Eventhough Alfasi and Baron Herzog and several other producers have been making dry, suposedly good Kosher for Passover wines, I have yet to find one that I like as much as my "traife" wines. Earlier tonight I was over at a friends' for the Passover Seder and we had a lovely Italian table wine with dinner. The dry, acidic red went perfectly with the brisket, quinoa and eggplant (not a very traditional meal, but excellent). As far as I'm concerned, my biggest crime was not writing down the name or remembering anything about the bottle....Oh well. The good thing is there are alweays new wines to find - kosher or not!
Until the next sniff, sip or quaff (of almost anything but Manishewitz),
This past Saturday I went to a fundraiser for someone in the wine industry I recently met who will be running the Paris marathon in few weeks. Suffice it to say, we drank French wines. Since it was held at the shop I regularly visit, Amanti Vino, I was familiar with two of the wines but was introduced to two new loves.
Wine #1: Duc de Romet Brut Prestige Champagne NV: This is a Grower's champagne meaning that it was made by the person or group that grew the grapes (unlike most mass champagnes which buy their grapes). Grower champagnes tend to have a lot richer, more yeasty flavor with a little less sweetness. I've become an absolute fan of these champagnes because it's how champagne was meant to taste. Plus, it's often cheaper than the "major brands" who put more money into branding than wine making. And for $30, this is an excellent example of a good Grower champagne - tasy, yeasty with some citrus notes.
Wine #2: I forget the actual label. It was a Meursault which is a Chardonnay from the Burgundy region. I don't love really acidic white wines which is a defining characteristic of Burgundy Chardonnay. This was a clearly well made wine, but not something I love.
Wine #3: Domaine A et P de Villaine de Bourgogne Rouge 2008: Red wine from Burgundy means Pinot Noir and this is a classic young Burgundy Pinot Noir. It's medium bodied with notes of strawberry and cherry. It's was absolutely yummy and something I could drink with several different meals or on its own. If we weren't rushing off to dinner, I would have picked up a bottle or two.
Wine #4: Rene Rostaing Les Lezards Syrah 2006: I've raved about this wine before. It's a fantastic 100% Syrah grown just outside the Cote Rotie region. It's gamey earthiness gives way to blackberries and cassis. One of my absolute favorite wines. I usually have a bottle or two in my wine refrigerator at all times.
It was great to discover two more French wines I love (for my palette, not for my wallet). I can't wait to add a bottle or two of the Champagne and the Domaine A et P to my refrigerator.
Best of all, the price of the tasting went directly towards the Leukemia & Lymphoma society. Can you think of a better win/win - good wine for a good cause?
I could give you the highlights of the class, but the content was so dry (all about the planting and winemaking process) that even bullet points might put you to sleep. So I'll just get to my favorite part - the tasting.
We started with 2 different representations of Chardonnay - a Chablis and a Meruseult. Both were of great quality, but I didn't enjoy them as much as I should because they were quite acidic and I've learned that I'm particularly sensitive to the acid in acidic whites. Unfortunately this is something I'll just have to work through to move forward in my wine education.
From there we tasted two different Oregon Pinot Noirs - one that was a younger, "value" wine and another that was also young, but a bit pricier and also a bit more complex. The second, more expensive wine was from Domaine Serene, but for $33 I consider their "Yamhill Cuvee" a good value. It has a lovely ruby appearance with a nose of raspberry, spice and oak. You get the same wonderful flavors on the palette.
After that we moved on to Syrahs. The first was a funky, gamey, peppery wine called "Ro Ree" by Domaine Cheze in the Rhone. Rhone reds are another of my favorite varietals and the ones with the gamey funkiness rank the highest with me. And for the sake of transparency, I'd also had and enjoyed this wine before! Our last wine of the evening was the Jaffurs Wine Cellars "Upslope" Syrah out of Santa Barbara, CA. I've enjoyed a lot of Syrahs from this region before (Bridlewood Reserve Syrah is one of my favorite under $30 bottles), but I did not love this wine. I liked it a lot, but for $75, I don't think it's worth it. then again, if I bought a bottle I'd probably lay it down for a few years and who knows how great it could be after that.
I'm on a brief wine break until Saturday night when I'm going to a French wine tasting fundraiser. Charity rocks.
Last night I began the Advanced WSET Course and though our instructor reassured us that we will all be fine as long as we put in the time and study, I'm worried. I was sitting there thinking, what have I gotten myself into? Blind tastings, detailed readings on fermentation, harvesting and varietal characteristics - egads. Hopefully my memory is as good as I think....
That said, I'll be blogging about the class each week so you can always look forward to a Thursday morning column. This week we mostly reviewed where we were from our last class and went over the correct method for tasting. Next week is Winemaking. Maybe afterwards I'll just move to the Willamette Valley and start my own label!
Or maybe go old school and head out to Cote Roti which brings me to the wine I had Saturday night (you thought you were getting away wtihout a tasting note?!?). Despite 50 mile per hour winds and downed trees, my friend, Stacy, and I ventured out to Bar Boulud on Saturday night. Bar Boulud is known for its wine list, which has a heavy French influence. We ended up with a bottle of La Chevaliere from the Southern Rhone. Unfortunately I didn't take a picture and couldn't find one online, but it was quite tasty. Though it was from the South, it drank like a lighter version of a Cote Rotie (a region in the Northern Rhone) - quite dry with some musty and gamey notes. It had some nice black berry notes as well. Definitely something I'd drink again.
However, the real highlight of the evening was meeting the pastry chef from the restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental in London, which is owned by the same group that owns Bar Boulud. The chef and his restaurant manager were sitting att he table next to us and getting the absolute VIP treatment which they happily shared with us. It was a blast and I'm now a Facebook friend for one of the top pastry chefs in London who vowed to hook me up with a VIP tour of the London foodie scene should I visit.....so I may have to put off that trip to Burgundy!
This Saturday I opened one of the bottles of 2007 Finca Decero Malbec I picked up after returning from Argentina. It was still just as good - drinks almost like a Cabernet Sauvignon with some notes of green pepper though I also get some bright cherry notes which are more typical of a Malbec. I can't wait to get to my other bottles!
Tonight I was at a group dinner and there were large bottles of Beringer Founder's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon on the table. I had a few sips and was longing for one of the bottles in my wine fridge.
Until I do get back to my wine fridge or until the next sniff, sip or quaff,
Earlier tonight I went to an Argentinian wine tasting. We tasted 10 different wines blind. My favorites, in order were #10, #5 and #1. Wouldn't you know it that #10 was the 2004 Vino Cobos Malbec that I didn't try when I was in Mendoza a few weeks ago?!? Nice to know that eventhough I know I like wines made by Paul Hobbs that even in a blind tasting I pick out his wine as my favorite. Smooth, big fruit, a lot of alcohol, but nicely balanced. It's hard not to be influenced by an old standby or by wine ratings and it's reassuring to find that you like a wine you'd assume you would like in a blind taste testing.
The only problem is that the 2004 Vina Cobos Malbec is not only hard to find, but when you do find it, you'd likely pay upwards of $165 per bottle. My 2nd favorite wine, the #5, turned out to be Caro, a Cabernet Sauvignon (65%)/Malbec (35%) blend that is made by a partnership between Catena, a large Argentinian wine maker and Rothschild, the reknowned French wine maker. For $39.95 per bottle, it's a lot better deal than the Vino Cobos. It was dry, but juicy with notes of strawberry and cherry. Medium bodied with a medium finish. Delightful and very easy to drink.
The most surprising, however; was my 3rd favorite, #1, which turned out to be a 2006 Punto Final Malbec. It had a wonderful nose of spice and clove with some cherry notes. At first it didn't have much to it, but about 20 minutes later, it really opened up and was a bright, tasty wine that could hold up to a variety of foods or be served on its own with some light appetizers. And for $15 per bottle you can't go wrong.
Ultimately, I'll probably seek out the Punto Final because when all is said and done, for a really good bottle of wine, you can't beat $15. Though blind tasting is a good way to truly figure out your favorite wine, ultimately price has to be factored in because if you really like a $15 bottle and really like a $165 bottle, is it really worth another $150? As much as I like and respect Paul Hobbs, I cannot justify $165 when I know there's a $15 or even a $39.95 bottle out there that's pretty close.
This weekend is the Hoboken St. Patrick's Day Parade so it's going to be a heavy beer weekend.
While living in Los Angeles in the late 90s, my interest in wine grew into a full blown passion as I took several trips to the Santa Ynez wine region. Each trip taught me something new about wine and gave me insight into my own tastebuds. Though I now live on the East Coast, I try to visit a different wine region each year. Over the past several years I've visited: The Touraine area in The Loire (France), Mendoza (Argentina), Chateauneuf du Pape (Rhone region, France), Napa, Sonoma, Willamette (Oregon), Douro (Portugal), Long Island (NY), West Texas (yes, seriously) and of course the Santa Ynez region (old habits). I'm a firm believer that the best way to learn about wine is to taste. Learn what you like, find wine writers that seem to have similar tastes and find someone at your local wine store who knows what he/she is doing and always asks about your tastes first. So get off my blog and start tasting!!!!