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Dinner with friends (Jan. 21, 2001)
Wrapping up the Boston weekend, a trio of friends gathered at Thor and Theresa Iverson's for their traditional Boston Expo Sunday Incredible Dinner.

Jason Brandt Lewis, Bob Ross, and I joined our gracious hosts for a feast that Theresa had been merrily preparing for at least three days, and we all brought wine.

With starters of incredibly silken and hellishly expensive Scottish salmon rolled around beautiful pencil-thin asparagus with creme fraiche, parsley and dill, and goat-cheese-topped toast rounds:

Vin de Bugey Cerdon Methode Ancestrale - clear cherry-red. Fruity and crisp-sweet, a soda pop for adults ... and a very good one. (Thor may be able to help with the details - it's Gamay and, something else; the "ancestral method" is not champenoise but apparently involves spontaneous secondary fermentation.

Champagne Raymond Boulard Annee de la Comete Millesime 1986 Brut - pale gold, Subtle and delicate at first, I can't get much out of it at first, but it pens up beautifully as it warms to a full and textured Champagne, toasty and rich.

With a first course of lobster and tiny, sweet Nantucket Bay scallops in an amazing buttery sauce

S. Michele 1997 Sanct Valentin Sudtirol - Alto Adige Pinot Grigio - Thor has been talking about this wine all weekend to my dubious skepticism, but he was telling the truth: This Northeastern Italian white is the moral equivalent of a white Burdundy with its full aroma, full flavor and rich creme brulee character. Amazing!

Isabel 1999 Marlborough Riesling - Jason, ITB, offers this from his excellent New Zealand property (which I had the pleasure of visiting with Sue and Jenise in November). A year older than the 2000 he was pouring at the Expo, it's gaining character with age, still fruity, crisp and fresh with tasty perfumed mango qualities.

Then we moved on to four-cheese ravioli in a porcini/chanterelle/cream sauce ... there was also a salad in there somewhere, before or after the main course, a pierre chaud ("hot rock"), a country French specialty in which diners select pieces of raw meat from a tray and grill it to taste on a red-hot stone (replaced here by an electric raclette grill) ... wild boar chops, lamb sausage, and boneless strips of veal and ostrich and probably something else that I've forgotten, with a variety of delicious hand-made sauces including an aioli sauce, anchovies in creme fraiche, mustard and parsley, and a thick tomato cream sauce.

Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1982 Pauillac - Inky dark garnet, only the slightest browning at the edge. Lovely mature Bordeaux aromas, tobacco leaf and chocolate; ripe and complex, plenty of fruit left. Clean and cunsistent in a very long finish. Thanks to Bob for this, surely the wine of the evening (other than, possibly, Bob's other contribution, below).

Vinattieri 1982 Rosso Vino da Tavola di Toscana - Jason says Burton Anderson, the wine writer, owned this winery during the early '80s when it was producing this beauty, one of the first "Super Tuscans." Cherries and subtle earthy notes, caramel and dried herbs, fennel and sage. Full and deep, seductive old-red "sweetness," amazingly long, it really shows how Cabernet fills in the mid-palate and finish of Sangiovese in the original Super-T concept. A wonderful wine.

Ravenswood 1991 Belloni Sonoma County Zinfandel - Plummy, almost pruney, but plenty of structure. Who says Zin doesn't age?

With that wonderfully runny, deliciously stinky "spoon" cheese, Vacherin Mont d'Or

Edmunds St. John 1997 Parmelee Hill Sonoma Valley Syrah - Blackish-purple, opaque. Grilled meat, mineral and black fruit, reminiscent of Northern Rhone. Big and tannic, full flavors follow the nose, impressive but in need of time. My contribution, and I'm glad it's showing as well as it did at the Edmunds St. John booth at the Expo.

With an amazing dessert that Theresa specifically crafted to go with wine, perfect poached pears encased in golden-brown pastry with melted Gorgonzola and goat cheese and walnuts

Cockburn 1955 Vintage Port - Very dark purple. Plummy stone fruit, luscious sweetness. Wonderful, seems much younger. We just can't stop sipping it, as Bob and Jason's cab driver sits outside at the curb, kept at bay with repeated entreaties and bribed with dessert. A great, great wine. Thanks, Bob!

Thirty Bench 1998 Niagara Peninsula VQA Riesling Icewine - Pale gold. My other contribution, hand-imported from Canada this summer. Perfumed Riesling fruit, petrol and pine. Unctuous, toothache sweet. A very good dessert wine, I think, but dramatically overshadowed by the world-class Port.

Amid jovial farewells, we eventually got Bob and Jason out the door, just in time to avoid seeing the angry cabbie's taillights disappearing into the distance.

A great time, indeed, was had by all.

Have you tasted these wines?
E-mail me your tasting notes, and I'll consider adding them to this page.


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