Saturday, October 29, 2011

Iron Chevsky on TV - pairing wine with Chinese cuisine

This interview conducted by Millbrae Community TV with yours truly at the Millbrae Arts & Wine Festival aired live on September 3, 2011 on local Bay Area cable. The topic of conversation was "Pairing wine with Chinese cuisines".

Friday, October 21, 2011

1992 and 2008 Ridge Monte Bello

This is a guest post by my friend, wine and food gourmand - Dan Snyder, from his September 2011 visit to Ridge.

A gorgeous September afternoon in the Santa Cruz mountains, fall releases, two great vintages of Ridge Monte Bello, wood fired organic pizza, and Paul Draper mingling with his huge snowball of a dog. There was a lot to like about the Ridge fall release party!

The highlights were the 1992 and 2008 Monte Bellos side by side. '92 is of course a legendary vintage and kinda kicked off the "new age" of sought-after California cabs. Kudos to Ridge for keeping pricing in line and sticking to their style. The similarities were striking in the wines -- although sixteen years apart. Good earthy, loamy, mushroomy minerality are threads throughout. The '08 of course being younger, wilder and sexier. The '92 was still absolutely gorgeous and at a great balance of fruit and development.

  • 1992 Ridge Monte Bello - 80% cab, 11% merlot, 9% PV. Effusive nose of crushed stone/charcoal, tar and mushroomy loamy earth. Some of that dried berry, dusty cavey goodness. Tannic and still youthful. Nice.
  • 2008 Ridge Monte Bello - 72% cab, 28% merlot. Wonderful, youthful nose -- spices, cherry, loamy minerally earth, thyme... oak present but not intrusive. Juicy and unctuous yet balanced.

I’ve tried several Monte Bellos over the years, including a ’91 out of half bottle recently that was still youthful even out of .375. If there’s a California red you can chalk up to ageworthiness it’s Monte Bello for sure. Like older Dunn cabs, it ages beautifully. And I remember tasting the ’08 Monte Bello at Ridge at their barrel tasting a few years back. 2008 was a very dry year (remember the Bay Area water warnings?) and yields were low but quality was good. Out of barrel the ’08 was sexy and wild, with good spicy oak used judiciously. Interesting how after three years all the components have settled and mellowed some, but the juicy unctuousness is still there. These wines are almost in slow-motion how they age, if this is sixteen years!

For the complete account of the event and detailed tasting notes, check CellarTracker here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Little Evan enjoys Rosh Hashanah with Franciacorta

For Jewish New Year a couple of weeks ago, Evan (5.5mo old) and I got into our newly renovated hot tub and celebrated with a glass of the always reliably delicious Ca'del Bosco Franciacorta - one of Italy's top sparkling wines. The little one approved. Salute!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Top Champagne Tasting of Year in the Bay Area

The Institute of Masters of Wine Annual Champagne tasting event comes to San Francisco each year in September. Hosted in the beautiful Ferry Building at Embarcadero, with an eye-popping view of the Bay and the Bay Bridge, for $50 it is one of the greatest values you can find of any wine events in the Bay Area. You get to taste hundreds of Champagnes, many costing in triple digits, poured by Masters of Wine, the rare and highly respected breed of only 300 in the world, who can answer any wine questions you can ever think of (although asking them for a champagne recommendation can be exercise in futility). Starting at 5, the room stays relatively light until about 5:30, when crowds rush in. If you are able to navigate your way through until about 7:30, the place lightens up again, and you get unobstructed (and repeated, if I might say so) access to most of the wines. Needless to say, my friends and I take full advantage of the opportunities and delights this event affords us.

Each year's tasting helps me with buying decisions, particularly because I can re-taste the same Champagne multiple times without rush. I typically do three rounds to confirm the favorites. While a couple of last year's heavyweights were absent this year (vintage Krug and Henriot Enchanteleurs), the lineup was impressive nonetheless.

Note: This year was the first time I'd ever seen spittoons placed on separate tables in the center of the room away from the tasting tables, very smartly forcing the hordes to clear the path to Champagne in order to relieve themselves of their mouthfuls.

My favorites of the tasting were (in this order):

1. Veuve Clicquot Brut "La Grand Dame" 1998 - I've been tasting the 1998 for the past three years, and it just gets better every year. Wine of the tasting for me.

2. Henriot Brut "Millesime" 1998 - in the absense of 1996 Enchanteleurs, this one really stood out.

3. Gosset Brut "Grande Millesime" 2000 - I've been impressed with the 1999 vintage of this wine, and the 2000 is just as good if not better.

4. Krug non-vintage Brut - always reliably excellent.

5. Bollinger "La Grand Annee" Brut 2002 - delish.

6. Charles Heidsieck Brut "Millesime" 2000 - very toasty.

I didn't like many rosés, but these two stood out:

7. Perrier-Jouet Brut Rosé non-vintage - delish.
8. Bruno Paillard Brut Rosé non-vintage.

Many others were noteworthy (Philipponnat, Pol Roger, Ayala) but not as memorable as those listed above. But hanging out with Liz Thach - the first female Master of Wine on the West Coast - more than made up for any forgettable bubblies.

That's me with Liz Thach - the first female Master of Wine on the West Coast.

As tradition would have it, my buds and I headed downstairs to the best fast-food burger joint in the Bay Area (IMHO) - Gott's (previously called Taylor's Automatic Refresher). While slightly overpriced, their Texas burger and garlic / parsley fries are all-so-satisfying.

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