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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

An Evening with The Sommelier All-Stars!

Boulud & the Sommelier All-Stars!
Last Wednesday night the stars aligned at New York's iconic eatery, DANIEL...the Sommelier All-Stars, that is.  

Chef Daniel Boulud assembled the best and brightest of his Sommeliers, led by Dinex Wine Director Daniel Johnnes, for an evening where the wine reigned supreme. Each of the seven Sommeliers selected two wines they found inspiring, and each duo was paired with a dish created to suit the wines. Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud Sommelier, Michael Madrigale commented, "It was nice to have the roles reversed. Normally we pick the wine to go with the food but tonight it's the other way around!"

Guests were greeted with exquisite bubbly hand selected by DB Bistro Moderne Sommelier, Alexander LaPratt. A pair of 2004 Blanc de Blancs included an A. Margaine Willers-Marmery "Special Club" and a Pierre Moncuit Les Mesnil-sur-Oger which were served alongside passed hors d'oeuvres including Mille-Feuille of Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese, Snail Cromesquis with Sweet Garlic and Wild Mushroom Pomponette with Fontina. Moncuit's offering stood up best to the array of delicacies and it was also interesting to learn that even this house's NV bottlings are from a single vintage, with no reserve wines added.

The first course of the evening was helmed by DANIEL resident Sommelier, Raj Vaidya whose favorites manifested as a pair of '09 German Rieslings, the J.J. Prum "Wehlener Sonnenuhr" Spatlese and the Leitz "Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck" Spatlese served "aus magnum." Daniel Johnnes commented he'd hired Vaidya to develop the Burgundy section of DANIEL's wine list,  while Vaidya declared it was his mission to turn Johnnes into a Riesling lover. While I can't speak for Johnnes, I was definitely compelled by Vaidya's choices and both Rieslings paired deliciously with the Duck Terrine with Marcona Almond and Honeycrisp Apple Confit.

Next up, Daniel Johnnes stayed true to form with a duo of White Burgundies that included one of my favorites of the evening, the '09 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Saint Aubin 1er Cru "En Remilly." This delightful white featured perfectly balanced notes of stone, mineral and fruit that had me savoring every drop. Its counterpart was a '08 Jobard Meursault "Genevrieres" which was lush and lovely, and while both paired very nicely with the Crispy Scottish Langoustines with Minted Cucumber, I did prefer the Saint Aubin.
We entered the realm of reds in the capable hands of Blue Pilkington, Sommelier at Café Boulud New York, whose selection of Burgundies elicited a collective grin from oenophiles in attendance. The '06 Sylvain Cathiard Chambolle-Musigny "Les Clos de L'Orme" was refined and elegant while the '07 Domaine Dujac Chambertin Grand Cru was comparatively rich and decadent and remarkably approachable for such a young Grand Cru. Both wines harmonized beautifully with the Duo of Veal featuring Caramelized Sweetbreads and Tenderloin with Black Trumpet Mushrooms.

Next came the inspired Rhone selections of Michael Madrigale, Sommelier of Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud. Known for his predilection for large formats, Madrigale did not disappoint with a '07 Domaine Guillaume Gilles Cornas "en magnum" and a '06 Pierre Usseglio Chateauneuf du Pape "Mon Aieul" "en jeroboam." The Cornas' initial whiff of black olive tapenade evolved into delightful savory, gamy notes while the young Chateauneuf had big flavors of blackberry, plum, licorice and appreciable tannins. This savor-worthy duo was paired with an earthy dish of Grouse with Huckleberries, Brussel Sprouts and Parsnips that deliciously enhanced nuances of both wines, making this my favorite overall pairing of the evening.

Daniel Boulud, moi & Jay McInerney
Prior to the dessert course, Chef Boulud emerged with a light-hearted challenge for Sommeliers and diners alike. Each table was presented with two wines, one white and one red, and charged with the task of blind tasting and identifying each. Considering the present company, this challenge was simultaneously titillating and terrifying. Thankfully, the Sommeliers' answers were presented first and, while close, there were no spot on matches. Chef Boulud's selections were somewhat obscure: a 2005 Sogno Due Falanghina from Campania and a Northern Rhone selection, the '04 Domaine Florentin St. Joseph. There was much laughter and good-natured ribbing as the Somms chided Boulud for his "cheap" selections. Boulud then proceeded to blind taste a red wine and came remarkably close to identifying it; he guessed a '09 Cru Beaujolais to be a Chirobles or a Fleurie. 

With the next course, Sommelier Kerri O'Brien of DBGB Kitchen and Bar introduced two unique "orange" wines. The '06 La Stoppa "Ageno" from Emilia-Romagna had a heady, perfumey aroma that was very similar to Tiffany eau de parfum, so much so I was tempted to dab some behind my ears. To drink, I preferred the '02 Berthet-Bondet Vin de Paille Cotes du Jura that paired remarkably well with the the cheese course of Tete de Moine, Vieux Comte, Langres and Bayley Hazen Blue.

The final say was had by Sommelier Mariya Kovacheva of Café Boulud Palm Beach, and her selection of Italian wines paired with dessert were also among my favorites of the evening. The '07 La Roncaia Picolit was lightly honeyed with a lovely acidity while the '08 Corte Sant' Alda Recioto della Valpolicella featured muted notes of plum, vanilla and spice. Both selections were delightfully elegant and well-balanced, so much so, I kept forgetting about the chocolates and petit fours in front of me, and that doesn't happen very often! I did manage to sneak a few of Boulud's signature madeleines though.

All in all it was a very special and memorable evening. While chatting with Chef Boulud after dinner, he asked us if we had lunch plans the following day and proceeded to make us reservations at his newest restaurant, Boulud Sud. Who were we to say no? That review to follow!


1 comment:

  1. I am a wine know-nothing, but I am happy for you that you had such a lovely experience. Peter and I attended a special dinner in Denver several years ago where a special wine was paired with each of 5 or 6 courses. I could appreciate how special each wine was but could never have explained why!


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