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A Golden Evening

I have to hand it to FIJEV buddy and wine expert Sherwin Lao and his partners, people who are in the business of wine and know the fun in its appreciation by involving their group’s clients and friends with some very creative activities. I have personally attended many of their tasting events that limit the attendees to a more focused group.

Though the wines may be pedigreed or need a serious form of attention and critiquing, the Golden Wines group certainly did not fall short of their idea of bringing their invitees on a tasting journey of French wines from the Rhone, Bordeaux, and the Champagne region in a preliminary three-course dinner that ended in a well selected cheese table to mop up the remaining wines on the table.

The diner is issued champagne and wine vouchers so that one can make a decision on what best pairs the course. What I did was have my 14 wines served in flights and I eventually found some excellent pairings for the French-inspired dinner of Dusit Thani’s Chef Nicholas using Japanese ingredients.

Wine Chateu Kirwan Gran Cru 2011 (Manila Bulletin)

Wine Chateu Kirwan Gran Cru 2011 (Manila Bulletin)

The first course were slivers of fresh hamachi garnished with icicle radish, grapefruit granite, galangal crumbs, beni-tade, and kingyoso flower. I had started with a flight of four Champagne Deutz, first with the classic non-vintage that was kernal, minerally, and with lemonade-like presence.

Next was the Deutz Blanc des Blancs 2008, a pure Chardonnay Champagne which was not only lemony but also hinted of stone fruit. This Blanc des Blancs was not as bone dry (or it could be the acid on the garnishes of the hamachi that turned the wine fruitier or with a hint of sweetness…). The hamachi richness went well with the acidity of the two champagnes. I felt the buttery biscuit and red fruit characters with floral and lemongrass hints of the Brut 2008 would be better paired with creamy sauced seafood or shellfish baked in a millefeuille crust. The top of the line Cuvee William Deutz 2008 with a minerally, citrus, and green pineapple character, I paired with a creamy or custard dessert combined with fresh fruit. The still white wine of the evening was a La Galopine 2014 Condrieu made from viognier grapes that I would pair off with the hamachi dish considering its custardy and perfume-y nose and a delicious fresh and cooked finish of peaches and nectarines.

For the second course of a deliciously, juicy and lean lamb saddle with cherry mustard, braised leek and fennel, taro, and basil blossom, I had tastings of three Rhones from the Delas Freres line, namely a Gigondas Les Reinages 2013 that had lots of tart, red ripe fruit, spicy, mentholated, silky, and boldly evocative of ripe fruit; a Cote Rotie Seigneur de Maugiron 2011 that was garnet in color with red berries and soft tannins; an Hermitage Domaine des Tourettes 2012 with floral and spice characters with flavors of stone fruit and red forest berries. I liked both the Gigondas and the Hermitage with the roast lamb that further softened the tannins of the wine with its meat juices and highlighted the complexities of the wine with the braised fennel bulb.

Taro and basil blossom; Hamachi with icicle radish, kingyoso flower, galangal crumbs, grapefruit granite, and beni tade and cheese and ripe figs  Cherry mustard, fennel (Manila Bulletin)

Taro and basil blossom; Hamachi with icicle radish, kingyoso flower, galangal crumbs, grapefruit granite, and beni tade and cheese and ripe figs
Cherry mustard, fennel (Manila Bulletin)

Another meat course was then served, this time to try bites of the Kobe beef with a combination of chanterelle mushroom, shisito, Jerusalem artichoke, and a delicious miso beurre noisette. This brown butter combined so well with the miso and truly complemented the rich and tender cubes of marbled beef. I had six wines to pair with this course and since these were all from Bordeaux it was quite difficult to make a decision.

I started with what I would consider the softer two of the six which is a Charmes de Kirwan 2011 and the Chateau Kirwan Gran Cru 2011. Both were reminiscent of red berries, cassis, minerals, and liquor rice. The Gran Cru though ready to drink will still keep and show off its true potentials while the second wine is now vibrant and ready. Next came the St. Estephes, a Dame de Montrose with vibrant red fruit, smokey pepper, and  as their Chateau Montrose Gran Cru that also showed off its anise, red and black forest berries, and fine leather.

Next was a taste of two Saint Juliens, Chateau Lagrange  2011 gran Cru, and its second wine Les Fiefs de Lagrange 2011. These rustic and traditional style Bordeaux are the flavor characters I had grown up with… getting a big treat of nostalgic wine flavors that went so well with the fully marbled beef.

Dessert was the cheese platter that we had with the wines that were left. A deliciously ripened Vieux Pane took my attention and piles of fresh figs swept everyone off their feet as Sherwin Lao and his partners, Herbie Tan and Melvin Sua played great hosts as they coaxed the guests to sample more of the wines. It was a rare occasion that we had two wine personalities, Charles dela Malle who represented the still wines from France and Gault and Millau Wine editor Joel Payne who gave an interesting lecture on champagne. Quite dry and heady from the reds at this point…There was this great temptation to wash and clean out with the Champagne Deutz Brut 2008 which was hinting of buttery biscuits, red fruit, and lemongrass and another glass of the top of the line Cuvee William Deutz 2008 that had green pineapple, citrus, and a good minerality.

And as I am, as of this writing, describing the characters of the two champagnes… temptation did get the better of me…

You can email me at chefgenegonzalez@yahoo.com or follow me at instagram/@chefgenegonzalez