Saturday, January 7, 2012

conversation, and the quartet of Tuscan wines

2006 Valliano Poggio Teo Chianti Classico DOCG

2006 Valiano Poggio Teo | DOCG Chianti Classico | Castelnuovo Berardenga

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2007 Podere l'aja | DOCG Chianti Classico

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2007 Geografico Montegiachi Riserva | DOCG Chianti Classico

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2009 Tenuta San Guido Le Difese | IGT Toscana

The Chianti's were beautiful, singing of true sangiovese, dusty earth and ripe cherries.

We were cooking together and suddenly it just came out of nowhere: Green onion, you're drinking too much.

Well of course I am. I'm a wine consultant, aren't I? No you're not. Everyone's been saying you drink too much. Your aunts. Your cousins. Your friends from church. No, those are your friends. And really, everyone needs to mind their own fucking business. That's not a very nice thing to say. Everyone's worried about you. You starting drinking in the afternoon and don't stop until late at night. And you sleep until 2 in the afternoon. It's like messed up jetlag. I don't think it should be a surprise that I like to sleep. And besides, I'll just keep cycling forward until I get back to normal time again.

The Poggio Teo was showing deep minerality, developing a savoury quality with air.

Your great-grandmother was a fabulous cook. She used to store her soy sauce in those glass bottles with the metal wire stoppers. And she liked to drink a glass of Shaoxing wine or baijiu with lunch and dinner. Smoked too. She sounds amazing. You were her favourite. Most of the dishes we're cooking now are her recipes. We really need to get them down on paper or something. Document it all. Your grandmother hated that she smoked. Was upset about that all the time. You know, it wasn't considered proper for a woman of that generation to be smoking and drinking. She had bound feet too, no? And she lived until her late 90's. AND she saw the birth of her 4th generation. I would have loved to have a drink with her. Or a smoke.

The Podere l'aja was simply exquisite, just that authentic, gorgeous sangiovese character. Dusty tannins creating a truly singular texture, getting sweeter and sweeter and sweeter.

My greatest regret was not doing more for my grand old man. He knows you loved him. That doesn't lessen the guilt. I was too young to appreciate him when he was here. I was terrible to him. And then when I got older, there just wasn't opportunity to keep going to Shanghai. He suffered. I feel the same guilt. You know I place so much importance on food and wine and sitting down for a good meal. And I was never able to do that for him. Cook him some of the seafood and shrimp that he loved so much. Share some sweet wines with him. Sauternes and Tokay, maybe port. Definitely Champagne. He knows you loved him.

The Montegiachi, a Riserva, showing some wood and roasted notes, but possessing great depth.

You're turning me into an alcoholic. Is it so bad that you can recognize a Mosel on nose alone? I do love riesling. The true winos all do. And the alcohol is so low. Those Champagne cellars were amazing. You remember when I got so drunk after that lunch? Of course I do. You passed out in the hotel and wouldn't get up for dinner. I had to go back to the Cathédrale de Reims by myself. Well, you should have helped me with that bottle. We tasted all morning, then I finished at least 3/4 of that rosé Champagne, and then we tasted more in the afternoon. That restaurant manager must have thought we were important or something. He was so polite. He ran out to open the car door for us. Well, we did roll up in a black Mercedes and had our driver talk to them first. When you get rich I want a Mercedes. Two door.

And finally, the clunker - Le Difese. About three quarters cabernet sauvignon, the rest sangiovese - but somehow only a quarter of the character of the preceding wines. Begins macerated, just flabby, cheap. Begins to firm up with air, gets tighter, which somewhat saved its drinkability. But clearly sacrifices regional character for mass-appeal.

Sea cucumber and bamboo shoot:

It takes about a week, but prepare your dried sea cucumber by soaking to rehydrate, then washing and removing the intestines. Soften and texturize in the pressure cooker. Soak until it reaches full size, changing water daily.

Cut the bamboo shoots in thin slices. Julienne the green onion and ginger, and fry them quickly in a hot pan in vegetable oil. Set them aside.

Slice the sea cucumber into chunks - not too small. Quickly fry in the same pan with some oil, making sure it doesn't stick or burn. Add in fresh chicken broth, as clear as you can get it. Add your slices of bamboo shoot. Simmer over a low heat until the sea cucumber turns almost gelatinous, but still retains shape and texture.

Just before serving, add in green onion and ginger. High heat to bring it all together. A generous sprinkling of dried shrimp roe. And of course, season to taste.

Simply divine.

DF

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