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Eric Genau
 
November 25, 2013 | Eric Genau

Wine Legends at Tocqueville

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

 

Time Posted: Nov 25, 2013 at 1:13 PM Permalink to Wine Legends at Tocqueville Permalink
Eric Genau
 
June 29, 2012 | Eric Genau

Tasting Your Way Through the Tour de France

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.

Peloton entering MaconKeeping 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.

Time Posted: Jun 29, 2012 at 7:57 AM Permalink to Tasting Your Way Through the Tour de France Permalink
Matt Cole
 
July 18, 2011 | Matt Cole

White Burgundy and Little Neck Clams

Almost halfway through summer, while I love grilling, one starts to tire slightly from grilled food all of the time. I have no desire to turn on the stove for too long on a hot summer day, so steamed littleneck clams fits the bill.  Add a cold bottle of white wine and you have a recipe for a perfect mid-summer dinner.  I recently selected the 2009 JJ Vincent Bourgogne Blanc. "JJ" Bourgogne Blanc is a tribute to Jean Jacques Vincent who has managed the family domaine of Chateau Fuisse for the past 40 years. The wine is 100% Chardonnay, with a fresh ripe nose, and lemony citrus notes.  This sees some oak, and it is balanced, well structured and delicious. This Bourgogne Blanc is an extremely great value and quality in this price level.  It is made by Antoine Vincent, the same winemaker who makes the legendary Pouilly-Fuisse wines of Chateau Fuisse - of which Robert Parker says "There is no domaine in all of southern Burgundy that has more of a legendary reputation than this extraordinary estate."

Steamed Littleneck Clams:
50 Littleneck clams
4 minced shallots
2 lb.’s Garlicky sausage (Italian sausage or chorizo could substitute)
1 Cup Dry white wine
2 tsp. Saffron
3 Diced Tomatoes
Chopped chives to garnish (optional)
Baguette grilled with olive oil and salt and pepper

This is a quick simple dish, and the stove doesn’t have to be on too long in the hot weather. Start by searing the sausage whole in olive oil, remove from pan and cut on the bias and reserve. Add the minced shallots, diced tomatoes, white wine, saffron and sliced sausage to the pan, allow the alcohol to cook off then add the clams. Cover with a lid until the clams have opened. Pour into a large bowl garnish with the chives, and serve with the grilled bread for dipping in the broth.

Time Posted: Jul 18, 2011 at 1:51 PM Permalink to White Burgundy and Little Neck Clams Permalink Comments for White Burgundy and Little Neck Clams Comments (2)
Eric Genau
 
January 11, 2011 | Eric Genau

Revisiting Oregon Pinot Noir and Rethinking Champagne

When I wrote down my Wine Resolutions for the New Year back in December 2009, I was thinking of things that would help me to enjoy wine in 2010, and to help others continue on their wine journeys.  Looking back, if you followed at least one of the suggestions I noted - to Discover Oregon Wine -  it likely would have brought you great joy in 2010.  Little did I know then that we would see perhaps the greatest Pinot Noir vintage in U.S. history coming out of Oregon's Willamette Valley.  Simply put, 2008 Oregon Pinot Noir is my choice for the most exciting wine story of 2010.  And so, my first suggestion for 2011 is this:  If you have not yet tasted the Willamette Valley's 2008 Pinots, proceed immediately to your local wine merchant or online retailer and start buying these up (City Wine Merchant has a great selection)!  These wines will be completely gone from store shelves within the next 6 months (here's hoping the 2009 vintage follows-up well).

While my 2010 suggestions still apply this year and will help to heighten your wine enjoyment in 2011, it recently occurred to me that I completely missed the mark last year by not even mentioning Champagne!  I have long said that if I were trapped on a desert island and could only pick one thing to drink for the rest of my life, it would be Champagne (but I would miss the Pinot Noirs of Burgundy a lot).  Yes, good Champagne is unrivaled to accompany life's great celebrations, but it is so much more.  In 2011, make it a point to discover Grower Champagne (put down that bottle of Veuve Clicquot for a few months), and to drink Champagne with food. 

On New Year's Eve, my wife and I were reminded of Champagne's great food-pairing potential as we enjoyed a near perfect meal at Seabar, one of our favorite restaurants in Buffalo.  If you haven't experienced Chef Mike Andrzejewski's brilliance, you are missing out (check out Mike's NYC dinner at the James Beard House in February).  For Champagne, Vilmart & Cie Champagne 'Grand Cellier' (a blend of 30% Chardonnay and 70% Pinot Noir) was the choice of the night.  After enjoying a magical pairing with Washington State oysters, my entree of grilled shrimp and goat's cheese potato pierogi blew my mind.  The dish was a crazy fusion of flavors, made with a red wine sauce and sauteed onions, and I can think of no better match for this than the toasty Champagne.  Sound odd?  Try it.  Every component of the Champagne had a complement in the food, and vice versa.  It was a great example of how Champagne can be great with food, and it was a perfect way to end a great 2010. 

Thank you to everyone for supporting City Wine Merchant in 2010.  Cheers to a happy and productive 2011!

Time Posted: Jan 11, 2011 at 9:20 AM Permalink to Revisiting Oregon Pinot Noir and Rethinking Champagne Permalink Comments for Revisiting Oregon Pinot Noir and Rethinking Champagne Comments (2)
Eric Genau
 
July 8, 2010 | Eric Genau

A Ride Through Champagne

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. 

The 2010 Tour will be no exception, with stages through some of France's greatest wine regions.  Stages 4 and 5 roll through the very heart of Champagne, with stops in Reims and Épernay, the commercial centers of the world's greatest sparkling wine region, and home to classic Champagne houses such as Taittinger and Perrier-Jouet.  Stages 18 and 19 ride straight through Bordeaux's left bank, including St.-Julien and a stage-end in Pauillac, the mythical home of Château Mouton Rothschild and other giants of the wine world.  Because of this great 2,200 mile, three week race, July is a perfect time to feature some of our favorite French wines!

Throughout this year's Tour, we will be featuring some of our favorite wines from the various Stage regions.  To help maximize your Tour enjoyment this week, we are excited to feature one of our favorite Grower Champagne values: Pierre Gimonnet Champagne Selection Belles Annees.  Gimonnet is considered a benchmark for quality in Champagne, and this entry selection doesn't disappoint. This is 100% Chardonnay with nearly 75% from Grand Cru villages. The chalky soils in the Côte des Blancs create wines of incredible focus and minerality. Intensely floral and spicy on the nose, which displays tangerine and pear scents. Orchard fruits and lemon on the palate, with floral honey, and a sappy finish. If you haven't discovered Grower Champagne, this is a perfect place to start!  And it's even better while watching some of the world's greatest athletes ride through the fabled countryside where it is made.  Stage 5 through Champagne will air on Versus in the on July 8, the same day we will have this bottle open to taste!

Time Posted: Jul 8, 2010 at 8:04 AM Permalink to A Ride Through Champagne Permalink Comments for A Ride Through Champagne Comments (2)