Sunday, May 1, 2011

Dinner party featuring Champagne, Burgundy, Pinot Noir & Riesling brings happy faces

Had the privilege of having some people over last evening that enjoy the intersection of fine wine, homemade food, and good-natured Saturday-night comraderie.
The evening began at sunset, around a fire pit and a platter of salmon rillettes, a recipe I was given for combining smoked salmon with fresh salmon poached in wine, stirred together with creamy mayonnaise and garnished with finely chopped green onion. I was told this is served as an amuse bouche at the famous fish restaurant in New York City, Le Bernardin. I hope to find out some day in person!
With the salmon rillettes, we drank two blanc de blancs Champagnes: non-vintage Agrapart et Fils 7 Cru Blanc de Blancs from Avize, a house favorite at our place, and non-vintage Moncuit Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Both wines were spectacular and had that delicious crispness one finds in Champagne and in particular in blanc de blancs Champagnes..... the Agrapart was terrific to start, with fine structure and clean fruit that immediately points the palate to a place of finesse and beauty, while the Moncuit was richer, more dense and compact, with gorgeous crystalline fruit and balance caressing the palate.
Next came the wines to drink along with the duck. The first opened as a gorgeous 1999 Lucien Boillot et Fils Gevrey-Chambertin which in spite of its 12 years, was fresh and rich in red fruits, dense on the palate (much more so that I would excpect a red Burgundy), enticing and enchanting on the nose, perfect. This Burgundy was imported by Kermit Lynch, and tasting this makes one respect the importer that much more...
Onwards to a much older Burgundy, the 1985 Joseph Drouhin Griotte-Chambertin a wine from a region I have never heard of, but as I understand it, is adjacent to or near Gevry-Chambertin. This wine showed much more age and development, lightness in body, smoky characteristics, with fruit falling off at this point but still present in cranberry and cherry notes.
After the 2 Burgundies, it was on to California Pinot Noir, one of our favorites being 2007 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir. We have tasted this wine on various occasions and always liked this wine and this vintage and this is our last bottle, so we hope that there is more to purchase from the winery, which we'll be visiting next week! Rich body of red fruits and spice, celery salt, balanced, not jammy nor oaky, this is a California Pinot Noir that is easy to love.
Finally, we finished with a 2004 Von Buhl Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Auslese that I had open in the fridge for about 4 days.... but as many know about Riesling, these wines only get better after several days being open. This is an Auslese with a good amount of botrytis, definitely noticeable on the nose, with honey and dried apricot aromas, while on the palate, the wine is lighter than the nose would suggest, which may be attributable to the vintage (2004 a colder vintage than 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009). The wine is not Beerenauslese on the palate, and is actually light on its feet and a perfect ending to a perfect Saturday evening @ 8.5% alcohol.