I have to admit that that I like to go out for dinner quite a bit and you may have noticed, as I like to write about restaurants almost as much as I like to write about wine. Suffice it to say, that there are a few nights that I do not like to venture out on and New Year’s Eve is one of them. Over the years, I have found that the menus shrink, the prices rise and the service diminishes. I guess in my youth, I didn’t notice it as much, but now I do, so I know that there are other nights where everything will line up more favorable. Though I do miss the chance for some dancing, as bands seem more prevalent on that evening. So, for the last ten to fifteen years we seem to have everyone come here to ring in the new year, though some of the younger relatives skip our dinner to be with the crowds and that is understandable.
There was around thirty here, including the newest member of the family to celebrate the new year, but she didn’t enjoy the revelry, but she enjoyed the attention and the extra pampering. Some of the guests brought food which added to the selection for the evening’s appetizers and dinner. We started off with assorted cheese and crackers, real jumbo-shrimp cocktails and mini-quiche tarts. I have to admit that I am quite the nosher when it comes to appetizers like this. My Bride made chicken breasts in a mushroom sauce for the ones that are really not carnivores, and for the rest, she made a monster of a beef tenderloin. There were as many suggestions about cooking it, as there may have been diners that evening. There were a couple of suggestions about doing the tenderloin, butterfly cut, but in the end, it was carved into four pieces to facilitate the cooking and allowing more chances that we could get everyone happy with the range of pink-ness. As for me, a cut like that requires Medium-rare to ensure that the meat is fully tender. It was a simple marinade of garlic and rosemary; and after resting a bit after cooking, it was my job to carve the meat and of course I had to sample several of the cuts. My Bride did such a fine job that I think that I could have carved it with a plastic knife. She also made a full pork tenderloin that was also cooked perfectly, if I may say so, and by the time I finished carving all of the meat and sampling them, I really didn’t have room for the Caesar Salad, Armenian Pilaf or any of the other side dishes that were arranged. Actually, I didn’t even have room for dessert and they all looked great as well, and one of the desserts was the obligatory birthday cake for the January celebrants.
There were several different wines poured that evening, some were from the guests and others from the cellar and I shall mention just two of the wines sampled during the dinner portion of the evening. The first was a wine that I was impatient to try from my wine club. The Cima Collina Chardonnay Tondre Grapefield 2012 was the winner of the white wines that we started with. I have some reds from Cima Collina, but with a couple of true wine lovers in attendance, I had to try this particular wine. The Tondre Grapefield is another district in the Santa Lucia Highlands which are famed, at least to me, for their Pinot Noir production. With only one-hundred-ninety-one cases made, this wine had me really intrigued and it lived up to my expectations. It reminded me of a luscious white Burgundy in its complexity with just a kiss of oak and we all missed this bottle when it was finally emptied. The other wine of note that evening was a wine that changed the rules in Italy. When it first appeared, it was listed as Vino da Tavola Rosso or Red Table Wine, and then there was such a clamor about this wine, that the IGT designation was created for wines made in a district that were not the famed grapes for a certain district, and then finally this estate has the distinction of being the only single estate to have its own DOC. The wine is formally known as Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri 2007, but mostly it is just known as Sassicaia. Sassicaia if you translate it in English means “stony field” and the terrain reminded the winemakers of the gravelly soil of Graves in the Bordeaux region of France. This wine is also made from two grapes that are very important in Bordeaux, as it is mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and blended with a little Cabernet Franc. With the label reading Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC, the terroir eclipses the grapes and has made the Maremma district of Tuscany famous. While they started planting these grapes back in the 1940’s, the initial release was in 1968 as a Table Wine, not so anymore. This wine spends two weeks fermenting in Stainless Steel and then spends twenty-four months in French Oak to soften this explosive wine. I have to say that it was one of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines that I have ever had, and those that tried it, savored it for as long as possible. I mean I was ready to call it a night after having these two wines and a great meal.