Every year for Easter dinner, Michele makes roast leg of lamb. This year, however, she decided to make chicken because one of our guests does not eat red meat. The Pat La Frieda chickens that we buy at Eataly in NYC are expensive but very flavorful and perfect for the way Michele prepares them. She stuffed them with herbs and roasted them on slices of garlic-rubbed ciabatta bread to catch the chicken juices. The chicken and the crunchy bread are eaten together. For an appetizer, there was a salmon mousse, perfect with the Champagne.
Cuvee Dom Perignon 1988 made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. Ed Mc Carthy supplied the wine and this is what he says about it in his book Champagne for Dummies – the wine’s “…trademarks are its exquisite balance, its creaminess, its elegance, its very fine tiny bubbles and it complex flavors.” He was also right on the mark when he said, “With age, Cuvee Dom Perignon develops aromas and flavors of toast, coffee and honey.” He said that 1988 was a great vintage.
Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon Brut Rose 2000 Made from 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Chardonnay. It was light salmon like in color, light bodied for a Rosè , fresh, delicate and elegant. I should have served the Billecart before the Dom Perignon, as the Dom was a bigger wine.
Chateau La Mission Haut Brion 1988 (Graves) 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc The wine spends 18 t0 22 months in oak barrels of which 80% are new. Classic Bordeaux and could have used a few more years of bottle age.
Barolo Riserva 1967 Borgogno 100% Nebbiolo -the wine was decanted and topped from the same vintage and recorked in 2005. This wine was beginning to show some age but was still showing very well. It is interesting to note that Sheldon Wasserman in his book Italy’s Noble Red Wines (1985) gives the 1967 vintage 2 stars and says, “For the most part there is no reason to hold them any longer.”
A few days earlier I had a 1958 Borgogno that was in perfect condition and even seemed young and had not been recorked. There are no great wines, only great bottles of wine. This was served with the timbalo of eggplant and rice.
Rioja “Viña Tondonia” Rioja Alta 1947 R Lopez De Heredia 75% Temparillo, 15% Mazuelo and 10% Giaciano all from their own vineyards. The soil is alluvial clay with a high proportion of limestone. Harvesting takes place in October and is by hand. They use French barriques along with barrels ranging in size from 60hl to 240hl. The oak comes from the Appalachian mountains in the U.S.A. This is one of a handful of wineries that make their own barrels. They use oak casks to ferment the wine as they use completely natural traditional methods of wine making. The wine is aged in barrels for 10 years, racked twice a year and fined with egg whites. The winery is over 136 years old.