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.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Killer BBQ

Francesco, Jack, Anna & Zod with the Foie Gras
I have a number of “wine” friends who love nothing more than to share great wine with one another, especially when it is paired with terrific food. Thus when Carol and I were invited by friends Jack and Anna to their historic residence, The Bond Force House, a couple of weeks ago for what Jack called a “Killer BBQ”, we happily accepted.  We were all asked to bring “killer wines” to complement the food that was being prepared two of NJ’s top chefs, Zod Arifa, chef/owner of Blu and Next Door in Montclair and Francesco Palmieri, chef/owner of The Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield.  No one disappointed. The weather forecast was for rain all day, but I guess the big guy upstairs had second thoughts about “raining on this parade”.  I can only hope this post does justice to the event.  Please check out the links to Blu and the Orange Squirrel to learn more about the chefs and their cuisine. They did a remarkable job.

Jack, Zod and Francesco did a great job in pairing the menu to the wines that were brought. With the exception of an over-eager Bordeaux fan who poured the 1990 Chateau Montrose and 1988 Chateau Grand Vin de Leoville St Julien prior to dinner, the menu and wines followed the chefs pairing order.  I have never been a fan of Bordeaux.  Having said that the 1990 Montrose, which I have had on a few occasions, is a gorgeous wine.  Tonight was no exception. It had a compelling earthy bouquet with vibrant fruit.  Rich and lush on the palate, it finished with considerable length and elegance.  I did not taste the Leoville.

We began the meal with a magnum of 2010 Pepiere Muscadet de Sevre et Maine Clisson. The bracing acidity and magnificent stony elegance of the wine, in my opinion, was the perfect match to oysters, which chef Francesco prepared, grilled with Spinach Foam and Pancetta dust.  This wine, made from the Melon Bourgogne grape primarily found in the Loire Valley of France also paired beautifully the Spiced Asian Inspired Duck Wings chef Zod also prepared. While I am not a big fan of duck, these were sensational.  Like potato chips I could not stop eating them.

Tender and citrusy Grilled Fresh Jumbo Florida Shrimp were paired with a magnum of 2002 Denis Mortet Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St. Jacques.  This outstanding red Burgundy worked really well with the shrimp.  The wine had a wonderful sense of place on the nose and palate, and possessed impeccable balance and complexity and finished with satiny elegance. A superb wine!

Grilled whole lobsters followed the shrimp and were paired with a magnum of 1995 Veuve Cliquot Grande Dame Champagne.  The wine possessed a toasty nose, with a full-bodied palate of bright acidity and elegant bubbles.  A very nice Champagne on the palate, the finish was a bit short however, in my opinion.

Roasted Foie Gras with Apricots in a Bas Armagnac reduction came next.  This was simply sensational.  I don’t think there is anything more delicious or decadent than Foie Gras.  The chefs really showed their stuff here.  It was a mouth-watering dish.  It was paired with a magnum of 1990 Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes.  Considered by many as the finest dessert wine and possibly the finest wine in the world (it was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite), I have never been of the same mind.  While I have always enjoyed the fruit and viscosity of the wine, the finish is too often medicinal in my opinion.  Well, that was not the case with the 1990.  A gorgeous aroma of coconuts, pineapples and apricots soared form the glass, danced on the tongue and finished with nary a hint of medicine.  Instead the finish was pure pleasure with its alluring viscosity, finesse and length.  One the best d’Yquem’s I have ever had. 

The final BBQ item was 28-day Dry-aged Prime Ribeye.  As I am not a big steak guy, and still licking my chops from the amazing Foie Gras before it, I passed on this course.  The rest of the group eagerly dove into it however.  I did however sample the wines, all from large format, that were poured with the course, beginning with a 5 liter 1989 Gaja Sperss and a 3 liter 1988 Gaja Sperss.  Angelo Gaja is known for his Barbarescos and follows a more modern approach to wine making. That style was evident in these two wines, both of which are Barolo. As he does with his Barabarescos he adds about 5% Barbera to the wine.  Of the two, the 1989 I felt was clearly the better wine.  From a classic vintage, the wine was full of lush fruit, soft tannins and a lengthy finish.  The 1988, which was the first year Gaja made Barolo, was, in my opinion, a step or two behind the 1989.  The wine drank well, but seemed to lack the finesse and focus of the ‘89.

A magnum of 1999 Aldo Conterno Granbussia Riserva was next poured and it was fantastic. The wine is only made in years when all there of his vineyards, Romirasco, Cicala and Colonnello yield outstanding results.  This is classic old world Barolo.  It displayed a huge earthy nose with an elegant and refined palate.  A wine with soul!

I would be remiss if I did not mention the fantastic condiments served with the meal.  Roasted Asparagus and Roasted Portobello Mushrooms with Harlequin Caps, Grilled Corn and Grilled Potatoes.

The last wine poured with this course there was a magnum of 2005 Soldera Brunello di Montalcino.  For me, this along with the d’Yquem, Mortet and Conterno were the wines that drank the best on this day.  It possessed pristine fruit, balance, focus and complexity.  The tannins were soft and elegant and the wine had a monster finish.  Another wine with soul.

A wonderful assortment of delicious cheeses was up next as were a couple of bottles of 1982 Chateau Margaux. Margaux is one of the first growth wines of Bordeaux, and 1982 is considered one of its classic vintages.  Alas, I am not a fan of this style of wine.  I took only a small sip, so I will refrain from commenting.  The general consensus however was that the 1990 Chateau Montrose at the beginning of the meal was far and away the better wine.

Citrus parfait with Grilled Peaches completed the BBQ.  This refreshing dessert was paired with a superb bottle (magnum) of 2005 Chateau Rieussec Sauternes.  Like the d’Yquem before it, this possessed glorious hints of pineapples, peaches and a touch of vanilla on the palate and a rich, lengthy and viscous finish.

Not your ordinary BBQ by any means.  Thanks Jack and Anna for a great day and kudos once again to Chefs Zod and Francesco for a magnificent meal.  


1 comment:

  1. looks like a great evening - thanks for sharing.....