The gang was back together again at Aunt and UncleGrape’s house on Saturday night for another spectacular dinner. We were joined by CousinGrapette, BoyfriendGrape, as well as SisterGrape who took a trip from school to join us. Fresh off our trips to Union Square, Eataly, and of course the Wine Library we got to work on dinner. Here was our menu:
Appetizers: Smoked duck breast, wild boar salami, goat cheese with rosemary olive sourdough bread, daikon radish with hummus or spicy brown mustard and Hawaiin volcano sea salt.
Main Course: Roasted boneless leg of lamb infused with garlic and rubbed with spicy brown mustard.
Dessert: Italian cookies with pistachio cream spread and assorted chocolates.
With the appetizers we decided to go with French whites. We started with the NV Guy Larmandier 1er Cru Champagne which was crisp, light, refreshing and had just the right amount of bubbles. That was followed by the 2011 Gilbert Picq Chablis which was similar to the Champagne w/o the carbonation. I probably favored the Champagne over the Chablis and Moby did for sure. I learned that Vielles Vignes means old vines after I butchered trying to say it in front of UncleGrape who speaks fluent French. While the duck and boar probably could have stood up to a light red the whites went well with everything. The duck was tender with just the right amount of smoke and the boar had an interesting sweetness to go along with good texture. The goat cheese paired well with the bread for a creamy mouthful of food. The daikon was very interesting…to me it tasted like a crunch wafer made of mushrooms and onion but it worked well with the smooth hummus and red volcano salt. All the appetizers were promptly destroyed and it was time to move onto the main course.
Since I got my hands on some 1995 Chateau de Beaucastel recently I brought a bottle and we decided to go a horizontal tasting of 1995 Chateauneuf du Pape.
1. 1995 Domaine de Beaurenard Boisrenard
2. 1995 Chateau de Beaucastel
3. 1995 Domaine de la Janasse
We started the meal a little bit later than anticipated because we didn’t realize the lamb was still partially frozen in the center. Not a problem for the Grape family as we had plenty of wine to keep us busy. We started with the Boisrenard which was surprisingly still tight. UncleGrape explained that 1995’s were historically tight but while it still had solid fruit coming through a bunch of us thought this was a bit too tight still. I’d love to try it again in 5-10 years.
We then moved on to the Beaucastel which had a very distinct old bandaid smell to it. Sounds appetizing right? It was delicious! UncleGrape filled us in on the smell…it’s called “brett”. Brett is a type of yeast called Brettanomyces that can be found on the skin of fruit and therefore in wine. Small amounts of brett are generally regarded as good for the flavor of the wine however large amounts can cause problems. That being said the Beaucastel was very bretty. AuntGrape is notorious for loving bretty wines so it’s no surprise she loved it the most. We enjoyed it too and it was an educational experience.
Lastly we had the Janasse. Our last trip we had the 2000 which was good but not the best of the night however I’d argue for the 95 taking the show this time. I thought it had the most balance but not everyone agreed with me.
We couldn’t come to a consensus on the Chateauneuf like we did last time with the 2000 Charvin stealing the show. Here’s how we ranked them:
AuntGrape (brett lover): 2-3-1
Since Moby and I write the blog we’re going to declare the Janasse the winner but it was a split decision for sure. The one thing we all agreed on though is that the 1989 Parusso Bussia Barolo was the wine of the weekend. The Chateauneuf was great but the Barolo outclassed them all.
Last but not least AuntGrape treated us all to a very rare (and previously illegal in the United States) Italian digestif…Cocchi Barolo Chinato. Having never heard of it Moby and I were all in. We learned that Barolo Chinato is a standard barolo infused with spices and most importantly quinine which why it was illegal in the United States as that’s a drug found in prescription medications! The spices and quinine give it a gin like, piney taste to go along with some sweetness. On it’s own we weren’t huge fans but when paired with dark chocolate it was spectacular. Something about the combination worked wonders. We also had the Italian cookies and pistachio cream spread which was crazy good. The spread was a honey like consistency but had a sweetness to go along with the strong pistachio taste. We liked the wine much better with the chocolate than the cookies and spread but we both would have eaten the spread right out of the jar it was that good.
We concluded our trip next morning by making breakfast with the duck, turkey, and pheasant eggs which was great. The duck was probably the most different having a huge yolk and slightly different texture, the others tasted similar to a chicken egg just different sizes. We learned about brett and Barolo Chinato, had great food, great wine, and spent time with family so all in all it was a great trip. Keep an eye out for that 1989 Parusso!!!