The Plumed Horse Restaurant, Saratoga, California
Tasted Thursday, June 12, 2008 by Richard Jennings with 1,648 views
This was a memorable, blow-out, over-the-top celebration for our dear and generous friend David Niederauer. Jonathan Dinh organized it as a surprise, telling David he was going to introduce him to a group of foodies Jonathan knew, who tended to dress in black, and instead bringing him into the Chef's Table Room at Plumed Horse where were seated a group of David's usual tasting buddies, almost all dressed in black. At Jonathan's urging, we reached deep into our cellars for treats to honor David, so there was a real embarrassment of riches on hand, which got a little hard to properly take in, especially as we crept toward flights 11 and 12 of what turned out to be a 15-flight affair. All in all, these were amazing wines, some of which I'm sure I'll never have the opportunity to taste again, accompanied by creative and tasty treats from Chef Peter Armellino. WOTN for me, and apparently several others, was the stellar '66 DRC Echezeaux, showing as well as I imagine this wine ever will. In general, mature red Burgs were the stars of the evening, while some of our Rhones, which usually show so well, did not seem as strong to me as at prior events. My liver took a day or two to recover, as it was very difficult to spit as much of these great wines as I usually would knowing that we were tasting 30 or more wines. In sum, a great tribute to an extremely generous friend, and a fitting send off to the peripatetic Dinh, who claims he's relocating the locus of his OL activity to some other country or continent.
Toasting the birthday boy:
Lovely Champagnes for arrival, especially the unexpectedly good '76 Philipponnat. Our amuse bouche that went with this flight was a single Quilcene oyster.
David has tricked us on several occasions by putting amazing wines (e.g., Screaming Eagle) into lesser bottles (e.g., Turley Zin), or doing tricky triple blind tastings with double reveals, so this flight was intended as partial payback. Into 3 bottles of DRC La Tache, a couple of us put a mixture of new Cali Pinots. Pretty silly stuff, but it did occasion some good laughs, and "threats" by David to trick us in the future with some real La Tache. The flight was served with Plumed Horse's addictive "sliders": filet mignon w/onion and garlic aioli served with truffle jus on the side.
Two of Jonathan's and my favorite wines: the '89 and '90 Beaucastel. Our '89 was the weakest '89 non-flawed Beau I've ever had, but the '90 was youthful and lovely. With this and the next flight, we had an onglet of beef course.
We could, and perhaps should have, stopped with the flight above. By this point, the fine details of the wines were becoming harder to pick up. Nonetheless, I was a little underwhelmed by these two La Las compared to several other vintages I've had, although I know that others at the dinner found them very impressive. The lovely dish with this and the next flight was one that David inspired Peter to create for our Tax-Day Hobo dinner a couple months before: oxtail and bonemarrow marmelade with toast.
In retrospect, I wish I could have appreciated these two famous vintages of famed wines earlier in the evening. Perhaps it was all that had gone before and my general palate fatigue that kept these from being quite as impressive to me as I would have expected. Thanks, though, to those who generously provided such legendary wines.
Apparently two of us had hunted for wines that were at least as old as David. ;-) The 1914 Massandra was an incredible treat, and joins a list of great Massandra memories for me. This one was all the more haunting for having been harvested in the year the world completely changed. Thanks to Mischa for sharing this jewel with us. My 1900 Barbeito Malvazia, which I've had a few times before, performed even better than when I've had it on other occasions. Our dish for this flight was a duo of dessert souffles.
In somewhat of an anticlimax after all that had gone before, these two probably didn't impress as much as they might have if they hadn't followed the incredible sweet and palate covering yuzu sorbet. Lovely wines, nonetheless.