Decadence is the theme in the November issue of DC magazine, so we sought out the most decadent meal in the city. Join me at the chef's table at Michel Richard Citronelle, where one of the world's most acclaimed chefs flirts, cajoles and beguiles diners with whimsical, delicious food. Bon appetit!
And in October, DC celebrated the city's nightlife. My review profiled Lima, a night club-cum-lounge-cum restaurant, where the food is better than expected and sommelier Daniel Mahdavian presides over a top-notch wine list.
If you’ve read much of my wine rantings over the years, you know that I don’t buy into the crapola about white wines going out of style once the leaves turn color. White wine will always have a place on my table (even if it is followed by a red) in any season, and here are two that I’ve enjoyed recently while wearing a sweater:
Esporão Reserva 2004, Alentejo, Reguengos D.O.C., Portugal. I was first served this wine at lunch at the Fonseca port headquarters in Vila Nova de Gaia in September, a setting where anything was bound to taste good. But I was just as thrilled with it when I found it at Potomac Wines and Spirits in Georgetown for $11. Made with Portuguese grape varieties Roupeiro, Arinto and Antão Vaz (didn’t he have a bit part in The Legend of Zorro?), the wine is rich and creamy in texture (from American oak) with loads of stone fruit flavor. A great bargain, imported by Aidil Wines & Liquors in New Jersey.
Konrad Sauvignon Blanc 2004, Marlborough, New Zealand. I bought this beauty a year or more ago at Schneiders of Capitol Hill on the recommendation of co-owner Jon Genderson. Then I forgot about it. Noticing the vintage recently, I figured I should drink it up before it lost too much of that acidity that makes New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc so delicious and develops the stewed asparagus flavor they can get after a few years. I needn’t have worried. This wine still packs plenty of zest and that grapefruit flavor we’ve come to love, along with more of what wine geeks call “minerality” than I’ve ever tasted in a Sauvignon Blanc produced outside the Loire. This wine was still a puppy, and a downright bargain at $16. No doubt the 2004 has given way to the ’05 or even the ’06 on retail shelves, but I will look for this one, buy several bottles, and do my best to forget about it again! Imported by Southern Starz Inc., Huntington Beach, Calif.
I’ve judged many Virginia wine competitions over the past decade, and one category I always dread is rosé. As much as I champion Virginia wines, when these wineries make a pink or “blush” wine it typically seems like they’re trying to make the best of a mistake. “Oops, we took the juice off the skins too soon and there’s no color. I know, let’s call it rosé!” Or, “Well we couldn’t ripen the Franc again, so let’s blend in a little of this vegetal Seyval Blanc and call it a blush.” They’ll tell you it sells like wildfire at the winery tasting room, but man, it tastes like sweet, unbalanced dreck.
Perhaps it’s a sign of the maturity of the Virginia wine industry that I tasted two dry rosés this past weekend that would do the Old Dominion proud. Albemarle Rosé 2005 from Kluge Estate just south of Charlottesville is made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Essentially, the winery bleeds off about 20% of the juice from its premium New World Red and its second label, Albemarle Simply Red, to concentrate their flavors. That means it makes about 1,000 cases each year (aiming for production of 5,000 cases when the winery reaches its planned capacity) of this juicy rosé, deep pink in color in the new style that’s reaching a most welcome vogue – finally! – in the U.S. market.
Paler in color and more delicate in flavor, the Barboursville Rosé 2005 is winemaker Luca Paschina’s first effort at a pink wine. Paschina hails from Piemonte, and his rosé reminds this Francophile of the Provencal style just across the border, packing much more flavor than the color might suggest. Crisp and refreshing, this wine is made from Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc, and I do not mind saying that it is among the best rosés I’ve ever tasted.
With the Fall weather turning cool, you’re probably in a red-wine frame of mind. But I urge you to keep rosé in mind – and these two in particular if you happen to be near Charlottesville or elsewhere in Virginia – for your Thanksgiving table. Both of these fine wines will accompany any variety of foods. And, as any true self-respecting Virginian will tell you, the first Thanksgiving was actually in Virginia, at Berkley Plantation. But I don’t want to get into that silliness.