wine

d’yquem is a peach

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2 years ago, my friends the Alexander-Mitchells served up my first taste of Chateau d’Yquem. It was a revelation. Crack cocaine in a bottle is how I think Andrew described it. Addictive, exquisite, utterly decadent. We drank it with dessert, of course, the dessert being grilled peaches served with an amaretto mascarpone cheese. We’ll get to that later.

I am not (was not) a fan of “dessert wines.” To my heretofore unsophisticated palate, these wines tasted somewhere between cough syrup and peach schnapps (which made me wildly sick my freshman year of college and has never, ever crossed my lips again.)

But the Alexander-Mitchells, well, they know a thing or two about a thing or two. And for this particular gathering, we had come together to drink 26 bottles of 1970 vintage Bordeaux over two nights. This isn’t as irresponsible as it might seem. To begin with, there were seven of us. Some of the bottles were undrinkable, others you really could only stomach a sip or two. And we generally started eating and drinking at around 5, and kept going well into the night, finishing the first night with some Graham’s 1970 vintage port and the second with a rather robust amount of scotch.

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Handmade tasting cards next to the empty bottle of d’Yquem.

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Our victims.

Some of the wines had turned into vinegar, and were ceremoniously dumped down the drain. Others bloomed in the glass, tasting like — one suspects — their youthful selves, but with more gravity. Others revealed themselves quickly, only to become ghostly and wispy, dying as we drank them. And some were the vinous equivalent of sitting with an aged aristocrat. Good breeding with an air of exhausted refinement.  A skeleton in a smoking jacket.

But the Chateau d’Yquem. I was dubious. A disbeliever. Until Andrew set a glass in front of me. And my husband delivered a charming grilled peach with amaretto marscapone.

Everything I had experienced from a culinary perspective prior to this simple little dessert + wine pairing faded into the background. The d’Yquem, unlike the other Bordeaux wines we were drinking tasted utterly….drinkable. No contortions, no wispiness, no fleshy fruit lost, leaving just an acid spine in the glass. Instead, here was a confident, healthy wine. Elegant, relaxed. And with the peaches, it was maybe the best gastronomical combination to have passed my lips. All seven of us became silent…just sighing every once in a while, and a little too energetically to demonstrate our pleasure.

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We had a second bottle the next night, where the charming wine —again— raced effortlessly to the head of the Bordeaux pack. The honeyed encore: nutty, rich, luxurious…luscious. It was obscenely luscious. 

I haven’t had d’Yquem since that weekend. But as the summer begins to make itself known, I think about peaches. And whenever I think about sweet, unctuous peaches, I think about my voluptuous d’Yquem.

Denis Kelly’s Grilled Peaches with Amaretto Mascarpone

In the absence of Chateau d’Yquem, serve the peaches with a Gewürztraminer.

1/4 c. mascarpone cheese
2 TBSP packed brown sugar
2 tsp amaretto
4 peaches, peeled, halved and pitted
1/2 c. brown sugar

GARNISH
4 amaretti Italian cookies, crushed
1/2 basket raspberries

Mix the mascarpone, brown sugar and amaretto to make the amaretto mascarpone

Prepare grill (clean well and rub with oil)

Dip the cut side of the peaches into 1/2 c. brown sugar. Grill cut side down for 2 minutes, covered. Flip and grill for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Top each peach with a dollop of mascarpone mixture in the hole where the pit was. Sprinkle with crushed cookies and garnish with raspberries.

i don’t like chardonnay but I love chablis

Poor, maligned Chardonnay. I live in California — Northern California —so I’ve had my fill of the big, oaky, viscous Chardonnays we seem to excel in producing here. My mother loves these kinds of wines, which she insists on drinking with ice cubes, but I don’t enjoy what’s the vinous equivalent of sucking oak chips. (Yes, a woman who puts ice in her over-oaked, overly-expensive Chardonnay is related to me. Trust me, I find it equally hard to believe.)

The Chablis region of Burgundy, however, does some really lovely things to Chardonnay. They tend to be prettier and more elegant wines than California Chardonnays…sort of comparable to the differences between Pamela Anderson and Marion Cotillard.  Lots of mineral but you can still find the fruit. And the acid, acid being key to elegance in both people and wines.

Chabli

Chablis’ wines are perfect for summer picnics, lazy afternoons spent on beaches eating oysters, or with other fresh tasting seafood.  And, unlike the rest of Burgundy, the wines are relatively affordable, and, some even say Chablis is best high-end deal in French wine going. Today, as a matter of fact, I’m going to Kermit Lynch (40% off Burgundy!!) and buying a case, even though it’s October, even though it’s nippy out. Because unlike many other white wines, Chablis can spend a little time laying around, thinking about itself. And be all the better for it.

Here are a few from one of my favorite shops for French and German wines and assuming you can ship wine to your state, they are very nice place to buy wine from. And here are some their favorite selections from Chablis.

  1. 2010 Chablis Montee de Tonnerre by Billaud-Simon
  2. 2008 Chablis Vaudesir by William Fevre
  3. 2006 Chablis Valmur by Raveneau

And finally, a lovely way to quaff the Chablis you just brought home….Chardonnay glasses from Reidel. Pretty, elegant, and not too fussy. Just like your drink.

reidel

 

 

drc

I’ve been reading Richard Olney’s book, Romanée-Conti: The World’s Most Fabled Wine (itself a somewhat fabled book.) Olney is the dean of simple (and fabulously complex) French food, and still this book has been in and out of print for years and all but unobtainable. (I seized – really seized – my copy at a marvelously charming San Francisco bookstore devoted to all things food and wine, Omnivore Books.)

Olney’s last chapter title poses a curious problem: The Rarest Wine in the World has No Price. As Olney explains, bottles of Romanée-Conti are not available for individual sale through the Domaine. Instead they are distributed to wine sellers – négociants really – within a larger purchase of other Domaine wines like Montrachet, La Tâche, Richebourg, Romanée Saint-Vivant, Grands Echézeaux and Echézeaux. The wine is effectively rationed in this way, it’s distribution flow paced at a trickle. The system simultaneously ensures the distribution of the Domaine’s other only slightly less legendary wines. In Olney’s words: “If Romanée-Conti were not rationed, its entire production would disappear into the cellars of a handful of wealthy collectors, never to be seen in the marketplace, unless it be for purposes of speculation in the auction rooms.”

For me this story highlights a central paradox of luxury goods, that they must carry the illusion of being above commercial value – not valueless, but beyond valuation by any standard measure – while nevertheless simultaneously participating in the luxury market, remaining accessible, at least to someone, somewhere, in some manner. They must suggest availability, however rare they may be, and rarity, however easily they may be obtained. Setting rigid limits on the mechanisms of production and distribution offer only two means of activating this paradox. The paradox itself is what interests me, perhaps primarily as a kind of prism for looking at the things themselves – indeed all things – as alternately and utterly common and unique.

the perfect wedding

Wedding fever has overtaken my family. My sister is getting married, and while some may say that it’s a disadvantage to be the last of 3 to get married, I’d argue that it is a great, great advantage. Having seen the foibles, the misplaced energy, the general low-grade anxiety of earlier weddings, my sister has not only selected the most stratospherically beautiful location, but she’s retained the services of a wedding planner.  Brill.

3 generations of Kanan-Corrêa ladies (plus fiancé) went up to Campovida yesterday to meet the wedding planners and begin organizing in earnest. It’s a jaw-droppingly beautiful place. Hills all around. Sustainably grown vineyards and surrounding gardens. 52 varietals of apples in the orchards. Figs, lavender, kale, swiss chard, towering cyprus. Everything well-taken care of, but not sterile. In short, as close as a girl can get to Provence without heading to St. Rémy.

But it gets better…the chef will be vegetarian wünderkind Leif Hedendal and the creative bombast of Elena Zhukova will ensure unforgettable photography. Throw in some of NYC’s most fab musicians, a few glittering food folks from the Bay Area, a sprinkling of Ph.D.s and about 30 kids…well, you’ve got the makings of either a great time, or an epic food fight.

wonderful napa weekend

Hall Rutherford

I spent the weekend with some of my favorite bloggers and pinners…it was, in a word, magical. Our dinner on Saturday was at the glorious Hall Rutherford winery, in their caves. A truly spectacular way to spend an evening.

domaine tempier

Pretty salmon color. Delicious strawberry and watermelon flavor. Engages all the sense. A lovely way to spend an afternoon…