Category Archives: Madeira

A Happy Thanksgiving

This year Thanksgiving lunch started at 3:00 PM instead of the usual 4:00 PM. There were six people and six bottles of wine.  Ernie and Louise De Salvo, and Travis Scott and Nicole Serle – owners of Turtledove wine store in Manhattan joined Michele and I.  It was a fun evening with great food, wine, company and a lot of laughing.

We started as always with Champagne.IMG_4389

Champagne Roses Jeanne Blanc de Blancs Brut 2009 100% Pinot Blanc Cédric Bouchard. The champagnes from this producer always impress me. The vineyards are farmed using organic methods and simple guyot pruning. There are 8,000 vines per hectare. Grapes are hand harvested and crushed by foot. Fermentation takes place with indigenous yeast in stainless steel tanks. The wine is unfiltered and unfined and low or no dosage depending on the vintage. I believe they produce only single vintage, single vineyard wines that are fermented and aged in stainless steel with as little interference in the process from the winemaker as little as possible.  The bubbles were very small and the wine had a crisp, fresh taste with bold citrus fruit flavors.  It worked very well with the smoked salmon mousse Michele served as an appetizer.

The first course was a chestnut soup, which was made by Louise, a great cook and bread baker.IMG_4390

With the soup we had the legendary Fiorano Rosso Vino da Tavola 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Venosa. I love this wine and it had that great combination of leather and cherry that makes it so wonderful and unique.Turkey

Michele stuffed the turkey with fennel, rice and sausages and there were maple whipped sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.  Michele made a mostarda of figs and cranberries that I could not stop eating.

We had three wines with the Turkey:IMG_4391

Volnay 1er cru Les Champans 1973 Domaine Joseph Voillot 100% Pinot Noir. There are 23 Acers of vines, harvesting is by hand and there is a selection of bunches both in the vineyard and the cellar. Vinification takes place without the stems and the wine is moved by gravity into barrels. The use of new wood is kept to about 1/3 of the total. This is a great expression of Pinot Noir and one which expresses the terroir and the grape at their best

I like Amarone with Turkey and all of the trimmings.  These were exceptionally good.IMG_4392

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1997 & Recioto della Valpolicella Amorone Classic Superiore 1983 Bertani. 70 % Corvina Veronese 30% Rondinella-this is the present blend.
Carefully selected grape bunches are hand-harvested in Bertani’s best Valpolicella vineyards in Fumane, Marano and the Novare Valley. Vines are cultivated using the “spalliera” method while pruning is done using the guyot method with 5,000 vines/ha.

Unlike most leading Amarone producers, who buy grapes from outside growers, Bertani’s harvest originates entirely in the firm’s own vineyards. With marly-calcareous soil sheltered by surrounding woodland, these vineyards offer the ideal terroir for Amarone.IMG_4393

Harvest begins in early October and extends over a two-week period. After harvest, ripe, unblemished grapes from the uppermost portions of each cluster those grapes richest in sugar and extracts are painstakingly detached and laid out to dry on cane mats. The mats are stored on raised platforms in airy lofts, sheltered by a roof but otherwise exposed to drying breezes on all sides. By the time they are ready to undergo maceration and fermentation in February, they will have lost up to 60% of their water content (appassimento). A lengthy maceration period ensues, a factor responsible for Amarone’s tremendous body and structure. After a controlled fermentation, the wine is transferred into oak casks for a period of 5-8 years. The 1997 was a big ripe wine and needs more time in the bottle to develop. The 1983 was
dry, full-bodied, and amply structured with hints of cherries, red berries and spice a great wine and was not showing any signs of age.

 Both 1997 and1983 were excellent vintages for Amarone.IMG_4394

Malvasia Maderia Favilla Vieria 1920 Reserva Velha Barbeito 100% Malvasia. We had this with a Stilton cheese that we had purchased in Fortnum & Mason when we were in London a few weeks ago. This was a very elegant Madeira but with enough body to make it a perfect combination with the cheese.IMG_4395

For dessert Michele made an apple tart tartin and prune ice cream made with Agen prunes macerated in Vielle Prune liqueur.  It was the perfect way to end a great evening.

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Filed under Amarone, Bertani, Burgundy, Champagne, Fiorano Rosso, Joseph Voilloy, Madeira, Roses Jeanne

A Second New Year Celebration

 

The day before New Years Eve, Michele and I and a group of friends went to Bern’s Steak House in Tampa. We had a great time and drank some wonderful wines.

The New Year came again in February — the Chinese New Year–the year of the snake. This time we did not go very far to celebrate.  We went to Congee Village on Allen Street in NYC for their special Chinese New Year menu. The corkage fee is only $10 per bottle so we brought our own wines.  The food was very good and plentiful.

Steamed Live Fish

Steamed Live Fish

To begin our celebration of the year of the snake we started with Champagne.IMG_2753

Ferrari Perlé Rosé 2006 Trento DOC Method Classico made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. This is a vintage Rosé from the Lunelli family, owners of Ferrari, estate vineyards. The grapes are harvested by hand at the end of September on the hills surrounding Trento, with either southeastern or southwestern exposure between 1000 and 2000 feet above sea level. The wine is aged 5 years on selected yeasts. It is an elegant and complex Rosé with ripe red berry aromas and flavors with hints of raspberry and a touch of almond.  It has a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.  I believe that Ferrari makes some of the best Method Classico wine in Italy.
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Grande Réserve Brut Bouzy André Clouet 100% Grand Cru estate-bottled Bouzy pinot noir aged six years on yeast; with strawberry, wheat kernel, and stone flavors along with a pleasing touch of cream in the mid palate and finish.

The Clout family owns 8 hectares of vines in preferred mid-slope vineyards in Grand Crus Bouzy and Ambonnay, and has excelled as a pinot noir specialist even within Bouzy, an appellation specifically celebrated for the quality of its pinot noir. The wines are cellared under the family’s 17th century village house – built by an ancestor who acted as printer to Louis XV’s royal court at Versailles. Respect for terroir is evident in these traditionally crafted wines. The labels are attractively old-fashioned in design.IMG_2759

Champagne Dom Ruinart  Blanc de Blancs1993 in Magnum.  Made from Grand cru Chardonnay grapes exclusively from the Côte des Blancs (66%) and the northern slope of the Montagne de Reims (34%). This is an elegant and powerful Champagne with nice fruit, hints of peach and pear, good minerality and a touch of toast.

Pan Fried Baby Lamb Chops

Pan Fried Baby Lamb Chops

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Meursault-Charmes Premire Cru- Les Charmes Dessus 2007 Domaine Antonin Guyon 100% Chardonnay Meursault is one of the villages in the southern part of the Côte de Beaune. They have a 69-acre plot here. The soil is white marl and the vines are over 30 years old. In 2007 a sunny September allowed the grapes to ripen well and the harvest to take place under excellent conditions. Sorting of the grapes takes place at the winery. Fermentation is at low temperatures in oak barrels with stirring twice a week. The wine is aged in oak barrels 1/3 new and bottled after 15 months.

Chinese Vegetables E. Fu Noodles

Chinese Vegetables E. Fu Noodles

IMG_2750Meursault – Genevrieres Premier Cru 2000 Domaine Latour Giraurd A Premier Cru vineyard of the Meursault  appellation in the Côte de Beaune. It is a large vineyard located in the southern end of the commune. They have 10 hectares. The vineyard is divided into halves- Genevrieres above and Genevrieses below. The upper section has better drainage and more morning sunlight and therefore produces better fruit. Free run juice and wild natural yeast is used and the wine is kept on the lees for a long period of time with racking kept to a minimum. There is no fining or filtration. The wine is fermented and aged in barrels about 1/3, which are new between 14/16 months. I believe the wine is bottled by hand.

House Special Cold Dungeness Crabs-Chao Style

House Special Cold Dungeness Crabs-Chao Style

IMG_2762Chateau Beychevelle 1970 St. Julien 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Aged for 20 months in barriques, 1/2 new. This is what Robert Parker says about the 1970 in his book Bordeaux. “Fully mature with a spicy, plum-like bouquet, and some caramel aromas…round fruity, quiet silky and soft and nicely concentrated. It lacks the complexity and depth of the best 1970’s, but it is still quite attractive. Drink over the next 3-4 years”. He last tasted the wine in 9/84 and gives it an 84 rating.
I agree with Parker in his description of the wine except for the caramel aromas.  I do not agree with his rating.
Almost 30 years later the wine is showing extremely well. It is an elegant wine, complex, has depth and will last for a number of years.IMG_2760

Mas Daumas Gassac 1990 Vin de Pays l’Hèrault Languedoc. Aimé Guilbert.  Made from 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20 different varieties. The winery is located in the Gassac Valley. A rare and still unexplained, red, fine glacial soil dominates the valley.  The grapes are hand harvested. Long fermentation and maceration, a minimum of 20 days, in stainless steel tanks and no filtration. The wine spends about 16 months in oak barrels, with a maximum of 10% new. This is a big, powerful wine that I first discovered with the 1983 vintage and have been drinking ever since.

There were two dessert wines, a Madeira Barbeito Sercial 1978 and a 1923 Sauterne I could not read the name of the producer.  The Madeira was showing very well. 

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Filed under Andre Clouet, Bordeaux, Champagne, Chateau Beyechevelle, Ferrari, French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Italian Sparkling Wine, Madeira, Mas Daumas Gassac, Meursault- Genevrieres, Meursault-Charmes, Spumante

A Night at Bern’s Steak House

During lunch at SD26, Ed said that they were thinking of flying to South Carolina because Mary needed to acquire more miles to qualify for a gold frequent flyer card from an airline. Their plan was to stay overnight and return the next day.

I suggested they go to Florida instead.  Ed said, “why Florida?”  Travis answered Bern’s Steak House.  We all knew about Bern’s but only Travis and Nicole had been there.  After a very brief discussion, Mary and Ed decided that they liked the idea.  Travis then said, “Why don’t we all go?”  So that is how a group of 8 of us flew to Tampa, had dinner at Bern’s on Sunday night, and returned to New York for dinner at my apartment on New Year’s Eve.  

One of the many wine rooms in Bern's

One of the many wine rooms in Bern’s

Bern’s Steak House may have the largest wine list in the world. They have over 1,250 wines on the list, 6,800 different wines, and a total of over half a million bottles.
Travis had contacted Brad Dixon, one of the sommeliers at Bern’s Steak House, so he was ready for us when we arrived. We discussed the wine list with him and he also made suggestions that were not on the list and told us all about them. He is very knowledgeable and was a great help when it came to Burgundy. IMG_2579
Since Ed always starts with Champagne, he ordered the Perrier-Jouet “Fleur de Champagne” 1996 in magnum to start.   Made from 50% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Meunier, it comes in the popular and beautiful “Flower Bottle”. 1996 was a great year for Champagne. The wine was just starting to come around and will last for many more years.  It was a perfect start to a great wine evening.IMG_2567

Rully  Domaine Faiveley 1982 100% Chardonnay. The exposure is east and the soil is clay and limestone. Perfectly mature grapes are harvested and transported to the Faiveley winery in Mercurey. The must is extracted using a pneumatic press and settles in a vat overnight. Vinification lasts for 4 weeks. The wine is aged in vats for 11 weeks and the lees are stirred regularly. The wine is racked in Mercurey and transported to Nuits-Saint Georges, the headquarters of Domaine Faiveley, where it is prepared for bottling. This is how the wine is made today though it may have been different 30 years ago. This wine was showing its age but was still drinking well. It will not last much longer and I attribute its lasting this long to the excellent storage facilities at Bern’s. This wine was under $50. Bern’s has a large selection of older wines from Italy and less known parts of France for under $50.IMG_2569
Echezaux 1959.  This is a negociant wine from T. Thorin
and the label indicates the location of his offices which were in the village of Pontanevoux. IMG_2570Domaine Romanee Saint-Vivant 1962.  100% Pinot Noir This is 9.54 hectare vineyard just above the village of Vosne.  At one time, over half was owned by Domaine Merey-Monge but the vineyard however was tended by and the wines made by Romanée Conti.  Domaine de la Romanée is now the principal owner with 5.29 hectares. There are 11 owners altogether.

IMG_2573Romanée St. Vivant 1970 Marey-Monge 100% Pinot Noir in magnum. (We ordered magnums when they were available.)
All I can say is that the Burgundies were exceptional and none were showing their age.

Bordeaux Haut Batailley 1959. I believe it is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot and a touch of Cabernet Franc depending on the vintage. Mary paid for this wine to thank us for supporting her quest for miles. It was wonderful. IMG_2577
Châteauneuf-du-Pape  1961 in Magnum Delas Freres This is a northern Rhône negociant that buys juice for their wines  in the southern Rhône.
1961 was an exceptional vintage and this was the best Châteauneuf-du-Pape that I have ever had. In fact a number of people said that it was too young! Today it is owned by the Champagne house Roederer.IMG_2583

Cossart Madeira Sercial 1905 – the oldest shipper of Madeira wine, established in 1745. Made from the Sercial grape. Sercial Maderia is the driest of the four classic varieties of Madeira. It is also the lightest and most acidic and delicate expression of Madeira and takes the longest to mature. Maderia Sercial is a white fortified wine made on the volcanic island of Madeira, which belongs to Portugal.  Of the two Madeira Sercials that we drank on two consecutive nights, the 1910 Leacock (New Years Eve) was showing slightly better.

After dinner at Bern’s Steak House you are taken to the dessert rooms, set in empty wine barrels!  They offer an array of interesting desserts and a full range of dessert wines to go with them.

We all had a great time and it was worth the trip!

We are back on I-Italy|TV:   This Saturday at 11:00 PM repeated Sunday at 1:00 PM.

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Filed under Bern's Steak House, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Madeira