TN: Cooking for the Kesslers (and drinking some great wine with them, too!)- with pics

Every July, for the past eight or so years in a row now, I take a vacation out to California and a dinner and overnight stay at Lou and BettuyLu’s home in Napa has become a highlight of that trip. Thankfully, I get to return their unbelievable generosity and hospitality when they make what seems to have become an annual October visit to NYC to take in the current crop of Broadway shows and to enjoy the city’s other cultural highlights. This past Saturday, it was my pleasure to play host to them and to Chris Coad and Lisa Allen for dinner.

Last year I roasted a whole suckling pig for the dinner. This year, with a smaller group, I repeated the porcine theme, but kept it to a rack of Berkshire pork. Christine Huang recently told me of a great new butcher called Heritage Meats that opened in the Essex Market, so I gave them a go and was not disappointed. It was a great piece of pork. In addition to the rack, I started with a butternut squash risotto and served a celery root, parsnip and apple puree and sauteed zucchini, yellow squash, shiitake mushroom and snap pea dish with the pork. For dessert, Christine, who couldn’t make the dinner as she was baking 300 Red Eye Crack Lovechild cupcakes for a bacon competition, kindly donated a few to the cause and we had those after a cheese course.

It’s always a pleasure to see Lou and BettyLu. Wonderful food, wine, conversation and laughter always follows.



  • 2009 André-Michel Brégeon- Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie - France, Loire Valley, Pays Nantais, Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine
    Full of ripe yellow fruits and citrus with a nice briny character and mineral. It shows the vintages fatness with a slightly plump texture, but there’s more than adequate acid to keep things fresh. B+.
  • 2000 Domaine Weinbach- Riesling Cuvée Ste. Catherine - France, Alsace, Alsace AOC
    Shows nice ripeness and a honeyed persona in a dry package. There’s pleasant citrus flavors and aromas with just a hint of tropicalness to it with a bit of mineral. It’s just picking up a bit of petrol. Good length and a pretty rich mouthfeel given the dry character. Low A-.
  • 2008 François Cazin (Le Petit Chambord)- Cour-Cheverny Vendanges Manuelles Cuvée Renaissance - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Cour-Cheverny
    I love this stuff and have been going through a case of it way too quickly. Shows just as it should with its quince, mineral and raspberry profile. Lightly sweet, but backed by vivacious, lip-smacking acidity. Not quite the heights as the '96, but very close and right up there with the '02 as my second favorite. No problems aging this one. A/A-.
  • 1983 Trimbach- Riesling Clos Ste. Hune - France, Alsace, Hunawihr, Alsace AOC
    A little reticent at first and showing just a lime and mineral character, it really filled in and blossomed with air and took on a more tropical personality with guava and mango notes backed up by lime and mineral. Rich and mouthfilling, but with dazzling structure, it’s like Catherine Deneuve in the '80’s, mature, confident, classy and oh so sexy. Just wonderful with the spice rubbed rack of pork. A.
  • 1990 Château Montrose- St. Estèphe - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    A gorgeous showing and one of the cleanest bottles I’ve had. There’s no brett whatsoever to be found. Huge, dense and bursting with rich black currant and plummy fruit, it doesn’t show the dry Port-like character until much later in the evening after it had been opened a while. There’s a nice herbal component I had never really detected before. While large-scaled, it’s lost its youthful tantrums and is showing a more integrated and softened character than previous bottles. That said, it’s got a long life ahead of it and seems to be just entering its peak drinking period as there’s just the start of secondary development. A+/A.
  • 1989 Catherine et Pierre Breton- Bourgueil Grand Mont - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Bourgueil
    Shows a lot of potting soil on the nose with a strong green pepper element with red fruit in the background. Thankfully, it’s the dark red fruit that leads the way on the palate with soil, green pepper and herb tagging a long behind. Nice ripeness to the cherries, though it does retain a pleasant crunchiness. The green notes are also starting to shift to the more pleasant tobacco realm. The wine picks up an interesting and not overdone pine note on the finish. Still a lot of life left here. Low A-.
  • 1989 Huët- Vouvray Moelleux 1ère Trie Le Mont - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    A great end to a wonderful evening. Popped and poured, so it took awhile for it to get going, especially aromatically, but it eventually opened up to show a lot of wooliness with apricot, pineapple, earl grey tea and mineral flavors and aromas. Sweet, but not as sweet as it has been and, of course, balanced perfectly by its acid backbone. It starts to pick up a hint of marmalade character, but the bottle was downed too quickly to really see how the wine would develop. Beautiful wine. A.

Posted from CellarTracker

Some pics from the evening.

The group.

The wine.

A nice rack.

That’s a thick fat cap! (I didn’t have it Frenched as the butchers talked me out of it.)



All done.

Let’s take another look at that.

Butternut squash risotto.


Christine’s Red Eye Crack Lovechild cupcake.

That Clos Ste Hune is a beauty.

Great photography there, Brad - it looks like you did yeoman’s work with that pork rack.

When I lived in Chicago, Everest restaurant used to have both the '82 & '83 Clos Ste. Hune on the wine list in 375 - I’ve done that side-by-side five or six times, and always enjoyed the '83.

Beautiful pictures. Nice job on the food.

I hear ya. I’ve never been much of a fan of the '82… Just so much more going on in the '83, riper and better balanced, imo.