Monday, March 5, 2012

In Like a Lion. A Really Full and Drunk Lion.

I think my dad is finally getting it that we have to step up this family wine drinking thing and get to work on those bottles he's hoarded kept all these years. There are so many that have been raring to go, but keep getting edged out in favor of newer and shinier arrivals. At a recent dinner we drank a Chateau Duhart-Milon 2005, and it rocked. Totally in its prime. This is how you do it. So all those wines from the 70s and 80s? Come on, let's get at them before it's too late. My dad's a Jew. Doesn't he want his money's worth?

Last Saturday was the first of two "wine dinners" between six of us at Casa Schuster this month. Over a delectable array of hors d'oeuvres brought by our friend Beth (who somehow managed to deliciously alchemize gougeres in cracker form, among other treats), we drank the Iron Horse FairyTale Celebration Cuvee 2006, a wine-club only release that was originally produced as a private label for Disney and Castellroig Brut Cava. Both were excellent, especially the Cava which was crisp, tart and biscuity in a way that could rival good non-vintage Champagnes.

On to dinner. Shrimp scampi (sans pasta) with Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc 1988. This was the first time I'd tasted an older, white Bordeaux. I loved how it had oxidized, reminiscent of the funkier white Riojas from Lopez Heredia. It still had some citrus, but it had caramelized a bit, and there was none of that white Bordeaux grassiness left. This was replaced by nutty and mushroom flavors. I know this isn't how this wine is meant to be consumed and it was definitely too old, but I liked it anyway.

Next course was Osso Bucco with mushroom risotto, served in cartoonishly large portions. We started with a 1978 F.Lli Dogliani Barolo from the La Morra commune. The second we opened it I could smell flowers and ripe fruit emanating from the bottle. Once decanted it really opened up. Still had tons of fruit and structure with an earthy balance. Wish some of the leatheriness I love about these wines had been there, but it sure didn't, as the Italians say, a succhiare.

We also drank a 1981 Gruard Larose Saint-Julien. We've been drinking some 1980s from Margaux and I personally think they tasted a bit over the hill and was worried this would be more of the same. But we were all pleasantly surprised at how rich and flavorful this still was. Stephanie was the first to point out the "curry" flavors that came through (cardamom and ginger for sure) and I also think some hibiscus. It's like the Rolling Stones. Yeah, they're up there, but they still put on a show. Bravo, Saint-Julien. Curious to try more from that region now.

We'd already had enough, but since it was out, we also opened a 1989 J. Vidal-Fleury Cotes du Rhone. Not as spectacular as the others, but then again they were pretty tough acts to follow. The Grenache in this blend gave it some dark fruit and cocoa with some coffee and earth, but wish more of the Syrah spiciness and gaminess was still there.  Still, not bad. Nope, wasn't mad at it.

As full as we all were, dessert is often the main attraction at these meals. Why? Because aged sweet wines usually kick major ass! This Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey 1988 was no exception. Dad made a creme caramel, which was an amazing pairing. The dessert and the wine were harmonizing so well, it was as though they'd secretly planned to be consumed together all along. Burnt caramel, cashews and apricots in the wine really stood handled the dessert. The acidic grip kept each of them from feeling overly sweet. It also went very well with the chocolate cookies from Black Hound that John brought over.

Of course by the end we were feeling pretty bluch and wiped out (sadly, no Amaro on hand). Walking downstairs was a tough enough commute for my parents, so imagine schlepping back to Brooklyn. Especially on an early March Saturday that is apparently the first of three St. Patrick's nights in the city. Ugh. After all that top notch partaking, I was particularly irritated at all the amateur drinkers stealing my cabs in Murray Hill! Well, the walk to the F train helped it all go down a bit, I suppose. Fitness karma.

I can't believe we're doing this again in three weeks! (Sorry, liver. You've been warned).

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