September 30, 2010

Even More Cru Boo For You: 2009 Marcel Lapierrre Morgon

As I said in my post last week, 2009 was a great vintage for Cru Beaujolais. I tore into another bottle this past weekend, the 2009 Marcel Lapierre Morgon.
Morgon is a special piece of land in Beaujolais, the wines from Morgon are far different than the regional, and rather insipid, Beaujolais Nouveau that has penetrated the American market so well. This 2009 was packed with dense, juicy red fruit. There's also clean, stony and earthy elements. That being said, the wine is also quite a monster right now. Really big and powerful palate impression with plenty in reserve. Nice stuff. Compelling wines these '09s.

I picked up the Lapierre for $20 at Tower on Piedmont. Go get some. Drink one now, and bury a couple to try a few years down the road. You won't be disappointed.

September 27, 2010

Good Eats: Cakes & Ale: Still Decatur's Finest

Paid another visit to Cakes and Ale last weekend. Hard to believe it had been four months, but time does fly. Once again, Cakes & Ale demonstrated their understated brilliance and I left as happy as ever. Half a dozen visits and I can find nary a miss in any bit of food they've served me in that time.
What Cakes and Ale does so well is that they pack wonderfully seasonal and fresh flavors and textures into all their dishes. This visit, a simple house-confit of tuna with farm egg and veggies salad just sang. 
Crispy beans and red potatoes tossed in a house pesto with a perfectly cooked farm egg with moist-fatty tuna was just delicious.
The menu featured a half dozen main plates that showed a leaning toward the coming fall season. When chef Billy came out later in the night we joked about being ready for fall weather and food; hence his menu starting to lean in that direction.

The quail dish was simply one of the more satisfying dishes I've had lately. Well-seasoned and succulent quail over silky and decadent polenta topped with eggplant, onion, fresh figs, and a drizzle of aged balsimico. I freaking loved this dish and my mouth is watering now as I write about it.

My wife opted for the gnocchi with braised lamb, green tomatoes and pecorino fresco. It, too, was rather sublime and a wonderful nod to the coming fall season. Again, you may not need me to tell you, but Cakes & Ale is the real deal and a treasure in the still-developing Decatur dining scene.
Cakes & Ale on Urbanspoon

September 22, 2010

A Tale of Two Bottles of Wine: 2003 Tablas Creek Espirit de Beaucastel

I opened my last bottle of the 2003 Tablas Creek Espirit de Beaucastel this past weekend. I went through a period when Tablas Creek was one of my favorite California wineries. Tablas Creek makes great Rhone-styled wines in Paso Robles, CA. The Espirit bottling represents a collaboration between Tablas Creek and the Perrin family who operate one of the Rhone Valley's greatest estates, Chateau de Beaucastel.

Coincidentally, while Tweeting about my weekend drinking activities, local wine instructor, aficionado, and blogger, Elizabeth Schneider of Wine For Normal People was ready to open the same bottle. We agreed to open the bottles this past weekend and post on our experiences following our respective tastings.
According to my Cellartracker account, I had consumed (and really enjoyed) 5 bottles of this wine (as well as several other vintages of numerous Tablas Creek wines) over the past four years. Initially, this 2003 revealed a rather brawny and tannic wine that needed some time to shed its youthful outer shell. This  recent bottle was the most "ready" of any of the bottles opened. The tannins had mostly faded to a sweet backdrop and the darkish fruit was open, sweet, and lush. The wine will probably drink well for many more years, but there's really no reason to wait to open a bottle.

Now, it seems that my bottle showed a lot better than the bottle that Elizabeth opened. You can find her full report on her blog, but a snippet from her review reveals a bottle that was, "tight, acidic, and lacked any fruitiness. It had harsh vinegar notes and was thoroughly unpleasant." An experience that was far different than what I tasted in the bottle I opened.

So, what's the point of a post on the two bottles here? Well, as Elizabeth deftly points out, there are a couple of points. One being that bottle variation exists because wine is a fragile, living substance that is open to numerous conditions from barrel to bottle that may compromise the wines vitality and ability to age. There were 2000 cases of this wine produced, that's 24,000 bottles of wine! There are bound to be some inconsistencies. The other lesson here is that is difficult to judge a winery on the sampling of one random bottle of wine. Remember this the next time you want to write off a wine or winery after just one taste.

Oh yeah...the last point is that Tablas Creek makes great wines. Go get some!

September 20, 2010

Cru Boo Kills It In 2009

I will admit it, I was slow to warm to Cru Boo. Perhaps it was due to my being weaned on domestic wines, I somehow missed the wonder that is Cru Beaujolais until recently. However, now that I am firmly in the old school camp when it comes to wine, Cru Boo makes all kind of funky sense to me. I guess it was bound to happen when one heeds the sage advice of DirtySouthWine over the years.

In case you were wondering, 2009 is a bit of a homerun for Cru Beaujolais. 2009 was a hot year, with just a bit of rain in the summer that lead to optimal ripeness and concentrated, powerful wines. Remember, Cru Boo is not Beaujolais Nouveau, the often insipid-not-too serious-wine you find with funny labels in supermarkets. Cru Boo is serious juice.
 I recently tried the 2009 Daniel Bouland Morgon Delys that I found around town for $23 at Toco Giant in Druid Hills. This is seriously funky juice. The wine showed a deep red to purple color. It was really wound up initially, not giving off much of anything....With air, the nose gets gamey (ha ha), with tastes of iron and blood, too. Really dense and powerful palate presence; yet the wine is not heavy. There is a lot of material here, or at least that's the impression. The darkish fruit leaves a lasting impression on the palate. It's a powerful wine that tastes good now, but will be a real treat 5 years down the road. Buy a few bottles and forget them; you won't be sorry.

September 16, 2010

Edmunds St. John: The Best California Wines You're Still Not Drinking

Last summer (yeah, it's been a year already), I posted about one of my favorite California wineries, Edmunds St. John. I titled that post, The Best California Wines You're Not Drinking. Well, either for lack of creativity, or the fact that I really like Steve's wines, I'm revisiting that idea.

I've sung the praises of Edmunds St John wines many times here over the past year. Most recently, last winter I wrote about the profound and sublime 1993 Edmunds St. John Syrah Durell Vineyard.
This weekend I opened the 2001 Edmunds St John Les Robles Viejos, a California Rhone blend made in the style of the great wines of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape region in France. The 2001 Viejos blend was again deep and dark with notes of garrigue, pepper, and dark fruit. Nice touch of acid runs across the back end. Drinking perfectly now. Yeah. Just a joy to drink. A nine year old Cali Rhone blend that held up nicely over two hours and still has some upside. Hello. It's a $18 wine. How does Steve do it? I think he might just be a genius.

September 13, 2010

Getting Funky with LIOCO

Recently had the opportunity to try two new wines from LIOCO. Lioco is a hip newish Cali winery that focuses on creating wine in the European tradition in that the wines speak of a place and a people. In their own words, the folks at Lioco strive to create wines that speak to the drinker and say "this wine came from this place only, and could not have come from anywhere else. This is a wine of origin."

The two wines I tried were both Chardonnays: the 2008 Demuth Vineyard and the 2009 Sonoma Coast.

I drank the the 2008 Chardonnay Demuth with Rowdy who brought a bottle over the night (along with some other goodies). The Demuth was really freaky when we opened it; showing lots of smoke, ash, and lime notes. Brisk acidity here that really drove home the rockiness (in a good way) of the wine. The acid presence made us think Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was also pretty wound up. I wouldn't be surprised to drink this in 5 years and find it still grooving. A helluva unique California Chardonnay.

The 2009 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast was a bit simpler, but as a blend, it should be. There was some cool minerality to the steely palate, but also some overt buttery sweetness that was slightly cloying. One of the cool things about the '09 Chardonnay is that it was bottled by ATL's own, DirtySouthWine, who has done some work with the folks at Lioco in his new life in Cali. I bought the 2009 Chardonnay for $18.00 at the Kroger in Ansley Mall. It's well-worth it's asking price.

September 6, 2010

Sun In My Belly: Good Eats in Kirkwood

Finally made another visit to Sun in My Belly for lunch last weekend. While breakfast and brunch seems to be what everyone raves about SIMB for, we stopped by for lunch.

The sandwiches were really tasty, a thoughtful use of flavors and textures that one doesn't usually find in casual lunch fare. Most sandwiches are $8.95 and come with the choice of one side.

The Truffle Chicken Salad Sandwich with Arugula showed clean and precise flavors, it was earthy, creamy, peppery. Just great. The Edamame and Carrot salad with Black Sesame Seeds and Sesame Vinaigrette was tasty as well, but to be honest, it could have used a little salt.
The other sandwich we tried was a winner. Called The Napolean Complex, the sandwich featured pressed Brie, Prosciutto, Red Onions, and Fig Jam on Foccacia. Alongside was a beet couscous topped with goat cheese. The brie and prosciutto was gooey and delicious and the fresh-baked foccacia was right on. The couscous was visually appealing, but like the other side, it lacked some punch in the flavor department and could have used some salt and pepper.
The other cool thing about Sun is that they also offer catering services and are a full-service coffee bar. We finished our lunch with an iced latte with fresh cinnamon syrup. 

Even more importantly, Sun is open later now (until 9PM most nights) and there's a little sign near the coffee shop that states guests are encouraged to bring in their own wine for a $5 corkage fee. Yep. You know where I'll be going for dinner real soon. Look forward to my next visit. 

Sun in My Belly on Urbanspoon

September 3, 2010

Say Hello To Thirsty South!

A local foodie/wino with a killer palate has recently launched Thirsty South, a new blog covering all things drink in the South. Thirsty South is dedicated to bringing you the scoop on the south's best bets for wine, beer, cocktails, and even coffee! Some early posts include their initial Thirsty Guide to Atlanta. There is also coverage of a new Atlanta wine and cheese shop on the Westside called Perrine's.

This should be a great resource for all those interested in the best in drink around the South. Be sure to stop on over at Thirsty South and give this new blog some love!