September 24, 2010

Magical Marsanne

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I'd been looking forward to this dinner for a while.  My friend and I had been talking about putting together a tasting of different vintages of Château Haut-Brion Blanc - an interesting thing to do as these white wines don't show up very often.  Alas, a couple of people decided to pull out at the last minute, and without enough participants we decide to do a casual dinner instead.  We went back to Otto e Mezzo, as my friend seems to have really developed a liking for this place.

The amuse bouche was pear foam with Parmesan and crispy ham on top.

Roast Hokkaido scallop with spices, black olive, foie gas, pumpkin foam - the scallop was still raw inside and very sweet.  A little unexpected to find foie gras here...

8½ seafood soup, shellfish, zucchini "trombetta" and fresh herbs - I would have preferred for the shellfish to be a bit more raw and tender.  The soup was yummy.

Trenette "Latini", fresh tuna and Sardinian bottarga - definitely tasty, although I prefer my tuna belly to be either raw or grilled.  The fatty, fishy flavors were very yummy, and worked well with the tomatoes.  Bottarga is always a nice touch.

Roast pigeon from Bresse, served half with duck foie gras, figs, honey and spice sauce - kinda surprised to see this on the menu.  I love pigeon, although this wasn't the best execution... somehow it was a little tough and chewy.  I felt the sauce was a little heavy, and turns out that the chef added a pinch of chocolate to enhance the dish.

Chocolate mille-feuille, pistachio cream and mandarin sorbet - the mandarin sorbet was very, very delish... The pistachio cream was good and the chocolate bottom created the classic combo with the mandarin.  The millefeuille was flaky and light.

But the evening's highlight was always going to be the wines.  My friend brought a bottle of 1991 Chapoutier Ermitage de L'Orée to start off the evening.  I always found this to be an underrated wine...  This took a little time to really open up.  Fragrant and floral, with toasty popcorn notes, sweet and some minerals.  The wine was a little short mid-palate but had a long finish that was a little alcoholic.  Pretty good stuff.

My friend followed up by introducing me to the 1985 Louis Remy Latricières-Chambertin.  We had talked about drinking mature and good-valued wines from this little-known domaine, and tonight I finally had the opportunity to do it.  A little smoky, with notes of berries, dried strawberries and game meats.  A little alcoholic, and acidity was slightly high.

I knew we would be drinking a Rhone white, so I brought a half bottle of 1990 Chapoutier Hermitage Vin de Paille to match - not knowing the pairing would be so interesting.  What a lovely wine!  Very nutty and complex nose, very sweet like honeydew melon and Medjool dates, apricot, candied pineapple, botrytis, marmalade and a hint of acetone.  The wine was a little viscous, with rich, grapey flavors like eiswein.  Such a treat to drink this mature and interesting expression of Marsanne.

A pretty enjoyable evening, but the bottles of Haut-Brion Blanc will have to wait...

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