Paul Kosacz - Oracle of Bachus
Paul Kosacz is New England originated, Ivy League educated, middle aged wine biber and sometime foodie, I spend my weekdays at a desk and no insubstantial part of my off hours indulging my passions for good food and drink in and about Los Angeles, where I currently reside with my Jack Russell terrier, and other places hither and yon.
I’ve known the scoundrel known locally as the Austin Wine Guy for a number of years, and happily made him the oft unwilling recipient of this that or the other particular rant originating out of whatever cultural mosquito bite I happen to have received most recently. He has also been an involuntary sounding board for my own take on a subject that my detractors say I too often ponderously pontificate, namely indulgence. Now, to know me is to know that I don’t lack strong opinions, particularly about those things I find near and dear. Love me, love my dog, as they say. So you would think, n’est ce pas, that the last thing I needed was encouragement to broadcast them to a wider audience. The truth is, I have had to be cajoled for the better part of an entire year to do this. But now it is too late for regret.
The Oracle has been awakened, and plans on delivering to you (on a more or less regular schedule) his views on wine and food, in hopes of amusing, scintillating, educating and provoking you. I hope you enjoy reading what I post as much as I enjoy writing it, and find it valuable or helpful in choosing a wine to pair with a particular food or in better understanding what it is you like…or don’t like.
A frolic and detour.
November 30, 2010No, we aren’t going to Campania yet. Your oracle has most recently been the worthy recipient of yet more wretched vinous excesses and wishes to share his thoughts about these occasions as a sort of intermezzo. Italy will have to wait. It’s done so quite well for all these centuries, so a few more days won’t matter.
First instance of excess: Celebratory dinner in La Jolla.
Went to one of the few acceptable restaurants in southern California, in your Oracle’s humble opinion: WhisknLadle in La Jolla. Don’t be fooled by the unassuming title. This is really good grub that is extraordinarily wine friendly. Simple, direct food without any of the chef-as-celebrity nonsense to get in the way. I could move in tomorrow and be happy. We were belatedly celebrating a successful financing for a client. I gave my trusted source a budget of $1,000 and said I needed four wines. He selected:
1995 Raveneau Chablis Valmur
1999 Griotte-Chambertin from Drouhin
1993 Romanée-Saint-Vivant from Domaine l’Arlot
1990 Clos de Tart
In addition, I supplied a bottle of 1972 Clos de la Roche from Remy.
We ordered scallops from Maine and mussels steamed in white wine and garlic to pair with the Chablis. The wine was exceptional, offering an overwhelming overtone of candied orange rind over a classic austere Chablis base composed of acid and minerals. It was arguably the wine of the night, and took everyone by surprise, except, of course, your Oracle, who loves older Chablis from good producers.
Next, we opened the Griotte, and paired it with a salad prepared with greens, persimmons and figs. The red fruit note of the wine, and its relative youthfulness (compared to everything else we were drinking) provided a nice counterpoint, but in all honesty I thing the wine was too young to be showing its full potential.
We moved on, to a course of roasted marrow bones, followed by a white lasagna prepared with buckwheat pasta and wild mushrooms. With both courses we enjoyed the Romanée-Saint-Vivant. This wine certainly gave the Chablis a run for its money. The nose was incredible, and the quality of the vineyard and wine making, coupled with the incomparable 1993 vintage, made this wine an exceptional treat. With the bone marrow and wild mushrooms it was a home run. I’m frequently disappointed with wines from Vosne- Romanée, and think they seldom live up to their potential. This wine was an exception. Those who wax rhapsodic about the opiatic spiciness of wines from this commune would find a worthy exemplar in this bottle. Your Oracle would love to source more of this wine from this producer.
We next opened the 1990 Clos de Tart, which we paired with roast suckling pig confit. It is a Grand cru monopole owned by Mommessin in Morey-Saint-Denis. I believe that the domain is now part of the Boisset conglomerate. This wine was the disappointment of the evening. I have yet to be impressed by a bottle of Clos de Tart, and am also not a particular fan of the 1990 vintage in Burgundy. If one has to drink 1990 Burgundy, my own experience is that the Cote de Beaune wines are better than those of the Cote de Nuits. The truly consistent producers made great wines that I think are best drunk now; the rest made merely flabby wines that are very unarticulated. As far as the vineyard and producer are concerned, I believe that neighboring Clos des Lambreys is a much more interesting wine than Clos de Tart, in spite of commonly held opinions that the Clos de Tart produces (or perhaps one should say, is capable of producing) wines of greater intensity.
Lastly, there was the 1972 Clos de la Roche from Remy. This was the wild card. Recent tasting experience indicated that many of the 1972 wines from Burgundy were beginning to be a bit tired, so it was not without some degree of trepidation that I awaited the tasting of this wine. When the attentive person from the wait staff opened the bottle and poured some, the color immediately darkened. Within seconds one would have been challenged to guess the age of the wine – it was as vibrant a garnet red as the Clos de Tart. The nose was intoxicating. The wine was fresh and vibrant, full of intense, rocky minerality. We paired it with some cheeses selected for old Burgundy and savored every mouthful.
When we had finished we were all starting to wear a bit thin. We finished the meal with some sorbet, home made cookies and coffee, then departed for our hotel rooms thinking about how fortunate we had been to have experienced these wines, all perfectly paired with the proper food that complemented, rather than overwhelmed, what we were drinking. My hat is off to this fine restaurant, which your Oracle recommends to anyone finding himself or herself in the San Diego area. And if you are fortunate enough to be carrying with you some older Burgundy, all the better.
For my next post, the next instance of wretched excess. In the meantime….
Sic Bacchi Oraculo dixit.
Thus spake the Oracle.