Friday, December 17, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
DINNER FOR PIEMONTE'S
of the G.D. VAJRA winery
On the last Sunday in October, we had the pleasure of hosting our friend Giuseppe Vaira from the famous Barolo/Riesling/Pinot Noir/Barbera/Dolcetto/Moscato estate in Vergne close to the town of Barolo.
He flew in from Europe and in the late afternoon we began a small celebration of Giuseppe's arrival.
We popped the cork on a 2001 Schramsberg Reserve...
This was extremely elegant and quite dry...nicely toasty, too. This was matured for 5+ years on the spent yeast.
Then we sat down at the dinner table and opened a bottle of Trefethen's 2009 Napa Valley Dry Riesling to accompany a little salad.
The salad had a lemony vinaigrette with a nice mustard character to it. The salad featured assorted mixed greens and some white and green asparagus with some warmed pancetta on top.
Ellen brought some of her home-grown cherry tomatoes...very nice.
The next course was "crab cakes." I browned some butter in a couple of frying pans and we mixed up the crab fixin's...
Rinascimento Wine Company President, Chief Cook & Bottle Washer Justin Gallen enjoyed the proceedings.
So did Ellen...
We paired this with a bottle of Selene's 2009 Hyde Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from Napa's Carneros region.
This is a spectacular California Sauvignon and one of the best in the state.
It was quite dry and mildly citrusy with nice stony overstones.
Giuseppe was amused by the palate cleanser, made from a lovely, fruity Dolcetto from one of his neighbors.
We then opened and decanted a couple of 1998 Napa Cabernets.
The "vintage chart" tells you 1998 is a poor vintage and consumers are urged to by-pass this sort of year. We were curious to see how a couple of Cabernets had fared...were they worth cellaring? Were they still alive? Were they any good?
Giuseppe helped serve the wine.
Meanwhile, the kitchen work was mostly finished...
Toasted Israeli Couscous with mushrooms...
Lamb shanks braised in Dry Creek Zinfandel...
Stewed artichokes with zucchini.
The 1998 Dunn "Howell Mountain" seemed okay at the start, but as it sat in the glass, this bottle's funky notes took over and Ellen said it was corked...
After a few minutes, we could see that, in fact, the corky element was increasingly apparent.
So...I looked in the cellar and found another bottle...a bit older.
This was a 1981 Ridge "Jimsomare."
The vittles were passed around the table...
Giuseppe realized the Ridge was old than he!
The Ridge showed some of the dill-like notes typical of wines aged in American oak. It had plenty of acidity and a touch of tannin...a medium-bodied red, this was elegant and nicely mature. It was also relatively low in alcohol.
And the bottle still had its ten-buck sale-price tag on it!
The other wine was a 1998 Araujo "Eisele Vineyard" Cabernet from an old site near Calistoga. Ridge had made a spectacular wine from this vineyard in 1971 and it was later vinified by Conn Creek and Joseph Phelps. After being acquired by the Araujo family, it appears exclusively under their label.
The 1998 vintage was declared by most critics as a "wash out" and there wasn't much praise for Cabernets from such a "difficult" vintage.
Well...anybody tasting this bottle would be hard-pressed to embrace the notion of it coming from a so-called "off" vintage.
This was full of dark fruit aromas and the oak was sweet and cedary/vanillin. The wine was supple on the palate...remarkably fine!
At one point during the dinner conversation, Justin mentioned wines from his birth year, the lovely 1968 vintage.
Giuseppe, it turns out, made his way into the world shortly before the Nebbiolo grapes were picked in 1985.
And...I had selected a bottle of wine to pair with the various (mostly) local cheeses...
A 1985 Vajra Barolo, imported years ago by Crosse & Blackwell!
I brought this out in the decanter and did not announce its identity...
We sniffed and tasted and some guessed it to be an old Cabernet, possibly from Howell Mountain.
Finally I brought out the bottle and Giuseppe was amazed. The cork, he noted, was clearly put in the bottle by using a hand-operated device.
At this point the paparazzi descended and Giuseppe and his birth year bottle were the subjects of numerous photos.
We then served some cheeses, mostly locally-made....
And we enjoyed the berryish, spicy Pinot Noir from the Arista winery in Sonoma's Russian River Valley. This was deliciously fruity, showing sweet cherry notes and some spice and wood tones.
Dessert tasted especially sweet, as our San Francisco Giants baseball team had been victorious in winning their third World Series game...
Bob brought pears poached in red wine and I made a Cinnamon-Vanilla Gelato.
Adam Tolmach's late harvest Viognier was right at home in this company.
Ojai Vineyard. 2002. Viognier.
And, having been awake for more than 24 hours, Giuseppe was ready to head for his hotel and hit the sack.
This was a lovely evening...thanks to all who participated.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Take Castel Noarna for example. The wines are great but I just couldn't sell them to save my life. And, as I said, the wines are really good.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Rinascimento Wine Co. has served me well. It was truly a rebirth when I created this company three years ago. That said, since no one can pronounce the company name (except the Italians) and no one knows what it means (except the Italians), it is time to move on.
Thus, a contest is born. A case of my finest wine to the winner!
What is in a name? What makes it resonate with customers and clients?
So here are some helpful hints:
- This is an Italian wine import company but I represent other importer portfolios, too.
- Must not already be taken!
- Latin is good but somewhat rough for some. No Bacchus, please.
That is about it.
Let's get the press some grapes and see what kind of juice comes out!
Monday, September 13, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Clear with medium straw color, with weak to moderate youthful aromas of green apple, green pear, white flowers and mineral, ginger snap, apricot, fruity pebbles,
Dry in the mouth with low to medium acidity, weak flavor and short finish. Flavors of palate different than what is in the nose, mineral and not on the palate.
Conclusion is that it is 79 points that it is a poor and out of balance.
Many in the class disagreed with this review and I thought it was tasting great but as we know, de gustibus non est disputandem!
Deep golden color, exceptionally aromatic, reminded of late harvest sauternes with aromas aged. Aromas of orange blossom, roses, geranium, guava, lychee nut and cardamom and star anise, full flavor and intesnisty and a medium long finish and and slightly off dry, ginger snappy character and a long finish.
It was mentioned thought it would pair it with strong cheese.
Clear and bright with deep gold color, aromas of classic petrol, caramel, butterscotch, developed and aged and powerful aromas of straw or hay and a little coppery , fruity parmesan and peaches.
Sweet, low in acid or high in acid (depending upon who you asked) with medium alcohol with moderate to powerful medium finish.
Flavors of mineral green apple, citrus, lime and overall balance was good. Tasted like a classic delicious Riesling
Sunday, June 27, 2010
So I teach this class at UCLA Extension and we taste a lot of wines from France, Italy and Spain.
Agrapart & Fils Les Sept Crus NV
Blanc de Blancs
Clear, light to medium, straw, with yeasty, apple, butter, slightly anise and petrol
Moderate intensity, and developing.
Persistent fine bubbles in the mouth, dry to medium dry, medium acidity, medium body, flavor intensity was moderate and the finish was long
On the palate, slightly off dry, lemon finish also on the finish a sweetness. Taste a little bit of creaminess, lemon, apple.
Really good balance and liked it a lot.
Agrapart & Fils 1998 Mineral Grand Cru
Blanc de Blancs
Clear and medium straw color and tiny bubbles visually.
Rich and full aroma of moderate and powerful, developed and aged aromas of more floral aromas, honeysuckle and definitely yeasty and complex.
Dry with medium acidity, and medium bodied, no tannins, with moderate oak, amd powerful flavor intensity and a medium to long finish.
Flavors with more minerality, nutty, and yeasty and less acidity. A little of baked apple, a little mushroomy and fungoid, pretty smelly and slightly dried leaves and woodsy.89 pts to 93 pts, slightly off aromas and flavors contribute to a less than ideal experience. Some loved it and some hated it.
R.H. Coutier NV Brut Grand Cru
1/3 Pinot Noir, 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Meunier
Clear, medium straw to gold and with aromas of mushroomy, loamy, wet earth, walnuts and green apple croissant, and a little straw, cherries, berries,
Dry, with medium high acidity, medium body, a little bit of grape tannin, flavor intensity is pronounced.
Clear, medium straw to gold and with aromas of mushroomy, loamy, wet earth, walnuts and green apple croissant, and a little straw, cherries, berries.
89 to 92 pts from the class.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
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