It was dubbed the original “Amateur’s Night” by one of Hollywood’s most famous bad boys, Humphrey Bogart, who created the Rat Pack that eventually came to be associated with Frank and the boys. A different era, a different lifestyle and I do miss those days. I remember when you went to a nightclub and you got a table for the evening with dinner, drinks and dancing to live music. Now the restaurants will try to have several turns of a table by midnight, if they even stay open that late. Years ago, even before my Bride became my Bride, she had decided to have New Year’s Eve at her house and invite her family over, so that no one should have to incur a major expense for a limited menu and mediocre service, unless they were so inclined. It worked great for decades and then the evening went to the dogs; literally. Two of her sisters got new puppies and the puppies are not really trained and they are high strung and the puppies could not spend a night alone, so the venue was moved to a home that had one of the puppies. My Bride was not thrilled, especially after she had me work so hard to get the remodeling done in the living room and the dining room for the party.
We had to schlep all the food to another location, we were back in the catering business, it seemed. The logistics of getting all of the insulated chafing dishes ready, the portable refrigerator and all of the dishes semi-prepared, to be finished at the new venue. The smells from the trunk and the back seat of the car smelled wonderful, it took a lot of will power, not to stop and grab one of the many bottles of wine that we were also shlepping and just have a picnic out in the middle of the day. Of course, my Bride still had the luxury of walking around with her orthopedic “moon-boot” and she was frazzled; then there was the effort of some to see who could show up the latest, so that food could be reheated. Then they were still bringing Christmas gifts for people that didn’t get their Christmas gifts at Christmas time, some had a bona-fide as they were out of towners. My Bride and one of her cousins took it upon themselves to clean up the entire kitchen mess, so that the younger family members could sit and watch television. Then there was an accident and one of the sisters fell down the staircase and broke her nose. My Bride was worn out, upset about the fall (and I was afraid that it was her) and tired and she had me load up the car and we drove home a little after ten.
We had started off the evening with a couple different of our go-to white wines to get the festivities off on the right note. I opened up a bottle of Silver Mountain Vineyards Pinot Noir Tondre Grapefield Santa Lucia Highlands 2006. Silver Mountain Vineyards is “hidden high in the Santa Cruz Mountains” and operated by the founder winemaker Jerold O’Brien. It was established in 1979 and is in an elevation of 2,100 feet and has a view of Monterey Bay and the surrounding redwood forest. The winery is organic and has limited production and the wines are either sold through their onsite tasting room or from their website. I am sure that I received this wine from “A Taste of Monterey” as the winery has limited production and any notes that I had, are no longer here. I have never had a bottle from this winery, but I have enjoyed other Pinot Noir wines from the Tondre Grapefield which is located in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA and I have had some of the best New World Pinot Noirs from this district. This wine was no exception, as I opened the bottle about an hour before dinner and it had a beautiful deep color and offered a nose of cherries, blueberries and spice. There was still some fruit, at fifteen years of age that was very impressive and the tannins were very mellow and there was still a nice medium length finish of terroir. The other wine that I opened was Blason D’Issan Margaux 2015 which is the second label of Chateau D’Issan, one of the Third Growths from the legendary Classification of the Medoc in 1855. Blason is a French word for “coat of arms” and I guess that is a nice way for them to list their second label. Chateau D’Issan is from the commune of Margaux and it is one of the districts that I totally enjoy, encountered the most and probably drank the most or it may be tied with Pauillac. The Chateaux is rather legendary and has been recorded in history as the wine served in 1152 at the marriage between Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England. The best word in my mind to describe the great wines of Margaux is silky, I know it is a rather ethereal word, but it just seems like the perfect word when describing certain beverages. The major difference between the first and second label, since all the fruit is from the same estate, is that the fruit harvest for Blason is from the younger vines, and since they started making this wine in 1995, as an alternative wine that is more fruit forward and drinkable much earlier. One hears of some of the leading Margaux wines still being in their prime from the earliest years of the last century. This wine is sixty percent Cabernet Sauvignon and the balance is Merlot. The Blason is aged for fourteen to sixteen months in oak, of which a third is new, the blending and the aging is slightly different compared to the first label.