My friend Steve makes a great dinnerlundi, 22 janvier 2007

My friend Steve will come to meet me in Paris for a great dinner.

We met last year once in Paris and once in San Francisco. See reports by clicking on :

dîner Paris

dîner San Francisco

Another friend sent me an email about one fabulous dinner that Steve organised on Januray 20th. I do not resist to the pleasure of letting you know how it was :

Last night four people joined Steve Wolking for a dinner he hosted in San Francisco. The five of us met at the same hotel, where we dined with you last May (2006). Your name was mentioned, many times throughout the evening, François. This evening was so full of surprises we all told Steve that we are expecting François to appear to us as the crescendo of all crescendos. As you know, you did not appear to us, yesterday evening, in human form, but the mysteries of life were so revealed that we believe that the angel Gabriel might have presented himself to us and given the message, from the One above. I say this remark as by the end of the evening we were kneeling reverently with the utmost of humility.
Your friend, Steve Wolking, present one bottle at a time and did not tell us (not producer, region, vintage, grape varietal) what it was until after we enjoyed the wine with a coarse of very fine cuisine. The chef, for the evening, was from Hamburg and understood what was necessary in his role. He understood what great chefs rarely realize and I can say that not a single dish interfered with the wines we enjoyed, double blind. Yes double blind throughout the meal. Steve compelled us to sip and enjoy each wine. We could make guesses for the wine after enjoing them for awhile. So four out of five could first sip, think and enjoy the experience. No comments about the wine were made aloud. The music played for each wine and its course and toward the end of each course our thoughts were requested as to what we thought was in the glass. This method was torturous, in a way, but the wines were so magnificent it was an unusual thrill. 
There were ten bottles (750 ml) in total. Normally, this would be too much wine. Three smaller glasses where also shared with our private sommelier (the Chinese-American gentleman sommelier you met in May) and the chef and in-house sommelier.
The cuisine: hors d’ouerves — Cavier, smoked salmon, oysters; With the courses: hokaido scallop crudo with white asparagus and blood orange salad; pan-seared foie gras with cippolino onions and cherry confit; veal loin with sweetbread croquette and a natural veal reduction; roasted rack of venison with beet spaetzle; stuffed lamb saddle with Israeli couscous; beef zauton and braised kobe beef shortribs with smoked potato puree and daikon redish jus. Blue d’auvergine for the cheese course.
The wines:
1979 Krug then 1959 Krug
1959 Ygrec
1924 Vouvray Gaston Huet Le Haut-Lieu
1974 Chateau Lafite Rothschild
1949 Chateau Lafite Rothschild
1924 Chateau Lafite Rothschild
1899 Chateau Lafite Rothschild
1874 Chateau Lafite Rothschild
1924 Yquem
The Krugs were as you would know them to be. I guessed the first champagne correctly and correctly guess the year of the 1959 Krug, given its color and weightiness. I do not believe in the quick guesses as the wines take time to show themselves as they are from the terroir. A great start as I love Krug with great intimacy.
The Ygrec 1959 was an enigma. It was flora and petrolly on the nose. It was sweet, no wait, it is dry. It was complex with all sorts of nuances that would not end. It was elegant and balanced and galloped with perfection with a multitudes of fruitiness. What a lovely wine. It was magic itself and I could have gone home, at this point, "happy as a clam". We had scallops, so maybe I should say happy as a scallop. When it was time to say what this wine was we thought about German riesling, but said, "no". Alsatian…not from Steve. Dry Sauternes we guessed, but went no further.
Steve Started with the 1974 Lafite because this wine was produced during the "low-point" in Bordeaux. We had this wine alone. What we found was a well balanced, nicely fruited wine. It was not dry-out, but offered a nice pleasure. A great luncheon claret that did not show its age of 33 years. It would be great with a cold lamb sandwich with grilled onions and grilled red bell peppers. This wine was used as a launching pad into a realm of Lafite none of us expected as our group shuns these verticals. From this point, Steve goes back every 25 years to reveal Lafite over a 100 year period. It was an highly intellectual, highly hedonistic as the wines were superb, every last one.
The 1949 and 1924 Lafites showed very well. These wines were regal and very complete — the 24 was concentrated and dense, the 49 a little lighter in taste and a little sweeter than the 24. I am sure you have enjoyed both these wines. What made the experience so nice the match with the cuisine.
When the 1899 was enjoyed, and the next wine was to follow. We did not imagine Steve would pull out another, older wine. By the time this unkonown wine was poured in each person’s glass we were exhausted playing Steve’s adventuresome game. We were overwhelmed with the shear pleasure of these wines and could not imagine where he would go from an 1899 Lafite. Would he pull out another Lafite? It must be a younger wine or a fragile vintage not an older wine.
The 1899 and 1874 Lafites were unreal and unbelievably fresh. As great as the 1949 and 1924 were the last two wines towered over them.  The 1899 and 1874 was simply more of everything, compared to the two younger Lafites. They had an unimaginable vibrancy and were both plush and precise, with great minerality. In the mouth these wines were like liquid cashmere. Even still, the 1874 was denser, sweeter, rounder and more fragrant. Could this be due to it was a pre-phylloxera vintage? I do not know.
All I could do was enjoy the experience and stop thinking — I was simply experiencing a remarkable moment amongst friends.
The Yquem 1924 was marvelous. This was a rather sweet wine with great fruit and complexity. It was glorious.
What a great Saturday evening.
I hope you are well François!

People live well on the Pacific Coast !