Posted 5 years ago by Kurt Winegardner
The tasting at Benny’s Restaurant with Rikki Vallance of Winegardner’s Wines, and Lyle Railsback of Kermit Lynch was a marvelous treat. There was an interestingly diverse selection of wines offered at this tasting, paired with an array of local cuisine, made form as local ingredients as were possible. Margaret, the chef and owner of Benny’s spared no expense. She introduced the foods first, expressing that each dish had been selected for the wines, including tapenade, lamb mini-sandwiches, lentil mini burgers, smoked trout and beans, and salads.
Chef Margaret – Benny’s
Chateau Ducasse Bordeaux Blanc 2011. Mr. Railsback explained that this particular wine was a classic pairing for oysters, and seafood. He recommended it with the smoked trout and beans. I’m not normally a fan of fish, but I had to agree, the flavors of the trout, beans and wine complemented one another nicely. The nose on this beautiful wine was elegant and inviting with pears, Golden Delicious apples, with enormous honeydew melon aromas and flavors. This wine was nicely acidic, but not overly so. The opening on the Ch. Ducasse Bordeaux Blanc was big, but the body was easily overwhelmed by the smokiness of the trout. Oysters and other lighter fare might have been a better match.
Domaine Poujol’s “Jazz” 2011 followed, as the first red wine of the day. It was a pleasant wine, Mr. Railsback recommending it with roast lamb, tapenade, and garlic. The flavors and aromas of “Jazz” were very light and very friendly, with raspberries, strawberries and licorice. Mr. Railsback explained that the wine was named for someone who wanted their own personal label for a Jazz club, but had backed out once the wine had been bottled.
La Coutale Cahors 2011 was the gem that stole the day, in my opinion. It is a French Malbec, with sweet almost candied cherries, roses, musky cinnamon, lilacs and plumb juice. It bursts with velvety tannins. This is a wine that drinks well immediately, but could also be aged even thought it’s light. La Coutale Cahors was perfect with the lentil burger that was served. Mr. Railsback reminds us, with this wine, that the Malbec grape originated in France, not South America.
Brunier Vieux Telegramme 2009 could easily have been the big wine of the day, being the “little brother” of the Brunier Family’s famous Telegraphe. The name is a play on words, explains Mr. Railsback, and also an indication of the age of the vines. The grapes that went into Vieux Telegramme were at least 50 years old, young by comparison. This wine was full of velvety red fruit, cherries, raspberries, anise seed, and violets, with just the most delicate whispers of acidity. Compared to Telegraphe, which demands years of aging, Telegramme is ready to be consumed immediately, though it could also be aged. Vieux Telegramme was both beautifully and surprisingly light.
Chateau Aney Haut Medoc 2009 was reminiscent of a 1982 Bordeaux, according to Mr. Railsback, as a wine produced before the over industrialization of the wine industry. The Chateaux Aney was inviting, with heavy florals of peonies, sweet black cherry juice, cool berries, and almost creamy strawberries. The aromas slide down the throat long before you ever taste the wine. It was brilliant across both the nose and the palate. If this is what wines were before industrialization, it is a true shame how rare they have become.
Chateaux Belles Graves Pomerol 2009 is a blend of 90% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc, with aromas of dusty roses, lavender, ruby fruit, almost meaty blackberries and hints of sage. Mr. Railsback mentioned that Kermit Lynch had said it reminded him of a 1946 Pomerol. This lovely wine was paired deliciously with a slice of chocolate sea salt cake.
Last, but definitely not least was the J. Lassalle Brut Preference N/V. This sparkler was lovely with the fresh madeleines that Margaret had baked specially at Rikki’s request, and the remaining chocolate cake. The wine was star bright, with tiny delicate bubbles flowing in constant streams. There were aromas and flavors of dry pear, orange peel, Golden Delicious apple flesh, lemony hints of citrus, and almost an evergreen-like quality to the freshness that this J. Lassalle Brut had to offer. It was a blend of vintages all aged at least 6 years, though as a blend it holds no distinct vintage of its own. A perfect ending to a marvelous tasting.