August 27, 2010

Tokyo 2010 day 8: California screamin'

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The Michelin part of my trip is finally over, and I'm back to having simple food.  Lunch was at another ramen joint I've been wanting to try.  After lunch I discovered R Burger, which uses those white steamed buns like Chinese mantou (饅頭), making the burgers kinda similar to Taiwanese guabao (割包).  The plum and chicken burger (梅チキンバーガー) was pretty interesting, and they even have chopped bits of plum in the plum sauce.

Dinner was at home with Brian, Cow and H-man.  It's been 3 years since our last gathering in Tokyo - there was a dinner in Hong Kong last year - and it's long overdue.  H-man had wanted to open some Californian cult wines, since his wine circle only drinks French.  He was more than eager to open up his most prized assets in his collection, and I tried in vain to match his generosity.

1997 Marcassin Chardonnay Gauer Vineyard Upper Barn - I was hoping that the wine would not be overly oxidized and over the hill, as several mid-90s Californian Chards I've tasted recently have been.  I wasn't happy with the wine at first - nose of orange marmalade, white flowers and clearly oxidized.  Initially the finish was a little tart.  I decided to cool the wine further in the ice bucket, and the wine improved markedly.  The floral notes became more prominent, and that nice buttery nose I love about Chardonnays came out.

Prosciutto and melon - the Japanese melon was pretty ripe and sweet, and I prefer this combination to the usual rock melon.

Swordfish pasta in garlic white wine sauce - very yum.  Swordfish is a little unusual, but very welcome in my book.

1996 Dalla Valle Maya - I decanted the wine early and it had been in the decanter for about 2 hours before we starting drinking it.  Nose was alcoholic, with prunes and pine needles.  Still pretty concentrated and full-bodied.  Room temperature was definitely too warm, so I dunked the decanter into the ice bucket for a while.  The wine tasted much better at the new, cooler temperature.  Lots of spices like star anise came out, and it was even a little smoky.  Definitely a little funkier than your typical Cali Cab, thanks to the 45% Cabernet Franc in the blend.

The pan-fried chicken thigh was really nice, with perfect crispy skin and juicy, tender meat.  The assortment of boiled veggies - Japanese turnip, carrots, cabbage and zucchini - helped balance the meal.

1995 Bryant Family - the wine smelled incredible when I was decanting it, and the nose remained the most Californian throughout the night.  Lots of tropical fruits, coconut butter, sweet and a little bit of caramel.  Definitely alcoholic, but very smooth on the palate.  It's been a while since my last taste of Bryant Family, and I was the beneficiary of H-man's generosity.

Grilled lamb chops - Brian definitely makes really good lamb, and tonight it was no exception.  The thicker chops were a little more tender, and there was plenty of tasty fat full of the "lammy" flavors I love so much.  Couldn't resist having 3 of these...  Thanks, Bri, for dialing down the herbs...

1997 Screaming Eagle - this, of course, was the wine that we'd all been waiting for.  I couldn't believe my ears when H-man said last week that he wanted to open this up.  I'd drunk plenty of good wines, but I have only ever tasted one vintage of Screaming Eagle... and 1997 is THE Screagle!

Nose was smoky, fruity with coffee notes.  Like the other two reds, the alcohol was evident in the nose.  Surprisingly the nose didn't smell very Californian to me at all, but rather muted and subdued.  There is no doubt that this was a beautiful wine, as it was extremely well-balanced on the palate, and a little sweet.

The shu cream puff was purchased and not homemade.  Still very good with the uncommon flaky pastry.  My memory is a little hazy, but I kinda remember nice vanilla flavors...

1998 Mr. K Eiswein - this wine was made at Sine Qua Non by two wine personalities I respect, Manfred Krankl and Alois Kracher.  There was never any doubt that the duo would produce anything short of spectacular.  I was amazed at the viscosity of the wine, plainly evident as I was pouring it.  Nose of peach, pear, banana, apricot and botrytis.  The wine was slightly carbonated, which meant the wine was nicely balanced between the acidity and the sweetness.  So glad I brought this wine...

We'd definitely have had too much wine by this point, but I couldn't pass up taking a few more sips.  I received my shipment of Bijofu Yuzu Liqueur (美丈夫ゆずリキュール) today, and couldn't wait to let the others have a taste.  It was as refreshing and fragrant as I remembered from last week, and definitely blew away its siblings made with lemon and Chinese honey orange (ポンカン).

This was such a good evening... wonderful food, and spectacular Californian wines.  Let's see how long it takes for our next gathering...although I have no idea how we are going to top tonight's wine lineup!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very nice! we should catch up with h-man next time he's in hk!

the ox


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