Dinner with Friends

This was a casual Sunday evening spent hanging out in the kitchen with my Wife and a couple close friends. The fare included a simple cheese plate and roasted beet salad for the whites, and gorgeous, thick cut, bone in pork chops paired with sautéed (in bacon fat) Brussels sprouts. Simple, straightforward and as good as it gets.

We started out with two whites, a Champagne and a Condrieu. The NV Pierre Peters Grand Cru Cuvée de Réserve is a beautiful Blanc de Blanc that dished out pure, clean Chardonnay fruit to go with knockout precision and focus on the palate. The 2010 Guigal Condrieu was about as classic and textbook as they come. Perfumed, exotic and loaded with white peach, apricot and tinges of honey, it showed both richness and grace on the palate.

Moving to the reds and a classic example of the vintage, with aromatics to die for, Claire Michel's 2007 Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf du Pape offers up a smorgasbord of southern Rhône aromas and flavors. Kirsch, currant bud, herbes de Provence, licorice, cured meats, ground pepper and saddle leather all emerge from the glass and this full-bodied, supple and seamless beauty is a sexpot on the palate. Already approachable, it should continue to dish out plenty of pleasure over the coming decade. Deeper in color and both richer and more concentrated, the 2009 Mas de Boislauzon Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvee du Quet is a big bruiser of a Grenache that's not holding much back. Black licorice, toast, roasted herbs, pan dripping and assorted dark, Grenache fruit drive this full-bodied beauty and it's still youthfully structured and rich. A decant helps here, and ideally, it will be forgotten for another 3-4 years. Last, and a bottle I carried home from a recent southern France trip, the 2011 Domaine du Clos du Caillou Châteauneuf du Pape Réserve was more open and approachable than I remembered, with loads of kirsch, herbes de Provence, spice, licorice and assorted meatiness all showing on the nose. Medium to full-bodied, supple and already approachable, it should put on weight with another year or two in bottle and have 15 years of longevity.

We wrapped up with a spectacular Sauternes, the 2003 Château Suduiraut. I've been through close to a case of this wine and it never fails to impress. Loaded with crème brûlée and honeyed fruits, this full-bodied, decadent beauty coats the mouth (I doubt there's much acidity here), yet never seems heavy or cumbersome. It was a more than fitting end to a great evening with friends.

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