Dipping Into Your Cellar, Not Your Savings

I recently got the call to hang with a former colleague from NYC and I instantly went into “What wines am I going to bring?” mode. James was a chef in his past life so I felt I had to impress. We were going to start with a grilled Red Snapper and follow it up with Beef Tenderloin.  My mind went into overdrive with pairing possibilities – Bordeaux, Northern Rhone Syrah, Rioja, Sancerre,  Albarino, Burgundy.” I knew I might be over thinking, but I feel that wine professionals and aficionados alike take as much pleasure from introducing friends and family to great bottles as from drinking them.

Now let me rewind a second. I am by no means a “Master Sommelier”. I have a modest wine education and have only been working in this industry for 18 months. Only a couple of years ago I left a fairly lucrative position in New York with the hopes of finding another career path. I had an idealist approach, and predicted that I would find something that would make me a touch of money without taxing my soul, which I actually hold in pretty high regard.  As fate would have it, I found a position at Amanti Vino just in the nick of time, relieving me from that awkward conversation with my parents. You know, the one concerning my room, and if it was still available.  Had it yet become the “walk-through”, not “walk-in”, closet that my mother had always dreamed of?  Thankfully, I can say that I do love the new industry that I’m working in. I’m sure those millions are just around the corner.

Decade old Muscadet? Yes please!!

In all seriousness, one thing that I have found particularly pleasurable is introducing other people to what I feel are interesting wines.  After much consideration and conversation, I decided on the 2000 Muscadet Cote de Grand Lieu ($24.99) for first course, and the 1997 Trinchero Vigna del Noce Barbera d’Asti ($44.99) for the filet.

After the day on a lake, we started off the evening with a nice plate of charcuterie.  Jim had a bottle of 2002 Chianti Classico Contessa di Radda opened from the night before and it was showing beautifully. Mixed dark berries, cherries, a hint of leather, dust and mouth-watering acidity. This was such a delicious wine. I began to hope the bottles that I brought would be showing this beautifully.

The 2000 Cote de Grand Lieu is a new wine at Amanti Vino, but already a staff favorite. Made from the fruit of 45 year-old vines, this crisp white spends a minimum of 7 years on the lees.

After three years in the cellar, this wine is showing very well.  Notes of lime, yeast, and a briny minerality were all well balanced by the remarkable acidity.  The fish was finished at this point and it paired perfectly.  It also went extremely well with the charcuterie.  The acid of both the Muscadet and Chianti worked well with the fattiness of the cured meats and boldness of the cheese. I’m a total “acid-head” when it comes to wine and these couldn’t have been better.

The Trinchero Estate

As the tenderloin finished cooking we opened the 1997 Trinchero and let it sit about 20 minutes before pouring three full glasses.  The color was a deep, dark purple, and so concentrated that it seemed more like a wine from 2008. The aromas of dark cherry, mixed with menthol and leather, were easy to pick out as the smell seemed to leap from the glass. On the palate, this wine was everything that a true concessioner would enjoy. Like all great wines that have had some time to mellow in the bottle, this was perfectly balanced and displayed a silkiness impossible to find in younger bottlings.  There was a ton of black cherry, leather and earth, balanced well by a firm tannic structure and good acidity. It had serious length and was the kind of glass that takes the better part of forty minutes to finish. I was told that the most long-lived Barbera’s come from the town of Alba, but I really cant imagine a better example than this one from Asti.

Both wines turned out to be great, affordable choices and suggest them to anyone with a special occasion to celebrate.

Wes Kirk

Note: We will have the 2000 Muscadet open at the tasting bar on July 31st beginning at 2.

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1 Comment »

  1. Sharon said

    Wes,
    They sound like perfect pairings! It’s amazing that neither of the two older wines you selected are “supposed” to be ageworthy but you are quite right that they are! Thanks for your post!

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