Coche wine dinner at Halekulani

As the holidays approach, there will be plenty of joyful gatherings to attend. Among them is always a wonderful wine dinner, a chance to drink some great wines and enjoy some fabulous food with friends. I have hosted and been to a fair number of great wine dinners, and was reminded how wonderful they can be when I partook of a very special, invitation-only wine dinner at La Mer Restaurant at the Halekulani Resort.

This was not just any wine dinner. This was a wine dinner featuring the wines of Jean-Francois Coche of Domaine Coche-Dury.

“Jean-Francois Coche is the greatest producer of white Burgundy” – these are the words of Robert Parker, but I would add that he is one of the greatest wine producers in the world. His wines are revered by collectors and enthusiasts around the globe for their intensity, purity and hedonistic as well as intellectual pleasure. They are also rarer than a fur coat in Hawaii. The domain consists of less than 25 acres of vines. His most famous wines are Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, which he owns less than 1 acre, followed by Meursault Perrieres Premier Cru, which is considered the greatest Premier Cru in all of Burgundy and measures only 1.25 acres. The average production is a minute 400 cases and 650 cases respectively for the whole world. And with the miniscule supply and huge demand, the prices of these wines in great vintages are extraordinary ($2,500 and $1,200 respectively per bottle).

We started off with a bottle of 1978 Dom Perignon, compliments of a generous guest at the dinner. The official reception wine was the 2003 Coche’s Bourgogne Blanc, which over delivered with flavor akin to great Meursault rather than lowly Bourgogne Blanc.

The first course offered by Chef de Cuisine Yves Garnier was a glorious Heirloom Tomato Soup accompanied by the stunning 2002 Coche-Dury Meursault, which is perhaps the finest village Meursault I’ve tasted. It is so decadently intense and complex for the village wine. A seductive dish of Seared Scallops and Risotto with Tarragon-Lobster Coulis was perfection with the famed 2003 Coche-Dury Meursault Perrieres. This wine was rich with hi-toned notes of flowers and poached pears with a very pretty mineral tone climaxing the long finish of the wine.

The next course was Sautéed Onaga Meuniere on a Leek Fondue with Creamy Morel Sauce. This was paired with 2002 and 2003 Coche-Dury Puligny-Montrachet “Les Enseigniers.” The 2002 took the cake with more depth and complexity than the 2003. We reached the red wine course in the form of Venison in Brioche Served Tableside, with Vanilla Pear and Chestnut Mousseline. The 2003 and 2004 Coche-Dury Auxey-Duresses underscored the venison beautifully. I gravitated toward the 2003 for its more decadently pretty nose of bright cherries and spices.

And finally the pinnacle of the evening was a pair of Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne, 2001 and 2003, poured alongside Sautéed Veal Medallion with Truffle Jus. Both the wines and the dish were slices of heaven. The 2001 Corton-Charlemagne was particularly stunning and dwarfed everything in its path. It was so complex and concentrated; it penetrated every taste bud in my palate.

Everything was simply luxurious. The opportunities to have such a wonderful meal with rarefied wines are few and far between. May you have the opportunity to attend such wonderful events this holiday season. Happy Holidays!

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier.

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