September 4, 2019

Sine Qua Non toast, part 4

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It's taken us almost 2 years since our last gathering to get our act together.  There aren't many of us, but we are a devout bunch.  I'm talking about those who are fans of Manfred and Elaine Krankl's wines from Sine Qua Non.  When one speaks of "Californian cult wine", it doesn't get much more "cult" than this...

As we were scouting for a location for this gathering, I kicked the ball over to DaRC.  He suggested that we take the private room at Nikushou, and it seemed like a great idea.  RAW Meat Bro was kind enough to accommodate us - even to the point of cancelling his own reservation at another restaurant - to ensure that we could have the best experience.  He also mentioned that he may be able to serve us some special beef which he was planning on bidding for...

Not having tasted any Sine Qua Non wines - and only knowing that we were bringing whites, pinots, and grenaches, RAW Meat Bro had to use his imagination with regard to the flavor profiles of the wines in order to come up with the right food to pair with the wines.

We were pretty hungry while waiting for our late arrival, so we ended up getting a couple of snacks to go along with our first sips of wine...

Grilled cod crackers - haven't had these in years, but always great with some Japanese mayo.

Shredded cuttlefish tempura - pretty surprised at these.  Very, very tasty.  But very bad for you...

Japanese green sea urchin on rice - the Japanese green sea urchin (馬糞雲丹) came from Akashi (明石).  Remembering that the restaurant has used packaged sushi rice from Sukiyabashi Jiro (すきやばし次郎) in the past, I checked with the boss... and this was indeed "Jiro rice".

Live Hokkaido kegani with vinegar jelly - I had the more basic version of this dish a few weeks ago, but tonight there was the addition of chunks of peach and a quenelle of edamame (枝豆) mousse.  The peach from Yamanashi Prefecture (山梨県) naturally provided fruity sweetness, the edamame delivered some green and vegetal flavors, the ponzu (ポン酢) jelly added acidity, the perilla flowers added aromatics, and of course the horsehair crab itself delivered sweet notes with some savory flavors of the sea.

Pike conger eel roll and matsutake tempura - the matsutake (松茸) were from Yunnan as expected, and were pretty tasty.  The pike conger eel was rolled up in perilla leaves and came with a plum sauce.  Just as nice as I had remembered.

Chicken grunt - the raw chicken grunt (伊佐木) came in a ponzu sauce, topped with deep-fried chicken skin as well as ginger and spring onions.  That was kinda interesting...

We then started on the progression of grilled beef...

Australian ox tongue (オーストラリア牛タン) - comes from the end of the tongue.  Very, very good... crunchy on the exterior but spring and tender in the middle.

Tottori Wagyu Oleic Acid 55 chateaubriand (鳥取和牛オレイン55 シャトーブリアン) - this is, apparently, something really special.  The high proportion of oleic acid in the fat supposedly means that the fat has a very low melting temperature - helping to make the beef extra tasty.  Apparently the number of heads of the Ketaka (気高) breed going on sale each year is around 3-400...

This was, of course, very, very good.  Choosing a leaner cut like chateaubriand was a good call from RAW Meat Bro.

Hida eye of knuckle (飛騨牛シンシン) - beautiful and tender.  Soooo good...

Kobe top shoulder blade (神戸牛ミスジ) - always one of my favorite cuts.

Kobe chuck tender (神戸牛トウガラシ) - this was a thicker cut with a more chewy texture.

Hida ribeye center (飛騨牛リブロース芯) - no surprise that this was incredibly tender along with nice chewiness.  The marinade was also really nice.

Yonezawa chuck flap (米沢牛ザブトン) - so, so, so fucking good with the marbling.  The fat was so fragrant in the mouth!

Kumamoto sirloin (熊本県産サーロイン) - the signature dish, with each slice weighing about 75g or so.

Served over Yume Pirika (ゆめぴりか) rice from Hokkaido, with egg yolk that was cooked at 55°C for 25 minutes.  Fucking awesome.

Summer bamboo shoots in mentaiko sauce - RAW Meat Bro asked whether anyone wanted some veg, and after the onslaught of beef, I figured I could use some of these Taiwanese bamboo shoots.  Always delicious when served chilled, and transformed with the mentaiko (明太子) sauce.

Mini Hida beef tendon curry rice (飛騨牛筋カレーライス) - I didn't care how full I was, I still wanted this curry rice.  The boss brought us each a small spoonful of the famous chili sauce made by his mom, and after mixing it into the curry... WOW!

Grilled miso marinated cod fish - for some reason, my friends still wanted more food!  So we had some cod saikyoyaki (西京焼き).  Very nicely done.

We finished with some Japanese fruits, which included some muscat grapes from Nagano (長野県) and 21st Century pear (21世紀梨) from Tottori (鳥取県).

While the food was pretty incredible tonight, the focus was squarely on the wines.  Each of us brought a bottle of Sine Qua Non, although I was ever so glad that our latecomer brought a spare...

2005 Sine Qua Non The Petition - 37% viognier, 33% roussanne, 30% chardonnay.  Served 45 minutes after opening.  Honey on the nose, with lots of straw and Chinese licorice.  Some 1 hour and 45 minutes after opening, showing a really overripe palate.  More than 4½ hours after opening the wine was nice and ripe, with candied pineapple and a hint of bitterness.

2003 Sine Qua Non Sublime Isolation - 44% chardonnay, 37% roussanne, 19% viognier.  Served 50 minutes after opening.  Really ripe and big, very hot on both the palate and the nose.  Some 1 hour and 40 minutes after opening the nose was absolutely beautiful, and almost like candied pineapple.

1999 Sine Qua Non Tarantella - 39% roussanne, 33% chardonnay, 28% viognier.  Popped and poured.  Nose was beautiful with tons of sugar cane, a little flint, and a hint of savory notes.  Smooth on the palate.  A little more than 3 hours after opening, this wine was just fucking beautiful.

1998 Sine Qua Non Veiled - 100% pinot noir.  I was totally crushed that the bottle I brought was corked, and it didn't get any better with more aeration - nor did the cling wrap trick help.  But I do love the artwork on the label, and in fact it's arguably my favorite among the entire collection.

2005 Sine Qua Non Over and Out - 100% pinot noir.  Beautiful nose, lovely fruit with leather notes.  Gorgeous.  So sweet and candy-like.

2004 Sine Qua Non Into the Dark - 84% grenache, 8% mourvedre, 7% syrah, 1% viognier.  Seriously ripe and jammy.  Also very metallic.

2005 Atlantis Fe2O3, 2c - 93% grenache, 7% syrah.  Opened 2 hours before serving,  Really sweet nose, with lots of metallic notes and plenty of oak.  Beautiful.

What a fantastic evening! I can't believe it took us so long to get this gang together again, and we really need to do this more often. Many thanks to RAW Meat Bro for the amazing dishes, and especially for the thought which went into the pairings.

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