I picked this up for 18$ at Costco (you can also get this wine at K&L for 19$) after having seen the name William Fevre in a few places (Wine Doctor, Eric Asimov, and Brooklyn Guy). I figured that it was worth a shot. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert, because I don't know too much about Burgundy, but the internet tells me that Henriot owns this Domaine now, or at least runs it, as Mr. Fevre has retired and gone to Chile. I'm not going to pretend that I didn't have to look up "Champs Royaux" to figure out that this was a Vieilles Vignes Chablis either. It would be interesting to try all their Premier Cru, and Grand Cru vineyards after trying this wine. (Come on Henriot--I know this is Burgundy, but you're a big conglomerate--show me some love like the others.) This particular wine rocked my world last night. Sarah and I both enjoyed it immensely. Lots of pear on the nose, as well as stony notes, limes, and saltiness. Just a hint of oak comes out, but not too much (ie not like a Mersault). (The Tanzer and Burghound tasting notes are spot on.) The main thing that struck me about this wine other than the very pure expression of Chardonnay was how well built this wine is. It's layered and nuanced in the mouth; you can feel all the layers in the crisp acidity. They literally ripple across your tongue like a mild electric shock. All in all, texturally, this wine is fantastic. I would love to try the upper crust wines, just for the sake of comparison, but this wine made me a pretty happy dude and was a perfect accompaniment to dinner and the blistering heat that we've been experiencing in LA recently. A-
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
This was another sample that Rosenblum sent me. Also around 35$, but this wine hails from the Alexander Valley--a seperate AVA in Sonoma county. Again, this is a hugely fruity, big-ass wine. 15+% alcohol--not my normal thing, but perfect to spring on my parents. I suppose in a certain cynical, yet historically correct way, this is what "American" wine is. Oh yes, it's sweet, filled with booze, and probably just a bit over-sized. Definitely more on the jammy side than the Rockpile Zinfandel that they sent me. This wine veers more on the cherry/blackberry/plum-jam spectrum of fruit, along with a healthy dose of spice and vanilla. A lot of heat. Big and rich. (What is this, a crappy country band? I suppose that would be American, wouldn't it? The perfect accoutrement to their crap-tastic music. At least it isn't Kenny Chesney, or God Forbid, Garth Brooks. Ughh.) This is Zinfandel...from California...what can I say? Would I ever pick this wine up and run out the door with it for 35$? No. Decidedly not. Don't like this as much as the Rockpile, and it's just as expensive. Still, as huge fruit bombs go, all kidding aside, it's way better than some of the plonk I've had. C-
For some reason, Rosenblum sent this wine to me as a sample. I'm not sure why, because this sure isn't my style of wine. It's not like I seek out 15.3% Zinfandels that hail from the Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma)...ever. Especially not at 35$ a pop. So anyways, this seemed like the perfect thing to spring on my parents. My Mom liked it, my Dad was meh on it (actually saying that he preferred the Twisted Zin he buys for 7$), and Sarah didn't try it. Lots of sweet berries--strawberry, raspberry, black cherry, vanilla, and spicy, clovey elements. In a word, Zinfandel. Big, rich, and concentrated. Smooth, and like I said, big. It wasn't as unwieldy as I thought, but it's a mouth-full of wine that packs a wallop. Less hot than I thought it would be. Still, it reminds me a lot of soda. We drank this with Amatriciana (yeah, not a good pairing at all, what with the heat of the Amatriciana), but I also had a bottle of rose open that was a better match for the other pasta I made with a ton of roasted vegetables. We also had a tomato salad, which was splendid with the Barnard Griffin Rose. The Zinfandel is expensive, but it's not poorly made. Just not my style. Your results may vary...if you like big Zins, this is worth checking out, as it's more about the exceptional fruitiness as opposed to alcohol. C
The really interesting wine that we had was the
Addendum: I realized that I called this grape picolit...but that's incorrect. The dessert wine is actually made from Fragolino. How do I know? I went back and re-read my notes from Italy. Anyways, I was curious, and I Googled Fragolino...and it turns out that it is banned from production in the EU. Perhaps this is why the bottle was unlabeled? Who knows, but regardless, this article is worth a read.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
65% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and the remainder Mouvedre. Immediately upon opening fresh raspberry aromas. After a bit, this wine opens up to a variety of typical CdP scents: plum sauce, a little bit of bacon, chocolate, and figs. There's a touch of cedar to go along with the fig and lightly herbal flavors. Silky, with just a bit of the modern creaminess. The cedar is a touch of what's to come if you let this wine age longer. A little out of whack balance-wise--I think that this wine could for sure use a tad more acidity, but then again this is CdP. This wine is definitely a good value; I wish that I had picked up a couple more bottles to drink. Alas, I only got the one. C'est la vie, I guess. B+
Thursday, September 16, 2010
I had a different Bordeaux Blanc this summer and very much enjoyed it, so I thought I would give this a try. Bordeaux Blanc is interesting to me because they are blended, keeping the Bordeaux tradition intact. Maybe I'm wrong, but Sauvignon Blanc is most often made into a single varietal wine--probably because some expressions of it--I'm thinking New Zealand--have such a recognizable character. Blind tasting is famously difficult, but if there's one grape that I know I could probably nail, it would be a grassy/jalapeno/cat-piss Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc. Anyways, this wine is imported by Bordeaux, Etc (they seem like a good importer--I've had several "value" Bordeaux from them that have been excellent), and was 13$ at Costco. 70% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Semillon, and 5% Muscadet (I think can't quite remember). There is an unmistakable stoniness to this wine--almost chalky in terms of texture in the mouth, grapefruit, and tropical fruit notes. Medium bodied and crisp. Perhaps not showing as much of itself as I would like in an ideal world--this seemed a bit muted all evening--but it is tasty. Maybe it needs some more time to settle down a bit? B-
Monday, September 13, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I opened this bottle to go with a pretty awesome dinner, if I do say so myself. Sarah's friend is moving here from North Carolina, and she's out here trying to find a place, so I pulled out all the stops. We had an heirloom tomato bufala mozzarella salad, green beans with caramelized onions, and ras el hanout braised lamb shanks over whole wheat cous cous. Pretty damn good. I'm glad there are some leftovers. The lamb was a good match for this wine too, which was my goal. Initially, a lot of orange rind character, and then opens up to reveal lots of licorice notes, chocolate, spicy nuances, lavender, and then black cherries. The nose smells a bit hot unfortunately. Very apparent that this is a big wine. I'm struck by the texture of this wine--like satin--smooth and silky, but then that fades into some obvious grip too. Obviously, Daniel Brunier knows what he's doing. This wine is also dense, and boasts a pretty damn long finish. Although I let this wine sit out for an hour-ish before we drank it with dinner, it wasn't really starting to open up until the very last bits of the wine. If you have bottles of this, definitely open it way in advance. It might be a better idea to just sit on these for a couple more years before opening, although it's pretty damn good right now. My only complaint is that there's a bit of heat, but this is a great bottle of wine. B+/A-
We also opened a bottle of 07 Pier Langhe Nebbiolo. I've had this wine before, and it's really settled down. Lots of nebbiolo character--candied cherries and hints of tar. Last time, there was an impenetrable wall of tannin; this time, it's all resolved. I almost think it might be time to drink up the last bottles I have? It almost seemed a bit tired. Anyways...While I was writing this, I was listening to Joey Ramone on XMU and he played "1,2,3, Slam" by Guttermouth. Fucking awesome. I haven't heard that song in forever. Those dudes are cool. They snuck my friend Travis and I into one of their shows with Lagwagon when I was about sixteen and even offered us beer. Pretty cool dudes. It was a seminal moment for me as a teenager. Who ever thought Guttermouth and Vieux Telegraphe would mix? I guess if there are any crusty old skate punks that happen to read wine blogs, maybe this will pop up for them. Haha. Somehow I really doubt it.
Friday, September 10, 2010
5$ at Trader Joes. Not much to say about this wine other than this: currant bomb, and a good deal. B
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Sarah and I went off to Vegas for the weekend. I must be just about the last person on the planet to have not been to Vegas, but for whatever reason, I'd never been to Vegas. I guess to a certain extent, I'm still reeling from it. Vegas is a crazy place. It's like Disneyland for adults. Vices of all descriptions, gambling, smoking, everyone drinking, way too hot (105 on Sunday), expensive, ridiculous, sprawling, genius, tacky, capitalist, ridiculous, giddy, entertaining, exhausting, and tons of other adjectives entered my head throughout the trip. Honestly, I think the people that I saw having the most fun (Sarah and I had a great time, but I have come to accept that we are exceedingly boring in terms of our drinking and partying these days), it seemed to be drunk young people heading out to the pool or waiting in ridiculous lines for clubs, or crotchety old people undoubtedly living it up like they were, well, young. I saw just as many people my Mom's age completely rowdy and blotto as I did people my age. I do believe that that is something quite unique.
If there's one thing that Vegas has become a destination for besides gambling and partying, it's got to be all of the celebrity chef restaurants. Pretty much everyone has a place there: Thomas Keller, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Emeril, Michael Mina, Robuchon, and many more. Of course, at this point, the restaurants are brands, just like McDonald's or any other chain. It's not like Thomas Keller is getting to too many services in Bouchon in Vegas. Sure, there his recipes or whatever, but something tells me it's a bit of conceit to a certain extent. That's not saying that they aren't good restaurants, it's just saying that I think there are probably a lot of folks that roll into Vegas and are ignorant. Having said that, Sarah and I ate a few different places: Bouchon, Carnevino, Otto, and the Nobhill Tavern.
Bouchon, located in the Venetian, was very good, although expensive. I don't know that it really was worth the price. We ordered a bottle of "Les Pensees de Pallus" Chinon 2007. I liked the 2006; the 07 is less concentrated. It features fresh blackberry fruit, leafy, tomato aromas, lots of violet and mineral, and is in perfect balance. A versatile, enjoyable, and delicious food wine that went with the three dishes that we ordered. First we got bread, which was fantastic. We ordered a special, which was a smoked octopus salad with heirloom tomatoes and gazpacho. Delicious, and the Chinon went really well with it. I ordered the Gigot d'Agneau; Sarah ordered the Gnocchi à la Parisienne. The lamb was cooked flawlessly--a perfect medium rare. All of the vegetables were essentially carbon copies of each other in every dish. No rough cuts, or anything like that. Did a machine cut them? No, but certainly a really competent dude in the kitchen. The jus that came with the lamb was shiny, clear, punchy, and perfect. It was really good; worth every penny of the 34$ that it cost. Sarah's gnocchi were quite good as well, but I don't think she expected the quantity of butter that came with them. The dish was quite heavy, although I liked it and ate the rest of Sarah's. One thing that I must say is that although Bouchon is expensive, you're paying for perfect technique. Bouchon also has a great ambiance that makes you forget you're in Vegas. Of all the restaurants we went to, Bouchon was by far my favorite. We wandered around for a while, and then went to bed.
Sunday, we got up and went to Carnevino, located in the Palazzo, for lunch on a whim. Literally, we walked by and said, "Why not?" Carnevino is a Mario Batali/Joseph Bastianich restaurant. Our server was a cool-ass dude; super chatty, and he comped my espresso. Although the restaurant looks kind of small (a good deal of it is hidden), and it was relatively uncrowded at Noon on a Sunday following what must be a huge party night. The server told me that the night prior the restaurant had done 800 covers in five hours. That's a lot of fucking people to feed--it's almost Spago-esque. He also told me that he took a pedometer to measure how much he walked during service and walked 5 miles. Anyways, he must be doing okay just on tips. The cheap steaks there are 40 or 50$. You figure he has 20 tables in a night, he must be doing okay. But back to lunch. They have a limited menu for lunch; I got the tuna melt, and Sarah got steak and eggs. Tuna Melt was awesome. Tons of vinegary, pickley, salty richness. Sarah's steak and eggs were awesome too. The steak was obviously of extremely high quality, as was the egg. A very enjoyable experience, but kind of pricey. I would go back for brunch; dinner? I don't know if I'd want to pay for it.
For dinner, we went to Otto, located in the Venetian--right in the middle of the mall--which is also a Mario Batali restaurant (and actually another location in NYC), albeit more tacky than CarneVino. Also pricey. The restaurant is cool (they were even playing Modest Mouse), but sitting out front of it in the fake San Marco Square is tacky. (On a certain level, I do not get Vegas' tacky replications of famous locales. Sure, they give everything a theme, but it's all just a little too Disneyland for me. Maybe if I'd never been to Venice it wouldn't drive me up a wall--but I've been there. And this is no substitute for the real Venice.) Anyways, we ordered a bottle of "Blanc des Rosis" Schiopetto 2008. Schiopetto's Friulano has been great on several occasions; I thought we'd try something different. 65$ for this bottle, which I'm sure is on the steep side. In a place with an eno-matic, you'd think that they'd have more affordable wine by the glass options, but sadly, no. This bottle was roughly the same as ordering 5 glasses of random stuff by the glass. This wine is a blend of several grapes including Pinot Bianco, Riesling, and a few other things. Rich and balanced with citrus and herbal notes. I really enjoyed this wine; it went extremely well with all the dishes that we ordered, some of which are difficult to pair with wine. We ordered a summer panzanella with corn, peppers, and cucumber, Bucatini all'Amatriciana, Spaghetti alla Carbonara, and Cioppino-type dish with clams, oysters, fish, and squid (yeah, seafood in the desert seems dubious to me too). Panzanella was good, but under-seasoned a bit. Amatriciana was awesome. Cioppino was good too. Carbonara was a little weird--garnished with scallions. WTF? It was odd. Here's the thing about Otto--the food is good, but it isn't on the same level as Mozza. Just a couple of galling things: the waiter brought our Amatriciana and our Cioppino at the same time (rookie as fuck, what is this, the Olive Garden??), even though we indicated that were splitting all of our dishes, and it was appallingly expensive. 20$ for a pasta course? Really? Anyways, it's good, but we probably won't go back to Otto. I think Otto is a product of Las Vegas--a lot of tourists who don't know better. I'm sure that Otto makes a shit-ton of money. Vegas gets a lot of roubes and Batali is playing it up--both restaurants definitely call out Mario Batali all over the place.
We also went to Nobhill Tavern (a Micheal Mina restaurant), for a night-cap. Expensive. I had a cucumber gimlet that was quite nice. I can't remember the last time that I had a cocktail? Sarah had a pedestrian glass of Albarino from the Central Coast (too much oak...), and we split a bread pudding. Tasty.
Vegas is a good time, but I'm not going back any time soon. It's just too much.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
9$ at Costco. The 2007 version of this wine was offered at K&L for 14$. In my experience, if both Costco and K&L are carrying something it's a pretty good bet. I'm not all that familiar with Burgundy, but Macon is the "cheap" area. K&L mentions that the 2007 version of this wine was de-classified (who knows if 2009 is), and should actually be Vire-Classe, which is an AOC like Pouilly-Fuisse. Huh. Complicated. When viewed aside these insights from W. Blake Gray, it suddenly doesn't seem all that stunning that Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio and Sonoma-Cutter Chardonnay are the top selling wines. This is a very interesting read, but I have two thoughts: 1. McDonald's is popular too; that doesn't mean it's good, or that you should "jump on the bandwagon." 2. Having been a buyer for a retailer, the crap, and I do mean CRAP, that people are willing to buy will shock you. It didn't take me long to figure out that what I was buying for other people, sure as shit wasn't what I myself would purchase. I very quickly realized that I was, to a certain extent, not a typical consumer. The typical consumer varies by product, geographic locale, store, etc...but what it all boils down to is this: the "typical consumer" is a lot of things, but discerning is not one of them. Hence the prevalence of "branding." You see, the typical consumer also has two other characteristics: they're probably pretty fucking gullible, and they're also not thinking all that hard. They like convenience. Anyways...back to Macon.
Initially this wine is lemony and quite angular; almost thin. With air, the wine picks up pear notes and a distinctive stoniness, along with a significant amount of richness. Less acidic and richer than I expected (although I guess that's Chardonnay in general?). Not much, if any, oak. Surprisingly long finish. This wine is a great deal. 13$ at K&L is probably too much. However, as all things Burgundy goes, this is super cheap and delivers a lot of bang for the buck. B+/A- To complement this wine, I pan-roasted a couple of chicken breasts in olive oil and a little butter (I almost never use butter, and when I do, it's a treat), and made a pan-sauce with a little of this wine, shallots, pepper, and some stock. We also had a tomato/peach/Gruyere (I was out of bufala Mozzarella) salad with the last tomato I had left over from the Farmer's Market (a black brandywine), red quinoa (I'm obsessed with quinoa right now), and a cold roasted zucchini/crook-neck squash, thyme, tomato, red onion salad. Obviously, this wine went pretty awesome with everything--it's tailor made for food like this. One last thought--this is not what your typical American consumer makes or drinks for dinner. See? I told you I was a freak.