Saturday, September 3, 2011

what to drink with wagyu?

1999 Charles Ellner Seduction Brut                2006 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir

As soon as I put down the phone, I knew I had to get to work and make a list of which wines I needed to pull out of the cellar. My aunt called to ask what I wanted from Japan. As this video suggests, I went way, way, way, outside the box. Nothing too unreasonable of course, I'm not an animal . . . just a few wagyu steaks.

That ingredient would be the focal point of one of the most epic dinners I've ever cooked. I had two close friends over to share in the beef. They brought over a couple varieties of oyster and a slab of toro to start things off. My cousin likes oysters, but doesn't know how to shuck them. Guess that plane ticket over was starting to pay for itself. I pulled a lot of wines from my cellar - for this meal, I wanted to drink Champagne and the first bottle of LCJ pinot noir I bought. Both wines had been sitting for about 3 years or so. With family over, and the most amazing beef, there could not be a better time to drink some hideously expensive (for this poor wino) and rare wines. But first, a bottle of Dai Ginjo sake that my aunt brought over for me.

1999 Charles Ellner Séduction Brut Champagne

So, to start. With dinner, I usually begin putting together a menu around the wines I serve. With these ingredients, the wines must serve the food. Wagyu is so intensely of beef, with the most amazingly silky and rich texture that you really want a wine with high acid and minerality to contrast and balance. Tannins don't work with how fatty wagyu is; nor does overt oak character. What better then, than serving a vintage Champagne. High acid, aromatic, with the most amazing texture that only a mature Champagne can give.

And this wine was perfect. Not to mention that it opened itself. A first for me - it may have been storage or something more sinister, but a ring of mold had formed between the cork and the lip of the bottle. As soon as I took off the wire cage, the cork released itself. Shot vertically right into the lights. I've got video. At least none of the wine came out along with it.

Pale in colour, but beginning to show mature aromas. Rich, with the autolysis developing into a buttery, creamy profile. Lovely, with the fruit remaining fresh and vibrant. Rich texture, long, and as perfect as I could have hoped for with our wagyu. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

2006 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir, VQA Niagara Peninsula

And to end our meal, a few glasses of what I consider to be one of the gems of Niagara pinot noir. I had tasted the 2006 LCJ Grand Clos Pinot Noir at Jackson Triggs in May, and was startled to find it beginning to fall apart. Losing colour, aroma drying out, texture breaking up. The vintage was never a sturdy one to begin with, but this kind of disintegration at only 5 years of age is a bit troubling. Also because I have a couple hundred dollars of it in my cellar. Time to get drinking!

Losing some saturation, turning slightly brown at the rim. Drying red fruits, yes, but with that lovely clay warmth of Niagara. Floral and perfumed, showing leaner on the palate. Minerals still there, although the finish begins to drop off. Perhaps a bit past its prime, but a fascinating look at the evolution of a young wine, a young vineyard. A wine that means a lot to me personally. I've pulled all my other 2006's as well. The pinot noirs from the other vineyards I'm still getting around to tasting, but I opened the chardonnays when we grilled fish outside with my aunt and they were showing fabulously. Notes soon.

Epic all around. Wagyu and Champagne, just all love, all love.


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