Recently, a friend invited me over to his house for a chef dinner featuring Southwestern American Cuisine. Of course, I brought the wine.
The chef in question was Chris Maher (above). Christopher recently owned and directed Momentitos de la VIDA, a fine dining establishment in Taos, New Mexico. He functioned as the executive chef and received excellent reviews since opening the doors in 1999 through selling it in 2006. Gourmet and Bon Appetit have both named VIDA as “one of the most notable restaurants in the Southwest” and Maher earned the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award six consecutive years in a row from 2000 – 2006. In 2005, he was invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York, New York, to a sold out event. Chris currently heads Cooking Studio TAOS – a teaching and food consortium – where people are encouraged to play with their food!
For the pre-dinner loitering period. Parker 95, “This saturated and dark colored wine, with its extraordinarily spicy nose of sweet red and black fruits, sent me soaring. This massive, intense, broad-shouldered, masculine, structured, and chewy wine is crammed with super-ripe, rich, and layered blackberries, cassis, licorice, earth, and Asian spices. As if that were not enough, its dense fruit comes roaring back after expectoration, lingering on the palate for nearly a minute. This is an extraordinary Clos Vougeot!”
Chips and two kinds of homemade bean dips. On the left, “Tuscan white bean spread” and on the right “Black bean dip.” Both had just a little heat.
Because there is a lot of chile in Southwestern Cuisine, I brought a pair of rieslings. This one is close to dry.
Parker 92, “The detail, refinement, and lift that characterize the best of 2007 were reason enough, Rebholz said, for him to essay some residually sweet Riesling, otherwise, I’d rather leave that to the Mosel vintners. The 7.5% alcohol of his 2007 Riesling Spatlese Vom Buntsandstein indeed puts one in mind of the Mosel, as well as on notice that this will be wine of delicacy and very high residual sugar. It is also impressively endowed with ripe quince and wafting lily and gardenia perfume, and manages to keep its sweetness balanced so as not to tip into sheer confection, but instead to exhibit seamless purity and nectar-like lusciousness. It should be worth watching for a dozen or more years, and in fact I would personally not even care to revisit it for 6-8 years.”
Green Chile Stew with potatoes and chicken. This was a very flavorful dish with a strong gentle heat. It paired very nicely with the rieslings, particularly the one below.
Then a sweeter effort. Parker 97, “White peach preserves, luscious Persian melon, fresh red raspberry, cooling lime, green tea, iris and gentian are all projected on the nose of Donnhoff’s 2009 Oberhauser Brucke Riesling Spatlese, then take on a fleshy, silken, yet svelte form that combines infectious juiciness, invigorating salinity, uncanny buoyancy, and vibratory interactive complexity, leaving my tongue tingling and my head buzzing. The depth of savor here is such that to speak of nut oils or of shrimp or lobster shell reduction merely points in the correct, otherwise ineffable general direction. “Creamy, dreamy, transparent” were the last words I could pronounce in the presence of this natural wonder that will certainly be capable of spreading joy for at least the next quarter century. “There was a tiny bit of perfectly dry botrytis here,” notes Donnhoff, “and to get much over 90 Oechsle you usually need that.” Needless to say, its presence has in no way precluded the utmost purity of fruit, clarity, or subtly electrical energy of which Riesling is capable in this amazing site. “I’m warning you, they’re not necessarily better,” said Helmut Donnhoff with a grin when serving me his two 2009 vintage Auslesen.”
Frisee & Green salad, cilantro jalepeno vinaigrette.
For reds, I had to bring something up to this much spice.
2008 Camerlengo “Antelio” Aglianico del Vulture Basilicata. An extraordinary rendition of this ancient grape that constantly evolves organically in the glass with unfiltered language. The flavors dance across meaty and inky depths, almost Mouvedre here, reminds me of an older Bandol I had the other night, but with more suede.
Poblano Farsi Rellenos stuffed with beef, potato, and cheese. Not your typical relleno, it was relatively light. The red sauce underneath was quite delicious with a good bit of heat.
Parker 96, “The 1998 Chateauneuf du Pape is the greatest effort produced since Beaucastel’s 1989 and 1990. It reveals more accessibility, no doubt because the final blend included more Grenache than normal. Its dense purple color is followed by sweet aromas of blackberries, licorice, new saddle leather, and earth. There is superb concentration, full body, low acidity, and high tannin, but it is surprisingly drinkable for such a young Beaucastel.”
Chris’s Biscochitos, vanilla ice cream with a chocolate, chile sauce. Simple, but delicious, with a bit of cinnamon chile going on.
Overall, a delicious an enjoyable evening!sharethis_button(); ?>