As always, the meal there was spectacular (the menu is below). And, as so often seems to be the case, it was the mature wine that was the most food-friendly. All of the wines were excellent, mind you (the 2005 Hartford Court Sonoma Coast Land's Edge Vineyards Pinot Noir is drinking great right now, all sweet ripe cherry fruit, licorice, and forest floor), but it was the 1993 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape that was the wine of the night.
Not only was this a wine at its peak, but its fully-evolved tannins and lingering sense of freshness made it a perfect pairing partner for much of the meal. And while the wines of the Southern Rhone are known for their power and spice, this one had evolved into something altogether softer and more gentle. It still had the structure to stand up to the venison course, but it also possessed just the right amount of subtlety to work brilliantly alongside the confit of canadian goose, as well as the winter kale soup with Burgundy snail tortellini.
The point is that many pairing rules go out the window when older wines are involved. The magic that time works on the best bottles allows them to match up with dishes they never could have quite so well in their youth. That alone--not to mention their sheer deliciousness apart from food--justifies the patience required to hold onto great bottles in the cellar until they are ready. And to open them at great restaurants, with family and friends, and savor every sip of them.