In May of this year, we held a dinner at our home on behalf of the 2009 Central Coast Wine Classic. This event, an auction lot in last year’s Wine Classic, featured a special dinner paired with old and rare wines from our cellar. The lot was purchased by Archie McLaren, Founder and Chairman of the Central Coast Wine Classic. Archie and seven other guests attended the dinner. My wife, Laurie, and I created the recipes, prepared the meal and contributed the wines from our collection.
The Wine Classic, now in its 26th year, is one of America’s most successful charity wine auctions, thanks to the efforts of the renowned, multi-talented Archie McLaren. The Wine Classic, a prestigious and comprehensive wine and food extravaganza that takes place at Avila Beach every year in July, offers for auction an eclectic array of fine wine, art works and wine- and food-oriented lifestyle packages that range from the Central Coast to Europe.
The 2010 Central Coast Wine Classic takes place from July 8 through July 11.The theme will be the Rejuvenation of Avila Beach and the Rejuvenation of New Orleans.For more information on this event, go to http://www.centralcoastwineclassic.org. 
Melon chunks marinated in blood orange juice, wrapped with Prosciutto de Parma and sprinkled with freshly chopped mint
Bourse de California dried plums stuffed with wild arugula, roasted walnuts and stilton cheese
Ahi tartare tossed with a dressing of yuzu zest and juice, fresh ginger juice, white golden Tamari soy sauce, chili sesame oil, and topped with crushed savory tuille
1990 Gosset Grand Rose
1976 Rene Collard Rose
Murray’s smoked sturgeon with toasted poppy seed bagel rounds, scallion cream cheese and Meyer lemon slices
1988 Drappier Blanc de Blancs
English pea ravioli with clarified French butter, blanched peas, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and fresh mint
1990 Montrachet (Delagrange-Bachelet)
Iberico de Bellota ham with wild arugula tossed with Bergamot olive oil and blood orange olive oil, pomegranate seeds, and chopped pistachios
1991 Rioja Vina Bosconia Gran Reserva (R. Lopez de Heredia)
Fresh grilled quail breast and legs over a tarragon, garlic, Meyer lemon cream sauce with Forbidden rice, and sautéed fennel
1982 Musigny (Joseph Drouhin)
Delice de Bourgogne cheese coated with onion-flavored phyllo and roasted walnut accompanied with whole roasted walnuts
1923 Musigny (Henri de Bahezre)
Key lime pie with a graham cracker and pecan crust, topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut
1983 Serriger Schloss Saarfelser Eiswein (Vereinigte Hospitien)
The Chocolate Tree dark chocolate sea salt caramels and Recchiuti chocolate-coated Michigan tart cherries and chocolate-coated candied wild Italian cherries
1903 Solera Extra Cream Sherry (A. Soler & Cie)
We began the dinner with two appetizers: Melon chunks marinated in blood orange juice, wrapped with Prosciutto de Parma and sprinkled with freshly chopped mint and Bourse de California dried plums stuffed with wild arugula, roasted walnuts, and stilton cheese. They were served with the 1990 Gosset Grand Rose. The sweetness of the melon and the savory saltiness of the Prosciutto matched with the dry fruitiness of the Rose Champagne. The addition of the fresh chopped mint added a nice, fresh, savory accent. Likewise, the sweetness of the dried plum was offset by the creamy saltiness of the stilton cheese. The walnut added crunchiness and complexity and the wild arugula a spiciness. Again, sweet and salt matched the fruitiness of the Champagne. The 1976 Rene Collard Rose accompanied the third appetizer, which was Ahi tartare tossed with a dressing of yuzu zest and juice, fresh ginger juice, white golden Tamari soy sauce, chili sesame oil, and topped with crushed savory tuile. This slightly tangy, sweet, tart, spicy Ahi tartare was really enhanced by the yuzu zest and juice. Yuzu, a variety of Japanese citrus, has a unique slightly celery-like quality. The great 1976 Rene Collard Rose brought everything together adding a crispness, complexity, and slight fruitiness that married beautifully with the tartare.
The entrees, under the heading SALT on the menu, began with Murray’s smoked sturgeon with toasted poppy seed bagel rounds, scallion cream cheese, and Meyer lemon slices, showcased with a 1988 Drappier Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne. Murray’s smoked sturgeon came from Murray’s Sturgeon Shop in New York City (www.murrayssturgeon.com). I love smoked sturgeon and never miss an opportunity to try it. But in all the years of trying many, many different ones, Murray’s is simply the best (the smoked sturgeon at Caviar Caspian in Paris is also excellent). I have been buying it from Murray’s since the 1970s and it is consistently great. This is my favorite way to serve it. And, except for the fresh Meyer lemon (which is home grown), this is one stop shopping as the other ingredients (bagels and scallion cream cheese) also comes from Murray’s. A bit of the cream cheese on the bagel, a slice of sturgeon on top, and a few drops of the fresh Meyer lemon juice and you have a great savory tasting experience. And nothing is better with this than a great older Blanc de Blancs Champagne. Nineteen eighty-eight is turning out to be my favorite vintage of Champagne from the last 25 years or so to drink now (1985 and 1990 are also great). This 1988 Drappier with its complex, creamy, citrus-tinged richness was a stunning match.
The 1990 Montrachet from Delagrange-Bachelet was paired with English pea ravioli with clarified French butter, blanched peas, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and fresh mint. The richness and honied, citrus flavor of the silky Montrachet really complemented the sweetness of the peas, the zestiness of the fresh mint, the creaminess of the ravioli and French butter, and the salty, nutty flavors of the Parmigiano.
The great Iberico de Bellota Spanish ham matched with a 1991 Rioja. Riojas are very long lived and I chose this relatively young one from Lopez de Heredia for its firm underlying acidity and subtle fruitiness. These qualities are needed to match the richness of the ham. Likewise, I chose to serve the ham with foods that would complement and yet also provide an offset to the ham’s richness — spicy wild arugula dressed with citrus infused olive oils, pomegranate seeds and chopped roasted pistachios. The great Spanish ham was matched with a very fine Spanish wine really worked.
Joseph Drouhin’s 1982 Musigny was featured with oak-grilled quail breast and legs over a tarragon, garlic, Meyer lemon cream sauce with forbidden rice and sautéed fennel. The 1982 Drouhin Musigny is pure elegance and finesse. Likewise, the quail was mild and accented by hints of spice, smoke, citrus and a faint licorice from the tarragon and fennel. It was a marriage of great flavors all subtle and complementary.
A Delice de Bourgogne cheese coated with onion-flavored phyllo and roasted walnut accompanied with whole roasted walnuts was a rich, creamy, salty, savory counterpoint to the stunning fruit and complexity of the 1923 Musigny. This bottle was from the negociant firm of Henri de Bahezre which I believe no longer exists. Over the years, I have enjoyed many old Burgundies from the 20s, 30s and 40s, from negociants that are relatively unknown or no longer exist. This was yet another example and what better match than a Burgundian cheese with a great old Burgundy.
The heading of SUGAR on the menu featured two desserts: Key lime pie with a graham cracker and pecan crust, topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut accompanied by a 1983 Serriger Schloss Saarfelser Eiswein from Vereinigte Hospitien. The sweet, tart, exotic complexity of this unbelievably great Eiswein was a perfect pairing with the sweet, tart Key lime pie made with fresh Key lime juice and accented by a slight exotic sweetness of the other ingredients.
The final pairing was a 1903 Solera Extra Cream Sherry from A. Soler & Cie with The Chocolate Tree (www.thechocolatetree.us) dark chocolate sea salt caramels and Recchiuti chocolate-coated Michigan tart cherries and chocolate-coated candied wild Italian cherries (www.recchiuti.com). The 1903 solera Cream Sherry, I purchased in the 1970s. I would suspect it was bottled not long before that. I have drunk it many times and it is amazingly good and great with chocolate. Its balanced, carmelized sweetness and underlying nutty character was sublime with the dark chocolate sea salt caramel from The Chocolate Tree in Beaufort, South Carolina (this was the source of the chocolates that Tom Hanks ate in the movie Forrest Gump.) The dark chocolate with tart and sweet cherries from Recchiuti Chocolates in San Francisco provided a nice bite that again matched up perfectly with the great old sherry.
1990 Gosset Grand Rose Brut Champagne, pale amber-pink color with a golden edge and a gorgeous floral perfume, with hints of spice, citrus and baked bread. Great intensity, very precise and crisp, yet with lots of flavor, floral notes, a touch of citrus and a long crisp finish – gorgeous Champagne. 
1976 Rene Collard Rose Brut Champagne, very pale amber-pink, with a golden edge. Great perfume, touch of smoke, spice, floral, citrus and earthy nuances. Great fruit and flavors, smoke, citrus, touch of spice, accenting a creamy, elegant and rich, but with elegance and a long finish – great Champagne. Alas, Rene Collard is no more, but there are still stocks of his Champagne that come to market from time to time. His Champagnes are all 100% Pinot Meunier and, as this example shows, they age beautifully.
1988 Drappier Blanc de Blancs Champagne, light yellow gold color, gorgeous perfume, with crème brulee, citrus, spice and honey nuances. Rich, creamy and full, the flavors are complex, with crème brulee, citrus and honey. Balanced and long on the palate. This stunning Champagne is at a peak, but should last for many more years.
1990 Delagrange-Bachelet Montrachet, light gold color, gorgeous perfume, honey, citrus and faint tropical tones. Great intense flavor and finesse. Balanced, honied citrus, faint tropical nuances, with a long, lingering finish – superb. At a peak but will keep.
1991 R. Lopez de Heredia Rioja Vina Bosconia, medium red color, faint amber tone and edge, very lovely perfume and flavors, with herbal, spice and vanilla nuances, elegant, lovely fruit – supple, but with good underlying acidity and a long finish. This is a wine of finesse and style aging gracefully that will evolve beautifully for many years. ( )
1982 Joseph Drouhin Musigny, light color, amber tone and edge, stunning floral perfume, with hints of plum and a touch of spice. Great style, soft and rounded, lots of lovely flavors, hints of plums, flowers and a touch of spice, velvety, with a lovely, long, spice-tinged finish. This is a stunning Musigny at its peak of perfection! 
1923 Henri de Bahezre Musigny, light color, faint amber tone and edge, gorgeous perfume. Faintly volatile, with hints of cherry fruit and a touch of spice. Very vibrant and fresh. Cherry fruit, hint of spice and rose petals, long crisp finish – amazing wine. 24 hours later. Left in a glass with 2 ounces of wine, still a lovely perfume, drying just a bit but still vibrant. Absolutely incredible! 
1983 Vereinigte Hospitien Serriger Schloss Saarfelser Eiswein, lovely orange color, golden hue, stunning perfume, coconut, exotic fruit, touch of spice. Luscious coconut, exotic fruit, citrus, honied and sweet, but with great acidity and a lemon/lime balance to the sweetness, lemon/lime, sweet citrus and coconut on the finish. Absolute perfection, the wine shows a fabulous combination of sweet, tart, rich and complex flavors, with a magnificent richness, backed by a great underlying crispness. Extraordinarily long on the palate. This is elixir of the gods!
1903 A. Solera & Cie Solera Extra Cream Sherry, light amber orange color, with a golden hue. Intense, caramelized perfume, with an underlying nutty quality. Great Sherry character, sweet and lush on the palate but with good backbone. Nutty, hinting of coconut, vanilla and caramel, with a long, lingering, sweet, crisp, slightly hot finish – delicious.