Ushi Wakamaru, New York

What an extraordinary sushi restaurant, as well as a place to search out the rare, fabulous tuna belly called "toro" in different degrees of quality (all of it is sumptuous). The restaurant is named after a famous Samurai warrior, and Japan-born sushi chef Hideo Kuribara displays extraordinary talent as this appears to be one of the great places for high quality sushi that is still somewhat under the radar screen for most Japanese food enthusiasts. With his exquisite food preparations and kilos of toro, we began with a magnum of 1970 Dom Pérignon, which was remarkably fresh and lively with plenty of effervescence. It revealed full-bodied flavors of honeyed brioche. Even though 1970 was not a great vintage for Champagne, this was a superb effort. The color remains a light to medium gold.

A mini-vertical of one of the finest dry Rieslings in the world, Trimbach's Clos St.-Hune, was presented. This has always been a terrific wine, and the newest release, the 1999, may be the finest produced since the 1990. An extraordinarily rich wine, it offered notes of honeyed citrus, cold steel, green apples, and candied lemons as well as oranges. It is bigger than both the superb 1998 and evolved, softer, more exotic and flamboyant 1997. The 1996 was the most backward, and did not appear to possess the body or richness of some of its siblings, but it had such high acidity I suspect there is more lurking under the surface. It is not yet ready for prime time drinking. The most awkward effort was the 1994, which came across as soft and flaccid, but round and generous, displaying notes of candied oranges, citrus, and minerals. 1990 has always been one of the finest vintages for Trimbach, and I would have loved to have had it next to the 1989, but alas, you can't have everything. The young, refreshing 1990 performed fabulously well offering notes of apple skins, orange blossoms, candied lemon/lime, and a striking minerality, all presented in a dry, full-bodied, concentrated yet light style. The mineral-dominated 1988exhibited notes of sealing wax/parafin and loads of fruit, but neither the complexity nor depth of other top vintages.

We finished an extraordinary meal with the 1996 Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé Champagne, an amazingly intensely-flavored Champagne with an unusually light pale salmon color. There did not appear to be much effervescence, but the flavors were intense, and the wine dry, austere, and provocative. It is outrageously good, but it is the type of Champagne that is best served with food as it is big and intense.

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