Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Eve Dinner

Our family gathers together for a late dinner on Christmas Eve. We follow the tradition of noche buena. The food is always a mixed bag, depending on what everyone feels like bringing or cooking.

Last night for starters my cousin brought some devilled eggs sprinkled with crisped bacon, my brother whipped up his tuna poke, my wife seeded some pomegranates, and I had aged Camembert. The combination proved awesome, especially with the very ripe and juicy 2011 Domaine Eden Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir. This is Mount Eden Vineyards' second Pinot Noir made from younger vines. It sells for almost half the price of its big brother but its flavors are anything but little. Immediately, its rich, sweet flavors are all over your mouth, but it never gets tiring to sip as the fruit is bright and vibrant. This Pinot Noir is a crowd-pleaser in the best sense of that term.

While we were enjoying the starters my brother and I were also busy cooking dinner. I demonstrated the magic of cooking with modern pressure cookers by cooking an oxtail adobo in my small Kuhn-Rikon. I left it on high pressure for about 30 minutes, but I think it could have used another 5, but no problem as everyone enjoyed it. The piece de resistance was my bro's roasted crabs in butter. I must've eaten close to a whole crab altogether. The local Dungeness crab this season is the best I can remember. They're hefty and packed with sweet, dense meat.

I opened a special bottle of Jura wine that I brought back with me from a visit there a few years ago. Appropriately enough on this Christmas Eve the wine is named "Jour de Fête." I got it from its producer, Jean-Marc Brignot when I visited him and his Japanese wife at their old farmhouse in the remote village of Molamboz. Soon after my visit they sold the farmhouse and their vineyard and left for Japan where they now live with their young son.

During my visit Jean-Marc opened a few bottles for a small deguastation. All his wines are non-appellation and labeled Vin de France. He doesn't care at all about appellations. As I was about to leave I asked him if I can purchase a bottle as a souvenir. I think at that time he had already unloaded his last inventories in preparation for leaving. But he was gracious enough to search his stash and find me a bottle that I could purchase. It was this Jour de Fête. This is Savagnin from the 2005 vintage aged in old cask for about 4 years without topping up or as they say in Jura sous voile. As in all of Jean-Marc's wines it is vinified in natural yeasts and no sulfites were added at any time. It is drinking fantastic today. Totally fresh and intense, the flavors are thick and alive. On the first whiff my cousin smelled the sweetness of celery and cut cucumber. My brother detected raw almonds. Then as the wine opened up more in the glass I relished notes of pear skin and honey wax. The flavors were piquant but soon smoothed out, tasting more of ripe pears. Thank you and santé Jean-Marc! I hope I catch up with you soon.

What a memorable Christmas Eve dinner. We finished the night FaceTiming with our Mom who's in Manila with my youngest brother and his family. We connected the iPad via AppleTV to a 52-inch TV, sat around the living room and FaceTimed away, joining in a chorus of carols with my Mom and my brother's family in Manila late into the night.

Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir, Domaine Eden (Mount Eden Vineyards) 2011

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