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Old 21-01-2005, 06:09 PM
Dale Williams
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Default TN: brutal Brut, plus Charvin, Chave, Strub, etc

Monday Betsy made leg of lamb, with a basil-anchovy sauce; accompanied by chard
with pinenuts and boiled potatoes. The sauce is surprisingly wine friendly; in
this case I decided to go for a Rhone. The 2001 Chave "Offerus" St. Joseph was
exceedingly tight upon opening, just tannin and barely perceptible fruit. An
hour in the decanter presented a more agreeable wine. Blackberry and
blackcurrant fruit with an edge of peppery Rhone spice, good finish. Still
tannic, but the meat helps out. We drank half the bottle,had the rest next
night with a puttanesca sauce. Not really a recommended combo, but the wine had
enough acidity to do ok. On day 2 the fruit had more of a red raspberry/cherry
flavor, with a herby nose. Good wine, needs time. If negociant wine is this
good, would love to try the estate. B++

Wednesday Betsy made Eric Ripert's version of Keller's butter poached lobster,
with a Champagne/tarragon sauce. She didn't actually use Champagne, but a
bottle of 2000 Windsor North Coast "Champagne" (my italics) Brut (this was a
gift from a non-drinking neighbor, his company was giving out these with their
own holiday label). Ok for the recipe, but not easy to drink. Sharp green apple
fruit, somewhat coarse mousse, slightly off (herby?) smell, short finish. C

I pulled out the first white I saw in fridge, the 2001 Strub Niersteiner
Bruckchen Kabinett. Seemed a little bigger than last bottle tried, though
still on the lighter side. Nice balance of acid and sugar, not closed at all.
Peach and cherry fruit, lengthy chalky finish, nice wine. B+

So Thursday Betsy tells me that friends are coming to dinner, and she is making
Nigela Lawson's duck with blueberry sauce, from Wednesday's NYT. Duck with
fruit sauce actually isn't my favorite, especially as a wine match. But I never
stand in the way of Betsy wanting to try a new recipe. I polled cyberspace for
opinions, and got suggestions of Rhone, Burgundy, RRV PN or Syrah, Petite
Syrah, Zinfandel, and more. So I went with a few options based on what I had
'01 Claude Dugat bourgogne (rebottled in 375, refrigerated earlier in week)
'01 Strub Kabinett (because it was open)
2001 Charvin Cotes du Rhone
2003 3 Thieves Zinfanfel (because my guests love Zin, and are always looking
for budget ones)

the results:
well, first of all the match wasn't as bad as I feared. Betsy said
"duck in blueberry sauce", and I had visions of purple duck (a
blueberry version of duck l'orange). But what she actually served was
roast duck with a blueberry sauce (made with fresh blueberries, not
extraordinarily sweet)on the side. I sampled each wine with just duck, a quick
dip of the sauce, and with mucho sauce.
With just duck, my favorites (in order) we Burg, CdR,Zin, Riesling.
With duck and a touch of sauce: CdR, Burg, Riesling, Zin.
The couple of experimental bites heavy on sauce: Riesling, CdR, Zin,
Burg (with only the Riesling being even a halfway good match).

As to the wines, the 2001 Charvin Cotes du Rhone really showed well.
Medium-bodied, ripe but not flabby, bright raspberry and cherry liqueur fruit.
Some smoke and herb, clear clean if not especially lengthy finish. Baby CdP,
indeed. Buy more at $15. B+/A-

The 2003 3 Thieves Zinfandel ($9 for a liter retro jug) is a pleasant easy to
drink Zin on the red fruit end of the Zin spectrum, with bright raspberry fruit
and a hint of white pepper. Fun easy wine, nothing complicated, good QPR. B

Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a
good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where
it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy,
and certainly not of consistency

Dale Williams
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