Sancerre: Thomas-Labaille Les Monts Damnes 2012 – Pairing Rating: 9.0 out of 10.0
Chateauneuf du Pape: Chateau de Beaucastel 2000 – Pairing Rating: 9.5
Went to Buffalo NY this past weekend to visit our son who is starting grad school at the Univ. of Buffalo. In thinking about where to go to dinner on Saturday, I consulted the Wine Spectator for their list of 2014 Restaurant Awards. I’ve always held the belief that restaurants that care about their wine lists also care about their food. This has always served me well, and this occasion reaffirmed that belief.
Of the 3 Buffalo restaurants listed in the Wine Spectator, I was intrigued by the restaurant Bacchus: a Spectator winner since 2003, with a special notation that the restaurant has “inexpensive wine pricing”. A quick check on Yelp and the restaurant’s menu & photos cemented the decision.
I was blown away by the Bacchus Wine List. Not only did they have breadth (Greece, Spain, Chile, et.al.) but vintage depth. The pricing for the more expensive offerings was incredible: $540 for DRC Échézeaux 2002, $430 for Vega-Sicilia Unico 2001 and $120 for Clos Mogadur 2006. The average retail prices for these wines in Wine-Searcher.com are $1,102, $398 and $93, respectively! I was the “kid” and Bacchus was my “candy store”.
My first course was impressive: Grilled Figs with Prosciutto, Fire-Roasted Onion, Gorgonzola Coquettes and Arugula with a Balsamic Reduction. All great together especially when paired with a 2012 Sancerre from Thomas-Labaille Les Monts Damnes. This is an exquisite, crisp Sauvignon Blanc from one of the top villages (Chavignol) in France’s Loire Valley for Sancerre. The wine delivered kiwi and grapefruit flavors that complemented the figs nicely, while the salinity and minerality of the Sancerre did a great job cleansing the palate of the fat from the cheese and the prosciutto. A great start.
My main course was chosen after I selected the wine: a 2000 Chateauneuf du Pape from Chateau Beaucastel. The Bacchus Wine List price was $145; the average retail price in Wine-Searcher is $110! Confident that this 14-year-old beauty would be at or near its peak, I proceeded to pair it with a Gorgonzola-crusted Rib Eye with a Merlot Demi-Glace and a Fingerling, Bacon & Leek Salad.
Trish thought I must have a death-wish, but I brushed it off, blinded by this wine that called out for the bold flavors of the Rib Eye dish.
The Beaucastel went all 15 rounds with that excellent Rib Eye. It was beautiful. Layers of spices and savory notes never faded over the final forkfuls of the steak. Relative to many other Chateauneuf producers, Beaucastel uses more Mourvèdre (30%) in the blend. I believe this accounts for its complex structure and savory notes. After 14 years in the bottle, the tannins were velvety and fully integrated; the alcohol level was moderate, likely due to Beaucastel’s 40+ year-old vines located in the north of the appellation. The wine was a terrific expression of the Southern Rhone varietals.
Bacchus in Buffalo: Great Food, Incredible Wine List and Excellent Service! Who knew?