We've been talking about this for some time. Our good friend Geoff keeps wine. He's got some great reds in his cellar that he's been looking for an opportunity to drink. He and I have been hatching a plan to take the cork out of one and drink it with a bloody piece of red meat. Or a piece of red, bloody meat. Or a piece of red meat, bloody [thank you waiter].
Enter the 1988 Penfolds Grange Hermitage. I thought he might surprise us with a ten or 15 year bottle of Coleraine from the mighty Hawkes Bay. Instead he rocks up with a 20+ year old bottle of what is widely regarded as one of the world's greatest syrahs outside of Bordeaux. "Well this will be interesting" mused Geoff. It'll either be amazing, or after 20 years, it may have lost it."
It was amazing.
After 20 years, I would say it could have gone for another 20. It was youthful. In my days as Sommelier at Petit Lyon back in the 90's, I've served younger French classics like Chateaus: Margaux, Cheval Blanc, Haut-Brion where age was the predominant taste. Not here. I felt kind of guilty drinking it, but Geoff is the kind of wine keeper who sees it as a beverage, not a commodity. "So let's drink it" he says, I'm sick of staring at it".
Sadly I let the side down with the bloody red meat, which was not as bloody as I would have hoped for it - apologies Kent, you trained me better. All I can say is don't trust the meat thermometer. Follow your instincts when it come to doneness (apparently this is an actual word. I tend to think of it as a term celebrity "chefs" use because their command of the King's anglaise is about as interesting as the dishes they slap out to fill a commercial half-hour on cable tv. I'm prepared to be told otherwise and have to admit, food shows have a certain narcotic quality that make it hard to get off the couch and get into the kitchen. Food should not be more fun to watch on the box than it is to cook in your own home, but that's off-topic and I digress). The Dauphinois were al dente and creamy which sauced-up the plate and the rocket salad was peppery enough to match the wine.
Desert was an after thought. I wanted to do a flan, Maria was after chocolate pud. One mis-step follows another alas and instead of calling my trusted mother for her self-saucing choc recipe, I pulled one down from the interweb by Allyson Gofton, which I will never to again.
So, it sounds like the menu could have been a disaster movie set in my kitchen, but to be honest everyone ate their well done steak and made pleasant with it. Desert was really just a formality so we could get to the cognac and stand by the fire (first of the season) and reminisce the future perfect. By the end of the evening we all agreed that the Grange was the real winner - as it should be. An additional bonus is that Maria has discovered Lanson Fils to be her current champagne of choice, thank you Dominic.
It's also nice to update this blog with something other than talk of Ira's operations or Edie's latest escapade. Normal people things like having friends round for some chow is somewhat of a novelty these last months.
Next post I'll tell you about the Latour and Antipodean we drank this weekend just gone.
In vino veritas - it is said