Dinner Chez Tomhave

This was a meal at a private home, catered by one of Savannah's top gourmet forces, Susan Mason. The quality of the food was stunning. She is famous for her tomato sandwiches and fried oysters on a teaspoon, and they both lived up to their pre-dinner hype and excitement. The crab cake was terrific, as was the shrimp and grits with tasso gravy. I thought perhaps my favorite course was the Asian grilled quail and tomato pie. This is clearly Southern cooking at its finest, and we accompanied these gorgeous dishes with some stunning wines.

The André Beaufort 2005 Brut Millesime is a relatively full-bodied style of Champagne, with obvious Pinot Noir character to its rather sturdy, intense flavors. That was followed by one of the great Chardonnays of Northern California, the 2008 Aubert Lauren (named after Theresa and Mark Aubert's daughter). This wine at age 7 is going from strength to strength. Light greeenish gold, it delivers plenty of honeysuckle, caramelized pineapple and other assorted tropical fruits, great acidity and a medium to full-bodied, textured and layered mouthfeel. Even better was the very limited production, super-expensive and rare 2010 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge, which comes from the best parcels and best barrels in the Kongsgaard wine cellar. This wine paired gorgeously with the shrimp and grits and took Chardonnay to a level of a profound grand cru white Burgundy.

With some sensational dishes such as the Asian grilled quail and chef Susan Mason's tomato pie, we had two wines that were even more spectacular. I'm always a little skeptical about having a great Châteauneuf du Pape along with a compelling Bordeaux served side-by-side, but it certainly worked at this dinner party. Clos St.-Jean's 2009 la Combe des Fous is primarily old vine Grenache, but there's a nice dosage of Cinsault in the blend that gives it a floral, fragrant character that relies more on its complex aromatics than the pure power and intensity that so many Châteauneuf du Papes have. This wine went beautifully with the quail, as did the youthful but stunning Pessac Léognan, the 2009 Smith-Haut-Lafitte, which I have rated as high as 100 on numerous occasions. This is a spectacular young wine that is still a baby but a prodigious one. Inky purple in color, it offers extraordinary notes of lead pencil shavings intermixed with crème de cassis and even a touch of blueberry liqueur. It's one of the greatest wines I've ever tasted from this estate, and it's been doing everything right of late. Of course, the question down the road is which one will ultimately be the best wine, the 2009 or their 2010, which is equally prodigious.

We finished with one of the rarest wines from Hungary, the 1993 Pajzos Tokaji Esszenzia. This is a magnificent, blockbuster of a dessert wine, with notes of maple syrup and caramelized brown sugar. It is massively intense, but its great acidity gives it freshness, pungency and precision. While it's fabulous to drink now, I suspect that if there are any bottles to be found, it will still be offering gorgeous drinking 100 years from now.

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