One of the more elite events associated with the recently held 5 day Central Coast Wine Classic [CCWC] was a rare wine dinner. The classy venue was the Santa Barbara Club and the celebrity chefs were Bernard Ibarra, Executive Chef of the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes and Club Executive Chef, Humberto Perez of the SB Club.
The hosts were Archie McLaren, founder and Executive Director of the CCWC, Xavier Barlier, senior VP Marketing/ Communication for Maisons Marques & Domaines, John Tilson, founder and managing editor of The Underground Wine Letter, co- editor of Rarieties, world class wine collector and Montecito resident, Don Schliff, CEO Imports for Wine Warehouse and yours truly.
With a collaborated effort, 4 of us selected the wines and worked with the chefs to pair them with the elaborate menu for this sold out event where 80 fortunate people attended.
IMHO, this was as good as it gets. The venue, quality and presentation of the food, wine, service and dining room ambience was par excellence.
The menu and wines:
2006 Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Nature
Local sea urchin aioli
2010 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc
Rabo de Toro Consomme
1999 Bouchard l`Enfant Jesus 1er Cru
Slighty smoked grass fed lamb chop
1983 Chateau Margaux
Charred sous vide beef rib eye
Flaming beef fat basted, potato dauphinoise, grilled asparagus
1990 Penfolds Grange
Valencia orange soufflé baked in natural orange cup
Bitter citrus salad
2001 Chateau d`Yquem
1946 Bodegas Toro Albala
My wine notes:
2006 LOUIS ROEDERER BRUT NATURE- 2/3 Pinot Noir, 1/3 Chardonnay; no dosage nor ML; this is the first new bottling for this house since the Cristal Rose in 1974; the French designer, Phillipe Starck was heavily involved in the blending of the wine as well as responsible for the packaging and he designed the label. The wine was drinking absolutely perfectly; it had a lemon lime orange color which matched some of the nose and fruit tastes; it was nicely balanced had bright acidity, was elegant and classy and within a small amount of time, more nuances unfolded with some pear, stone fruit, spice, saline and especially minerals coming in to add to the layering complexity; loved it.
2010 DOMAINE de CHEVALIER GRAND CRU BLANC FAMILLE BERNARD PESSAC LEOGNAN- 85% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Semillon; 14% abv; bottled 5/3/12; 2010 was an ideal year for whites with slow and fully ripened fruit and this wine confirms such; it had a pale yellow color and aromatics of mild minerality followed by mild, spicy citrus and a saline component; the taste included nice mild lemon citrus and brioche notes; the texture was of an oily substance that enhanced the sensory pleasures of taste and feel; it was elegant and on the sensual feminine side of the expression when reigned in with a slight chill to pair with the scallop course; as it warmed up, it got much bigger and more expressive as what usually transpires with most wines; the sommelier team did a masterful job preparing all of the wines and this one in particular; this is a great white Bordeaux.
1999 BOUCHARD PERE & FILS GREVES VIGNES L`ENFANT JESUS BEAUNE 1ER CRU- the color was mid terracotta red; the nose was strongly inviting further exploration and I obliged and discovered wonderful spice and ginger with a mild hit of burnt cherry; the taste profile had some nice spicy red cherry that had a slight sweetness along with a touch of wood and earthiness and dark cherry notes; it`s firm structure, bright acidity and soft tannic backbone should carry this into a few more decades; the mouthfeel is so soft and smooth until just before the finish where the tannins show up with more strength but not overwhelmingly so; this is a fabulous red Burgundy and promises to be a charmer upon full maturity.
1983 CHATEAU MARGAUX- I`ve long been a fan of the 83` preferring it over the more highly acclaimed 82` on a consistent basis; our bottle was brilliant and one of the best ever; the hallmark of this wine was the silky, velvety texture and the wonderful taste profile which included spicy, saddle leather, milk chocolate laden black currant and blackberry fruit which backed up the so enticing and beckoning aromatics; it was in perfect balance and stayed the course for a long and satisfying finish; marvelous, splendid, and more superlatives are appropriate.
1990 PENFOLDS GRANGE SOUTH AUSTRALIA SHIRAZ- 95% Shiraz, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; 13.5% abv; 1990 was the first year the wine was not called Grange Hermitage which continued thereafter; this bottle hit it out of the park as did the first one tasted for the dinner review a few weeks earlier; first the color denotes a still young and vibrant juice by its deep dark rich purple; in the nose I first got some coconut, then briary cranberry and some wild cherry and a touch of talc coming in late; the taste gave up a mouthful of blueberries which were joined to a lesser extent by blackberries, black cherries, black currant, and plum with a hint of violets; toward the back end, some bacon fat shows up confirming a character often attributed to the Shiraz fruit varietal; the texture was amazingly silky smooth; the wine was in perfect balance and the long finish provided an extension to the entire and complete sensory experience; this bottle exemplified the magnificence of all things Grange and may have been one of the best I`ve been graced to ever have; it can certainly stand up to the much heralded 55`, 62` and 71`s.
2001 CHATEAU d`YQUEM SAUTERNES- 750 ml; I`ve had many a bottle of this gem, mostly from 375 ml; all of the best expressions of the famous Botrytised Semilion and Sauvignon Blanc are showcased here; it had a mild yellow gold color; when we did the review tasting a few weeks earlier, it was served in 2 glasses for comparison, a Bordeaux and Burgundy stem, we found the aromatics of the Burgundy stem were significantly brighter and the taste profile was more concentrated and therefore more pronounced in the Bordeaux stem, interesting; neither stem was used for the dinner in favor of a smaller dessert wine glass; the wine shined with generous tastes of spicy honeyed orange blossoms, ripe apricot, citrus and baked cinnamon apple; this is full on, big, sweet and creamy rich with thick texture to carry all of the joys all the way to the back end; a major life changing sensory experience.
1946 BODEGAS TORO ALBALA DON PX CONVENTO SELECCION MONTILLA-MORILES- 17% abv; this is a legendary sherry made from grapes dehydrated under the sun [soleo] in 1946, 825 bottles were produced in this batch as indicated on the label in September 2011 along with at least 13 other batches; there are still some barrels remaining in deposit; our bottle at the table was inky dark of teeth staining quality; it`s packed with aromas and flavors which included cinnamon, molasses, ginger, spice, plum, black cherry and black currant and delivered in a thick, creamy substance that never quit; this is a one of a kind wine at a one of a kind dinner and a fitting conclusion to a totally complete treat on all levels.
It`s occasions and moments like this that I live for and I shall cherish it for the rest of my life as it represents on of the finest of all times.