A couple of weeks ago, my Bride and I went out to meet another couple for dinner. I am always a bit concerned when she couches the restaurant’s description and tells me that they have really good food. I have been to plenty of restaurants over the years that have no pretensions, no décor or ambience, but have great food. I have also been to places that reek of pretensions and self-importance and can’t even serve a glass of water properly. I don’t think that I am a snob (well maybe a little bit), but I really despise paying good money for mediocrity. If a place is a family-style restaurant that all of a sudden, thinks they are gourmet, this could be scary.
My Bride told me that they had just started to carry wine, because they now have a liquor license. She called and asked what their policy is regarding bringing your own wine and paying a corkage fee. She was handed over to the restaurant’s wine buyer who assured my Bride that every wine has been tasted by both the owner and the wine buyer for quality, and that they don’t allow outside wines. We went and placed our dinner requests; the specials were on an erasable board as we came in. When I asked about the wine, the wine buyer shows up to take the order. They had a small wine carte, which is fine, one should always start cautiously. I saw a white wine that I did not know, but I knew and respected the house, as they make one of our go-to wines at the house, so I was willing to try their opening range wine. When I selected the wine, the wine buyer informed the table that “Bordeaux is my favorite grape.” I am not sure when Bordeaux became a grape, but I learn something new daily. The wine buyer brought the bottle out and it was warm, and I asked for a wine bucket, and she was surprised that a white wine should be chilled. I kept my cool, had the bottle opened and prayed that an ice bucket would be brought before the meal was finished.
The wine was Maison Sichel (Cave) Bel-Air Bordeaux Blanc AOC 2019 and pure Sauvignon Blanc. Maison Sichel, about forty years ago was the first negociant to invest in a vinification cellar; so that they could be responsible for the wine from grape to the bottle. This Cave handles the fruit from about two-hundred hectares of vineyards in making red, white and rosé wines from Bordeaux. The average age for the vines is thirty-years and basically from clay-limestone soils. The juice undergoes skin maceration for about twelve hours, pressed and preserved using carbon dioxide gas for a day. Then the juice is put into Stainless Steel vats for fermentation, the heavy lees are racked, and the fine lees are allowed to age with the juice for about four months. The wine had a soft yellow color and offered notes of citrus and exotic fruits and florals. On the palate there were tones of fruit and some nice acidity, with almost no finish. The wine may have shown better, if it had been chilled prior. My Bride knows that I will not go back to this restaurant.