Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Toasting a Friend at Archipelago

I had dinner with friends recently to cheer up one of them who will be married very soon. We decided to check out Archipelago, a new restaurant near my neighborhood that features a deliciously eclectic menu of French, Asian, and American inspired dishes that has become a hot trend in restaurant cuisine these days. Check out places like Coi, Poleng Lounge, Unicorn, Ame, O Chame, Junnoon, Pres a Vi, and Va de Vi. It’s no surprise that these restaurants are favorite haunts of wine guys as their creative dishes lend themselves to exciting wine pairings.

2004 Ostertag Muscat.jpgWe started with a brilliant bottle of André Ostertag’s 2004 Alsace Muscat Fronholz. Very lovely. It smelled of sweet gardenia and tasted of lychees and ripe pears, yet, tasted dry and quite crisp. I love how all these exotic flavors blend harmoniously, and also how they made my mouth water for food.

The Cava Brut “Selección Millennium”, Ondarre NV purchased from Bar Basseri in Pamplona during a recent trip to northern Spain was even better than I remembered it. A big Cava, rich, mouthfilling creamy goodness with lime peel freshness, crisp minerality, and classy elegance.

Richter’s 1995 Mosel Riesling Auslese Graacher Domprobst tasted and smelled of minerally slate and juicy ripe red apples and pear with herbal notes. Medium sweetness for an Auslese and well-balanced by crisp acidity. Vibrant and lengthy in the finish.

All of these whites went perfectly with plates of fresh, briny oysters; fried, crispy-skinned rolls of Philippines lumpia; Philippines ceviché-style kinilaw of raw tuna; and seared foie gras with sweet, tangy cranberry chutney.93 Latricieres Remoissenet.jpg

For our first red, there was the perfectly drinking and still youthful 1996 Meursault Premier Cru Blagny Rouge “La Pièce sous le Bois”, Domaine Joseph Matrot. One of my favorite Burgundies. Fragrant earthy sous bois with red fruit scents. Elegant, soft black cherry, cinnamon flavors with notes of pepper and tea leaf. Juicy and fresh.

Next up was the 1993 Latricières-Chambertin, Maison Remoissenet Pere et Fils. Still a youthful wine, endowed with good concentration and rich tannins. Whiffs of asphalt and stones amidst the spicy red fruit scents. Earthy, black cherry flavors. Not profound, but sleek and powerful.

90 Cote-Rotie Gallet.jpg Burgundy lovers describe Côte-Rôtie as being somewhat Burgundian in character, so it was not a bad idea to follow up the Burgundies with the 1990 Côte-Rôtie, Domaine Gallet. The bouquet of this wine was intense and surreal, conjuring scents of lavender, tar, leather, roast beef, and crushed berries. Ripe, fleshy, and soft on the palate; not so profound but seductive, and definitely charming.

I enjoyed all these reds with a large plate of roasted rack of lamb that was fatty, juicy, and tender, done with an indeterminable sweet, spicy, earthy sauce that worked with the wines.

And to refresh the palate at the end we popped a bottle of 2000 Champagne Brut “Cuvée Angeline”, J. Lassalle that made me feel like starting dinner all over again. Toasty fresh-baked bread aromas. Creamy and mouthfilling, with well-focused, elegant fruity and minerally flavors that are as crisp as a thin sheet of ice.

I can’t think of any other Asian-themed restaurant with a full-time pastry chef, especially a brilliant one like Lourie Tatad who prepared for us a dazzling array of desserts and obliged us with a few special requests, including sugared churros accompanied by a dark liquid chocolate dip; slices of caramelized apples with a choice of sprinkles of marshmallows, spiced peanuts, and chocolate; and tiny nuggets of pure chocolate truffles.

During all the excitement we nearly forgot the bottle of 2000 Blanc Fumé de Pouilly “Silex”, Didier Dagueneau. Thank goodness, this was supposed to be the highlight bottle of the evening! Well, it didn’t disappoint, especially after an exciting array of wines. Rich, pungent flavors of stone fruits infused with fresh herbs, green vegetables, and minerals. The palate is persistent and crystalline, tasting of the rocks and minerals where the fruit came from.

All wines.jpg

1107 Howard Avenue
Burlingame, CA 94010

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