December 23, 2007

An "Extravagant" Dinner

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Last night I met up with my friend Kevin and some friends for dinner. He had wanted to open up some nice wines, and I decided to bring along a couple of very good bottles to match. Dinner was at Amber, which has now clearly become one of Kevin's favorite restaurants.

We picked one of the set menus for simplicity's sake, and the 10-course degustation menu just seemed a little too much. We started with the Boston lobster salad, which was nice and fresh, and moved onto a demitasse of creamy soup and a Chupa Chups-style lollipop made of foie gras.

This was followed by a nice pan-fried foie gras, done just the way I like - juicy and soft. There was grapefruit sorbet to cleanse our palate. Main course was Challans turkey, which really wasn't my favorite. We had a sampler of cheese, then finished off with dessert and coffee.

The extravagance was all in the form of the wines for the evening. We started with the 1983 Dom Perignon - one of my favorite champagne vintages and the Dom is particularly good.

For white wine, Kevin brought a bottle of 1985 JL Chave Hermitage Blanc. This wine normally can last 20+ years in good vintages, but it was clear that the wine is over the hill. The color is copper gold, almost a bit reddish. The nose was still pretty nice, with a bit of pear and tropical fruit. However the wine was completely flat on the palate. We pass it up for the red wines.

The reds were the main event tonight. Kevin had brought a bottle of 1955 Cheval Blanc. We had high expectations of the wine. It was very, very smooth but the age is starting to show in the nose as well as the palate. We had another bottle at an MNSC dinner earlier this year, but this bottle is in much better condition.

Next up was the 1961 Ducru Beaucaillou I brought. I was a bit apprehensive, as the last two bottles I had opened never measured up to my first experience with this wine. This bottle was drinking very nicely and showing classic traits of a Saint Julien - a bit green, grassy and "farmy". However, it was a bit muted and the sweet fruit never showed. This is the frustration that you get with Ducru. For the record, we drank this wine blind and Kevin actually guessed correctly - even hitting the vintage.

To pair with dessert, I brought a bottle of 1959 Huet Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux. I had hoped that this would be a sweeter wine than its cousin I opened a few years ago, but then again I have very little experience with Vouvray, especially old ones. The wine had a very nice nose of apricot, but there was a lot of acidity on the palate and not the sweet sticky I was expecting. It's a bit of a shame since 1959 was a superb vintage in the Loire Valley. I'm still looking for a bottle of aged Loire that is nice and sweet.

As usual, the cost of the wines far outweighed that of the food. Although we acquired the wines years ago when prices were much lower, the 2 bottles of red alone would cost around USD 2,000 in bond from London traders. I have to admit that it's pretty extravagant by most people's standards.

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