Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
That’s right folks—Randall Graham has reverted back to his Old World roots! And I, for one, am thrilled. And I can tell you someone else who’s pretty excited about it too--my best friend, Anna. She lives in Santa Cruz and is now reaping the benefits of having both a super cool winery AND restaurant to frequent. I was recently visiting Anna and helped her host a small gathering in honor of her birthday. About an hour before the guests were due to arrive, we were running around adorning ourselves and prepping little appetizers. Anna yanked a bottle of bubbly out of her fridge. “Should we drink this?” she said, “It’s a sparkling Riesling from Bonny Doon?”
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It ended up being not only the first, but the BEST wine of the evening. In fact, this 2006 Mèthode Champenoise ended up being our Riesling To Live.
Varietal Blend: 100% riesling (Neustadt clone)
Vineyard: Ca' del Solo (Estate)
Appellation: Monterey County
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
Cellaring: Drink now - 2015 (maybe beyond)
Production: 800 cases
On the nose: caraway, sun tan lotion and coconut. The palate gives way to yeast, toast and bracing minerality. No dosage—the wine is bone dry. Stainless steel fermentation and aged on lees for 30 months.
Needless to say, Anna’s birthday party was a smashing success. Not only was the Riesling was off the hook, but the appetizers and other bottles to follow were tasty as well. Plus the Giants won, which made everyone happy.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Markus went first.
His guess: vs. Actual:
Vintage – 2006 Vintage - 2006
Alcohol – 14.6% Alcohol – 14.27%
Region – California Region - California
Appellation – Santa Barbara Apellation – Santa Barbara
Varietal – Merlot Varietal - Syrah
Producer - Nipa
SIGHT: Ruby with garnet edge. Rim Variation. Medium+ viscosity.
NOSE: New World. Oak, vanilla, candied cherry.
PALATE: Confirms the nose. Not much tannin, American Oak.
Markus basically got everything right except for the varietal, which in this case, I don’t blame him one bit. Syrah is known for being one of the most tannic grapes out there and this wine was severely lacking in tannins, which really threw him off. In addition to the fact that the wine was not varietally correct, it just wasn’t good.
I went next.
My guess: vs. Actual:
Vintage – 2006 Vintage - 2006
Alcohol – 13% Alcohol – 13%
Region – Italy Region - Italy
Appellation – Piedmont Apellation – Chianti
Varietal – Dolcetto Varietal - Sangiovese
Producer - Fattoria Di Pancole
SIGHT: Rim variation. Garnet to brick rim. Medium viscosity.
NOSE: Old World, dust, dried herbs. Secondary notes of oak, violet.
PALATE: Confirms nose. Not much fruit. Past it’s prime. Light bodied. Light tannins and acidity.
I called out a “used up” Dolcetto, but I knew in my heart that this wine wasn’t from Piedmont because there wasn’t enough funk on the nose. (I usually know Piedmont when I smell it, because I love it!) Like Syrah, Sangiovese is also known for being very tannic. Most of the tannins had precipitated out of this wine, however, and there was little to no fruit left, which is another thing that threw me off.
When blind tasting, don’t forget that a wine might show atypically if it is either A.)past its prime or B.) poorly made.
Stay away from 06 Nipa Syrah and 06 Fattoria Di Pancole Chianti!!!!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
2007 Karl Heinz Piesporter Michelsberg 9.5%ABV
Sight: day bright, clear, pale straw, lemon juice,
medium minus viscosity
Scent : hazelnut creamer, honey dew, lime, banana, plastic
Palate : light, banana taffy, medium acid, low alcohol
2008 Domaine Ostertag Vin d’Alsace 12.5%ABV
Sight : bright, straw colored, slow legs, high viscosity
Scent : chalk, whip cream on apple pie, sweet jasmine,
slight honey, high acid
Palate : bubble gum, green apple, pear, medium plus alcohol, high acid
2006 Barth Charta Riesling 12%ABV
Sight : bright, yellow, medium viscosity
Scent : peach, green parsley, dandelion, light flint,
peach jolly rancher
Palate : minerality, bone dry, green apple, bright kiwi, high acid
2005 Barth Hattenheimer Hassel Spatlese 11%ABV
Sight : day bright, gold, gas evident, high viscosity
Scent : botrytis, sugar, honey, honeysuckle, peach, melon, petrol
Palate : rich honey, caramelized apple, off-dry, effervescent, long complex finish
2007 Siegrist Rothenberg Auslese 9%ABV
Sight : bright, hazy, yellow pale straw, high viscosity
Scent : acid, day old honey, petrol, wet stone, very complex
Palate : residual sugar, honeysuckle, honey, baked sugar
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Thanksgiving Dinner is notoriously difficult to pair wine with because it is always such a cornucopia of flavors. Uncle Johnny’s chorizo stuffing, Mom’s marshmallow & sweet potato soufflé, canned cranberry sauce, green bean casserole…….one just never knows what to expect, let alone figure out what bottle will compliment all of it. And what kind of wine blog would this be if we didn’t make an attempt to help our loyal readers through this tough time?!?! So, here’s the scoop:
Sparkling is certainly a great way to kick things off. It’s festive, refreshing, and great with appetizers. So many options….so many price points….so much fun!
Gewürztraminer offers a delicious white wine option for Thanksgiving Day. Both dry and off-dry styles will work. The grape is extremely versatile and can really stand up well to the vast set of flavors brought to the table. Personally, I love Gewürztraminer from Alsace and think there are great values to be found, but there are some fantastic domestic producers out there as well.
Rose is another safe bet for Turkey Day. I think a drier style would fare better in this situation. Rose is one of my go-to wines for all occasions, as you can rarely go wrong. Get one with some guts. It will be a fantastic compliment to the savory flavors on the table.
Gamay is the only way my friends. No brainer. Beaujolais is the quintessential red for Thanksgiving dinner. These are light bodied wines with lots of red fruit and great acidity. And for those of you who haven’t heard, 2009 will likely go down as one of Beaujolais' best vintages on record. It was a good year…for real. I suggest skipping the Nouveau and go straight to the Cru.
Pinot Noir wins the runner up prize for reds. Earthy cranberry goodness—it’s like the liquid version of cranberry sauce! But Pinot is certainly more elegant than cranberry sauce; not to mention more expensive, so be ready.
Barbera is another fine choice if you can’t afford Pinot Noir. Barbera, with its racy acidity, is a food wine all the way. I sort of think of it as the Beaujolais of Piedmont.
Dessert wine depends on which pie flavor you go for. With pumpkin, I recommend Sherry. With apple, a little Muscat is always nice. And with chocolate, I always go for Port.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
As with most industries, the wine industry is dominated by men. There are a number of women entering the industry and the scales are starting to lean a bit more towards even, but we aren’t there yet. One of the most interesting female pioneers in the history of the wine industry, was Madame Veuve Cliquot-Ponsardin. She was not only ahead of her time, but well ahead of the men of her time.
The house of Clicquot was founded in 1772 by Philippe Clicquot and was known for Champagne produced primarily from Pinot Noir--most notably the rose style of Champagne. Clicquot was also the first producer to ship Rose Champagne in 1775.
The business was then handed over to Philippe’s son, Francois Clicquot. In 1803, Francis married Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin. Just two short years later, he passed away, leaving his entire business to the widow (Veuve in French) Clicquot. She was only 27 years old and at that time, a woman of that age taking over such a project was unheard of.
Well this young woman may have been “unheard” of, but she certainly wasn’t incapable!!!
Not only did she take the company in a new direction, she took the entire industry in a new direction. Ms. Ponsardin created technological innovations and inaugurated overseas business that changed the industry (and Champagne) forever. Her motto is still used by the company today:
“Only one quality-THE FINEST!”
One of her most powerful innovations was the riddling rack. Thanks to this invention, we now enjoy clear Champagne that without the cloud of yeast floating in it as was customary before Veuve Clicquot’s time. She came up with the idea during an experiment. She cut holes in her kitchen table, tipped it onto its side, and then put the bottles in; slowly turning them once the yeast had settled in the bottle. As a result of the slow turning, she was able to delicately move the yeast to the top of the bottle, and then eventually out. This process sparked a new line of work within the industry known as “riddling”. Many famous Champagne and sparkling wine houses around the world still employ master ‘Riddlers’ to this day. (Although, modern technology has replaced many ‘Riddlers’ with Gyro-Palates.)
Another very interesting part of Veuve Clicquot’s success was her secret shipments of Champagne to Russia in 1814. This was in complete defiance of Napoleon’s blockade. She attached special importance to Russia who, at the time, was the most prestigious court in all of Europe. It was really her continuous efforts to develop a market in Russia that eventually turned Clicquot into an international super star, as she went on to develop export markets worldwide. The anchor of a ship is still the emblem on all Clicquot bottles for this very reason.
Madame Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin is the perfect example of ingenuity, passion and power. She was one of the most powerful people of her time, and remains an icon in the industry to this day. So the next time you pop that bottle of Veuve-Clicquot-Posardin, you can think of the widow, and how she changed the wine industry forever.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Thanks to priceline.com, we landed at Sleep Over Sauce for the evening. Sleep Over Sauce is an “urban guest house” conveniently located at 135 Gough St., in the heart of Hayes Valley. They offer 8 guest rooms above their award winning supper club, Sauce (hence the name “Sleep Over Sauce”). The rooms are quaint, comfortable and clean; complete with all the San Fran charm and quirkiness you would want. The bartender was a true Renaissance Man. In addition to making us a drink whenever we fancied one, he also checked us in to our room, carried our luggage up 2 flights of stairs and constantly called us cabs.
RN74 is a San Francisco urban wine bar and restaurant by Michael Mina, Rajat Parr and Jason Berthold featuring modern interpretations of refined American and regional French cuisine along with an extensive wine list highlighting the Burgundy region.
Friulano, Bastianich Friuli, Italy 2008
Grilled Monterey Bay Sardines/Cauliflower, Celery, Capers, Aged-Balsamic Vinegar
Chenin Blanc, Taille Aux Loups Montlouis Les Dix Arpents, Loire 2008
Roasted Beets/Anjou Pear, Pumpkin Seed, Greek Yogurt, Black Truffle, Frisée
Gamay, Lapierre Morgon, Cuvee Lapierre, Beaujolais 2007
Grilled Quail/Mission Figs, Cipollini Onion, Vin Jaune, Sauce Á L’Hydromel
*Waiter took a liking to us and brought us each a free taste of the Pinot d’ Aunis, Pascal Janvier Coteaux du Loir 2009.
Syrah, Domaine Faury Saint Joseph Vielles Vignes, Rhone 2007
Braised Kurobata Pork Short Rib/White Polenta, Root Vegetables, Huckleberries, Brussels Sprout Gremolata
Warm Beignets/Nutmeg, Whipped Crème Anglaise, Chicory Caramel
HELL YEAH. Wine list rocks. Food is very good. Service was impeccable.
Shopping & Lunch
Head to The Mission, folks--you can’t go wrong. Check out The Candy Store and Vintage by the Pound. Then grab some lunch at Mission Beach Café. Parking can be brutal. We pumped a meter with an hour limit the whole day. Either go equipped with dozens of quarters or be prepared to pay for a garage/lot.