Last night capped off 36 hours of wonderful birthday celebration! Thursday evening my favorite wingman took me and a couple of other friends out to Experience Hendrix, a Jimi Hendrix tribute tour featuring several blues legend performers. It was a great show, covering the entire Hendrix canon. Some notable performers were Dweezil Zappa (son of Frank Zappa), Robby Krieger (of The Doors), Jonny Lang, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Awesome!
Then last night Katie put together an exquisite dinner with a few friends. We began the evening with 1998 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut La Grande Dame, which went really well with light caviar. This was not your elegant, airy champagne; it was very fruit-forward and dense – delicious!
We served the main courses all at once: zucchini salad, sardines in puff pastry, eggplant pesto on fresh sourdough, and thai beef (although we used grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free buffalo instead). Each of the recipes was taken from Cooking With Flo, a cookbook authored by a friend of ours to document the exquisite recipes of Florence, the hotelier we met during our visit to Cognac back in 2008. Scrumptious!
The wines we served weren’t those you would classically pair with any of those dishes but hey, it was my birthday and we were going to drink what we wanted! The theme of the night was 2001 Brunello di Montalcino, an excellent vintage not just for wine but also the year I met Katie. In fact, exactly 11 years ago yesterday Katie gave me a hug for the first time – and the rest, as they say, is history!
Before we dove into the Brunelli, though, one of our guests brought another wine to celebrate another vintage – 1979, the year I was born! The 1979 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche was exquisite, vivacious, and had plenty of life left (as I hope I do!). Our first two Brunelli were 2001 Castello Banfi Poggio alle Mura and 2001 La Poderina. Again, these weren’t necessarily natural pairings with our food but they were great on their own and the La Poderina especially went well with the buffalo.
As we moved onto pecorino and gouda cheeses, we brought out the other two Brunelli: 2001 Castelgiocondo and 2001 Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova. As you may recall, I’ve had negative experience with Castelgiocondo in the past, but this was my first time actually drinking their wine. It was good, but not good enough to cancel out my grudge from that visit. The Casanova was Wine Spectator’s 2006 wine of the year. I’m not sure it’s that good, but it was definitely my favorite of the night and will keep getting better over time.
Completely stuffed, we moved on to dessert: homemade blueberry cobbler and chocolate cake (Good thing I was carb loading for Sunday’s 10k race!)! For this course we had a Sauternes-like late harvest wine from California. Imagine my surprise then when I took my first sip and it was . . . spicy! It turned out that this was not the dessert wine we thought it was. It was experimental jalapeno wine our friends had made and bottled in a dessert wine bottle! While it certainly wasn’t for everyone, I happen to love spicy wine, so it was a perfect end to a fabulous evening.
Five hours of wine dinner . . . great company . . . and a spicy surprise . . . what better way to begin my next trip around the sun?