Water for Chefs—Brian Limoges, Quince, San Francisco
The diaries of chefly oenophiles.
November 30, 2015
Your bangin'-est wine experience, real or imagined:
A few years ago, I was trailing at Alinea. All week, I was just trying to stay invisible; keep my head down, do everything right. On my last day, they decided to mess with me a bit. I could go into detail, but let's just say I was very uncomfortable. Toward the end of service, the Sous chef comes up to me and tells me my coat is dirty. He tells me to go change. So, I put a fresh coat on, clean myself up and head back to the kitchen. When I get up there, the Chef introduces me to the Maitre 'D. She leads me into the dining room, where I have the most incredible meal of my life, complete with wine pairings. I was sweating pretty hard, but the wine loosened me up a bit. A few wines lasted between courses but worked beautifully with both. The notes in the wine were the same notes I found in the food. I almost cried when I ate risotto and white truffle paired with a 2006 Monsecco Ghemme.
Have you experienced a wine pairing that truly elevated your food, that made it better in a way it wouldn't have been without the wine?
At Muse, I use mostly Californian ingredients with flavors and cooking methods of Japan, mixed with the philosophy of Scandinavian cuisine (vinegars, pickles, preservation). I had a bit of a revelation with scallops and dry Riesling. The scallops were served with a lot of citrus fruit, and the combination of sea and citrus with this Riesling was perfect. You can go overboard with citrus and Riesling and have it be too sweet, but I think the fresh scallop brought it all together.
If you could drink one wine RIGHT AT THIS VERY MOMENT, what would you want?
Right now, in this moment (at 10AM), I want champagne. It's never too early for a mimosa.
Monsecco Ghemme, Alto Piemonte, Italy
If Barolo and Barbaresco are the King and Queen of Nebbiolo, Alto Piemonte's tiny communes are the pretty ladies-in-waiting. Oft-overlooked for the better-known Langhe zones, the distinctively Alpine everything (climate, soil, neck-breakingly steep slopes) in the Ghemme region results in wines that walk the line between austerity and vigor. Monsecco, a longtime Rosenthal darling, is a recently revived estate doing things the old-school way—hands-on in the vineyard and hands-off in the cellar. They run the gamut of production in the Alto Piemonte (meaning they make a whopping seven wines), but their Ghemme is a favorite, blended from mostly Nebbiolo with a splash of Vespolina and Uva Rara (aka Bonarda). Like Limoges says, it's a killer pairing with a few shavings of that good Piemontese gold.