Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pairing wine with Chinese food - video program for Millbrae Community TV

Earlier this year I was invited by the Millbrae Community TV to film an episode about pairing wine with Chinese food. The show aired in two parts during the Labor Day weekend on September 1 and 2, 2012. For the shoot, I had selected a sparkling Cremant de Bourgogne rosé (from Burgundy), a Gruner Veltliner (from Austria), a Cote du Rhone (from South of France), a Cru Beaujolais (France), and a German Riesling. Hope you enjoy this 10-min show.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Gastronomic Ecstasy, Italian style with Barolo

To understand how perfect this pairing is, just think peanut butter and jelly, sea-salt and soft egg yolk, mustard and hot-dog, ketchup and french fries, Cabernet and steak... you get the idea?!

OMG! When Dan and Ash put together a "casual" dinner just because, Ash's fresh pasta with wild mushrooms and Italian sausage, with shaved truffle cheese on top, served with the 1996 Michele Chiarlo Barolo Cannubi (thank you Sandy!) was orgasmic, except in a more romantic and indescribable way. When that truffly, mushroomy, fennelly goodness of a pasta was brought in proximity with the 1996, I could no longer separate the wine from the dish - the aromas melded, the flavors married, I was in heaven!  The charm of the perfectly aged Barolo from a classical vintage was irresistible.  Next to it, by comparison, I am sorry to say, the very impressive 2001 and 2005 Cavallotto Bricco Borschis Barolos just seemed out of place -- too young and primary (even the 2001). Cavallotto was clearly top-notch stuff, but the 1996 Michele Chiarlo brought smiles to my face - Barolo at its prime - suave, confident and firm, with a palate of strawberries and leather, roses and tar, truffles and licorice, all that and more... This was my first encounter of Michele Chiarlo Barolo - great showing of the '96 vintage, with many more years ahead of it. Don't know if this wine will win competitions against Piedmontese greats, but it was a perfect wine for a perfect dish on a perfect night.

Not to overlook any other gourmet dishes and fine wines at that glorious dinner, Dan's hazelnut and pistachio home-made gelato (made from the "grand cru of pistachios" -- Bronte pistachio paste -- imported from Italy) was unreal, especially with a bottle of 1990 Sauternes from Chateau Suduiraut - wow, what an unbelievable Sauternes flavor - "cardamom, pine and grapefruit" (Dan's description), salty & sour caramel, preserved fruits, nice acidity, a kaleidoscope of notes playing on my tongue.

We consumed I think nine bottles of wine among six of us during this amazing meal (that also included three glorious tomato and sashimi appetizers from Dan, and a delish cheese platter from Scott & Kate). A blur of ecstasy, a night to live and die for!

It was very very tough to get up for tennis this morning. But heroically, I did.
Thank you so much, guys - you rock!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Grand Champagne Tasting of 2012

The 2012 annual Champagne tasting hosted by the Institute of Masters of Wine recently took place in San Francisco. The freakish 90 degree heat in October was offset by a nicely air-conditioned room on the second floor of the Ferry Building. What an enchanting view of the Bay, chilled bubblies in hand! Mesmerized. Slightly tipsy, my thoughts drifted - "is it time to try for a second kid?..."  I guess Champagne will do that :)

I document this worthwhile event every year. For getting a broad swath of the latest and greatest in Champagne, to my knowledge, there is no better event in the Bay Area. And considering the $60 admission fee, this is probably the best bang for your buck of any wine tasting of the year.

Teeth aching of acid overdose, a hundred bottles worth thousands of $$ of glorious sparkling sampled, a few exemplars truly moved... The best bottles are not cheap - retailing for well over $100, and the Rosé over $300, but when you are ready to live it up, it's hard to go back to the non-vintage rank-and-file after these vintage beauts.

Henriot "Enchanteleurs" 1998. Another power-house Henriot following the great 1996. Riper and richer (sweeter?) than most other dry champagnes, with a smile-inducing kaleidoscope of flavors. Very sexy.

Veuve Clicquot "La Grand Dame" 2004. On the wings of the great 1998, comes another perfect Champagne with a pronounced citrus note from Veuve Clicquot, this time from the 2004 vintage.

Charles Heidsieck "Blanc des Millenaires" 1995. A classic. Overall, the most balanced and text-book perfect Champagne specimen of the tasting.

Perrier-Jouet "Belle Epoque" Rosé 2004. Absolute beauty, with dreamy, elegant honeyed Pinot berry flavor.

P.S. Worth a mention -- Charles Ellner and Pol Roger were solid across their portfolios. The Bollinger NV was quite lovely as well.

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