Category Archives: Wine Dinners

Fall NJ Trip

Moby and I took a half day Friday to take a trip down to visit Aunt, Uncle, and Cousingrape last weekend. We ate great food and drank fantastic wine making a perfect weekend. We also stopped by wine library and stocked up on Champagne and Cotes du Rhone. Here’s the wine lineup along with a few blurry pictures in here and some wonderful hand modeling by Auntgrape and Mobygrape:

2007 Domaine Bruno Clain Corton-Charlemagne

2007 Domaine Bruno Clain Corton Charlemagne

NV Albert Boxler Cremant

Albert Boxler Cremant

2010 Domaine Blain Gagnard Chassange-Montrachet

2010 Chassange-Montrachet Domaine Blain-Gagnard

1988 Chapoutier Cote Rotie

88 Chapoutier Cote Rotie

1990 Campo Delle Piane Boca

90 Campo Delle Piane Boca

1989 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron

89 Pichon

1990 Chateau Leoville Barton

90 Chateau Leaoville Barton

For me the wine of the night was hands down the 1989 Pichon. With the wine market the way it is Moby and I do not have the luxury of drinking mature Bordeaux regularly but thanks to Unclegrape it’s a special treat every so often. The tannis had melted away leaving structured and delicious fruit. From nose to finish you get a complete wine experience, just outstanding. I’ve developed a taste for younger Bordeaux but honestly it’s not even close…if you have the will power age your Bordeaux. Be patient, it’s worth it. Moby really enjoyed the Cremant as well. Light, refreshing, not as big as a Champagne it’s a great aperitif. We’ll definitely be having more Cremant in the future.

You may have noticed the oddball Nebbiolo in our otherwise French theme. I found this bottle at Vin Bin recently and brought it along. We enjoyed it quite a bit and will be purchasing a few more bottles. It wasn’t a fair fight vs. the 89 Pichon however a delicious mature Nebbiolo at $65 is a steal.

Plate of the Trip:

foie gras NJ

Foie Gras from Le Rendez-Vous Bistro. Wow. Perfectly cooked, creamy, melt in your mouth liver with a balsamic reduction and carmelized apple. There’s a strong possibility this was the best plate I’ve had all year.

Purchase of the Trip:

corkatoo

Completely unnecessary yet completely necessary at the same time. Aunt and Unclegrape have two parrots so this was the perfect purchase. Does it work? Who cares…It’s a Corkatoo and it’s hilarious.

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Dinner Grape Style Part II

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.

NV Guy Larmandier Champagne2011 Gilbert Picq Chablis

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.

April 2013 NJ CdP

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:

colonelgrape: 3-2-1

MobyGrape: 3-1-2

UncleGrape: 1-2-3

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.

Cocchi Barolo Chinato

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!!!

Union Square Greenmarket and Eataly

Union-Square-Market

After a great dinner at 3Guys we took a trip into Manhattan to visit the Union Square Greenmarket and Eataly. We went in having no idea what we wanted to make for dinner but we had a cooler, a cart, many bags, and money so we were sure to leave with something good.

At Union Square we ended up with all sorts of treats: two 2 lb boneless leg of lamb roasts, smoked duck breast, daikon radish, many different apples, yukon gold potatoes, fresh local cheese (I forget the name unfortunately), shallots, oyster/crimini/shitake mushrooms, rosemary olive bread, wild eggs (duck, turkey, and pheasant) and a great goat cheese. Quite the haul but it set the foundation for an excellent lamb dinner. It’s not quite produce season yet so there weren’t as many fruits and vegetables as usual but the duck, chicken, rabbit, cheeses, and honey looked excellent.

Eataly Meat 2Eataly Meat

Having never been to Eataly no one was sure what to expect but we were all pleased once we arrived. It’s basically a huge warehouse converted into a hybrid Italian market and restaurant. Tons of stands selling a variety of classic Italian fare, a wine shop (over-priced but fun), shelves pre-packaged items like cookies, balsamic vinegar, spreads, and coffee. We of course gravitated towards the cured meat and cheeses. We ended up purchasing some great food: wild boar salami, sheeps milk cheese, fresh herbs, Italian cookies, pistachio cream spread, and anchovy juice. Moby, SisterGrape, CousinGrape, and I enjoyed an espresso at the bar before having lunch at one of the stations. Moby and I split a prime rib sandwich while Uncle and AuntGrape had the fennel turkey. Both on crispy bread with olive oil and salt piled high with freshly roasted meat. They had fresh pasta, seafood, meat, sandwich, and desert stations throughout the whole place as well. We expected more of a market and were a little surprised at the amount of serving stations. Lastly while we didn’t get any seafood items the counter looked spectacular…next time you’re in NYC and looking to cook stop at these two markets for ingredients.

Eataly Fish

Dinner at 3Guys

2011 La Scolca Gavi Bianco Secco2011 Fattoria di magliano Pagliatura

 

Our first night visiting with Aunt and UncleGrape lead us back to 3Guys. Their food is always excellent and it’s BYO so it’s a perfect low key dinner to get the weekend started. Before heading to dinner we had some aperitifs at the house and went with two Italian whites. First the 2011 La Scola Gavi Bianco Secco which is made primarily from Garganega grapes. Not a big hit across the board, kind of hollow/boring, I wouldn’t recommend it. Next we had the 2011 Fattoria di Magliano Pagliatura which is made primarily from Vermentino grapes and it was excellent. Tart and flavorful, this was a nice alternative to the standard Chablis or Sauvignon Blancs of the world but with a similar flavor.

2004 Paride Iaretti Gattinara2010 Sottimano Nebbiolo

 

SisterGrape met us at the restaurant and we brought along some Nebbiolos. For starters we had clams casino, sausage and broccoli rabe, garlic bread with mozarella, and potato croquettes. Being our usual selves I had the veal parm and Moby had the gnocchi. It all paired wonderfully with the Nebbiolos.

2010 Sottimano Langhe Nebbiolo: A Barolo/Barbaresco from outside of their respective regions. Very young wine and UncleGrape pre-dinner decanted it for a couple of hours which was necessary. Still tannic but approachable. Great buy for under $20.

2004 Paride Iaretti Gattinara: Interesting story from UncleGrape about this wine. It was unavailable for purchase online so he went on facebook and became friends with the producer. From there he was able to track some at a local store in the city. I haven’t been on facebook in years but that’s a cool way to track down some rare wine. I liked this better than the Sottimano, it was more approachable. Another great value wine…if you can find it.

1989 Parusso Barolo

This brings us to the star of the night…the 1989 Parusso Bussia Barolo. Absolutely fantastic Barolo that opened up beautifully after a quick 20 minute decant. As you’ll read in our next few posts we sampled 11 bottles this weekend and this was the clear favorite. I’d love to have a case but the 89′ has vanished from the internet. I’m not sure how many bottles UncleGrape has left in his cellar but if you’re lucky enough to be able to get your hands on some 89′ Parusso…do it. It certainly won’t be a value but you will be rewarded. Don’t sit on it though, it’s ready to drink!

 

Dinner Grape Style

When we get together with AuntGrape and UncleGrape we tend to have a fantastic feast and this weekend was no different. We spent the majority of Saturday preparing the food and visiting the Wine Library. CousinGrapette and BoyfriendGrape made guest appearances as well. Here was our menu:

Appetizers: Goat and blue cheese with crackers, Gougere

Main Course: 14 rib pork crown roast with bread and pear stuffing

Sides: Twice baked potato casserole, broccoli with garlic and cheese, fresh gravy

Desert: Individual baked apple pastry

Image

If you’ve never had gougere you are simply missing out. A light, fluffy pastry made with gruyere cheese, they are heaven right out of the oven. I got the chance to make it myself and it’s not that complicated, Moby and I are most certainly going to be making it again when we host our next dinner.

UncleGrape was generous enough to share some of his wine with us and we were delighted to drink whites, reds, and port throughout the meal. Let’s talk wine!

ImageImage

To start the evening we opened a delicious picpoul with the cheese and crackers and in my excitement I forgot to take a picture of the bottle. It was light, delicious, and inexpensive. Picpoul is a white grape grown in the Chateauneuf du Pape region of Rhone. When the gougere arrived we opened a 2006 Weinbach Gewurztraminer Cuvee Laurence from Alsace. This wine stole the show for Moby and myself. It was sweet, spicy, and coated the glass with it’s deliciousness. We wrapped up appetizers with a 2010 Dauvissat Chablis which is a chardonnay from Burgundy. It was light and fruity and a nice way to transition to the main course.

White wine rankings:

1: 2006 Weinbach Gewurztraminer Cuvee Laurence. This wine was so delicious that I’ve ordered more to have in the house. 2006 was no longer available but I was able to find 2009 and 2010. Stay tuned for a full review in the future.

2: Picpoul: I wish I had more info on this bottle but we’ll be trying another soon.

3: 2010 Dauvissat Chablis.

Onto the the reds. UncleGrape approached me and said “How about Chateauneuf’s tonight?” I smiled and nodded my head excitedly. Here’s what we had with dinner:

1998 and 2000 CdPs from Paul 1998 Font de Michelle CdP

UncleGrape didn’t let us down and served us 4 excellent CdP’s. We agreed on the first two rankings but we flip flopped on the last two…here’s how I ranked them:

1. 2000 Domaine Charvin

2. 1998 Domaine Font de Michelle Cuvee Etienne Gonnet

3. 1998 Vieux Telegraph

4. 2000 Domaine de la Janasse

All 4 wines were delicious but the Charvin was head and shoulders above the other three wines. A perfect balance of fruit, spice, and body it was the best CdP I’ve had to date…ahead of the 2007 Bosquet des Pape we rated earlier this year. I’m looking forward to trying more CdP from Domaine Charvin in the future.

While I was hard at work on the gougere Moby was slaving over the baked apples we had for desert. Each serving is half an apple stuffed with a mixture of butter, sugar, and spices and wrapped in a pastry crust. We used golden delicious apples and will 100% be making these again. They look like little bowling balls but were one of the lightest deserts I’ve ever had. They melted in your mouth and left you wanting more…serving them with vanilla ice cream made it even better.

With the apples we had a fantastic 1977 Taylors Vintage Port:

1977 Taylor's Vintage Port

UncleGrape started this decanting about 7 hours before we drank it and there was probably a solid 1-2 cups of sediment in the sink after pouring it into the decanter. However, it opened up beautifully…we were all shocked at how much life it still had left. It was ready to drink now but it could easily age longer. It had the delicious raisin taste I associate with port and was even better than the 1994 Graham’s we had earlier this year. Moby and I kept the bottle to add to our collection…maybe we’ll use it as a vase or a decoration in the future.

What a night. Family, friends, and 8 bottles of fantastic wine. We’re looking forward to our next trip already!