Death by Lobster

Four Seasons Hotel, Atlanta

Tasted February 21, 2015 by MikeATL with 525 views

Introduction

The Atlanta Vieille Vignes held its fourth annual Death by Lobster event Saturday night at the Four Seasons in Atlanta, though it was the first I've made it to. Robert Gerstenecker, the extremely talented chef at the hotel's Park 75 restaurant, delivered a fantastic menu up to his usual standards. I didn't take detailed notes, but did jot down my impressions of a number of the wines we enjoyed that night. Most of the wines are from my table, but a few of the notes are for bottles generously shared by some of the other tables. It was a terrific evening at which the people, food, and wine were all top-notch, and I'm looking forward to next year's installment.

Flight 1 - Hors d'oeuvres and First Course - Langoustine Crudo, Yuzu Compressed Watermelon Relish, Caviar, Mache, Avocado Cream (3 notes)

While hors d'oeuvres of Lobster Corn Dog with Spicy Mustard, Lobster Cappuccino, Lobster Salad in push pop, and Lobster Aranchini were passed, we started with a couple of Champagnes that I didn't take notes on. We then moved on to the first course. I thought the Alzinger was the better pairing with the crudo, though others at the table preferred the Chablis.

White
2000 Alzinger Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Mühlpoint Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
92 points
Great weight and minerality, a little fresh pea, and great acidity, it's in a good place right now.
White
2004 Maison Albert Bichot Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos Domaine Long-Depaquit France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru
86 points
Not really showing a lot, and a little fat, and though it opened up a little with air, it wasn't enough to make a big difference.
White
2011 Cowan Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Isa USA, California, North Coast, Lake County
88 points
It's odd and I like it, but it isn't showing enough structure right now to really bring it all together.

Flight 2 - Second Course - Lobster Flan with Sea Urchin and White Wine Chive Cream sauce (4 notes)

Chef Robert served the dish in sea urchin shells that had been cut in half, which made for an attractive presentation for this incredibly rich dish that was balanced by the salinity of the lobster and uni. The Cowan from the previous flight, which I ended up trying with almost all of the flights, probably showed its best with this dish. The Rhys was shared by someone from another table, which made me very happy.

White
2006 Kongsgaard Chardonnay USA, California, Napa Valley
86 points
Strangely dilute, and while it opens some with air, it never fully fills in.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White
2013 Domaine du Pégau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Cuvée Réservée France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
flawed
A rare bretty white.
White
2008 Marcassin Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
85 points
Big and intense, it has complexity, but it's hard to tell where the fruit ends and the wood begins. It gets tiring to drink pretty quickly.
1 person found this helpful Comments (1)
White
2012 Rhys Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard USA, California, Santa Cruz Mountains
94 points
Terrific, with intense minerality and bracing acidity, the Chardonnay of the night for me.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 3 - Third Course - Squid Ink Risotto with Lobster Claw and Parmesan Cheese Foam (4 notes)

Probably my favorite dish of the night, complex, hearty, and the risotto was cooked perfectly.

White
1983 Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux Blanc France, Bordeaux
flawed
Loaded with steamed cabbage. Over the hill.
White
1998 Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux Blanc France, Bordeaux
88 points
It's in an awkward place, with the richness of youth passed and before tertiary character has developed. Hold ''em if you got 'em.
White
1997 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Les Tessons France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault
92 points
A beautifully developed white Burgundy with a little peppermint and nuttiness, while still fresh and with good acidity.
White
1996 Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Vergers France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru
88 points
This is another wine that hasn't picked up the complexity of age yet while the primary fruit has faded. Hold it, since good bottles should improve and premox bottles are long since dead.

Flight 4 - Fourth Course - Lobster and Foie Gras Duo with Crushed Sun Choke, Chinese XO Sauce, Preserved Black Bean, Braised Leek (5 notes)

Another winning dish, with a thick slice of well-seared foie gras on top of half of a lobster tail. The foie gras added both crunch and richness to the lobster, while the XO sauce united the flavors of the lobster and liver. The Schlumberger's sweetness made for a great pairing, and I mainly drank that with the food and paid more attention to the other wines afterward. The Schlumberger was the only wine from my table listed for this flight, while the others were all shared by other tables. Thanks in particular to Don Cornutt for sharing the Maison Ilan.

White
1997 Domaines Schlumberger Gewurztraminer Kitterlé France, Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru
90 points
Honeyed and rich, a little fat but still drinking well, and the off-dry sweetness paired well with lobster, foie gras, and XO sauce.
White
2012 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge USA, California, Napa Valley
81 points
Massive, tropical, woody, and intense. Proof that one can have way too much of a good thing.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
2010 Maison Ilan Chambertin France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru
87 points
Not bad, but lacking intensity and complexity with most of the interest generated from a not unpleasant stemminess and aromas strangely reminiscent of a Varsity chili dog.
2 people found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
2010 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard USA, California, Santa Cruz Mountains
91 points
More open and a little richer than the 2007, but otherwise very similar, with plenty of dark fruit, some minerality, and a fair bit of the menthol I associate with Alpine Vineyard Pinot.
Red
2007 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard USA, California, Santa Cruz Mountains
90 points
Still pretty tight, but plenty of dark fruit, some minerality, and a fair bit of the menthol I associate with Alpine Vineyard Pinot.

Flight 5 - Fifth Course - Strawberry Creameux Lobster, with Mint Caviar "Roe", and Vanilla Bean-Sweet Butter Sauce (3 notes)

No actual lobster here, but instead the dessert was laid out in a stylized lobster shape.

White - Sweet/Dessert
1994 Château Tirecul La Gravière Monbazillac France, Southwest France, Dordogne, Monbazillac
78 points
Dull, fat, and it shows an unpleasant soapy aroma.
White - Sweet/Dessert
1989 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru
92 points
Nice golden color, moderately rich and sweet, with peach and quince fruit supported by decent acidity, a good example of aged Loire dessert Chenin Blanc.
White - Sweet/Dessert
2002 Sine Qua Non Gewürztraminer Mr. K The Ice Man USA, California
92 points
Rich, sweet and intense, with nice freshness and acidity, not a pillar of complexity, but very enjoyable.

Closing

There were a number of other wines that I tasted and enjoyed, but for which I didn't take notes and thus don't recall them clearly enough to memorialize my impressions. While there were a number of highly-regarded wines that I didn't find particularly impressive, I'm thankful for the generosity of those who are willing to share them and appreciate the opportunity to experience them first-hand.

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