July 31, 2023

Sine Qua Non toast, part 9: no reds

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Two nights after coming to enjoy some Californian wines, I'm back at Neighborhood again, which is still without the presence of the Man in White T-shirt. I'm with friends who regularly meet up to pop open the creations of Manfred and Elaine Krankl, and tonight we are just the three of us and down to 3½ bottles. But as anyone who knows anything about the wines of Sine Qua Non would tell you, they do pack quite the punch...

With no hope of ordering any large, daily specials for main course, we mostly stuck to the small plates that I love so much here. And once again, we were free to take it easy.

Celtuce salad / Parmesan / anchovy / bacon - one of us has never had celtuce before, so I'm glad he had a chance to try this. A very freshing "alternative" Caesar salad. Love how crunchy celtuce is.

Buffalo wings / Roquefort salad - I was initially a little apprehensive about the sauce on these buffalo wings - with its sharp acidity - impacting our palates for wine. If my wine merchant friend wasn't concerned, then I guess it was fine... I'm not usually a fan of Roquefort but I do like the sucrine lettuce it came on.

Boudin basque / fried egg - one of my favorite dishes from the kitchen of the Man in White T-shirt, and I've been enjoying it for more than a decade. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I simply can't resist any sausage made with blood.

And it's best served on a piece of bread, with the fried egg all mixed in. So, soooo happy.

Warm vegetables casserole / Sichuan bacon / truffle - this is always a good idea, and tonight sweet peas took up almost half the dish, which I was totally OK with. We also had the usual carrots, fennel... etc. And yes, shaving truffle on top definitely made it better, and I still remember the first time I had vegetables cooked with black truffle at Spoon + at the Sanderson in London more than 2 decades ago.

Handmade garganelli / wild boar ragu - YASSS! Having this delicious pasta twice in three days makes me so happy! I can never get enough of this wild boar ragù, and it would be even better if they add some guanciale on top.

"Mayura Station" wagyu short rib roast beef / fig - tonight I opted for the "new version" of the dish, where the beef came not in slices but in medallions. They were also wrapped in fig leaf which imparted their fragrance, and accompanied by very ripe and sweet local figs as well as Jerusalem artichokes.

Just look at that marbling on the beef! So, soooo rich! Sooooo tender.

White chocolate cannoli / pistachio - very, very tasty with that crunchy shell and creamy, fluffy filling.


But the focus tonight was squarely on the bottles! With the smallest group ever for one of our gatherings, this meant each of us could taste a sufficient amount of each wine.

1997 Sine Qua Non Twisted and Bent - 60% roussanne and 40% chardonnay. From the same lot as this bottle nearly 2 years ago. Nose was very, very oxidized, with tons of sugarcane, Chinese licorice, soooo sweet on the nose, and clearly metallic notes. Reacted badly with the anchovies in the food to enhance the metallic flavors. Lots of honey and vanilla throughout, and clearly improves with more aeration.

2000 Sine Qua Non The Hussy - 100% roussanne. The nose was much bigger with lots of flint and minerals, but otherwise similar to Twisted and Bent. This was also showing some metallic notes, along with vanilla and Chinese licorice.

2000 Sine Qua Non The Filly - 100% grenache. Vinified dry with no residual sugar. Nice length and good depth on the palate. Lots of red currants with slightly savory and mineral notes.

2003 Sine Qua Non Sublime Isolation - 44% chardonnay, 37% roussanne, 19% viognier. Served around 2 hours after opening. Nose had a good amount of toast, with flinty notes, and I could smell a higher level of acidity. Definitely fresher and more lively.

Yeah... I was kinda drunk by the end of the evening... In fact, I was a little buzzed less than an hour in... so that was a good night, then.

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