Home cooking with Mike and Jackie

Harrises.jpgLike many middle-aged empty-nesters we faced a typical Saturday night choice: watch another boring division series baseball game or enjoy a dinner prepared by Jackie d’Occitan with wines selected by her shadowy husband Michael du Nawlins. Not even close.
Michael was decanting the 1983 Grahams Port (definitely not U20) when wife and I arrived well ahead of the other guests (the Scourge of Mastros and his wife Letty). Naturally I poured a small taste of the Grahams immediately seeking a reference point when I hit this again much later. Graham83t.jpgSpectacular. Rich nuttiness. Cherry and mentholatum not unlike cough syrup. Loooonnnnngggg finish. Next taste in three hours with cigars. Michael bought this from his local wine retailer, Liquid Wine & Spirtis in Chatsworth CA. Excellent wine store where one can always find something unexpected, unusual and often spectacular. Here are some notes from a tasting of the 1983 oporto vintage. Very nice!
Cheese, olives and crackers was accompanied by the 2005 Cargasacchi Pinot Noir (also not U20). Mike pours it blind. Oh my goodness. Exotic spice in the nose. Not cab. Not pinot. Not syrah. What is it? Mrs tBoW says allspice aromas. First taste reminds me of fruit cakes at Christmas. Cinnamon, gluwein, lipstick. Wildly exotic wine from Peter Cargasacchi a wildy exotic winemaker from Santa Rita Hills. Tannins emerge after 20 minutes. This will go awhile. PC-wine-thief.jpgI believe Michael bought this on subscription from Caragsacchi through Peter’s Point Concepcion Point Concepcion wine label. For me this was the most remarkable and memorable wine of the evening. Truly exotic.
Dinner time. Michael serves the NV Veuve Clicquot. $34 at Costco. The orange label. Toasty citric. A bit harsh. Orange fruit flavors. Michael suggests tangerine. OK. Goes nicely with Jackie’s platter of duck fois gras, peppercorn pork pate, beets, and carrot shavers.
Jackie serves poached salmon and spinach gratin for the main course. It is perfectly prepared. Delicate. Nice to not get beef again. Love that. Thank you M&J. Michael serves the 2005 Domaine de la Motte Premier Cru Chablis Vauligneau. This is covered in a preceding report. Costco purchase and the hands-down U20 value for this evening and many others to come.
Jackie serves creme brulee’ for dessert. Since I am waxing on Rieslings Michael pulls another surprise wine out. I have had it before but do not recognize it until I spot the bottle lurking behind him. The nose is rich and oily riesling. Pomegranate, grapefruit, very ripe. Oops. That gives it away. The nose is too ripe for the color. It is the 2004 Rideau Riesling from Santa Ynez. The flavors of peppermint and pear are nice but they do not fulfill the promise of the aromas. He has dropped his subscription even though they do have a new winemaker. The pedigree is there so they could and should get better. Worth a re-visit.
iniskillin-CF-copy.jpg Michael decides if I will not drink the riesling then he will put the 2005 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc in front of me. I am just at my limit for more rich food so I pass on the dessert and the riesling (given the choice it would be Jackie’s dessert). But I do taste the Inniskillin.This is a wine I would never buy simply because it is too widely marketed, too corporate (I am such a snob about being snobby). I figure if I see it in an airport duty free store… So I must at least try it. I am surprised and pleased with the low level alcohol at 10.5%. This is rhubarb pie in a glass. Strawberries, chambord, strawberry jam. Everyone plays along thinking of flavors. This is the hardest thing for shy wine drinkers to do. But it so simple if you just un-dam your memory pool. This is nice wine. Costco? I do not ask. But if the Kirklanders offer it a really great price…it was awfully good.
Michael-H.jpgThe evening closes upstairs with cigars on the patio with the fireplace going – I know, a dream home and it is. We return to the 1983 Grahams. It is still delicious and worth another small glass.
Fall approaches and the holidays are a’coming.

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