December 28, 2009

Michael Symon's Lolita in Cleveland, OH

Well, for the first time since I started this little blog 'o mine, I let almost two weeks lapse between posting new content. I had intended to do some updates with all the time I had while visiting family in Cleveland, OH during the holidays, but laziness begets laziness and I spent my time eating, drinking, keeping kids from killing each other, and drinking some more. Lots of good food and wine during the week, perhaps I'll get my act together and post more about that later. For now, a review of Lolita in Cleveland, a place I was glad to finally get to visit. My brother-in-law had been a few times and had arranged to get us there a couple days before Christmas.

Lolita is one of several restaurants in the Cleveland area owned by Food Network's Iron Chef Michael Symon. Lolita is tucked away on a quaint street corner in the Tremont neighborhood just outside downtown Cleveland. It's a tiny little place, with an open kitchen beside a wood burning stove and cozy little bar, it has the feel of a causal neighborhood joint. It felt homey the moment I walked in the door.
I didn't take a ton of a pics, but here a few with some commentary.

We started off with a few Hot Dirty Birds. The Dirty Bird was basically a dirty martini with a shot of tabasco, but I needed to represent...
For starters, we opted for a couple orders of Roasted Bone Marrow. Veal bones, split open and roasted with scallion butter, and grilled bread for spreading. The roasted bone marrow was heavenly. Salty and gooey, fully of buttery and meaty goodness. We gobbled them up in a hurry. The 2006 Rosso Piceno Boccadigabbia (50% Montepulciano/50% Sangiovese) was really a nice match here. Decent buy at $30 off the list.

The Big Boy-We also went for an order of the Big Boy-an eclectic mound of meat. Everything here was tasty; especially the house cured duck prosciutto.There was also some nice sopressata and pancetta, and a delicious palate-cleansing pickled fennel.

I won't review every entree that was passed around the table, but they were all strong and executed flawlessly. I had a tasty butterflied and roasted chicken with braised fennel, tarragon, and olives that has renewed my love for fennel. It was tasty. My brother-in-law ordered a killer pork chop with poblanos and almonds over mashed butternut squash.

Each entree comes with the choice of one side. The sides are served in these personal pots that I've seen used before, but now am now interesting in getting for home use once again. They are too cool.

The side dish pictured above is a Symon specialty: Deep Fried Brussel Sprouts. I don't quite know how he does it, but these were insanely good. (I tried it at home, mine were just ok). Imagine brussell sprouts transformed into something akin to salt and vinegar potato chips. The sprouts get crunchy, then doused in capers, anchovies, balsamic, garlic, and other goodies. It's a great dish.

All-in-all, Lolita was a kicking experience. Everything I tasted was excellent and exuded personality and flavor. If I lived in the area, I'd be there. A lot.

December 17, 2009

Top Wines of 2009--My List Goes to Eleven

What is it with the end of year best-of-lists? Why is it that every December we get bombarded with lists of the year's bests: best movies, best sports plays, best wines, etc..? Perhaps it has something to do with our human desire to quanitfy and control things in nice, neat little lists. It's like a recognition of accomplishments, regardless of how insignificant that accomplishment may be.

Never one to shy away from bandwagonning, I've decided to contribute to the madness with a list of my top wines for 2009. It is, kidding aside, a good way to look back on wines drank, remember good times and stories shared, and memories made.

This list respresents wines that I found particularly moving throughout the year. Some are blockbuster wines that I was fortunate to taste, some are wines that I owned that showed well on a given night, perhaps due to the situation in which they were consumed. Many I've already discussed here.

You will find that most end of the year best-of lists go to well-rounded numbers like 10, or 25.
Well, in honor of one of the greatest movies of all time, my list of Top Wines of 2009 goes to Eleven.

The wines are in no particular order, but there are eleven.

1976 Hanzell Pinot Noir Sonoma-A 33 yeard old California pinot that showed brief moments of brilliance. It makes the list simply for proving that well-made Cali pinot, at the hands of masters, can age well.

2001 Arcadian Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow-I love Joe Davis' wines. There, I said it.

1997 Arcadain Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow--see above.

1997 Louis Jadot Beaune 1er Couchereax-I testified here a while back to my heading down the dark road that leads to Burgundy. This is one of the wines this year that turned me in that direction. And, its not even a great one.

2001 Colgin Cariad--As brilliant as California Cabernet can be. If I regularly bought $250 bottles of wine, I'd buy plenty of Colgin. Nice to know people who do. Stunning Cabernet that still has a long life ahead.

1992 LaJota Cabernet 11th Anniversary--Textbook California Cabernet at age seventeen. Exactly how I like Cali Cabs with age: Leather, black fruit, sweet tannins soft in the background.

2001 Edmunds St John Los Robles Viejos-this gets on the list because Steve Edmunds cranks out ridiculously tasty and ageworthy Rhone-style wines that one can get for under $20.

1999 Guigal Hermitage--From my brother's cellar and just drinking beautifully back in July.

2001 Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf Du Pape--This wine continues to drink well. Almost perfect with Cassoulet back in October.

1990 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf Du Pape--One of the best modern vintages for Chateaunuef du Pape. A brilliant wine still in a great space. Even at midnight, after multiple bottles, it was clear this is a magnificent wine.

1994 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf Du Pape-- Perhaps the single greatest wine I drank this year. 100% Grenache and 100% killer. A Chateauneuf with Burgundian sensibilites. Haunting perfume, feminine beauty, and pure red fruited joy across the palate. My second bottle in the past couple years that has thrilled and excited me. One bottle left in the cellar that I will be sad to say goodbye to one day.

December 14, 2009

2005 Nicholas Potel Savigny Les Beaune Les Hauts Jarrons

Nicolas Potel is a young négociant in Burgundy. With his father, Gérard Potel, who was manager of a well-known domaine in Volnay, he began a négoce house in July 1996. Upon his father's sudden death in October 1997, Nicolas left the domaine and took over the négoce business full time. Potel's wines have some new world leanings. They are perhaps a good way for a new world pinot lover like me to explore Burgundy. Further, 2005 was a bit of a home run for red Burgs.

This 2005 Les Hautes Jarrons is from a premier cru in Savigny Les Beaune. This wine was young, but showed great promise. Very primary on opening. Lots of darkish fruit, almost syrah like. However, that is really short-lived; as the wine gets some air, it stiffens a bit. Nose becomes pleasantly smoky, with dark cherry notes. With food, the palate slowly reveals tea notes and crunchy red fruit, but it clamps down pretty hard on the back side. Nice, but I will revisit again in a couple of years.

December 10, 2009

Making New Friends--South African Syrah

I was fortunate to be invited to paritcipate in another Tastelive event on Tuesday night. This event featured wines represented by Hospice Du Rhone. HdR is an organization the promotes and represent wine made in the spirit of Rhone varities like Syrah, Mouvedre, and Rousanne. There were six Syrahs in the tasting; three were from Australia and three from South Africa.

The stars of the tasting were the three syrahs from South Africa. For my palate, each of the South African Syrahs presented an intersting mix of old and new world sensibilites. It was an eye-opening experience for me. While I love Rhone wines and have consumed my share of Cali Syrah, I had not previously drank South African Syrah. I liked each a great deal and will post separately on each wine.

The first South African Syrah was the 2006 Boekenhoutskloof Syrah Franschhoek. This wine was full of peppery spice, minerality, and dark fruit. Very young, it seemed ready for another 5 years in the cellar. I was impressed by the elegance of the wine. It was not an overripe, throttled up Syrah; rather, it was complex, earthy, and ready to accompany a good meal. Retails for around $40. More notes to come on the other wines.

December 3, 2009

Tasty China in Pictures! Kicking it Szechuan Style in ATL Burbs

Got together with a rather large group of Atlanta winos and foodies for another Szechuan feast at Tasty China in Marietta, GA. Tasty was put on many of our maps a couple of years ago by Dirty, who was with us in spirit Tuesday night. Tasty is an experience unto itself; it's worth seeking out if you are ever in the area. Several of the usual suspects were there, including Rowdy and Broderick.

The food was as ridiculous as always. Just defies description in a lot of ways. We ate and ate and ate. The fried pork belly is perhaps the star.
There was a crapload of wine bottles open, too. I can't begin to list or describe them all. Mostly off-dry whites work here with the crazy level of spiciness in the food.

Rowdy has a nice little video clip of the evening.

Dry Fry Spicy Eggplant

Bbq Duck with Chilies and Peanuts

    Fried Green Beans, Chili Oil, Garlic

                                                                    Spicy Cold Beef Tongue

Insanely Spicy Shin City Chicken

White Fish and Tofu In Chili Oil

November 30, 2009

Two Wines I'm Thankful For: 1999 Arcadian Pinot Jill's Cuvee, 2001 Edmunds St John Los Robles

Haven't posted in a week or so. Was busy last week with Thanksgiving festivities. I chose not to take lots of pics of all the cooking I did, I was concentrating on relaxing and hanging out with the family. I did have a couple of really nice wines during the weekend for which I am most thankful!

I think I have run out of superlatives for Arcadian. Remember my testaments to the brilliance that Joe Davis' pinots achieve with age.

1999 Arcadian Pinot Noir Jill's Cuvée - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (11/26/2009) What a terrific wine. Stunning nose of smoke, black cherry, meat. Palate is coated by tart cherry and raspberry, along with herbal notes and an earthy essence. Long, puckering finish that shows long notes of cherry and spice. Just great with the turkey day food stuff. Another home run from Joe D.

As for Edmunds St. John, another brilliant winemaker, Steve Edmunds, has been cranking out age worthy rhone-styled wines for nearly 20 years. Brilliant wines that often take 10 years to strut their stuff and are pretty widely available in the under $30 zone.
 2001 Edmunds St. John Los Robles Viejos Rozet Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (11/25/2009) Deep and dark. Notes of garrigue, pepper, dark fruit. Nice touch of acid runs across the back end. Drinking perfectly now. Yeah. Just a joy to drink. Held up nicely over two hours. Hello. It's a $20 wine. How does Steve do it? Genius.

November 24, 2009

Having a Ball at PRIMAL ATL

I joked that I wasn't going to blog about this event having read Atlanta Wine Guy's brilliant recap of the events. However, I do have a few observations from the evening.

For Full Disclosure I will say that I was fortunate to be invited as a guest to this event which saved me the $100 VIP admission fee.

Primal is the brain child of Brady Lowe, and it was a celebration of wood-fire cooked meats, the Art of Butchery, and the importance of sustainable food production. Primal had already made a stop in Napa before landing in Atlanta on Nov. 21. The event was held at the very cool Sweetwater Brewing Company.

The Oregon Wine Experience was also part of the festivities.There were a number of top Oregon producing pouring including: Soter, Elk Cove, and Daedalus.

My favorite wine of the night came from Ann Amie. The 2006 Ann Amie Pinot Noir Winemaker's Selection was beautifully fragrant, with a restrained palate featuring truffles and dark fruit. Definitely in an old world vein. Great little wine. Helped that Suburban Wino was pouring at Ann Amie and gave us some real generous pours!

When attending an event like Primal, one hopes to encounter some interesting foods. I think bull testicles qualifies as interesting. The folks from Joe's Bacon were serving up bacon lollipops and bull balls. The bacon lollipops were killer, and the bull's balls, well...they were balling.

Atlanta Wine Guy, Surbuban Wino, and I stepped up for the bullish challenge. Here is a pic of the action from Suburban Wino.

Bulls Testicles & Bacon Lollipops.  
Pic courtesy of Atlanta Wine Guy.

There was also some other tasty treats like the Lamb Tacos from The Livingston, and killer sliders from Grindhouse Burgers. And while the line was ridiculously long to get to the bacon, the awesome and sublime Benton's smoked bacon made the wait worthwhile.

All in all, it was a successful event. There were a couple of logisitcal mishaps that could have used a fix; like waiting 30 minutes in the "VIP" line just get in to the event, and the ridiculously long line to get some bacon. Still, a fun and educational evening for fans of carnivorous pursuits!

Below is a short movie of some pics from the event:

November 20, 2009

2001 Domaine Pavelot Savigny-Les-Beaune 1er Aux Guettes

Continuing my descent into the world of Burgundy, I popped something with a liitle more age on it recently. While the Burg section in my cellar is still in its nascent stage, I do have a bit of experience with Domaine Pavelot. The Pavelot family has been making wine in Savigny-les-Beaune for many generations; the estate is now run by Jean-Marc and his son Hugues. Pavelot produces numerous bottle from SLB, including wines from Dominode, Narbantons, Gravains, and this one from Au Guettes. Nice wines often available at attractive prices in today's market.

2001 Domaine Pavelot Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Aux Guettes
A 700 case production from 25 year old vines. Popped and poured, probably should have decanted. Earth, spice, anise on the nose. Palate is mostly red fruited, some hints of coriander, coca, and cherry. More tart cherry comes on with time. Slightly austere for me tonight. I like it, but I was waiting for something to pop. Needs some time.

November 16, 2009

2002 Arcadian Syrah Sleepy Hollow Vineyard

I love what Joe Davis of Arcadian does with Sleepy Hollow fruit. See my pevious posts on the 1997 and 2001 Sleepy Hollow Pinots. The Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, located in the Northern tip of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation of Monterey County is a world-class vineyard. The grapes from this renowned vineyard yield wines with forward fruit flavors and superb aging potential.

Not sure I have any superlatives left for this little wine. Numerous bottles over the past few years have been in my sweet spot. Last night, perhaps the best showing, which is what I said about the last bottle I opened.

2002 Arcadian Syrah Sleepy Hollow Vineyard -Santa Lucia Highlands
One of the best showings after several bottles of that I thought were best showings. That funky-haunting earthiness I get from Joe's Sleepys, and some herbal notes on the nose. Expansive mouthfeel that is marked by pure dark red fruit, spice box, and a just a hint of roasted fruit sweetness. Nice acidity that still lingers and focuses the midpalate. Persistent finish with some residual sweet tannins and notes of coffee and peppery spice. Drinking so well. Widely available for under $25 on release. Bravo.

November 6, 2009

Wines of Chile-Some Awesome Values in Carmenere

I was fortunate to be invited by the good folks at Wines of Chile to participate in a tasting of some very fine Carmenere-based wines from Chile. The Carménère grape is a wine grape variety originally planted in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France, it is a member of the Cabernet family and is widely grown in Chile.

It was a fun night of tasting, many of the more popular wine bloggers from around the country participated including AtlantaWineGuy, WineforNormalPeople, 1WineDude, and mmmWine.

The full lineup included the following wines:

2007 Santa Carolina Reserva
2007 Odfjell Armador
2007 Viu Manent Reserva
2007 Cono Sur Vision
2008 Vina La Rosa Barrel Reserve
2007 Ventisquero Grey
2007 Terra Andina- Altos
2004 Carmen Winemaker's Reserve

All of the wines showed very well Wednesday night, there is not a wine I would not buy to drink again. The 2007 Santa Carolina showed a lot of oak early, but at $10, it's a fine bottle of wine. All of the wines offer pretty outstanding values, with most available for under $15.

Notes on some of my favorite bottles appear below:

2007 Odfjell Armador-Terrific coriander and tarry nose. Spice box-Red fruit wrapped in herbal notes. Silky tannins. Great with the steak.

2007 Venisquero Grey-Dark, dark wine. Some herbal notes on the nose. Sophisticated. Old world. Bright red fruit and pepper. Integrated.

2007 Terra Andina Altos--Wow. Kicking bottle of wine for $18. Sweet spice, cedar. Cocoa and coffee notes. Clean profile. Very nice.

2004 Carmen Winemaker's Reserve-Very sophisticated wine. Reminded me of a young Bordeaux. Cedar and red fruit, with spice box and robacco notes. Still wrapped pretty tightly, this has a few years left in the tank. Very nice wine.

November 1, 2009

The Last Riesling Tasting with Wines of Germany and TasteLive!

I was fortunate to be invited to another tastelive event with the good folks at Wines of Germany and the folks at TasteLive. The final Riesling tasting for the month of October featured the wines of Schloss-Reinhartshausen. Schloss-Reinhartshausen has a long and storied history of producing world class Reisling since the 14th Century. For those of you who failed math, that's a long time.

We tasted four wines on Oct. 30, including the '07 Old Vines and '07 Fountain Blue. The wines were across the board very nice, and though I receved these wines as complimentary samples, I'd love to own more of each. I'm starting with a note on my favorite of the night, the 2007 Erbach Schlossberg Monopole Erstes Gewachs Riesling. This baby showed lots of petrol on the nose and a crisp acidity and minerality. Full of lemony fruit, peaches, and an almost savory palate. Full bodied and built to age for a while. Paired nicely with German brats and pommes anna. A nice classy wine.

October 29, 2009

Who Says California Pinot Doesn't Age?! 1976 Hanzell Pinot Noir Sonoma Valley

Hanzell Vineyards was founded by Ambassador James D. Zellerbach, in the 1950s.  The Ambassador's ambition was to create a small vineyard and winery dedicated to the best traditions of Grand Cru Burgundy: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay of extraordinary quality and great longevity.  Hanzell's wines have proven to stand the test of time, many drinking well for 30+ years.  A very uncommon fete for most wines, and especially uncommon for California Pinot Noir.

Wednesday night, a few friends, including Rowdy and Borderick, graced Chez Dude with their presence for some food and wine and to root on our local boys on Top Chef. The 1976 Hanzell was one of our bottles. It was a pleasure.

The wine was amazingly deep and robust-red in the decanter. Notes of dusty tart cherry and earth on the nose. First blush, this a '76. Deep, sweet fruit is bordered by dusty, tannic structure that really clamps down on the backside. There is a beautiful weight to the palate; amazing for a 33 year old CA pinot. The wine unfolded in the decanter and rounded out over the course of the night. Still drinking well two hours on...Profound in its own way. A+ for the experience.

October 23, 2009

Cru Boo Freaks Rejoice- 2006 Foillard Morgon Cote du Py!

Thanks to Hardy, the Cru Boo pusher, this wine is now offiically on my radar. As is Cru Boo in general. Grand Cru Beaujolais, made from the Gamay grape, should not be confused with the simpler, lighter, found-in-every-supermarket-Beaujolais Nouveau. Despite the similarities, Cru Boos can be serious, food-friendly wines that benefit from short-term cellaring. Last night, another terrific bottle of the Foillard Morgon.

2006 Foillard Morgon Cotes du Py--This is my second terrific bottle in the last three months. Light-red, strawberry color in the glass. Nose throws some funk and dirt upon opening. Strawberry and cherry fruit lurks an peppery-spice abounds on a palate that is wrapped kind of tight initially. Opens nicely with air. More dark cherry along with some rocky minerality. Concentrated and structured, this could stand a few years in the cellar. Available locally at Tower on Piedmont for $25.

October 19, 2009

Thomas Keller's Cassoulet & 2001 Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Cassoulet is a peasant dish that origniated in the south of France. You can think of Cassoulet as a fancy way of describing pork-n-beans. Traditionally, Cassoulet is made with various combinations of duck confit, goose, pork sausage, pork, pork skin, bacon, garlic, onions, and lotsa white beans. The key to Cassoulet is cooking it long and low over the course of an afternoon (or two). There are numerous recipes for Cassoulet, some more complicated than others. It's not uncommon for Cassoulet to be a two or three day process (see Julia's or Bourdain's Les Halles' Cassoulet if you really want to spend three days on your Cassoulet).

I like Thomas Keller's "easy" Cassoulet recipe. You start by rendering lardons, then browning pork shoulder in the fat. Remove the pork, sautee onions in the renderings and then deglaze with white wine. Once the wine is reduced by half add white beans (canned work here), chicken stock, a head of garlic, and some crushed tomatoes. Return the pork shoulder to the pot, and let it go for about 8 hours at 200 degrees. After 8 hours or so, you'll have a pot of gooey goodness with pork that just falls apart and creamy beans. Stir in some toasted panko and parsley, a little parmesan, top with baguette slices and it's the best damn thing you could eat on a cold Sunday night.

One of my favorite wines with Cassoulet is Chateauneuf-du-Pape. I also love CdP in the fall, it's like a warm blanket, it makes me think of home and cold nights by a raging fire.
2001 Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf du Pape

The wine, from a .375, showed a soaring nose of iodine, pine, abd wet leaves. Palate features red fuit, spice, white pepper, and garrigue. Tightens slightly with air. Still formidable tannins on the backside. Shows like a youngster still, but a delight, and so bloody good with the Cassoulet. Yum.

October 13, 2009

2007 Garnacha de Fuego Old Vine--It's Cheaper Than Lunch!!

Haven't blogged since last week's recap of the French Laundry night. I've been busy and not drinking and cooking enough (that's not entirely true). Spent the weekend with friends at a beautiful cabin in the mountains of Big Canoe. We didn't bring a lot wine; we chose beer and kentucky lemonade instead of dragging great wines into the woods. However, I did bring a few bottles including my last bottle of the 2007 Garnacha de Fuego Old Vines. This wine is widely available around town at most wine shops and supermarkets. I bought a bunch over the summer on sale for $7 at Kroger. It's a terrific wine for non-contemplation and full-throttle fun. Spicy and lush with copious peppery-red fruit. It's a steal in the single digit price range. Made from 60-80 year old vines. Plenty around town. Go find some for your next party or get together; you won't be sorry.

October 5, 2009

Even More French Laundry-Inspired Madness

Hosted a little dinner for a few friends Saturday night. Rowdy, EatItAtlanta, The Legend, and another international man of mystery were in attendance. It was a Thomas Keller-themed dinner as I did four courses from my trusty old French Laundry cookbook, and The Legend made Keller's Bouchon French Onion soup.

The wine flowed, too. The 1990 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape was brilliant. Also, a nice 1991 and 1999 Comte Armand Pommard Epeneaux, 1989 Clos Naudin Vouvray Moelleux Reserve, 1997 Heitz Cabernet Bella Oaks, and several others. A rocking good night that ended with a few of The Legend's Cohibas on the deck as it became Sunday morning.

Some pics from Rowdy:

Tomato tartare, hericot verts, frisee, balsamic reduction.

Smoked salmon, potato gnocchi, microgreens, brunoise.

The Legend's French Onion Soup. 

Dead soldiers

Check out EatItAtlanta's take on the festivities here.

September 27, 2009

Parker's On Ponce With Two Terrific Cali Cabernets

We found ourselves at Parker's On Ponce again this weekend. I've chronicled our visits to Parker's here before; in August, and May. Each time I return to Parker's I want them to hit it out the park, and they just can't get there for me. There is nothing really wrong with Parker's, but there's nothing outrageously good about Paker's either. Therein lies my dilemma. Last night, they struggled again with cooking meats to the right temperature. The lamb lollipops and ribeyes that should have been medium rare were nearly rare. The mushroom portobello mushroom dish was probably the highlight, along with the fried calamari appetizer, which Parker's has mastered.
We brought two killer, hard to find Cabernets with us ( I do love Parker's ZERO CORKAGE policy!)

The 2001 Neal Family Cabernet ($40) was in a great groove. We decanted it at the table for 30 minutes. It showed as a nicely maturing Cabernet with currant, cedar, and pencil notes. Just delicious and drinking on point. This beauty just kept unfolding over the two hours we sat with it. A wonderful wine. I wish all my Cali Cabernet experiences were this good.

The 2005 Justin Isosceles Reserve($75) is a bruiser. A blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Petite Verdot, and Malbec. While the Neal was drinking perfectly, the Isosceles is in need of years to shed its youthful brashness. It's a huge, modern styled wine that tips the scales at 15.2% alcohol. The ripe-rich fruit and higher alcohol is not a style I'm loving these days, but this is a terrific wine. And, the Isoscles will get ya' loaded real quick if you just want to get freaky! Not cheap.

Jadot and Thibault Liger-Belair-A Step Closer to Burgundy Each Day

Some folks say it's inevitable. Others may try to deny it. I am here to tell you, it is true... All roads lead to Burgundy. I've been drinking and thinking about wine seriously for 5 years, and I now find myself increasingly drawn to old-world wines. Especially the Pinot Noirs from Burgundy. There is something haunting about good Burgundy; it speaks of a place, and a people unlike any other wine. And, equally as important, it tastes like wine! No manipulated, over-oaked fruit juice here. My journey is just beginning, but the journey is what it is all about. I popped two young Burgs this weekend. Each was special in its own way.

2006 Louis Jadot Beaune Clos des Ursules ($50)

Jadot Ursules is a walled in portion of the Beaune 1er Cru (Vignes Franches). It was purchased in 1826 by Louis Henry Denis Jadot and has remained a solely owned property of the Jadot. The wine needs 10-15 years to strut its stuff. This took a long time to come around. It was really tight initially. Took about 4 hours in the decanter to show signs of what is down the road. Medium-light red in the glass. Raspberry and red fruit nose. Precise. Clean. There is a little bit of spicy wood on the nose. Needs 5 years.

2004 Thibault Liger-Belair Nuits Saint Georges La Charmotte ($30)

The Thibault comes from vineyards in Nuits St George. I've been through several bottles the past couple of years. This was the best showing yet. Nose is slightly dirty, some funk and truffle. Palate is irony, with minerals and stock. Dark fruit pokes its head out with some air. Really fine with the food. Finishes with an earth and truffle note. Solid. Good now with some air.

I also whipped up quick deconstructed BLTs for Sat night. These were just freaking tasty. Not much more I can say.

September 17, 2009

A Photo Montage-More Killer Food at Rowdy's

I've praised Rowdy's skills in the kitchen here before. Last night, I joined The Legend and Broderick at Chez Rowdy for some killer food and cheering-on of Atlanta's Eli Kirshtein and Kevin Gillespie in their quest to be Top Chef. Rowdy made his insane Spicy-Szechuan chicken (it made The Legend cry) and some kicking Dan Dan noodles. Very nice ribs flown in from KC. There was some wine, too.
A few photos.

September 14, 2009

Three Wines This Weekend-1997 Arcadian Pinot, 2005 Copain Syrah, 2001 Ojai Syrah

Three wines this weekend that were each quite nice. Well, actually, one was profound, one was rich and boisterous, and one was in a nice mature groove. Let's start with the profound:
The 1997 Arcadian Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow ($...good luck!) is a profound wine. At 12 years of age, it is drinking triumphantly. A hauting perfume on the nose, floral, smoky and spiced. The palate is mature, with focused cranberry and cirtus notes. The herb-tinged finish is penetrating and lasting. Joe Davis is a jedi-knight of Cali pinot, and he works wonder with Sleepy Hollow especially. Recall my note on the 2001 from this summer.
                  The 2005 Copain Syrah Eaglepoint Ranch ($35) was dark and brooding. A full-throttle Cali Syrah that reminded me a bit of the oozing Ausie Shriazes I once drank. This one isn't so sappy, there's a nice bit of acidity here, but still, it approaches a style I no longer chase. Good with the sloppy joe's and pommes anna.

Finally, the 2001 Ojai Syrah Bien Nacido was in a nice mature space. More red fruit than the Copain, more earth and mature spice as well. A nice Syrah that has performed well over the years. Still like the '99 best, but this was nice.

September 8, 2009

Uninspiring California Pinots This Weekend

Didn't drink too much wine this weekend. It was hot, again, and beer is the way to go when chilling at the Decatur Book Festival and concert Sunday night.

Did take some time Saturday afternoon to full around with
These litle buggers are so damn fine, full of hot and airy cheesy goodness right from the oven.
On Saturday, I also had an epic with my own creation for salmon cakes that just didn't want to come together (literally). I'll spare you the pics of that disaster.

Couple of California Pinots we opened this weekend just didn't wow me. I think my palate is moving toward more old world wines, my glory days of drinking boatloads of Cali pinot seem to be waning. I'm tiring of the overtly fruity-often alcohol-laden California stuff. As for what we drank:

2005 Breggo Family Pinot Noir Ferrington Vineyard ($35): Rather simple, low acidity and a boatload of dark, cola-tinged fruit. Rather lush, I don't love it, but I could see it being a hit at a party when ya' just want to get freaky.

2006 Inman Family Pinot Noir Olivet Grange ($40): Kathleen Inman cranks out serious wines from vineyards in the Russian River Valley. I've enjoyed Inman Family pinots in the past, and they do have a terrific reputation for producing some of Cali's finest pinot juice. This one just didn't move me, but I'm not writing it off, as its young, and I know what they can do at Inman. This bottle was just out of sorts Saturday night. Uncharacterisitcally candied and lacking the nice touch of acidity I usually find in Kathleen's wines. Just an off night perhaps.

September 2, 2009

Wines of Argentina Tasting--Colome, Etchart, Michel Torino

I was fortunate to be invited to taste a few Argentinian wines as part of the Wines of Argentina tasting with TASTELIVE. Tastelive is an interesting new platform that brings winemakers and consumers together via the TasteLive social media platform that is fully integrated with Twitter. Some of the world's top wine bloggers, including 1Wine Dude, WannabeWino, and Jasonswineblog, also participated.
The Sep.2 tasting was the first in the Wines of Argentina series. It featured two wines from each of the following producers from the Salta region in northern Argentina: Etchart, Colome, and Michel Torino.

The table was set on a beautiful late summer eve-we finaly got to sit outside again!

We started out with the 2008 Bodegas Etchart Torrontes and the 2007 Bodegas Etchart Malbec. The Etchart Torrentes was the Torrontes to beat. Crisp and clean wiht lively acidity and understated grapefruit and pear notes. The Etchart Malbec was dark and tight. Needed some air to reveal its dark fruit and leather notes. Nice value at $15.

We then moved on to the 2008 Colome Torrontes and the 2008 Colome Malbec.
The Torrontes here was slightly flawed to me. There was some volatile chemical aspect to the palate. Wannabewino said it tasted like lemon pledge smells...I agree.
Beautiful, floral nose, but the palate was not what it should have been.

However, the 2008 Colome Malbec was the WOTN (wine of the night) for me. Deep, dark and brooding nose of olives, tar, black cherry. Palate was tight at first, it took some coaxing, but slowly revealed dark fruit, clove and tobacco notes. It was rich and tannic. Needs a big 'ol piece of beef. Also seems it could use a few years in the cellar...

We finished up, palate fatigue and all, with the 2008 Michel Torino Torrontes Don David, and the 2007 Michel Torrino Cabernet Sauvignon Don David.
Both of these wines showed well, if somewhat unremarkably. The Cabernet was quite nice, it tasted like a young Cab. Rich and nuanced, but slightly over-oaked for. May need a year or two for some of that oak to integrate.

All in all a great night. Much thanks to TasteLive and WinesofArgentina!