||The bottle was obtained by my friend Seth. Trent and Bridgitte
hosted the dinner. We were joined by Seth's girlfriend Melissa and a physics
post-doc, Simon. David Russell, wine buyer at the Wine Cask, joined us
for the first half of the dinner/tasting.
The Essentia had been decanted 24 hours earlier to allow the wine to
begin to open up. I poured the portions before dinner began. The wine it
so thick that it is easy to pour slowly, even a few drops at a time, to
be sure that the glasses are evenly filled.
The dinner was planned to allow the Essencia to be sampled at the beginning
of the meal and then finished at the end. What better way to start than
with foie gras (works nicely with Sauternes, so why not Tokaji?). Since
I had experience cooking foie gras, I got the dish going in the kitchen
while everyone sipped:
NV Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru Brut Tradition Cuvee Vielles Vignes--Although
this is NV, this example was, I think, from the bottling of the 89 vintage
and had a few years of cellar age. Very nice moussey mouthfeel. Moderate
acidity, Very small bubbles. Slight toastiness, not exagerated. Grapefruit,
Mandarine orange, bitter almond flavors. 90+/100
Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Grilled Fresh Figs, Balsamic and Madiera
Duck Demiglace Reduction, with Extra Vecchio Balsamico on Wild Rice Blini
finished in Black Truffle Butter.
Yam, Potato and Saffron Soup
Grilled Pizzas-- Sundried Tomato and Balsamic sauce, Chicken,
Avocado, Onion, Bell Pepper, Gorgonzola, Mozarella and Parmesan
Garlicky Grilled Eggplant and Bell Pepper Puree, Vine Ripened Tomatoes,
Mozarella and Parmesan Cheese.
Shrimp Cakes with Chive Vinaigrette
Asparagus with Hazelnuts in an Orange/Green Olive Vinaigrette
Lime-Thyme Sorbet with Bombay Sapphire Gin
Grilled Rack of Lamb with Risotto Cakes on Frisee
Desserts-- Lemon Almond Tart Chocolate-Lined Profiteroles with Blueberry
Sauce (not Blewitt Grenache!) Loquat Creme Brulee
Going back and forth between the Vouvray and the Tokaji with dessert, I
realized that either of these wines could have been dessert itself.
The Vouvray held its own because of its acidity. The Tokaji, of course,
had its powerful smashing sugar level to get my attention.
93 Ch. Pajzos Tokaji Essencia (565 g/l residual sugar)--Amber gold.
Thick as maple syrup. Faint nose of orange blossoms, apricot, lemongrass.
Thick mouth texture, like a thin honey. Flavors of honey, orange marmalade.
Good acidity, but so overwhelmed by the sugar syrup you hardly notice it.
I rated this 95+. No doubt this will rate closer to 100 in about 50 years,
but that's not the point. (WS rated this 99 now.) The wine went very well
with the foie gras, especially as I had garnished the plate with some homemade
candied orange zest, a really perfect touch with the Tokaji. The 565 g/l
residual sugar is not a misprint. That is about 60%% sugar by weight. The
grapes were harvested at over 600 g/l. I don't know what that is on the
Brix meter, but I cannot imagine anything much higher.
76 J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese--Apricot gold.
Nose of botrytis, honey. Decent acidity, balanced, some acceptable bitterness
on the attack. Apricot, pineapple. Good 15 second finish. 92. I came back
to this toward the end of the meal, about 2 hours after the bottle had
been opened. Very open bouquet, complex nose. Very smooth, but seems a
bit low in acidity to carry the finish. Mid-palate flavored like Juicyfruit
87 Calera Pinot Noir Jensen Vineyard--Dark violet. Woody, vegetal,
nose with hints of radish. Firm tannins, briary blackberry nose. A bit
acidic, mild vegetal flavors, but still quite intense, firmly strucutred.
Bitter plummy finish. Somewhat off. 84
94 Dominique Laurent Clos de la Roche Grand Cru--Dark Burgundy red
(duh!). Closed up. Perfumey nose. A bit of horsey, earthy aromas.
Sweet attack, very light textured. Elegant. Fine tannins, but fruit is
supressed. After 20 minutes, anise bouquet. Opening up more after 30 minutes.
Candy apple nose. Showing oak in mid-palate, finish. Thin fruit in middle.
88+ After 3 hours, opened up, sweet fruit emerges. This will
no doubt get better with a few years of cellaring, but like most 94s, it
leaves me wanting more ripe fruit intensity.
82 Muga Rioja Gran Reserva (Magnum)--Medium red-violet. Very big
earthy nose. Faded tannins, somewhat acidic finish. Cigar box, smelly socks,
cedar. Thin fruit (not atypical in older Rioja), tart finish. 87
91 Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne--Very dark red violet. Sweet,
briary cassis, bacony nose. Very tight structure. Good fruit. Fine but
puckery tannins. Smooth on mid-palate. Big oak. Blueberry. After 20 minutes,
the syrah fruit profile emerges. After 45 minutes, opening up, palate filling
out. Big, tannic, long. Very intense. Layered mid-palate. Full. 93 This
wine is still a few years away from its peak. Try around 2002. A
beaute of a wine that went really well with the lamb.
90 Foreau Vouvray Molleaux--Incredible garnet color, darker than
the Essentia. Very botrytised nose. Minerals, roses. Very smooth, good
acidity, very sweet. Alcoholic nose. Rose hips, some mandarin orange. 95.
This wine will last for decades and should improve its complexity. It shames
the Prum Auslese by comparison.
The foods were great, even outshining the wines in my mind. All the
foods were homemade, even the wonderful desserts. Trent prepared the soup
and lamb. I did the foie gras, sorbet and creme brulee. Bridgitte was responsible
for most the rest of the food, with help from Trent, and did a superb job!