Friday Lunch, '78 Siran, '01 Guigal Brune et Blonde/Gigondas

Yesterday’s lunch (Friday, the 27th March 2009) was back at my favorite French restaurant, Je Suis Gourmand with Miguel, Rene and Santiago. We had earlier requested the chef, Marc Aubry, to make a dish similar to the Escargots, Chicken Oyster and Hazelnut Spätzle that Miguel recently had at Daniel’s Boulud’s Brasserie in Las Vegas. I e-mailed Marc Miguel’s photos and description of the dish the week before so he could approximate the dish.

I also brought along a 1978 Château Siran (Margaux) to serve blind to them to show how well Siran’s wines can age. Santi already knew about Siran’s wines’ longevity since we tried, among others, Siran’s '28 and '53. I didn’t tell him what I’d be bringing though.

By around 12:45, we were complete and Miguel opened his already chilled bottle of 2007 Domaine Raimbault-Pineau Pouilly-Fumé. I’ve bought and gone through so many bottles and written about this in my blog so many times (both the 2006 and 2007 vintages) - it clear enough that I love this fresh, fruity, minerally, extremely charming wine - especially when paired with goat cheese and simply prepared, fresh shellfish dishes. No need to say more.

Our much anticipated escargot dish was then served.

Boulud Escargots à la Marc

There is a poached egg hidden by the ring of crunchy toasted bread and greens…

Miguel said that in Boulud’s original dish, the poached egg was also hidden and not mentioned in the dish’s description, so, when he cut into it and saw the yolk oozing out, it was a wonderful surprise. “Like finding liquid gold” said he.

Though Marc couldn’t source chicken oysters and used readily available parts, added some lardons, and I noted the absence of hazelnut spätzle, we all thought it was great.

Not having tried the original dish by Boulud, I, personally, wouldn’t know how it would compare; but Miguel, who did, wiped his plate clean and pronounced it delicious.

Great as is, but I imagine that a sprinkling of crunchy animal (crisped pork belly bits or duck or chicken skin cracklings?) would add nice touches of textural contrast and saltiness. In any event, that dish was, undoubtedly, the star of our lunch.

We then shared a dish of Pan-Seared Foie Gras and ordered our main courses of Cassoulet topped with Duck Leg Confit.

1978 Château Siran - My bottle, ex-chateau (i.e., straight from the château’s cellar), a gift to me from the owner around a month ago when he arrived from Bordeaux. Since this is a 30+ year-old bottle, Marc and I watched carefully as one of the staff uncorked it.

It turned out, though, that there was no reason to worry since the cork was relatively new - bearing the words “Rebouché en 2005” (see below) - meaning “re-corked in 2005”.

I last had this wine in early January 2007 (also in Je Suis Gourmand) and it was absolutely in fine form. My notes then were as follows:

Chateau Siran 1978 - straight from the chateau’s cellar, it was a Christmas gift from Edouard. I had it with duckling in foie gras and wild mushroom sauce. With no available decanter in the restaurant, I poured and let it breathe in the glasses while we had the Corton Charlemagne with our appetizers. A darkish, medium brick-red slightly lightening at the rim with a slight red-orange tinge. The bouquet and taste were typically Siran: mildly earthy cassis base, touches of violets, small red berries to the rear, cedar and leather, masculine for a Margaux, with just a slight touch of the sweetness of bottle-age to the red berries. Good balance, this wine proudly wears its years well; and can go on for many more. To my mind, with more bottle-age sweetness, elevation of the red berries and the seams easing out in the process.

Good, well-aged wine is always a special treat for me. This was no exception.

I didn’t decant this bottle and just left it open for around an hour or so - any more aeration it would need could be had in our glasses. Served blind, the bottle’s label was covered with paper and taped firmly, the tell-tale foil completely removed and the cork hidden in my pocket.

The guys noted the wine’s dark brick red/red-orange tinted with mahogany color of age, and, after a few sniffs, gentle swirls and a couple of tastes, Santi called it very closely to be from 1976 more-or-less, and maybe from St-Julien. Rene called it as a wine from the Margaux appellation (a stone’s throw south of St-Julien). After more breathing time, Santi agreed that it was from Margaux. Pretty impressive, together they got the appellation and were just 2 years off the true vintage.

As far as this bottle went, it was more advanced than the one I had back in 2007 - more than an additional 2 years of bottle age could probably justify. Some bottle-age sweetness, spicy dark cherry, led the way over old-pressed violets/leather/iron -infused somber dark fruit and cassis. Surely showing its age and, after around 25-30 minutes in the glass, the wine started to fall apart, and its spicy/violet/licorice/sour dark cherry/raspberry medium finish shortened materially. Still and all, an enjoyable wine with a bit of nostalgia and history thrown in -1978 was the year I graduated from elementary school and entered high school.

The next 2 reds were Rhônes from Miguel and Rene:

2001 E. Guigal Côte Rôtie Brune et Blonde - The last notes I have on this particular wine were from 23 April 2008 during Je Suis Gourmand’s Night of Rhône Cuisine & Wine:

2001 E. Guigal Côte Rôtie Brune et Blonde - I must say that I appreciated this properly refined, medium-bodied Rhône (none-too-alcoholic unlike many other modern Rhônes), such as it was: laced lightly with dried/roasted herbs/pepper; red berry-dominated (red currant (or was that the sherbet haunting my palate?)/raspberry/hint of strawberry, mild tobacco and dark spice, woodiness and just a dash of pepper. Very mild earthiness. Finely and delicately layered. If there is any criticism I can make, it would be that the middle is a bit weak. But that’s about it.

This bottle, decanted for around 40 minutes, was similarly earthy, spicy but had a confident middle unlike the one I last wrote about, with a strong roasted herb accent as well as a good dose of garrigue. Robust and masculine. Great pairing with the earthy and robust cassoulet with duck leg confit.

2001 E. Guigal Gigondas - I’ve had several of bottles of this wine in the past 2-3 years, but, curiously, I only have my handwritten notes (none in my blog or other vino-centered websites I post in ) from the Manila Gentlemen’s Club’s 22 February 2008 Cantonese Night.

This bottle, like the past ones, had a generally rustic, earthy, spicy character to its dark red cherry, raspberry and licorice, with underlying black coffee and minor notes of pepper and iron. This is wine is an excellent value for money Gigondas.

After a quick smoke outside, we returned to find dishes of Pears Poached in Red Wine topped with Homemade Nougatine Ice Cream.

We lingered over the wine and double espressos until a little past 4pm. What a great way to end the work week.