Sunday, March 09, 2014 –
This will be a Mondiale Induction with a National Officer present. Open to all Chaine members, with priority to Mondiale members. Capacity limit – 75.
Welcome to the Big League
At the induction ceremony for the Société Mondiale du Vin at the Union League Club of Chicago on March 9, 2014, members and guests were served three glasses of flawed wine. Fortunately, that was exactly the point of what Vice Échanson Michael D. Belsley called an “Exercise in Molecular Mischief: Recognizing Flawed Wines.” “Many people aren’t quite sure if a wine is flawed,” said Belsley, “so we took the liberty of selecting some flawed wines to experiment with.” The first was a corked wine, with what Belsley called a “wet-dog aroma”; the second a maderized wine that had become vinegar-like; and the third was simply “over the hill.” (“There’s plenty more in back,” quipped Belsley.)
No wonder the inducting officer, Harold S. Small, Chancelier des Etats-Unis, called the Mondiale “the irreverent part of the Chaîne.” He presided over the induction of 21 members of the Mondiale, including two professional members; six members of the Chicago Chaîne; and two members of the Lake Shore chapter; along with the elevation of one member each from the Chicago and Lake Shore Bailliages. “You didn’t know that you had more than 22,000 friends around the world,” he said, “but you will after today.”
Bailli Mon Roldan also presented a Bronze Star of Excellence to Officier-Caviste Hilton H. Weinberg for his years of support in developing the Chicago Bailliage wine cellar and selecting wines for Chicago Chaîne events. “If you have experienced exemplary wine at our dinners,” said Roldan, “it is because of Hilton.” He concluded the ceremony by recognizing six members with “Share the Chaîne” awards for bringing new members into the Chaîne.
After the inductions, awards and mischievous lesson in what not to drink, members and guests enjoyed a five-course dinner prepared by Union League Club Executive Chef Michael H. Garbin, with wine pairings selected by Vice Échanson Belsley. The meal began in a flash – literally. Shining silver coffee pots were used to pour a coffee-colored consommé – comprising shiitake, beech, and royal trumpet mushrooms, roasted to enhance its richness – over mushroom flan and crispy shallots. To accompany this sweet yet earthy dish, Belsley chose a 2004 JJ Prum Kabinett Riesling. It offered “lots of slatey minerality,” said Belsley, along with the acidity associated with Rieslings and floral notes to complement the consommé. “Age has rounded it a bit,” he added (which perhaps could be said of us all).
Leaving the forest for the sea, the next course featured a perfectly seared jumbo sea scallop on an island of oxtail ragout, surrounded by a horseradish potato crème. A petite bundle of haricot verts, tied with a chive, added color to the plate and balanced the richness of the other ingredients. Further brightening the dish was a 2004 Chateau St-Jean Pinot Noir from Sonoma. The light, slightly fruity wine complemented the oxtail, while the creaminess of the potatoes helped offset its tannins. A hint of cranberry on the nose and leather on the palate paralleled the sweetness of the scallop and umami of the oxtail.
The meat course continued the approach of combining traditional composition with more creative ingredients. Chef Garbin presented a pastrami-cured loin of venison encrusted in a “coriander and pepper blend, with other spices, which are secret,” he said with a smile. Twin swirls of butternut squash and salsify puree, along with sautéed kale, accompanied the venison. Completing the dish was a pomegranate rosemary reduction. “The pepperiness of the sauce went nicely with the venison,” commented one diner.
Reflecting the educational aspect of the Mondiale du Vin, diners were presented with an Old World vs. New World wine pairing and asked to discussed which they preferred with the dish and why. The 1994 Anderson Conn Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Estate Vineyards) demonstrated the bolder, more fruit-forward elements of a traditional California Cabernet, in contrast to the 1994 Château Pichon-Longueville-Lalande Pauillac, which seemed more refined, with black cherry on the palate, tobacco and blackberry on the nose, yet savory and with more delicate tannins. The general consensus: the New World wine was a crowd pleaser, but the Old World offering truly brought out the best in the venison.
The cheese course also offered diners an opportunity to test their palates with a side-by-side tasting of three aged cheddars from Widmer’s Cheese Cellars in Theresa, Wisconsin. Aged four, six and ten years, the cheeses showed pronounced differences in color, aroma and sharpness. A 1994 Graham’s Vintage Port completed the “classic cheese and port pairing,” said Belsley, with its deep ruby color and bold notes of dark fruit and raisins.
The evening concluded with a light yet satisfying pear sorbet served with Riesling-poached Asian pear slices and paired with a 2004 Dr. Loosen Riesling Kabinett Bernkasteler Lay. “We ended up going with the obvious choice and pairing it with a Riesling,” explained Belsley. “In contrast with the first Riesling, it’s a little bit sweeter. It’s the same vintage. It has some apple. It’s a very light-bodied and approachable Riesling that does not overwhelm the pear.”
The Union League Club of Chicago, established in 1879 as a social and philanthropic organization, was well-chosen to reflect the spirit of history and camaraderie that the induction ceremonies invoked. Indeed, friendship and shared interests animated every conversation in the joint induction and wine tasting dinner.PHOTOS BY ERIC KLEINBERG PHOTOGRAPHY
Dear Confrères and Consœurs:
Please join us for the joint induction ceremonies for new members to the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and to Société Mondiale du Vin at the Union League Club of Chicago and for a celebratory dinner immediately thereafter.
Société Mondiale du Vin is an organization within the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs dedicated to the appreciation of fine wine and other crafted beverages. It encourages the collection and dissemination of information on these libations as well as their enjoyment, understanding, procurement and collection. In short, it provides a means for mutual sharing and recognition among Chaîne members who are beverage oriented or who would wish to learn more about fine wines and crafted beverages. The Chicago Mondiale is a vibrant organization holding four to five tasting dinners annually and a solemn but fun induction ceremony once every two or three years. Its events are, as a rule, less formal than those of the Chaîne.
It is now time for Chicago Mondiale to hold an induction. We have invited Chancelier des Etats-Unis Haroldl S. Small to conduct the induction rites. He will officiate two inductions at this event: first, induction of all new members into the Chaîne, then, induction of Chaîne members into Mondiale.
If you are a Chaîne or Mondiale inductee, please sign up for this event to be inducted and receive your decorations. If you are not yet a Mondiale member, you can be a part of this sub-group for an initial annual fee of $195 (including induction fees) and $85, thereafter. Please contact me or Vice Chargé de Missions Elan Jacoby if you are interested. It is a fun group!
This event is not to be missed. Chicago Chaîne members Maître Hôtelier Jonathon McCabe, General Manager and Chef Rôtisseur Michael Garbin, Executive Chef, and Food & Beverage Director Susan Sheehan are excited to welcome the Chaîne to the Union League Club of Chicago for this induction and dinner. The Union League has hosted numerous memorable Chaine dinners over the years, and this dinner promises to be another culinary treat.
Seating is limited for this unique opportunity. Confirmations will be on a first come, first served basis with preference to Inductees and Mondiale members. Please make your reservations ASAP.
Price Per Person $225 Mondiale Member and One Guest; $250 Non-Mondiale Member and Additional Guests
Dress Code Business Attire with Decorations
Start/End 3:00 PM/8:00PM
Parking Valet/Street Parking/Self-Park Parking Lot on Federal Street
In vino veritas,