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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pairing Wines for Bubba.



Ahh… the perks of being a sommelier: you get to taste a good portion of the greatest wines ever produced and meet some of the most important people on the planet. Last month was exactly this as the Clinton family stopped in for dinner. Things got off a bit shakey when I decided to comp the three of them a Champagne cocktail. The drink—which is a house specialty—was NV Taittinger Champagne mixed with a spoonful of Elderflower syrup; its deliciously light, crisp and hugs the line brilliantly between not enough sweet and too sweet. After tasting it, ol’ Bubba had an allergic reaction. He was coughing uncontrollably and his face had turned 3 shades of red as he gestured me to come over to the table. “What did you say was in that drink?" Elderflower syrup, Mr.President, I said. “Well, this has given me the worst allergic reaction that I can remember." Jesus..., I muttered to myself as images of 3 sunglassed men dressed in black suits quickly coming out of the woodwork to put me in a full-nelson and drag me brusquely into an unmarked Econoline van played in my head. I’m so sorry, Mr President, I said sheepishly. “Aww, that’s alright, I didn’t know I was allergic to elderflower syrup…what is elderflower syrup,anyway?” he said to me with a big, toothy southern smile. I have no idea, but I think it comes from the alps, I said. And that was it...

Later on in the night I set aside some special wines that I’d pair with each of their savory courses. They were, naturally, Burgundies. The first was a 2000 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Folatieres, Paul Pernot. Bill seem to like this one the best…in fact this was the only one it appeared that he took a sip of later replacing it with his trademark can of diet coke. It was crisp, minerally and steely with grand cru-type length. Next was a 1996 Meursault 1er Cru, Domaine Leroy. Hillary seemed to enjoy this one the most and appeared to be quite impressed when I told her that the winemaker/owner was a woman. The wine had deep aromas of mushrooms, lemon, earth, and stone and was sitting nicely in its early stage of maturity. If stored correctly this one could last a good while. Lastly, we moved into red and what a red it was: 1985 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru, Les Haut Doix, Robert Groffier. Chelsea loved this wine and later in the evening had asked me to write down the name for her. The nose could only be described as quintessential aged Red Burgundy with aromas of beef broth, earth, black cherries and raspberries. The palate was quite elegant and high-toned in its acid but lacked a bit of concentration. Nonetheless it was delicious for a 22 year old premier cru.

All in all it was quite a thrill to chat about wine with the Clinton family. They were all so nice and down-to-earth, and they all appear to LOVE Burgundy. For that alone they have my vote.

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