There is no Wall. No metaphysical barriers. This house is all about diversity. Reminds me of a joke? What do you get when you gather 3 Cubans (2 were the help), an Asian, a hairy Italian, a Venezuelan, and two Central Florida country squires?
Sorry, there is no punchline. You just get one heck of a night.
And neither the wines nor the food did suck.
We had four Berskerers: Me, Fu, Marc Frontario and Charlie Carnes (plus two very close friends of mine)
Stone crab claws
Charcuterie and cheese plate
Pan seared breads
The 2000 Krug Vintage Brut set the stage for an excellent evening. This champagne is in a good spot. The youthful trappings have toned down, the wine taking on some deeper hues, with notes of toasted hazelnut bread, yellow citrus fruits and a hint of brine. The 2009 Dom Perignon that followed was all about brute force and youthful vigor. Ripe, expansive mousse, brioche and zesty yellow and white fruits. Both excellent wines, with a nod to the Krug. The Dom needs time.
We enjoyed this course outside on the deck, by the lake, with temps dropping into the 50s. I loved it, but some of my guests got a little chilly, so we moved inside. Love this Florida weather!
Roasted cauliflower soup with fennel
NV Krug Champagne Brut Rose
We intended to pair a white burgundy and a Loire chenin blanc, but Fu thought they needed more air. Frankly, the NV Krug Rose was a better pairing by default. Love how the acidity and zest cut through the creaminess of the soup, and how the Rose worked with the seared pancetta that topped the dish, along with some micro-greens.
Midway we segued to a 1996 Verset Cornas and a 1998 Levet La Chavaroche. The Levet was corked, like massively bad. What a bummer, but with a glorious Verset firing on all cylinders, all was quickly forgotten. The Verset is an intriguing wine. The nose is quite feral, gamey, naughty in presentation, but the palate was really quite elegant. Medium-weight, bright, crisp acid, with a lovely presence of blood orange. We came back to this wine later in the evening, and it continued to stun. My first Verset, and for me a life-long Cornas fan, I have to admit it was as distinct of a Cornas as I have had.
I should have opened another Cote Rotie, as I love my roasted slope Levets!
Beef tartare, grilled focaccia, mussel escabeche
1996 Verset Cornas
1998 Levet La Chavaroche
These wines were intended for this specific course, and while they paired well with the soup, the tartare and syrah combination for me was the winner. Nothing like rare meat paired with syrah. Oh, and add in a poach, breaded egg. Great dish and pairing.
Cappelletti polo guisao saffron cream sofrito
2008 Roulot - Fu, which bottling (ha, my wife tossed everything in the trash before I got up!)
2011 Clos Rougeard "Breze"
This was essentially a chicken pasta dish. And again by default, the whites were a far better pairing with this dish than the intended, mature burgundy. At this point both whites had been open for about an hour. The 2008 Roulot is a stunner. I’love defer to the burg experts for the details, but the nose was exotic, zesty, golden round and rich, with a medium-weight, rounded palate. Flinty, with excellent minerality. One of the best white wines that I have had in an exceedingly long time.
I love Loire Chenin Blanc, but it was an imbalanced pairing, with the 2011 Clos Rougeard outclassed by the Roulot. On its own, the Rougeard would have been damn fine perhaps with its higher acidity and citrusy presentation, may have been better with the soup.
1972 Domaine Arnoux Vosne-Romanee 1st Cru Les Suchots
1990 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle
I’ll again leave the 1972 Arnoux details to the Burgundy experts, Fu and Charlie Carnes. They went off on a side debate over whether the Arnoux has been reconditioned. The bottle looked superb, super clean label, tight cork and high fill. I didn’t care, the nose beguiled me. Perhaps the most expressive aromatics of the evening, with ripe and earthy, almost gamey red and dark fruits, dried mushrooms and a hint of citrus. Medium to light-weight on the palate, bright acids, just lip-smackingly good though not necessarily profound. I would not have guessed a 45+ year old wine.
The 1990 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle is a bruiser. Gave forth all the hallmarks of a ripe vintage, heady nose of ripe dark fruits, rare meats, licorice and smoke. Not sure of the oak treatment on this wine, but it has an overt oak presence on the nose and palate. Big mouthfeel to this wine, still exceedingly young but exhibits considerable layering and density, more in the dark fruit range, wet earth, rare filet with a slight sear to it, closing with an almost Southern Rhone tar note. I enjoyed this wine much more than Charlie Carnes did, but it was interesting for me to see that my one buddy that leans more modern in wine tastes, this was his WOTN.
Pastell de Yucca, pork belly, filet and langosta
2006 Gonon St. Joseph Vieille Vignes
2009 Juge Cornas
2008 Chateau Fonsalette Reserve
A funky dish, a Cuban take on surf and turf, perhaps a bit too much going on, but what the heck.
The 2006 Gonon VV was a stunner. Arguably this was the most classic Northern Rhone of the evening. Had all the archetype notes of black olive, pepper, brine, bacon and ripe dark fruits. Had a notable perfume of stems as well. The palate was dense, full-bodied, meaty, with excellent texture and delineation among the dark fruit spectrum. Where this excelled above the La Chappelle, a wine of similar scale, is it had the high-toned quality to lift the weight of the materials. Like a heavy-weight boxer on light feet. Give this wine five more years. Again, this was excellent, and a notch about the also excellent 2007 Gonon VV that I had last year.
The 2009 Juge Cornas, poor thing, it was like the wimpy brother next to the 2006 Gonon. The 2009 Juge is a solid wine, I just find the presentation more overtly ripe fruits than the intoxicating, earthy aromatics and minerality of say vintages like 2011 and 2014. Always love the blood citrus notes in Juges. Showcased some wild dark fruits as well. Simple finish, not lingering like the Gonon.
And then Marc forgot to pop the Fonsalette. Our fail here.
But we did circle back to finish off the remainder of the Verset. Quite an ending to have this meal course with three notable Northern Rhones, all of which are arguable unicorns at this point. Or as Marc and I quipped: Fu’nicorns.
Olive oil cake with fruit compote
1965 Viuva Jose Gomes de Silva Colares Reserva Tinto
A Madiera would have been superb here, but vintage Colares with its old vine minerality and dry, saline presence, tends to pair quite well with dessert courses. Always a treat to enjoy these ante phylloxera wines grown literally right on the ocean in Portugal. And they taste like that place, hard to deny the concept of terroir when you drink a wine like this.
Thanks to the boys for making this a wonderful night! Cool that we all met through this website. MarcF is one of my closer friends and frequent drinking buddy, Charlie Carnes is just as cool of a cat as you will find, and we’ve gotten together four times over the last couple of years. Time to get the wives together as well. Great to finally meet and hang out with Fu in person, after we’ve been chatting for years online and by text/PM. A cool, gregarious guy!
For whatever reason, I cannot post pics from my iPad or iPhone to this website anymore. I used TinyPic for years, and now nothing loads. Post some pics if you can.