What a week, Monday was the final day of judging the Dallas Morning News Wine Competition , a three day Wine.Woot! - Woot Off! and then a huge week for wine in the Bay Area, especially for Napa wine lovers attending Premier Napa Valley and Burgundy enthusiasts in town for La Paulée de San Francisco. All the while, it's been a long and tough few nights for me due to an allergy driven cold and little sleep (an outrageously horny Mockingbird is wrecking havoc on the neighborhood).
We hopped in a cab with our SI's (significant others) and headed to Heaven's Dog a few blocks away from our tasting for some killer Chinese food. Their legendary cocktails had drawn me here before, but tonight was all about getting our dinner and wine on.
The first round of food included Shanghai Dumplings - melt in your mouth little steamed pockets of yum. Braised Pork Belly in a rice bun - pure decadence and a spicy eggplant dish which took us into a little bite of paradise. We originally thought about eating at the Slanted Door which is one of our favorite restaurants and wine lists in San Francisco, but wanted to try a new spot (thank you Eric!). So far all of our expectations were met and we were just getting settled in for the main course.
I often talk about how great white wines go with meat - Duck, Pork, Beef...yep, white wine. So Dan zeroed in on the 2009 François Pinon "Silex Noir" Vouvray, Chenin Blanc.
SIDE BAR: My first experience with Vouvray was at the Salt Lick in Austin, Texas. I took one of Loire Valley's most treasured winemaker's Jo Pithon out for a real treat one night during a week-long visit to Texas. Jo's made a name for himself within Loire for his vineyard and cellar skills and of course producing world class Chenin Blanc from Savennières and Anjou. This particular night, I grabbed a 1993 Vouvray from my cellar which went perfectly with the Texas style BBQ brisket and pork ribs. A true "ah-ha" moment for me as the bottle of Argentine Malbec was an EPIC FAIL we also tasted with dinner.
Ok so back to the wine of the week for me...the Chenin Blanc was absolutely perfect with our main course. Concentrated flavors of citrus, honeysuckle, Asian spice with a kiss of sweetness. The table fell quiet all but the licking of our BBQ Pork soaked fingers. It also complimented the Tea Marinated Crispy Duck and Stir Fired Mongolian Lamb dishes incredibly well. We passed on sweets after our last bites and savored a few last drops of the Chenin Blanc. A slight pause and look around the table with the obvious desire to order another bottle and get after it again made us all laugh.
Shaking our heads and thinking too bad is was a school night and off we went. We ate like kings and queens and the check at the end was not bad at all for the amount of food ordered -approx. $50 a person. A great night of wine, food and friendship and a new favorite Loire wine for all. Heaven's Dog was spot-on, the menu small but focused and shows off a diverse wine list and of course their famous "Pre-prohibition era cocktails". I suggest you make time for a visit soon...Ali
PS Here's a great interview with Francois Pinon and his US importer Louis/Dressner.
I love his answer to "What's work like in the Cellar?"...In the cellar my approach is to intervene as little as possible or as "nicely" as possible. Before any work can start in the cellar, it's imperative that we harvest our grapes at optimal maturity. This is easier said than done: a few days could change everything.