A TRIPLE-HEADER OF REALLY INTERESTING WINES

Last night, we spent some time and had dinner with Brad Kieffer and Karen Oxrider, our good friends and wine buddies.

Initially, Karen came over to our house where she and Dorianne did some work for a non-profit they are involved with. During this time, we opened a bottle of 2007 Au Bon Climat Hildegard White Table Wine, the wine, from the stable of the great Jim Clendenen, is an amazingly well-crafted white wine; made from 55% Pinot Beurot (Pinot Gris), 40% Pinot Blanc and 5% Aligote inspired by the composition of the Corton Charlemagne vineyard in Burgundy as it was believed to have been planted during Charlemagne’s reign as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (Parker). I have blogged about this wine before (Link).

2015-02-02 18.02.38

It made the non-profit work go very smoothly!

Unfortunately, it was our last bottle of this great wine.

After the work was done, it was time to meet Brad for dinner. We chose Galetto’s Grill in Westlake Village, one of my favorites – a mixture of Brazilian and Italian cuisine with an excellent wine list.

But tonight, we would be bringing a couple of bottles.

Brad and Karen had a bottle of Hungarian wine that they brought back from a trip to Europe a few years ago. The wine, a 2002 Sandor Pince Egri Pinot Noir, was an unknown quantity. Would it still be good in 2015? Was it a good wine to begin with? An internet search revealed next to nothing about this particular wine.

A bottle of 2010 Clos Pepe Estate Pinot Noir would serve as a back-up.

Our conversation ranged from travel, past trips and future plans, to wine to food, to our impending move away from California and our extended stay in Europe. It was an evening of good company, good food, and good and interesting wine.

2015-02-02 18.35.21The waiter opened the bottle of Sàndor Pince and poured a taste for Brad. He sniffed and swirled and very slowly tasted. After a pause, he said, “Interesting.”

The wine was very earthy – mineral on the nose, terroir (dirt) with a hint of rust was evident in the wine – not in an unpleasant way, but there was a nearly total absence of fruit on the nose and in the mouth. I liked the wine more than the others, but I agreed that we should see what it would be like in a few minutes. So we ordered.

I ordered a Brazilian style rib eye stake that would come with black beans and rice, pico de gayo, and other spices. Dorianne had a fish dish, Karen had salmon, Brad a skirt steak prepared much like my rib eye.

I will say that the Hungarian Pinot Noir was a good compliment to my steak with the dry Brazilian spices. The mineral nature of the wine was a good pairing. It’s relatively high acid and medium tannins went well with the dish. The others were ready to turn to the Clos Pepe, however.

Wine - Clos Pepe LabelAs always, the Clos Pepe Pinot Noir did not disappoint. Smooth, with a wonderful balance of mineral and fruit on the nose and the pallet, with a hint of pepper and spice. It was a nice finish to the evening after the harsher Hungarian Pinot Noir.

In fact, that wine was book-ended by two splendid wines from the California Central Coast. Our experiment with the rare (for us) Hungarian Wine from the “Valley of the Beautiful Women,” was really not all that dangerous, as we were definitely working with a net, as it were.

So it was the best of both worlds – a chance to try something new and also to enjoy two well known wines that never disappoint.

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