Four couples got together last Friday evening for some good food, good wine and excellent conversation. My wife, Kathy and I made the long trek across the river to Warminster, PA to John and Caryl G’s house where we met up with more of her high school friends, Gerry and JoAnn and John B and his wife, Cathy. When we arrived they were just finishing a bottle of Montes Alpha “M” . The men gathered on chairs near the pool while the women remained on the porch. We munched on pre-dinner snacks prepared by the women, the guys smoked cigars and sipped some wonderful wines including one I had brought with me to celebrate a new job. The 1997 Te Motu, Cabernet/Merlot is a unique blend from Waiheke Island in New Zealand. We first discovered this wine at the DuPont Hotel in Wilmington, DE during a wine tasting held there by a local wine store (Frank’s Union Wine Mart). The Te Motu had a little orange tinge to it and a lot of funk that needed time to blow off before revealing the soft flavors. It probably could have used a little more time out of the bottle to appreciate it’s true worth.
John G’s Ipod was playing songs from our past while the four guys opened the next bottle lost in a scholarly discussion of female body parts. We weren’t quite sure what the women on the porch were talking about but we were pretty certain it wasn’t as intellectually stimulating as ours.
The 2005 Blockheadia Ringosii, Sonoma, Zinfandel is a delicious fruit bomb that for a short while was available at the PA State Stores for $8.99. That price is nearly 60% less than it’s suggested $21.00 selling price. This dark ruby beauty has tons of flavor and a smooth finish that make it an absolute steal. Don’t bother running out to your local PA Wine and Spirits Outlet as I am certain every last bottle has been accounted for already.
All of the appetizers went well with our wine choices but it was getting later and now time for some serious backyard eats. The trio of chefs ventured to the grill as I volunteered to stay with the wine and make sure no thieving neighbors made off with our vino supply. I could smell the enticing aroma of cheeseburgers and hot dogs cooking on the grill and it wasn’t long before the guys headed for the porch to join our wives for some serious chow. I’m not sure where John G purchased the burgers but they were tender and juicy and totally worthy of high praise. There were plenty of condiments available to dress the sandwiches and some great sides to top off the meal. John B’s wife, Cathy had prepared an orzo salad, the recipe for which she had stolen from Rachel Ray, a name I seem to recall from our earlier discussion of female body parts. My plate was already full with burgers, hot dogs, a yummy potato salad and some cole slaw so that there was little room for what appeared to be one of, if not, THE best looking orzo salads I have ever laid eyes on. I did manage to sneak a sample and although I must confess to not being a huge orzo fan, this did definitely NOT suck. Unfortunately, I was so engrossed in the food on my plate that I totally forgot to take a picture of the culinary delights. I did remember to snap this one of our wives who were responsible for not just the magnificent orzo salad but all of the other appetizers and side dishes as well. Had they been called upon to grill the burgers and doggies I feel certain they would have approached the same grill-master status that John G attained in preparing his mouth-watering food.
Gerry had brought with him a 2004 Les Verrieres, Clos de Soutyeres, Coteaux Du Languedoc. This is another Chairmen’s Selection from the PA stores that normally sells in the $22.00 range. I forgot what he said he paid for it but I am guessing it was in the $13.00 range. The wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carginane and is dark and brooding and full of great flavors that coat the palate and linger nicely on the finish. It was rated 91 points by Wine Spectator and it drinks like it deserves every one of those points. I stumbled across a Gary Vaynerchuk review of this wine on his Wine Library internet TV show. I must preface Gary’s account by saying that Gerry is NOT a fan of Gary or his reviews but I think he would agree with this one. Gary V raved about this wine calling it an “amazing effort” and a “steal at $20.00”. He felt Wine Spectator did not go high enough in their rating and he gave it 93+ points calling it one of the best QPR wines he had ever reviewed. It’s finding little treasures like the 04 Les Verrieres that make being a wine geek so much fun.
The night moved forward with a barrage of wonderful wines from John G’s constantly improving collection. We had the 2005 Parson’s Flat, Padthway Shiraz/Cab which went quickly and with great praise, we enjoyed a 2002 Bernardus “Marinus” still available in PA at most stores at a tremendous reduction from its original selling price. Continuing with his policy of over-serving guests who had made arrangements to stay over at his home John now produced a 2005 St. Francis, Sonoma, Syrah proving that this producer is capable of making good wines from all grape varietals.
It’s always fun to get together with this group. They have a great sense of humor and none of us take ourselves seriously. Once again, the wine, the food and the friendships took center stage to provide an enjoyable out door summer evening.
The recipe for Cathy B’s stolen orzo salad is available above by clicking on the “recipe” link in the text.