Monday, April 19, 2010

Let Me Talk Oeschle To You, Baby!

I'm going to over-generalize here, as I've been known to do a couple hundred times. Riesling is the least appreciated grape on Wine Planet Earth and I am at a loss to completely understand it. Well maybe not a total loss. Leave it to the Germans to make the classification system as complicated, verbose and consonant-laden as possible. It's almost as if there is a secret language to the wines that has no root system, an utter and complete vinous mystery that is purposely being perpetrated upon us and they're laughing. Those bastards are laughing at our ignorance. Hawk-ptoo! We're being spat at!

But it's not as cumbersome as you'd think and there is more to Riesling than Germany, residual sugar and the Oeschle scale. Let's stick with Germany for now, it's QbA wines--your garden variety basic Riesling from any region--are picked first, tend to have very little sweetness and are easy on the wallet. After that, if you see Kabinett on the label, its picked next, a touch sweeter. Then the Spatlese (my "sweet spot" for age-worthy killer wines that aren't super-expensive) and finally Auslese. As you go up the classifications, you tend to go up the sweet-o-meter, also know as the Oeschle scale or must weight measurer. And herein lies the issue. Somewhere along the line, the public got the ill-advised word that residual sugar in a wine is gross, repugnant, flat-out tacky and passe. "Who me? I only drink dry wines. Might as well drink White Zinfandel, you ignoramus, and while your at it, comb your mullet and enjoy that homemade sleeveless flannel shirt of yours, heathen!" And it actually is gross without that four letter word that I love so dear. You know...acid! Oh yeah, these wines have so much acid that sometimes I think there is a hippy in the bottle. It keeps the wines so fresh and so clean like Outkast and allows them to age gracefully like Raquel Welch. And let's not forget food. If you're going for Thai, Indian, Chinese, Ethiopian or just about any other lovely 3rd World cuisine, you better have a tall skinny bottle in tow. Oh, did I mention that most of these wines age forever too. Riesling is perfection, people!

But Germany is just the tip of the iceberg. World class Rieslings can be had from Austria and Alsace and a plethora a brilliant wines come from Australia, Italy, California, Oregon, Washington, New Zealand and South Africa. Even Tasmania, as evidenced by our outstanding Wine of the Month selection for April, the 2006 Moorilla Riesling. It's just off dry, has a touch of bottle age and is a shockingly wonderful example of the grape in its unabashed nakedness. Want to try this wine and many more covering the entire range of all Riesling can be? Just sign up for our 3rd Annual "Unbearable Lightness of Riesling" Festival Vol. 3 on Sunday April 25th at 252 Restaurant in Bedminster, NJ. It will be an outstanding day and it just might be the Riesling epiphany that you've spent your whole life searching for.
JCB the 4th

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Frothing at the Mouth - Subtle Wine Diversion of April 2010

It's readily apparent. Le Monstre has been ornery as all get out lately. But it ain't all my fault. Pressure mounts and manifests itself in sometimes obvious but often ridiculous ways...

- If I have been testy of late, my grandmother is the queen of cantankerous. I had the pleasure of Easter Sunday dinner with her just recently. While she doesn't get around as well as she used to (70 years of smoking and 50 years of knocking back Wild Turkey will do that to you) she still has the gift of gab and knows exactly how to cut someone to their core. In the same breath that she fawned over my son, she barked out orders to the "kitchen staff"--i.e. my mother and I, that the food was not ready at the exact time we anticipated and she was done waiting. Once the food came out, a similar refrain was handed down when the strawberry shortcake had not been assembled 5 minutes after dinner was consumed. At least she had the decency to complement the wine I brought, the 2001 Lopez de Heredia Rioja Reserva Vina Bosconia, although she only had a taste. I adore the stuff and its the perfect elixir for grumpy grandmoms on a holiday.

- As has been documented but I try to conceal, lest my wine cred be completely tarnished, I am a singer in a band. Mainly we play in clubs for the complete joy and a couple bucks but we have been known to do a few wedding gigs in our time. This past weekends escapades were epic, as the wedding coordinator at the gestapo-like run country club we performed at were mind-boggling. Making corny announcements like, "Welcome to the legendary Blank-blank Country Club" were annoying but when the coordinator gave me the wrong order of the wedding party, barked five contrary orders of what/when we should play within a span of 2 minutes and re-arranged the timing of the entire event to the point of agony made my blood boil. The final coup de grace that sent me over the top was that the band was not to use the bathroom in the lobby where the guests were. OH HELL NO! That was it! I'm dressed in a suit like anyone else here! What is this...Jim Crow laws? I told the guys in the band that I'm taking a leak in the lobby and that if anyone says a word to me that the gig is over. Try explaining to the bride and groom (who were lovely, by the way) that the band got kicked out for using the wrong potty.

- Jim Nantz was irritating as hell today while watching the Masters coverage. All praise due to champion Mill Pickleson, but if I hear Nantz bring up one more time Tiger Woods "swearing" on the golf course during the 3rd round, I'm gonna puke. After hitting a poor shot on the 6th hole, Mr. Woods said, "Tiger, you suck! Goddamn it!" Nantz obviously wants to subtly pile on the Worlds #1 for his indiscretions. It's not like he mooned the crowd or dropped an F-bomb! And what golfer in the world hasn't said something like that before? I know I have and I'm certainly not out there playing for a major championship. I'm just trying to keep Laurent Chapuis from making me buy him a burger.

Now here's some good news... A few wines I've had lately that have made me swoon!

2006 Robert Sinskey Merlot Los Carneros - Finishing off the last of the Strike wines, this offering from the organic master has softened and beautifully integrated as of late. Delish!

2007 Paul Pernot Puligny Montrachet - Well made, fragrant White Burgundy that's even better when not poured into a musty stem.

NV Parigot & Richard Cremant de Bourgogne Rose - This is really one of the best deals in the store for Rose Champagne-like character at a wallet friendly price. So easy to drink and extremely versatile...

Thanks for letting me vent.

JCB the 4th

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bubbles, Bosconia & Bordeaux for Bembry!

Recent excursions show that I'm drinking very, very well right now. Just look at this smile I've got while my son snaps a photo of me at Raymond's while wearing his new shades and waiting for breakfast last Sunday. He had it up on Facebook in seconds yet I still have a smile. It can only mean one thing. With the Strike behind me and now free to sample all of the wine worlds delights, these were the latest and greatest...

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