Thursday, July 01, 2010

Bordeaux and BBQ - Under the Texan Stars

From the "I must confess" department...

It had been almost ten years since I had last had the wine. It was the perfect wine for one. One might call it a true love if one were talking about other things. But time had passed and the wine had been forgotten in the cellar, wasting, racing past its prime.

Then the call came from a friend. It was to be a Caveman’s night out – all the women were in Colorado or home in their air conditioned rumpus rooms. They weren’t going to have anything to do with it. The only date we were expected to bring was a great bottle of Bordeaux. At first I thought that was kind of a bum deal, it being a Friday and wanting to spend it in the company of not just the cavemen. But as it turned out, it was just right.

Earlier, in my wine closet, I took each of the bottles out and looked at them. Some of their fills were a little lower than I liked, but they hadn’t fallen below the neck. Wine, when it ages, it shrinks, like people. And this property was one of those larger than life wines. I'd had the 1986 and the 1982 with friends and it was just fine. So the 1990 would probably be ok, too. But things get old, oxidized, tired.

The cavemen, they are a mix of businessmen, lawyers, merchants and wine experts. Many of them make a lot of money. One in the group sold his home to ex-president George W. Bush.

A rare and early Joe Light self portrait

Dallas – not the place I came from – but the place I came to. I am sure there is, in every town, and in every stratum of society, a familiarity that those who are close to each other have with one another. A protective bubble of self-awareness that makes the world digestible and livable within a set of defined boundaries. All the world one needs. What I find intriguing is that almost anywhere, from Dallas to Palm Desert, from Atherton to Bloomfield Hills, from Palermo to Erbusco, there is a "world apart" for those who live within those worlds. And for most people, that is plenty. It is after all, the center of their universe. But for those who wander, unquenched with such familiarity, it is just another buffet line and another struggling symphony, another not quite good enough Italian restaurant or another disappointing sushi bar.

I'm a huge fan of folk art - Joe Light is an American Master

What I am seeking, lately, doesn’t seem to be comfort or cushion. No I seem to be pushing away from the predictable and the easy. But that wasn’t the case on this evening. Thankfully, these guys with their familiar, clubby ways, invited me into their world for a night of manly food, great wine and a summer night under the Texan stars.

Jalapeno Poppers. I had heard this term used, but really had no idea what it meant. Texas torpedoes, jalapenos stuffed with cheese or meat, sometimes a coating than deep fried. Or wrapped with bacon and slowly smoked. This is what we had, larger than anything I had ever seen, they looked like gargantuan cicadas, those creatures that make a scratchy, ongoing drone sound to herald the summer season. Outside my room right now they are quiet, because a tropical storm is playing out all the way from the oil ravaged Gulf. But they are out there, waiting.

Our poppers parlayed with Champagne, two bottles from the 2004 vintage, a Francois Diligent Brut and a Launois Brut.

Jerry Prager, who was with us on our trip to Bordeaux this year, is a wine aficionado during the hours when he isn't consigliere to the wine trade

Everyone, as well, brought their dates, a bottle of Bordeaux. Four of us had traveled together in March and April to taste the 2009 vintage en primeur, as this was a reunion of sorts with a collection of other friends, cavemen from the neighborhood. Plenty of good wine, most all from France.

The second and main course, the smoked baby back ribs. Peppery and smoky, spicy. All wrong with the older Bordeaux, in a perfect world. But here is the funny thing. Two great things, seemingly diametrically different. And they are. But the gestalt of the pairing created this counterpoint that although it wasn’t a match made in heaven, both were so good at what they were meant to be, the final result was breath taking. Not a perfect “Dallas 10” (thank God) but a memorable moment nonetheless.

The only thing we saw Italian that evening was this pair of shoes worn by the consigliere

My date, the one I hadn’t had in almost ten years, how did she fare? Surprisingly young in the glass. I thought the other Mouton, the 1998, was in the glass which had the one I brought, the 1990. Alongside those we had a 1986 Lafite and a 1995 Leoville Las Cases. In the company of three first-growth wines, the Las Cases showed me what a “super second” meant. Right up there with them.

Real estate mogul Rick Currey and Francophile extraordinaire John Rector- These cavemen can bake it, make it and shake it real good.

The final course, a cherry pie, made by our host Ric, and vanilla ice cream made by our partner-in-crime John, paired with an aged Tokaji Asz¤Ź 5 puttonyos. Probably overkill to have all three, when one would have sufficed. But again, a memorable melange a trois. I particularly loved the pie. But who doesn’t love pie?

To finish? How about chilled Calvados and a good cigar? Why not, I am heading full-blast into headache territory, so why not take off the seat belt and stomp on the throttle?

As it turned out, the evening air outside was not brutal, the mosquitoes were calm, the night was rather nice. This little bubble of buddies opened their world and let me crawl around in it, and it once again smashed stalwart preconceptions of the people and the places we call home.

One Tokaji over the line, sweet Jesus


Samantha Dugan said...

Well I don't love pie. I do however love poppers, Champagne, smoked and grilled pork bits, older French wines, evenings like this and....the way you are able to stroke your keys and make me feel like I reading...not wait, being read to, the most beautiful story. So yeah, along with all those others, I love this post.

Alfonso Cevola said...

Thanks, Samantha...always so kind

Samantha Dugan said...

"always so kind" um, most men I know call me evil so this right here...I'll take it!

Anonymous said...

Rector and Currey really look like they are "chanelling" their "inner Julia"


Thomas said...


You write so well that you gave me pangs of days past, when three (plus me) used to get together around here to make wine and food mischief. I particularly remember a frosty Christmas Eve, wives away somewhere, can't remember why.

One of the three of us owned a local restaurant--he got the oysters; I shucked 'em, squirted them with lemon; and we slid the undulating beauties down with an Albert Pic Chablis chaser.

I cooked up some venison livers and hearts to pair with the CDP, whose name I cannot recall, but whose pairing with the offal was superb.

One of us brought his wife's apple pie--a dead ringer for a puffy cloud topped with everything nice somewhere up there in heaven--and good with the local Vignoles.

At one point, we sipped five Rieslings, but sipped and talked and didn't take notes--who needed notes?

I do miss those halcyon days in that halcyon month. Two have moved to other locales, the third is struck with Parkinson's, and I am pining for twenty years ago.

Thanks for bringing back memories.

Alfonso Cevola said...

Thanks, Thomas. Appreciate the recollections...

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