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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...

Tonight's Line-up:


Yes, Virginia, that IS a 1967 Chteau d'Yquem alongside the 1959 Chteau Suduiraut and Louis Latour's Corton Charlemagne.


TZ.


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...

Dick Otstott heard the 'pop' of another Champagne cork and immediately teed up a refill.

The 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 Vignau.




John then unveiled the "mystery red", a 1989 Inglenook "Cask" Cabernet.

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 Monforte d'Alba.


Signor Italia.


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 tar.  

Then 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 aggressive.

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 be over-the-hill.  
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 hall-of-fame Port.

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.  Delicious!


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 chocolate dessert.

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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