Chefs and Champagne: Crystal Springs In the House

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The Tent at Wolffer Estate

The event I have been waiting for all summer is around the corner. This Saturday is the annual James Beard event that takes place at the Wolffer Estate Vineyard on the South Fork of Long Island: Chefs and Champagne. This year, I’ll be in attendance with our Executive Chef Tim Fisher and our Banquet Chef Max Mraz. It will be a sun (er, heat) filled day filled with great food, great wines and lots of happy patrons.

We will be handing out the quintessential summer bite: Jersey Sweet Corn Huitlacoche and Dungenous Crab Salad. That, along side a glass of anything bubbly or white or rose, will be the perfect combination and your ticket to a successful day’s event.

If you’re going, make sure to stop by our table.

The Best Chardonnay You’ve Never Had…Yet.

Here Ye, here ye, this weekend at Restaurant Latour we will be pouring by the glass the most delectable, delightful, delicate, divine, enticing, exquisite, gratifying, heavenly, pleasant, pleasurable, lush, rare, savory, scrumptious, tasty, yummy wine. (OK, so I used a thesaurus for delectable, but you get the idea.)

Marcassin 1999 2

You’ve heard about it, you’ve seen it in our windows, and now we bring it out for our guests to enjoy. We go back vintage to California — to Helen Turley’s prized estate wine on the Sonoma Coast: Marcassin, Chardonnay, 1999, from their Marcassin Vineyard.

Only 225 cases of the 1999 Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard were produced. This wine, from a vineyard planted on a steep rocky hillside with shallow top soil and meter by meter spacing, comes close to a magical synthesis of Michel Niellon’s Batard-Montrachet and Coche-Dury’s Corton-Charlemagne, blended with California’s extraordinary ripeness and richness from low-yielding Chardonnay fruit. It is an unctuous, full-bodied, gorgeously delineated offering with an extraordinary perfume of liquid minerals interspersed with citrus oils, honey and a steely smokiness. The compelling aromatics are matched by the extraordinary attack mid-palate and finish.

This is a wine of praise, and is benchmark Chardonnay. If imitation is the best form of flattery, well, Marcassin has a huge head.

Marcassin remains of the few benchmark producers of California Chardonnay wine. It’s well worth the effort to seek out a few bottles to see why these special wines have been coveted for so many years.

See you this weekend!

100 Point Wine – By The Glass.

Rostaing 99It would be hard to pass this up. Regardless of anyone’s opinion of Mr. Robert Parker, it’s undeniable that at times he does know what he’s talking about. And when he’s rated Rene Rostaing’s  Côte-Rôtie, Cote Blonde, 1999, 100 points, well, you just  don’t argue with that. You drink it! At Restaurant Latour! Cote Blond is Rostaing’s best wine, hands down. 95% Syrah, 5% Viognier.

The vineyards are planted in terroir that people in the region call arzel. Arzel is a poor, mineral soil with deposits of silex and mica. This is the smallest of their wines. In fact, they only produce close to an average of 350 cases of this delicious, Cote Rotie in most vintages. Rene Rostaing Cote Blonde is an exotic, opulent wine with great character and charm.

With 14 years of aging, this opens up like a young bull just released into the arena. This is what stunning Cote-Rotie tastes like:

Cinnamon, smoke, charcoal, dark chocolate covered cherries, plums and floral notes create the complex perfume. The wine delivers a beautiful purity of fruit, with freshness, balance and silky textures. The long, sexy finish ends with licorice, cherry liqueur, cocoa and an intriguing, earthy note.

So please do stop by for dinner and a glass of Cote Blond. I’ll give you 100 reasons not to miss this…

The Glass Does Make a Difference. Confirmed.

Riedel Tasting with Maximilian Riedel

Riedel Tasting with Maximilian Riedel

Susanne and I just had the most mind-blowing experience – when it comes to wine at least. I’m talking about the Riedel Glass Tasting experience. (And as a sidenote, for all of those who question the correct way to pronounce the famous glass makers, I have come to lay those qualms to rest: Ree-Del.)

Wine as an experience is not a new concept. No, No, No. Rather, it is this notion that the glass you drink wine from (read: varietal specific glass) can enhance your wine drinking endeavors.

Susanne and I were optimistic. We had heard much about these seminars and were anxiously awaiting for one to pop up by us so we would have the chance to see what all the fuss was about. Here at Restaurant Latour, we use Schott glasses (no, not shot glasses - Schott glasses). They are rational glasses but not entirely varietal specific; we do, however, use our White Tasting Glass, our Bordeaux Glass and of course, the Burgundy Glass for certain occassions. These glasses certainly do their job, and while they are also aesthetically pleasing, they do not hold up to what I believe Riedel does.

That big, super oaky, new world Chardonnay deserves a wide-brimmed, large bowl glass to allow those aromas and flavors to open up in between each sip you take. That old world Burgundy, filled with ripe cherry flavors, tannin, and finesse deserves to have its own glass, complete with its own tannin buster, which therefore allows that wine to hit exactly where it’s supposed to, which is smack-dab in the middle of  your palate. It is only after you realized you’ve just “french-kissed” your glass of wine, do you realize it is the most beautiful sip of Pinot Noir that you’ve ever had.

For the collection that we offer our guests here at Crystal Springs, it only makes sense to offer such a fine-tuned counterpart  Thank you Riedel, for kindly taking your time and consideration to mastermind such a fine piece of glass.

If you take anything away from this blog, it should be to find the nearest Riedel seminar, where your hair will stand on end. Just make sure to pick your mouth up from the floor. I forgot.

A Weekend in Rioja, Spain

Heredia 1976

Lopez de Heredia, Vina Bosconia, Rioja, 1976

This weekend, we continue to take you back-vintage, this time to Rioja, Spain, 1976.

The back vintage wine program at Restaurant Latour has been a crushing success (crush, wine, crush wine, get it?) It’s been such a great experience to open up these masterpieces from our cellar, and to let our guests experience such an array of older, yet classical wines that they may otherwise not have the experience to taste. Not because they can’t, but because in 240 pages of red wine, for instance, the 1976, Lopez de Heredia, Vina Bosconia, Rioja, might not catch your eye. Now, it will.

Tempranillo (80%), Garnacho (15%), Mazuelo and Graciano (the remainder) all from our own vineyards. This wine gets barrel aged for 8 years (again, hello longevity!)

AGEING PERIOD:

John Gilman, from View of the Cellar

Given Rioja’s brilliant historical legacy of great estates, it is sad to think that in terms of producing truly classic and traditionally styled Rioja wines. Lopez de Heredia remains virtually the last bodega to have withstood the tides of modernization and changing fashions in taste that have transformed so many other traditionally important estates in Rioja…but as Maria Jose Lopez de Heredia comments, “we do not want to have to defend ourselves for the way we make our wines, for this style was what made the region of Rioja famous in the first place, and which has been the foundation for our family winery since it was founded in 1877 – why would we want to change anything?”

I just want to take this time to tell Maria that we don’t want them to change anything either. Rioja is Rioja, just as Bordeaux is Bordeaux . Rioja represents all that is great about the terroir that essentially is, Rioja! In a country transformed over the past decades, it is comforting to know that Bodega Lopez de Heredia will be forever steeped in tradition  You can not say that about everywhere else in the world.

The story and history of such a cultured bodega should be enough to seal the deal on a glass of this special bottle, but if that’s not enough, I will provide you a tasting note. And a tasting note like this may just make you weak at the knees. Feel free to collapse at Restaurant Latour. Thank you CellarTracker, my ultimate guide into the taste palates from those around the world:

“Faded very pale red; light earth tones with ever so slight subtle red berries and clean rocky minerals; super elegant, good tart berry acidity with faint tannins but not lacking for it, silky, unpretentious yet clearly something special; complex, very nice balance–everything a great aged red should be.  This grew on me and kept begging me to drink more. I could not deny her.”

And we won’t deny you.

Off to La La Land

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Domaine Guigal, La Mouine, Cote-Rotie, 1994

If I were to tell you that you could get your daily dose of bacon in a glass wine, what would you say to that? Don’t answer that…

Well not yet at least. Let me plead my case to you, if I must.

Enter the La La Wines, the trifecta that is La Turque, La Landonne, and La Mouline. Cote-Rotie (pronounced Coat-Row-Tee) from the Rhone Valley in France. All-Star producer Domaine Guigal has given us something to smile about. This weekend, we open for a dear guests, Domaine Guigal, La Mouline, 1994.

As our friends from Wine Cellar Insider say,

“La Mouline is not a single vineyard wine. It is a trademark.”

That’s right, a trademark. This is benchmark Syrah. This is what other winemakers can only hope to produce one day.  (Disclaimer:  If they could only get their hands on Guigal’s grapes.)

The first vintage for this wine was 1966. It was not until 1971 that Guigal decided 100% new oak was better for the wine. On top of that, the 1994 (Rated 95 point by Mr. Robert Parker)  spends 3.5 years in brand new French Oak. Hooray! Longevity in a bottle! And that, as a result, comes the purest form of Syrah.  Seeping with silky textured notes of bacon fat, juicy black cherries, charcoal, truffle and earthiness.

La Mouline is a unique tasting experience that is unequaled by other wines. Made from 60-70 year old vines, on average, production is only 400 cases for the world. And to quote our insider friends once more,

“It’s one of the few phenomenally expensive wines that’s worth the money”,

and that is why we are pouring it By The Glass this weekend at Restaurant LatourCome and get it. 

Borgogno, Barolo, 1961 – In The Flesh

What was going on 52 years ago in 1961?

The cost of a gallon of gas was 27 cents, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as President of the United States, the first Six Flags theme park opened in Arlington, T.X., “Candid Camera” was a popular TV show and George Clooney was born. Oh yes, and Giacomo Borgogno was about to release one of the most premier bottles of Barolo.

Barolo, a commune within Piedmont, Italy, was unaware of its prowess. The 1961 is a classic beauty, filled with heavenly aromas of dried roses and macerated cherries.

Here’s your chance to taste a wine that is drinking effortlessly today as if no time has passed at all.

Barolo, 1961

Borgogno, Riserva, 1961, Piedmont, Italy

Giacomo Borgogno is considered a dynasty in Barolo. This historic house prides itself on romance and tradition, the foundation of old world Italian wine. The estate was founded in 1761, although today the family cites 1848 as the date of official establishment, coinciding with a document dated 1848 that attests to Borgogno’s first wine sale. The vineyards, approximately 50 acres (very small) are still considered some of the best sites within Barolo.

Borgogno periodically re-releases back vintage Barolo, which they believe is truly the best way to understand how traditional Barolo is meant to be experienced – aged. We agree.

Available by the glass at Restaurant Latour this weekend: 100% Nebbiolo, just the way Borgogono would have served it – 52 years later.

Cheers!

Uncorking Sine Qua Non

Sine Qua Non Syrah Labels 2007

Sine Qua Non Syrah Labels 2007

This Friday, April 19th, we continue our back vintage adventures at Restaurant Latour and I couldn’t be more excited for what our guests are about to delight in. Three simple words: Sine Qua Non.

Sine Qua Non translates in Latin to mean an essential action, condition, or ingredient, that without which, something cannot be. That is exactly how we feel about Labels, 2007. This Syrah from the Central Coast region of California is produced by Manfred Krankl and his wife Elaine, and can be described as rich, full bodied, concentrated, mouth filling, decadent and opulent. Simply put, Labels, 2007 is nothing short of amazing!

So, why did we choose Sine Qua Non? To start, this cult wine continues to receive critical acclaim and high ratings (98+ Points by Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate). Whether we like it or not, the truth is it’s a wine of super-limited production and nearly impossible to obtain.

If you choose to reserve a glass at Restaurant Latour this weekend, you can look forward to is a harmonious and pungent perfume of black and blue fruit, earth, cappuccino, spice and caramel.

Cheers!

Latour Goes Back Vintage

This Friday, April 12, marks the first day Restaurant Latour officially goes back in time.

Some may say we are living in the past and we are totally OK with that. With a wine collection like this, we think these exquisite vintages shouldn’t be kept hidden in the Wine Cellar, collecting dust. We want our customers to get in on this,  we want to reignite the passion!

The wines that we have chosen for the next 12 weeks date back anywhere from 1979 to 2007, and are still drinking well.

Reserve a table and reserve your glass at Restaurant Latour to get a true taste of old-school Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italian, Spanish and California wine. You won’t be dissappointed, I can promise you that.

We will start by paying hommage to Bordeaux in honor of the late Gene Mulvihill. Gene’s passion – and his heart – was Bordeaux. For that, we just had to start with one of the best first growths,  Haut Brion, 1988.

Château Haut Brion, 1988

Château Haut Brion, 1988

It was an Indian summer in 1988 that saved the vintage – and it shows through right now: Tobacco, smoke, stone, earth spice aromas; elegant, smooth, soft and open. This first growth Chateau continues to impress since 1787 when President Thomas Jefferson announced that this vineyard was of prime quality.

This is what it’s all about! Wine as an experience. Wine as pure and ethereal joy.

How can you say no to a glass of this?