Monday, January 29, 2007

Adventures in Wine and Food Pairing

I like to think I know a little something about wine but where I fall flat on my face is when left to my own devices for pairing wine and food. I know the basic rules of thumb like (1) White with Fish and Red with Meat and (2) its ok to break rule number one.

I tend to follow the 2nd rule and just order a wine I think I’d like and hope for the best. Following this line of thinking works about half the time.

A perfect case in point is a recent experience at one of my local restaurants called Farm on Adderley in Ditmas Park – Brooklyn. The restaurant itself has tasty food and I’ve yet to be disappointed in any of the several times I’ve eaten there. However, I have yet to be blown away either.

My wife and I decided to sit at the bar last Thursday and after perusing the menu, I ordered a seafood ragu in a red sauce while Tahirih ordered a lamb and pasta dish. Bother were specials.

For the wines, I ordered a NV Pinot Noir from Touraine in the Loire Valley region of France. It was $10 a glass or $38 a bottle, not exactly a bargain, especially for a non-vintage wine but I was curious.

It was cherry red in color with a raspberry nose. Actually more like candied raspberry. It was on the taste as well along with maraschino cherries. All fruit, syrupy texture, and a short finish. My point here…. I can’t recommend this wine and I was extremely disappointed at $10 a glass. Worse yet, what should have been a decent Pinot and red-seafood dish pairing was one of the worst combos I’ve ever had.

That was the miss. My wife on the other hand picked a winner with a 2001 Rioja-Crianza from Bodegas Saenz de Santamaria in Spain. This was $9 a glass and $28 a bottle. Brick red in color with bright red fruit. Spicy nose mixed in with a little oak. Smooth texture and a medium finish. My only knock is that it was a tab out of balance between the bright fruit and the acidity. It’s a great food friendly wine and at $28, a very good restaurant price. I’d give this a solid B score versus a D- for the Pinot.

That’s my latest adventure in food and wine paring but I got Andrea Immer’s “Everyday Dining with Wine” and will be studying up for my next restaurant trip.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Return Pt. 2 - The Wines...

In an effort to catch up and fill in the gaps between August and January, I have added the noted I’ve taken during that span. Like I said, I didn’t stop drinking good wine…I just took a brief hiatus from posting. Many of these notes have come from my “little black book”, a small leather bound book which I bring to the dining room table when opening a some great (by my taste) wine that we’ll be sharing for dinner.

I’d say the tastiest wine to make it into those pages over the past 5 months has been 2000 Chateau Pipeau from St. Emilion, suggesting that with some decanting, a good 2000 Bordeaux has the potential to blow you away without waiting forever for them to age.

Check out the wine’s I’ve added by checking them out via the Wine Index.

Beni di Batasiolo Barbaresco – 2000 (Piedmont)
Chateau Bourgneuf - 1994 (Bordeaux-Pomerol)
Chateau Coufran – 2003 (Bordeaux – Haut Medoc)
Chateau Lafayette Reneau – Dry Riesling – 2005 (Finger Lakes)
Chateau Pipeau St. Emilion Grand Cru – 2000 (Bordeaux – St. Emilion)
Chateau Ste. Michelle - Canoe Ridge Merlot – 2000 (Washington St.)
Clos du Marquis – 1996 (Bordeaux – St. Julien)
Layer Cake Shiraz – 2005 (Australia)
Loimer Gruner Veltliner – 2005 (Austria)
Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – 2002 (Sonoma)
Mont Gras Syrah “Limited Edition” – 2003 (Chile)
Perrin & Fils Vacqueyras – Les Christins – 2004 (Rhone Valley)
Sea Smoke Southing Pinot Noir – 2004 (Santa Barbara)
Stonestreet Merlot – 2002 (Napa Valley)
Torrione Petrolo – 2001 (Tuscany)
Viticcio Chianti Classico Riserva – 2003 (Tuscany)
Yellow Tail Riesling – 2006 (Australia)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

2005 Loimer - Gruner Veltliner (Austria)

Anyone seeing a movie or performance at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) might want to think about stopping at Thomas Beisl right across the main enterance on Lafayette St. I won’t try to be a restaurant critic here (I tried that once already) but the wine list is fun and affordable with the majority being Austrian selections.

We had a $32 bottle of 2005 Gruner Veltliner from Loimer which is located in the Kamptal region of Austria.

Straw hay color with a greenish hue. Very tart green apple on the nose with a little hint of line. There is a zing of acidity which lends itself to a sharp and crisp texture and a clean finish.

Overall, I’d give this wine a B- but what I like the fact that it was something different and away from all the rieslings and chardonnays. I’d definitly go back and explore more of their list.

PS – The service was exlempary too.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

2006 Yellow Tail Riesling (Australia)

Ok… This 1.5 liter bottle was a gift at Christmas time and who am I to turn down free wine, especially with a mortgage to pay.

Hay colored and lots of lemon on the nose. This isn’t exactly a crisp Riesling and there’s a lot of sweetness here. All put together, it comes off as kind of a limoncello light. Thankfully it stops just short of being cloying. The wine lingers on the tongue for a little bit, helped by the sugar.

While I can’t openly advocate buy this, it’s still not something I’d throw down the drain, a good thing since a have a liter and a half of this stuff.

The Yellow Tail Riesling will go well with any leftover Asian food you might have in the fridge, as well as a pilsner might. And for $10 a mag, I’d buy this over Bud any day.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

2000 Beni di Batasiolo Barbaresco (Italy-Piedmont)

So…. Let me just say upfront that I have little to no experience with Barbaresco so it’s possible that my judgments on this wine might be colored by inexperience. That said, I think this wine if fantastic and it might also be one of the best wine deals of the year. I found it selling for $20 at Warehouse Wines & Spirits in Greenwich Village. Its release price was $35 in 2003 and it can be found online for about $30. Wine Spectator like it so much that they anointed it as their #94 Wine of the Year in 2003.

Medium red color. A little lighter than I thought Barbarescos were. Dried fruit aromas… fig and some prune. Blackberry… Bilberry…(ok. That one was from the Le Nez du Vin) and a hint of cocoa. There is also a nice floral Rose quality to the wine. Dry. This wine has some real grip. Not quite lush but it has some nice texture and a medium long finish. Very nice overall and way above its $20 price tag in quality.

Friday, January 19, 2007

1994 Chateau Bourgneuf (Bordeaux - Pomerol)

File this under the “sometimes you get what you pay for” category. This was bought for $16 at Warehouse Wines & Spirits on Broadway and 8th St. in the village and as Yelp notes that “sometimes the wines are discounted for a reason.”

Warehouse Wines is probably the only store in the city to still carry this wine.

The 1994 Bourgneuf has definitely seen better says and is over this hill. Note that it needs air to get ride of its funky aroma that comes out when first opening the bottle. The wine has a slightly brownish tinge. Cedar notes come out after having a little air with come very light whiffs of black currant and dark cherry but the fruit is definitely fading. The tannins have outlasted the fruit on this one. There is still some grip there and a medium finish. I’d give this wine an overall score of a C-.

I can’t claim to have been duped into trying this as I knew more recent vintages of Chateau Bourgneuf retail in the mid $30s and that their 1994 wasn’t exactly a stellar wine, having garnered an 84 score from Parker. I was hoping to be surprised but really wasn’t expecting much.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

2000 Chateau Pipeau St. Emilion Grand Cru (Bordeaux)

Another find for $20 and WOW! I love this wine!

This dark colored St. Emilion is still tannic so it really grips your tongue on first taste. Loads of fruit. Full bodies and very aromatic with floral violet notes along with blackberry, anise, and cedar. The blackberry also comes through on the palate along with a leathery texture. Super long finish.

This wine has so much tannin right now that I would expect it to develop nicely in the bottle and will probably be fantastic in another 5+ years. If drinking now, decant this wine for at least a couple hours beforehand.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

2005 Ravines Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes)

Hay colored Riesling from Hammondsport in New York’s Finger Lake region. Peach and citrus on the nose. The peach comes out more if the wine is a little less chilled. Orange and peach in the tongue. Minerally. Medium long but very refreshing finish.

I’ve been a fan of this winery and their wines, especially the Rieslings, ever since I was turned on to them (by my Mom actually.) The 2005 Rielsing, the current darling grape of the Finder Lakes, is the best they’ve produced to this point.

I’ve read in Wine Enthusiast that this wine might “age gracefully over the next five years or more.” It’s possible and might be worth exploring.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

January 2007 - The Return...

If a tree falls in a forest......

I haven't posted to this blog since August '06. Since then... We'll, lets just say that life got in the way.

However, I haven't stopped taking notes. I've just been writing in my leather bound wine note book rather than coming straight to the computer and sharing. Those notes will find their way into this blog in the future because, aside from appearances, I have not stopped drinking wine.

It's possible that this blog may become a collaborative effort, that it might make it out to the public, that it might be redesigned. It's all conjecture and still in the future. We'll see what happens.

What's important is that I've started posting again. It may not be much right now but please take a look at my first entry of 2007 and stay tuned for more.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

2004 Cairanne Cote du Rhone Villages-Domaine Cahterine le Goeuil

I am becoming more and more convinced that Côtes du Rhône might be my favorite everyday wine. I’ve yet to be disappointed with any I’ve tried in the $10-$20 price range. I generally find then smooth, lush, aromatic, and they go very well with rich wintertime food.

The 2004 Cairanne from Domaine Catherine Le Goeuil is the latest find. It’s a Côtes du Rhône Villages and a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. Cairanne is a parcel in the Cotes du Rhone Villages appellation.

The wine is dark red, almost garnet in color. When first opened, there where strong notes of tar that disappated over time as the wine softened, leaving lovely earthy aromatics of dark berry and cedar. Nice balance between firm tanning and acidity. Medium long finish that grips the tongue.

This lovely wine can be found at Chelsea Wine Vault for the result price of $16 or for $14.50 during the month of January '07.

I would definitely recommend this wine to anyone who likes the Rhone varietals and appreciates a good value. Imported by Kermit Lynch.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

2005 Layer Cake Shiraz (Australia)

Very dark and almost black in color with very rich dark berry aromas. Upfront and “jammy” with prominent blackberry. Very full bodied with a medium long finish.

The retails for anywhere from $16 to $20 at a variety of wine stores around the city including Garnet on the Upper East side ($16 when in stock) and USQ Wine ($19).

I think this is good Shiraz and would give it a solid B overall if you like this particular style of Aussie Shiraz. The winemaker is Jayson Woodbridge, owner of Hundred Acre Winery in Napa and is a venture you can tell he is very serious about.