Christmas time is always a special time to be with friends and family. One of my favorite perks of writing these memories about wine is that I am allowed to give “nom de plume” aliases to some of the cast of characters that I write about. The moniker of Wine Raconteur Jr. was not assigned by me, but self-appointed by a dear friend who wished to write an article for me, and he flattered me with the name he had chosen. I have known him, since his teenage years when he worked part-time along side of me years ago. I have had the great honor of knowing his parents and his family, attended his wedding and continue to see him, his charming Bride and get the chance to watch his two children as they grow up as well. We were able to get our calendars in agreement and we had dinner, and he wanted to prepare dinner for us, as he is quite an accomplished chef as well as a musician; he is such an accomplished young man without pretensions.
He had decided that he was going to make his signature dish of Chicken Parmesan and he was amazed that he had not made that before, for us to enjoy. They were relishing some adult time that evening as his parents had picked up his two children to take them to a Christmas function at their club. Our hosts had prepared several appetizers for us to nibble on, while we caught up on all that had happened since the last time we were together. The Bruschetta was amazing, as it was not the usual type one found, and he had also roasted some cashews with the spices associated with the Christmas season. Both of these were totally addicting. The Chicken Parmesan was just outstanding, featuring large breasts of meat, cooked so tender and properly and they were served with a pasta that I had never seen before and I forgot to write the name down, but he laughed, because he had allowed his children to pick the pasta and it was done in a simple al-dente style with butter and oil. Afterwards we enjoyed a large platter of assorted home made cookies.
We started off with some Spanish Cava that they had already opened, and one knows that to properly cook, one needs to have wine, either to cook with or to enjoy while cooking. We had brought over a couple of bottles of wine to enjoy with them. The first bottle was Jean Bourdy Cremant du Jura Brut NV which was all Chardonnay. This wine was chosen as they had first informed me of the wine shop that this wine came from, and we regaled them with some stories of how we had this at a special Jura wine tasting at Selden Standard, not too long ago, that I had wrote about. My Bride fell in love with this wine, so consequently when she went to pick up the wine that we ordered, she also got a few more bottles of it. The other wine that I chose from my cellar, some may question, because I grabbed a red wine to go with chicken, but since it was Chicken Parmesan and would be more robust, I felt that a fuller bottle of wine would do the trick. The wine was Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 1992. This wine is produced in the Tuscany region of Italy and I have a very soft spot in my heart for all wines from Montepulciano. The trick to remember is that there are two similar sounding wines from there. There is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Vino di Montepulciano, the first is made from the Montepulciano grape and the latter is made from Sangiovese. This wine by tradition is made from 85% Sangiovese and is usually blended with ten percent Canaiolo Nero and the balance with Mammolo. This wine by law must age for twelve months in oak barrels and then another twelve months in bottles, before being released, and if it had been a Reserva, there would have been even longer aging required. Considering the age of the wine, the color was still deep and the nose and the taste showed the beauty of cellar aging, it was just so mellow that it was perfect with the meal and would have been stellar with almost anything. After dinner his parents and his children showed up, and we were able to give them their presents in person, and that just finished the evening so well.