October 29, 2009

Who Says California Pinot Doesn't Age?! 1976 Hanzell Pinot Noir Sonoma Valley

Hanzell Vineyards was founded by Ambassador James D. Zellerbach, in the 1950s.  The Ambassador's ambition was to create a small vineyard and winery dedicated to the best traditions of Grand Cru Burgundy: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay of extraordinary quality and great longevity.  Hanzell's wines have proven to stand the test of time, many drinking well for 30+ years.  A very uncommon fete for most wines, and especially uncommon for California Pinot Noir.

Wednesday night, a few friends, including Rowdy and Borderick, graced Chez Dude with their presence for some food and wine and to root on our local boys on Top Chef. The 1976 Hanzell was one of our bottles. It was a pleasure.

The wine was amazingly deep and robust-red in the decanter. Notes of dusty tart cherry and earth on the nose. First blush, wow...is this a '76. Deep, sweet fruit is bordered by dusty, tannic structure that really clamps down on the backside. There is a beautiful weight to the palate; amazing for a 33 year old CA pinot. The wine unfolded in the decanter and rounded out over the course of the night. Still drinking well two hours on...Profound in its own way. A+ for the experience.

October 23, 2009

Cru Boo Freaks Rejoice- 2006 Foillard Morgon Cote du Py!

Thanks to Hardy, the Cru Boo pusher, this wine is now offiically on my radar. As is Cru Boo in general. Grand Cru Beaujolais, made from the Gamay grape, should not be confused with the simpler, lighter, found-in-every-supermarket-Beaujolais Nouveau. Despite the similarities, Cru Boos can be serious, food-friendly wines that benefit from short-term cellaring. Last night, another terrific bottle of the Foillard Morgon.

2006 Foillard Morgon Cotes du Py--This is my second terrific bottle in the last three months. Light-red, strawberry color in the glass. Nose throws some funk and dirt upon opening. Strawberry and cherry fruit lurks an peppery-spice abounds on a palate that is wrapped kind of tight initially. Opens nicely with air. More dark cherry along with some rocky minerality. Concentrated and structured, this could stand a few years in the cellar. Available locally at Tower on Piedmont for $25.

October 19, 2009

Thomas Keller's Cassoulet & 2001 Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Cassoulet is a peasant dish that origniated in the south of France. You can think of Cassoulet as a fancy way of describing pork-n-beans. Traditionally, Cassoulet is made with various combinations of duck confit, goose, pork sausage, pork, pork skin, bacon, garlic, onions, and lotsa white beans. The key to Cassoulet is cooking it long and low over the course of an afternoon (or two). There are numerous recipes for Cassoulet, some more complicated than others. It's not uncommon for Cassoulet to be a two or three day process (see Julia's or Bourdain's Les Halles' Cassoulet if you really want to spend three days on your Cassoulet).

I like Thomas Keller's "easy" Cassoulet recipe. You start by rendering lardons, then browning pork shoulder in the fat. Remove the pork, sautee onions in the renderings and then deglaze with white wine. Once the wine is reduced by half add white beans (canned work here), chicken stock, a head of garlic, and some crushed tomatoes. Return the pork shoulder to the pot, and let it go for about 8 hours at 200 degrees. After 8 hours or so, you'll have a pot of gooey goodness with pork that just falls apart and creamy beans. Stir in some toasted panko and parsley, a little parmesan, top with baguette slices and it's the best damn thing you could eat on a cold Sunday night.

One of my favorite wines with Cassoulet is Chateauneuf-du-Pape. I also love CdP in the fall, it's like a warm blanket, it makes me think of home and cold nights by a raging fire.
2001 Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf du Pape

The wine, from a .375, showed a soaring nose of iodine, pine, abd wet leaves. Palate features red fuit, spice, white pepper, and garrigue. Tightens slightly with air. Still formidable tannins on the backside. Shows like a youngster still, but a delight, and so bloody good with the Cassoulet. Yum.

October 13, 2009

2007 Garnacha de Fuego Old Vine--It's Cheaper Than Lunch!!

Haven't blogged since last week's recap of the French Laundry night. I've been busy and not drinking and cooking enough (that's not entirely true). Spent the weekend with friends at a beautiful cabin in the mountains of Big Canoe. We didn't bring a lot wine; we chose beer and kentucky lemonade instead of dragging great wines into the woods. However, I did bring a few bottles including my last bottle of the 2007 Garnacha de Fuego Old Vines. This wine is widely available around town at most wine shops and supermarkets. I bought a bunch over the summer on sale for $7 at Kroger. It's a terrific wine for non-contemplation and full-throttle fun. Spicy and lush with copious peppery-red fruit. It's a steal in the single digit price range. Made from 60-80 year old vines. Plenty around town. Go find some for your next party or get together; you won't be sorry.

October 5, 2009

Even More French Laundry-Inspired Madness

Hosted a little dinner for a few friends Saturday night. Rowdy, EatItAtlanta, The Legend, and another international man of mystery were in attendance. It was a Thomas Keller-themed dinner as I did four courses from my trusty old French Laundry cookbook, and The Legend made Keller's Bouchon French Onion soup.

The wine flowed, too. The 1990 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape was brilliant. Also, a nice 1991 and 1999 Comte Armand Pommard Epeneaux, 1989 Clos Naudin Vouvray Moelleux Reserve, 1997 Heitz Cabernet Bella Oaks, and several others. A rocking good night that ended with a few of The Legend's Cohibas on the deck as it became Sunday morning.

Some pics from Rowdy:

Tomato tartare, hericot verts, frisee, balsamic reduction.

Smoked salmon, potato gnocchi, microgreens, brunoise.

The Legend's French Onion Soup. 

Dead soldiers

Check out EatItAtlanta's take on the festivities here.