When in New York City, I often organize wine dinners at Tocqueville. A fixture in Union Square, Tocqueville remains one of New York's most acclaimed restaurants, along with its Michelin-starred sister, 15 East, just a few doors down. I can't say enought about the hospitality here, led by master Sommelier Roger Dagorn, who assists me with all of our wine pairings and often helps to create a tasting menu around the special wines we are opening. My last visit was a night of wine legends with friends and colleagues. Here are some of the highlights.
I was blown away by the 1990 Comte de Vogüe Musigny, which may have been the biggest powerhouse red Burgundy I have ever tasted. Explosive doesn't do this justice, yet the wine also possessed an elegance that is difficult to describe. Musigny is often described as an iron fist in a velvet glove, and that is on target with this bottle. Comte de Vogüe produces some of the most iconic wines in Burgundy, with history tracing back to 1450. Today the estate is led by its 20th generation. The Musigny vineyard, planted on iron and limestone soils, within the village of Chambolle-Musigny, is among the finest Pinot Noir sites in the world, and it showed here. Tocqueville's duck sausage with foie gras was ethereal, presenting the perfect complement to both the power and grace of this wine. Roger hit a home run with this pairing!
The most fun we had at the table was comparing 1989 La Mission Haut-Brion with Pétrus from the same year. Both wines received strong praise and 100 point ratings from RP, and both wines threw me for a loop. I was expecting power and fruit from La Mission, and didn't really get much of either. Instead, it was Pétrus that took over from the start, showing more fruit and body than La Mission, the latter coming acorss as surprisingly under-ripe. As for the Pétrus, who says Merlot is all about finesse? At 100% Merlot, this proves otherwise.
The menu at the right shows us starting with a bottle of Ramonet C-M from 2010, but we made a last minute swap in favor of Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet 2010. As much as I enjoy Ramonet, we traded up here. This is a masterpiece that I would like to revisit in five years. It has so much going on, but the aromas and nuances aren't really developed yet. Still, it comes across as so elegant and long even today. The dish, sea urchin and angel hair carbonara, was another home run. Roger chose the fish for its briny texture, and that really helped to bring out different textures in the wine.
This was a pretty special evening, and all I could do the next morning was stay put at the Andaz Fifth Avenue, which I often call home while in New York. The lobby lounge serves coffee and is a great place to get some work done. I wasn't up for much more than that after a long night at Tocqueville.
|We fly for wine! Travel around the world with us on flickr.com
Matt Cole has been a fixture at City Wine Merchant for almost three years, and this Saturday marked his last day working with us. Matt's first day was a Saturday in 2011, and it was a memorable Saturday afternoon because, as Matt reminded me, we opened a bottle of 1942 Lopez Heredia Tondonia Reserva Rioja. Hopefully Matt got over the disappointment of realizing that we didn't do that every Saturday. We've had some pretty good Saturdays though. Matt has been "Mr. Everything" at City Wine Merchant (wine guy, carpenter, chef) and he proved to be a pretty decent bowler. We'll miss having him around every day.
Along with a good friend, Matt and I shared a casual lunch of Italian coppa, along with Tomme Chebris, Brillat-Savarin and crusty baguette from Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile. We first popped open a bottle of La Forra Chianti Classico Riserva 2001. While the wine didn't have much life left in it, it was outstanding. The essence of great Chianti Classico was definitely present. I have always loved Chianti Classico because it is one of those wines that nearly always transports me to its place of origin. This comes from a 14-acre vineyard on the Nozzole estate. The vineyard has been producing Chianti since the 13th century and it is a reliable wine from vintage to vintage. This isn't as traditionally styled as some of my other favorite producers from the region (Ama, Castell'in Villa), but it is nonetheless a great wine. Matt liked it, so that's good. It was especially tasty with the Tomme Chebris (50% goat’s milk and 50% ewe’s milk).
What can I say about Cos? It is one of the world's greatest wine estates for good reason. Even in this "off" vintage, and even after so many critics leave a wine like this for dead, the 1967 Cos d'Estournel Saint Estephe continues to deliver some joy. It still shows a lot red fruit, and just enough acidity to hold it all together. While it is somewhat dis-jointed, it is an interesting snapshot . With history dating to the 1700s, Cos continues to hold its own with the great first growths of Bordeaux (Cos literally "looks down" on it's neighbor Lafite). The '67 is a fun wine, but if you still have this one in your cellar, don't wait any longer to open it!
|1967||Chateau Cos d'Estournel Saint-Estephe||80-84 Good||Drink Now|
|2001||Tenuta di Nozzole La Forra Chianti Classico Riserva 2001||90-94 Outstanding||Drink Now|
Note: Wine Record posts are Eric Genau's reflections and tasting notes on food, wine and conversation enjoyed with friends and family. This is the only place you will see Eric formally "score" a wine. As with all scores, they are meant only as a guide to help readers discover new wines. Readers may find they have a similar palate to Eric's, or not at all, but hopefully these notes and scores provide some valuable guidance in any event. Likewise, drinking windows are provided only as a guide, and based solely (unless otherwise indicated) on a single bottle and singular experience. Eric generally only scores wines in ranges, with the following as a guide:
100 Flawless: a wine without any flaws that can be articulated
95-99 Classic: a great wine that displays the best attributes of its varietal(s) and region
90-94 Outstanding: an outstanding wine displaying most of the best attributes of its varietal(s) and region
85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
80-84 Good: drinkable and shows some positive characteristics
<80 Not recommended
1 Pound Lump Crab – picked clean
½ Cup Mayonnaise
20 Ritz Crackers – Pulsed in a food Processor
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
½ Tsp Hot Sauce (Optional)
1 Large Egg Beaten
Flour for Dusting
Olive Oil for Sautéing
1 Cup Mayonnaise
Tbsp Dijon Mustard
Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Tsp Paprika
Remoulade: combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir together and chill
1. In a bowl, combine the Mustard, Worcestershire Sauce, Mayonnaise, Hot Sauce, and Egg
2. Add the Lump Crab Meat
3. Add the crushed Ritz Crackers and slowly combine all ingredients, careful not to shred the crab meat.
4. Portion out your crab cakes into your desired size
5. Place the flour in a shallow baking pan, and add the crab cakes to the flour to lightly dust
6. In a cast iron skillet or nonstick pan sauté the crab cakes over medium heat in olive oil until golden brown 2-3 minutes on each side.
7. Serve immediately with the remoulade sauce, and garnish with lemons.
As we gear up for Independence Day, and the 100th Tour de France begins to roll, it is once again time to feature some of our favorite wines as we follow the greatest race on earth. Get excited for 2,200 miles over three weeks, and some of the greatest wine regions in and around France!
Cycling may be the most wine friendly sport in the world. Its three "Grand Tours" - the Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España and the Tour de France - roll through some of the world's greatest wine regions every year. If you are an avid cyclist who likes to eat, drink and climb (not at the same time), you can saddle up a racing level Pinarello Dogma with our partner InGamba, where my good friend and former pro cyclist, Joao Correia will introduce you to some of Tuscany's greatest food, wine and rides (Bicycling Magazine calls it the "Best ride on earth"). Trust me, riding with Joao and visiting the likes of Castello di Ama will be one of the greatest experiences of your life. For the mere mortals among us, there are nearly endless options for enjoying cycling and wine around the world.
Wine and cycling are two things most identified with France. One of the greatest wine-producing nations on earth, Le Tour is also perhaps the most demanding athletic competition in the world, and the scenery is breathtaking. This year, we have already seen incredible scenery as the Tour visited Corsica for the first time. And there are few things more visually stunning than seeing a Peloton of color gliding through miles of vineyard roads.
Keeping with tradition, we will be following the Tour closely with a series of tastings to explore some of France's great wine-producing regions. Beginning in Corsica and on the Mediterranean coast at Nice and Marseilles, this year's ride will also pass through Provence, the Rhone Valley, Savoie, Languedoc-Rousillon, the Loire Valley and other wine regions. On Bastille Day, it will just miss the southern tip of Burgundy - a stage that the French riders always "reach into their suitcase of courage" to win.
With over 300 recognized appellations in France, the Tour is also a great opportunity to open some of our most oddball wines from France so you can get in touch with your inner wine-geek. Please check our tasting calendar and join us for some or all of these tastings. It’s going to be a fun few weeks!
I dined with a colleague at Rue Franklin in Buffalo, one of Buffalo's longest standing restaurants. After spending years in the kitchen with longtime Chef and owner, Joel Lippes, Chef Corey Kley recently purchased the restaurant and has continued a tradition of excellent traditional cooking. I've always felt that the Rue was in somewhat of a unique category -- it is clearly one of Buffalo's more formal and traditional dining experiences, but it has the soul of a great neighborhood bistro. One thing is for sure, and that is that the Rue's food hasn't missed a beat under Chef Kley's ownership. Over the next couple of years, I expect that he will put some of his own touches on the food and overall experience. The room, while still one of the most elegant in town, could use some small updates. I would also be pleased to see an expanded, more interesting wine list, and perhaps an expanded focus on smaller producers and appellations. An update to the stemware would also add the overall experience for wine lovers. It is worth noting here that the Rue has one of the most beautiful garden patios of any restaurant I've visited. Sadly, it wasn't in the cards for this September visit.
My colleague shares my love for Right Bank Bordeaux. In fact, we both rank multiple vintages of Chateau Cheval Blanc among our all-time favorite wines. Tonight though, Pomerol (not Saint-Emilion) would be in the spotlight. I had mentioned to him recently that I had not had much experience with Chateau Lafleur, and this dinner and wine was his reaction to that. I was thrilled when he invited me to dinner and said that he wanted to share his bottle of 1985 Chateau Lafleur, a vintage he enjoyed in the past. As soon as our Filet Mignon arrived, we filled our glasses and spent a little time with the wine.
This was an absolutely beautiful, powerful wine, still showing a deep garnet color. It exhibited aromas of figs, blackberries, licorice and leather. At the start, it reminded me of great Merlot from Italy - almost more like Masseto than Pomerol. After a few minutes in the glass, a dark cherry and mineral character took over. On the palate, it showed tremendous lift for a wine with this much weight. Layers of black and red fruit, figs, licorice and plum all follow through to an extremely long finish. There is something intriguing about this wine that made me want to hold the glass up to my nose again and again. Outstanding.
Located near the legendary Chateau Petrus, and across the road from Chateau Le Gay, this small estate clearly deserves to be mentioned as one of the world’s greatest wines. The vineyard (4 hectares) is planted with 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc, and annual production is around 1,000 cases of the Grand Vin. Pomerol has no official wine ranking or classification, but it is clear who the stars are here: Petrus, Le Pin…and yes, Lafleur, all rank with the world’s best.
|1985||Chateau Lafleur Pomerol||95-99||2012-2030|
Note: Wine Record posts are Eric Genau's reflections and tasting notes on food, wine and conversation enjoyed with friends and family. This is the only place you will see Eric formally "score" a wine. As with all scores, they are meant as a guide to help readers discover new wines that suit their own palates. Readers may find they have a similar palate to Eric's, or not at all, but hopefully these notes and scores provide some valuable guidance in any event. Likewise, drinking windows are provided only as a guide, and based solely (unless otherwise indicated) on a single bottle and singular experience.
Happy July! It's time to gear up for Independence Day and the Tour de France...and it's one of the best times of the year to drink good wine. If you don't know already, I love wine and I love cycling. As always, the Tour's 2,200 mile, three week race, gives us an easy excuse to feature some of our favorite French wines. I've written before about how much I love this time of year:
I love this time of year. The sun is out, flowers are in bloom, the new vintage of rosé is here for all to enjoy -- and the Tour de France rolls out on what also happens to be the birthday of our Country and my only son. Pro Cycling is a pretty cool sport if you're a wine enthusiast. Its three "Grand Tours" run through some of the world's greatest wine regions every year -- the Giro d'Italia (Italy), Vuelta a España (Spain) and the Tour de France. Whether you ride or not, Le Tour is thrilling to watch. The race itself is perhaps the most demanding athletic competition in the world, and the scenery is breathtaking. There are few things more visually stunning than seeing a Peloton of color gliding through miles of vineyard roads. It is inspiring in every respect, and it always makes me want to drink wine.
Keeping with tradition, we will be following the Tour closely with a series of tastings to explore France's unique regions. As always, the race itself rolls through some of France's most well-known wine appellations. The early days will see the riders glide through Épernay in the heart of Champagne (although they will probably wait until the ride into Paris to actually drink Champagne on the saddle), and through the Vosges Mountains just west of Alsace. Stage 10 brings the Peloton back to Maçon, the southernmost city in Burgundy, just north of the hills of Beaujolais. Maçon will be a stage town for the fifth time, and has hosted important time-trials in the past. Look for some excitement here! If only because we're going to use this opportunity to open some awesome wine. And don't forget to plan your Bastille Day festivities around the Stage 13 ride out of the Rhone Valley and into the Languedoc-Roussillon -- this is one the French riders really push hard to win.
For every appellation you've heard of in France, there are probably ten you didn't know existed (there are over 300 recognized appellations)! And so this is also a great opportunity to open some of our most oddball wines from France so you can get in touch with your inner wine-geek. This is going to be a fun few weeks! We kick it all off with some wines from Champagne and Alsace on June 29th between 5-7pm. Check out our Events Calendar as we update all of our Tour-themed tastings.
If you really want to go crazy, come up with some sort of Tour de France Wine Game. Here's a creative one we sort of borrowed from (randomly) the Phoenix New Times:
• Each time Phil Liggett says a rider is "reaching into his suitcase of courage", take a drink.
• Each time Paul Sherwen says "The elastic has snapped!", open a new bottle, fill everyone's glass and take a drink.
• Each time Liggett or Sherwen corrects the other on some incorrect fact or observation, take a drink.
• Each time Bob Roll says "Tour-Day-France", feel ashamed to be an American and take a drink.
• Each time Liggett or Sherwen remark on the riders taking a "nature break", go ahead and take one yourself.
Chateau Maris has an outstanding portfolio and we recently had the pleasure of tasting through the line up with Jacques Herivou, co-owner and US representative of Chateau Maris. The wines are powerful, balanced and food friendly, and this is one of many pairings that could work well.
Chateau Maris was founded over twenty years ago when Robert Eden migrated to southern France, with a vision to allow wines to be a reflection of the land where the grapes were grown. He believes that ‘wine is grown and not made’ and has taken this to the next level of integrity by becoming certified organic and biodynamic. Eden fell in love with and potential of the Minervois and, in particular, the little-known village of La Livinière. The first in Languedoc to be granted permission to put the village name on the label, alongside AOC Minervois. Like much of Languedoc Roussillon; the Minervois has a history of making wine for some 1000 years, however it is only recently becoming known as a source of high quality wines.
For me, the stand-out wine was Chateau Maris Syrah La Touge Minervois Cru La Liviniere 2009, which definitely over-performs for its price point (only $15.29 with our mix-and-match discount). It is 85% Syrah, finished with 15% Grenache, which provides a very deep red, almost purple hue. La Touge's aromas are big, with layers of ripe black fruits and spicy. On the palate, this wine is complex, yet smooth, with blackcurrants, elderberries paired with spicy bursts of pepper and herbs.
La Touge is ideal for a big meal and eventhough we have had quite a mild winter, there is nothing better than warming up on a cold February night with a hearty food and wine pairing. This braised beef short rib recipe is rustic, full of flavor, and pairs really well with the blackberry and spice in Maris' La Touge. Enjoy this combination with whipped potatoes, buttered egg noodles, or a simple white risotto.
Braised Beef Short Ribs
8lbs. Bone in Beef Short Ribs
1 large Onion – rough chop
1 Leek – rough chop
4 Carrots – rough chop
1 ounce packet of fresh Thyme
1 Head of Garlic cut in half with skin on.
1 Bottle of Dry Red Wine (try Terra Andina Carmenere, only $8.99 and full of flavor!)
1 Quart Beef Stock
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.
Begin by dredging the beef in flour and season liberally with salt and pepper. In batches, sear the beef, in a heavy bottomed Dutch Oven, without overcrowding, in neutral oil. Set aside.
Reduce heat to medium and add Onions, cook until beginning to caramelize and then add Leeks, Carrots, and Garlic. Cook until all have softened.
Add Thyme, and the reserved Beef.
Add the wine and stock until just covering the beef. Bring to boil, cover, and place in oven for 4 hours.
Remove the beef from the liquid. Strain braising liquid through a fine sieve. Skim any fat from the top of the braising liquid.
Return the liquid to the pan, bring to boil and reduce until the sauce thickens, and then add the beef back to the liquid. Check for seasoning & enjoy!
If you’ve read our 2009 Rhone vintage report, you already know that it is a year that produced some brilliant wines. One of the top values that we’ve tasted from this vintage is Domaine les Grands Bois Cotes du Rhone ‘Cuvee les Trois Soeurs’.
Domaine les Grands Bois has deep roots in the Rhone Valley. It has been a family operated grower since 1929, and saw its first estate bottling in 1997. They make a number of different wines, including Les Trois Soeurs, from 60+ year old vines.
The blend is 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 20% Carignan. It shows initial flavors of dark fig and plum, with beautiful aromas of crushed black berry and spice. Herbs and earth round out the finish with just a touch of anise. Well textured tannins and some good acidity make this an excellent wine to be paired with foods, including lamb, veal, mushrooms, and game.
Fall is that time of the year when we all start craving comfort foods and one of my all-time favorite comfort foods is risotto. It is a generally easy dish to make, as long as you can pay attention to the pot.
8oz Crimini Mushrooms
8oz Shiitake Mushrooms
½ Spanish Onion
1 ½ C of Arborio Rice
1 C Parmesan Cheese
4-6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1qt of mushroom stock (can be bought)
Begin by cooking the mushrooms in a mixture of butter and oil on medium heat, season well with salt and pepper, do not overcrowd the pan, sauté them until browned in three to four batches. Set aside for later. Mince the onion and add some more oil and add to the pan. Cook until the onion has just begun to caramelize. Deglaze the pan with the stock and empty the pan into another pot and keep hot.
Add some more oil to the pan and add the Rice, cook for 1 min in the oil and ladle in 1 cup of Stock. Continue to add the stock 1 cup at a time until the rice is just done. Remove from the heat and add the reserved cooked mushrooms, the parmesan; and salt and pepper to taste, and finish with some butter. The rice should be fluid, if needed add additional stock.
Last night I opened a bottle of Mas de Gourgonnier 2009 from Les Baux-de-Provence, a small village within Provence, in the south of France. As I tasted this delicious wine, I wondered about its home and decided to do a little research. First, I learned the village got its name from the aluminium ore Bauxite, which was first discovered there in 1821 by geologist Pierre Berthier.
But before I get too far into the region, let me tell you about this wine...
Mas de Gourgonnier 2009 offers sweet plum on the nose, with a hint of juniper and is a beautiful shade of raspberry red. Blackberry jumps out on the first sip, and lavender (typical of Provence wines) is introduced as the wine opens up. It is really well balanced, with a fresh acidity, a medium bodied structure, and a long finish.
This wine is a blend of 48% Grenache, 21% Cinsault, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Mourvèdre, and you can really taste each of the varietal components. The winemakers, Luc and Lucienne Cartier, have been farming in this picturesque countryside for years, and in addition to grapes, they produce olives, fruits and vegetables. It would pair wonderfully with a French goat cheese, such as Valencay, smoky cured meats and a variety of dishes, including the peppered grilled chicken that I prepared for dinner. The pepper flavor brought out a more herbaceous quality in the wine, that made this pairing very desirable. Eric (our Wine Director) has always said that this is one of his all-time favorite under-$20 wines. I understand why. This is the kind of everyday table wine that keeps you reaching for the next sip. Even better, Mas de Gourgonnier 2009 is only $13.59 with our mix-and-match discount!
About the Region
Located in the heart of Provence, in southeast of France, Les Baux-de-Provence gained AOC status in 1995 and is located within the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence AOC. This area has become a popular tourist destination, near the well-known cities of Arles, Avignon and Nimes. The village is home to many gourmet restaurants and charming hotels.
The climate is very hot, but thankfully the vineyards are centered on the village hilltop, providing perfect exposure to the cooling and drying mistral winds. Les Baux-de-Provence is the first French AOC to require all vineyards to farm biodynamically, which has become part of the terrior’s identity. Red wine accounts for 80% of the regions wine production and the most popular grapes include: Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon often used, but can only account for 20% of a blend.
The Baux Valley is also olive-growing land and is considered the most beautiful in all of Provence. Three olive products are entitled to AOC designation – olive oil, cracked oils and black olives.
Wine Producers of Les Baux de Provence
Domaine Olivier d’Auge
Mas de la Dame
Mas Sainte Berthe
Domaine du Pas de l’Aigle
Domaine de Lauzières
Mas de Gourgonnier
Domaine de la Vallongue
Domaine de Terres Blanches
Wines from Beaujolais, where the Gamay Noir grape varietal is grown, are some of the finest and most underappreciated quality wines on the market today. One of our favorites is the 2009 Domaine des Terres Dorées Beaujolais L’Ancen Vielles Vignes .
The owner and wine maker is Jean-Paul Brun and he has worked hard to make his wines some of the best and most consistent in the region. The domain is situated in the south of Beaujolais, in the village of Charnay-en-Beaujolais, and he also produces "Cru" wines from different classified villages including Fleurie (the 2009 Brun Fleurie is also outstanding). He practices 100% organic farming, and uses only native yeasts in the fermentation process. The wine is sourced from some of the oldest vines on the lot, where there are fewer grapes per vine, resulting in a more concentrated and robust flavor.
2009 was an outstanding vintage in Beaujolais; David Schildknecht of the Wine Advocate awarded this wine 90 points. Coming in at $16.99 per bottle, it is an outstanding value for a wine of this quality. It is deep red in color, contains refined soft tannins, a beautiful bouquet of bright red fruit, and spice. Delicious!
Beaujolais is one of the more versatile and forgiving wines to accompany food, and I recommend exploring different pairings with a variety of foods. It is an interchangeable selection with many traditionally white wine pairings, but it can hold its own with richer and heavier foods.
It was a perfect selection to complement tonight’s dual meal, surf and turf of Prime dry aged NY strip steak with a spice rubbed grilled sea scallop. The richness of the beef was cut with the soft tannins and the spice, and the fruit forwardness of the wine softened the spice rub on the scallop.
With a Prime Dry Aged Strip steak I don’t like to fuss much with it. I want the rich flavor of the quality beef to shine through without being covered up by herbs or spices. Coat with extra virgin olive oil, fleur de sel (French grey sea salt), and coarse fresh cracked pepper, and grill to one’s liking.
For the scallops, I also coat with extra virgin olive oil and a spice blend (recipe below) or there are some quality pre-made rubs from Penzys. Make sure the grill is hot and well-oiled before placing the scallops atop. They only take about 3-4 minutes per side.
Scallop Spice Rub:
1 tbsp. Hungarian Paprika
1 tsp. Onion Powder
1 tsp. Cumin powder
½ tsp. Cayenne powder
½ tsp. Garlic powder
½ tsp. Fennel Seed
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Fresh Ground Pepper