The Induction before the Election
Two days before the Presidential election of 2008 (Nov 2nd), the Cleveland Chapter of the Commanderie de Bordeaux held its black tie Induction Dinner at The Country Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio. No place is more elegantly suited for a formal induction than The Country Club, a truly venerable, grand venue. Special guests of the evening were Angus and Irena from Philadelphia.
After the Reception of Champagne and hors d'oeuvres, Maitre Denny called the Commandeurs and their guests to their tables to begin the Induction Ceremony. Angus , as Grand Maitre of the U.S. performed the ceremonial rites of induction. Those being inducted were Victor , Max and Franck.
And now to the splendors of the table. First up was a lovely John Dory with spinach gnocchi and a generous serving of a medley of wild mushrooms. Wonderful taste combinations alone and even more amplified with the paring of '04 Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte. We were certainly off to a glorious start.
Next up, and how better to showcase the first two reds, a port glazed duck breast atop a heavenly risotto of butternut squash. And such a beautiful presentation that was as splendid on the palate as it was to the eye. How better to share the lovely flavors of the duck and risotto but a mini-vertical from Pauillac, two vintages of Ch. Clerc Milon. 1999 and 1986 and they both had their own distinctive character and beauty. Combined with the food; and the eyes, nose and palate were all amply rewarded.
After a palate cleanser of Lemon Champagne Granite, the next course featured a Loin and Chop of Colorado Lamb that again had an over the top visual presentation. With the lamb, a Ragout of Parma Flageolet and Prosciutto with a sauce that made all the tastes happily dance together. And joining this pas de deux, a '98 Ch. Pape Clement, big and fruity yet soft in the glass that danced marvelously with the lamb. Does it get any better than this?
Yes, in fact it does as we discovered when the dessert was served. Pear Raspberry Napoleon with gingerbread gateau and winter green berries. Once again a visual masterpiece. Almost too pretty to eat but that would have been a huge mistake because the Napoleon went great with the Ch Nairac Sauternes. Happy flavor memories to carry home like visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads.
Congratulations to the Chefs de Cuisine, Ray Christopher and Matthew and their kitchen crew for such a splendid evening of visual presentations and dancing flavors. The service staff was equally competent and a grand thank you to our host, Commandeur Robert.
1. 2004 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte. A most pleasant wine with medium body, good acidity and fruit and a long, lingering finish. The oak was evident but not offensive. Not showing the intensity of the '05 and '06 vintages. The wine will improve. Another lovely effort from the Cathiards.
2. Chateau Clerc Milon 1999. This wine was the surprise of the evening. It showed a beautiful nose, good fruit with soft tannins and over time evolved into a mouthful of joy. The finish was long and harmonious. Watch for this one. It is one of the gems of the vintage.
3. Chateau Clerc Milon 1986. A fully developed wine from a great vintage. It was a seamless beauty showing maturity and great balance with a long penetrating finish. This is what Bordeaux is all about.
4. Chateau Pape Clement 1998. A big wine showing a wonderful, fruity nose with fine balance. On the palate, we found huge fruit and prominent tannins, yet the wine softened in the glass and was marvelous with the lamb. The finish was fantastic. This wine will last for years but can be enjoyed now. It will benefit from time in the decanter.
5. Chateau Nairac. A gem from the great 2001 vintage in Barsac. Nicolas Heeter Tari continues to produce incredible wines and is emerging as a star of the area. This wine, showing pears and apricots, should not be missed. (We have more in our cellar).