Sunday, March 29, 2009

Vino100 Lakeway Wine Dinner

Lakeway, Texas is a resort town--in the middle of Texas. On the cliffs by a spectacular (if currently a bit depleted) lake, a few miles outside of sexy Austin, neighborhoods cluster like children at a zoo on the edges of the puma cage. It's gorgeous country, and an interesting mix of folks.

Many of those folks are wine lovers, and in Lakeway, they can afford some good wine. Still, even rich folks like a good bargain, and habitual wine drinkers demand great variety in style and price. My friend Gloria runs a joint called Vino100 that sells just such a variety--reasonably priced wines across a range of styles, and a small selection of exceptional stuff (the Hall Cabernet, BV's excellent Tapestry, and Anderson's Conn Valley Prologue have all graced its shelves, along with some great sparkling wines).

Last night I attended my first-ever wine dinner, attended by some entertaining people. Gloria likes wine, and she's a trained engineer, but her real gift seems to be forging relations among people--the ambience her presence generates fosters wine drinking, chatting, losing track of time.

The food was prepared by the extremely French Chef Cesidio. The wine host was a local connoisseur, Scott Grant, and we stuck to Bordeaux. The pacing, hardware, pairings, decor, music, and sheer abundance of wine were splendid. I was running a bit late, having struggled for fifteen minutes trying to put on my blue velvet jacket, but it was worth it, and an anchovy pizzetta and a kir, made with French cider and homemade cassis syrup, were waiting for me as I rushed to the table.

My flashbacks to the old town quarter of Nice were quickly superseded by an excellent appetizer of pulled pork and pear with crouton. A little French and a little Texan, and a lot good, paired with this:

Chateau Bonnet

Sauvignon Blanc, S
émillon, Muscadelle
Entre-Deux-Mers, France

Color: Gold
Nose: Floral, peach
Body: Medium
Front: Apple
Middle: Cream
Back: A little bread and butter
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Screwcap

This opened up after about half an hour, and was quite good with the food. It's nicely balanced between crisp acidity and a more bready heft, but it's not a particularly multilayered wine. It is a wine of action, not contemplation.

There wasn't long to contemplate anyway, because beef and fish rained upon the table, along with two more wines. I had the cod brandade, a delightful ramekin full of fish and potato with the tiniest amount of curry sauce, or something spicy, on top. It went best, perhaps, with this:

Chateau La Graviere
Sauvignon Blanc, S
émillon, Muscadelle
Gironne, France

Color: Coppery gold
Nose: Sherry, with a hint of apricot
Body: Medium to full
Front: Tangy fruit
Middle: Apricot and cream
Back: Sawdust and pie
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Cork

This wine tasted like it was out on the edges of turning bad, but after a few minutes of tasting, the sherryness yielded to a quite interesting complex of fruit, candy, and minerality. I'm curious to try more white from this area of Bordeaux, as these two seemed both cheap and interesting.

More expensive and interesting was the

Chateau Greysac
Cru Bourgeois Superieure
Bordeaux, France

Color: Rich red
Nose: Violets and nutmeg
Body: Medium
Front: Cinnamon
Middle: Leather
Back: Violets, inner tube
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Cork

This was a delightful wine; not quite as good with my cod as, I'll bet, with the beef bourgogne on the other side of the table. But it was more contemplative.

We finished with a glass of Talijancich White Solero, 10 yr., that was a stunning Aussie mash of apricot, caramel, raisins, and honey, nicely balanced. Before I left, I caught a glimpse of Chef pounding a glass of the Solero--it's damn fine stuff.

For a first-wine-dinner-attendee like me, it was perfect; the company and the wine were a joy, and there was no snobbiness, no ranking. Cheers to Chef and Gloria!