Christie's Dinner at Charlie Trotter's

Charlie Trotter's, Chicago

Tasted February 23, 2006 by otisabdul with 1,843 views

Introduction

I am forever indebted to grossie for scoring gratis invitations for Mrs. O and myself to an unforgettable dinner at Charlie Trotter’s sponsored by Christies and Northen Trust Bank. The food, wine and company were outstanding.

The evening started with a champagne reception (Nicolas Feuillate Brut Rose NV) in the room where Charlie films his TV show (“Kitchen Sesssions”). Then the 35 lucky people migrated up to the back room upstairs, where the following meal commenced:

Flight 1 - Olive Oil Poached Tasmanian Ocean Trout with Ruby Red Grapefruit Confit & Razor Clam Vinaigrette (2 notes)

White - Sparkling
1978 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon France, Champagne
92 points
Lots of bubbles upon pouring, but they disappeared quickly leaving only a few weak tracer streams of carbonation. Remarkably light in color. The rep from Christies (from whose cellar all of the evening's wines were selected) said he wanted to "show how old champagne becomes like old white burgundy", and he was spot on. It had some interesting baked fruit notes (apple and pear), and some autumnal spices, like pumpkin and nutmeg. Ample acidity has haelped the wine maintain freshness. The wine brought out the smokiness of the trout and was the better pairing.
White
1996 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis 1er Cru La Forest France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru
87 points
The nose on this wine reminded me of pear brandy. Some at the table (including grossie) felt that it was oxidized. I wasn't sure, but is was indeeed light, uneven and awkward. Some grapefruit notes that worked well with the dish. Slightly hot on the finish. The saltiness of the roe on top of the trout brought out some of the wine's minerality, but the '78 Dom Perignon was the better pairing.

Flight 2 - Buttermilk Poached Poularde Breast with Pomegranate, Frisee & Cashew Cheese (2 notes)

White
1990 Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile France, Alsace
91 points
Light straw color. Aromas of petrol and gooseberries. Still very young-tasting, with intense, sharp flavors of green apple, lime and chalk, accented with an herbal undertone. Bone dry and a little tart. It cut through the dish a little too cleanly. I preferred the '94 Prum WS Auslese GK with the food. I would recommend holding this wine for another 3-5 years. Seems like a good value when compared to the ever-climbing price of the Clos Ste.-Hune.
White - Off-dry
1994 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
94 points
From magnum. Dark gold color. Very sweet and ripe, especially on the nose. Peaches and cream. Great tongue-coating glyceridic mouthfeel. A tremendous wine that paired exceptionally well with the dish.

Flight 3 - Winter Chestnut Soup with Carmelized Butternut Squash, Pumpkin Seeds & Clove Emulsion (2 notes)

White - Sweet/Dessert
1990 Domaine Huet Vouvray Moelleux 1ère Trie Clos du Bourg France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
92 points
Deep gold color. The nose smelled like wet ditto ink. Flavors were on the nutty sweet side - caramel, popcorn. A terrific pairing with the soup, especially the butternut squash and pumpkin seeds. A very interesting wine that was much better with food.
White - Off-dry
1994 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl Vendange Tardive France, Alsace
98 points
My clear WOTN. This wine is an absolute knee-buckler. Deep gold color. So much flavor packed into every sip, it boggled the mind. Very ripe and sweet, but impeccably balanced. But it was all about the finish. Perhaps the longest, most incredible finish I've ever had on a white wine. Grossie nursed his glass for the entire dinner in a bold effort to make it last forever. I certainly understand his motivation! Better appreciated on its own than with food. It's the kind of wine you want to get lost in. The average Winebid price of $103 seems like a good deal to me.

Flight 4 - Whole Roasted Squab with Porcini Mushrooms, Carmelized Cauliflower & Rosemary Infused Squab Reduction (2 notes)

Red
1991 Joseph Drouhin Chambertin France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru
91 points
Garnet, with clear edges. Surprisingly confected nose, - red hot dollars and pink circus peanuts. More burgundian on the palate, but the sturdy cherry fuit did have a trace of bubble gum to it. Not much earthiness at all, as I was expecting. Plenty of tannins left to age. Drink now through 2011.
Red
1993 Emmanuel Rouget Echezeaux France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Echezeaux Grand Cru
92 points
Quite primary, tight, and young. The terroir emerged with air and earthy truffle flavors appeared. Tasted in a huge Riedel burg sommelier glass, and the wine might have got a bit lost in there. A serious wine with plenty of years in front of it. It was the better pairing with the dish, beautifully picking up the porcini mushrooms. Drink after 2009.

Flight 5 - Braised Veal Cheek with Black Truffle, Salt Crusted Turnip & Thyme (2 notes)

Red
1979 Château Margaux France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
92 points
From magnum. Fantastic old bordeaux nose of eucalyptus, asphalt and herbs. While the structure is fading, it offers up soft savory flavors and finishes with an elegant tweak of currant jelly and tobacco leaf. Excellent pairing with the braised veal cheek. Drink up.
Red
1970 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
95 points
From magnum. Perhaps the most fascinating wine of the evening, this one really stood out. Dusty aromas of cedar, vanill, and cap gun smoke. Very assertive lithe, lean and athletic. Big lode of raspberry fruit in the middle, surrounded by dill, black olives, and a hint of charcoal. A wine of great energy and finesse. Amazingly youthful and very memorable. Drink now through 2015.

Flight 6 - Slowly Cooked Summerfield Farm Lamb Loin with Eggplant, Braised Shank & Cured Ligurian Olive Sauce (2 notes)

Red
1982 Château Léoville Barton France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
96 points
My favorite red wine of the night. Fantastic floral/tobacco nose. Beautiful red currant fruit that bounced around the mouth like a superball. The rest of my notes just say "WOW!!!!". A killer pairing with the roasted lamb loin. Drink now through 2012, sooner if you like lively fruit.
Red
1982 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Gravelly Meadow USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain
90 points
Aromas of mint and latex paint. Very broad in the mouth, with pretty red fruit and (as you might expect from the name) a steady dose of stony minerality. Could easily pass for a Bordeaux. It is probably on the back side of its life cycle. Drink up.

Flight 7 - Triple Seared Dry Aged Angus Rib Eye with Collard Greens, Black Trumpet Mushrooms & Syrah Reduction (2 notes)

Red
1983 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage
96 points
My first Chave and it did not disappoint. Light color. A feral horsey nose, grilled meats, and saddle leather. Brambly wild berry flavors. A truly untamed beast of a wine. I loved it. Can probably age and improve for another ten years.
Red
1978 Clos du Mont-Olivet Châteauneuf-du-Pape France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
92 points
From magnum. This was my first taste of a CdP over 25 years old. Aromas and flavors of green peppecorns, olives, and blackberries. It was okay on its own, but absolutely rose to the occasion with the food. Perfect sympatico with the black trumpet mushrooms and the collard greens. Impressive. Drink now.

Flight 8 - Fuji Apple with Butterscotch, Rye and Rosemary (2 notes)

White - Sweet/Dessert
1976 Studert-Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Beerenauslese Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
91 points
Amber gold color. Nutty toffee flavors. Holding up well and a great pairing with the butterscotch and apple.
White - Sweet/Dessert
1990 Château d'Yquem France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
90 points
One of the lone disappointments of the evening. Maybe my palate was just worn out, but this wine came across as light and fairly straightforward. Some almond and magnolia notes, but not much else. Did not pair well with the dessert either.

Closing

Charlie Trotter was given a list of wines and was asked to create an 8-course dinner. All at the table agreed, he absolutely nailed it. The standout dishes in my mind were the Braised Veal Cheek, Olive Oil Poached Trout, Winter Chestnut Soup, and the Lamb with Olive Sauce.

Cheers,

Otis

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