About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Old Burgundy at Culin Ariane

We had dinner with good friends Tony and Fran last Thursday at Culin Ariane in Montclair. Tony shares my enthusiasm and passion for wine and is an avid collector of great wines.  Dinner at Culin Ariane always makes for a wonderful evening of exceptional food and thus the perfect occasion to pop open some great wines from older vintages as we did tonight.

We began with 1969 Camille Giroud Pommard 1er Cru Les Epenots.  I like to open a bottle of this each year in celebration of our wedding anniversary.  The wine has never disappointed me and it did not do so tonight.  It had an earthy bouquet and still possessed a gorgeous translucent red hue. The aged Burgundy palate had nice fruit and balance with a soft and elegant finish.  A terrific wine.

We followed this with a 1989 Joseph Druhin Chambole Musigny Les Amoureuses that Tony brought along.  This too was magnificent and much better than my notes indicate when I last had this wine two years ago.  Perhaps this was due to bottle variation.  This bottle was vibrant and harmonious on the palate with no browning of the hue.  Truly a round and delicious wine.

My wife Carol rarely drinks red wine, so I brought along a bottle of her favorite white, 2011 Ceretto Arneis Blange’.  Here is another wine that rarely disappoints.  Crisp, fresh and with a bit of spritz when uncorked, it goes down very easily.

For dessert I brought along a bottle of 1985 Moulin Touchis, a Chenin Blanc sweet dessert wine from the Loire Valley.  My previous two bottles last year were wonderful, unfortunately I cannot say the same for tonight’s bottle.  It seemed tired, had no body to speak of and a very weak finish.

We enjoyed these wines with a tasty and delectable selection of chef Ariane Duarte’s masterful cuisine.

It is almost impossible not to begin a meal here without her magnificent Cornmeal Crusted Oysters, Horseradish Cream, Micro Greens.  If you are going to cook an Oyster, this is the way to do it.  Sooooo Goood!

Additional appetizers included Sashimi Tuna Flower, Crispy Wontons, Pickled Cucumber, Wasabi Crème Fraiche (not pictured).

Carol and I enjoyed a couple of tasty salads; Roasted Baby Spring Vegetables, Mache, Toasted Hazelnuts, Anise Honey Vinaigrette; Heirloom Tomato Salad, Seedless Watermelon, eta Cheese, 12 Year Aged Balsamic, Herb Sea Salt.

Heirloom Tomato Salad
Spring Vegetables
Since Tony was having a difficult time selecting his entrée from one of two appealing dishes he ordered both, beginning with a Bacon Wrapped Rabbit Loin for his appetizer.  I tasted a piece and it was heavenly.  Perfectly cooked and moist, it melted in your mouth.

Before digging into our entrées, Ariane sent us each a homemade Ravioli stuffed with Broccoli, Burrata and Ricotta cheese in a Pancetta Sauce.  Wow was this good.  The ravioli was delicate, the stuffing creamy and the sauce spectacular.  Thank you Ariane!

Main courses included; Pan Seared Tile Fish, Corn Mango Thai Chile Salad, Creamer Potatoes, Popcorn Butter.

The remaining entrées (not pictured) included a deftly Seared Roasted Garlic Rubbed Painted Hills Sirloin, Braised Beef Cheek Ragout, Broccolini, Tater Tots; Sole Francaise (still watching my waistline) and a special of Mixed greens topped with Tempura Fish.

The ladies opted for dessert; Toasted Coconut Tres Leches Cake with Lime Syrup and Lemon Meringue Martini, Vanilla Wafer Crust, Cherry Surprise (sorry no photos), while  Tony and I opted for Espresso.

It was a very good night indeed!!!


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