Sunday, January 11, 2015

Jacques hits a homer

Jacques has finally hit a home run. As a matter of fact, a series of home runs. You will remember Jacques as my friend from the Hamptons who comes down from on high every two years or so to teach us Boonesville residents what "real" wine drinking is all about. You will also remember that his prior campaigns have been more Napoleon-at-Waterloo than Alexander-at-Issus. His first foray ran hard aground on the rocks of TCA while his second sunk into the depths of faded glory.

But this guy is nothing if not persistent and, right on schedule, I received an email from him detailing when he would be in the area and wondering if we could get together to share some bottles he had in tow. I quickly agreed to set up a dinner because, his wines notwithstanding, he is a fun and wine-knowledgeable guy and I like spending time with him. Plus, the wines he mentioned in the email sounded promising. The dinner was set for Eddie V's, one of Orlando's landmark dining spots, on Friday, January 9th. I invited Ron and Bev to join us for the evening.

We were the first to arrive and that gave us time to ice down a bottle of Jacques Selosse Initial such that it would be ready for consumption when the others arrived. Ron and Bev arrived next. Hugs and kisses all around. We had not seen each other since New Year's Eve. The Selosse was cracked open and we began doing what we do best. We have never met a Selosse that we did not like. And this one was no exception. Bright acidity, sour golden apple, and bread. Like pulling on an old robe.

Jacques and Allison showed up around this time with Jacques lugging a cardboard box under one arm and a wooden box under the other. We tried doing the greeting thing all around but the boxes kept getting in the way. Finally he deposited the cardboard box onto the floor and handed the wooden box to me. "I brought this for you," he said. I accepted the box (it had the size and appearance of a magnum container) and placed it on top of my wine bag. By this time the waiter had poured Champagne for Jacques and Allison and we all clinked gleefully and drank.

After his initial taste of the Champagne, Jacques turned to me and asked that I open the box that he had brought for me. Upon its opening, the box revealed a 1973 Bollinger Champagne which had been shipped in 1981 to celebrate the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. I thought this a very nice gift and placed it gently back into its container. Nice, thoughtful start Jacques. Disarming.

The first still wine that we tasted was a 2008 Drouhin Montrachet. I had brought this wine to four previous events and had taken it back home because we had not gotten around to it. I was not going to be denied this time. This one was first out of the gate. It had a rich, oily nose with notes of walnut and unthreshed rice. Great texture with lemony-lime flavors and lime rind. Fresh and balanced with a nice long finish. A hint of tannins. Jacques thought that it was reminiscent of the 2004 vintage. This paired well with the yellow tail sashimi with the robustness of the wine complementing the light soy sauce that accompanied the fish.

Our Burgundy flight was the flight of the tattered labels but the bottle contents were stellar. The 1971 Confuron Bonnes Mares was contributed by Ron while Jacques offered the 1980 Clerget Chambolle-Musigny. And they were both home runs. The Bonnes Mares exhibited ripe Pinot fruit, tobacco, and dried wort. Earthy cherry, mushrooms, and a savory character. Fresh, with a late-arriving spiciness. The earthiness of the wine provided an awesome pairing with our potstickers. The Chambolle was elegant on the nose but, initially, had a less-than-round mouthfeel and short finish. Classic Pinot fruit. Fresh and lively on the attack. Savory with dry tamarind. With more extended residence in the glass the dry tamarind flavor became lusher, the mouthfeel began to flesh out, and the finish lengthened. Pomegranate seed note on the finish.

Our next three wines were Barolos: a 2000 Monfortino that I brought and a 1989 Fontanafredda Vigna La Delizia and 1971 Prunotto brought by Jacques. The Conterno was young with plum, tar, earth, tobacco, and vanilla. Freshness, savoryness, and a long, tannic finish. Fifteen years on this wine is still a baby. Two of the greatest Barolo vintages in the '80s were 1988 and 1989 and Vigna La Delizia is one of Fontanafredda's most prestigious crus. This bottle represented both the vintage and the cru exceedingly well with tobacco, balsamic, and truffle notes accompanying elegant tannins. The Prunotto had road tar and a nuttiness on the nose and was sharp, rich, and balanced on the palate. Lengthy finish.  Two more homers for Jacques.

He was now on a roll. We had to restrain him because he kept popping in to that bottomless cardboard box and coming out with gem after gem. He was giddy with joy. In order to give him a chance to recover his composure, Ron opened a 1998 Rayas, a 2000 Soldera Riserva, and a 1961 Ausonne. Rayas continues to be the flagship of CdP from our perspective. This wine had lifted aromatics with a Pinot-like nose. Sapodilla and kiwi fruit, blackpepper and tobacco. Ron felt that the Soldera was more open and less structured than the 95 vintage which he had had recently. He saw this wine as having clean ripe cherry and strawberry fruits with tea leaf, tobacco, and spice notes. Burgundian. Silky and elegant on the finish. The Ausone (Ron's notes) had a nose of red fruits, plum, cedar, sweet tobacco, and graphite. This was drinking well at 54 years of age, showing the classic and elegant character of the label and vintage.

Jacques quickly brushed these wines off the table and re-asserted himself. He had been waiting for this day for 6 years and he was not going to let anything, anybody, or anyother wine get in his way. He had decanted a mag of 2000 Quinault L'Enclos and he waved imperiously towards the waiter to have it brought over. Given our preference for older Bordeauxs we were a little apprehensive about this wine (It was paired with our New York Strip course) but Jacques could not be contained. This was truly his night. The L'Enclos was a phenomenal closer. Tobacco, anise, blackberries, and chocolate on the nose with herbs, leather, and great acidity on the palate, closing with a long, intense finish.

By this time all of the patrons in the restaurant had long gone. As had most of the staff. A beaming, bright-eyed Jacques did not want to leave the arena. This was vindication for him. This was what he had been coming here for years to accomplish. He was not going to let loose of this moment quickly. If at all. The few remaining staffers were trying to shepherd us towards the door but Jacques was having none of it. "Have these kids never heard of basking," the look on his face seemed to say. Triumph. Triumphant. Oh well. I guess I'll have to live with it.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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