Chianti Classico & Carpaccio

Carpaccio is named for Vittore Carpaccio, the Venetian Renaissance painter known for his use of brilliant reds and whites. Giuseppe Cipriani, owner of Harry’s Bar, invented this dish in 1950, the year of the great Carpaccio exhibition in Venice. It was inspired by the Contessa Amalia Nani Mocenigo, a frequent customer at Harry’s Bar whose doctor had placed her on a diet forbidding cooked meat. (Interesting diet, no?)

Marchese Antinori is produced from the finest grapes grown in the Chianti Classico wine region of Tuscany. Deep ruby red with predominant cherry fruit flavors. It is a full-bodied, rounded, delicious red wine. 90% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and other red grapes. This is hands down one of my favorites, and a good value too.

Thinly sliced raw beef is drizzled with olive oil, garnished with capers and freshly ground pepper, topped with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.

V. Carpaccio, The Marriage of the Virgin, 1504-08, Oil on Canvas

Do you agree with Cipriani, isn’t the raw beef dish reminiscent of the painting?

Wine with Dinner

Stony Hill
Napa Valley 1995 Chardonnay
Stony Hill Vineyard has been producing delicious, fruity, non-oaky Chardonnay for over a half century. This wine has been off my radar screen for years. Too bad. This is just the style of Chardonnay that I adore – non-oaky, balanced and elegant.
The 1995 vintage is still fresh and lively, with concentrated fruit, it is complex and graceful, has an attractive minerality with a honeyed character. Love it! It was an extraordinary complement to some of first courses of David Humm’s fresh modern French dishes we enjoyed at Eleven Madison Park restaurant.

Marcassin, Three Sisters Vineyard
Sonoma Coast 2003 Pinot Noir
We had ordered a variety of main courses at Eleven Madison Park including the Lavender Honey & Spiced Duck, Vermont Farm Suckling Pig with Plum Chutney & Five Spice Jus, and Organic Chicken with Oregon Morels & Sauce Vin Jaune. We were very excited to have the opportunity to drink Helen Turley’s world-class Marcassin Pinot Noir with our main course.
Wine writer/critic Robert Parker writes: “The 2003 Pinot Noirs are showy wines, with the 2003 Pinot Noir Three Sisters offering a combination of white chocolate, blueberry, raspberry, a touch of smoke and earth, with good underlying, tart acidity, very seductive aromas and flavors, and a spicy, long finish.” Ooohhh!

Helen Turley, one of the world’s most influential winemakers, talks about Marcassin Pinot Noir:

FYI – Marcassin is French for young wild boar.

Cold Sake

What are you drinking with sushi?

Otokoyama has been making sake for over 340 years on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, which has ideal climate and water conditions needed to make superior sake.

There are five elements involved in brewing sake – water, rice, technical skill, yeast, and terrior. More than anything else, sake is a result of a brewing process that uses rice and lots of water. For a terrific lesson on all things sake, please visit

It is customary to pour sake for one’s table companions. Here it is served from this nifty vessel with ice in the center. As with wine, you don’t want the sake too cold, or the delicate fragrance and flavors will be masked.
Vinography blog has excellent tasting notes on Otokoyama:
A floral nose with hints of jasmine tea and just the tiniest hints of fresh pink bubblegum. It is smooth and extremely silky in texture with lovely acidity and a floral, rainwater quality that makes for an incredibly clean experience on the palate.

Otokoyama, translation “Man’s Mountain,” is one of my favorites.


Château Cos d’Estournel St. Estephe 1982

A 25 Year-Old Bordeaux with Christmas Dinner.

“Just like a novel writer can be the same and yet different through his works, a Grand Cru can express the same style through its different vintages.

Impressive in its youth by the intensity of its structure and the strength of its fruit, the wine of Cos evolves slowly to reach a wonderful melting quality and an aromatic complexity when it comes to complete maturity.

Great vintages of Cos d’Estournel can have an exceptionally long life, sometimes exceeding a hundred years.” Cos website

And an Old-Fashioned Christmas Dinner Menu:

Traditional Relish Tray, that spins 🙂
Beef Wellington with Green Peppercorn Port Wine Demi-Glace
Potatoes with Sour Cream & Horseradish
Carrots, Parsnips & Sweet Potatoes with Butter and Parsley
Steamed Green Beans
Roasted Beets
Eleanor’s Delicious Home-Baked Desserts & Cookies
Served on Virginia’s Christmas China

My Wine Notes:
60% Cabernet Sauvignon 40% Merlot
The cork: in fine shape, just slightly crumbly. Using an ah-so was helpful.
First impression: deep inky-purple color, surprising.
Bouquet: underwhelming.
Taste: austere to begin. But over time of about 3 hours it became more and more intriguing. Smooth with balanced acidity. There was certainly fruit there, but specific fruit flavors were not evident.
Overall: this wine is mature, not flamboyant, elegant, with a lingering finish and surprisingly no sediment. Quite enjoyable.

A special thank you to Lou and Lauren for including me in their family celebration.

Where were you in 1982?
I was working for the old Velvet Turtle Restaurants.
Beef Wellington was one of our signature dishes back then.

SEA SMOKE World-Class Pinot Noir

We thoroughly enjoyed a bottle of the rich and elegant Sea Smoke TEN 2005 Pinot Noir at Melisse Restaurant in Santa Monica.
Appellation: Santa Barbara County, Santa Rita Hills.
Named after the afternoon marine fog (sea ‘smoke’).

From their website:
The 2005 Sea Smoke Ten Pinot Noir shows deep extraction and intensity of flavor, maintains good balance across the palate, and culminates in a firm, but velvety finish. Aromas of dark plum, black cherry, currants, as well as cedar and a hint of earthiness are characteristic of this wine.

At Sea Smoke we believe that the vineyard is the wine. For this reason, we produce Pinot Noir grown exclusively on our estate vineyard.

100% Pinot Noir (Ten Clones, from which the wine takes its name)

We recommend decanting thirty to sixty minutes prior to drinking, particularly if consumed before 2009.