Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wine and Food with Friends

Monday night we had dinner with some friends of ours, Ron and Suzy, who we had not seen in a couple of years. Suzy was one of my wife's college roommates at the University of Georgia back in the early 90s and they have always kept in touch. We frequently got together for wine last time we lived in Atlanta in the early 2000s. But since then, our paths have taken us to different parts of the country, us to Milwaukee and Kansas and Ron and Suzy have just returned to Atlanta after a couple of years in the northeast. For dinner, Ron perfectly grilled a couple of filets with a delicious shiitake risotto and roasted Brussels sprouts.

For a starter with a couple of cheeses we enjoyed the 2010 Chehalem Inox Chardonnay, Oregon. Beautiful floral, honey, green apple and pineapple notes. This 100% tank-raised Chardonnay sees no malo or contact with lees and is about as crisp and refreshing as it gets.

I've had the 2007 Cuvelier los Andes Grand Vin, Mendoza a couple of times now and tonight's bottle was as consistently impressive as ever. Deep color with powerful blackberry and coffee aromas and flavors. Huge tannins. Dilly/Bourbon-like finish. I usually don't care for that Bourbon flavor, but for some reason it works well with this blend of 73% Malbec, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Merlot. This sells for about $40 in Kansas City, but I bought it on sale at a retailer here for the very reasonable price of $30.

Our friends had been saving the 2004 Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno, IGT Tuscany for a couple of years. Ron felt the meal and the company were worthy of the wine and generously opened it for us. This blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot displays a bewildering aroma of blueberry cobbler and fresh rosemary. Tannins are still ferocious, but provide nice balance to the rich meal. Very international in style, just how I like my Super Tuscans. Current price for this wine is about $100 and I dare say it's worth every penny of it. Superb.

Needing just one more glass after dinner, our friends pulled the cork on a bottle of 2009 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley. I used to drink a good bit of this back in the '94-'96 vintages when it was a perennial best buy in the $15 range. I'm glad to report that this wine is still pumping out cherry-berry flavors and quite a good bit of licorice. Nice oak and tannins. How appropriate that we spent time with this "old friend" as we were visiting with good friends from years gone by. Still priced at a very reasonable $20.

I feel bad about the mountain of dishes we left behind and the the fact that our kids (on spring break) kept theirs (not on Spring break) up until 11 p.m. on a school night. I fear Tuesday morning was brutal for our friends. We'll have to make it up to them if they're able to come out and visit us in Kansas this fall for some wining & dining and a trip to the Georgia/Missouri game just a few hours away in Columbia, Mo. Thanks again to Ron and Suzy for opening up their beautiful house to us and for the great food, wine, conversation and friendship!


  1. Nice! Oreno has come down in price significantly. I think the current vintages are around $70. It's pretty much worth it, especially when similar ST's (i.e. Solaia) are now north of $200.

  2. Bill, haven't seen most of these, but you sure make the Chehalem sound good!
    As for the Knights Valley, the last bottle I picked-up was $14.99, but I haven't had a chance to open it; the 2005 was a very good wine QPR.