World’s Best Dessert Wine with a Twinkie?

Described by 90-year-old wine legend Michael Broadbent as his first ever “top wine” and featured in the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service, 1937 Château d’Yquem is the world’s best dessert wine from arguably its best ever vintage. In Kingsman, Colin Firth’s character flippantly recommends to the villain played by Samuel L. Jackson that they pair “Twinkies with a 1937 Château d’Yquem”. Inspired by this exchange, I gave it a go:

Truth be told, I waited to introduce the Twinkie until there were only a few gulps of Yquem left. This is because the menu that preceded the pairing was nothing less than epic (see details below), lovingly prepared by my gastronaut friends Evan and Laura at their stunning Chelsea flat. At the table was one of America’s most generous and discerning wine collectors, who shares extraordinary wine as freely as a mother Robin doles out worms to her hatchlings. (In his company over the years, I have been fortunate to drink Yquem from 1995, 1989, 1988, 1983, and even an 1893). Of the hundreds of Yquem bottles he has tasted, his all-time favorite, he once told me, was the 1937.

So when I saw a 1937 Yquem come up at an auction last month, I pounced. This was perhaps the most illustrious single bottle I have ever invested in. Even as wine fraud becomes an ever greater concern, this particular bottle came from uncommonly clean hands — namely, those of collector Tawfiq Khoury, who is known to have purchased much of his legendary collection in the less counterfeit-happy times of 1970’s and 1980’s.

The ’37 Yquem did not disappoint. In fact, it was the most exquisite dessert wine ever to pass these lips. On first sniff, this dark-copper-colored exilir showed trademark Yquem scents of apricot and orange marmelade, joined by astonishingly delineated notes of coffee, brown sugar, and black tea. The wine also had a bracing freshness that reminded me of being on a ski slope, a compelling intensity that evoked cold air and pine needles. This minty vigor was countervailed by the taste, which was an instruction manual in unmitigated voluptuousness, extra-virgin smooth with a multifaceted finish that kept surprising the senses minutes after the wine was swallowed.  

  

THE MENU: Dom P, La T, Chateau Y, and a Twinkie

Fromage et Jambon.
Pierre Peters, Rose for Albane NV.
Dom Perignon 2002.
——
Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Figs.
Leflaive Batard Montrachet 2012.
——
Baby artichoke tartlet.
——
Sous vide Beef tenderloin with red wine sauce.
Cauliflower “mashed potatoes”.
Roasted sweet tomatoes.
Spinach Salad with chocolate tomatoes.
DRC La Tache 1996.
DRC La Tache 1959.
——
Baked Pears with honey and chocolate, yellow raspberries, and homemade marshmallows.
Chateau d’Yquem 1937.
Twinkie.

It’s Raining La Tâche: Five Vintages of DRC La Tache (i.e., Wine Porn Par Excellence)

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Last week in sunny Palo Alto, it was cloudy with a chance of rain. And rain it did, in the form of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tache, with five vintages of impeccable provenance from a collector whose proclivity to sharing is unmatched. Let’s get to the report (cue 70’s porn music):

1990 La Tache: The nose was a heady mélange of ripe, sweet red fruit permeated with notes of mushrooms, truffles, and La Tache’s unmistakable perfume of Asian spices. The rich-but-not-heavy taste penetrated every pore and lingered forever on the kaleidoscopic finish; you don’t need wine expertise to sense how sexy and astonishingly intense this wine is. Having been fortunate to canoodle with the 1990 several times over the years, I found this to be its best, most expressive showing.

1996 La Tache: If the 1990 was a buxom Burgundy-born pin-up, then the 1996 was Tippi Hedren — elegance and mystery, with a smoldering sex appeal that shows itself only when it decides it is ready. After about a half hour in the glass, it opened up to reveal layers of red fruit, soy sauce, and mint joined by seductive, powdery tannins which coat the tongue like the finest velvet.

1999 La Tache: Although Burgundy specialists regard the 1999 as near “perfect”, this bottle was a bit more reserved than expected and its muscular tannins and tart acidity were a bit too insistent. But the makings are there for future greatness, with its foundation of ripe plum, spice, and that know-it-when-you-smell-it earthiness the French call sous bois (“under brush” or “forest floor”).

2001 La Tache: The great surprise of the night: undeniably gorgeous, with a perfume of rose petals and minerals, with every structural element — acidity, tannin, fruit concentration, and alcohol — in balletic equipoise. The 2001 demonstrates how a top winery can make a masterpiece even in a relatively disappointing vintage year.

2002 La Tache: Started with an odd, flowers-and-cedar scent and sharp acidity, a woody dissonance that suggested spoilage. It was even more disjointed after an hour. Oxidized bottle.

2005 La Tache: A rare specimen of beauty, its dense black fruit showing hints of exotic spice coupled with a pleasing whiff of earth and beef bouillon. Its finish lingers like long, high clouds across a summer sky. But it is still young and tightly wound, with noticeable tannins. All signs point to a legend in the making that will get more nuanced and silky in the years and decades to come.

1990_La Tache

Valentine’s Day Wines Under $25 (for Self-Seduction)

Valentine’s Day Wines Under $25 (for Self-Seduction)

Valentine’s Day is here, and whether you will be with your loved one or plan to seduce yourself, you’ve got to have appropriate juice on hand. Your local wine store is sure to have these moderately-priced picks.
valentine's day wines
A visit to Williams-Sonoma’s San Francisco headquarters the other week involved the perfect exercise in finding moderately priced yet maximally alluring V-Day-ready bottles. In preparation for a presentation I was giving to WS staff, Williams Sonoma’s Director of Culinary Amanda Haas asked me to join her at local supermarket and select seven Valentines Day-worthy wines – all under $25 – in under 20 minutes. We were all pleased with how these Valentine’s Day wines turned out, and here they are for you:

Roederer Estate Brut NV ($19-$22) – A perennial overachiever, owned by the same parent company that makes Cristal.

St. Supéry Oak-Free Chardonnay 2015 ($20-$25) – A stunner with oysters, which are of course known to be a potent aphrodisiac. Medium bodied and lemony bright.

Landmark Vineyards Overlook Pinot Noir 2014 ($20-$25) –  I call Pinot the Juicy Berry Kiss and this version is no exception, with its strawberry-and-flowers perfume, medium body, and crisp acidity.

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier White Blend 2015 ($11-$15) – A sexy duality: smells sweet, tastes dry. A secret love of wine pros. Viognier puts you in the mood for romance.

Minuty M Rosé Cotes de Provence 2015 ($10-$15) – Gorgeous raspberry fruit with a lemony lift. And its bottle is curved like Sophia Lauren.

Campo Viejo Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 ($20-$25) – If a smooth, plummy Spanish red weren’t sexy enough, the gold fishnet adorning the bottle creates glamour and intrigue.

Prieuré d’ Arche Sauternes 2008 ($15-$20) – For drizzling on your pancakes, then on your lover.

For more on affordable wine alternatives and the best wines to bring to a date or party, check out my latest book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire.  Leave an Amazon review in the month of February (and notify alf@markoldman.com) and we will send you some Oldman schwag!

Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen is the Perfect Place to Teach Champagne Sabering

For a Facebook Live event with Williams-Sonoma last week, Mark Oldman teaches Amanda Haas, Williams-Sonoma’s Director of Culinary, how to saber a bottle of champagne like a total pro. Located at the Williams-Sonoma test kitchen in Northern California, the beautiful space offered the perfect setting for a little saber-training session.  You’ve got to see the video to believe it – Amanda is a natural!

Missed the Live video? You can still get your wine questions answered by leaving a comment!

Williams-Sonoma sabering wine mark oldman

An Homage to (and the Perfect Wine Pairing for) Joe’s Stone Crab

As a late birthday present this week, I received a box of stone crabs from Joe’s, the legendary Miami restaurant which has its own fleet of boats to source the world’s best sweet, meaty crustaceans.

What wine was grand enough for this epic and luxurious crab feast?  I splurged on a similarly decadent 2002 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, a white Burgundy of creamy texture and intense concentration, with notes of apples and peaches and a stony tang.

One need not resort to a wine of this dizzying specialness to flatter the butter-and-saline magic of stone crabs.  Equally compelling would have been a high-quality California Chardonnay, an Albariño from Spain, or richer-style Champagne or sparkling wine.

The meal: Joe’s stone crab claws, clarified butter, Joe’s mustard sauce, creamed spinach, hash browns, and key lime pie.

wine pairing stone crabs

Hungry for your own? You can order in from Joe’s here on their website.

For more on wine pairing, check out my latest book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire!