Dinner Chez Parker - Benefitting Camillus House, Miami, Florida & My Neighbors Foundation, Parkton, Maryland
This meal at our home sold for nearly $150,000 to a group of wine lovers I know well in Miami, Fla., who are very generous contributors to charity events. The menu was focused around our local Maryland bluefin crab and the amazing Bryan Flannery dry-aged Prime Wagyu strip steaks from California. We also started with some Joselito Pata Negra ham.
Being super-critical of what we were doing from a culinary standpoint, I have to say that the food turned out gorgeous. However, the wines took center stage as I pulled out as many gems from my cellar as I could to satisfy these discerning, but incredibly generous, donors.
We started with the rare 2003 Dom Perignon Rosé Champagne from a controversial vintage, but there is nothing flabby or unstructured about this rosé. Always slightly deeper in color than most rosé Champagnes, this wine showed plenty of kirsch and strawberry notes, and more body than the 2002, but great freshness and a beautiful texture.
A flight of Coche-Dury wines offered convincing evidence that Jean-François Coche-Dury is still the finest producer of white Burgundy and, in contrast to many of his colleagues, has never had an issue with a premature oxidation. Every one of these wines could go another 10-20 or more years as they were young, vibrant, crisp and loaded with minerality and loads of subtle tropical fruit and brioche notes. My favorite was the 2002 Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne, which had a slightly broader, deeper, tactile impression. But all three were beautiful and incredibly young.
I contrasted them with what I thought would be the four finest Chardonnays from California, except I mistakenly pulled out a bottle of 2014 Kongsgaard Viognier-Roussanne blend, which was quickly identified as a pirate and totally different than the other three wines in the flight. Nevertheless it was a beauty, although it seemed lost against the old-vine 2013 Aubert Chardonnay Ritchie, which was tight and closed, and remarkably similar to a Coche-Dury that we had in the glass next to the Aubert. The 2010 Marcassin Chardonnay is brilliant with incredible minerality - this estate vineyard on the Sonoma Coast seems to be coming up with more intensity every new vintage. Another wine with great minerality and beautiful tropical fruit, orange and tangerine oil and citrus notes, is the 2013 Peter Michael Chardonnay Belle Côte.
We then moved to two flights of Bordeaux, and one of the temptations for the lucky donors was that they got to visit my wine cellars. All of these vintages were purchased as futures and cellared - the 1990s from 1993 onward and the 1982s from 1985 onward - in 55-degree Fahrenheit or lower temperatures and high humidity (approximately 80%+), a characteristic of an underground wine cellar in Maryland. The 1990s don't have the concentration of the 1982s, but they are beautiful wines. Actually, they are on an aging curve that is more advanced than the 1982s, even though the latter vintage is eight years older. The 1990 Cheval Blanc is a gorgeous wine, and I can understand some people at the tasting giving it a three-digit rating as their favorite in the flight. It was spectacular, open-knit, showing loads of cedar wood, mulberry, blackcurrant fruit, a broad, full-bodied mouthfeel and gorgeous texture and opulence. Slightly younger, denser, darker-colored and still not yet ready for prime-time, is the 1990 Beauséjour. It is interesting, the Cheval Blanc terroir being sand and gravel and the Beauséjour terroir pure limestone. This is a more masculine, firmer, yet super-concentrated wine that was one of those one-hit wonders during this era for Beauséjour. The estate has been churning out incredible wines ever since the spectacular efforts in 2009 and 2010. The 1990 La Conseillante was gorgeous in 1994, and 22 years later remains decadent and exotic. It's feminine, seductive and alluring. My bottles of 1990 Montrose apparently never hit any heat so the brett component, which can be animalistic and annoying in bottles that have been exposed to poor storage, has never been an issue. Stored perfectly and having been purchased in pristine condition, this is a magnificent wine of incredible richness. It is a great classic of Bordeaux that is truly first-growth in quality and still capable of another 20-30 years of longevity, although I think the 1989 (which we didn't have at this dinner) is equal and may ultimately surpass it one day and last longer. We finished with a great bottle of 1990 Latour, which has been incredibly irregular from my cellar, with some bottles in the low 90s and somewhat flabby, and other bottles like this one - gorgeously rich and cedary, with graphite, blackcurrant and loads of spice and beautiful purity and richness.
We then moved to Flight V and the 1982s. We added a bottle of 1982 Lafleur from the cellar. This group may have been among the best 1982s still out there. The more forward wines, such as the 1982 Trotanoy are fully mature (and have been that way for a number of years), but showing no signs of fading, with beautiful sweet cherry, dusty, loamy soil undertones, spice box and cedar. The 1982 Pichon Lalande can be perfect on many occasions, and this is another wine that was gorgeous to drink in 1985 - and here we are 31 years later and it is still a gorgeously rich, deep, ruby/purple, showing no amber at the edge with loads of cedar wood, cassis and blackberry fruit. The 1982 Margaux is youthful, young and probably in late adolescence in terms of its maturity curve. It has at least another 30-50 years ahead of it. The 1982 Mouton was the most backward wine in this flight, but it has come out of a somewhat closed, awkward state, and is now just beginning to show its enormous concentration, prodigious aromatics and true greatness. It is one of the all-time great Mouton Rothschilds. I remember tasting it from barrel when the ancient and long-deceased cellar master, Raoul Blondin said it was the greatest Mouton since the 1945 and would resemble that wine with time. He is proving to be correct. More opulent, decadent, rich, intense and full-bodied is the 1982 Latour. If you are a gambler, this is the wine to put your bet on in any blind tasting of the 1982s, as it just struts its stuff in almost exotic, atypically opulent and extravagantly rich, full-bodied style. It is still going strong and is an amazing effort. We finished with one of the legends of the 20th century, the 1982 Lafleur, which was like pure kirsch liqueur.
It is interesting to have that wine and then follow that with a magnum of 1989 Rayas, which has now surpassed the 1990 and is the great Rayas for drinking now and over the next 20+ years. It is a magnificent wine and one can see how old-vine Grenache grown in sandy soil can resemble a Merlot/Cabernet Franc/old-vine blend from Pomerol. It is one of those anomalies that is hard to explain - but tasting them side by side is a real eye-opener.
We finished with a magnificent magnum of 1989 Henri Bonneau Réserve des Célestins, which, again, is now creeping up and may surpass what I often thought was the greatest traditional Châteauneuf du Pape I have ever tasted – the 1990 Henri Bonneau Réserve des Célestins. This wine still has many years ahead of it and is pure beef blood, roasted Provençal herbs, pepper and spice. The 1989 Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin, also served from magnum, was fabulously rich, more mature than I would have thought, but incredibly flavorful with black fruits, loads of licorice, floral notes and the Mourvedre component giving it a wild, eccentric, kinky, animal savagery. This was intense and full-bodied as one might expect, but these Châteauneufs certainly didn't lose a step coming behind some of the legendary Bordeaux of the 20th century.
We finished with one of my favorite vintage ports - the 1970 Fonseca - a great port in full maturity, but capable of lasting another 25-30 years.
My many thanks to honored guests Bob Dickenson, Rob Hildebrant, Matthew Meehan, Mike Farra, Nelson Rodriguez, Aleco Azqueta, Carlos Migoya, Manny Medina, Manny Kadre, Armando Codina, Donna Solimene and James Martin, for making the trek up from Miami to our home and for their incredible generous contributions to solving the homeless problem in Miami and to helping disadvantaged children in my neighborhood.
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