundy. BrooklynLady and I put together the rest of the wine. Overall it was a hedonistic wine and dinner experience, that a brisk jog around Prospect Park the next morning did little to counter.

We nibbled on unsalted almonds and toasted with a bottle of 1998 Pierre Peters Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc Brut Millesime. This bubbly was surprising in its weight and power. It had sherry-like notes at first, seemed a bit over oxygenated. But after a few minutes it found its footing, and had nice almond and toast aromas to go with big mineral and nutty flavors. Unusual to me in that I detected no actual fruit in this wine, but plenty of minerally, nut, and herbal characteristics. I think I need to try more Champagne. Deetrane said that his favorite wine pairing of the night was actually the almonds and this Champagne.

Here was the Menu:

Fish soup with quenelles and aioli
Mushroom and shallot quiche with green salad
Rack of lamb with buttermilk mashed potatoes and white truffle oil
Five cheeses
Poached pear in vanilla and cardamom syrup with whipped cream and ginger cookies

The fish soup came from the stock I made and froze, and although the broth was okay, it was nothing like it was when I first made it. The bright flavors didn't survive the freezing and defrosting. The quenelles, my pal Adam's suggestion, were fun though. The simplest dumplings in the world, they were simply fresh flounder, cream, and grated nutmeg, all combined in a blender until smooth. Shaped using two tablespoons and poached. They had the consistency of matzoh balls, and in fact looked like matzoh balls.

The aioli was my favorite part of this dish. I have never before made aioli or any kind of mayonnaise, but this recipe from Gourmet was so simple and delicious - I might be making this regularly, to the great sorrow of my cardiologist (when I get a cardiologist, that is). It would be great with boiled shrimp or any kind of seafood and brown bread. It was great the next night with simple fried flounder.

We had 2005 Domaine Roulot Bourgogne Aligote with the soup, and it was exactly as it should be - light, crisp, clean tasting, briny and citrusy acidity. Deetrane reminded us that Aligote is the wine traditionally used to make a Kir (an aperitif using white wine and a touch of creme de cassis). I happen to have some cassis lying around the house and will investigate later today whether or not this Aligote does the job right.

BrooklynLady lined the bottom of her home made quiche crust with fresh thyme, and the mushroom and shallot mixture combined with the thyme to produce a potently earth quiche. I loved it. We opened (an hour before eating) two white Burgundies to taste with the quiche. With a little research I decided to focus on the 2000 vintage because it is considered a good, not great but good, vintage for white Burgundies, and more importantly because the wines should be ready to drink.

2000 Paul Pernot Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru les Pucelles. We tasted at Domaine Pernot while in Burgundy, so this was a sentimental favorite. This wine had tropical fruit smells and the vanilla that I associate with new oak. NorthCarolinaGuy found prominent barnyard smells to. I could not detect them without prompting, but he is known throughout the eastern seaboard for his ability to differentiate and name the aromas of a wine. The texture of this wine was rich and thick, and to me the minerality was more prevalent than fruit or flowers. I preferred this wine to the next, as did NorthCarolinaGal, but every one else preferred the next wine...

2000 Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Garenne. Lighter, fresher nose than the Pernot, with a little bit of a floral component. The texture was more medium bodied, and the oak less prominent. Very nice minerality also, with, to me, a rainwater purity that I usually associate with Loire Valley wines. I liked this wine very much (particularly the next day on its own...sip...sip), but the quiche might have overpowered it for me.

We had three reds (opened 90 minutes before drinking) with the lamb, each interesting and immensely enjoyable.

1995 Domaine Newman Latricieres Chambertin. This is a Grand Cru vinyard in Gevrey Chambertin, and Deetrane says that this is some American guy who bought vines and basically became a French man who makes wine. I have not yet managed to find out more online about this wine, but I am hoping that Deetrane will chime in with a comment explaining a bit more. As for the wine...bright and deep ruby, with appealing redfruit and spice smells. Classic Pinot flavors of earth, redfruits, and spices, with a medium bodied mouthfeel. This wine was delicious and it kept improving over the course of the evening (and tasted great the next morning right out of the decanter that I never washed out). The one issue that some of us noticed, though, was that it had a weak-ish finish.

1997 Domaine Groffier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses. This wine BLEW MY MIND. I will admit that I was expecting to be wowed, but this wine exceeded my expectations. Deep dark garnet color. Nose of pine, underbrush, and forest, with some dark fruit underneath. After another 20 minutes the nose was truly explosive, with some animal elements. The texture was silky and seductive, and the flavors included plummy blackberry dark fruits, pine, leather, some herbs, and a cassis-like liquor near the finish. This wine was mysterious and brooding and I suspect that although they say 1997 reds should be opened now, this wine might have a few more good years in the bottle. What should I do now - I am stuck on Robert Groffier! This is going to get expensive...

2000 Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru les Cras. This wine had more purple to it than the others, and a soaring nose of bright red fruits, some bay leaf or cedar also. Les Cras is the southward continuation of the Bonnes Mares Grand Cru vineyard, and the wine shows the power and elegance you would expect. Bright red fruit flavors with cranberry acidity carried through the palate. This was a very pretty, food friendly wine with an elegant and perfumed red fruit personality. Madame Ghislaine is apparently a rising star in Chambolle-Musigny, and her Bourgogne Rouge is supposed to be one of the best values in red Burgundy.

This post is getting pretty long now, so I will be quick about the last two wines. We opened a bottle I brought back from our trip, a 1986 Louise Perrin Cotes de Beaune Villages. I loved this wine when I tasted it at the Domaine, and I enjoyed a delcious glass of it by the fireplace before dinner one night. But on this night, with 5 scrumptious cheeses (inlcuding the very Burgundian Epoisses), it was more odd than anything else. Deetrane immediately detected oyster liquor, NorthCarolinaGuy agreed, finding seaweed. I thought it smelled like rotting vegetables and tasted like Japanese rice and seaweed crackers. Hmmm...I guess after 20 years, a Cotes de Beaune Villages might vary a lot from bottle to bottle.

With our dessert we opened a well aged Loire Valley sweet wine, a 1990 Pichot Vouvray Moelleux Domaine le Peu de la Moriette. All I can say is YUM! I love these old Chenin Blancs. This one was golden amber honey colored with a lively floral nose, some apricots too. Pure flowers and honey in the mouth with a minerally rainwater finish. I could drink this wine constantly, and I did enjoy it tremendously as an aperitif while cooking dinner the next day. Alder at Vinography reviewed the 1996 vintage of this wine here. Everyone seemed to like this one.

I hope that your holiday dinners are spent with the people you love, and that your wines and eats are delicious.

1 comment:

Lenn Thompson | LENNDEVOURS.com said...

Sounds delicious my good man...and boy, you definitely know your French wine.

In the new year, after our kids are born, I'll teach you about LI wines if you teach me about French ones...deal?