For Anthony Cailan, going into the wine business was an easy decision. He fell in love with the idea that he could learn about and taste something new every day. Through his experience as a line cook (Egg Slut, Animal), a student of the Culinary Institute of America in New York City, a retailer (Domaine LA), and a sommelier (Little Pine), Anthony realized people are afraid of wine. To prove wines can be fun and approachable, Anthony grabbed a bottle of Bordeaux and headed to his favorite BYOB restaurant in Los Angeles.
I hail from the San Gabriel Valley, which has one of the largest populations of Chinese immigrants in the country. Naturally, this is a place that thousands of people in Los Angeles flock to in the morning for some proper dim sum.
So there's no question that my favorite BYO restaurant is NBC Seafood, the temple of dim sum for many people in the restaurant industry — and our go-to on days off to enjoy copious amounts of food and drink copious amounts of wine (and Tsingtao).
This time around, I brought a bottle of 2011 Chateau le Puy Emilien. This is a Right Bank blend of mostly Merlot with a little bit of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère. This particular producer doesn't make wine the way most Bordelaise do. They farm biodynamically, age in neutral wood, and have few or no sulfur additions. The Chateau le Puy family has been around for 16 generations, dating all the way back to 1610, and they've never conformed to the more industrial forms of winemaking. The wines are gorgeous and work unbelievably well with food.
This brings me to one of the best pairings ever. This restaurant may have seafood in the name, but the dishes that truly shine the brightest are the crispy roast pork, shumai, and the Peking duck. The meal becomes complete with a bottle of Chateau le Puy at the table.
I usually pair Chinese dishes with a rich white wine, but Chateau le Puy has great acidity, a lighter quality, very soft tannins, and laser focus. All of those elements work perfectly NBC Seafood's roast pork, which has such a crunchy skin it's almost glass-like. Plus, while I was in Bordeaux recently, I realized the Bordelaise absolutely love all things duck. I figured this bottle would work well with the intense flavors of a traditional Hong Kong-style Peking duck without overpowering anything on the table.
Pairing the Chateau le Puy Emilien with this meal is easily one of the best gastronomic experiences anyone can have at NBC Seafood.
Chateau le Puy Cuvee Emilien 2011
Appellation: Cotes de Bordeaux Francs
Blend: 85 percent Merlot, 14 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 1 percent Carmenere
Tasting notes: Soft tannins with great acidity. Darker red fruit and a little mushroomy. Biodynamic.