Monday, June 17, 2002
Chef Alan Sternweiler & Wines by VE Manfred Raiser
TERROIR - Harvest On Huron Hosts L'Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs
Vice-Echanson Manfred Raiser regularly guides the Chicago and Moraine Valley Chapters through historical fact, winegrower background as well as going into great detail about the wines, their terroir and of course the sensations and evaluations that accompany his choices. Allen Sternweiler, Executive Chef of Harvest On Huron downtown Chicago, crafted a menu showcasing the amazing array of wines that had been lined up for the tasting. Vice-Chargé de Missions Mon Roldan was instrumental in directing the evening and bolstered what promised to be a powerful and informative gathering and Chevalier Pete Stiles had used his considerable friendship with Chef Sternweiler to help shape and create the menu style to complement the line up.
Terroir had been chosen as the theme and essential point of the evening.
Hardly ever seen on the shelf and rarely drunk, the purity of 1975 Louis Roederer Cristal was served with the first course of warm lobster salad. We had the opportunity to blend the younger ‘95 with the elder 1975 Cuvée. The 1975 by itself evoked an elegance and purity, almost flat with layers of vanilla and pears and an aroma of toasted nuttiness. The blending and addition of the 1995 added a bright acidity and effervescence to the glass. The idiosyncratic parcels of land in this harsh northern European climate create permutations ad infinitum and the chalky sub-soil allows the easy drainage down the exposed slopes of this ‘region grisâtre’ of France. An amazing Pavillon Blanc, Château Margaux 1998 also challenged our curiosity as it blossomed richly with the food although mild before it. The fine gravel of this Estate coupled with the gentle maritime climate allows the grapes to ripen both by day and by night in an aristocratic and genteel fashion. The lobster empowered this Sauvignon Blanc and balanced the extremes.
The third dish of foie gras provided the framework for the four Botrysised wines comprising a haughty 1971 Chateau d’Yquem tasting like liquid gold as well as the rich, toffee-like and mature Trockenbeerenauslese Müller-Thurgau 1976. Terroir again portrayed how the character and the nose were influenced by the vines’ geographical location and soil. The noblest of the rots morphed and evolved and competed with one another with each mouthful of the careful food pairing.
Two respected producers of Pinot Noir were represented at this tasting. Gary Farrell, Allen Vineyard 1992 displaying the Sonoma County’s facility of being able to provide the soil and cool climate of the Russian River Valley to enable the production of mellow, smooth Pinots, and Anderson Valley’s Goldeneye 1998. We toyed with glass shape to glean an impression of the Goldeneye in two different “surroundings” and of course the planned Pinot glass provided an openness, eliciting the maximum fruitiness of this young wine made from the well-drained gravely soils of its vineyard.
Burgundy and its continental climate came next and with it its mosaic of individual terroirs – their geology and microclimate changing within feet. A Philippe Leclerc 1998 Gevrey Chambertin, Premier Cru la Combe aux Moines accompanied roast venison loin with oxtail jus. Also poured was a Clos La Roche, Grand Cru, Domaine Dujac 1987. The Leclerc wine was loaded with black fruits yet seemed to cut the taste of food short on the palate. The Dujac broke new frontiers and set a different standard. This proved to have a powerful nose of tobacco and leather and the terroir came through in no uncertain terms. The dark ruby color and magnificent mouth left a luscious and velvety impression. The Dujac definitely elongated the experienced of food on the palate and felt silky and harmonious.
A Romanée St. Vivant, Domaine de la Romanée Conti 1990 and a La Tâche, Domaine de la Romanée Conti en Magnum 1979 from The Golden Slope followed, and accompanied very fine domestic artisan cheeses. The St. Vivant was opulent and very fragrant with a long finish to it, and the La Tâche was redolent of wet earth and truffle aromas and exploded from the glass with a chewy finish . The terroir of this wine growing region of France is probably the most legendary, and was given its name by the Prince de Conti who deemed that all wines produced there should be “nothing but the most exquisite France is capable of”.
The concept of terroir had been exposed and Vice-Echanson Manfred Raiser concluded the evening during the dessert by recounting anecdotes and educational information surrounding the dessert wines, including 1983 Mosel Eiswein, and the incredibly rare 1969 Tokaji Aszu Essencia, considered to possess magical powers.