New Year's Eve, 2003, Chez Parker

A quiet New Year's Eve with dear friends included some gorgeous Champagnes (two of my favorites). The deep 1990 Moët-Chandon Dom Pérignon Rosé was almost like a serious red Burgundy. The 1990 Louis Roederer Cristal is just beginning to awaken. It's a sensational wine, although I suspect most of it has long ago been consumed by drug overlords and other assorted gangsters as the wine is a favorite of the underworld according to my sources.

The reds were a sentimental group of "last soldiers" from my cellar. I have had fabulous success with the 1967 Petrus, an underrated vintage for this great terroir. My last magnum was perhaps a few minutes past midnight in terms of its maturity, but it was still a fleshy, opulent, unctuously-textured red offering notes of underbrush, mocha, and black cherry liqueur infused with smoke and licorice. It began to reveal a touch of sharpness as the wine sat in the glass. Absolutely stunning (keep in mind this was a half bottle with a considerable amount of sediment), the 1949 La Tour-Haut-Brion exhibited a dark garnet color as well as a gorgeous perfume of scorched earth, melted tar, truffles, and plum and fig-like fruit. Medium to full-bodied, with outstanding freshness and vigor, it is a testament to a great wine that has been stored impeccably. I can't imagine how spectacular well-stored magnums of this wine must be! We finished with the last bottle from my birth year, the 1947 Calon-Ségur, one of the few great Médocs of that renowned vintage for Pomerol and St.-Emilion. The wine of the vintage in the Médoc is Mouton Rothschild, but Calon-Ségur has been a noteworthy rival. This bottle, with the original cork, was exhibiting considerable amber in its color as well as sweet singed leather, plum, and cherry-like aromas, a good attack, but some dryness in the finish. The aromas merited a score in the mid-nineties, but the flavors are beginning to reveal signs of dessication.

As always on New Year's Eve, the food is simply things we love. In my humble opinion, no one has a better smoked salmon than that prepared by Daniel Boulud in association with Browne Traders. Much like a great wine, it is delicate but flavorful. We followed that with orders of Peking duck from two local Chinese restaurants. It was a lot of fun to eat and compare, and it is a dish that works well with red wine. I have written before about the exquisite quality of Lobel's meats (all due apologies to those paranoid about mad cow disease), whose strip steaks, porterhouses, and hanger steaks (which can be ordered off their web site) are spectacular. I have been less impressed with their prime rib of beef and some other products. However, they also have extraordinary hamburgers, 8 ounce beauties that when grilled, are about as succulent and flavorful as hamburger meat can be. With homemade buns and all the extras, this was a great idea for New Year's Eve. For me, the hamburger is one of the underrated American culinary classics.

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