19
May
2020
0

Terroir: The inside poop from an expert

My friend Mark sent me this oldie but goodie:

A man goes to the famous Lucas Carton restaurant in Paris with a woman and orders the 1928 Mouton. The waiter brings a bottle and pours a little in the glass for tasting.

The customer picks up the glass, takes a sniff, and puts it down with a thud. “This is not the 1928 Mouton.”

The waiter assures him it is, and soon there are twenty people surrounding the table, including the chef and the manager, trying to convince the man that the wine is indeed the 1928 Mouton.

“My name is Phillippe de Rothschild. I make the wine,” the man says.

The wine waiter steps forward and admits that he brought a Clerc Milon 1928.

“I could not bear to part with our last bottle of 1928 Mouton. You know Clerc Milon, it is in the same village as Mouton, you pick the grapes at the same time, the same cepage, you crush in the same way, you put them into similar barrels. You bottle at the same time, you even use eggs from the same chickens to fine them. The wines are the same, except for a small matter of geographic location.”

Rothschild beckons the waiter, and whispers to him, “When you go home tonight, ask your girlfriend to remove her underwear. Put one finger in one opening, another finger in the other, and smell both fingers. You will understand what difference a small distance in geographic location makes.”

30
Mar
2020
0

Linkin’ logs: Getting serious (kinda sorta)

So most of these posts are heavily skewed toward levity. This one is geared primarily toward substantive and (I hope) interesting stories.

• Bad pun alert: This winery is positively ducky (and no, it’s not Duckhorn).

• My friend John Skupny and Dan Petroski are among many folks with interesting takes on sundry subjects in a Napa roundtable.

• Those of us who love great food have had an extra layer of bumming out with the plight of restaurants. To try to stay afloat, some are selling off high-end wines. Wish I could afford them.

• I love having more time to read these days. And here are some vinous touts in that realm. Also, some recommendations for viewing.

• We did a “virtual tasting” with our friends Lonny and Kim the other night, and it was delightful. Turns out we’re far from alone.

• The ramifications of Covid-19 on the wine world are many and varied.

 

• Finally, and acknowledgin that this is a titch sacrilegious, a photoshop of a masterwork:

19
Mar
2020
0

Linkin’ logs 3-19-20

Apologies for another insanely long hiatus, but the Quarantine Era will, I hope, be the impetus for at least semi-regular postings. Starting with this whirl around the wine world:

• We should all be so lucky as to have wine coming out of our faucets, but it seems apropos that it happened in Italy.

• I’ve knocked over my wine glass more than a few times, but this spillage surpasses all those put together.

• Wanna get high and make wine? That’s what these intrepid French folks are doing.

• I’ve never heard of corn wine, and I’m not sure I want to try it given what happened to these pachyderms.

• Finally, my friend Kelly sent me this “map,” which eerily mirrors Chez Ward but actually is meant to chronicle ,y tasting-room visits for the next little (I hope) while:

17
Jan
2020
0

A wine week worth Chronicling

Ever since I quasi-retired and became a freelance wine-and-other-stuff scribe in 2014, I haven’t had anything but good weeks. Well, there was the one where a quack podiatrist said he needed to cut off my big toe, but we salvaged the week and the digit.

Some weeks are better than others, of course. And occasionally one of them will be spectacular. Last week was one of those, bookended by two stupendous wine experiences.

I started the week in Sonoma, judging the San Francisco Chronicle competition. At a party Monday night, someone brought a magnum of 1966 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. It actually took a bit of time to “open up,” but after a few swirls. not only did the predictable leather, herb and tobacco notes assert themselves on the nose and palate, but some seriously pretty red fruit peaked through. It tasted like old wine, but unlike so much old wine in which varietal/regional character is lost, this tasted like a Bordeaux. And a stellar one at that.

Also noteworthy that evening were several wines from Flowers, where our hostess, Alexandra, serves as director. The pinot noirs and chardonnay were as wonderful as billed, but the revelation was a varietal I had no idea they make: pinot meunier, packed with wild fruit and spices. Yum.

Three days of judging followed, 90 to 110 wines a day. Yes, it’s work, but my panel was collegial and sharp. I learned something interesting from first-time judge Joy Merrilees, director of winemaking and production at the outstanding Shannon Ridge winery: Napa vintners like to buy Lake County grapes for reasons beyond economics. “They like that Lake County red fruit character to blend with Napa black fruit.”

At Friday’s sweepstakes (that’s the estimable SF Chronicle wine columnist Esther Mobley at left with some fat guy), we assessed more than 50 best-of-class winers to determine the very best wines in five categories.

As it turned out, my favorites were the winners in three realms: Breathless Sonoma Valley Blanc de Noirs in the sparkling category, the 2016 deLorimier 2016 Crazy Creek Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve among reds and the 2017 Ferrante Winery (Ohio) Grand River Valley Vidal Blanc Ice Wine in “specialty” wines. I didn’t care much for the white-wine winner, the $6 (!) Trader Moon Wine Company’s 2018 California Honey Moon Viognier, but I did rather like the rosé champ, Ferrari-Carano’s 2019 Sonoma County Dry Sangiovese Rosé.

That would have been enough to make for a fabulous week, but perhaps the best was yet to come.

On Saturday back in Turdraland, my ridiculously generous friend Larry had invited us and a half-dozen others for an afternoon repast of the semi-rare Nantucket Bay scallops. They more than met our grand expectations, but the wines almost stole the show. We started with hip-hop stars’ favorite, Cristal Champagne, and lemme just say that the 1996 vintage is a megastar in its own right.

With the scallops and pasta, a simple preparation because fantabulous ingredients should be treated that way, we had a range of whites from Burgundy, including insanely tasty 2012 Louis Jadot “Les Demoiselles” Grand Cru Chevalier-Montrachet and 2008 Bonneau de Martray Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne.

I’m pretty sure I hadn’t had those sublime wines before, and I know for sure that the dessert course brought a first-time bottle, a 1993 Chateau Pajzos Esszencia (on the right at left). Produced only in the best vintages, this is considered by many to be Hungary’s finest Takaji. It’s fermented from raisins but tastes like much richer fruits such as apricots and pears, with butterscotch notes and a spot-on harmony between fruit and acid as a wine can have.

Can you say “Holy Red Foley,” boys and girls? I can and will every time I think about that wondrous week.

3
Jan
2020
0

Weigh in, please

These f@#*-ing proposed tariffs are beyond horrific. My friend Annette is going to D.C. to testify, and we could not ask for a better advocate.

But it would be great if others could join me in writing to the guv’mint about this f@#*-ing fiasco. The estimable Jancis Robinson puts it best:

URGENT: Please do what you can to prevent the proposed tariffs of up to 100% on a wide range of European imports into the US. Wherever you are based in the world, you have until Tuesday 7 January to register your comments on this proposal that would lead not only to far higher prices but also to layoffs and very probably the demise of many of the sort of smaller enterprises you prize most. Send your thoughts on this unfair offshoot of the international Airbus trade dispute to the US government here. It’s easy. Act NOW.”

And this from Karen MacNeil:

“We urge you to do what you can. A 100% tariff on European wines, foods and other products will have terrible consequences for us all, and needless to say could represent significant hardship for my of the wine producers we love.”

30
Dec
2019
1

Linkin’ logs 12-30-19

As we approach another annum, I vow to share more Interweb goodies like these:

• I’ve heard of Salmon Safe vineyard designations but not of salmon-influenced wines, at least till now.

• Looks like some ancients might have been making (sorry!) a boatload of wine back in the day.

• Elizabeth Warren was way, way out of line in the last debate re. wine caves, and this column completely nails why.

• My brain might have been engaged by this article a couple of years ago, and I might even have posted, but have no qualms about potentially reposting it.

• Finally, my favorite wine meme/saying of 2019:

26
Nov
2019
0

Linkin’ logs 11-26-19

The good, the bad and the scary on the vinous front:

• There’s some really cool wine coming out of Slovenia, which also is home to perhaps the world’s oldest vine.

• Anyone who has been to Venice had to have been saddened by the recent flooding, and there might be more bad news on the vinous front.

• Space: the final frontier for wine’s evolution?

• The Cycles Gladiator wines got banned in Alabama because of their risqué labels, so I’m guessing the new Mouton-Rothschild release might be facing a similar fate.

• The headline is a little off here: should be “Local chefs share Thanksgiving wine tips.”

• Interesting poll, and interesting points, about whether independent retailers can survive, and how they should proceed.

• Finally, some sage advice that should come in especially handy if the Turkey Day talk turns to politics:

12
Nov
2019
0

Linkin’ logs 11-12-19

Looking forward and back on the InterWebs:

• This woman could make a fortune hiring herself out to upgrade refrigerators.

• “Stalin-era Soviet Union” is not a phrase that one expects to show up in the same sentence as “Champagne.” Until now.

• While I’ve never rooted for the Boston Celtics, I’ve always been intrigued by the folks who provided their moniker. Turns out they were wine lovers.

• Looks like wine production will be down this year, which doesn’t augur well for friendly prices. Neither do tariffs, but with challenges comes opportunity.

• I guess people love wine so much that they’re even making it out of potatoes in Peru.

• Finally, this might be the best primer on ordering wine I’ve yet seen:

5
Oct
2019
0

Linkin’ logs 10-8-19

As usual, I’m hopelessly behind with this stuff:

• What exactly is terroir? Almost a third of Brits think they know.

• Here’s a truly classic example of how if you wait long enough, everything will come back in style.

• My friend Sean Sullivan has an incisive, insightful take on barrels (or no barrels). He also digs into how misleading alcohol listings can be.

• Live long and prosper, palate and brain.

• This might be Japan’s version of sacramental wine :o).

• Finally, my friend Mark, wine and comic-strip aficionado, shared this gem:

 

1 2 3 105