Monday, October 7, 2013

No knives at this gunfight

A little over a year ago, Mr and Mrs @thewinebarn had the Siegels, my wife, and me over for dinner but were dissatisfied with the way that things flowed. They wanted a "do over." We gave them that opportunity last Saturday night. And it was a blast. I knew that it was going to be a big night because Ron had emailed me a pic of the wines that he was bringing. I was not going to be bringing a knife to a gunfight.

The evening began with light-hearted chit chat supported by a sideboard of cheeses (goat, cows milk finished with Calvados, and triple cream from Burgundy), gluten-free crackers, toast, and olives accompanied by a 100% Pinot Noir Champagne from Desnon and Lepage, a new, artisanal Champagne House. This Champagne also served as the accompaniment to the wild river sturgeon caviar (Ohio and Arkansas) that followed hard on the heels of the sideboard.

The chef for all of the delicious preparations of the evening was Andrew, Mr @thewinebarn himself. Andrew's next offering was a delightful fresh Maine lobster concoction in a hard-boiled egg white half, paired with Jacques Selosse Initiale Champagne. The filling for the egg-white half was fresh Maine lobster, white fish, classic aioli mayo, and Cayenne pepper. The rich spiciness of the Cayenne contrasted beautifully with the blandness of the egg white and the Selosse enriched the concoction.

The third course was a traditional cold potato salad (Called Ensalada Rusa in Spain, according to Andrew). The constituent elements were canned Albacore tuna, potatos, beets, green beans, peas, home-made mayo, and salmon roe. The salad was paired with a 2007 Chateau Y, a white Bordeaux, which exhibited starfruit, papaya, mango, and Kiwi on the nose. Dried orange rind and grapefruit on the palate. The wine's bright acidity facilitated a long, bone-dry finish.

During our consumption of the early courses, Andrew would get up from time to time to keep an eye on a Paella that was cooking on a wood fire outside on the patio. This black squid ink Paella required three hours of cooking and, in addition to the tentacles and rings, included wild-caught Gulf shrimp (with the heads on) and carmelized onion tomato base. The paella was paired with a 1989 Ravennau Chablis. The wine had a rich saline character, grapefruit and pineapple on the nose and bright acidity, citrus, sweet grapefruit, and tangerine on the palate. This wine did not have the knife-edge character of a traditional Chablis. Rather, it was rich and this rendered it less than a perfect pairing for the rich paella. Surprising and disappointing for us all. The wine drank well on its own but was not suited to the meal.

At this time we took an inter-course break to taste some wine pairs. The first pairing was a 1996 Drouhin Chambertin Grand Cru and a 1999 Dujac Echezeaux Grand Cru. This was a pairing of contrasting styles of great Burgundy wine. The Drouhin was the more powerful of the two with an oily richness and tea on the nose. The initial feel was more Barolo than Burgundy with tar, tannin, rose petal, earth, and high acidity. As the wine evolved in the glass it transitioned to iron, blood, game, and more traditional cherry and strawberry notes. The Echezeaux was elegant and silky with strawberries, beef broth, leather, game, and a slight spiciness on the nose. This wine was perfectly balanced with lightness of feet on the palate and a lengthy finish.

The second pairing was a 1982 Beychevelle and a 2000 Clos l'Eglise. The Beychevelle had black olives, dill, smoke, vanillin, sweet tobacco, and cigar box on the nose. Drinking beautifully with bright red fruit and a long, sour finish. Probably another 15 years of life ahead of it. We found the Clos l'Eglise to be uncharacteristic of a Pomerol. It exhibited shoe polish, red fruit, exotic ripe fruit, and kirsch liqueur on the nose. Opulent, powerful. Tamarind on the palate. Long, drying finish.

At this time the penultimate course of the evening was served. It was a Grade 6 Australian Wagyu with homemade chimichurri. The meat was perfectly prepared and was the perfect capper to a night of wonderful taste sensations (Andrew has a future in a kitchen someplace). The dish was paired with two wines: a 1989 Jean-Louis Chaves Hermitage and a 1999 Chapoutier L'Ermite. The Hermitage showed mint chocolate, pine needles, cedar, and a lot of weight on the palate. The L'Ermite showed spruce, graphite, and silky tannins. Powerful but balanced.

The final pair of wines tasted was a 1990 Haut-Brion and a 1995 Masseto. The Haut-Brion had coffee, dill and black olives on the nose and tar and black olives on the palate. This wine is still young.  (This wine bottle is captured in the full monty). The Masseto exhibited aromas of licorice and coffee. Harmonious and complex.

The dessert course was Brazilian "Brigadeiro" chocolates and Salted Caramel Gelato with Arequipe. Ron had brought a 1990 Chateau Suduiraut to pair with dessert but we opted for Champagne instead. By this time we were all feeling pretty so we decided to repair outside and practice our Champagne-sabreing techniques. This is something you probably should do at the beginning of the evening rather than at the end. All's well that ends well however.

The nights full lineup is shown below.

All in all a wonderful evening. The @thewinebarns restored their reputation as Class A hosts, we had great food and wine, and Ron successfully negotiated a late-night sabreing escapade.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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