July 22, 2010

Wines Last Week: Part Two

Later in the week I had a few of the usual suspects over for dinner. The Legend was here, as was Eat It, Atlanta.

The wines were all pretty terrific, nothing earth shattering, but fine wines that further cemented my love for the wines of Burgundy. I made a few dishes, didn't get any great pics, but the cucumber soup was tasty, as was the pork rillettes and coq a vin.

We started with a very nice bubbly...2004 Pierre Gimmonet Gastronome- Floral and nutty. Some yeasty elements. Tart lemon and crisp acid. I liked this quite a bit. Think we all did, as we knocked the bottle out rather quickly.

Then, we moved on to some white Burgundy...

2004 Louis Jadot Meursault Perrieres- Deep and rather rich. Nuanced fruit and nut flavors. Good weight and texture. Nice wine that is drinking well imo. I liked it with the cucumber soup.

2005 J-M Boillot Batard-Montrachet-Powerful. Took some coaxing. Splash in decanter woke it up. Lacks some depth, but beginning to drink well. Was pretty tasty hours later after getting my ass kicked in wii bowling.

A nice, young red Burg came out, too..The 2006 Robert Groffier Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses showed intense dark fruit and spice. Blueish fruit. Intensity. Great depth. Long, deep finish. Young, but really quite nice. Last drops after midnight were really tasty.

It was a good night, with good wines and good dudes.

Below is the short video of clips from the evening that Eat It Atlanta put together

July 19, 2010

Wines Last Week: Part One

Had the opportunity to drink some really fine wines last week amidst two tasty dinners. First up, I was fortunate to be invited to a friends house for a dinner cooked by chef Eli Kirshtein.Eli went a little crazy in the kitchen with help from Rowdy, and a pretty amazing 5 course meal was offered up. A great night. My thanks to both of these good dudes.

The dinner was outrageous. Eli working above on the raw sea bass with orange, chili oil, fresh garbanzos.
                                  Skate Wing Soup in Soy Coconut Reduction

We had some killer wines, too. The 1999 and 2000 Domaine D'Auvenay (Bize-Leroy) Puligny Montrachet En La Richarde were both quite beautiful. These wines command a high price, but they offer a thrilling white Burgundy experience. Haunting wines, really, and actually a terrific pairing with the soup.

We also had some nice reds including the 1995 Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape which was tasty with the lobster and sweetbread pasta dish. Nothing quite like a great CdP with some age on it.

My wine of the night; however, was a surprise. A local collector brought the 1983 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande.  A terrific showing for an '83 with fully mature fruit and resolved tannins. A joy top drink. I don't drink a lot of Bordeaux, but I would if I had some tasty aged beauties like this in the cellar.

July 12, 2010

Grand Cru: Burgundy (Part Two)

Burgundy (Part Two)

The Appelations d'Origine Controlee (AOC) in Burgundy is one of the confounding things about Burgundian Pinot Noir that often turns people away. It may seem daunting at first, but once you learn the system it becomes easier to navigate. Here is a brief summary of the four main Pinot Noir appelations:

Bourgogne-Pinot Noir composed of a general blend of grapes from anywhere in the Burgundy region. These are the wines that read  Bourgogne and can usually be found for under $20.

Village-Pinot Noir made from a blend of vineyards in a specific village or commune (i.e. Chambolle Musigny). Village wines will feature the village of production on the label. Good bottles are $25-$50.

Premier Cru--Pinot Noir made from a specific vineyard in a specific commune (i.e. Chambolle Musigny 1er Les Fuees). Premier Crus will have the specific vineyard names on the label. Good bottles are $35-$100

Grand Cru--Pinot Noir made the very best vineyards in a specific commune, often from specific rows within a specific vineyard. Grand Crus account for a mere 2% of all wines from Burgundy. Grand Cru will usually only name the Grand Cru vineyard on the label (i.e. Musigny). Good bottles, from good producers are $75. Great bottles are now in the $250-$1,000 range.

A Grand Cru Pinot Noir from Burgundy can be very...well...Grand.

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to drink the 1999 Louis Jadot Musigny,  one of the two Grand Cru vineyards in the village of Chambolle Musigny. The wine is nothing short of mindblowing. And, it's still years from peaking...Features a brilliant nose. Bloody hell, I loved the nose. A powerful wine that is has so many delicious elements in place, but is still not ready for prime time. Deep and dark, spicy and brooding, but still so wrapped up. Genius in a bottle.

The tough part is, a bottle of this wine costs as much as some people's monthly car note. Is is worth that much money? There's no way I can answer that for you...but as Maison Louis Jadot winemaker, Jacques Ladiere says,"You drink wine not with your head, but with your heart."

Therein lies your answer...

July 9, 2010

The Holy Grail of Pinot Noir: All Roads Lead to Burgundy (Part One)

This post is part of a series that I will be writing about over the next week leading up to the Pinot Noir Twitter Tasting and Smackdown that was organized by two wine blogger extraordinaires, WineTonite and SuburbanWino. The Pinot Noir event is designed to be an appreciation of all things Pinot Noir from the various places where Pinot is grown. I have decided to write a bit about my favorite Pinot Noir from Burgundy.

Part I

Pinot Noir has become an increasingly debated grape in wine circles over the last 5 years or so. For various reasons, some driven by popular media and press, Pinot Noir has become a hot grape. In the United States, wineries in both California and Oregon have been cranking out great Pinot Noir for years. Some, like the Hanzell  and Williams Selyem wineries in California, produce Pinot Noirs that are truly age-worthy and world class wines.

That being said, the motherland for Pinot Noir is Burgundy, France. While there are debates to be raged about whether all Pinot Noir aspires to be Burgundian Pinot Noir, the fact remains that hills and slopes of Burgundy have a history with the Pinot Noir grape like no other region.

Consider this podcast from the folks at GrapeRadio, in which Jacques Ladiere, winemaker at Louis Jadot since 1970, discusses history of Pinot Noir in Burgundy. Are you aware of the fact that vineyards in Burgundy, such as the Grand Cru vineyard, Bonnes Mares, have been producing Pinot Noir grapes since 2,000 years before Christ! Considering that fact, what else can I say that matters? There's a history in the hills and vines of Burgundy that can't be reproduced or imitated by machine or man.
So, what is one to do with this rich history of grapes and land? And, how can others hope to compete with the beauty, power, and elegance that great Burgundy offers? I don't know the answer to that question, and quite frankly, I don't think there is an answer.

July 5, 2010

First Take: Farmstead 303 in Decatur

Finally made it over to Farmstead 303 for dinner Friday night. They have been open officially for just over two weeks at this point. I was anxiously awaiting the opening, I'm a big fan Feast, their sister restaurant across the street, as you can see from me previous post. I also like supporting the local joints in Decatur.

We ventured into Farmstead at about 6:30 on Friday night and found the restaurant moderately crowded. Perhaps a good-sized crowd considering the 4th of July holiday weekend. The main room has the feel of a warm southern eatery where locals would convene for fried chicken and iced tea. Keeping with Farmstead locally-sourced, farm-to-table, southern comfort food theme, there is a large chalkboard that lists the local farms that produce much of the food for the restaurant.

The first starter we chose were the fried grit cakes with blue cheese, tomato gravy, and arugula. It was a tasty dish, grits cakes were light and airy with a perfectly crisp exterior. I don't really get the blue cheese in the dish here, but I don't ever turn down blue cheese.

We also tried the chicken liver bruschetta in a maderia sauce. This dish was also tasty, but my dining companion had slight issues with the texture of the livers as the pieces were quite large and tough to manage at times. Still, the saltiness of the madeira sauce played nicely with the flavors of the fried livers. Unfortunately, after our two starters, the meal took a turn for the worse.

Both of the entrees we ordered were less than stellar. I ordered the Eden Farms berkshire pork chop with apple cider gastrique and a side of macaroni cheese. This dish wasn't really right in anyway. The chop was overcooked, there was no "appleness" to my apple cider gastrique, and the mac and cheese was also a letdown. Seemed like a rather generic elbow macaroni with a slice of processed Kraft cheese product melted on top. Sorry, you gotta do better on the mac and cheese. This isn't Connecticut!

My wife's entree, Georgia mountain trout with horseradish sauce, spinach, pecans, beet pancake and potatoes, was no better. If there was horseradish in the sauce than I don't know what horseradish tastes like. The fish was also clearly not seasoned well and tasted "fishy" in a not very appetizing way. The beet pancake was promising, but it was buried under the fish and got lost a bit in a dish that was a bit sloppy in general.

I want to chalk my first visit up to the fact that the kitchen may still be ironing things out as they have not been open too long. Considering my excellent track record at Feast, I will certainly be back to give Farmstead another shot in the near future...I just hope they've rethought their mac and cheese by then.

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