Wednesday, May 2, 2012

#273 - Roasted Chicken, Brillat-Savarin, Bread & Butter With '02 Gimmonet Special Club

Been awhile.

Wine-related things have happened, just little of anything that wowed us.

A Blackbird dinner featuring older-vintage Sanguis wines brought interesting food, if low in acid, and pairings that puzzled us a bit.  Texture perfection has seemingly been the MO at Blackbird over the last few years and they nail it.  It's memorable stuff in that respect.  It just doesn't get under our skin these days like acid perfection does and that, in our experience, takes a backseat at Blackbird.

With wines all a wee touch over 15% alcohol, more grizzly bear elements in the food seemed warranted. A stupid-good sous-vide quail was gobbled up by the Infidels, a bigger syrah-cab-grenache blend.  An amuse of fluke and lardo needed an acid lift from the Acromion, a roussanne-viognier blend, and the wine just didn't offer such a thing.  The Optimist showed better with ahi and beef tongue than our home experience while The Bossman, a personal favorite, fell flat, turning gritty with black bean agnolotti, ricotta, peas, morels and wasabi.

Sanguis is about decadence. Blackbird excels in different food arenas. Odd fit.

But the winery owners are just the tops and they have a customer. Blackbird as well because the experience is always something that feels like visiting friends.

In other news, the sign of a good wine shop comes from a game. If you browse the selection in a given wine shop and someone told you that you could only drink wines from there the rest of your natural-born life, would that upset you? Would you feel like a large gaping hole opened up in your wine world?  Would you palpably feel like something, a big something, was missing? I don't think I'd feel that to any large extent with Vinic in Evanston. Great diversity, great owner, great bargains and an atmosphere you want to spend time just walking around in.  Rare, very rare thing in Chicago. An Evanston alcohol/city combined sales tax approaching 15%, which was a surprise, but worth it.

On to a back-on-the-equine pairing of chicken and fancy Champagne.

Food:  Modified TK chicken, Brilliat-Savarin cheese, bread and butter with arugula salad to finish

We wore Thomas Keller chicken out last year, just beat it senseless, and loved every minute. But it left us with a bit of chicken fatigue. Took a break, our last TKC came in January, and the break reminded us why it's g-o-o-d Good.

Salt, pepper, lemon thyme rub on a Trader Joe's mid-tier chicken, propped up on a chicken roaster, making it "look almost human, Dan," roasted in the cast-iron at 450 until internal goes all 160 and rested for 15-20 minutes. Glossy and roasty.


Breast and thigh both delicious. Great chicken, great chicken skin.  Hello, my friend. Good to see you.

Brillat-Savarin has a brilliant touch of funk, creaminess, saltiness, smokiness and deliciousness in my world. I use 'brilliant' because auto-correct keeps wanting to change Brillat to it. Auto-correct, you are my nemesis. Delicious cheese with Tuscan doughy Whole Foods bread that tames it in the right places, accenting what's great about it. Kerrygold butter with bread happy-slappy stuff as well.

Chicken, French cheese, bread and butter. It's dinner, it's easy, it's all Frenchy and it's The Boss.

Arugula salad to finish.

Special Club to pair, our second and served with an eerily similar meal to the first, a 2000 Gaston Chiquet.

Wine:  2002 Pierre Gimmonet Champagne Special Club de Collection ($105 - Howard's)

What makes it "Special" in a clubby way? Here's a summary.

100% old vine Chardonnay, or blanc de blancs if that suits you.  If we had to pin it down, we're blanc de noirs people in our rather limited experience with Champagne fanciness. We enjoy the more expansive expression, more nooks and crannies, more slap-to-the-face, "where the hell did THAT come from?" change. And for me, less possibility for lemon meringue, which is a food substance that can go to hell in my world.

Beautiful tight box (ha!) exploring every corner of said tight box (ha!) here with so much life. Enormous clusters of bubbles. Opened with lemon zest, meringue, nuts, smoke and a confident, light touch of gray smoky slate rocks. Flavors stayed precise all night, never getting lost or dominated by the bigger presence of an apple-pear-pitty number. Nice length with a great time given for pauses and reflection only to finish with something different, something more. Different with each sip but always unmistakably chardonnay - the great, the good and the fine enough. Complex little beast, the grape. Don't know if I'll ever figure out where I completely sit. It's like an acquaintance you immensely enjoy being around but wouldn't ever help move. Too much muchness.

That said, just delicious, elegant, precise, worth the money, wouldn't buy it again, liked the Gaston Chiquet more, Great with capital G moments with the food, just opening up right now and...fancy.

Pairing:  92  Best with the cheese, best-best with the butter

Pretty and an utterly delicious black walnut notes shot up with the cheese. All black walnuts at times for Mrs. Ney, a sort of lemon zest with black walnuts for me other times.

Expanded out, becoming most broad with bread and butter though, finding its most complex level and balance with about 20,000 different flavors mingling and firing all over the place.

Not a false note on the night. Fennel notes with the chicken breast, subtle spice overall and even getting all smoked-on-the-grill lemons with the arugula.

Special stuff, indeed. <---- look what I did.

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