Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The Italy Deathride commenced in August leading up to Labor Day and was exactly what it sounds like. My man, Enrico Battisti knows how to show you the Italian countryside...the ENTIRE Italian countryside in just 5 days. We whizzed around from Rome to Lazio to Marche (complete with 1am tour of the winery) to Tuscany to Liguria to Piedmont. It was an eye-opening experience with one particular spot truly grabbing my heart.
While I loved Montalcino and will always consider Piedmont my heart, I was absolutely smitten with Liguria and a trip to Poggio dei Gorlieri. Ok, so a three-hour stop for a little sun on the beach in Varigotti certainly helped recharge the weary batteries. But then we climb this amazing hill to find the 30 year old vines of Vermentino, Pigato and Ormeasco (clone of Dolcetto) carefully tended by Davide Merano. This place is like Shangri-La, a spit-shined clean small operation with an agritourismo (lovely Italian B-n-B attached to the winery) that overlooks the Ligurian Sea in the most majestic of fashions. I had such warm feelings being there that I am determined to visit again this summer on my own. Wanna join me?
Davide makes gorgeous Vermentino and a very fun, funky Ormeasco, but Pigato rules the roost here. The Poggio dei Gorlieri Cyncus is like drinking great 1er cru Chablis, all briny and mineral with citrus fruit cocktail, orange peel and sea salt. He made us Paella to enjoy with it, not because it is traditional in Liguria (although the loads of prawns in it are) but because it just works to perfection. This is magnificent wine (Tre Bicchieri winner if that stuff gets your juices flowing) and solid Cellar Defender stuff that just makes any seafood dish snap to life.
Finally, I just re-discovered ODB. Man, I miss this mad genius and can't seem to shake him out of my Ipod. Some think he was crazy, I just think he was tortured and extremely calculating. Gone too soon...give the album, "N****, Please", a listen if you want to wrap your mind around the rantings of a nutcase. It's fascinating and booty shaking stuff!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and All That,
JCB the 4th
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I tell J-X, "No, really, I have to go," knowing that I'm neither daisy fresh nor really in the mood to be charming or even social. He insists, "No, you have to stay! I had a cancellation and we're blind tasting a ton of wines!" Once again, I tell him that I really can't. "Nonsense! Here!" He whips out two Champagne flutes with the quickness of a gazelle. "In your left hand is 93 Dom Perignon and in your right hand is 96 Dom. Just a warm up and everything else served will be blind. We've got 23 wines open! We need help drinking all this!"
1993 and 1996 Dom? Really? Ok, I'm staying for a while.
I run off to the bathroom and try to clean up a bit. I meet everyone there. A lovely bunch of wine fiends who have a local blind tasting group. Each month or so, a different gentlman hosts and provides the wine and food. J-X did it to the max! We tasted the following blind flights with J-X's titles...
First Flight - Red Burgundy - Hard to Find Vintage Variations
1955 Charles Vienot Richebourg Grand Cru (no misprint, 1955!)
1995 Haegelen-Jayer Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru
2005 Armand Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin Lavaux St. Jacques 1er cru
Second Flight - Chateauneuf du Papes - The Single Varietal King
2000 Chateau Rayas
2006 Chateau Rayas
Third Flight - Chateauneuf du Papes - The King of Blended Chateauneuf du Papes
Dinner Break - Special Guest Tony Grande, Executive Chef and Owner of Il Capriccio
Cooking Demonstration - Taglierini with White Truffle followed by Pan Seared Lamb Chops with Dr. John's Rosemary. Paired with 2001 Cappellano Barolo Otin Fiorin from MAGNUM.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Sorry, wrong movie--this is the crystal ball of 56 Degree Wine, so now I present a preview of next weeks' offerings; the summer's hottest selections of white wines from the hottest (coldest) shop in the entire world...
St. Aubin from Didier Larue - If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I've got a serious Jones for Didier Larue's wines. In particular, his 2008's are clearly the best St. Aubin wines I've ever tasted. I thought so when I first got a glimpse of them in barrel during my 2009 visit to the winery and the extra year plus has only solidified my notions. The two jewels in his considerable crown must be En Remilly and Murgers des Dents de Chiens. These wines encompass everything I love about Burgundy. They have the definition of Angelina Jolie's silhouette coupled with the buxom layers of voluptuousness that make it sex in a glass. But this is no tart; these wines are all class, with a sense of the regal and an elegance that belies bombast. In short, I adore them...
Huet - While I know the name Huet is synonymous with greatness, saying that you love their Vouvray is not exactly breaking new ground. They have been the greatest of Loire estates for a very, very long time. But a recently shared bottle of their 2008 Vouvray Sec Clos du Bourg left me shaking my head. I could hardly contain myself with the burgeoning pattering in my chest that grew to a raucous thump. I fell in love with Chenin all over again, and I know that there is not another bone-dry expression of the grape that is better than this. And the best part is that it will set you back just $33 per bottle. Amazing that you can get the greatest example for such a small tariff, but indeed it is true.
JCB the 4th
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
5 - Cabernet Sauvignon - Before you start the chant to have me stoned in the village, I'll preface this by saying that this falls more under the category of overrated in my mind, rather than just god-awful. Left Bank Bordeaux certainly need not apply, as well as our California brethren that get it right and don't let their wines taste like some candy-coated exaggeration of the grape. But since Cabernet Sauvignon is seemingly grown in every nook-n-cranny, it has a target. I taste these wines on the regular and there are so many examples of greenish or flabby or overoaked versions of this grape that it often bears no resemblance whatsoever to the originator. I mean, we're talking about a LOT of wine here.
4 - Furmint - This grape is really awful and oh so appropriately named. It really does taste like fur and mint. Mmm, doesn't that sound delicious?
3 - Carmenere - I'm still at a loss to understand why these wines from Chile hold so much favor with the wine public. I'll admit that this is really more an indictment of Chilean wines in general than so much on this grape but they go hand in hand. Usually stalky and funky, these wines are grown on the wet side of the Andes...a fact that is hard to deny and equally difficult to recover from no matter how much oak you apply.
2 - Savagnin - This is the grape of Jura that makes that super-oxidative, trunk-o-funk wine that is almost brown and tastes like a hairball. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.
1 - Pinotage - So firmly entrenched as the most awful grape in the world, that there is really nothing else to look at. For I would rather grab a glass and put one ounce each of a Jura, Carmenere, Furmint and Cabernet Sauvignon, stir it and drink it down rather than suffer the pain of Pinotage. Seriously, what knucklehead thought it would be a good idea to cross Pinot Noir (the greatest grape on earth, unquestionably) with Cinsault. Just the idea is preposterous! This filthy, vile grape is like drinking faint berry toned sod with pepper, bitters and farmers armpit after a hot day amongst the vines. It's clearly the worst grape in the world.
JCB the 4th
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
JCB the 4th
Monday, May 10, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
1998 Le Brun Servenay Champagne Brut Vielles Vignes Avize - Rich and round and filled to the hilt with apples on steroids, this is hedonistic, luscious bubbles that was downed at breakneck speed. I've been called a Champagne whore in the past and I consider it a compliment...
NV Gatinois Brut Ay from 375ml - further evidence of previous statement.
1999 Hubert Lignier Morey St. Denis La Riotte 1er cru
2001 Lopez de Heredia Rioja Vina Bosconia - If there is a better $35 Rioja than this that is equally suited for the classic and new school palate alike, I'll eat live carpenter ants! So bold and flavorful, one can hardly contain the reckless abandon that this wine gives off. But this wine is no floozy! It's contemplative, coaxing, complex and compelling. Truly divine!
2005 Chateau Les Hauts d'Aglan Cahors - Argentine Malbec lovers need apply, this ratchets up the volume with the blackest fruit you can muster in a small package. If you don't mind a little tannin (or you consume it the way you should with a steak) you are in for a ridiculous value for just $17.
2006 Moorilla Riesling Tasmania - That's right, Tasmania! You can't believe it? Neither can I, but I guarantee that if you close your eyes and take a whiff, you might think Prum first and Aussie last. Absolutely love the little petrol development on the aromatics, this is just off-dry and just dying to be consumed with your Easter ham.
Finally, last night I went to the Essex Wine Society's 1989 Bordeaux Tasting. Now you know that me and Bordeaux have this love/whatever type relationship but a well stored and well aged claret is truly a thing to behold. The wines, in order tasted (blind), with my favorites highlighted...
1989 Beychevelle St. Julien
1989 St. Pierre St. Julien
1989 Poujeaux Moulis en Medoc
1989 Meyney St. Estephe
1989 Montrose St. Estephe
1989 Le Gay Pomerol
1989 Pichon Lalande Paulliac - Best of the night. Amazing!
1989 Pichon Baron Paulliac
1989 Lynch Bages Paulliac
OK, it's time for some Vin Gris. Gimme, gimme!
JCB the 4th
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Brooklyn Fare Kitchen is an amazing concept and is the genius of Chef Cesar Ramirez, a former exec-chef for David Bouley. It is called a "class" on their website but really it is the experience of being served the most precise and flavorful food by a master artisan chef live and up close. Having dined at Brooklyn Fare once before and loving the experience, I was eager to repeat it with my co-workers, so I made a reservation for the whole table back in November for February 16th. That's how tough a reservation it is, but believe me, persistence and patience here are well worth the reward you will receive.
Chris Cree did a great job of documenting the extent of culinary wizardry we experienced. Check it out here. Cesar does not allow photos any more and discourages note taking, which is a shame and also completely understandable. In the blogosphere in which we live, the last thing a chef as creative as Ramirez needs is to see digital pictures of his intellectual property out there for other chefs to steal. But it certainly robs food geeks like me of remembering (especially after the 6 magnums we downed, more on that in a bit) everything presented. And I want to remember. I want to file it away in my memory banks, so when I have a moment to daydream, I can recollect, reminisce and draw inspiration from it.
6 courses and 12--no typo--canapes to start. One after another of magnificence on a plate, I have never muttered the word "Wow" so often in one evening. The warm beet soup with Hudson Valley yogurt with a shave of citrus zest was so inviting and welcoming. The Bluefin Toro with a hint of mustard and crisped leeks was luscious. The Kumamoto oyster with grapefruit creme fraiche and oyster juice gelee was breathtaking. The King Crab --stolen photo at right, sue me--with caviar, vanilla and pineapple was explosive. Hell, I even ate Duck testicles (no bullshit) and loved it; fried into a crispy little "ball" that he conveniently didn't tell us what it was until everyone had already eaten it! And how could anyone forget the Cod creme with a mountain of shaved black truffle, so much so that Cesar let us know that the cost of the shaved truffle is more than what we paid for the meal. It is probably the simplest, yet most complex and thoroughly satisfying things that has ever caressed my palate.
The wines were all mags and all tasty...
NV Eric Rodez Champagne Brut "Cuvee des Crayeres" Ambonnay
NV De Meric Champagne Brut "Catherine de Medici" Ay
2001 Domaine Bzikot Puligny Montrachet Les Folatieres 1er cru
1999 Bouchard Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru
2006 Robert Sinskey Pinot Blanc Carneros
1999 Thomas Levet Cote Rotie Chavaroche
1986 Raymond Lafon Sauternes
I urge you to check this place out for yourself, as alas, the times are a changin' at Brooklyn Fare. This summer, they plan to expand, increase the price which is currently $95 per person and add a liquor license which will end the BYO practice. I volunteered to run the wine program for Cesar in exchange for food. Still waiting to hear back...
JCB the 4th
Friday, March 5, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
But this Sunday marked a visit to Pouilly-Fuisse. We made the 90 minute drive to the Macon and, amazingly, I forgot to bring my Blackberry, which to me is akin to forgetting to breathe. That rarity aside, honestly, I didn't love the wines...and it's not because I had just been filled to the gills with Puligny Montrachet for the previous four days. To me, they were slightly heavy handed, lacking a bit of precision and personality. And you might have noticed by now that I haven't mentioned the producer. He's young and I think the wines have potential, so I'll choose to not rain on them and hope to try again in the future.
Upon exiting the Macon, we took the long route back to Puligny and toured a few sites along the way driving through St. Aubin, St. Romain (the worst terroir in ALL of Burgundy, seriously someone should just bulldoze it!) and Aloxe Corton finally ending up in Meursault. A trek to the Caveau de Chassagne yielded a couple nice finds that were later to be consumed on the trip. Finally, we ended up at the Caveau de Puligny, with proprietor Julien Wallerand opening some astounding wines, served blind of course, for us...
2007 Henri Boillot Pulingy Montrachet Clos de la Mouchere 1er cru
1999 Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet Les Pucelles 1er cru
2001 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru
Now that is what I call an aperitif!
Dinner at Hotel Le Montrachet with Rose & Pascal Maillard, Didier Larue and Julien Wallerand yielded the following beauties, all served blind...
NV Meilly Champagne Brut Magnum
2006 Domaine Larue Puligny Montrachet Le Trezin
2007 Marc Colin Chassagne Montrachet Le Caillerets 1er cru Magnum
2001 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet Grand Cru
1992 Domaine Larue Blagny Rouge Sous le Puits 1er cru
2007 Domaine Maillard Pommard
1990 Domaine de Montille Volnay Taillepieds
1999 Meo Camuzet Vosne Romanee Les Chaumes
Lots of great discussion ensued about the wines...Was the bubbly a touch oxidized? Is this Vosne Romanee? Was the Montille in good (my camp) or great shape? But without question, the singular greatest memory of the nights wines will be the 1992 Blagny, an unheralded vintage and an unheralded appellation, this wine was one that would rock you to your core, leaving you feeling that you don't know as much as you thought about the potential of greatness of wine. The wine was lyrical, profound and devastating. Sigh...
Quite the Off Day.
JCB the 4th
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
So if you read our 56 newsletter, you know that Lamy Pillot was an impressive visit that lasted from mid-afternoon to well into the evening culminating in a delcious dinner in Beaune at Le P'tite Paradis. Chris did a great job of describing the whole scene on his blog, Down to Earth Wine. The following morning, we were to see one of the most storied white wine estates of the world, the irrepressible, Domaine Leflaive...
We had a glorious tasting at Domaine Leflaive and Antoine Lepetit couldn't have been more gracious. He answered all of our questions about the processes with accuracy and thought, allowed us to sample their dynamic 2008's from tank as the are close to being bottled and even explained what "Sous le Dos d'Ane" means, their fantastic singular Meursault. "Donkey's back" is the answer as neither Chris nor I could find a good translation for the life of us before now. One surprising tidbit is that many 2008's were extremely slow to complete malo-lactic fermentation. Thus, we were unable to taste the Puligny Montrachet AC or the Puligny Montrachet Les Folatieres 1er cru. We did go Bourgogne Blanc to Grand Cru and it was really amazing!
2008 Bourgogne Blanc
2008 Meursault Sous le Dos d'Ane 1er cru
2008 Puligny Montrachet Clavoillons 1er cru
2008 Puligny Montrachet Les Pucelles 1er cru
2008 Batard Montrachet Grand Cru
2008 Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru
2007 Puligny Montrachet AC
2007 Puligny Montrachet Les Folatiers 1er cru
2007 Bienvenue Batard Montrachet Grand Cru
Since the 2007's will be coming to our market very soon, it was great to get a chance to taste them from bottle. All three were stunning wines in their respective category, representing the pinnacle of the Chardonnay grape. The Puligny village is not to be missed as it is wide open and classic Puligny with tropical fruits, orange peel, nuts and mocha hints. The Folatiers is always a lush and forward drinking site and the 07 is gorgeous with expansive, voluminous citrus fruit, stones, chalk, white fruits and vanilla bean. Finally, the Bienvenue is like a statuesque beauty, all regal and dressed to the nines. It jumps from the glass with melons, spice, tangerine, smoke and white corn with real class and superior length. Truly a jaw dropping tasting and a true honor to be in the hallowed halls...
Next up...Carillon, Bzikot & crazy meals!
JCB the 4th
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Sunday, January 3, 2010
2004 Vimart & Cie Champagne Brut Rose "Grand Cellier Rubis"