Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wining with Larry and Robert...Tercero at Bistro 45...

Hi everyone! I'm back! Hope the three of you missed me! With all the various things going on in my life, I took a short break from writing the blog. I do want to thank my good friend, Marya Glur, for covering various events for me, and I think I still haven't posted everything that JD has covered for me.

We've had some wonderful tastings with the Wineaux of the Goddess - Tempranillo, Malbec, Rosé - and I will cover the highlights of those tastings later.

We taught a fun class on Old World vs New World wines at Fab's, and we're coming up on the next class - Tasting Spain with the Goddess of Wine! on July 28th.

And we attended a WONDERFUL dinner at Bistro 45 in Pasadena this week - and JD wrote all about it before I could even put my notes together! What a guy! Here's what he had to say about Bistro 45 and Tercero Wines:

Larry, Robert, the Goddess & Susan
Bistro 45 (45 S. Mentor Ave Pasadena, California 91106 – (626) 795-2478) has been around for many years. It took Larry Schaffer of Tercero and new friends, James and Susan Mann, to finally get us there. We made it in before they close (temporarily for some much-needed repair) or move (though many hope that is not the case). The main repair needs are not visible to the customers but are giving problems behind the scenes in the constant task to keep everything running smoothly. Located on a quiet street just south of Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, by the appearance it had to have started life as a private residence.

We felt welcome as soon as we stepped inside and were led to our table. There is an aura of elegance (not snooty in the least) and to a patron it appears to run very efficiently. Many of the employees have been with the restaurant many years and everyone knows how it all works. Wine appears on time, glasses are topped up and dirty glasses of the previous course are whisked away; the same timeliness happens with the food. This can be especially difficult for a large group affair such as a wine dinner where everything happens at once. The owner, Robert Simon, seemed to be everywhere but never harried or hurried: welcoming, overseeing, pouring wine himself. He was a very gracious host.

We encountered several familiar wine friends and it appeared that many attendees were quite regular patrons of Bistro 45. There was much table-hopping during the evening.

The fare was to be five courses of food and eight wines, a rough task but we felt up to it.

The evening started with Tercero’s 2010 The Outlier Gewurtztraminer. This did double duty as a refreshing welcome wine, with subtle fruit and wonderful acidity and also as the accompaniment to the first course of Green Gazpacho. I could smell the cucumber as soon as the soup was set in place. Since most of us are more familiar with hot soup, there was that initial startlement with the first spoonful of coolness. Fortunately for me the listed bell pepper ingredient was not obvious. The kernels of sweet corn added, well, sweetness in addition to some fun crunch.

Second course of 2010 Grenache Blanc, 2011 Mourvèdre Rosé and Sashimi of Kona Kampachi. The Kona Kampachi was a lighter shade of red (shading into white) than I have seen with ahi tuna sashimis or steaks but had that firmness. This made it more of a rosé approach in food and was matched quite well with the Mourvèdre Rosé. 

The accompaniments of the sashimi were: tomato and watermelon tartare (a little too much tomato for my taste, but the watermelon in the blend did cut that considerably), bread-n-butter pickled melon and strawberry gelèe. This was a delicious way to have one’s taste buds pulled hither and yon. The pickled melon added just enough seasoning to enhance the fish and the gelèe provided a built-in dessert. A complete, small, meal on one plate. While Grenache Blanc can be a fine wine to sip by itself or accompany many foods, the Goddess and I both felt the Rose was the better match. It just had the little extra spice edge.

Third. 2008 Cuvée Christie, 2009 Camp 4 Mourvèdre and Sockeye Salmon.  The Cuvée is a blend of 75% Grenache, 12.5% Syrah and 12.5% Mourvèdre.  The Cuvée is a little lighter and more restrained than the 100% Mourvèdre which was also earthier too. I preferred the Mourvèdre as the partner for this course, but on another night, who knows? 

The salmon was a nice fresh firm piece of fish, skin still on, sitting on a pearl barley puree (think creamy polenta but barley instead of corn). Sitting alongside was a small croquette of salmon belly, soft inside with the outer crunch. The beets were just enough to add a sweet coolness note. A very light beurre rouge was woven among the elements.

On to the fourth course of 2007 Thompson Syrah, 2008 Larner Vineyard Cuvee Loco and Roasted Leg of Lamb. The Syrah had a spice nose with rich hearty fruit taste. The Syrah was the oldest of the wines this night and Larry felt it took this long for it to shine. It could still lie down longer or be decanted for drinking now. I felt it got a little sharper with the food, more so than the Cuvee. The Cuvee, 50% Syrah/50% Grenache, had a lighter nose than the older 100% Syrah but I was getting some more tannins on the end which should allow it to go for a while too.

Other than buttering the delicious bread at the beginning, this was the first need for a knife, to cut up the tender lamb slices. These were served on a bed of garlicky pommes fourchette (or to more of us-garlic mashed potatoes) which in turn was sitting on slices of shaved squash. Lying alongside was a slice of marinated eggplant and a little mint with truffle jus intermingled with all. The eggplant was firm, the marinade providing the heaviest seasoning for the dish.

Finally the dessert of a 2010 White Hawk Vineyard Viognier and a White Peach Soufflé Glacé. This is Larry’s first Viognier, with the grapes sourced from north of Los Alamos. He says he picked them less ripe and fermented them in older barrels and stainless steel to make sure there is enough acidity. I found the Viognier to have just a light floral nose. On the whole, round and smooth and not the least bit flabby. It works. 

The peach soufflé glacé was definitely white peaches, not yellow. There is a difference and this showed it. The peach purèe was paired with poached blueberries and had lavender milk added in. Fresh fruit, floral touches matching wonderfully with the Viognier.

All in all a delicious and painlessly educational evening.

For information about Tercero wines and to be able to check them out yourself:
Tercero wines tasting room
2445 Alamo Pintado Avenue, Suite 104 (entrance on San Marcos)
Los Olivos, CA 93441
PH – 805-245-9584

Thanks, JD, for the write up! On to Tasting Spain with the Goddess of Wine on Saturday! Cheers!

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