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Dinner & Discovery

Whisky and Wine

By Brian K. Brecht

Last October we had the pleasure of joining the Wine and Food Society of San Francisco for one of their wine paring events. Hosted at San Francisco’s distinctive Jardiniere restaurant, we of course anticipated spectacular food and wine. But it was a quiet moment we found at the bar that put a special spin to the evening.

(*From the wfssf web site) The Wine & Food Society of San Francisco is a charter member of the International Wine & Food Society, and the first chapter to hold a dinner in North America. Each year members and their guests enjoy about ten evenings of fine wine and exceptional food at venues in San Francisco and surrounding areas.

The Society has built a comfortable-sized Cellar, so that most events are supported by wines chosen years before by the Wine Chairman. This tradition continues in selecting current fine wines for those who will enjoy these in the future. Each event is planned by a committee of members who work closely with the chef to tailor each experience.

Tom and his wife have been members for a number of years so Tom’s invitation to my wife and I had a convenient coincidence in that it was Leslie’s birthday, and cause for added celebration.

Having arrived early, resplendent in my black tie, I waited at the bar for Tom, Leslie, and my wife to arrive. While enjoying a glass of the featured chardonnay, I snuck off to the far corner of the bar, feeling exposited without my partner in crime at my side.

As anyone with an affinity for bar contents, it didn’t take long for me to examine the inventory of the spirits on the shelf. It was here I found something I had not seen before.

Sitting at the far end were three distinct bottles, each with a specialty label. The label alone intrigued me so when Tom arrived, I peeled him away to examine the samples I had found. Completely unfamiliar with the brand we asked the bartender what it was. Clearly something unusual, our young friend had to call over the head bartender for an explanation.

The head bar tender for Jardiner is Greg Stone, a gentleman who clearly loves what he does.

He proceeded to explain to us the story behind the bottles and who Michel Couvreur is.

Michel Couvreur, having recently passed away, was a Belgian and independent bottler of single malt scotch. His cellars, located in Bouze-les-Beaue are in the heart of Burgundy where he aged his single malts for four years in hand picked sherry butts from Jerez.

The bar wasn’t open tonight; again our reason for being there was about the wine. However with true barman skills, our bartender offered us a pour of two of the three bottles so we could better understand what he was explaining.

He poured the Special Vatting and the aged 24 years versions, each having wonderful characteristics of their own. Tom favored the 24 year, I the special vatting. Both were spectacular, having full command of the sherry finishing Couvreur was trying to achieve.

From here the evening was amazing and again, it really was about the wine and food. But starting with a specialty whisky and a great conversation with Greg Stone set our evening apart from most others.

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