On the first Wednesday of December, the Vino Fino Tasters once
again were allowed to have the annual holiday wine & food marathon at San
Francisco's Metropolitan Club.
San Francisco's Union Square was decked out in all its holiday decorations and
we trekked up Powell Street to the Sutter Street venue.
We set about decanting everyone's well-cellared wines and then
then opening the first magnum of Agrapart's delightful Champagne.
Allan Anderson goes fishing for oysters...
Yes, Virginia, that IS a 1967 Chteau d'Yquem alongside the 1959 Chteau
Suduiraut and Louis Latour's Corton Charlemagne.
John McGlothlin and Ernie Anderson.
Jack Sweitzer made sure not to be standing underneath the mistletoe this year.
Mark Naismith dives for shrimp.
Alex Hoeppen enjoys the Champagne.
As does Doug Moke...
Otstott heard the 'pop' of another Champagne cork and immediately teed up a
room was nicely decorated and festive for the holiday season.
Someone suggested next year they decorate a French oak instead of a pine tree,
but Ernie pointed out some winery would be better served if the oak was turned
into barrels instead of a holiday season decoration.
Tim lead the group in a toast...
...naturally in his ausgezeichnet Deutsch.
"Zum wohl, everyone!"
We sat down at the table, anticipating the
starter course and poured a lovely little Spanish Verdejo from the Rueda region.
While the German speakers in the group felt this was ausgezeichnet,
the Spanish speakers said the Buil & Gin 2005 was "muy bien."
Seared Ahi Tuna and Dungeness Crab "Napoleon"
with a Meyer Lemon Dressing
As we finished this starter,
John McGlothlin had a toast for our dearly departed wine-tasting buddy John
John then unveiled the "mystery red", a 1989 Inglenook
This was a remarkably good bottle and we drank it at the moment of
perfection. The wine was beautifully balanced and velvety.
We then had a procession of interesting reds, starting with Alex Hoeppen's 1989
Barolo by Aldo Conterno. This came from the Bussia Soprana site in
Preserved Duck Agnolotti 'en brodo' with an old balsamico.
These were fantastic and really paired exceptionally well with the Barolo!
The Barolo showed a wonderful bouquet, rather tarry and with a complex
bouquet. It's still youthful on the palate, showing hints of menthol and
we moved into a range of Cabernet-type wines.
The 1999 Phelps Insignia was deeply cherryish with mildly plummy and cocoa
notes. Sweet oak and vanillin made this an enjoyable taste.
Nace's bottle of 1994 Spottswoode was showing plenty of dark fruit and a nice
touch of cedar. Mildly tannic, it can still go a few more years, which was
a pleasant surprise.
David Greiner contributed a stellar bottle of Heitz' Martha's Vineyard from the
1991 vintage. Wow! What a great perfume on this wine! It was
typically "Heitz," showing the eucalyptus, resiny, minty notes.
Wintergreen. Smooth and delicious, the wine has a fragrance showing the
pungency of something such as fresh cilantro. Very fine.
I didn't expect much from Mark's bottle of 1988 BV Private Reserve, but the wine
was lovely. The nose shows some bourbon or brandy notes, from its
maturation in American oak. There are red fruits and/or cherry tones on
the nose. Medium weight, the oak is quite prominent here. Much
better than I expected since BV wasn't making grand wines in the 1980s and this
vintage was a bit spotty.
Dick contributed a Diamond Creek Cabernet from the Volcanic Hill vineyard.
It, too, was a 1988 vintage wine. I found some floral elements on the
nose, followed by a bit of black fruit. It's softer and nicely balanced,
almost unusually well-balanced, since Diamond Creek wines are typically a bit
John McGlothlin came up with a 1986 Chteau Branaire-Ducru from Saint
Julien. A fine vintage, the wine displayed leathery, meaty notes.
It's mildly tannic, fairly typical of many 1986 Bordeaux. Good balance and
still with some backbone, this may be held a few more years. Good.
Timmy Z's bottle of 1984 Dunn Howell Mountain showed some cellar fragrances to
start, with a funky, off note. But the wine recovered nicely on the
palate, with some earthy notes and dark fruit flavors. It's moderately
tannic and reasonably ready to drink as Dunn Cabernets go.
Allan Anderson discovered a bottle of Chteau Pichon Lalande in his cellar, an
old, dusty bottle from the spotty 1964 vintage. The fill level was okay
and we waited until the last moment to open and decant this wine, fearing it may
But, surprise, surprise! This was delicious and still quite good. It
showed mildly dusty Cabernet fragrances with still a bit of cassis-like
fruit. It was remarkable!
The main course was Veal Medallions with Wild Mushroom Panade and marrow
Sauce. The mushrooms are enhanced with some sort of bread crumb addition,
hence the name 'panade.'
Very fine and perfect with all these clarets!
A little palate-cleansing sorbet...
We then opened a couple of superb, hall-of-fame Sauternes before arriving at the
Jack Sweitzer had a bottle of Chteau Suduiraut from the very fine 1959
vintage. The wine was dark gold to a brass color. The
fragrances was wonderfully honeyed and showing hints of marzipan.
I was almost scared to open the 1967 Chteau d'Yquem. Here was a bottle
worth more than all the rest of this evening's wines combined. Of course,
Rick Clarke had purchased the wine years ago and while it was expensive then,
it's worth considerably more today due to its scarcity.
If you look at this photo closely, you'll notice Allan Anderson is crying as
someone told him how much a bottle of 1967 d'Yquem is valued today.
"And we're drinking it?!?!?!"
This was deep gold in color with a woodsy, honeyed fragrance. The texture
on the palate was oily and rich, nearly creamy. Very deep and long.
At this time the Warm Valrhona Chocolate Dartois with Chantilly Cream.
We decanted the Taylor 1970 Vintage Port and this wine, which I've had a number
of times, was just as it was a decade ago. It's still deep, dark and
youthful, with plenty of structure. It's teeming with black fruits and an
anise tone. Needless to say (but I will anyway), it was great with the
Chef Merhdad Dabir came out to say "hello" to one and all and we
poured him a sip of wine.
By now it was getting late. The clock was ticking.
And so we made tracks back home.
What a great evening!
Good friends. Good food. Good wine!
Let's do it again next year!!!
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