Saturday, May 14, 2011

Premier Cru Chablis Cools The Windy City With A Storybook Finish

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It was a challenging conference. The event had more than 4,600 attendees and the weather was just rotten. This meant long hours on my feet for an entire week – plus the windy and cold conditions for which Chicago is known.  chablis

The end finally did arrive and to put on the finishing touches, the Executive Board had a reception and dinner at The Gage, 24 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. The Gage is a former millenary shop (think hats) that has been converted to a funky gastropub with a great wine list.

We began with some light hors d’oeuvres in a cozy private area downstairs. The two wines I had selected were the 2006 Domain Bernard Defaix Cote De Lechet Premier Cru Chablis. I had originally selected a different Chablis, but the wine cellar was bare, so The Gage agreed to substitute an even better bottle at the same price.

Chablis is Chardonnay elevated by the French to a dizzying level. California may have its buttery, oaked Chards, but for me, a mouthwatering, acidic Chablis is the hands-down winner. This Chablis was a swirl of light apple and mineral flavor notes and a delicious texture. It’s a complex and powerful wine.

Our meal began with a Three Rivers Mixed Greens salad followed by an entrée of Chili Roasted Chicken Breast with Saffron rice, spinach and tomatillo sauce or the filet mignon with broccoli rabe and a blue cheese cream. Roasted fingerling potatoes and buttered peas with pearl onions were served family style.
I selected the 2006 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Napa Estate Zinfandel (Mayacamas Range) as a nice pairing with the beef.
storybook zin

Storybook has a world-wide reputation for producing quality Zinfandel which has been produced in the red clay hills of the Mayacamas Range in California since the 1880s. The grapes are grown in certified organic vineyards and aged in oak barrels deep in centuries-old caves in the mountainside.

It is fruit forward with rich blackberry and wild fruit flavors. It has a deft balance provided by ample but not harsh tannins.
These two wines were truly enjoyed by the group (perhaps too much, according to our finance manager). The meal was capped off by an Inside Out Lemon Tart.
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