WCC Blind Alsace Kaiseki Dinner
Shogun Sushi and Sake Bar, Delmar, NY
8/2/2018

My Albany tasting group met to taste Alsatian wines at a restaurant only a half mile from my home. Alsatian wines are not a specialty of anyone in our group and I had not been to this restaurant in several years. So I was totally unprepared for what turned out to be a terrific tasting with a lot of really good wines AND an authentic Kaiseki dinner!

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Dinner

Executive Chef Jose Kishimoto Arteche III and his wife Elisa Arteche own Shogun of Delmar. Jose is part Japanese and was born in the island country of Vanuatu, east of Australia and southeast of the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Somehow he made it to the Capital District where he received a degree from the noted Culinary Program at Schenectady County Community College. Eventually he rose to Chef de Cuisine at Yono's, one of the best restaurants in upstate NY. He was then Corporate Executive Chef for the Panza Restaurant Group. In 2016, he and Elsa became the co-owners of Shogun, which had been started by Elsa's uncle in 2009. For more info on Shogun, here is their website and here is their Facebook page.

The menu was developed by Chef Arteche in the style of a traditional Kaiseki dinner. Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese multi-course meal with an emphasis on seasonal freshness and simplicity of preparation. Here is a nice arictle on Kaiseki.

Chef Arteche sent me this photo of the package he received from the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. It is the largest fish market in the world. I believe all the sushi and sashimi for this evening came in this package on the day before our dinner:


Wines

There were five savory courses and a dessert course, so Bob organized the wines into five flights. The wines were opened around 7pm, unless otherwise noted. Dinner started about 7:30 and ended around 10pm.

To answer a question that came up at the dinner, there are ten grape varieties allowed in Alsace: Chasselas, Gewurtztraminer, Klevener de Heiligenstein, Muscat, Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sylvaner. However, in Grand Cru vineyards (e.g. wines 2, 3, 5, 6, 8–10, and 12–16 below), only Muscat, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer can be grown.

Menu

Here is the menu in pdf and here is the menu in jpeg:


Course 1: Hassun (Starter)
Hokkaido scallops, blood orange gastrique, alea sea salt, shishito peppers, lily bulbs, ramps oil.
In the Kaiseki tradition, the Hassun course should set the seasonal theme, which this did brilliantly
with the incredibly fresh scallops, delicious fresh lily bulbs, and the decorative pansy.
  1. 2015 Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Turckheim - France, Alsace
    Wow, what a way to start. Such a gorgeous, balanced expression of Gewurztraminer. I was surprised to see that this is only a village wine, but it is from over 40 year old vines. Just a touch of RS. Very impressive for $23. Group #1. (93 points)
  2. 2014 Paul Blanck Riesling Schlossberg - France, Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru
    Light, fresh, young and tasty. Quite delicate, but subtly complex. (92 points)
  3. 2014 Kuentz-Bas Riesling Geisberg - France, Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru
    Crisp and fresh in the nose and mouth. So floral that I could swear there is some Gewurz in here. (92-94 points)
  4. 2013 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Sept Grains - France, Alsace
    [Opened at 9am and left open for two hours. The name "Sept (7) Grains" means "seven grapes". It is made from seven of the ten grape varieties allowed in Alsace: Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, Chardonnay and Chasselas.] Gewurz nose. Delicate, floral. Medium length. A lovely, easy drinking wine. (91 points)

Course 2: Suimono (Soup)
Sous vide lobster, bunapi-shimeji mushroom, asparagus, lotus, kombu bonito consumme.
Suimono is a soup course which is the most important course in a kaiseki meal and
is considered a test of the chef’s ability. Jose passed with flying colors here!
  1. 2013 J.B. Adam Riesling Kaefferkopf Vieilles Vignes - France, Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru
    Really floral nose. Just gorgeous and balanced. Elegant, tart, and juicy. (93 points)
  2. 2013 J.B. Adam Riesling Wineck-Schlossberg - France, Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru
    [Opened at 9am and left open for two hours.] Crisp, complex nose. Really complex, but quite young. A hint of sweetness, but well balanced. (94 points)
  3. 2012 Schieferkopf Par Michel Chapoutier Riesling Lieu-dit Buehl - France, Alsace
    Much darker color. Thick, rich, complex. Really intense, almost at the level of a dry VT. (93 points)

Course 3: Otsukuri (Sushi & Sashimi)
Blue fin tuna toro nigiri, hamachi, tai, fresh hand grated wasabi, shio koji shoyu.
Otsukuri is also called Mukōzuke. Presentation is important here, along with the
freshness of the fish, of course, which was superb here, especially the toro.
Note: Shio koji is a natural seasoning used to marinate, tenderize, and enhance the umami … in foods. It’s made of just a few simple ingredients: salt, water, and rice koji. Rice koji is steamed rice that has been treated with koji mold spores (Aspergillus oryzae). koji is a specific strain of mold that has been cultured over the centuries. It is used in miso, soy sauce, sake, mirin, rice vinegar, and other Japanese foods. [source]
  1. 1994 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Heimbourg Vendange Tardive - France, Alsace
    Wow, a whole different breed of cat here. Dark amber color. Intensely sweet and complex. Loads of botrytis. This must be a Vendange Tardive. Great wine, but out of place in this flight with this food. My #1 wine and the group's #2. [Happy to see I have 4 more of these. I will have to think of a better food match. Maybe just popcorn and a good movie?] (96 points)
  2. 1994 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Vieilles Vignes - France, Alsace
    The second sweetest wine so far, but no where near as sweet as #8 above. Floral, lovely. A very tasty wine, but hard to follow #8. (92 points)
  3. 1997 Marcel Deiss Pinot Gris Bergheim - France, Alsace
    Gorgeous floral nose. Crisp, soft, complex. Very tasty tonight. (93 points)

Chef Arteche shows us what real wasabi looks like before it is grated:


Course 4: Hashiyasume (Intermezzo)
Chawanmushi, shitake mushrooms, shrimp, uni, ikura, edamame.
Chawanmushi is a savory egg custard made with eggs, dashi,
soy sauce, and a low-alcohol rice wine called mirin.
  1. 2002 Trimbach Riesling - France, Alsace
    Muted nose. Tight in the mouth. Does it need more time or is it fading? Anyway, quite nice to drink tonight. (91 points)
  2. 2002 Paul Blanck Riesling Schlossberg - France, Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru
    More open and complex. A hint of botrytis, but not esp sweet. Rich and complex. One of my top wines tonight. (94 points)
  3. 2006 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg - France, Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru
    Gorgeous nose. Rich and complex. Seems like the same wine as #12 above. And that's good! (94 points)

Chef Arteche sent me this photo of the Chawanmushi before cooking.
The pan is covered and the cups are steamed until the liquid becomes firm:


Course 5: Yakimono to Gohan (Grilled entrée and rice)
Grilled sanma, local tri color carrots, king oyster mushroom, citrus, shiso-seasoned rice.
Sanma is the Japanese name for Pacific saury, which is also known as mackerel pike.
Shiso is the Japanese name for an herb known in English as the "beefsteak plant" due to its red and purple leaves.
  1. 1994 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Brand - France, Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru
    Stunningly complex. Another terrific wine. Why don't I drink more of these. A touch of botrytis, but pretty dry, just adds to the complexity. [Sad to say, this was my last bottle.] (94 points)
  2. 1994 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Clos Windsbuhl - France, Alsace
    Seems a little shy after the last wine, but this is really good. Just not showy. Subtle, complex, floral and petrol. (93 points)
  3. 1994 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Gueberschwihr - France, Alsace
    Juicy, tasty Riesling. Mature and complex with a long finish. (93 points)

Course 6: Mizumono (Dessert)
Rose water rain drop cake, roasted kinako, kuromitsu syrup, lychee, strawberry, matcha tea.
No wines were served with this dessert course, but I did save some of the sweetest wine, the 1994 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Heimbourg Vendange Tardive to try with this dish. You can see it's dark color in the upper righthand corner of the left photo. It wasn't a particularly good match since both were so complex in different ways. The wine would have been better with just some simple biscotti.


Conclusion

Another joyous night of good wines, good food, good friends, and bad jokes!

Notes posted from CellarTracker.


WOTN Voting (3pts each for #1, 2pts for #2, 1pt for #3)

Rank Pts # Wine
1 16 1 2015 Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Turckheim
2 14 8 1994 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Heimbourg Vendange Tardive
3(tie) 6 4 2013 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Sept Grains
3(tie) 6 5 2013 J.B. Adam Riesling Kaefferkopf Vieilles Vignes
5(tie) 5 7 2012 Schieferkopf Riesling Lieu-dit Buehl
5(tie) 5 9 1994 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Vieilles Vignes
5(tie) 5 15 1994 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Clos Windsbuhl
8 3 6 2013 J.B. Adam Riesling Wineck-Schlossberg
9(tie) 2 12 2002 Paul Blanck Riesling Schlossberg
9(tie) 2 14 1994 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Brand
11(tie) 1 13 2006 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg
11(tie) 1 16 1994 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Gueberschwihr

People Photos

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All original content © Ken Vastola