Wednesday, May 5, 2010

#71 - Beef Filet & Pan-Roasted Potatoes With '89 Clos Fourtet

It's important to keeping learning as you age in life.

Last night, we learned to never play a drinking game involving a new mother looking for a house on House Hunters. We had a drink every time she mentioned her son's name "Jackson". Seemed innocent enough, except we ended up plowing through a 20 year-old Bordeaux in the process.

"Jackson would love to play on this carpet. He's used to hardwoods." "Jackson would love to play in this backyard." "This would be a good place for Jackson's toys." "I love this open kitchen. I could cook and keep my eye on Jackson."

Jackson was two.

Coupled with a lunch drinking game involving Sandra Lee on Semi-Homemade saying "great fla-vor," we've come to the conclusion that drinking games result in wasting wine.

Food: Beef filet with shallot-parsley butter, pan-roasted potatoes and arugula and parsley salad

Beautiful beef filet from Paulina Meat Market cooked perfectly. Just pretty-looking stuff. Simple salt and pepper rub roasted in the oven and seared off in the cast-iron skillet. A shallot-parsley compound butter to French it up for the wine. Potatoes pan-roasted in salt, pepper and rosemary with mayo for dipping. I don't know why arugula and parsley together is so tasty but it is. Get a bit of meat juice bleeding into the salad on the plate and it's a taste explosion - clean yet almost a meal in itself.

The entire meal was created for the wine. It was wine first, second and third in the preparation thought process. Simple French was the goal with a tilt toward smooth, mushroomy, earthy, vanilla Right Bank Bordeaux.

And it was delicious.

But the pairing fell a bit short.

Wine: 1989 Clos Fourtet ($80 - Knightsbridge)

Grape: 90% Merlot 10% Cabernet Sauvignon (15 months in oak)
Region: Saint-Émilion
Vintage (WS): 98 Drink or hold - Bold, dramatic fruit character, tannic and long-aging

1988 through 1990 was a great vintage string in Bordeaux. Clos Fourtet, up until that point, was mired in a prolonged period of producing somewhat mediocre wines. Two things coincided, though. The favorable vintage string hit and Clos Fourtet had just started a modernization of the winery. Not too much info on the web as to the drinkability of the '89 but at $80 (at least $20 below most other places) and within driving distance to buy, why not?

(On Knightsbridge, they're currently carrying the 2005 Gourt des Mautens Rasteau for $60. Very difficult wine to find. Best high-end wine shop in the area and it's not even close.)

Drinkable Clos Fourtet? Not...really. Some life but it was a few years past its window.

Opened for about a half-hour total before drinking. An old look in the glass with brown edges and a tired red. Mushroom, vanilla, dust and faint berry on the nose. Dusty and weedy initially on the palate. The dust blew off but the weedy element hung around a bit. Plenty of mushroom and vanilla but the fruit was limp. The former essence of the wine could be grasped, though. Very smooth. Very Clos Fourtet. We've had enough Clos Fourtet to pretty much know it blind and this had it - that Clos Fourtet-ness, that Clos Fouret-vapor. This '89 was not unpleasant, it was just hanging on for dear life...and losing the battle.

Pairing: 80 Had its moments but not enough to change our opinion of the wine

The good: paired best with the potatoes and mayo and perked up with a pepper-intense bite. At times, the red fruit showed up, bringing it into the realm of acceptable and almost good.

The bad: felt worn out overall. Too much vanilla clouded everything. Needed more lively fruit and more tannin to separate the flavors out of its muddled mess.

The wine started to get a bit thicker as the meal went on but the fruit didn't improve and the meal needed it to do just that, along with a longer finish. On the finish, it was one that got progressively shorter. Right out of the bottle, some nice lingering earth and a wee hint of heat. That disappeared rather quick.

A French meal bordering on the rich with a Merlot-based wine probably wasn't the best choice for a nearly 80 degree day, either. That's on me. I wanted to try it.

A few notes (playing catch-up):

Mahi Mahi tacos with jalapeño sour cream, Mexican slaw and guacamole with purple corn sangria on Monday nearly reached the perfection that was #27 in January. My Golly, this is good. Easily one of our favorite meals. The purple corn sangria wasn't as deep in flavor but that was fine with us.

And it was a god-send after lunch. We had a quick smoked duck with mahon, aged cheddar, blackberry jam, roasted garlic onion jam and baguette. Cheap wine seemed appropriate and we started with the 2006 Eric Ross Carignane. Nothin'. Dumped it. Thought it was the wine and opened the 2005 Pirramimma Shiraz. Nothin'. The 2003 Pirramimma Shiraz. Nothin'!!!! The 2007 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe "La Crau"!!!!!! NOTHIN"!!!!!

Most bizarre thing we've ever experienced. Something in something destroyed something! We settled on the smoked duck. Some sort of chemical reaction killed our palates. Screw you, smoked duck. You ruined four bottles of wine. Your fault, not ours for freakin' opening them. The "La Crau" had its usual fantasticness the next day.

One last note. Trader Joe's Spinach Pie with 2008 Trenza Blanco. A Californian blend of Albariño and Grenache Blanc, the Trenza is an interesting blend for where it comes from that isn't anything spectacular for the price. At $16 (WDC), better wines in that "let's try an odd blend for California" category are out there.

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