Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Decanter (or, Anticipation)

Decanting Baumard's 2005 Cuvee le PeonHappy Thanksgiving, everyone. I'm hosting a gaggle of people and I've been merrily planning and cooking for the last several days. For example, I've already made the broth for the mushroom risotto, baked the Indian sweet potato pastry spirals, cooked the fiery sweet potatoes which I'll broil right before the meal, and made the Indian-spiced bean and vegetable salad. Later today, I'll make another vegetable salad (daikon, carrot, and green bean, blanched and julienned and dressed with a soy-based sauce), squash stuffed with bacon and apple, and tofurkey. Hey, I like tofurkey!

While these dishes may not sound traditionally Thanksgiving-ish, they are earthy much like the more traditional fare. So I still need to serve earthy, medium-bodied wines, just as I would for a more obviously traditional feast.

To that end, I've lined up the gorgeous 2002 Dirler Schimberg Pinot Gris, the elegant 2005 J.K. Carriere Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, and for those who want a more full-fruited red wine, the 2006 Domaine Gayda Chemin de Moscou, which is a Vin de Pay d'Oc from a 200m high vineyard in the Malepere appellation north of Limoux (see Google map) that's 55% syrah, 40% grenache, and 5% cinsault. We'll actually start the meal with a shot-sized pour of Isastegi Basque cider to accompany an arugula salad, and then at the close of the meal, I'll serve the 2005 Baumard Cuvée le Paon, a botrytised Layon wine that Baumard makes in only the best vintages. (Backup wines in case of extra guests or cork taint: Carriere's 2005 Chardonnay and the lovely 2008 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Rosso from Mt. Etna.)

The Carriere pinot has great structure and acidity and I will definitely need to decant it a few hours before the meal. The Paon, however, really needs a decant — it's outrageously young and the Baumard house style is reductive — so 12 hours ago I decanted it into... an old glass coffee carafe that I salvaged from a dead coffee maker. Yep, that's my decanter. It's perfect: it's wide, easy to clean, features a pour spout that makes double decanting a snap, and was absolutely free. And it of course works. I'm happy to report that some of the Paon's cavity-inducing baby fat has been shed and it's growing deeper and more complex, with excellent acidity and those quiet and remarkable tones of bitter herbs that I love in chenin.

OK, it's time to start the last of my cooking — no time to lose! Happy Thanksgiving to all of us.

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