January 26, 2011

2001 Arcadian Pinot Noir Garys' Vineyard

I think I've testified enough here about my love for Arcadian wines. Joe Davis makes wine purposefully in the manner of the wines that he enjoys, those being Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Burgundy. Without question, the greatest examples I've had of aged California Pinot Noir that truly evolve and improve in bottle are Arcadian Pinot Noirs.

I first tasted this 2001 Garys' Pinot about five years ago when Hardy Wallace of DirtySouthWine and now The Natural Process Alliance shared a bottle with me. The wine showed its brilliance then, but it was still young and figuring itself out. My recent tasting last weekend revealed a wine that has not only aged well (surviving is one thing), but has also grown and improved. The wine spoke of old world sensibilities. It was powerful, yet it was weightless; there were tertiary aromas of earth and stone, and it revealed layers of beauty the longer it stayed open. It is a special wine that I am glad to have more of as I don't see this going away anytime soon.

By his own admission, Joe Davis strives to "create Burgundian styled Pinot Noir." Tasting wines like this confirm for me that he is accomplishing that which he has set out to do.

January 19, 2011

Random Photos: January 2011

In light of the fact that I have nothing really interesting to write about at that moment, I thought I might post some recent random photos.
My kid sledding the Kirk Road luge track during Icepocalypse 2011.

My wife made these "popcorn" cupcakes for my daughter's movie-themed birthday party (I have an 11 year old now...crap, I'm getting old). As for the cupcake tops...you (well, in this case, I) split mini marshmallows in half and then squash them back together to resemble popcorn. Fun stuff.
A somewhat uninspiring, albeit young, 2006 Charmes-Chambertin from Gerard Raphet. A nice wine, perhaps not showing true Grand Cru pedigree, but it is quite pretty. Perhaps better some years down the road. Perhaps would have tasted better had the Patriots not been getting it handed it to them by the Jets at the time.
 Good friends of ours in the neighborhood stopped by Sunday night to deliver us a still-warm King Cake. Yay for friends from New Orleans.

January 14, 2011

Running Out Of Superlatives: 1995 Edmunds St John Syrah Durell Vineyard

Perhaps you'll recall the love-fest for Edmunds St John wines that I've professed to over the past couple of years. I posted on the magical 1993 Syrah Durell last winter; it was one of my top wines of 2010. Really a magical wine. It seems that most Edmunds St John wines I open are memorable, to the point that I'm running out of superlatives to describe them.

I recently drank another outstanding ESJ Syrah, the 1995 Durell, while visiting the family in CT during the holidays. The 1995, while not quite as brilliant as the 1993, was certainly one of the top wines of the week amidst some serious company. The wine showed an incredible funky and dank barnyardish nose that spoke of old world sensibilities. On the palate, there was smooth dark fruit and a meaty, bacon-like essence that was earthy, dark, and slightly mysterious. While the wine is now 16 years old, it really shows no signs of decline. I wouldn't be surprised if it drank well for another 5 years or more. If you're looking for a Cote Rotie knockoff from California, here it is:
If you haven't tried an Edmunds St John wine and like old world Syrah and Rhone-style wine, you need to try some. They aren't easy to find, but very much worth the hunt....But remember, the thing about Steve Edmunds' wines is that they take time to reveal their beauty. You need to bury them deep in the cellar and forget about them for a while. Your patience will be rewarded.

January 9, 2011

Pappy Van Winkle Will Keep You Warm

I don't think I've ever written a post about a spirit before, so this is a first of sorts. And...it's another post in the series from time spent visiting the family in CT during the holidays. Along with some great wines consumed that week, I was also fortunate to drink a damn fine bourbon. Pappy Van Winkle, a premium bourbon made by Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, is the stuff of legends. Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery has been producing bourbon for over 100 years, and their family reserves are consistently awarded the highest honors in the world of fine spirits. For an excellent overview of Pappy and the Old Rip folks, see my friend ThirstySouth's excellent report on the distillery.
During the holiday week in CT, which was capped by 15 inches of snow the day after Christmas, we drank the Pappy Family Reserve 15 year old Bourbon. The Pappy Van Winkle Reserve line, which includes Bourbons that have been aged for 12, 15, 20, or 23 years, represent the distillery's finest work. The 15 is a powerful spirit, checking in at  107 proof, that's 53.5% alcohol for those math-challenged readers out there.
This reserve bourbon remains untouched in oak for 15 years and develops a rather heady oak-charred nose that explodes from the glass. It also covers the palate in brawny, oak and smoke scented tastes and leaves a long, warm finish.

The 15 year is not for the faint of heart, but it certainly hits the spot after spending 2 hours shoveling a driveway (I don't get why people subject themselves to this type of weather....but that's another post). It should be noted that the 15 year is not cheap, and it's really, really hard to find as it's produced in minuscule quantities. However, if you like good bourbon, it's worth trying, at least once.

January 3, 2011

Blizzard be Damned: Time for Pepe's Pizza

Another highlight of our holiday trip to visit family in CT was getting to eat some Frank Pepe Pizza. If you don't know about the legend that is Frank Pepe's New Haven pizza, well, you need to get out more. It is some of the finest pizza in the country, and that's not just my opinion. Frank Pepe's Napoletana Pizza has been cranking out delicious pies since Frank Pepe founded his first shop in 1925 in the Wooster Square neighborhood of New Haven, CT. Over the past hundred years, Pepe's has achieved cult-like status in the world of pizza. Frank Pepe originated the New Haven-style thin crust pizza which he baked in bread ovens fired by coke. Coke is a byproduct of coal and it was used extensively until the late 1960’s when it became unavailable and hence coal was then put into use to fire the oven,

Luckily, Pepe's has expanded to several location in the past few years and the Fairfield location is minutes from my parents' house. My brother talked us into braving the post-blizzard roads to pick up some Pepe's on our last night in CT.

                               The coal ovens at Pepe's in Fairfield, CT.
My brother's favorite: Bacon and Onion
Pepe's pies offer the perfect mix of thin, charred crust, just enough tomato sauce, and fresh salty cheese. Tossing on some bacon and roasted onions only helps. The pies also hold up well when you get them for takeout, and they also reheat well the next day. Really, really fine pizza that I wish I could eat more than just a couple of times each year.