Last night was an interesting and enjoyable evening for me and, I believe, my guests. I presented the Southern Rhone seminar to a group of about 35 people at Acqua Oyster Bar & Grill in Vernon, CT.
I had given a version of this seminar several times in the recent past, but that version was a bit different than the one I needed for last night. I was under the impression that I had a pretty solid Powerpoint presentation already prepared in my computer, but I had not really checked until about an hour before the show. There I was at Panera, pasting together a quick presentation with time running down. Fortunately I was able to get it together and no one was the wiser that less than an hour before I was freaking out trying to find fact sheets online and get all the slides in the right order.
The wines are listed below, but each was enjoyable and paired fairly well with the food offered by the chef.
They have a new chef at Acqua so I was a bit concerned, but their GM is keeping close tabs on the food quality and presentation so things went smoothly. We enjoyed dishes such as grilled scallops (not so uncommon) but in this dish the scallop was coated in an olive tapenade, which made a nice contrast with the ravioli in green sauce that was also on the plate. We also enjoyed a braised short-rib paired on the plate with a roasted fig - quite nice. The low side of things was the charcuterie, which was composed of simple sliced sausage, Canadian bacon and provolone cheese with a sliced strawberry and some dried fruit squares - an attempt at a classic presentation I suppose, but very simplistic. The last dish was a baby lamb-chop, or loli-pop. Mine was a bit raw in the middle - I do not mind pink, but raw is not to my taste. These can be easily over-cooked, though.
Overall I think it was a pleasant meal and the crowd seemed very pleased which is always the point with these events. (I did get a number of orders - which is really the point for me!)
The wines served:
2006, La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Luberon Blanc - one of the easiest white wines to serve - it is fresh and clean with light fruits and an easy acidity level. La Vieille Ferme is one my favorite labels - the wines are cheap and always taste great - I particularly love the Rose in the summer. Made by the Perrin family of Chateau Beaucastel fame.
2005, Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone Rose - again made by the Perrin family - this is a classic dry rose from Mouvedre, Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. Nothing to argue about here - the crowd really enjoyed this wine - it seemed to be a nice discovery for many folks. There is a general feeling against rose - the white-zin hangover effect - that it is going to be sweet, but at 13% alcohol and with a ripe cranberry red color you have to treat this wine as a light red wine. I still like the Vieille Ferme Rose better, though.
2005, Paul Jaboulet Cotes du Rhone Rouge "Parallel 45" - 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah - very youthful and vibrant - this was the crowd favorite of the evening. Super soft and so easy to drink they couldn't help themselves. Smooth, fruity and juicy.
2004, Domaine de la Mordoree Lirac Rouge "La Dame Rousse" - taking things up a notch in intensity and grip with this wine. 50/50 Grenache/Syrah, and obviously much more serious than the P-45. This wine sort of confused the crowd, I think. It was a departure from their soft and easy comfort zone. They didn't quite know what to make of such a complex wine. In the end though I believe they really enjoyed it, and I know by the orders that it was well accepted.
2004, Domaine Grand Veneur Chateauneuf du Pape - I had not had the 2004 of this, yet, but was really pleased by it. If the Lirac was a step up in intensity and complexity, then this wine was five steps. Very dark and quite deep in color. Aromatically this wine showed flavors of dark, dark fruit with a distinct smoky, roasted bacon quality I am more often accustomed to in Northern Rhone wines. The vines in this vineyard are old and Alain Jaume (same winemaker as the Mordoree) is extremely talented. Here is a serious CDP that can be drunk now, but I think you could be well rewarded with about 10-15 years of patience.