As I was not available for the requisite menu and wine tasting lunch prior to the dinner, Bernie, Bill Stone and Othmar Ober took care of that with Jérome Philippon joining them. Several bottles from different makers were tasted and compared (what a tough job!) and the final pairings decided upon. Chosen were 3 wines from Domaine Bott-Geyl to be supplied by the official Philippine distributor, Sommelier Selection (of Jérome), while the 2 from Domaine Ostertag were from Bernie's personal cellar (so, alas, they are not locally available).
I wrote about meeting Bott-Geyl's winemaker, Valerie Bott-Cartier, and tasting some of her wines a while back. You can read about this bio-dynamic domaine and its organically made, unmanipulated and natural wines by clicking here and here.
Plum Tart Marinated with Kirsch
The appointed date, 21 August 2008, cocktails started at around 7pm at the bar area with several appetizers involving a variety of cheeses, hams, mini quiches, gherkins, etc. and, of course, Marc's own terrine of foie gras. I'm glad Bernie and Marc found a way to insert foie gras into the menu as Alsace is a big producer of the delicious fatty liver - an Alsatian meal wouldn't be complete without a bit of foie. With all these, we sipped on:
A fresh, mild, charming, simple and straightforward wine exhibiting mild and ripe, user-friendly yet difficult-to-describe soft, pillowy fruity flavors with light touches of tropical sweetish-ripeness, faint hints of flowers and spice and underlying nuances of almonds. Cool and supple in the mouth, it is very easy to drink.
It went very nicely with the terrine of foie gras en croute. We all, thereafter, trooped to the function room for dinner proper at around 7:45; and none too soon, I might add. There were so many delectable pass-arounds, it would have been all too easy to get full and ruin our appetites.
2006 Bott-Geyl Gewürztraminer Les Elements - This wine was supposed to have been served with the munster cheese tart with salad, but, somehow, the it was served with the flammenkueche - Rene Fuentes - he of the basso profundo - made sure everyone caught the vinous faux pas. The dish, also known as "tarte flambée", is, simplistically, like a thin-crust pizza without tomato sauce, topped with various ingredients, but, traditionally, these ingredients are crème fraîche, fromage blanc (a soft, fresh cream cheese that looks like sour cream), onions and lardons (bacon that is diced, blanched and fried).
This is a very typical dish in Alsace - you couldn't swing a cat around anywhere in Strasbourg without its claws catching a slice of this.
This gewürz was my favorite wine of Bott-Geyl that night: clean, sweetly fresh flowers, rose petals, spiced lychee and peach in the nose, mirrored in the mouth in a lively, exuberant, racy, slightly-less-than-medium body with good acidic lift and discreet underlying minerality. Light on its feet, it danced on my palate. It is a pity that so few in this country bother to try to get to know the joys of Alsace gewürztraminers. This one was so very pure and clean. Precisely balanced, excellent wine, and, at its very reasonable price of P1635 per bottle, a definite buy - chill well and enjoy with Marc's terrine of foie gras.
After the hearty Cream of Frogs' Legs and Watercress Soup,
1989 André Ostertag Gewürztraminer Fronholz Sélection de Grains Nobles - the phrase "Sélection de Grains Nobles" (SGN) is a term used in Alsace and Monbazillac (and perhaps elsewhere in France, I don't know) indicating that the grapes were heavily subjected to botrytis cinerea (much more than vendanges tardives) to shrivel them and concentrate their natural sugars. The same process yields the better known sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac (which use semillon, sauvignon blanc and, to a much lesser extent, muscadelle grapes).
Dinner done, we accorded Marc and his staff the proper thanks and respect, and wound down with espressos, glasses of kirsch and, for some, cigars. It was an incredibly busy evening at Gourmand - the place was absolutely packed, and it wasn't just us, I saw several friends there including steak tartare addict Miguel at one table and my youngest sister on a date at another.
Thanks to Jérome for supplying the pictures as I forgot to bring my camera that night.