The SOMM Journal

June / July 2015

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Page 69 of 100

{ }  69 In December of 2012, 40-year-old Sommelier Michael Taylor created the extensive wine list at the eleventh Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House location, in Chicago's Gold Coast, where he is pictured here. His list brims with vintage California Cabernet, Bordeaux and other inspired global selections from an exposed glass cellar marked by a visible spiral staircase. Prior to this, Taylor ran the wine program at Chicago's upscale Vivere in the Italian Village, where he maintained an award-winning Italian wine list. DISH 1: Calamares al Ajillo Wood- grilled calamari with baby arugula, roasted red pepper, chopped garlic and esquites (corn salad) with lime juice. WINE 1: Terredora di Paolo 2013 Irpinia Falanghina, Campania, Italy This wine was bursting with aromas and flavors of slatey minerality, a hint of salinity and a dose of juicy citrus. Extensive aging on the lees gave nice texture and the tinge of lime acidity, complemented the salad dish nicely. The wine's herbal notes accented the bitter greens while the bright acidity lifted the grilled calamari for a cleaner flavor. DISH 2: Tamales de Rajas y Queso Rich corn masa stuffed with diced poblano peppers. Onion, tomato-chipotle sauce and a dollop of sour cream. WINE 2: Domaine Rémi Jobard 1999 Meursault Les Chevalières, Burgundy, France The rounded, mineral-driven white Burgundy matched pleasantly to the earthy corn-masa tamale. Its purity of fruit and minerality had Taylor saying, "I wouldn't normally think of a Meursault with this food but this one works amazingly well." Pineapple hints in the wine were nicely accentuated as well. DISH 3: Sopes de Picadillo Corn masa boats with stewed beef picadillo (guajillo chiles, sautéed onions and tomatillos), sour cream, diced radishes and queso fresco. WINE 3: Pietradolce 2012 Nerello Mascalese, Etna Rosso, Sicily The dish was earthy and rustic with intense beef flavor leading Taylor to this high-elevation wine, with grapes grown on the volcano Etna. The sandy, stony lavic soil comes through in aromas of tart Bing cherries and cranberries, mellowed by three months of French oak aging. "Huge diurnal shifts create a wine that's almost Burgundian in style with acid and lift," Taylor says DISH 6: Carne Asada Wood grilled ribeye steak served with salsa of arbor, morita and ancho chiles, black beans, guacamole and grilled green onions. WINE 6: The Alex Cooper Project 2010 Zinfandel, Doug Rafanelli Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, California "If you asked me a year ago if I would bring a Zin, I'd say you were crazy," Taylor said. He completely changed his mind with this wine. 25% Petite Syrah (sic), it's lower in alcohol and lighter in color, even sporting a spritz of acidity. With just a few years in used French oak, it's a far cry from a typical Zinfandel. It lifted the meat and played nicely with the chilies and savory beans. DISH 5: Cochinita Pibil Slow-roasted pork marinated with achiote and sour orange juice served in a banana leaf with black beans, pickled red onions and habanero salsa. WINE 5: Chateau Montelena 1975 Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California The sour orange sauce dominated this amazingly tender pork dish which took Taylor on a turn back to our white Falanghina. It worked, but he was still curious so reached for the most unlikely pair: the Montelena. The wine has completely transformed due to bottle age, with more earth and leather than fruit. This wine (from Taylor's birth year) showed dusty, tart cherry character and well integrated tannins that had us smiling at the pairing. DISH 4: Camarones Adobados Wood grilled shrimp in adobo sauce with red onions and spinach. WINE 4A: Dark Angel 2011 Pinot Noir, Londer Vineyard, Anderson Valley, California To punch up the acidity, Taylor had two opposite choices. The Pinot Noir (which carries his name on the label!) was an earth- to-earth match. The Burgundian style melded seamlessly with the dish with the brighter cherry flavors and acidity holding up masterfully. WINE 4B: Balthasar Ress 1997 Riesling Spätlese Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland, Rheingau, Germany The Riesling played in a contrasting manner due to the moderate residual sugar and acidity. "Riesling is one of those perfect food wines," Taylor said. "Its acidity, incredible depth at this age and a roundness" lifted this dish nicely.

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