On Friday evening I left Milo with my Brother and walked four whole blocks to Kris and Ken’s place, where Mary was having the Thoreau Wine Society’s first annual dinner for her favorite customers. Kris cooked us a masterful meal, with each dish even more refined than usual- which is saying a great deal. The flavors were laser-sharp and the portions perfect. There were ten of us, which meant that we were able to make our way through as many bottles (we all brought one) without sinking into utter dumb, and everyone was interesting and knowledgeable. It was as good as I had hoped.
Here’s the menu:
1. Seared scallops with potato-chestnut purée
2. Corvino (croaker) with coconut jasmine rice, fava beans, and carrot reduction
3. Slow-braised pork belly with ginger/tamarind/cardamom-infused bacon consommé
4. Duck breast with wilted dandelion greens and poached rhubarb
5. Selles-sur-Cher and Piave
The pork belly
In order, we drank these wines, covering roughly two per course:
2006 Domaine de L’Ecu Muscadet “Expression de Gneiss”
2005 Domaine Ostertag Riesling Fronholz
2003 Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru “Le Cailleret”
2002 Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru “Les Vides Bourses”
2003 Domaine Cheze Saint-Joseph “Cuvée Ro-Rée”
2001 Brovia Barolo Garblèt Sue’
2004 Dutch Henry Chafen Vineyards Syrah
2006 Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir
2003 Charles Audoin Marsannay “Les Favières”
1970 Volnay (Corked; undrinkable)
1982 Château Canon
1970 Almeida Vintage Port
Mary with the ill-fated Volnay
The first two whites were good entries, but I wasn’t paying a lot of attention; there were introductions, opening the bottle I brought, and unwrapping the plates I brought our hosts as a gift. Scotty’s Riesling had a nice moment with the scallops. The two white Burgundies were very good, and so different- the Chassagne had an astonishingly dense marzipan aroma and distinct nuttiness after the more restrained and minerally Puligny. I love tasting similar wines together; the depth of understanding is so much more profound.
To welcome the pork, the Cheze I brought worked well, and fooled the experts into guessing that it was an old Chave Hermitage or similar. That right there is why I love this wine; for $20 it tastes like 10 times as much. The pork belly was meltingly tender, with crispy skin, and the broth was insanely subtle, rich, and seamlessly layered. Beautiful. The Barolo needed some time, so we left it in glasses to open up while we moved on.
Both New World wines were a little out of place, but characteristic in their way. The syrah was big, jammy, and hot, and the NZ pinot had a nice nose, but never opened up in the mouth. The Marsannay, on the other hand, was a surprisingly rich, round mouthful of sex that made for an insane pairing with the duck and rhubarb. Damn. Unfortunately, the Volnay was completely ruined. Also Damn, but in a different way. The 82 Canon, however, had gone to that gorgeous, cedary place where old Bordeaux can go, and in the nimble, delicate, elegant way that St. Emilions in particular possess. And by this time, the Barolo had gotten all cheese-friendly so we enjoyed it as a special bonus. The port was perfect, not cloying, and was unbelievably sympatico with walnuts and a creamy blue that I’ve blanked on the name of (I had a mere post-it for all my notes; it’s amazing I got this much.)
All photos by Sam Greenfield.