Dinner chez ma soeur
January 16, 2012
What a great pleasure to have enjoyed a home-cooked meal by my sister Tina, who could have gone into the restaurant business, not just because she has a knack for making great food but also because she is very meticulous about what she buys and how she prepares her ingredients.
On 13 January 2012 she invited me and a few friends over to dinner, which featured a particularly tender and tasty veal roast, flavored just slightly with Madeira-infused cassis that served as a sort of stuffing within the roast.
I was initially worried that the Madeira would make the dish sweet, and complicate wine pairings, but that was not at all the case. It was just a feather touch that accentuated the meat’s juices.
With that, she prepared flavorful homemade hand whipped potatoes with celeri root: a simple combination that was flexible enough to go with red or white. Of course her salad was delicious, accentuated with homemade croutons.
Tina is lucky enough to live near Arrow Wine, which imports some of the best wine in the country. Owner Doug Rosen is an inspired wine buyer and has a particular love for Champagne. Last year, he had organised a wonderful tasting of various Champagnes, many not so well known, and he brought a special bottle from one of those producers to dinner. I must say that it was pretty much the wine of the evening. As much as I enjoyed the wines that followed, I could have just continued with that Champagne over dinner and into dessert: Tina’s delectable homemade pear pie, with cardamom and ginger. I enjoyed it so much that I forgot to snap a photo!
1996 R. & L. Legras Champagne Cuvée St. Vincent Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru from magnum. Doug knows the owner of this estate and had several bottles made personally for him. This was one of them, and it had just recently been disgorged. What emerged was brisk freshness and mineral flavors. It had a citrus and apple as well, but never mind the subjective descriptions. What impressed most was that a wine nearly 16 years old tasted so much like a primary sample. It helps of course to come from a magnum format. And from such an excellent vintage that combined both high acidity and excellent ripeness. 100% Chardonnay from the grand cru soils of Chouilly, the Champagne of course conveyed Chardonnay smoothness. So, here we have a bubbly that surely pleased all five dinner participants. Wine of the Evening!
2002 Vincent Girardin Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Perrieres. I recently purchased three of these bottles from an auction for $40 each. Here we had a wine that was not affected by premature oxidation. In fact, it was very tasty and rather crisp, although some age was beginning to show, but in a good way. Smooth and flavorful, it had enough body to stand up to the veal – and I certainly reached for more (both veal and wine).
2000 Chateau Giscours Margaux Haut Medoc Bordeaux. I brought this bottle to dinner: a rather famous Margaux wine from the southern part of the appellation in Labarde. Giscours has been improving in quality, particularly starting with this vintage, which has aged well. The wine’s medium body combined cassis and earthy flavors that also matched the food quite well.
1999 Chateau Raymond Lafon Sauternes. Here we had a more Barsac like lightness coming from a lighter vintage in the 1999, which I have always enjoyed from Raymond Lafon. A lovely wine, still quite youthful in color and expression, that pleased the palate and paired well with the pear pie.
1990 Chateau Rieussec Sauternes. A noticeably darker color, coming from an older vintage and a half bottle, many thanks to Doug for bringing this wine, as well. This wine seemed a bit spicier and had more noticeable botrytis derived flavors, coming from a more famous and warmer vintage as well.
Many thanks to Tina and to Doug for the food and the wines - and for the great company! I must say that I tend to eat and drink just as well in Washington D.C. as I have been eating and drinking in France. Thanks in part to my dear sister Tina!