The Pearl 10th Anniversary Party, 12/06/09

Wendy, Elisabeth of currentVintage & Alison enjoying Laurnet-Perrier rosé champagne at The Pearl 10th Anniversary Party, 12/06/09. photo Gene Mahon

To Every wine I’ve loved before…

I remember that 1990 Nuits St George at Jean George so long ago.  And there was the Corton Charlemagne in the 18th century caves of Latour. Aged and amber white burgundies at Jadot.  A thimbleful of 1964 Lafite-Rothschild (it was a half bottle shared among 8).

While these were great vintages, it’s the circumstance I remember so vividly, because what makes a wine truly memorable is usually the setting in which it’s enjoyed…the pleasure of the table.  While I’m a little spoiled in the fine wine department, it doesn’t have to be all pomp–a backyard BBQ makes me so happy in summer.  Friends and food—they can make a good wine unforgettable.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt when the wines are from Burgundy, but the point is that wines do not always need a white tablecloth to shine.

On a wine trip last year, I had an impromptu 2004 Dierberg chardonnay with Jim Dierberg in his majestic home in Happy Canyon, outside Santa Barbara.  We thought that we would be guided around the spectacular Neverland-scale property by a winery rep, but Jim showed up, himself, and after a tour over hill and dale in his Range Rover, he invited us in to share a glass–such an unexpected treat!  We learned so much about the man, the wine, the land;  a brief, but lovely visit and memory.

Wine and food.  The exponential pleasure derived from the combo still leaves me giddy.  Just last spring, a bottle of the unusual, distinctive (and inexpensive) 07 Conti di Buscareto Lacrima di Morro d’Alba at the Little Owl in the West Village made a phenomenal meal even more so.  I bought it for the store and when I opened a bottle, it was so…different.  The wine had been but one part of the perfect tsunami that was a super-memorable evening.  It’s still interesting and intriguing, but at the Little Owl, it was sublime.  A 2003 Sea Smoke “Southing” had the same effect at Blackeyed Susan’s:  good food became outrageously so.  I’m still dreaming of the Guy Charlemagne cuvee our hosts popped for us just last month in Ireland–a perfectly lavish wine that reflected the warmth and generosity of our friends.

A 1969 Remoriquet, a Kistler chardonnay, some Puligny-Montrachet…the wines of 2009 could be the start of a great musical, or at least a nice haiku.

Top 5 Wines I’d like to find under the tree:

07 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc, $60 (sale $48 at currentVintage)

Lush, round and mouthfilling decadence.  They sell this by the ($24) glass at the Waverly Inn in NYC, a restaurant known for it’s extravagances, ie $55 truffle mac-n-cheese, no telephone reservations, larger-than-life clientele, that mural of who’s whos…The food is good, but not great, and the attitude borders on Theatre of the Absurd, but somehow the experience always exceeds the sum of its parts–and a glass of this wine plays a big part!

07 Radio-Coteau “Savoy” Chardonnay, $56 (sale $45)

This wine stood out in a line-up of standouts at my birthday dinner.   Even after magnums of Pax rosé and Bouchard Batard-Montrachet and others were served, this elegant Sonoma Coast chardonnay, with hint of pear and lots of finesse, provoked head-turning, label studying reactions from most.  This also reminds me of the Radio-Coteau “Las Colinas” syrah we had at American Seasons, which reminds me of another night at AS with a Loring pinot noir…

02 Bouchard Pere et Fils “Clos St Marc”, Nuits St Georges, $90 (sale $72)

What we love about Burgundy—nuance.  Lip-smacking, yet layered with a long and lovely finish. A  savory and sophisticated pinot that is ready to drink.  A favorite of my Mark—we savored it with burgers on a warm summer night.

05 Larkin Cabernet Franc, $72 (sale $58)

Sexy & voluptuous.  It was love at first sip with this one.  Reminds me of the old Secret commercial:  Strong enough for a man, yet made for a woman!  I don’t know if this is intentional, but I can just imagine charismatic Sean Larkin crafting wines with women in mind.  A Nantucket Wine Festival favorite, check out the cute photo of Sean in our previous post on him in the May 2009 archive (above right).

98 Billecart Salmon “Cuvee Elisabeth”, $175 (sale $140)

Another birthday treat, this champagne is pure beauty:  Stunning bottle, gorgeous pink-amber color, lovely to savor.

While most NV champagnes are carefully calibrated to maintain a consistent “House style”, a vintage champagne offers a snapshot of a particular vineyard in a spectacular year.  The house of Billecart-Salmon, established in 1818, is known for their rosés, with the “Cuveé Elisabeth” being the pinnacle.  This sophisticated, velvety and complex champagne fascinates.  I am thrilled that a champagne of this beauty and style has my name on it:  Elisabeth!

All I want for Christmas is…any of these wines that remind me of some really wonderful times in 2009.