A Perfect Perfection

February 15, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments

Yes, I know. “Perfect Perfection”. The English language offers more than 170,000 words, and this “writer” can’t even come up with a decent title for the post. Shame on me.

And nevertheless, I insist on my choice of words. Let me tell my tale to see if this will make sense to you too.

Valentine’s Day is a very personable holiday, loved by some, and hated by others. Many years ago, we decided that it will be simply a family holiday for us (no restaurant Prix Fix menus and back to back sitting), which translates into an opportunity to cook and  – it is a special holiday, after all – open a special bottle of wine.

A special bottle of wine means a special selection process. “Special selection process” usually means trouble – going from a wine fridge to a wine fridge, opening the door, pulling the shelf, looking at the bottles, pulling another shelf out, still not finding anything appropriate, and repeating until full exhaustion. For this dinner, however, a choice of the main dish greatly simplified the process.

In this house, special dinners are often associated with the steak. Such was this Valentine’s Day – New York strip was acquired and ready to be cooked. Many wines can play well with the steak, but in simple terms, steak needs Cabernet Sauvignon or a Cabernet Sauvignon blend. With that in mind, choosing the wine was almost easy and straightforward – California Bordeaux-style blend with a nice age almost popped into my hand on its own.

I never had this wine before. While looking for the 1998 wines to buy (birth year of my son) at the Benchmark Wine, I came across this 1998 Reverie Special Reserve Meritage as it was described. At $30, 22 years old unknown wine from California sounds like a risk I was willing to take (so far, I didn’t miss  – “knock on wood” – even a single time buying aged wines from Benchmark Wine, everything was tasty and perfectly drinkable). In the wine fridge, this wine was laying on one of the first shelves I pulled out, and the inner voice quickly said “this is it” – I decided not to argue.

I had the wine warm up a bit before opening it. About an hour and a half before our decided dinner time, I carefully pulled out the cork – I had quite a few corks crumbled almost to the dust on me lately, so was extra careful pulling this one out. To my delight, the cork came out in a perfect shape, practically intact.

The first whiff of this 1998 Reverie Special Reserve Diamond Mountain (13.5% ABV, blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot, aged in 100% new small French oak barrels) simply suggested taking a sip immediately. The wine had aromas of cassis and mint, a pure, classic, beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon profile. The palate followed almost in the impossibly perfect way. Cassis, mint, and eucalyptus, all in pristine, perfect, form. There was nothing extra in that sip – it was perfectly round, perfectly smooth, with just enough acidity, with just enough of the tannins, with just enough of the fruit. A perfect, perfect, perfect balance, an absolute harmony which is not easy to find – the one which puts a stupid smile on your face. Yep, that’s how good the wine was.

Our impressions seemed to match perfectly with what the back label said: “we only designate the blend made from the best lots of the traditional Bordeaux varietals as Special Reserve when we believe the wine is extraordinary. We believe this wine is worthy of that designation. We are incredibly proud of this very limited release wine and know you will also enjoy it immensely. A wine this fine should be saved for a special occasion and enjoyed with the finest cuisine and good friends”. It is rare to find a back label to be spot on describing the wine – but in the case of this special Reserve, this was a complete success.

I don’t think my pan-seared steak belonged to the finest cuisine category – but at least it was not burnt and raw at the same time – and it paired very well with the wine. We also made special potatoes in the air fryer and oven-roasted asparagus came out super-tasty (from now on, this might be the only way I will cook asparagus).

This is my story of the perfect wine experience – truly at the level which will be hard to replicate. What are your “perfect wine” stories?

  1. DiosRaw
    February 16, 2021 at 2:44 am


  2. February 16, 2021 at 7:01 am

    Sounds like a nice dinner!! Thanks for sharing

    • February 16, 2021 at 9:31 am

      Dinner was nice, but I was super-impressed by this bottle. Just a pure delight. When is your next cruise? Cheers, my friend.

  3. Mika
    February 16, 2021 at 8:42 am

    We had almost perfectly matched menus 🙂 if you substitute filet for strip, which normally is my no 1 choice but I thought I’d give filet a shot, roasted potatoes for air fried and green beans for asparagus and BV California Cab blend for Reverie.
    I guess great minds think alike 🙂
    PS nice crust on those steaks!

    • February 16, 2021 at 9:38 am

      The menu does sound very similar. I wanted to do the filet, but didn’t find anything decent when I was at the store. I was happy with the crust – managed to get what I want from the cast iron skillet, even on my electric stovetop.
      I hope your BV was as good as the wine we had 🙂 I didn’t write about the winery because the original winery doesn’t exist anymore…

      • Mika
        February 17, 2021 at 10:12 am

        I am sure you already know but low and slow warm up on the stovetop is the best way to get the cast iron primed for steak or even better a half-hour in a 500 degree oven to get it going. Stays hot and even even on electric after that. That’s why I usually pair steak with roasted sides as the oven is hot anyway.
        BV was very good. Amazing? No. But a very solid and restrained California. Very enjoyable with medium rare steak.

  4. March 10, 2021 at 11:28 pm

    Well that wine sounds like perfection. And since that old cork came up perfectly I’d say you picked the right title.

    • March 10, 2021 at 11:47 pm

      This was definitely one tasty wine and a delightful experience. 🙏🍷

  1. December 24, 2021 at 9:59 pm

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