|Francesco, Jack, Anna & Zod with the Foie Gras|
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.
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.