Monday, June 29, 2009

Châteaumeillant in Focus

Looking to stump your favorite geek of French wines? Or at least throw him a curveball? The upper, outer reaches of the Loire might not be a bad place to start. Just about any VDQS designated area might do the trick as well. Combine the two and the odds will be stacked in your favor.

Châteaumeillant VDQS “Extra-Version,” Domaine Geoffrenet-Morval (Laure and Fabien Geoffrenet) 2006
$20. 13% alcohol. Cork. Importer: A Thomas Calder Selection, Potomac Selections, Landover, MD.

I went into this one with just enough knowledge to be dangerous. Neither I nor any of my table mates had ever tried a wine from Châteaumeillant. I was pretty sure it was a wine village located somewhere in the Upper Loire, vaguely in the vicinity of Sancerre… or maybe Saint-Pourçain. I knew that the red wines produced there are usually made primarily from Gamay. And that’s about it. One might call it blurry tasting, an idea supported by my rather simple – and slightly questioning – raw tasting notes:

Distinctly mineral, with pretty black cherry and violet/rose petal aromas. Tastes and feels more like a softer, rounder wine from Saint-Pourçain or Côtes du Forez than Beaujolais. Pure Gamay? Gentle, medium acidity. Macerated cherries.

While I do believe there are merits to blind tasting, I’m a much more avid supporter (and regular practitioner) of the importance of contextual tasting. Knowing a little up front about the wine and its frame of reference may indeed create certain preconceived notions but it also helps create a stronger base for understanding and learning. What I expected in this case was a wine that would taste like Upper Loire Gamay. While some of my expectations were met, just as many questions were raised. It sure didn’t taste like Gamay-dominated wine but, just in case it’s not clear, it did taste really good. And it did taste very much like red wine from the Upper Loire – bright, delicate, mineral and full of tangy cherry fruit.

I was right about some things going into our tasting. Situated 70 km south of Bourges, Châteaumeillant is indeed in the general vicinity of both Sancerre, which is roughly 110 km to the NNE, and Saint-Pourçain, about 88 km ESE of Châteaumeillant. (Here's the INAO map of the region.) The reds and rosés from the area – it’s not a white wine zone – generally are dominated by Gamay, with Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Gris sometimes playing supporting roles.

But there were definitely some things to be learned along the way. Technically, though it’s a rather fine distinction, Châteaumeillant is not in the Upper Loire but in the Central Vineyards, an area named for its proximity to the geographical center of France. It’s actually situated between the Upper Indre and the Upper Cher, in the SW corner of the Cher Department. And as it turns out, the “Extra” in “Extra-Version” refers to Pinot Noir – to the tune of 80%. From Domaine Geoffrent-Morval’s website:
"The vintage 'Extra-Version' is made from 10 year old vines of 80% pinot noir and 20% gamay, made into wine in wooden barrels, [then] raised in stainless steel vats. It only represents a maximum of 10% of our production since it does not follow the direction that we wish to give to our Appellation in keeping with the harmony of wines of Chateaumeillant (100% gamay with possibly extra support of pinot noir to a maximum of 40%)."

The Châteaumeillant growers union has recently petitioned the INAO for promotion of the Châteaumeillant appellation from VDQS to AOC status. Though I don’t know what the specific requirements for the AOC, if granted, will be, Geoffrenet-Morval’s notes would tend to suggest that their “Extra Version” may end up falling outside of the AOC guidelines. However, even if the wine isn’t “in keeping with the harmony of wines of Châteaumeillant” – impossible for me to say given that this was my first experience with any wine from Châteaumeillant – it certainly is in keeping with the style, feel and expression of reds from the Central Vineyards and Upper Loire. I look forward to exploring the other wines from this producer and other examples from this, perhaps, soon-to-be AOC.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fleur de Passion

It’s what keeps you going, what keeps the passions flamed. Every once in a while, you still run across something that makes your pupils dilate, makes you tingle, makes you say "wow" (or at least think it). When it comes to wine, that “something” is often as simple as an inexpensive bottle from an off the beaten track area or an unknown producer that surprises you, certainly from its quality but also, it sometimes seems, helped along by its very nature as an unknown quantity. It seems far rarer for that “something” to be a special bottle, a top wine from a top producer, as one’s expectations often are set so high as to leave little chance for surprise. So when a top bottling does manage to provoke that spark of sensual excitement, it’s all the more surprising… and welcome.

Champagne “Fleur de Passion” Brut Blanc de Blancs, Diebolt-Vallois 1996
~$70 on release. 12.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ.
Shared among good friends, the level of anticipation – and concomitant dread – was further heightened in this case by the certain knowledge that we were sacrificing the sole bottle of Diebolt’s 1996 “Fleur de Passion” in any of our cellars.

Our noses were rewarded by our choice of white wine glasses, as the wine’s aromatics were simply beautiful. Pastry cream, marzipan, sweet butter, lavender and apple blossoms…. I could have spent the better part of the evening just smelling the wine and, come to think of it, I probably did. It was drinking great, too. Expectations were met in the ‘96’s extreme youthfulness yet exceeded in all other capacities.

Jacques Diebolt’s wines are not powerful; not deep dark and brooding. They’re just pure embodiments of grace, elegance and finesse… like a completely unostentatious yet classically designed and perfectly tailored wedding dress – the house style is unquestionably feminine – worn by the most beautiful of brides on her happiest of days. That’s not exactly what I was thinking when I was drinking the wine; then it was more stepping back and saying – yes, saying – "wow." But I’d like to think I’m not now waxing overly poetic. The wine was grippy and vinous yet absolutely elegant; sweet in disposition yet deeply serious. It was crystalline, shimmering and luminous from its nose to its exquisite finish.

Jacques Diebolt has only been producing “Fleur de Passion” since the 1995 vintage, making 1996 only his second release. However, he traces the wine’s inspiration back to 1953 when, working under his grandfather’s tutelage, he first made a wine of similar nature. “Fleur de Passion” is produced only in better vintages, from fruit grown in seven or eight plots centered on the hilly area known as “Les Buzons” in the 100% Grand Cru village of Cramant. Yields from the 40-60+ year-old vines are naturally low, no doubt helping to give the wine its fine concentration and expression of the Côte des Blancs’ chalk and limestone-rich terroir. The base wines for “Fleur de Passion” are fermented and aged in small barrels purchased after one-year of use by white Burgundy producers. Malolactic fermentation is suppressed, and both fining and filtering are avoided. “Fleur” ages sur-lie for approximately five years before disgorgement, followed by a modest dosage of 6-8 grams and further bottle aging at the estate prior to release. The 2002, which is the current vintage on the market, sells for approximately $150 per/bottle; at around half that price when released, the 1996 was a tremendous value.

I don’t think the '96 will ever taste quite like any of the three bottles of 1953 that Jacques opened for me and my traveling companions a few years back; he disgorged those bottles à la volée, as they were still on their lees after nearly fifty years. But I do think the 1996, if kept in a cold, dark cellar, has similar potential for life ahead of it.

I can think of few other wines I’d rather have the chance to revisit forty years from now. Of course, that would require another bottle… and that I be as alive and kicking as I expect the wine to be.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jamie Goode and Monty Waldin

I'm rapidly running out of writing time on this lovely Monday morning. So, rather than rush something to the presses I thought I'd instead send you all to the fine interview Jamie Goode recently conducted with Monty Waldin, who is one of the wine world's leading authorities on biodynamics. Among other things, Jamie and Monty discuss geopolitics, Nicolas Joly and, of course, cows and the moon. Be sure to read through to the end of Jamie's piece, where you'll find links to the previous nine segments of his ongoing series on biodynamics and wine.

By the way, Monty's benchmark book, Biodynamic Wines, seems to have gone the way of all too many of the titles in the Mitchell Beazley Classic Wine Library -- through a smallish single printing then directly out of print. As a result, the few remaining copies for sale seem to have landed in the hands of rare book sellers. Nonetheless, it's well worth the investment if you're up for a splurge.

Saignée Bloody Saignée

File this one under "Why didn't I think of that?" I'd hoped to get to this much earlier today, but a long and busy day at the office kept me from it until now.

Cory Cartwright is celebrating the first birthday of his blog, Saignée, today. To help the festivities along, a fantastic cast of characters -- Jeremy Parzen, Brooklynguy, Alice Feiring, Peter Liem, Wolfgang Weber... you get the idea -- have signed up as contributors to a month long brouhaha on all things yeast and vine. Cory's calling it "31 Days of Natural Wine." And I suggest you all follow along at Saignée in the month to come.

Somewhere along the way, I'll be throwing my own two cents into the mix with an interview with California winemaker and natural wine explorer, Michael Dashe. We haven't nailed down the date for my post yet, so you'll just have to stay tuned in to catch it -- and plenty of other great stuff along the way.

If that's not enough to convince you to join the party, check out:

Will bleed for food and wine.
Cory's thumb, injured in the line of duty while working on his contribution to WBW 54: A Passion for Piedmont, hosted by yours truly.

Not everyone seems to be enthused about the whole gathering but I for one am looking very much forward to following the month's proceedings.

Happy bloggin' birthday, Cory.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Laurent Tribut and The Mystery of Picasso

Whether you’re a modern art buff, a student of painterly technique or a card carrying member of the Pablo Picasso fan club, if you’ve never seen “The Mystery of Picasso,” you should. In this 1956 release, filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot captured the visual aspects of Picasso’s full creative process on film. With Picasso drawing and painting on translucent paper behind which Clouzot set up his camera, the viewer is able to see the artist at work – adding, changing, completely obscuring then adding more – until each piece reaches what Picasso deemed to be completion. Most of the pieces you’ll see in the trailer below are quick and relatively minimalist. There are other works in the film, though, that are intricate, layered and intense. There are pieces where Picasso seemed to have finished but would then add another layer, even paint an entirely new picture over top of what already appeared a beautiful work. It’s a powerful demonstration of painting as an additive form of art.

* * *

Tracie B. – soon to be Tracie DoBi (congratulations, y’all!) – provided all the inspiration I needed for this post. She wrote up the exact same wine I’m about to (albeit from a different vintage) not long after I’d picked up a bottle at one of my occasional wine shopping stops.

Chablis Premier Cru “Côte de Léchet,” Laurent Tribut 2006
$20 (32). 13% alcohol. Cork. Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL.
Intense lime and mild washed-rind cheese aromas. Sapid minerality and medium acidity, at least by Chablis standards. The aromas aren’t so much pretty as they are brooding and profound. Pear skin and subtle vanilla notes add a touch of comfort. Served cold, this is pure Chablis, mineral and crisp, not at all unlike the best Muscadets of the Pays Nantais.
Warmer, it becomes clear that, in spite of the wine hailing from closer to Épernay than Dijon, this is indeed white Burgundy, fleshy and stony.

Don’t ask me to explain it any more clearly than I’m about to but I sensed a twisted spine in the structure of Laurent Tribut’s 2006 “Côte de Léchet,” as if its nerves and muscles had wound-up then released but never quite returned to their original position. Its quirks – from cheesy aroma, to a slightly sour/bitter note on the finish, to that crooked stance – may be signs of imperfection but those imperfect notes make the wine all the more interesting. In any event, the fact that there is no such thing as a “perfect wine” aside, I don’t think Tribut is a producer who’s aiming for a sense of polished perfection; rather, he’s simply striving to make wines that are true to their place and time.

* * *

In the days since first reading Tracie’s post, in which she wrote less about Tribut’s Chablis itself than she did about the wine world’s all too often myopic anti-obsessions with Chardonnay, I’ve encountered a couple of other pieces that got me thinking along rather cubist lines. First, there was Samantha Dugan’s take on why so many people say they don’t like Champagne. (I find a similar phenomenon and have a similar pet peeve when it comes to Riesling, Sam.) And more recently, there was Christopher Watkins’ discussion of Carignane (and Chardonnay) at 4488: A Ridge Blog.

All of these vines and wines have something in common. There are plenty of bad examples floating around out there, whether coarse, saccharine, obese or headache provoking. People drink a couple of bad Chardonnays (or Champagnes or Rieslings…) and then make a blanket declaration that they don’t like Chardonnay. Period. It’s human nature, and it’s one of the most frustrating roadblocks encountered in trying to open peoples’ eyes to the pleasures in all sorts of wine, not just one color or type. Chardonnay, though, offers up a trait that makes it stand apart from these other grapes and styles of wine.

When you see Picasso at work, you see him creating something from essentially nothing. Sure, he has pens, markers, paint and a brush, but he’s adding something where nothing existed before.

In contrast, when Chardonnay is grown in a decent place by a caring farmer, its very Chardonay-ness, or its Chablis-ness, is already there when the fruit is picked and crushed. The winemaker is not working with a blank slate but rather with a medium – a sculpture, if you will – that is already largely finished. The best winemakers, at least in my opinion, will simply find the right frame for their wine and then gently guide their work to completion, adding as few strokes as possible along the way. Malolactic is fine if it’s natural to the wine’s physiology. There’s nothing wrong with barriques if the scale or spine of the wine calls for them.

But far too many winemakers place the emphasis of their title on the “making,” not the wine. Too many look at their just pressed juice as a blank slate, as a canvas wide open to the additive arts. Chardonnay offers up what’s perhaps the biggest, blankest piece of canvas in the wine world, making it far too easy for good raw material to take on monstrous proportions. And nobody likes a cheater.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sancerre Rouge, Gérard Boulay 2006

Alarmingly little has been written about the wines of Gérard Boulay around the vInternet. Jim Budd sums the situation up succinctly: “Gérard Boulay [is] a very good Chavignol producer a little in the style of Cotat and… deserves to be better known.” Boulay has no website. The smattering of blog posts I stumbled across in the scope of my research included only glancing reviews of one or another of his Sancerres Blancs. One of the few really informative pieces I found comes from Jancis Robinson who, in writing of Boulay’s 2006 Sancerre “Les Monts Damnés,” includes some useful information about the estate and also takes some time to laud the efforts of the importer bringing Boulay’s wines into the UK market.

I must say I’m equally impressed with Gérard Boulay’s wine, and with my recent experiences with one of his US importers – Potomac Selections, based in Landover, MD. Their portfolio absolutely offers more to explore; however, their book is not available in PA, so I’ll have to make the occasional trip south of the Mason-Dixon Line to continue the exploration.

Sancerre Rouge, Gérard Boulay 2006
$27. 13% alcohol. Cork. A Thomas Calder Selection, Potomac Selections, Landover, MD.
Gérard Boulay owns and farms nine hectares of vineyards in Chavignol, most of them planted on the chalk and limestone rich Kimmeridgian “terre blanche” soils for which the area is best known and from which some of the best wines of Sancerre stem. Boulay’s neighbors in Chavignol include Edmond Vatan and the Frères Cotat; like them, he works his vines and earth completely by hand and makes his wines with minimal manipulation, ambient yeast fermentation and only the smallest possible doses of sulfur dioxide.

Boulay’s 2006 Sancerre Rouge shows the elegance of the vintage. Entirely transparent in the glass, pale at the rim and light ruby at its core, the wine brims with sinewy cherry pit fruit, a suggestion of cola (without the sweetness that often accompanies it) and a furry, herbal aroma – sage, perhaps. There’s a spice cabinet element on the nose; I’m guessing this sees partial aging in older barrels (as do some of his whites), though I have no hard data to support that feeling, just my gut reaction. It’s one of the more forward-fruited Sancerres Rouges I’ve had – there’s no lean, green machine here – yet it’s still entirely finesse-driven wine. I found background aromas of lime rind, acidity that’s at once gentle and slightly tangy, and the expected minerality of classic Sancerre, even if it didn’t jump out and beg to be noticed.

The wine sallied effortlessly into its second day, maintaining its fresh structural aspects and revealing rounder aromatic and flavor components. Orange peel and sandalwood on the nose; dried cherries and raspberry confiture on the front and mid-palates; cranberries and apple sauce on the finish. Lovely stuff. A shockingly good match with lightly steamed (and pristinely fresh) broccoli, of all things. And relative to its peers, quite a sound value.

Lucie and Gérard Boulay in their plot of the “Clos de Beaujeu.” The image is borrowed, with my thanks, from Polaner Selections (another of Boulay’s importers), as is this well-worn quote from Monsieur Boulay himself, “C’est la nature qui fait le vin.”

Ain't As It Should Be

I’ve been in a blogging slump lately. It’s not that I haven’t drunk any good wines, eaten any good meals, had any provocative discussions or read anything compelling elsewhere in the blogosphere. It’s just that I haven’t had the inspiration to sit down and put words to paper (or keyboard, as the case may be). I suppose such a slowdown is inevitable from time to time, but I don’t like it. It’s time to break that cycle, my friends. Get back to it. Entropy has its place, but this isn’t it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Twenty-Five Years in the Sun: Images from Lemon Hill

For the last twenty-five years, the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship has not only been the biggest single-day bike race in America, it’s also been one of the most exciting and most widely attended annual events in Philadelphia. (Never mind the Mummers.)

I attended for the first time in 1991, the year that Dutchman Michael Zanoli won in a bunch gallop. Zanoli’s career may have faded very quickly thereafter, based in no little part on his displays of pugilism in the 1992 Tour DuPont. Zanoli is no longer with us, but the race he won in 1991 lives on (even if it just barely came to fruition this year). The following three editions, from 1992-1994, were some of the most exciting I can remember, with Bart Bowen, Lance Armstrong (when he still rode more on brawn than brains) and Sean “The Animal” Yates all won in solo breakaways.

Plenty has changed since those years. Four bank sponsors – Core States, First Union, Wachovia and Commerce Bank – have all come and gone, leaving TD Bank in their wake as current sponsor. The race lost some of its luster when, in 2006, it lost its status as the US Pro Cycling Championship.

But I still go every year. Haven’t missed it since that first run in 1991. In the early days, I’d start the day on the Manayunk Wall, decamp to Lemon Hill at around lap five or six and then scramble over to the start/finish area on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the last couple of laps. A few years later, I’d skip the start/finish segment, realizing it was just as easy to catch a glimpse of the finish on one of the TVs that well-prepared spectators set up, complete with generators, on Lemon Hill. And for the last several years, I’ve cut it back to Lemon Hill alone. It doesn’t quite have the spectacle of The Wall, but Lemon Hill really is the friendliest, most relaxed place to spend the day. And the beer flows to a much mellower vibe than in Manayunk.

This year, I almost didn’t care who won (Germany’s André Greipel, riding for Team Columbia – High Road). I was there to enjoy the day, check in with old friends (some of whom I now see only once a year, on Lemon Hill) and take in the energy of the race. It was a good time, as always.

Oh yeah, there is one thing that hasn’t changed. Wedding planners, take note. In 25 years, it’s never once rained on race day in Philadelphia.

22 year-old Daniel Holloway was this year's lone suicide breakaway rider, going from the gun and riding alone, well ahead of the pack for the first few laps.

A crummy shot of Team Ouch's Floyd Landis, one of the biggest names and most easily recognizable faces in the field at the '09 race.

For the first time in the history of the Liberty Classic, the leading gruppo in the women's race -- including local rider Laura van Gilder, at right -- caught and passed the main men's peloton, which was then neutralized until the completion of the women's race.

The mid-race breakaway trio: Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling), Valeriy Kobzarenko (Team Type 1) and Daniel Oss (Liquigas).

The mid-day crowd on Lemon Hill.

Mavic Neutral Support, there for the riders as always. I've been trying for 18 years now, but I've never convinced them to give me a wheel.

Philly's finest, always there for the show, leading the motorcade.

The men's field in full flight up Lemon Hill in the closing laps of the race.

Another year, another race. This view of Center City and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, from the "downhill side" of Lemon Hill, was once completely obscured by trees that have since been clearcut to reveal the Philly skyline.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday, Tuesday, Wine and Cheese

If you're located in the greater Philadelphia, PA and/or Wilmington, DE areas and are still wondering how best to spend Monday and Tuesday evenings (that's tonight and tomorrow just to be doubly clear), wonder no more. There are still a very limited number of spots available at each of my Monday/Tuesday double-header events. So come on out, enjoy a little cheese, and taste some great wines along the way.

  • Monday, June 8, 5:00 – 6:30 PM
    Early Summer Wines and Cheese ($25)
    Kick start your week. I’ll be leading an early evening wine and cheese pairing seminar today at Wilmington, DE wine bar, Domaine Hudson.

  • Tuesday, June 9, 6:30 – 8:00 PM
    Get Your Eurail Pass ($50)
    Not much more than 24 hours later, I’ll be back in action and back at the podium at Philly’s Tria Fermentation School, where I’ll lead a guided tour through some great value wines of Western Europe, with stops in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria and Slovenia. (As I write this only three seats remain in TFS's intimate classroom space, so act fast.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Marigold Kitchen: Southern Roots, Spring Flavors

In one way or another it’s been said here before but it bears repetition: Sunday has long been a personal favorite evening for dining out. It can be a great way to put a cap on a long week, kick start the week to come, avoid the free-for-all of Friday/Saturday night dining and, in the best cases, find a chef performing at his or her relaxed best.

When not one but two friends – one local and one from out of town – asked me for Sunday dining ideas recently, both with the caveat that the restaurant(s) be BYOB, I realized that Sunday is not necessarily the ideal day to catch the Philly BYO scene in full swing. Many of the places that first came to mind are closed on Sunday. In fact, one spot that I’ve written up before as a Sunday destination has since closed its doors on Sunday nights. Then it hit me. Marigold Kitchen. At $30 for three courses, Marigold offers one of the best Sunday dining deals in town. Besides, I realized that the last time I’d been was for Executive Chef Michael Solomonov’s swan song, just before he moved on to open and head the kitchen at Zahav.

Marigold Kitchen’s “new” chef, Erin O’Shea (she’s actually been on board since 2006), has gained quite a solid reputation over the last year for the new direction she’s established, almost completely transforming the restaurant’s focus from the Euro-Israeli blend of Solomonov’s tenure to what can arguably best be described as New Southern cooking. Chef O’Shea’s grits alone have garnered attention in the major local press. I was jazzed to check out the big picture, but those grits just had to be the starting point.

Byrd Mill Stone-Ground Grits with Mussels Sautéed in Herb Butter

There’s no point in arguing with Rick Nichols’ assessment of Erin’s grits (see the link above). They’re toothsome, firm and flavorful, a complete and welcome departure from the gluey or soupy, starched white grits most of us are accustomed to; here there’s no need for additional pats of butter, syrup or other condiments to bring the flavor. Add to those grits a fistful of plump, juicy, herb-laced mussels and you have a dish of pure simplicity that made for a great starting point.

Any other wine blog readers out there remember Rouge and Blanc? Retired blogger Andrew Hwang – my “out of town” friend – took me up on my Marigold Kitchen suggestion and, by sheer coincidence, ended up with a reservation at the same time as ours. The recommendation pressure was on, as he’d come all the way from Brooklyn just for dinner, to celebrate his wedding anniversary with his lovely wife Kance and their adorable son Austin (who was particularly intrigued by the pickled fiddlehead ferns that topped Marigold’s carrot soup starter).

Cured Pork Tenderloin with Asparagus, Warm Bacon Vinaigrette and Stewed Eggplant

Though not as focused in its presentation and conception as my first course, there was no disputing the quality of the raw ingredients in my main. Local asparagus, seasonally fresh, sat atop a dollop of stewed eggplant spiked with what tasted to me like harissa, showing that O’Shea still gives an occasional tip of the hat to the North African and Middle Eastern culinary influences of her Executive Chef/predecessor. The loin of pork was a touch over-salted but was otherwise cooked to perfection and intensely flavorful.

Slow Baked Halibut with Country Ham Broth, Fava Beans and Sunny Egg

My wife’s main course; I tasted only a forkful, so it’s here more for eye candy than commentary. I will say that, like my pork dish, it was heavy on the seasoning but otherwise very well executed, showing a fine balance between delicate preparation and the hearty flavors of its country traditions.


With four in our party and four desserts on offer, there was only one real choice: order everything. Clockwise from top left: Tapioca Pudding with Lime, Vanilla and Pineapple; Lemon Trio; Apple Spice Cake with Caramel Sauce and Buttermilk Ice Cream; and Dark Chocolate Terrine with Candied Orange and Sweet Sour Cream.

Our servers justly touted the tapioca pudding, which was sublime. The apple spice cake, too, was addictively good, so much so that we had a terrible time wresting it from one particular member of our company. Only the lemon trio left me at all cold, not for any shortcoming really, more because I’m just not a big fan of the tart/sugary blast of citrus dominated sweets.

What about the wine for the evening? I’ve already written up our selections, utilizing far fewer words than is my wont. Stemware at Marigold is good quality and the food is quite wine-friendly, so it’s definitely a worthy spot to take a good bottle or three. Our bottle of Nicolas Joly's Coulée de Serrant may have been pushing that concept a bit too far but that’s only because its unique characteristics make it a wine that really needs to be served at home (and with extreme patience) to be fully appreciated.

This is not a Marigold.

The central stairway in Marigold’s main dining room hearkens back to the building’s history as a boarding house, which tenants once accessed by passing through the restaurant. The stairs now provide access to two smaller dining rooms, the larger of which is used for regular service on Friday and Saturday, and both of which are available for private parties. Methinks I sense a wine dinner somewhere in my future.

Between the room’s warm ambience, great company and Marigold Kitchen’s heart-warming food, I think we all agreed that it was a Sunday evening well spent. Wine dinner or not, I’ll definitely be headed back soon.

Marigold Kitchen
501 S. 45th Street
(at Larchwood) [map]
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Marigold Kitchen on Urbanspoon
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