Thursday, July 30, 2009

2007 Montirius Cotes du Rhone


13$ at K&L. 73% Grenache, the balance is made up of Syrah and Mouvedre. The Saurel family, which owns Montirius, make this wine with another grower that is nearby...who apparently needs to remain secret. Montirius is more famous for their Vacqueyras and Gigondas, which they've been making for 5 generations, but this Cotes du Rhone is nothing to sneeze at. It's bio-dynamic, organic, and sees no oak at all. It's all fermented in cement. Immediately upon cork removal, it's apparent that this wine rules. Super-bright, snappy, cherry and raspberry fruit leap out of the glass. There's a hint of something else in the background--at times I felt it was herbal, and at times I felt that it was more earthy. Nice finish that really lingers. Great texture, good acids, and some tannin make this a really complete package. This reminds me a lot of the Artazuri wines (Garnacha) that I have had from Spain, but this is even better. Now I'm going to have to buy some of the Vacqueyras...as well as a couple more bottles of this. A

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2006 Celler Can Blau Can Blau Monsant, Spain


This was 15$ at K&L; I think at this point, it's long gone. It's been in my cellar for well over a year. Imported by Jorge Ordonez, which can be a mixed bag...I've had some stuff great, some stuff not so great. At the very least, Jorge Ordonez is a controversial guy.

Montsant is in Western Spain and is a part of Catalonia. Montsant was a sub-appellation of Tarragona called Falset until 2001. 40% Carinena, 40% Syrah, and 20% Garnacha. 14.5% alcohol. There's a lot going on in this wine, and it keeps changing and making itself more interesting. Initially when opened, it was a little tart, with raspberry, cocoa, and some oak. Day two, this wine had developed more cherry/blackberry and other toasty elements. It came off as a little hot to me as well. Once it's in the mouth, it's big and plush, but well-balanced. By day two, it turns velvety. Lots of sweet raspberry, blackberry and earthy/smoky flavors, with a long graphite finish. I like this wine and find it fascinating to drink. I'm kind of disappointed that I don't have a couple more bottles, because it's a great value at 15$. It really over delivers at the price. A-/A

This wine got me thinking a lot too, because a lot of the time, this isn't really the type of wine that I would be into. It's got a fair amount of oak, and I would consider it to be fairly new world, but I think that the key is that it wasn't overdone. Too often it just seems to me that a lot of reds are big for the sake of being big (and appealing to Parker), and all of the ripeness is further magnified with all that toasty oak. So I was expecting not to like this wine at all based on my pre-conceived notions of what constitutes good, but ended up really liking it. This came down on the right side of the spectrum for me. It also demonstrates something that I think makes wine infinitely fascinating: there are an infinite number of variations of wine, and no two experiences are alike. They're unique. Taking this concept a little further, it's a huge topic and just when you start to get comfortable with some subjects (if you're not content to drink California Cabs for the rest of your life), you realize that there are an infinite number of things to learn, and you can never know it all...

Monday, July 27, 2009

2006 Selvagrossa "Trimpilin"


This wine is from the Marche, which is on the Adriatic Coast of Italy. About 25$ from K&L. 100% Sangiovese. I decanted this for a couple of hours. There's a wicked cherry nose, but besides that, the wine really shuts you out. Meaning that it's actually kind of hard to get much else other than the cherry. Eventually, I decided that the wine was sort of spicy--not cinnamon or a baking spice (like I often find in Syrah), but more of a savory spice, like turmeric or something. The texture of this wine is great; it's velvety smooth and lithe. Good acids, just a bit of tannin in the background. This wine is good, but I feel like it wasn't showing much of itself except for fruit and plush texture that you get out of a new world wine. It really was missing some of the earthy characteristics that I have come to expect from Sangiovese-based wines. The galestro if you will... The wine was food friendly; it cut through some fresh pasta and tomato sauce that I made. Still, I felt it was somewhat one dimensional and kind of expensive in my opinion. This is perhaps more polished and new world, but also more boring, than any number of Chiani Classico's that I have had in the last couple of years. C+/B-

As a side note, what's with all the more new world stuff in the Italian wine club recently?? Perhaps the wineries can't sell their more expensive, barrique aged stuff as fast as before and now K&L is getting good deals? I'm not so sure that I'm a fan...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Osteria Mozza/2005 Principi di Butera Deliella Nero d'Avola

Sarah and I went to Osteria Mozza last night. I'm not going to go all crazy with pictures because there are a shitload on Yelp. The restaurant is more casual than I had thought it would be. I actually put on slacks and a shirt, because for some reason I figured that it would be less casual than the Pizzeria, which we've eaten at about 10 times. Surprisingly, it was really low key. The main difference between the two restaurants are the dishes, which are more refined than the Pizzeria, and the space, which is less "trattoria-like." The service is relaxed and low-key, and completely unpretentious, which is rare for LA.

Everything we had was great. The bread is...from La Brea Bakery. You can buy it at Trader Joes. Seriously. No joke. To start with, we had figs wrapped in pancetta, burrata with grilled asparagus, Sicilian almonds, and brown butter, and the crispy pigs trotter with cicoria and mustard. The trotter was awesome; I loved how all the meat was picked off, breaded and deep-fried. Great flavor. The frisee on the side was studded with red plums, which was a great foil to the richness of the trotter along with the slightly spicy mustard.

Next we had an order of Bucatini all'Amatriciana, which really was as good as Italy. This is a Roman dish, and Sarah lived in Rome for 4 months. Even she thought it was as good as any Amatriciana that she had there. From what I hear, they make their own guanciale, which is cool. Anyways, great dish...and the restaurant was nice enough to split it into two portions for us.

We split an entree, which was good, because we were starting to get full, and the entree we got was bigger than expected. We got the duck al mattone, which is duck cooked under a brick. It was a whole half duck. It's probably my favorite dish I've had in a restaurant ever. It was that good IMHO. It was served with a pear-truffle mostarda, which was great, and some sweet corn. If you go here, you must get this dish, it was unbelievably good. Crispy skin, moist duck, the flavors in the condiments...wow.

We also had the cannoli, which were good, and two quartinos of wine--a nice Friulano from Joseph Bastianich's winery, and 2003 Barolo "Margheria," Gabutti di Boasso Franco. The barolo was good; lots of candied cherries, and a distinctive spice note at the end. You could tell it was from a hot vintage though, because it had some raisiny character. Whatever, it was way better than what you can get by the glass in most places, even if it was about 18$ a glass. Also--I'd just like to pass a note to the two middle aged women next to us--your cheap perfume made you smell like trashy Avon Ladies. Didn't anyone teach you that you don't wear perfume in restaurants? Especially not perfume that makes you smell like bug-spray? Also--I have never seen anyone send a bottle of water back because it wasn't to their liking. Thanks. That was a first for me. The waiter looked as dumbfounded as me, but he has such good manners he got you another 10$ bottle of water. I bet you 10 bottles of water that you can't tell the difference between that and the tap. Oh and by the way--the tap water is probably safer. Yeah, that's right. No wonder neither of you were married. No one can put up with you. But at least you have each other. Why don't you stay in Beverly Hills or something next time?


After we came home, we wanted more wine, so we opened the Nero d'Avola. It was from K&L's wine club a couple of months ago. It's about 30$. 3 glasses Gambero Rosso. I am not really a big fan of this wine. Very new world, lots of oak. Nose of berries, oak, a little earth, and vanilla. Once all the oak starts to settle in a bit, the wine has nice berry flavors, but a lot of vanilla. Fairly soft, not really too tannic. It's not bad, but I think over the top with the oak and vanilla. C+

Friday, July 24, 2009

2007 Terrenal Malbec Mendoza, Argentina

4$ at TJ's. Pretty good, but certainly isn't great. Fruity nose of plums, blueberries, and at times prunes with some non-descript spice. Turns a little raisiny in the mouth. There's some tannin in the background, but good acidity to hold it all together. Kind of hollow. Takes a while to come together. When I first popped the cork, it was awful. It really opened up though. Definitely not really my favorite, but solid for the price. C+

2006 Bibich Riserva Skradin North Dalmatia, Croatia


Wow...I really like this wine. Sarah liked it too (enough to have two glasses of it). I first had it in April at Providence, where it was paired with veal. (By the way, if you can afford it, you owe it to yourself to check out Providence. It's off the chain and the sommelier has lots of esoteric pairings, like this one. The only problem is that it's expensive...) It was perhaps a bit more on the restrained side when I had it there, but I liked it enough to pick up a bottle at K&L for 16$. Last night, I was looking for something to drink with chicken smothered in olive tapenade, almost went with a Cotes du Rhone, but decided that this might go well with it. This wine is from Croatia, which is just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy. It's pretty much parallel to Tuscany. A blend of Babich, Plavina, and Lasin, which are all native to Croatia, and are related to Zinfandel. I like that you can say that this wine is Babich by Bibich...it's like a tongue twister.

Dried fruit (dried cherries specifically), and spice. Reminds me a lot of an Amarone or a ripasso Valpolicella like "La Grola" from Allegrini. Juicy fruit that is well balanced by nice acidity. Low alcohol--12.2%. This is a great food wine; it stood up very well to a flavorful dish and would work with many other things. Drinks well on it's own; there is nice poise, ripe fruit, and structure. Interesting to drink and relatively cheap for the quality. Plus, let's face it, Croatia isn't on a lot of people's radar, so it's inexpensive, and K&L still has a lot of inventory. An insider buy if you will. I don't get why people aren't more open to trying new stuff. Let's face it--how many mediocre wines has everyone had at this price point from established areas like California, Bordeaux, et al?? It's not like if you get a mediocre wine from Croatia it's much different than getting a mediocre California wine (except maybe you're more educated after the fact with Croatia). Going off the beaten path can have some good results, and since a lot of places aren't stocking a lot of Croatian wine, if they're stocking something, it's probably pretty good. This is definitely worth picking up. A

Thursday, July 23, 2009

2008 Montes "Leyda Vineyard" Sauvignon Blanc Chile

Sauvignon Blanc from Chile...the first one that I've ever had. It's pretty good. Grassy aromas, balanced by citrus fruit, maybe a little green melon, and hell, we could venture into the cliche arena and say gooseberry (but maybe I'll go with Salmon Berry since I've actually eaten one of those...the point being there is some other form of fruit besides citrus), nice acidity, and ripe fruit. Nice citrus-oil finish. Not minerally like Sancerre--this is much fruitier, but definitely a refreshing summer drink. Not exactly scintillating, but perfect as a summer drink. 10$ at Costco, which is 3$ less than K&L and a bargain. B+

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

2007 "Kiwi Cuvee" Sauvignon Blanc


I seem to be having some incredibly bad judgement at Trader Joe's lately. I knew this wine was going to be bad, but I liked the Now & Zen, which is from the same importer. I kept seeing this nestled with the rest of the French wines at TJ's, and thinking, WTF is that Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc doing there? So I figured (erroneously, I might add), that there was a chance that there would be nothing wrong with a 4$ Vin de Pays from the Loire Valley, trying to be a wine from New Zealand. So basically, the breakdown of all things French. This is not as bad as the Hangtime Bourgogne, but it is sad that some people will pick this up and think it's what Sauvignon Blanc is supposed to taste like. This wine has nothing on New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, except that it's maybe a couple of dollars cheaper, and for sure doesn't have anything on Sancerre or Pouilly-Fume. The nose is typical of Sauvignon Blanc, with grassy, peppery (jalapeno??), green aromas. A hint of fruit too. Fruity in the mouth, but not enough acidity, and awfully sweet. Flabby, undefined, thin, and not much of a finish. No snap or verve at all. Blech. Kind of sad actually. I guess this demonstrates that consumers, including me, are sheep. And I'm a dumb-ass for not knowing better. D

Monday, July 20, 2009

1998 Lopez de Heredia "Vina Tondonia" Gran Reserva Rosado/Rivera


Sarah and I had this wine at Rivera, which is right by the Staples Center. We wandered in on a whim because the space looked cool. I vaguely remember reading the review in the LA Times, but this place wasn't on my radar, and we were just wandering around looking for someplace to eat before Keith Urban (Not what I'm into, but Sarah wanted to go to see Sugarland, and I got her tickets for our anniversary, but they unfortunately dropped out at the last minute do to some health problems. Just for the record, I HATE country music).

The LA Times review is what I would characterize as "breathless". 3.5 stars? Really? That's the highest rating that I can remember finding. Sarah and I didn't feel the same way at all. The food was good, but we certainly wouldn't go out of our way to eat at Rivera again. And let's be honest, yes we went on Sunday night, but there must be a lot of other people that feel the same way as us, because if you try getting into Mozza or Comme Ca, or Lucque, or any number of other places, you might not be able to just walk in off the street with no wait. And by 7ish, the place had cleared out.

We tried several dishes--olives, piquillo rellenos, choros al vapor, duck enfrijolada, and trucha. First, the olives. 4$...and there were only five. Now Sarah and I are all into eating stuff that tastes good and will try anything once, but this was ridiculous. Especially considering we were expecting a bowl. You know, like a substantial bowl. Like what you get in a normal tapa place? Anyways, they had five stuffings--orange confit, black olive, white anchovy, jamon iberico, and manchego. They were okay, but certainly not extraordinary by any means. Chef would do better to load you up on a lot of olives instead of being all high concept and stingy.

Next, we had some mussels and some hot stuffed peppers. Mussels were cooked perfectly but were plated akwardly. They were arranged in a circle (sorry, didn't take pics) around a half lime, which was covered in an "Aji Amarillo-Pisco broth," which really looked more like a sauce. Incredibly awkward to grab the lime to squeeze on the mussels--which needed the citrus to counteract the raw jalapeno and raw hot red pepper. Also--supposed to have chorizo, but we didn't see any. A flawed dish. There were also some errant slices of bread off to the side. Perhaps to justify charging 11$? Sarah's comment? "I would have rather had two more mussels instead of the bread." The pepper's were stuffed with raisins, chorizo, and gruyere. They were really good. Ironically, this is the one dish that S. Irene Virbila didn't like because it was too rich. We liked it; it was a well put together dish.

Next the duck, which was excellent. The earthy blue corn tortilla went great with the rich duck, the goat cheese, and the umami-laden black bean sauce (it was almost soy like) pulled it all together. (I do have to wonder why Virbila thought the peppers were too rich? This was much more rich and this was one of her favorite dishes...?) Next up was the trucha, which consisted of Tasmanian Sea Trout (sort of like salmon--pink fleshed, and rather substantial, although less fishy), a yellow gazpacho, earthy quinoa, and a very nice blend of vegetables/salsa. Fish was well cooked, with crispy skin, but maybe just a tad overdone. The sauce was good, and the salsa/vegetable blend was excellent.

The wine that we drank is the current release rose from Lopez de Heredia, one of the most traditional estates in Rioja. 11 years old. The current release of the white is a 1981. That's different. Atypical to hold a wine until it's ready to drink, what with needing cash flow and all that. Now I have to admit, I made myself look like a moron in front of the sommelier, because I've read a lot about Lopez de Heredia, but when I was talking to him about this wine, I called the estate Vina Tondonia, and he looked at me funny and then scurried away. Whatever. This is one of those wines that demonstrates how much there is to learn about wine. Totally different than all the other roses that I've had. Orange in the glass instead of the normal reddish hues. The nose was filled with nutty notes (Sarah says Madeira), cherries/strawberries, and roses. Pretty wine. Elegant. Concentrated and with good depth. Lots of minerals. Interesting wine to drink, went well with all the food. Kind of pricey at 56$ off the list but you can pick it up at K&L for 25$, which makes it more interesting. B (Good wine, good experience, now my palette is more educated, but expensive)

Overall, Rivera was good, but it's not a destination restaurant by any means. If you're near Staples, it's a great option. Definitely better than Flemings (and cheaper), better than the Yard House, and more inventive than the Farm. But still, 3.5 stars Irene?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2008 Gruner Veltliner Ebner Ebenaur

11$ for a liter at K&L. Crisp, with limes, other citrus, and an almost saline quality. Really fantastic summer wine for food. Tons of acidity and snap. Not the most complex but completely fit for purpose. I would take this over cheap Chardonnay every single time. B+

Saturday, July 18, 2009

2008 Côtes de Provence Rosé, Domaine de la Fouquette "Rosée d'Aurore"


Jason had this wine a few weeks ago, and when he had it, I had a bottle in the fridge too. 14$ at K&L, which is a dollar less than Jason paid at Vintage Wines and Spirits. I pretty much agree with Jason's assessment that this bottle is a bit on the pricey side. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice bottle of wine, but I think that I have different expectations for rose than whites or reds. This makes me seek something that's cheaper. I'm not looking for something nearly as profound as I might be looking for in a Riesling or a Pinot. Therefore, I am more tolerant of simple, gulpable wines--and that means that they're ideally going to be cheap. This wine is fruity, with strawberries, cherries, wet stones, and a hint of herbs (basil??). It's juicy and sweeter than the Bandol that I had last week. I don't like this wine nearly as much because it doesn't have the depth that the Bandol has. For my money, I think that I'm going to stick with something cheaper (although I don't think you can ever knock trying something better but more expensive to educate your palette and expand your horizons). I like the La Ferme Julian rose, not because it's a better wine (it isn't), but because it better suits my usage. I know that there's got to be something out there that is a middle ground between these. There has to be something good around 10$...

Friday, July 17, 2009

2006 Hangtime Bourgogne/Minneapolis


On occasion, I suffer from bouts of irrational exuberance and poor judgement calls. Which is the case with this wine. A 3$ bottle of Burgundy? I've got to try that...actually, I wish that I hadn't. This is possibly the worst wine that I've ever had. Stay away from it at all costs. You would be better off drinking Listerine. It tastes better. Nose of funky, unripe strawberry. Oak and non-descript red fruits in the mouth, along with unbalanced, stinging acidity. Absolutely terrible. Plonk. Stay away at all costs. This wine will haunt me for years to come. F

In other news, I had to go to Minneapolis this week for work. Since I ended up having a lot of time to kill due to flights, I got to check out the city, which seems all right. It's bigger than I thought that it would be, and the weirdest thing is that so much of the city is inside. Due to the cold winters, a lot of the buildings are connected by sky bridges...which if you ask me, is kind of strange. It also has the effect of "hiding" a lot of the city. Even though everyone seemed to be outside because it was so nice, I felt like I missed a lot of it. Just like LA, there's a lot that you might miss out on if you're not a local.

I got to go to a couple of good restaurants, which were both good. The first, 112 Eatery, is owned by chef Isaac Becker, who has won a couple of James Beard Awards for Best Chef. Great atmosphere; I didn't feel uncomfortable in jeans, sitting at the bar reading a book. I had a few dishes: scallops with oyster mushrooms and truffle oil (perfectly cooked), Berkshire Pork Tenderloin with a Chipotle Cream Sauce, Asparagus with a crawfish sauce, and a Butterscotch Budino. The food was flawless, and well done, if perhaps a little "dated." I guess that food in general is never really new, just riffs on old ideas, but still, scallops and truffle oil are very 2004. They were tasty though, so I'm not complaining. I think I'm just jaded. Amusingly enough, the bartender recommended the Butterscotch Budino to me...but had never heard of Mozza, which at least for me, is the contemporary birthplace of the budino. Given that the menu calls it "Nancy Silverton Butterscotch Budino," chef must have had this in mind too. Good, but not as good as the Mozza one, and missing the key--the rosemary cookies. Also had a very pedestrian and not too great Rioja (2007 Viña Herminia), which was missing all the snap, acids, and earthiness of a great example...it was flabby and one-dimensional. The glass of Montes Malbec was better. Nice and peppery. Overall, a good restaurant, and let's face it--for 93$ with tax, tip, food, etc, it's a bargain. In LA, I'm guessing the same caliber would have been about 20-30% more.

The second restaurant that I went to was the Chambers Kitchen, where the menu was created by Jean-George. Minneapolis also has a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, called 20.21. Who knew that Minneapolis was the newest destination for celebrity chefs? Anyways, the Chambers was a cool space, if perhaps trying too hard to be cool. Lots of throbbing house beats, white leather, you get the picture...anyways...the food was excellent. Joshua Nudd is the actual chef (come on, let's be honest, it's says Jean-George, but you don't really think he's there do you?). I had a warm beet salad with hazelnuts, lemon, and yogurt, and roasted salmon with a pea puree, fennel, and a yuzu butter sauce.


The salmon was perfectly cooked and delicious. Same with the beet salad. The cooking was refined and elegant. The plating of both dishes was great. Had a very nice glass of 2008 Willamette Valley Riesling by Dr. Bergstrom too. Definitely less expensive than LA. Great bread, nice macaroons to end the meal and a bargain at only 48$. Of course, since I was there on work, I got to expense it (same with 112), so it was basically free (I guess I did have to spend two days in Minneapolis).

Lastly, I came across these products in Target, and well, I don't know why they would name them like this. I just had completely different thoughts.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2008 Bandol Rosé, Domaine Le Galantin


I got this wine from K&L, and honestly, it's a bit on the pricey side for rose. In my mind, this is ridiculous expensive for rose. My go to bottles are always less than 10$, probably because what makes rose great is that it isn't supposed to have a lot of pretense and is primarily something to cool down with. Not that rose can't be well made and intriguing, and not that rose isn't an awesome accompaniment to all sorts of food, it's just that most of what makes rose great also makes it cheap. This rose is from Bandol, which is basically the place for rose in France, so I'm willing to let the cost slide for the sake of education. It was 19$ but is sold out now.

Salmon colored. Strawberries, minerals, wet stones, and I think I smelled some herbs in there too. A lot of racy acidity to balance out the stony finish. This is well made and delicious, but for my money, there are similar bottles for around 10$ or 12$ from Spain or the Rhone that are just as tasty. B- (this could be an A at around 10$, but it's pricey at 19$.) I drank this wine with some heirloom tomatoes covered in olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper, and basil(is there really anything better about summer?? It's probably one of my top 3 favorite things to eat) and some pate (it's amazing how long a small thing of pate will last...I guess because it's so rich). While I was at it, I watched a surreal 1970 film from the Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky. "El Topo" is a surreal Western a la Fellini. Fellini never did a Western, but if he did one, it would look a lot like this. A strange, weird, graphic, gory, and wonderfully fucked up movie. It you're a fan of Fellini, it's a good thing to check out. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Friday, July 10, 2009

2003 Côte Rôtie Domaine de Bonserine "La Sarrasine"


The recession isn't all that bad. Especially if you have a job, don't have any debt, and can save some money. In a way, I'm all for it. I'm young, I rent, and frankly, in Southern California, even though I have a good job (and save a lot of money each month), prices for housing are still a little bit out of reach. Renting is a bargain for the time being. The recession is bringing an inflated bubble back a little closer to reality--and into reach of a new generation of home owners. It also has a silver lining, in that apparently, wine that is over 25$ isn't moving all that well. You always have to take these "proclamations" from the media with a grain of salt, but I have been seeing a lot of crazy deals out there, and this wine is one of them. I don't think that I have ever seen a Cote-Rotie that is less than 40$, much less a single vineyard designated wine. And this wine got a 93 from the Wine Spectator. WTF? It was $18.99. Someone, due to the recession I'm guessing, is having trouble moving through this wine. Or actually, I should say was...because K&L is out now. But not before I picked up a few bottles. I figured that at 19$, even if it wasn't that great, it was something good to have around.

I drank this wine with my neighbor (who also happens to be my landlord), and his wife. (Yes, that's how I spend my Thursday nights...I'm so cool that I hang out with my 60 year old landlords). He happens to be a bit of a Bon Vivant and is a great cook. I've eaten better at his place than at quite a few restaurants. He smoked line-caught coho salmon in a smoker, and then topped it with a mustard sauce (which was pretty great), fried up some fingerlings, and made a salad with green beans, walnuts, fresh tomatoes, and a goat cheese dressing. We also had a cheese plate, and some chocolate that he made. Let's just assume that this was a lot better than whatever I was going to make (and I'm no slouch, just not as refined as him). Great meal. So how was the wine?

The wine was a bit on the austere side (and in my neighbor's words, "Burgundian,") which is funny, because 2003 was a super hot year in Europe. This wine takes a while to open up and then gains additional depth and complexity as it opens. The nose is all blackberries (maybe plums and blueberry too), coffee, mocha, and twinges of herbs. On the palate, the wine has a lot of blackberry character, but it's well-supported by more savory elements. The wine is smooth, with juicy acidity, and just a bit of edge from the tannin. The wine has a fair amount of weight too, but is made in an elegant style. This wine was drinking very well right now. If you're more a fan of California though, it's a more reserved style of Syrah. B+/A- UDPATE 8/19: Had a second bottle, which was much better than the first. It was a much better expression of this cool climate (well, as cool as 2003 could have been in Europe). Very similar to the first bottle, but with more poise, more tannin, and more blueberry character. Lots of roasted coffee character too.

We also had some of the 2006 Adelaida Version Red Blend, which was an interesting counter-point to the more austere Cote Rotie. This wine was juicy and fruity, with good structure, and a nose of spices and cherries. It was on the sappy side, but not an over the top fruit bomb. I was digging this wine; it was great. Still probably a bit pricey compared to some of the stuff you can get out of Spain for the level of quality, but enticing to drink, and at a price of free, you can never complain. B/B+

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

2003 Batasiolo Arsigà, Dolcetto d'Alba


This wine is 7$ at K&L (if you're in a wine club). You normally don't see Dolcetto's that are this old, and I was pretty surprised when it showed up in the wine club. Dolcetto's normally require some form of sustenance to really enjoy, and since my girlfriend is out of town, I drank this wine over 2 nights, with a few different things. Surprisingly, especially since the "conventional" wisdom is that Dolcetto's are to be drunk young, the wine needed some time to open up. This went well with pate, but also went well with a grilled vegetable pasta. The wine has a lot of bright cherry flavors and some earthiness. There's a lot of acid, and a lot of tannin. Definitely an edge to this wine, but a good edge, especially with food. The tannins at the end turn sweet, with just a bit of vanilla on them, which I'm not really all that into. At 7$ though, this makes a good food wine, and goes with a lot of stuff. I don't think that you can really complain too much. It's got a lot of rustic character. B-

Monday, July 6, 2009

Clams

I am fortunate enough to have a Grandfather that lives on the Hood Canal in Washington. One of the cool things about this is that he lives right on the water, and there are these amazing clams that you can get by walking out his back door.
You can also get oysters (they actually farm them in the cove he lives off), and they're fantastic too. Having this amazing luxury has ruined getting shelf-fish almost anywhere else. Not only are these as fresh as possible, but they're 5$ a year (for the shellfish license).

2007 Syncline Subduction Red


Picked this wine up for 18$. It's a Rhone style blend from the Columbia Valley in Washington. It's a new world style wine; reminds me of a richer Cotes du Rhone in a lot of ways. The nose has lots of raspberries and pepper, and picks up some spicier notes as it opens up. The wine is plush, and has a distinctive vanilla note on the finish. This wine was okay, but at the price, you can do way better. I find a strong vanilla note to be off-putting...This wine is a little unfortunate, because what I generally like about Washington is that it's a good mix of New World fruit forward style and Old World styles--call it a happy medium. Although this wine still maintained it's acidity and fruit, I think they took it too far on the modern spectrum. C-

2008 Kung Fu Girl Riesling (Charles Smith)


I picked this up for about $11 (I've seen it in California for cheaper). Charles Smith is the winemaker behind K Vintners, and he has a whole bunch of labels that are kind of goofy like this one. The label is a cool piece of design...Anyways, this wine is tasty and refreshing. It thought it was completely dry at 12.5%, but it isn't(it has 1.5% residual sugar), with a nose of peaches, limes, and apricots. Once it's in your mouth, it's got nice structure, and a zingy acidity. I enjoyed it quite a bit. B+/A-

Friday, July 3, 2009

2004 Covey Run Winemakers Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

My Dad picked this up at the liquor store (yes, Washington still has blue laws, even though you can buy wine at the grocery store) for about 8$. Plums/cherry/cassis, chocolate, and a touch of spice. The wine is slightly out of whack; the tannin and the acids overwhelm the fruit. Still, this is perfectly drinkable and went just fine with a pasta fagiole. Would I be buying this again? No, but if you gave it to me gratis, I wouldn't complain. C