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FOOD, WINE & FRIENDS PAGE 299

We hosted some Italian friends who are in the middle of a West Coast wine trip, visiting wineries as part of their research for an upcoming book about American wines.

Sommelier and Wine Expert Enrico Bernardo has already written a book about luxury wines...

This edition retails for $945!
CLICK HERE to read a review of the book.

We've known Elisa Bolognani for some years, as we met her winemaker father many years ago in Italy's Trentino region.
She worked for a winery in Italy's Veneto region until recently.

Elisa contacted us saying she and her friend Enrico Bernardo are planning to visit the West Coast and see many wineries in order to author another book about fancy American wines.

We met a week earlier and enjoyed lunch in San Francisco featuring delicious Dim Sum delights and I brought several California Rieslings; wines from various appellations to show that California has more than Chardonnay, Cabernet and Pinot Noir.

We extended an invitation to dine again, this time with home-cooking and some older vintages.

Many California wineries have been generously opening older vintages for them, but there are few wineries that have history going back more than a decade or two.  


So...

We began early one Sunday morning...

...and made an Apple Crumble.

Then we got to work on a seafood course to follow a Smoked Trout Salad.

And we prepared the parchement paper for the little seafood "packages."


Patagonian Toothfish with a large White Prawn topped with a tasty mix of diced vegetables with onions, garlic and capers...


There's no "video" to this snapshot despite the arrow in the photo misleading you...

We put together a few "nibbles" to pair with the sparkling wine.


The guests arrived and the first bottle was opened and enjoyed immediately.


2009 Roederer Estate "L'Ermitage."
This is the Tŕte de CuvÚe from the French-owned Roederer Estate winery in Mendocino.
It's Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with a small addition of "older" Reserve wine to add a measure of complexity.
They also use older wine for the wine's dosage.
The result is a top California bubbly, worthy of comparison to good French Champagnes.




We also hosted our little four-legged gourmand, Chewie.


To start the dining table festivities we opened two vintages of Stony Hill Riesling from Napa.
The 2008 was glorious!  The perfume was fruity with the typical petrol notes Riesling acquires when it becomes mature.
Not everyone appreciates this character in the wine, but if you're a certified Riesling fanatic, you enjoy this element.
We found a bottle of the 1994 and so we popped the cork on that, too."
It's more deep in color and still was good!
There was more honey to the 1994 and the wine was not quite as dry as the 2008.  It was a pleasant surprise.


Eau Yes!


Enrico brought a bottle of Kapcsßndy's Napa Valley Furmint, a small production version of this Hungarian grape.  We had planned to pair our seafood course with Massican's 2017 Napa Valley white blend called "Annia."  This is a blend of Friuli's Ribolla Gialla and Tocai Friulano grapes with 6% Chardonnay.

The two wines are bottle well-made and fresh, with nice fruity elements.

The Furmint is described by the winery as having notes of "honeysuckle, grapefruit, guava  and lychee."
I didn't encounter those elements in the wine, finding it mildly vinous and with a hint of fruit, but more neutral in terms of its character.

The Massican showed a bit more character, being somewhat stony and crisp...it worked nicely with the seafood in parchment paper, standing up to the capers that added a salty and tangy note to the fish.

Winnie was delighted to find a small seafood package just for her!

 

Chewie was interested in the seafood, too.

It's amazing this little fellow enjoys fish!

We prepared a Pink Grapefruit Sorbet as a palate cleanser.


 


As you might notice, Winnie finished her scoop of Pink Grapefruit Sorbet and now was "helping" her Mom.

Now we opened some older bottles of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.

The level of fill on this bottle was just at the top of the shoulder, but the wine was in pretty good condition...it seemed about right for the warmish 1974 vintage.
There was dark fruit and no wood on display.
Back in the 1970s Mayacamas was known for its bruiser bottles of Cabernet, much fuller than wines from their Napa Valley neighbors (BV, Krug, Mondavi, Louis Martini, etc.).
Today, sticking close to the original "recipe," their wines are more elegant and rather tame by the current standards.


Elisa Bolognani and Enrico Bernardo

I think I had the grill set at too high of a temperature, but the dish of "Lamb, Lamb and More Lamb!" still was enjoyable.

Oven-Roasted "Peewee" Potatoes.

And some Green Beans with Morels.


The bottle of Beaulieu Vineyards Private Reserve had lost its vintage sticker above the main label.  We suspect it was either 1964 or 1966, but could have been a 1965, as well.
This wine was stellar!
It's still alive and kicking, with beautiful red fruit notes and some cedary wood tones.  It's dry and smooth, being medium-bodied.
That was a thrilling bottle.

Winnie wasn't much interested in the old Cabernet, but she did enjoy the food.



"Geez...enough pictures!  I want to eat!!"

We opened several other bottles...

The Diamond Creek 1975 was corked...!!! Damn.
It would have been alive and a good contrast to the 1974 Mayacamas.
The 1975s were always in the shadows of the more fleshy 1974s, but when the wines were 15 to 20 years of age, we found many 1975s to be holding up better.

The 1992 Bryant was a good bottle...some dark fruit notes and a vaguely woodsy fragrance were on display.  Medium-full bodied...

We had one more bottle to open...

Robert Mondavi's 1973 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

This was another "old" wine but still of interesting character.  It was a medium-bodied red with old fragrances and an almost nutty aspect along the lines of the oxidation notes of a good Sherry.  But it wasn't totally gone or over-the-hill.
Surely that wine had seen better days.  The cork was lodged into the bottle loosely and we have found over the years than many old Mondavi bottles have had less-than-perfect closures.
Wines from Mondavi we had stored in some original boxes with the corks "down" to keep them moist had shriveled anyway.

And yet the cork from the old BV bottle from the mid-1960s was perfect!

 

As we were finished with the main course, it was time for dessert and we also had a few gifts.

 

Winnie just celebrated her second birthday, so naturally a few birthday presents were offered.

 

Her little brother was hoping for a present, too.

He actually scored a new shirt which he was delighted to wear and show off.

 

 


Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream

We paired the dessert with Beringer's Nightingale.  

It's a remarkably good bottle produced from Semillon with about 25%, give or take, of Sauvignon Blanc.

We told them the history of winemaker Myron Nightingale at Livermore's Cresta Blanca winery and then at Beringer.  Nightingale and his wife Alice were fascinated by the wines of Sauternes that were made with grapes affected by Botrytis cinerea.
Beringer makes a wine in their honor that is produced from botrytis-affected fruit.
This 2008 was marvelous, showing both creamy and honeyed notes.  The wine is rather sweet, but avoids being cloying thanks to ample acidity.
It was a really good finish to this little wine & food marathon.

Our little doll especially enjoyed the dessert and says she is anxious to return for more homemade gelato.

 

Thanks everyone for coming to dine (and wine)...

 

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