Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I was lucky enough to get invited over to my neighbors' house twice in one week for dinner. I think there must be a little bit of "boy, our tenant must be a loser" factoring in...(Haha I kid. Or wait, maybe I am a loser?). Sarah took off on Friday, and they know that I'm hanging out all by my lonesome. So, yeah, I was super stoked to go to dinner at their place twice. Always good food, interesting conversation, and of course, good wine. My landlord's friend Ciro and his family were over as well; Sarah and I have met Ciro before serendipitously. We shared a cab with him to the airport, which was fun and random. Ciro's wife Kim and his daughters are awesome too--they all speak fluent Italian, and are really into food. I had a very good time chatting with them. It's too bad that they didn't get to meet Sarah and that they live in Paso Robles. I think we'd all get along great. 

My landlord made a rack of pork rubbed with chile de arbol (which absolutely rocked--juicy and delicious), brussels sprouts with esplette, and some mashed potatoes. We also had some lamb tongue (delicious), and a panettone coated with bourbon. And of course, there was bread that Ciro made. Ciro started La Panzanella before selling it a few years ago. So Ciro makes really awesome bread. He also makes wine. His wine was pretty good--especially considering that he makes it in his garage. He picks the grapes before mechanical harvesters go out in the vineyards, and gets to pick grapes from his neighbors...who shall remain anonymous. The wine that he brought was a Zinfandel with tons of acidity. It's a good food wine. He was nice enough to give me a bottle, which was super cool. The wine is the a perfect foil to rustic Italian food.

We also had some other interesting wines.  The Waters Columbia Valley Syrah 2007 was delicious, again, although not nearly as good as the Saint Cosme Saint Joseph that we shared on Saturday (drinking AWESOME right now), or the Pax that we shared a week or two ago. 

The 2001 Valsacro Dioro Rioja was really something else. Stunning, actually. I was immediately handed a glass of this upon walking in the door. It was full of red cherries, pipe tobacco, spice tones, and a hint of chocolate. Near perfect balance--really impeccably made and delicious. Of course, that's when Claude told me that it got 96 points from Parker. Geesh. Opening up the big guns! The alcohol level is a reasonable 13.8%. Who knew that this could be a highly rated Parker wine? Claude said it was a bit backwards last year when he opened a bottle, but if there was any awkwardness to this wine this time, well, I didn't see that side of it. I have never seen Claude "Bogart" the last of a bottle...but that's what he did with this wine. It was really good. I guess only around 30$ or so on release too. A+ 

I brought over a bottle of "Thea's Selection" Pinot Noir from Lemelson Vineyards in the Willamette Valley that I picked up for around 24$ at Costco. When we opened it up, it was clearly very tight. However, it eventually opened up to reveal cranberry and raspberry, with candied overtones, and lots of clove-ish spiciness. Seemed a little unfocused to me, but it was delicious and well made, if maybe pricey. It could be that it came after the Valsacro, and as it's also pretty young. B

Lastly, Claude opened up a Kermit Lynch Bandol--2007 Domaine de la Tour de Bon Bandol. Definitely a bit backwards. Lots of structure, leather, a little horseiness, licorice and some fruit--bordering on blackberry I think. I think this one needs some time. Just had a sip of this particular wine. I am slowly learning restraint. I do not have a problem when I have a single bottle of wine open that I'm splitting with Sarah...but when faced with tons of good wine to be drinking, it's hard to not go all Miles and get completely fucked up. I'm glad that I only had a sip--and somehow managed to skip the smorgasbourg of spirits laid out. For some reason I was not able to resist Ciro's cookies (go out and buy some at the link) or the La Tur cheese (delicious). Araujo grappa (yeah from the cult Cabernet producer), a Jack Daniels from 1981 (couldn't resist--had a tiny sip of that...complex and smooth, but I have to admit I prefer Scotch), Colorado Whiskey Company Snowflake Whiskey, and two different Tequila's. Yikes. Tempting, but I'm glad that I stayed away from those, because I'm functional this morning. Victory!         


Cabfrancophile said...

Interesting observation on the high scoring Rioja. (I do wonder if it was Jay "Big Points" Miller who gave the score since he covers Spain for Parker and loves big numbers.) To some extent I think Parker and his sub-critics are misunderstood. I think they can and often do recognize excellent wines outside of their standard rubric.

The real problem is their tendency to be seduced by power in mediocre wines. I guess it's not a problem if folks have the same taste, but critics always have some preference, Parker's being for intensity. If you're not buying the expensive upper tier wines (who is?), then you're at the whims of preference going by points.

Jeff said...

It was illuminating for me to have this wine. The last 95+ Parker wine I had was not something that I liked--huge (16+), ripe, extracted, lame. I guess I wasn't seduced by the power. The oak and tannins were too busy stripping the enamel off my teeth, and the high alcohol and sugar content was sending my blood sugar into disarray. I've had other similar experiences in the 90-94 range. So I was surprised to see this wine, which was definitely a touch modern with great fruit, also incredibly balanced. The one other thought about this wine is that if you look at Parker's notes, he brings up smoke and a bunch of other barrel notes. To a large extent, those had mellowed and weren't there. If anything, I guess it's an argument that you should age wines...maybe I wouldn't have been into this wine on release.

You make a really good point that people misunderstand the critics. If you're not drinking their stuff frequently, you don't have the context to edit. And really, although this wine was cheap, I generally don't spend $30 on a typical bottle of wine.