Saturday, January 29, 2011

L'Ecole Apogee Pairing Dinner and Vertical

Last weekend the wine club had the pleasure of having a vertical tasting of the L’Ecole Apogee. We had the 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007-not a full vertical, but enough to see what holding on to a bottle can really do.  The 2007 was decanted for a couple hours, the 2006 was decanted for an hour or so, and the rest were not.

Dinner was paired with a horseradish and herb encrusted strip loin, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, bean salad, and Gruyere scalloped potatoes.

For the strip loin crust, I took 
  • 1/2 c prepared horseradish
  • 4 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 tbs thyme
  • 2 tbs garlic
  • 2 tbs dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs of red wine vinegar 
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
I made it into a paste and rubbed the strip. (which was really a whole KC strip loin) Our, unfortunately, was a bit overdone and over marinated, but it was really good. In the future I would recommend marinating a for a 6 lb roast for 1-2 hours, and then cooking it in a roasting pan - uncovered- at 350 for 1.5 hours. That will give you some rare and medium rare options in the center-we marinated it for about 7 hours and it was a bit too strong for my liking, but I don't LOVE horseradish and it was a *smidge* too strong for the wines, but not much, so I think cutting down the marinading time would help.  (We cooked it for 2 hours and it was just medium in the center.) Everyone was polite, and said it was fine, but those who know me know I like my meat mooing, so it was WAY overdone for me.
So, should I make it again, that's what I'd do - if you really like horseradish you can use a tougher (and much cheaper) roast and marinate it for 6-7 hours. It was very tender. See Mr. Lush (right) in the too-small apron, getting ready to slice up the roast-isn't he dashing?? :) It was a fun event, of course, thanks to those who made it and contributed to the meal, a special thanks to Ms. G for having the 99 and 03, as well as looking up the (large amount of) information, and special thanks to Mr. and Mrs. D for hosting the event!!!

Now, onto the wines….they were all wonderful, but the 99 was a smidge past its prime. We had it a few months ago and it was perfect, and I think we just missed the window of perfection. While that makes me sad, it reminds me to keep better tabs on what we have, so we don’t miss our window. I’d rather drink a wine a few months too early than a few months too late! However, it was still very good. The 2003 and the 2005 were probably my favorites, the 2007 was just too young, it was a bit hot.

The 2006 was good, got better with a little air. The 2006 is still available if you look for it, so I’d keep an eye out and if you can find a bottle for less than $40, pick it up and forget about until 2013-2014. I certainly think these wines have the capability of aging 10+ years, but because I don’t have the finances to hold onto tons of bottles for 10 years, I’m shooting for 7!!!!

Luckily, because of a mix up, I was “forced” to buy a couple of the 2006 Perigee at a really good deal (around $31), a similar blend from L’Ecole, so we’ll lay those down for a couple years. I’ll let you know how they go!!!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Last night we participated in Clayton Restaurant Week and tried Jimmy’s on the Park. I had the tuna tartar and the smoked duck, and for dinner we brought a bottle of the 2005 Chesterfield Cellars Pinot Noir. Its no secret I love pinots from Monterey County  , and Santa Barbara county is a little south of Monterey (see map), but very similar flavor profile. (more dark fruit than strawberry) It was delicious with the smoked duck, and our dinner companions, Mr. & Mrs. N, said it went well with the Pork Loin as well. Both had a dark fruit based accompaniment, which the wine complemented. It had enough body and tannins to keep up with the fatty duck, so I couldn’t be happier with my choice of what to bring. And, Jimmy’s corkage fee was only $15! Everyone enjoyed their meal, although the portions were a tad small and they have an interesting fireplace theme throughout the restuarant, so it was perfect for a January dinner!

We’ve also had the 2005 Chesterfield Cellars Barrel blend (55% cab franc and 45% cab sauv) before and it was also delicious, and a bit cheaper than the Pinot. ($32 vs $48) Both were selections from Gold Medal Wine Club- luckily the re-order price for the Barrel Blend was under $20, so we were able to pick up a couple bottles of that one!!

I expect Chesterfield Cellars might make an appearance in the Lou because of the name, so keep an eye out for it at the West County Wine shops!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cheap and ageable....who knew?

We have a tendency to hoard and age our expensive bottles, scouring over reviews to see when the peak time to drink them will be, yet we drink cheap wines too young and whine about how we can’t get any good cheap wines. Well, last weekend I had a wine that reminded me we CAN age cheaper wines too!!!

In Dec 2007 I wrote about how the new (then) blend releases from Mondavi and Kendall Jackson surprised me. Last weekend, for wine club’s Poor Man’s Night, I picked up a bottle of the 2006 Robert Mondavi Vinetta – Schucks (local grocery store chain, for the non-Lou readers) had it on sale for 9.99 and they had a 2006 and some 2008. Well, I picked up the 2006 and low and behold, it was really good! We opened the bottle around 4:50 and had an ounce to determine if we should decant, decided against it, left it uncorked and then tasted it again around 6. It was surprisingly good, especially stacked up against its younger but similarly priced competition. A lot of cheap cabernets have had really strong vanilla undertones lately-I think it’s the winemaker’s way to cover up lack of quality wine making by over-toasting the barrels, so this was a nice change. Good dark fruit, cassis....

So here’s what I’m thinking – next time you want to buy a couple bottles of $50 wine, go buy a bottle of something like this, with enough cabernet it in to age (over 70%), let it decant for a couple hours or aerate it, see what happens. If it softens a bit and there’s not a dominating vanilla (or other) flavor, then grab a case. (I have found, so far, that if you keep a wine with a dominating flavor, especially vanilla, it doesn’t ever go away…..but if you like smores, at least you can drink it with that!)

Or, if you happen to see the 2006 Vinetta at your local grocery store or wine shop, pick up a bottle, its ready to drink now!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Awesome Deal on Gold Medal Wine Club

Just got an email deal from Gold Medal Wine Club....its a stellar deal to add a new series or sign up for the first me for the promo code..... (and so you can let them know I referred you, of course!)