“We few, we happy few,
we band of brothers,
though in our group,
…and so Shakespeare may have penned the start of our evening this past Wednesday at the Torch Club, hosted by our most gracious friends, Adrienne Skinner and Clay Gordon. Though we were small in number (after some flu-riddled drop-outs and a family emergency), including yours truly, Jim, Jocelyn, Michael, and our hosts, we filled the room with laughter, great food, an extraordinary chocolate pairing (Clay is our cocoa sommelier), and of course grapes of several varieties to hold true to our destiny as a wine club.
To set the stage, the Torch Club is available only to alumni and faculty of NYU; Clay is the latter of the two which enabled us to descend upon this magical place. We started the evening with a delectable selection of artisanal cheeses, assorted fruits and crackers, followed by a simple and yet divine green salad with chocolate nibs and miso infused light dressing. A nib you say? Yes, a nib, which is the center of the cocoa bean. Our main course was a dazzling been tenderloin with (as you may have guessed) a delicious chocolate sauce, polenta, and small vegetables. My simple words do the main dish no justice; have a look for yourself at the dish photo on this page. I can’t remember us ever having plated service on either coast!
And then…onto the chocolate. Clay took us through the art and science of chocolate creation. 5 chocolates were selected for our experiential flight of cocoa fancy (in order of consumption):
– Felchlin Cru Hacienda (74% cocoa)
– Felchlin Grand Cui Criolait
– E. Guittard Semisweet Chocolate
– Felchlin Ambra
– Felchlin Accra
I believe 5 countries of origin are represented from this group, including the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and the Ivory Coast (and of course, Switzerland for the processing)
Each and every chocolate had a distinct flavor, texture, smell, sound (yes…sound), aftertaste, and interaction with the wine (or should I say wines left by this point in the evening). I could go on, but Clay (cc’d on this email) is a far superior source of knowledge and wisdom in this area. He can do private tastings for corporate events and the like–could not highly recommend his services enough (you can also visit www.chocophile.com for more information).
But of course, a wine redux would not be complete without a review of our wines. We mixed is up during the evening, with 3 reds, a riesling, a champagne, and a spumanti. In order of consumption (none decanted) along with brief tasting notes:
1) Luzon Verde 2005 (Jumilla, Spain)
– Peppery, plum, tight finish, tangy
2) Bellavista Cuvée Brut (NV, Italy)
– Crisp, apple, almost no finish, easy on the conversation, light like Prosecco, but tight bubbles like champagne, not very acidic like champagne
3) Torbreck, The Struie 2002 (Australia)
– blackberries, chocolate, pepper, deep, rich, not oaky, long finish
4) Clarendon Hills Romas Grenache 2004 (Australia)
– kirsch cherry explosion, chewy, tannic, buttery, has a port-like quality, and paired exceptionally well with the Grand Cru Criolait chocolate
5) Gysler, Scheurebe Halbtrocken 2005 (Germany)
– grapefruit, flowery, slightly effervescent, a nice summer wine
6) Pol Roger Extra Cuvée de Reserve Champagne (NV, France)
– green apple, mineraly
Of the six, the Torbreck was the crowd favorite with dinner while the Clarendon was the crowd favorite with the chocolate pairing. A note on chocolate/wine tasting: make sure that you’ve chewed up the chocolate to a liquid form, and ensure that you have an equivalent amount of chocolate and wine in your mouth at the same time.
So there you have it, our delightful evening before the Arctic chill gripped the city.
Thanks all, and thanks again to Adrienne and Clay for raising the bar once again!