#948 Posted: Aug 17, 2015 16:16
Had two excellent, older wines recently. P and I do birthday dinners each year at Big Burrito restaurants. They send each of us a $30 gift certificate. Her day is 9 days after mine. So of all of the Big Burrito restaurants, we usually do Eleven one night and Casbah the other weekend.
For my B-day, we did Casbah. We started with a Cremant de Bourgogne Rose from Jean-Luc Joillot, a great Pommard vingeron and winemaker. Many still-wine makers contract Cremant houses to make their sparklers. Vitteaut-Alberti is one of the best Cremant makers in Burgundy. It was beautiful and fruity with a dry, toasty taste. I think I like Cremant better than Chamagne but, then again, there are a lot of styles of both so it may be comparing apples and oranges. It went very well with our Tuna Tartar.
Our second wine was a Prodetorri del Barbaresco single vineyard 1997. The vineyard name began with an "M" which means it could be Muncagota, Montestefano or Montefico.
Now, '97 was, perhaps, the greatest vintage of the modern era, up to that time. Jim, the rep from the importer, Vias, who handles these wines and many other Italians, said it wasn't even a Renaissance, or Re-birth. He said that Italy had never really had a year like 97, where the weather and more modern techniques combined to make a great vintage. They had never been so good and had never fallen for this to be called a re-birth.
I had a chance to taste each Prodetorri wine in order at a tasting in New York with Vias. From the simple Lange to the blended Barbaresco through each single vineyard, it was amazing to try them in that order and see the differences a few miles separation on a hillside could change the taste of a wine. This was in the mid 2000s.
Anyway, this wine was showing its age with a brick color and orange-ish rim. It did have the earthy, aged nose typical of an 18 year old wine - even a Nebbiola. But there was deep, aged fruit that went perfectly with my pork chop and P's lamb loin. For those who like well-aged wines, this would do...but without fanfare. We had one bottle bought back in the early 2000s and figured it's time to start drinking these orphans before they grow too old. I could have used more punch but it was a worthy wine. It was, perhaps, just a bit tired out.
For P's night at Eleven, we decided to sparkle again with the Joillot Cremant Rose. This time, we had a cantaloupe gazpacho and an heirloom tomato salad with peach, smoked burrata, French oaked balsamic, basil, and toasted pumpkin seeds. The Cremant did OK with the gazpacho but it was dynamite with the salad. There were so many flavors in the salad and the texture of the pumpkin seeds was a perfect "al dente" (nicely toasted flavor and consistency).
The second wine was a 1988 Le Bon Pasteur. We were very worried about this wine as the sommelier worked hard to remove the cork. He tried the kind of wine key that has two...knives (?) that go into the bottle on either side of the cork and USUALLY allow you to pull out a difficult cork. Unfortunately, the cork was pushing in easily and we were afraid it might not be good. I suggested we just go with the cork pushed into the bottle and then decanted. He took it in back and them came back out with the dregs of the bottle and a filled decanter. He said, "I think we're OK with this one." and put on a sly smile.
P and I took a nice sniff and were very hopeful. It was deep strawberries and age. But the wine was deep purple with almost no sign of aging around the edge. I suggested it smelled of strawberries and the ground in which it was planted. It had that wonderfully earthy smell of an aged Bordeaux.
All I can say is that it was wonderful! It was better than the Barbaresco and was perfectly ready to be drunk. I think it could go longer but I don't think it would improve with extra time. It was perfect with our tenderloins, which I don't usually order in a restaurant. Again, it was the accompaniments that made up our minds. Our steak was served with red wine essence, creamed leek & spinach, marrow hollandaise, pastrami,
boulangerie marble potatoes. I always believe that the sauces determine what wine to have. The red wine essence brought out the wine flavor as did the marrow hollandaise.
Now the kicker...this wine had a price on it. Not from the PLCB, I think. Probably picked up in DC or NYC or Chicago. It had only cost $25!.
So I hope you don't find this long-winded. If so, please let me know and I will edit better the next time. :-) I hope you enjoyed it. We enjoyed the wines and (gulp) the birthdays.