Saturday, April 09, 2005

Expensive Steaks, Expensive Cabs, and the Great Debate (NW)

These steaks were expensive at the little Rhode Island restaurant serving USDA prime! The cowboy cut ribeye was a whopping $38 and the small porterhouse $46. These prices trump Ruth's Chris, Morton's, Del Frisco's, and even Peter Luger. Wow!

As far as the wine, well, the wine list was a who's who of California Cabernet Sauvignon. This little joint had a few bottles of everything. My business associates urged me to order a big, tasty Cab, so we started with 2002 Cakebreak Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has a very fragrant nose which fills the room with ripe dark fruit and a floral hint. It is rich, smooth, and very ripe (as is the style of the day). It finishes with moderate tannins and some more smooth layers of fruit. Very tasty wine! But does it compliment food? Not so well, actually- not even the steaks. This is a big, fruit-forward wine that tastes great on its own.

As the steaks arrived, my associates wanted to try a different wine. We went with a 2000 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon. It was very, very different. This wine was herbal and earthy on the nose, a more subtle style that require some concentration to uncover the emerging layers. It was smooth on the palate, but also a little shallow. The group didn't enjoy this wine as much as the Cakebread, but they failed to notice that it was a far better pairing for the steaks. No one even mentioned this. It wasn't fruity, ripe, and fragrant like the Cakebread but rather a compliment to the meal without overwhelming the food.

Both wines were priced at $90 on the wine list and both had unique characteristics that raise the great debate once again. Is the ripe, fruit-forward style of the day able to compliment food? Or is it a wine style that should be nursed in a glass on its own? This debate will continue and is being placed center stage in the world of wine. Old World versus New World. Round 10. My advice, raise a glass of New World before dinner and pour a glass of Old World with dinner!

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