All the wines came fromDave's cellar, while the food was prepared on site by Focus Events and Catering from Staten Island, NY. David worked out the menu with Focus owner, Jay Dellacona. Simply awesome food served by a professional and courteous staff. The format for the evening was seven rounds, each consisting of two wines (first round had 3) and 3-4 small bites and plates. Most of the photos I took came out good, and those will appear below.
IN THE INITIAL COURSE WE WILL TRY 3 CHAMPAGME-STYLE SPARKLERS FROM A NEW MEXICO WINERY WITH SOME CONVENTIONAL AND UNCONVENTIONAL FOOD PAIRINGS
Gruet Non-Vintage Brut Methode Champanoise
This was my favorite of the three. It had a wonderful yeasty and creamy feel in the mouth, with lively fruit, complexity and balance.
Gruet Non-Vintage Extra Dry Blanc de Blanc
A nice champagne, but much less exciting alongside the NV Brut. It lacked the liveliness and yeasty palate of the brut.
2007 Gruet Blanc de Blanc
Nice medium gold color with citrus aromatics and a crisp palate. As it warmed in the glass, its essence began to emerge.
David tells me these wines are in the $15 - $20 range. That is a fantastic quality to price ratio. You can check them out by following the link here, Gruet Winery
A small demi cup of mildly spicy Chipotle Gazpacho. Perfectly chilled with a great texture and mild spicy palate. The perfect foil for the ice-cold hampagne.
A grilled vegetable and goat cheese ‘lasagna’' I guess you could call this a Noveau Eggplant Parmigianno. Whatever you call it, it was delicious.
Shrimp wonton with plum dipping sauce. This was out-of-bounds. Perfectly cooked shrimp nestled in a lightly fried wonton wrap. The plum sauce was a perfect complement.
Lump crab crepe with lemon Beurre Blanc over Pea Puree (no photo). Somehow I missed this “bite”. Carol, did not and she assured me it was delicious.
IN ROUND 2 WE WILL TRY ONE OF OUR FAVORITE CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAY’S AND A STAPLE OF THESE GATHERINGS IN 5 LITER BOTTLES ALONG WITH A NEWCOMER AND MUCH YOUNGER WINE THAT SHOULD BE AN INTERSTING CONTRAST
I am not a fan of California Chardonnays as I find them over extracted and over oaked, but that was not the case with either these. They drank beautifully and were a superb match for the food they accompanied.
Escargot and bone marrow, garlic, & parsley. What a terrific combination of a crispy fried Escargot atop creamy & delicious bone marrow.
NOW THINGS START TO INTERSTING AS WE SHIFT TO ITALIAN WINES FOR A WHILE. THIS COURSE WILL CONTRAST A LIGHT OLDER BURGUNDIAN-STYLED BAROLO WITH A MUCH YOUNGER, MORE POWERFUL, MODERNIST-STYLE BAROLO AND MATCH THEM WITH FOODS INSPIRED BY PIEMONTESE CUISINE
1994 Rocche dei Manzoni Barolo – Rocche. One of my favorite old world estates, this bottle had appeared to have closed down by the time it was poured. Decanted about 6 hours prior, the wine had an earthy nose, but really offered very little on the palate. Deciding when to decant some of these older wines is one of the mysteries I hope to some day solve.
2001 Cerbaia Brunello di Montalcino. This was a new Brunello producer for me. I enjoyed it a lot as it tasted like a traditionally made Brunello. The wine is fermented for 6 weeks in steel and then sees 4 years in oak barrels (large Slovian Oak?). Fresh and young fruit, nice balance and complexity and a soft finish.
Potato gnocchi stuffed with Gorgonzola and a sage butter sauce. This was terrific. Just the right amount of Gorgonzola served in a sage butter sauce. Perfect match for the Brunellos.
A “spedini” of house smoked beef filet, sliced paper thin, with baby cilantro shoots and chipotle crème fraiche (no photo). Somehow I missed this plate. I think I was too focused on the Gnocchi.
THIS SET OF WINES INCLUDE OUR OLDEST FOR THE EVENING AND ONE OF THE MOST CURIOUS THAT IS MADE FROM EXCESS JUICE FROM AN UNDISCLOSED CULT PRODUCER BUT COSTS DRAMATICALLY LESS, BOTH OF WHICH ARE 100% CABERNET SAUVIGNON PAIRED AGAIN WITH TWO CLASSICS
2001 Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2001 was aged for 23 months in 100% new Barrique barrels. For me it had too much oak and vanilla. The next Cabernet, 1988 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was quite a different story. This was very, very good. It had young and vibrant fruit on the palate, wonderful balance and complexity, with a long and velvet finish. If all Cabs were like this, I think I could become a fan.
Baby lamb chop with a green pepper crust with a drizzle of demi-glace. I don’t eat Lamb. Just have never been a fan of it. Carol, on the other hand, loves it and her comment here was “Delicious, really delicious.”
Long Island duck breast with honey balsamic reduction. Neither of us are fans of duck breast, so we both passed on this. Those around us however were enjoying every bite.
HAVE FUN WITH DESSERT AND RED AND WHITE DESSERT WINES FROM BONNY DOON VINEYARDS
I have always enjoyed the wines of Rhone styled wines of Boony Doon in California. These two dessert wines, one red, the other white, were simply delicious with a great QPR.