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The Once In A Lifetime Dinner

Raleigh, NC

Tasted June 23, 2007 by JeffGMorris with 933 views


The idea for this dinner/weekend came to us after procuring 2 very special bottles of wine on our recent vacation in France. Dena & I had Steve & Barb, Brian & Lauren, Bill as well as Chris who flew in for the event over for what I think was a very memorable evening for all.

Flight 1 - The Hors d'Ouvres & Aperitif (0 notes)

Before dinner we had some great Celebrity Goat Farm Chevre on crostini. To accompany this traditional Loire dish we had an aperitif of Prosecco with Combier Fruit des Bois, a liquer from Saumur in the heart of the Loire valley. The drink brought back wonderful memories for me & Dena of having this combination at the start of a few meals in the Loire

Flight 2 - Foie Gras 2 Ways with Rhubarb-Honey Compote & Ed's Brioche (1 note)

The Bloc de Foie de Canard was fantastic. D'Artagnan really came through with some high quality Foie. What can I say about the wine that was not in my note? Not much. A wine beyond words, an experience to remember and treasure for a lifetime.

White - Sweet/Dessert
1947 Foreau Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Moelleux Goutte d'Or France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
99 points
Purchased from Phillipe Foreau at the winery about 8 weeks ago. It is unclear if this wine, made by Phillipe's grandfather Antoine, was ever released or just kept at the winery for family and friends. This bottle had the original cork and an excellent fill level. Label was affixed to the bottle in front of me at purchase time. The pride Phillipe had when putting a label on a wine that his grandfather made, "the finest wine my family has ever produced" was a sight I will never forget. Few of us get to have a job where personal and family pride play such a significant role and I envy people like Phillipe for this. Opened as the first course of a long night we deemed the "Once In A Lifetime Dinner" this is surely the only time any of us will get to have this particular bottling. Paired with some amazing foie gras, my homemade rhubarb-honey compote and Dena's excellent rendition of a recipe that gives me great pride - my Dad's fabulous brioche that he perfected shortly before he passed away 3 years ago. The cork was extracted in 2 pieces by the house doctor and then the wine was immediately poured and served at cellar temp of 52F. Usually color on a wine is something to note but not of much interest. Here, that was not the case as the discussion around the table started with color as soon as the wine was poured. I decided it was the color of red amber, the kind I saw in the Polish city of Gdansk, with gold at the edges, but when swirled it also seemed to have the color of a fine caramel sauce. Wines like this one are tough to put into words as the combination of aromas and flavors is so complex. This wine was medium bodied and had a terrific acidity. There was still fruit sensations and a sweetness to the wine that was not in any way overbearing as time had clearly curtailed the sense of sweetness to a great degree. The vibrant acidity on the very long finish really cleared the wine off the palate but left a residual sensation for a very long time. I find myself grasping for further description when all I can come up with is supreme complexity, terrific balance and a wine to treasure every sip. A small amount was left in a glass by Brian and presented back to me 4 hours later to finish off. In that time the wine lost absolutely nothing and if anything the nose seemed even more open and complex. One of the finest wines ever made, I can easily see why Phillipe had such pride in his eyes when he handed me the bottle 2 months ago. The Goutte d'Or was only made in 2 vintages - this '47 and then again by Phillipe in '90. If the '90 is half as good as this wine it will be a special treat in the future. 50+14+15+10+10 = 99
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Flight 3 - Soft Shell Crabs over Morris Farms Lettuce accompanied by Dena's Secret Sauce (1 note)

While the Soft Shells were not quite up to par ( word is this is a bad year for them ), Dena's sauce made with a generous portion of Maille mustard was excellent and it was a treat to have the first of the lettuce for the season from our backyard garden. The wine was fabulous and I loved telling the story of its' acquisition one more time. Thanks Olivier! It's great to see that Windsbuhl was a first class vineyard before the Humbrechts owned it, though their renditions of this terroir take the wines to a whole new level of sophistication, elegance and enjoyment.

1964 J. Meyer Riesling Clos Windsbuhl Reserve France, Alsace
91 points
Tonight's second “once in a lifetime wine”, this one a recent gift from Olivier Humbrecht. Original cork and a very good fill level. Presumed to have a single previous owner in Paris before Olivier purchased it in March 2007. This wine was a real lesson in the terroir we know as Windsbuhl. While not as good as many of the modern day ZH renditions of this hallowed plot of soil, the wine showed the great hallmarks of the vineyard with a smoky minerality. This was a wine which proved the “terroir comes through with age” theory as opposed to the “all older wines converge” theory. Medium yellow in color and somewhat waxy with the aforementioned smoky minerality. Nicely structured on the palate with an acidity that keeps the sensations lively. The only negative is the finish which is short and somewhat metallic. There's no way this tastes like a 43 year old wine from a producer few, if any, have heard of. A great testament to the magic of Clos Windsbuhl and a wonderfully appreciated gift from a friend. 50+13+13+7+8.5 = 91.5

Flight 4 - Grilled Ribeye Steaks with Mushroom-Madeira sauce, Baked Potatos and White Asparagus with Morels Calvados (2 notes)

Both of the wines in this course were excellent. The '86 Lafite was certainly the finest Bordeaux I've had the pleasure of drinking.

1986 Château Lafite Rothschild France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
94 points
While I certainly can't be classified as a Bordeaux drinker or one with much knowledge of the region, I was really looking forward to this wine. Dark ruby in color and medium bodied, this wine was really open for business now with classic lead pencil notes, a very nice richness to it and a silky palate feel. Medium+ length on the finish. While I'm sure it will add more complexity with additional age it is a real treat today. 50+13+13+9+9 = 94
1991 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
91 points
So does California Cab age? It does when it's from one of the state's true First Growths! Still a somewhat opaque purple in color, this wine started off a bit slow but really opened with time in the glass. Nice depth to the fruit and good richness, though not nearly as much as the '86 Lafite this glass sat next to during the meat course. Very elegant and refined, particularly for a New World wine. 50+12+13+8+8 = 91

Flight 5 - Carte de Fromage (2 notes)

Humboldt Fog, Morbier au Lait Cru, 4 Year Aged Noord and Colston Bassett Stilton accompanied by Marcona Almonds and a second appearance by the Rhubarb-Honey Compote. The Quintarelli was a real revelation for me, having never had one before.

1983 Bertani Recioto della Valpolicella Classico Superiore Amarone Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Recioto della Valpolicella Classico Superiore
88 points
Before last night I don't think I'd ever had a Bertani of any kind and now I've had 2, each with 20+ years on them. In comparison to the '81 Recioto last night and the '95 Quintarelli this sat next to on the table, this was the weakest wine of the evening. Dark ruby in color, this wine had less of everything - fruit, richness, depth - than last night's '81, but would probably be quite enjoyable on it's own when the competition was not so stiff. 50+11+11.5+8+7.5 = 88
Red - Sweet/Dessert
1995 Giuseppe Quintarelli Recioto della Valpolicella Classico Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Recioto della Valpolicella Classico
98 points
Well if the Bertani was a relative disappointment, this course was certainly saved by this absolutely amazing wine. Dark, inpenetrable purple in the glass. Wow! The richness jumps out of the glass as soon as you lift it towards your nose. On the full bodied palate, there is a glyceral feel that is so silky and smooth you don't want it to end. Very long on the finish. This tasted to me as if it was the finest young Port but without any of the alcohol burn or the obvious tannins. A monster that
is amazing and beyond words. This will age a very long time and I can't wait for the next time I get to drink this again. 50+14+15+9.5+9.5 = 98

Flight 6 - Honey Creme Brulee with Blackberry Honey Ice Cream (2 notes)

Dena's Creme Brulee came out extremely well with a very nice consistency. The homemade - by hand, no ice cream maker - ice cream was a huge success and a marvel to all at the table. The beautiful taste of the fine Italian honey we used came through in spades.

White - Sweet/Dessert
1975 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Beerenauslese Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
93 points
AP #13-76. Medium yellow in color with a little petrol and some nice complexity. Nice lively acidity and maybe this was covering the sweetness but it didn't seem as sweet as a BA normally would. I prefer the '75 Auslese Eiswein but this is excellent in it's own right. 50+13+13+8.5+8.5 = 93
White - Sweet/Dessert
1989 Château Rieussec France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
Bright gold in color, I didn't get much time with this wine and never got to write a formal note. I do remember it being a fine example with good richness but Sauternes has never really turned me on and I definitely gravitated to the Beerenauslese in the glass next to this. Not rated.

Flight 7 - Petit Fours with After Dinner Drinks (0 notes)

Back to the living room for some after dinner conversation and drinks. While the Petit Fours were not a big hit due to the consumption of food during the meal, the after dinner drinks were enjoyed by all the men in attendance. We had a '54 Armagnac that was excellent and my all time favorite Eau de Vie, the '84 Zind Humbrecht Mirabelle. This Eau de Vie has the most aromatic nose of any I've ever tried.


The evening was a complete success. No corked or oxidized wines, some great food and a lot of fun and conversation with friends.

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