Cinnamon and I really changed things up this week, and moved steak and claret night from Friday to Sunday. We had a bottle that was worthy of extra time, the now 26 year old 1989 Clos du Marquis, St-Julien ($79.99) that just arrived from Bordeaux. This bottle was from a different era in Bordeaux, an era when a ripe vintage did not mean a flabby one, and this taught, precise St. Julien showed just how much finesse a 1989 can have. We decanted it an hour and a half ahead and even the first sniff showed that we were in for a big treat.
The Clos du Marquis is often thought of as a second wine of Leoville-Las-Cases, but it is really a separate wine from a small walled vineyard within the property. This “Petit Clos” is right next to the Chateau itself, and boarders not only Leoville-Barton and Leoville-Poyefere, but also Pichon Lalande to the north. To say that it is in a good neighborhood would be an understatement. This clos is planted to about three quarters Cabernet Sauvignon, one fifth Merlot and a smattering of Cabernet Franc.
Earlier in the afternoon, I had re-seasoned my trusty cast iron hibachi and I was excited to cook the very thick, prime one pound New York that I had bought from Dittmer’s earlier in the week on it. Generally Cinnamon and I like to get one big, thick steak to share rather than two thinner pieces. We get better flavor this way and I feel the results are even better with a thick cut piece over mesquite, as the meat has more of a chance to pick up some of the smoke. I cooked some spring onions and asparagus on the grill at the same time.
In the meantime, new crop Yukon Gold potatoes were roasting in a little bit of duck fat in the oven. I like to boil them until they are soft and cooked through first, as this yields a potato that is creamy on the inside as crisp on the outside when they come out of the oven. I also whipped up a little mayonnaise… Steak and claret on Sunday isn’t diet food!
Sometimes Cinnamon will complain about having to have the same meal once a week, but never while we are actually eating it. The combination of Bordeaux and beef are classic for a reason, and this meal with this bottle stood out as one of the best we have had in a long while. This 1989 is still very dark and young, and I am glad that we gave it an hour and a half to air in the decanter. The nose shows off the purity and power of Cabernet Sauvignon from this hallowed area with some of the best dark cassis aromas that I have smelled. In the mouth, the wine is medium bodied, with great texture that has the potential to get even better with more time. The tannins are firm and the acidity fresh- I was very happy to have thick slices of marbled, prime New York steak to act as a foil to this big wine. Our bottle was also layered and complex with a nod to Pauillac showing through in pencil lead hints. Best of all it was super easy to drink despite its size and complexity; a virtue that only wines of great breed have.
-Gary Westby, K&L