Sunday, August 21, 2011

Manresa delights

Manresa - my favorite Bay Area gastronomic restaurant south of San Francisco, two Michelin stars well-deserved. The garden freshness of their dishes seems to represent a style perhaps slightly less fancy and lighter on its feet than French Laundry. Rona and I used to come here for anniversaries until we had a baby. Recently remodeled into a more modern feel, prices notched higher, a 15-course chef-menu dinner ensued. The wine director suggested a tasty bottle of Blanc de Noirs Champagne (100% Pinot Noir) by a relatively obscure producer Barnaut. At under $50 retail ($125 at the restaurant) this is a good value. Then Dan and I pulled out our own suave 2004 William Fevre Chablis Bougros Grand Cru and the mesmerizing Domain Jacques Prieur 2001 Clos Vougeot Grand Cru Red Burgundy. The latter was in the early stages of its adulthood, starting to show incredible secondary notes, satiny texture, and all the elements that kept me glued to the glass until the wine was gone - reminding why red Burgundy rules the world of fine wine. Exquisite, focused masterpieces by Iron Chef winner Chef David Kinch were weightless yet packed with flavor. Nearly 5 hours later, cookies in hand, we left giddy of gastronomic delights and many hundreds of dollars lighter, no regrets, just happy smiles, as we picked up a healthy handful of the most delicious salty caramel candies from the host on the way out! Bon Appetite!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Quiet weekends in Palo Alto - with white Burgundy, Chianti Classico, and a great VT CdP blanc

Baby Evan is now four months old, and Rona and I are starting to get out for an occasional picnic or lunch, while enjoying simple yet delectable food and wine pairings from local foodie joints that we've been missing. Here are a few photos from the past two weekends, taken with my trusty iPhone4 camera.

Enjoying 2009 white Burgundy from Domaine Jacob (under $17, courtesy of Garagiste) at the Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City (the corkage is only $5) - excellent, lively, mineral-infused, flavorful, Chardonnay with no new oak. I expect value-driven red Burgundies to do well in 2009, across the board. But the whites in 2009 may be hit or miss. This one certainly hit the nail on the head. Fantastic with New England clam chowder.

Below is the same wine, equally excellent with fish and chips, and Maine lobster rolls, and fries!

Then an excellent Chianti Classico from a very solid producer Il Molino di Grace from the very good 2006 vintage. Got this wine for under $15 from Vinopolis in Portland, Oregon. Excellent bargain - and a very substantial Chianti, combining earthy black cherry and tar. This could age a few more years. Fabulous with a Blue cheese burger with crispy bacon (yum!) from Oasis in Palo Alto. Enjoying by the Boronda Lake at the pristine Foothills Park (exclusive for Palo Alto residents only!).

And finally, one of the best whites I've ever had - and it's not a white Burgundy. This 1998 Southern Rhone Chateauneuf-du-Pape from Vieux Telegraphe was not a beginner wine - incredibly complex, with scents of herbs and honey. Savory and dry yet full of sweet ripe fruit, satiny texture, and freshness unexpected of a wine with 13 years of age. Enjoying with Krishna after a tough (20-min :)) tennis "battle"!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Some whites get fatter not better with age

Two of the white wines I was very excited about, are not tasting so good anymore. I had stocked up on 2008 Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis (from Piedmonte, Italy) and 2007 Chante-Perdrix Condrieu "Authentic" (from Northern Rhone, France). 1-2 years ago they tasted great (see my old raves here and here), but in the past year, they have fattened and lost some of their freshness. I am glad I am down to my last bottle of each, while they still taste okay, especially when paired with just the right food.

This is a reminder that stocking up on wines to keep them for years is not always a good idea, particularly when it comes to Arneis (the white grape of Roero) and Viognier (the white grape of Condrieu) grape varieties. You've been warned!

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