Dinner at Triomphe (New York) with Manuel, Josie, etc- 24/4/04

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    #1
    N_Neocleous

    Dinner at Triomphe (New York) with Manuel, Josie, etc- 24/4/04

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    I had been in touch with a few of my New York friends to organise an offline to meet several ‘names’. All of them were familiar to me in one shape or form and the date was set. The venue was the venerable Le Triomphe in New York and the kick-off was 20:00 hours. I must firstly thank Paul Jaouen for organising this whole event which took maturity, planning and diplomacy skills, all of which Paul has in spades. Also thanks to everyone for coming along and bringing the wines that they did to share.

    The players for this evening’s wine marathon were:

    a) Paul and Sandy Jaouen: “Charming New Jersey couple, and Sandy finally knows where the best wines are in their cellar”;
    b) Dan and Jane Myers: “Dan was humorous and it was good to meet Jane”;
    c) Steve “Yellow canary shirt/enjoys a glass or two of fine wine” Manzi;
    d) Bill and Pam Laurence: “ Hospitable and fun company”;
    e) Manuel Camblor and Josie Castrodad: “Manuel aka ‘The Latin Liquidator’ was on top form and Josie enjoyed the stimulating dinner conversation;
    f) Nicos “Your humble visitor and official scribe from England” Neocleous;
    g) Nuray “Still visiting from Toronto/delightful company” Ali;
    h) Michel “knowledgeable wino/good sense of humour” Abood.

    I would like to add that the various courses were all excellent and the service was on top form. We were in the private dining room and everything ran smoothly, so well done on a great effort.

    Before I detail the wines, here are some pointers on the tone of the evening:

    - Several comments on hair, or lack of it. Egos were challenged, bets were taken and shirts were undone. I am still unsure if there was an overall winner.

    - Much talk of overbuying of wine in the past, present and probably the future!

    - Which wines were the best for entertaining the ladies. Obvious examples including Champagne (rose, especially with strawberries), fine Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, dessert wines and even Vintage Port.

    - Bikini waxing for men. Bill Laurence brought this one up, I think.

    - A little light politics (well, not that light!).

    - US reality TV shows.

    - Michel Abood started ‘fisting’ the 2001 Dreaming Detective bottle due to the depth of its punt. Manuel Camblor was soon to follow.

    - There was an after dinner party for a select few, so read on for more fun happenings!

    My impression of the night’s wines was as follows:

    White flight
    1) 2002 Viognier – (Central Coast, California, USA)
    2) 1997 Kistler – Vine Hill Vineyard – Russian River (California, USA)
    3) 1998 Kongsgaard Chardonnay (Napa, California, USA)

    Red flight 1
    4) 1990 Les Cailloux (Chateauneuf du Pape, S.Rhone, France)
    5) 1989 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe (Chateauneuf du Pape, S.Rhone, France)

    Cornas flight
    6) 2000 Cornas – Cuvee Vieilles Vignes – Alain Voge (N.Rhone, France)
    7) 2000 Cornas – Granit 30 – Vincent Paris (N.Rhone, France)
    8) 1999 Cornas – Chaillot - Thierry Allemand (N.Rhone, France)
    9) 1999 Cornas – Noel Verset (N.Rhone, France)

    Cote Rotie/Hermitage flight
    10) 1995 Cote Rotie – La Landonne – Rene Rostaing (N.Rhone, France)
    11) 1990 Hermitage La Chapelle – Jaboulet (N.Rhone, France)
    12) 2000 Hermitage La Chapelle – Jaboulet (N.Rhone, France)

    USA Rhone varietals flight
    A caveat here. This was my first time tasting this style of wines and I found it difficult to apply a numerical rating. I have done my best to describe them.

    13) 1995 Sine Qua Non – “The Other Hand” (Arroho Grande, California, USA)
    14) 2001 Sine Qua Non - “Midnight Oil (Keep it burning)” (Ventura, California, USA)
    15) 2001 Kongsgaard Hudson Vineyard (Napa, California, USA)
    16) 2001 Red Car Thompson Vineyards – “The Dreaming Detective” (California, USA)

    Dessert wines flight
    17) 2002 Icewine – Inniskillin – Vidal (VQA Niagara Peninsula)
    18) 1910 Solero – Pedro Ximinez – Alvear – (Mantilla Moriilles DO, Spain)

    Post dinner session
    After the dinner, a select few received an invitation for more fun in New York. It must have been just after midnight when a few hardcore winos, myself included

    #2
    MCamblor
    en respuesta a N_Neocleous

    In My Aviary...

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    Let’s see, a note from the aviary here... I deeply resent the naming of that group of white wines as a ";flight."; Clunkers, one and all, no more capable of flight than a penguin with the immense ass of a certain wine ";guru"; we all know attached to it. Josie is a quiet girl, yes, but when she delivers a negative assessment of a wine, it’s usually deadlier than yours truly can ever wish for. About that Garretson ";Viognier"; (felt more like stewed Marsanne laced with Bubble Yum to me) she said that it reeked of pineapple juice left to go off in a child’s school lunchbox (the kind of thing that puts you off pineapple forever).

    The Kistler Chardonnay was tired and hollow. I could sense what they had tried to do and failed miserably to accomplish. Such a wine never ";integrates,"; it only disintegrates.

    In relative terms, the Kongsgaard Chardonnay wasn’t as bad as I remember it from tasting it on release a few years ago. The excessive alcohol is still there, but some other elements have como to the fore and are trying desperately to create an illusion of equilibrium. Still, at its price level, I have only one name for any prospective buyers to consider: Montrachet. Anything else is wasting time.

    One of the more surprising things about the lead-up to this ";offline’ was that Paul Jaouen said I needn’t bring any whites, that there were enough whites of the table already ";for the white wine drinkers."; Of course, ";enough’ can be interpreted in many ways. I do agree that three Californian attempts at ";white wine"; (";flabby golden treacle"; is a truer descriptor of the product in question, but never mind) are more than enough. But we had no real whites for balance. I see a crusade shaping up. I must make Savennieres-and-Riesling acid freaks out of that bunch... It’s the least I can do.:-)

    A disturbing aspect of your post, my dear Nicos: Pink Champagne, ";especially with strawberries?"; Wha? From which Emily Post clicheed nightmare did that emerge? Most nice, young pink Champagne does have an inbuilt component of pink strawberries, but adding fruit smacks of the ludicrous. Besides, in most of the cases i recognize (let’s say the older vintages of Heidsieck, Vilmart ";Rubis,"; Selosse, Fleury, Billiot, etc.) we’re talking about serious wine,not some sort of confectionery sugar thing one adds to fruit in order to make the tartlet du jour giggle and squeal with delight... :-P

    The reds: The Cornas thing was a good idea. though I fear I may have shot myself in the foot and will see the price of my allocaitons of Allemand go up dramatically. When I got home I found the wine from Vincent Paris I kept talking about. Tucked into a corner, behind where the other four bottles had been, looking insulted.

    The California ";Syrahs..."; Again, I use the variety’s name with strong reservations, since the fruit confections in question could very well have come from the unholy matrimony of Concord with lots of new oak. Paying for one bottle of any of these wines is overbuying, if one is banking on some sort of return (sensorial or otherwise) on one’s investment. Of course, for a laugh with a few friends, hey, a couple of hundred bucks is nothing. Besides, Michel and I got to fist the bottle in the punt a deux... Man, those are the moments!

    One of these days I’ll get to posting the full horror of my own notes on the events surrounding Nicos’ visit to Manhattan. Of course, when that shall be, no one knows, since I seem to have a backlog of about 200 ";chronicles"; I need to spiff up for public consumption.

    M.

    #3
    N_Neocleous
    en respuesta a MCamblor

    Wine & women, and your role as a critic

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    Ok Manuel,

    I think we are pretty much agreed on the wines. I am glad I asted them as it gave me an insight into wines I have only read about.

    Firstly, I’d like to hear some romantic combinations of wines from you. You think champagne should not be interferred with the addition of strawberries, so what can you recommend? Remember, my culnary skills are less developed than yours.

    Secondly, I did not realise you had such an similar effect onn the New York wine scene with your reviews. I am sure you will start a rush for Allemand. It’s a crying shame that Verset is now retired and I will have to console myself in the future with the few bottles of his Cornas that I own. Ladies and gentleman, this is TRADITIONAL WINE at its very best.

    N

    #4
    MCamblor
    en respuesta a N_Neocleous

    Bottled Romance

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    I was half-joking with the Allemand bit. The wine trickles into Manhattan, so scoring a couple of bottles is a trick. If word spreads to the Parkerites, many of whom have much deeper pockets than I, well, the current $70 price tag for the Chaillots will be a fond memory soon.

    In terms of romance and wine, concretely Champagne, I tend to believe that a great Champagne needs very little accompaniment when the mood is right, and that most of the stuff people try to foist upon it as a ";match"; only hinders things. Then again, I also believe that great Champagne is, first and foremost, great wine and, as such, should be accorded respect. Which, to me, means that I like to go into the kitchen and make something good to match it, preferably real food. Forget the strawberries, or the raspberries, which you wouldn’t normally eat in the middle of a romantic dinner, anyway, and treat the wine like you would the lady...

    Many pinks, especially when they are all-Pinot, develop all sorts of earthy nuances with some bottle age. One of my favorite food pairings, considering this, involves bay scallops, pan-seared, in a cream of morel mushroom sauce. Easy to do (two pans, really, salt, pepper, cream, morels, butter, shallots, bay scallops, maybe some chives for garnish... Proceed logically and with love of your fine ingredients). You can follow that with another nice pink bubbly and give your lady, let’s say, Alain Sanderens’ ";Saumon Shizo"; (essentially king salmon filets en papillotte with julienned carrots, scalliions and mangetout peas, with a Shoyu soy reduction thickened with butter); you can talk about Paris and that, as you well know, always suggests both romance and getting full-frontal freaky.

    Of course, the next morning you can do some chorizo croques monsieur (use a really nice Gruyere and a thickly-sliced brioche loaf for best effect on the griddle); with this, the fantastic Billiot rose is perfect. Talk about breakfast in bed... You could be home for days. Play some Roy Ayers and Joni Mitchell’s ";Hejira"; for the full contrasty, I’m so glad it’s morning, yet I’m sad our night is over, must you go, oh baby, stay"; effect. Mind you, you can also do very well with this supersimpledish/seduction approach using another of Billiot’s fine creations, a cuvee he makes using his small quantity of Chardonnay, which he names after his daughter: ";Cuvee Laetitia."; You could perhaps switch the cheese in the croques from that gruyere to something goatish andcreamier (everything is innuendo, my boy) and you could argue for the white bubbly in terms of variety being the spice of life.

    Of course, if the sex is awesome and your lady can (a) appreciate the tunes and (b) hold her wine down as well as what I describe here would require, you’d be wise not to let her go too far; she’d a real keeper.

    M.

    #6
    MCamblor
    en respuesta a N_Neocleous

    A Few of My Favorite Things...

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    Seems I answer the question about Champagnes at least once a week. No secret that I have very little beyond contempt for the big, Luxury-Goods-Conglomerate-driven houses. You know whom I mean, right?

    But luckily, a large (and ever increasing) number of growers all over the region have taken matters in their own hands and, instead of selling the fruit they grow to a tacky handbag-maker, are making wine with incredible results.

    Off the top of my head, some producers I follow assiduously:

    Gaston Chiquet
    Aubry
    Henri Billiot
    Egly-Ouriet
    Pierre Moncuit
    Fleury
    Larmandier-Bernier
    Lallement
    Jacques Selosse (though only for the pink, since his other bottlings have failed to convince me)
    Drappier
    Gatinois
    Jean Milan
    Vilmart

    But hey, instead of just goingthrough my rotting old brain thinking ";who else, who else?";, I should just point you to the most logical place, the Terry Theise catalogue. After all, I tend to buy almost anything from Austria, Germany or Champagne, if it has his name on the back label. Just google his name. A truly fine, extremely knowledgeable sourcer and importer of value wines whose judgment one can trust almost blindly (I only do that with one other name, the ubiquitous Louis-Dressner) and who is a joy to read, on top of it all.

    M.

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