Having a special wine dinner for six is enough of a challenge, without all of the craziness that occurs here naturally. We had the good fortune of getting a mixed vertical case from one of our favorite wineries and when I wrote about it, one of my cast of characters offered to duplicate the dinner from the 1996 film Big Night, while my Bride was talking to another cast mate about the mixed case as well. So, putting as much energy as Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, we decided to put on a show, or at least as fancy of a dinner as we could do. We were going to share the wines with The Wine Raconteur Jr. and The Caller and their spouses, and the four of them had never met before, but we thought this was the perfect time to get everyone together.
Of course, my Bride is married to a real pain in the arse and rather opinionated about a lot of things, including food and the preparation of said foods, even though I am probably best at staying out of the kitchen. I guess by osmosis, I have learned a few things about food, pairing, preparations and how a dish should be done or taste. I guess I also drove her crazy by adding more and more ideas of what should go into the menu. We also debated on stuff like what china service we should use, as we have at least five different place settings to choose from, then discussions on the flatware, the tablecloth and napkins and stemware. We did not have twenty-four matching crystal wine goblets, but we did have twice that many matching commercial stemware, so we searched to see if we had three sets of six wine bracelets to identify the wines, we didn’t; we ended up putting six place setting easels with erasable writing to identify the three wines for dinner and then we used circles that we placed on the base of each glass to identify the vintage. We also had to do some math, so that we knew how much wine to pour into each glass ahead of time. A lot of prep work was involved and by the time we had dinner the night before the event we were tired and my Bride wanted to make something quick and easy, so we had New York Strip Steaks and Armenian Pilaf, that was left over from another meal and that worked.
We had also finally finished off all of the opened bottles of wine, since we were trying to unclutter the house for the party, so I went down to the cellar and decided to get a split, which I figured would be ample for the two of us with dinner. I found a bottle that I thought would be perfect to get us in the mood for drinking some great wine the next day, and I wanted to see how some of the other splits were holding up, just like I have been opening up a lot of the older white wines that have been in the cellar. Chateau Duhart-Milon Pauillac 1998 is a “Fourth Growth” from the 1855 Classification of the Medoc and at one time it was known as Duhart-Milon-Rothschild. The winery shares vineyard management and winemaking teams with its illustrious owner and neighbor. The property has a storied history and is named from the pirate Duhart who sailed in the service of Louis XV and retired to the Medoc. After the classification the winery had a slow decline and was purchased in 1962 by Baron Eric de Rothschild and eventually the entire vineyard was replanted. The estate is a one-hundred-eighty acre of fine gravel and sand on limestone, similar to Lafite-Rothschild and it is planted two-thirds Cabernet Sauvignon and the balance to Merlot; though year to year that may not be the mix that makes the final cut. The vat rooms and cellars are located in the city of Pauillac. The vinification process is in vats for specific vineyard plots and the grand vin is aged for up to eighteen months in oak, they also produce a second wine called Moulin de Duhart and sometimes they also produce Baron de Milon. If I had poured you this wine, without you seeing that it was from a split, you would have sworn that it was from a full bottle, as it was still young with plenty of fruit and tannins to make any fan of Pauillac happy. The color was still vivid and the nose belied its age. The only problem was that it was the last bottle and it was totally delicious and should have been paired with a filet, but I digress. We were going to relax for the evening and devote our whole next day to the party.