Just when I didn't think my wine dinners could get more eclectic, they did. The only thing homogeneous about the night was the fact that nearly all of us were Americans. A rare occurence in this Left Bank apartment building. Yet we were thus, Trip, Kathy, Ken, Jodi, Sharon... and Arnaud, just for kicks. (And of course, Arnaud is always a kick and not to be missed on any pretext.)
We assembled ourselves and some wines at my place. As my kitchen is too small for collaboration, I manned it solo...
1999 A. Margaine Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru "Spécial Club" - My opinion on this has changed. I was immediately struck by the dosage, which seemed a little too marked. Beneath it was a classy, yeasty champagne with a nice mouthfeel and length. Good crisp blanc de blanc qualities. But maybe it would have been better with a gram or two less per liter?
1994 Buisson-Charles Meursault - the first time I have had a wine from this producer. The color, while a slightly golden yellow, was not at all worrisome. The nose was pure Meursault: buttery, nutty, delicious chardonnay aromas. In the mouth, it was a little thin, at first, but it was sprightly and very young-seeming. (It turns out that would be the order of the evening: two other wines we would go on to drink would taste far younger than their years.) As it warmed in the glass, it showed itself to be classically styled, nice but somewhat light, as the vintage would suggest. It was drinking very well; Trip commented he would have thought it was a 2001, blind.
I brought out bread and butter - and as it was starting to be devoured, I realized I should get into the kitchen and sear the foie gras. (Yes, indeed, it's a hard life.)
Pan-seared foie gras with pear chutney
1998 Domaine Weinbach Clos des Capucines Tokay Pinot Gris Altenbourg "Cuvée Laurence" - A completely elegant, viscous, wondrous wine that paired perfectly with the foie gras and slightly piquant chutney. Full and lush in the mouth but with a pinot gris delineation and almost offhand nobility, which is so different from gewürz's spices or riesling's wicked minerality and petrol. What a great bottle.
Shepherd's pie with lamb and sweet potatoes, raisins and onions
1993 Ridge Monte Bello - I'd told Ken I was on a Ridge kick, and he went above and beyond. This was an intense wine. Young, incredibly precise and well-crafted, I think this will be even better in ten years. But it already gave a lot of pleasure, with notes of dark fruits and a strong mineral streak.
1973 Sterling Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - Another preternaturally young wine. The fill level was just below the capsule, impeccable storage since its release (thank you, Trip), and a very Bordeauxish Napa cab. I would even give it more time... With some currant and tobacco, very well-structured, as well.
Cheese platter: Reblochon, Comté (24 mo.), Crottins de Chavignol, Langres, Fiancé des Pyrénées (a goat's milk cheese not unlike a Reblochon in shape and style)
Now we were out of American wines... What to do? I grabbed the keys to the cellar, and said, "What do you like from France?" I think I did hear "Burgundy!" I'm not imagining it...
2001 Lignier Charmes-Chambertin - Hey, this is open for business. Smooth, light-handed and very pure pinot fruit, with a bit of a tannic bite at the end that to me signals 2001, as opposed to the more sultry 2002s. This had some luscious strawberries and dried rose petals.
Raspberry, apple and chocolate tarts
I think the remaining Pinot Gris went best with the apple tart, but I am kind of a fan of reds, sometimes, with dessert.