2 oz Pours: Old School Baller Pairings

I have a couple of OG baller pairings to share today. Most of the time, we go for the value wines in our house, but sometimes it feels oh so good to bring out the big guns.

The first one goes along with my recent Cooking to the Wine.

My brother-in-law, Dave, made a spicy lobster bisque as a starter for our steak dinner. Quite delicious!  We like to use these dinner as an excuse to open some good bottles, so I brought a Antonin Guyon Meursault-Charmes Les Charmes Dessus 1er Cru 2012 to pair with the creamy soup–like I mentioned,

I picked up this bottle a while back, but could not seem to find any info on this wine in this particular vintage. However, the Guyons have one largest family-owned wineries in the region and produce wines from 15 different appellations. The grapes for this particular cuvée come from high on the slopes in Les Charmes, predominantly on white marl limestone soils. The wines spend 15 months in French oak barrels, 30% of which is new.

Meursault’s Chardonnays are also known for being among the richer and more full-bodied wines wines in Burgundy. Even though I couldn’t find specifics for vintage, we figured it would have enough heft to stand-up to the creamy bisque. Good guess, the wine had lots of ripe stone fruits, gold apples, and a  touch of cream on the nose. The palate showed the same ripe fruit, balanced with a bright minerality on the finish.

It was an excellent match for the bisque. The wine was even ripe enough to stand-up to the extra couple notches of spicy heat happening in the soup.

Chardonnay is a pretty classic match for bisque, however, if you’re not looking to drop that kind of cash on a bottle or open a bottle from the cellar (proverbial or real),  I think you’d do really well with a ripe, buttery Chard from Cali or elsewhere in the New World–the soup can take it.

For our next taste, we’re going to San Francisco’s House of Prime Rib, which is about as old school as it gets. This steakhouse has been around since 1949 and it’s much beloved. We’d heard about it from several friends for a long time. Moreover, when I posted pics of our trip on Instagram, I got so many comments back from people describing happy memories here with family and friends. It’s the type of place people go back to for family gatherings year after the year.

It’s also the type of place that does one thing and does it well. Your decisions include the size and  cut of your prime rib, to what level you want it cooked–medium-rare is the correct answer. Beyond that and which sides you want–baked or mashed potato, creamed corn or spinach, and salad or no salad. Yorkshire pudding is included, don’t you worry. Should you still feel hungry at the end of your meal, you will happily be served a complimentary extra slice. (They menu does offer a fish option, and while I was skeptical, I’ve been assured by friends that it is quite good.)

Our waitress overheard Greg griping that he’d been served a scanty portion, and she returned with the floor manager who was carrying a whole second plate.

We went with friends who definitely knew the lay of the land here and helped guide us through the experience. The trip to HOPR also fit right into a week of celebrations for Greg's birthday. To set the tone, we began the evening with martinis (gin and dirty on this occasion). Each serving is enough for two full glasses. 

The restaurant has a solid wine list focusing largely on California producers, but on this evening our friend John brought a magnum of Sequum Kidd Ranch Zinfandel, Napa Valley 2007 to pair with our dinner ($50 corkage on the magnum). Zin often gets a bad wrap for not being ageable, but a good Zin really can. The larger format also helps slow down the aging process, so this wine was showing beautifully with plenty of brightness.

Sequum is Paul Skinner's winery. Skinner holds a Ph.D. in Soil Science and Viticulture from UC Davis and has long history of working and consulting for benchmark producers like Caymus Vineyards, Louis M. Martini, Beaulieu, Domaine Chandon, Hanzell, and Chateau St. Jean just to name a few–the list seriously goes on and on. His company Terra Spase has been a been a pioneer in weather management and soil data technologies. Per their website, the word “sequum” itself is a soil science term that describes the relationship of a vertical sequence of soil layers. This is all to say that Skinner is a world class wine science geek extraordinaire.

Most importantly, the wine was delicious and it went perfectly with the steak. It showed raspberry and blackberry notes, with little hints of flint and spice. It was juicy with silky tannins that were velvety with the meat and enough acidity to refresh the palate.

Of course, the beauty of a steak is that it goes well with so many big, bold wines, so have plenty of options that will work beautifully. However, this was definitely a big winner.

FYI John works at the Napa Valley Winery Exchange. The staff there really knows their stuff on California wines. John typically knows a ton about even the exact plots of land that grapes for the wines are coming from. I highly recommend stopping in if you’re near SF’s financial district.

Consider 2 oz Pours our version of Page 6.  Whether through business, friends, or an average night at home, we get to try a lot of wine. Here's where we share little tastes of standout pairing experiences from the many tables we dine at. Please share yours as well, either by writing in the comments here, dropping us a line, or tagging #sommstable on Instagram and we'll share our favorites.



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