Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wine reviews

I just attended the Polaner trade tasting at Gotham Hall in NYC. It was very interesting and there were quite a few wines worth mentioning. I will post some reviews and comments as soon as I return. I also had the opportunity to eat a two very interesting restaraunts: Artisinal and the Modern. At Artisnal, I had a Stilton Blue fondue, Sea Scallops, cheese plate, and a sorbet. They are know for their cheese and the selection was impressive. The scallops were exceptional as was the bottle of Domaine Gille Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru 2007 (which did take time to open up and burn off a very slight reduction, but was layered and quite complex).
The Modern, however, was the winner. I had a onion and smoked bacon tarte, lobster with creamed reduction and soft noodles, and a veal ravioli - all of which had very intricate and consistent flavors. I will definately eat here again!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

It tastes sweet!?!

In my experience, many people (especially in America) think little about the food they eat and the aromas and flavors that they experience. Because there is so little thought involved in food, delicacy and nuance are lost and people eat and 'enjoy' food with explosive and overwhelming flavor. These flavors in food accustom one's palate away from delicacy in wine as well. Few people enjoy a delicate Pinot Noir or intricate un-oaked Chardonnay. Why? "It has no flavor!"

Well, I say WRONG

Wines of high acidity and balanced alcohol are slammed as weak and insipid out of ignorance of flavor and basic sensation.

People need to learn to think about the flavors and aromas in the food and beverages they regularly consume. When someone tells me that they don't like Pinot Noir because its sweeter than Cabernet Sauvignon, it is obvious that they have no idea what sugar or tannin even taste like. Sad.

I am working on another rant on flavor so this will just be my intro. Think about the flavors in what you consume! Smell your food and try to determine what the aromas remind you of. You will quickly become a snob like me.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Oak facts

There are some 400 species of oak, though only about 20 are used in making oak barrels. Of the trees that are used, only 5% is suitable for making high grade wine barrels. The average age of a French oak tree harvested for use in wine barrels is 170 years!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The god of wine

Come, thou monarch of the vine,
Plumpy Bacchus with pink eyne!
In thy vats our cares be drown'd,
With thy grapes our hairs be crown'd:
Cup us, till the world go round,
Cup us, till the world go round!

-William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra

Monday, March 12, 2012

It's an acquired taste...

    I have been considering for some time now whether there really is such a thing as an acquired taste. On the face of it, it seems clear that there must be; one might think beer is bitter and harsh, yet, as the palate becomes accustomed to it, the bitterness becomes pleasurable and desired. It might also be said, however, that certain flavors are naturally opposed to the palate as a whole (or even to an individual palate) and the "acquiring" of a taste towards that flavor could simply be the removal or neutralization of specific taste buds. I'll leave y'all with those positions to puzzle over.

    The reason this interests me (besides the pursuit of knowledge) is that it seems it would change the way we understand and argue about flavor and taste. If the former position is correct, there would be no "absolute" or "true method" to drinking, cooking, and winemaking.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bien Nacido Cuvee, Qupe

    Bien Nacido remains one of my favorite Central Coast vineyards. In California, 'cool-climate' generally refers to viticultural regions that are influenced by the ocean (maritime climates) and temperatures that commonly fall under Region I on the UC Davis chart of heat summation. Vineyards planted in cooler climate regions have a longer growing season that allows grape clusters to reach physiological ripeness at lower sugars while reaching very complex and intricate flavors. Bien Nacido is also the first vineyard in California to grow cool-climate Syrah. Their vines are meticulously farmed and bring some of the most revered and distinct wines of California.
    Qupe shares a winery with Au Bon Climat on the Bien Nacido Vineyard property in Santa Maria Valley. Qupe employs traditional winemaking practices, respecting the terroir and allowing the grapes to speak for themselves. Their grapes are all either grown organically or biodynamically.
   The 2010 Qupe Bien Nacido Cuvee is a Northern Rhone style blend of 50% Viognier and 50% Chardonnay. The Viognier brings an exotic floral and peach aroma while green apple, honey, and lively acidity from the Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay completes the palate. The retail price hovers around $20, which is an excellent deal for such an interesting white!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Super Tuscan from WA

    Though less delicate than the Tous les Jours, which I wrote on in my last post, the 2007 Saggi Red is very impressive. It retails for around $40 and follows the tradition of the "Super Tuscan." It is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Though there is around 50% new French oak in a long aging style, the wine clearly hails to its terroir- Red Mountain, Horse Heaven Hills, and Yakima Valley. The alcohol is 14.6% and well balanced by acidity, fruit, and oak. One might rightly argue that the oak is a little too present, though I think aging will temper it.
   Cedar, cassis, and black cherry coupled with exotic spice, cocoa, and black pepper give the wine a lasting and complex perfume. Flavors begin with delicate plum (not the plum flavors associated with overripe fruit), raspberry, currant, and finish with more spice and white pepper. Silky yet firm tannins give it a medium body feel.
    I recommend this to all who are either unfamiliar with the Columbia Valley or this particular producer, and to those who enjoy balanced Tuscan style wines. Cheers!

Tous les Jours

    I recently tasted the '09 Syrah from Andrew Murray Vineyards, and for the price, it was excellent! Aptly named "Tous les Jours," it really is an everyday drinker.  Notes of moderate French oak aging- tar, bacon, and mild green tones. Flashy yet not fleshy, displaying its licorice and red/blue fruits with a subtle, fragrant twist, this wine also has a great balance of acidity and low alcohol. I haven't had other wines from this producer but am eager to try! 

Here is a quote from their website about their winemaking style: 

    "We genuinely believe that great wine starts at the root of the vine, at the very point where the eventual fruit derives its sustenance. Vineyard selection is therefore of paramount importance in our winemaking process. We want grapes that had to work hard to make it to maturity and that are carefully harvested at just the optimal point in their maturation.
    We’ve been around long enough to not be swayed by fads in an industry that is frequently seduced by the current vogue. We’re open-minded enough, however, to utilize technological advancements to ensure that the wine we first poured into our bottles, tastes exactly the way we predicted it would taste when you pour it into your glass in your own home. Our winery is a blend of the old and new; the classic and the modern; beautiful French oak barrels and glimmering stainless steel tanks; traditional Burgundian shaped bottles and reliable screwtop closures.
    We’re passionate about winemaking, dedicated to the evolution of our techniques, and wise enough to stay the course to produce consistently highly-regarded wines."