Food Wine & Friends Page 253
We hosted the esteemed John Downing of Los Angeles for dinner
on a cool February evening and were joined by San Francisco's Paige Granbeck and
We began by popping the cork and metal closure off a bottle of
Movia's 2005 Puro Rose.
This is made by a famed Slovenian winemaker who seals the bottles with a cork
and fastened with a metal strap...it's essentially an Un-Disgorged Sparkling
wine and so the spent yeast remains in the bottle.
When Mr. Downing and I paid a visit to Movia a few years ago, we were treated to
the little bit of theater which makes this bubbly so enticing...
The cork is being pulled out by winemaker Ales Kristancic using a gizmo he made
for just such an occasion.
The pressure in the bottle shoots the yeast and sediment out of the bottle and
you'll lose about 20-30% of the contents in the process.
This is hardly practical in most restaurants, especially given some wait
staffers have difficulty operating a corkscrew...but for someone at home, even a
thoroughly chilled bottle is prone to showering the room with wine!
(I suspect the pressure in the bottle is fairly high...or, at least, slightly
higher than a bottle of normally-disgorged bubbly.)
Ales Kristancic and a glass of Puro Rose...
Well, we were in Burlingame, California, not Slovenia and I'd had our bottle
standing upright in the 'fridge for several days. This allowed the
sediment to settle. I attempted tp pry the metal piece from the side of
the bottle and the guests wondered what was going on in this wrestling match as
the bottle seemed to be getting the better of me.
The cork popped off the bottle and wine went cascading around the kitchen!
It's made entirely of Pinot Noir and even with careful pouring, you can see our
glasses are not as clear as the one Ales poured back in Slovenia.
Still, the wine tasted good...better, in fact, than I remembered it showing on
its home turf.
Olives stuffed with Anchovies...Dolmas...Columbus brand Cacciatore Salame and
some Macadamia Nuts...
We toasted the Birthday Boy...
I fired up my Risotto pot in the kitchen, keeping an eye on it
while enjoying the nibbles and bubbly.
Chuck opened a bottle he'd brought for the occasion, an
Elderton Sparkling Shiraz, quite a rarity!
The Elderton winery offers a bubbly but once a decade, coinciding with milestone
2008 Vintage Elderton Sparkling Shiraz...deep, inky color...lovely ripe plum and
blackberry fruit...a touch of a woodsy spice note, too.
Big and full on the palate, this is no shrinking violet!
This wine marks the 30th anniversary of the Ashmead family's purchase of the
winery from the descendants of Samuel Elderton Tolley.
As we sat down at the dinner table, John discovered a Post-It note from an
We began with some home-baked bread and a dipping sauce
comprised of Parsley, Garlic, Black Olives, More Garlic, More Parsley and Olive
We started with a little salad topped with Grilled Shrimp
which were wrapped with Prosciutto and Basil...
The wine was a Louis Bovard Sauvignon Blanc from Switzerland, a Grand Cru
Epesses which takes the proprietary name "Buxus."
We had read glowing reviews of this wine and were interested in trying it...
And the wine was quite nice, but far from justifying its $65 price tag.
Mildly herbal and lightly minerally, it's a perfectly pleasant dry white, but
not the complex sort of wine which you'd feel compelled to spend that much
Mushroom Risotto...Carnaroli rice cooked in a broth of Porcini, with
Portabellas, Pioppinis and Champignons.
We opened a 2003 Silvio Grasso Barolo...
A customer had purchased one this past weekend and sent a note saying it was
raisiny and reminded him of Lodi Zinfandels...
We decanted our bottle and the wine reminded us of good Barolo. John was
saying he regrets not setting aside more 2003s since "good ones are really
good and a bit over-looked."
The decanter was drained dry...a telling indicator of the quality of this wine!
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, we had some Lamb
"T-Bones" on the grill.
Chuck took care of opening the bottle of Grant Burge's Meshach
which Paige had brought.
But before we got to tasting that wine, we had a nice little
Sorbet made from a young, fruity Beaujolais made by Jackie Gauthier.
And so I got busy in the kitchen to take care of presenting
the main plates...
The Meshach Shiraz displays a beautifully woodsy quality from the American oak
cooperage in which it is matured. Still young, despite being 20 years old,
the Grant Burge wine was an Australian classic!
Guigal's Vignes de L'Hospice is made entirely of Syrah and it's matured in small
French oak barrels...beautifully berryish and nicely cedary...the wine is quite
enjoyable now and altogether charming.
I'd gone to Burlingame's THE
CAKERY to pick up a suitable birthday dessert...
And we had a nice little Porto alongside the Chocolate Cake...
The 1994 Pocas is closing in on maturity, even in half bottle format.
Nice red fruits showing on the nose and palate...very good!
John, then, made a wish...
I believe Mister Hayward is signaling he's a fan of the TV Show Hawaii Five-O.
In any event, we'd reached the end of the line and Caltrain was soon to be
arriving in Burlingame, on its way to San Francisco...so everyone gathered up
their stuff and made tracks for the Burlingame station.
Thanks for coming, all y'all.
And thanks for the splendid wines you brought!
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