Showing posts from November, 2008

Blind-Tasting Thanksgiving at the Chevskies, 2008

This was the second year in a row that my wife and I hosted the "day-after-Thanksgiving" party for our friends at our historic home in Palo Alto - hopefully two years in a row means "tradition". This time we focused on making the juiciest turkey possible (free-range willie bird from AG Ferrari that we brined for 24 hours in salt-herb-and-spice solution), stuffed with oranges, lemons and herbs from our garden, accompanied by home-made gravy (infused with Pinot Grigio) and oven- and grill-roasted autumn vegetables (beets, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, shallots, brussels sprouts with sea-salt and dressing drizzled on top). Our friends brought various appetizers and desserts: home-made cheese spreads (zesty!), marinated cooked grapes (tasty!), crab cakes (always satisfying!), pickled veggy salads (interesting), bean & walnut salad (yum!), stuffing (of course), pumpkin cheesecake (delicous), pecan pie (sweet), and more things I can't remember. So it

1990 Chateuneuf-du-Pape tasting with Ross Bott and co.

Wow, what an experience last night.  It was the first time I came to a Ross Bott tasting event.  My wine friends have been telling me about these Ross Bott events around the Palo Alto area, and finally I emailed Ross to add me to the list, and so it began.  Ross Bott is a Bay Area wine guru, who has been running a wine tasting group in Palo Alto probably for the last 30 years.  His tastings are rather serious events, with wine geeks getting together with their own glasses, and quietly tasting 8 wines blind, taking notes, and finally ranking the wines in the order of preference.  Ross then collects the individual rankings and computes overall rankings, etc, and then announces those.  Each participant then sees how far they are from consensus.  Really entertaining and educational exercise.  Ross supplies the wines from his allegedly enormous stash, and everyone pitches in to cover his cost. A lot of the time these tastings (which usually run twice a week)  focus on New World wines (Calif

Example of a beautiful tasting note - 2004 E.Guigal Cote-Rotie

Vinography blog --

A controversial Torrontes

For those who don't know -- Torrontes is the white wine of Argentina, and their answer to Sauvignon Blanc. I had never tried Torrontes until several days ago. Since this grape was in my WSET training materials and came up at the WSET exam I had taken a week earlier, I finally decided to dig into it a bit further, and picked up a bottle of 2008 Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes for $11 from a local Costco. BTW, spending $11 at Costco for a little-known grape variety from Argentina is not cheap (it's $13 at K&L Wines) - so I expected a fairly ok bottle of wine. An excuse to drink it presented itself the next day, when my lovely wife and I settled for some simple lunch at home, consisting of turkey avocado sandwich, eggs, and home-made fries, with a little spicy sauce for dipping. Seemed like a refreshing bottle of white could go with that. First thing I noticed was the color -- very light lemony. But the alcohol on the bottle says $13.5%. So clearly this was not going t

Pleasures of (moderately) aged wine

Recently, thanks to my wine-loving friends, I had opportunities to drink several moderately aged wines: a 2000 Burgundy from Corton (Grand Cru), paired with beef bourguignon a 1998 Rioja, paired with Spanish tapas a 1995 Burgundy from Pommard (1er Cru), paired with short-ribs and suckling pig dishes from Manresa . As my palate has been evolving quite rapidly away from big fruit and more toward complex non-fruity flavors, I found myself enjoying these moderately aged wines tremendously. Obviously, these must have been well-structured well-made wines to last even 10 years. But drinking them 8-13 years after the harvest reveals velvety smoothness and slight oxidation that makes these middle-aged wines sophisticated and intellectual. Due to age, they no longer boast huge tannins, sharp acidity, or juicy fruit -- they have no sharp edges, but those structural elements are still there just less aggressive and more polished, in harmony, accompanying delicious (non-vegetarian) meals with co

People think they are into wine

It increasingly amazes me how many people I meet who say that they love wine and they drink a lot of it, and they are "into wine", and yet their palate and their knowledge are incredibly limited. I find folks around me all the time with what's known as "California palate" -- they love oaky jammy fruit bombs (I must admit I liked those too when I just started my wine odyssey, but I grew out of that rather quickly), and that's mostly what they drink all the time, for years. Those wines are easy to drink (like juice) and thus are very approachable, but without acidity and minerally/earthy flavors they are really not food-friendly, and are boring. I cannot convince someone who is into those wines that they are wrong -- all I can say is - please listen to Gary Vaynerchuk's video blog (ignoring his over-the-top exuberance, and focusing on the information he delivers and his tasting notes) at the Wine Library TV and expand your palate!

Food & Wine Pairings: Riesling + Chinese Food

German Kabinett Riesling from Mosel (Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg 2007) + Mapo Tofu == perfect match. The acidity in the Riesling cuts through the oil in the food, and the slight sweetness in the Kabinett level wine complements the spiciness perfectly. I have tried many whites with Chinese food -- Chenin Blancs, Chardonnays, Gewurztraminers, Pinot Gris, Albarinos -- none match as well as German Riesling (apple, peach and mineral flavors). Though many people recommend a Spatlese level Riesling with Asian cuisine, I prefer Kabinett level (lowest level of sweetness in German Rieslings, but still plenty sweet for me).  And this particular bottle of Riesling was a really great example of what I expect from this grape. Try it instead of the more traditional drinks such as beer, green tea, or prune juice with Chinese food, and you will be delighted!