Friday, September 10, 2010
Appreciating The Relay
I have a confession to make. Nothing all that shameful, the shameful I have no qualms admitting but the mildly embarrassing or things that make me look like a bigger dork than I already am find me stuffing that little nugget of information about myself far down in the gallows of, “None of your bid-ness” but here I go, letting my cat out of the bag once again. I watch a tremendous amount of absolute shit television. I don’t know how much I really watch per se but I always have some mindless garbage buzzing away behind my laptop. Law & Order while not absolute crap is still mindless and seeing as I have seen every freaking episode like fifty times….which stands to reason as it is always on somewhere, is probably my most viewed program and has more than once had my hubby laughing and saying, “Are you kidding me?! You can barely work the flipping remote (he’s so clever) and somehow you can find a Law & Order at any time of the day” why yes, yes I can…got mad skills in the Law & Order department. Another one, and this one might actually fit into the shameful category is reality television which is as far removed from any reality I know that it simply fascinates me. Oh I don’t watch the crap on MTV or anything. None of the Big Brother, Survivor (is that even still on) or Great Race stuff, we are talking things like City Confidential and the entire crime story shit. You know the ones where we all know the husband killed her but spend an hour hearing how and why? Yeah that stuff is perfectly suited to my not-paying-attention television viewing. Since I’m all spilling and junk…(sigh) I do loves me some Housewives. Not all of them but give me those New York and Jersey chicks and I have a whole hour of “Oh shit, what is wrong with these people?” but even those I can miss. There is one however that I watch religiously, DVR if need be and have been known to watch the same episode back to back.
Top Chef. I am all over Top Chef. Addicted and have even (oh yeah big dork confession coming) been known to turn down dinner plans so I could go home and watch it. Bad, I gots it bad but these people actually have talent (or least it looks like it) unlike the cheesedicks over on The Food Network and that Next Food Network Star stupidity. I admire what those chefs are able to come up with in such a short time and seeing as I fancy myself an okay cook I just love it. One of the challenges that came up this season that I don’t remember from any other was a relay. Now they have done relay races of sorts; things like peeling and chopping onions, shucking oysters, breaking down chickens and things like that but this one, well this one was different.
The chefs were separated into two groups, and four out of the five in each group was blindfolded while the first chef up was given the opportunity to rush to the pantry and fridge gathering components for a dish. The object was for that first chef to make clear through ingredients and starting prep an outline of a dish they had in mind. The blow of a whistle and the first chef steps away, the second one pulls off their blindfold and has only second to scan the items either chopped or simmering and continue with their leg of the dish before the next whistle. The success of the challenge is only as strong as the next chef and their comprehension and that is the nature of the challenge but there was just something about the exercise that I found captivating…interesting. The part I dug about it was the fact that each person was not only showing off their skills, they were also adding a little bit of themselves to the finished dish…each one adding a layer of complexity or seasoning that can either make or break the dish. Kind of a eye-opener for me.
I am in no way a control freak, not in the least. As a matter of fact I am sometimes too go-with-the-flow for my own good but where I can and do fall short at times is when I feel it would just be easier to do it myself than try and explain to someone else how to do it. It’s not that I feel like they are not capable as much as I feel like by the time I tell them how I could have had it done. This is something I am working on and the more I just give things over to someone else to do the more I learn that sometimes that new eye, that different vision can end up making the finished product even better. So after watching that relay thing on Top Chef and realizing that the guy we pay, (far less than me) to do busy work can and does make a mighty fine looking cheese tray…sometimes even better looking than the ones I did, it came as no big surprise when I read a quote from my dear friend and much respected importer Michael Sullivan.
“Benjamin Dagueneau took over the domaine following Didier’s untimely death two weeks before the harvest of 2008. Amazingly, he has brought new energy and precision to an operation that many considered the absolute summit. This vintage is a revelation of the younger Dagueneau’s abilities. These are some of the greatest wines ever come out of this winery. They show richness backed up with enormous acidity and tension. The precision and clarity of both fruit and mineral are stunning.”
Now being lucky enough to have a very close relationship with Michael Sullivan I know how much he both admired and loved Didier, how much Didier helped Michael’s company, (Beaune Imports) and knowing that the loss of one of his most valued confidants, beloved friends was a very painful and powerful thing for him and yet…here he was able to taste theses wines and see that the addition of new eyes and a fresh passion had in fact created an even better wine. I was a bit taken aback by the quote, mostly because as a true believer in Didier’s vision that he could make world class wines, those that would rival those of the Cote d’Or, out of Sauvignon Blanc grown in Pouilly-Fume. A believer because I have had the good fortune to spend a tremendous amount of time with those truly regal wines pressed between my lips, filling my mouth and leaving their complexity and volume all over my palate. Sure the wines are expensive but in no way out of line on pricing if you consider the breadth of flavor, the richness in texture and the long life they have to offer. Expensive for Sauvignon Blanc but if you limit yourself to that kind of thinking, to an assumed or perceived value of a single grape rather than the actual value of what is in the bottle, well then you are doomed to never discover what this man was able to do. So as I was saying, as a true believer I just could not imagine that anyone else would be able to accomplish what Didier had, why would I…no one else before him had and now I hear that young Benjamin was able to take all that his father taught him, add his layer and new intensity to the wines and the finished product….more complex and better wines than ever before. Just typing that I got a little shiver and forearms full of goosebumps. Unreal….
The 2008 Dagueneau wines arrive this afternoon and even though we got more than anyone else in Southern California we got very little. The wines are so limited with 2008 being a brilliant but short harvest, that there is only so much to go around so I thought I would give our loyal readers and Dagueneau devotees a heads up, give them the information before the wines hit the internet and are long gone….
2008 Dagueneau Blanc Fume de Pouilly $64.99 (plenty to get and from what I hear a wicked value as there is some declassified Silex and Buisson Renard in this cuvee)
2008 Dagueneau Pur Sang $84.99 (only 12 bottles)
2008 Dagueneau Buisson Renard $87.99 (only 3 bottles)
2008 Dagueneau Silex $109.99
2008 Dagueneau Sancerre Le Monts Damne $109.99 (only 3 bottles and only 120 bottles on the west coast)
So while Didier will be…already is for some of us, greatly missed it is heartwarming and kind of thrilling to see that his trusted son has taken his baton and is running with it. I will be taking home a bottle of Blanc Fume de Pouilly this evening at the request of my beloved Michael, “Sam, take home a bottle of that wine, I will replace it but you have got to try it” and thank you Me Miguelito, I will be. Teaching a class this evening but once I get home I will be kicking off my shoes, peeling off my socks and snuggling in with a glass of newly “Dagueneaued” Dagueneau. Remembering the twinkling blue eyes, the long mane of wild hair…the overalls and bandana clad man that was not only an iconic winemaker but a visionary and a friend. Cheers to you Didier and cheers to young Benjamin.
I will never forget what was but look forward to seeing what can be….