Friday, February 27, 2009

11th hour inspiration

Last night was one of those last minute dinners, conceived of an inspired notion so late in the day that you probably should have been sitting down to eat already. Hunger, I suppose, will occasionally spur a good idea. As I recall, we were extremely close to ordering Thai takeout, when one member of the household did not seem enthused about the idea. I had not intended to cook, but then it was 8:30pm with the clock ticking. Earlier in the day, a certain other member of the household had pointed out that we have lots of risotto taking up space in the pantry. The message was clear: cook up said risotto over the next few weeks, or it will find its way to the trash.

Fair enough, risotto it would be then. Often I am fond of cooking risotto with red wine (usually a barbera, or nebbiolo) as opposed to stock. The rice soaks up all of that delicious wine flavor, and besides, if you're an occasionally serious home chef without a regular supply of good homemade stock in the freezer, you're covered. This time around, however, I thought I would try white wine. With riesling on the mind, I chose a bottle of Hospitien Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett. I wanted to season the cooking liquid in what I thought to be a somewhat Friulian manner, so I settled on a couple of bay leaves, coriander, cumin seeds, and a bit of cinnamon. Noticing a butternut squash on the kitchen table, I decided to roast that and make a puree, blending in a bit of chopped fried bacon and placing the mixture beneath and on top of the rice.

I think it turned out pretty well, as did the roommates. Nicely seasoned, a bit sweet-ish from the Riesling (as I expected) but still very enjoyable. It complemented the rich, earthy-sweet squash flavors nicely, and the savory parmesan plus the salty, smoky bacon completed the balance of the dish.

And the wine?

I cracked open one of my three '02 Radikon Ribollas. Stanislaus Radikon makes wine that is difficult to categorize as either white or red. The skin maceration is so long that the color ends up looking like this.

Additionally, he uses no sulphur at any point in the grape growing or winemaking process. Not easy, but in his mind that's the only way to do things. For more Radikon info check out this Eric Asimov post on the producer.

While I think I have retailer/ Italian wine guru Sergio Esposito and his prolific emailing digits to credit (earlier in the day he had sent out a Radikon email), I wonder had I not received that email, if I would have have made the same dip into the cellar, knowing that the pairing would be such a strong one. And it was a great pairing. The wine seemed to really bring out the flavors of the dish, the spices in particular, especially the cumin. And though the nose is so brooding and complex, this wine always seems to finish with such a light, pure flourish, the tingling acidity urging you to take another sip or grab another forkful of food.

Having enjoyed this wine twice before without food, and being blown away, I must admit that the experience pales in comparison to a terrific meal which highlights and complements this phenomenal bottle of wine.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Kiwi Tasting Note (?)

I find this hard to believe, but I am about to post about a New Zealand wine! Don't worry, it will not be a Marlborough sauvignon blanc, as just about 99.99% of them are garbage. No, I would prefer to write about a much less planted, more noble (in New Zealand, anyway) grape varietal: pinot gris.

Aurum Estates is located in Central Otago, which at 45 degrees lattitude is the world's most southerly wine region. It is also apparently quite visually stunnning, alpine, with mountain tops rising high above the vineyards. Much has been made of the pinot noir here, though, with the exception of Rippon, I still don't get the hype.

Aurum's 2006 pinot gris is an example par excellence of pure new world fruit. I say that because, while there are no mineral notes, the dripping ripe aromas and flavors of mandarins, melon and pink grapefruit (NOT the processed, clichéd, NZ sauv blanc type of grapefruit, but rather, the riper, more natural Alsace type grapefruit flavors) are stunning. Yes, this is a wine from New Zealand, the yeasts used for fermentation may be cultured, there is a touch of heat on the finish, etc. But, I must admit, I find this wine to be more interesting, and more appealing, than many old world whites (including some riesling from the Sunday '07 German riesling tasting) I have tasted over the course of the past week.

When the new world achieves, even we staunch traditionalists and Europhiles must recognize. Hats off, Aurum. Keep up the good work.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Some brief Scotch notes

In an effort to continue to create more diverse content, I've decided to occasionally post whisky tasting notes, likely focusing on single malt scotch.

Why single malt? Well, IMNSHO, it is the whisky that best reflects a specific place, showing consistent style depending upon where in Scotland it's from (Islay, Highland or Speyside, for example). While it is tough for many people to appreciate differences in flavor at 40% abv or higher (as it occasionally still is for me), the truth is that with some tasting under one's belt, and a bit of an effort, many people slowly gain an appreciation for quality single malts. And once you do, you will eventually realize that, just as you can't live with one type of wine alone, you will need at least several different whiskies on hand to satisfy your need for for variety.

Here are a few of the single malts currently residing in my liquor cabinet:

Isle of Arran 10 year old (Isle of Arran)

Arran is a tiny island lying east of Campbeltown. Its lone distillery is a fairly young one, having been established less than twenty years ago. Their 10 year is light, unpeated, and very drinkable. Sort of a gateway scotch, as it is not too intensely flavored from a higher alcoholic strength nor a heavily peated malt. Light as a sea breeze, with a hint of sweetness on the mid-palate and a subtle, salt inflected finish.

Springbank 10 year old (Campbeltown)

I'm not 100% positive, but I believe that this is Scotland's oldest, continuously independently owned and operated distillery. And their stuff is unbelievably good. I'd love to have the 15 year, but at about $90 it's significantly pricier than this $55 bottle. The 10 year is peatier than I had expected, but beyond the slightly aggressive peat lies a powerfully flavored, nutty, honeyed whisky. The finish is nicely briny, lingers for a while and dissolves elegantly after a while. As powerful and elegant a 10 year as you're likely to find.

1990 Glen Grant 18 year old Gordon & Macphail Reserve (Speyside)

This is a custom bottling done for K&L by independent bottler Gordon & Macphail. An independent bottler selects and purchases casks from various distilleries, bottling them separately and independent of the distillery,though both names are displayed on the label (an example might be, say, 1991 Macallan Murray McDavid 16 year old ). Just as English merchants have a history of selecting the best barrels of port, or perhaps sherry, the same model was established with Scotch. This Glen Grant is a solid Speyside whisky, with some candied citrus and butterscotch notes.

I've also got a few bottles of another fantastic Speyside single malt, Glenrothes, but I'll save that for another post.

I encourage those of you who have not already done so to experiment with single malts and indulge in the occasional wee dram - a perfect winter pick me up during these rainy (Bay Area) and snowy (nearly everywhere else) winter evenings.

Monday, February 23, 2009

And yet again, the tasting group convenes: '07 German Riesling meets Brandenburg Concertos and Die Mensch Maschine

Hope you enjoyed the Kraftwerk video.

As you may have surmised from the above title, it was something of a celebration of all things glorious and of teutonic origin for my tasting group's most recent meeting tonight. I selected the highly regarded '07 German vintage as a theme, cooked up some brats, made some cabbage to accompany, and played JS Bach to thematically tie things together. Kraftwerk's Man Machine was requested (and shortly thereafter un-requested) by a few fellow group members. As for the wines, we all agreed that it was a very solid showing. I divided the seven wines into two flights: one trocken (dry) flight of 4 and a flight of three kabinetts.

FLIGHT ONE: Dry Riesling

There was a fairly strong divide between people's two least favorite wines, and their two favorites.

2007 Johannes Leitz Riesling Eins Zwei Dry

By a single point, this was the least favorite wine. Personally, I found the wine to be aromatically closed at first. With air, some tart, red autumn apples as well as yellow stone fruits emerged. The palate was very tangy, reminding me of tart yellow plums skins. Crisp and thirst quenching, but also, I feel, deemed a bit lean and one note by this tough crowd of folks mainly in the wine trade.

2007 Von Schubert Maximin Grunhauser Riesling QbA Trocken

This Ruwer riesling had a strong mineral stamp on the nose. It smelled funky and very slatey. The palate was earthy, soft, very textural, and a whole lot more mature tasting than its youth might suggest. Interestingly enough, the estate is one of the few non-interventionist ones in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. Native yeast fermentation, and judging by the style perhaps a relatively minimal dose of sulphur as well. Ultimately, while this was interesting, the austere dryness, pungent minerality and lack of fruit did not do much for me or many others in the group.

2007 Becker Landgraf Riesling Trocken

This up-and-coming Rheinhessen estate impressed many folks, with three first place votes and two seconds out of nine participants. Johannes and Julia, a husband and wife team, source grapes from particulalry chalky soils in the Rheinhess. They ferment using a 50-50 mix of indigenous and cultured yeast. I found a certain savor and harmonious quality to this wine's aromas. A definite mineral stamp, but not as overbearing or defining as on the Von Schubert. I was particularly taken with the effortless balance and purity of flavors.

2007 Weingut Ott Riesling Vom Rottem Schotter

Scandalous... the top finishing wine of this German focused Riesling tasting was actually an imposter, a ringer, an Austrian wine! I'd be crying foul, except for the fact that Ott's wines are so delicious and in this particular case show so incredibly well out the gate. Some comments from my colleagues: 'Great depth,' 'Good weight and richness,' 'characteristic petrol notes.' We all agreed that this wine was the most expressive on this particular evening. This is made from biodynamically farmed grapes grown in a vineyard in the Wagram region of Austria (due west of Vienna, just before you reach the Kamptal, Kremstal, and Wachau).

FLIGHT 2: The Kabinetts

Given budgetary restraints, as well as the fact that 2007 is such a classic vintage, perfect for Kabinett production, I decided to select a few Kabinetts for the off-dry portion of this evening's tasting.

2007 Von Schubert Maximin Grunhauser Estate Riesling

As with the trocken, this wine had a decidedly slatey mineral stamp. It's a dry kabinett, smelling of browning apples left out on the counter. It has a creamy mid palate, with broad, funky, lighter flavors relative to many German Kabinetts. This wine showed completely, utterly apart from the other Kabinetts. More oxidative winemaking, combined with the unique Ruwer terroir, perhaps?

2007 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett

Though this had an equal amount of points as the Schubert, it garnered more first place votes, and as a result placed higher. While some folks thought that this was textbook Riesling, complete and offering up everything a classic young Kabinett should, others took issue with the noticeably reductive state (it is a JJ Prum wine, after all). Nevertheless, I would fall into the fans of Prum camp. Yes, they are pricey wines, doused with sulphur along every single step of the winemaking process, etc. But they also have a certain power, depth of flavor, and typicity that scream Mosel Riesling, and more specifically that perfectly recall their respective vineyard sites.

2007 Selbach Oster Zeltingger Riesling Kabinett

Fans of this wine claimed that it had all the elements I found in the Prum. While I enjoyed this, it was simply on the level of a solid, quaffable, off-dry riesling. Nothing too evocative, complex, or thought provoking. A solid wine for salads, seafood, or various Asian cuisines (with apologies for the cliched suggested off-dry riesling pairings, if you're reading, Lyle).

So there you have it. Another PMW group tasting in the books. Hopefully we can settle on a date for the next one and get back in the swing of monthly tastings. Thanks to all those who came out and participated on a rainy Sunday night in the city. Special shout out to guests Catherine and Josh (who showed on short notice and with an early morning inventory to deal with tomorrow) as well as Susan, my co-worker from Birmingham (England, not Alabama) who lent her considerable nosing and tasting talents to the group.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wine Blogging Wednesday: A very Dolcetto evening, with an Arneis guest appearance

Long time, no WBW participation here. In fact, if memory serves I have only done this once. Well, none other than David McDuff hosts this edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, so I'm in. Thanks to our gracious host for selcting such an endlessly fascinating wine region: the Piedmont. Who knows, maybe I'll get back on the wagon with this fun, educational excuse to crack some new bottles and blog about 'em.

First the Arneis. Accompanied by a delicious pasta dinner I enjoyed with friends a few weeks ago, the 2004 Giovanni Almondo Arneis Vigne Sparse was easily, to my taste, the star of the evening. Though it is already three vintages matured, the wine tastes nearly as young as an '06 Vigne Sparse I enjoyed nine months ago. If anything the '04 has intensified, revealing more yellow fruit flavors, including the tarter fruit skins. It's still mineral, and at this rate of evolution could still be drinking well for another several years. Such a clean, precise, tense, chiseled arneis, easily the best of this style I've yet to try.

Now let's fast forward to last night. I had decided at work to ramp up the geek quotient of this post and compare two Dolcetti, one a 2006 Anna Maria Abbona Dolcetto di Dogliani Sori dij But, the other a 2006 Luigi Baudana Dolcetto d'Alba. If you were to go by the various writings on the region, the Dolcetto di Dogliani DOC is of the best quality and highest aging potential. Not that I was hoping to either confirm or disprove this assertion, but nonetheless I thought it might be interesting to compare Dogliani dolcetto to its Alba counterpart.

Well, Anna Maria Abbona is a stellar producer, one of the true masters of Dolcetto. The vineyards are at some of the highest elevation in the DOC, with ideal exposure, and the winemaking seems to never be at all heavy handed. I really enjoyed their '06Sori dij But (the name of one of their vineyards). On the nose, a satisfying bit of meaty, brett savor combined with full, fleshy darker cherry and berry fruits. Similar palate, with some nice violet floral notes and balanced acidity, especially for this notoriously low acid grape (Dolcetto = 'little sweet one).

As for the Baudana '06 Dolcetto d'Alba...different story. It was blocky, clumsy, grapey, lacking in balanced acidity and just not particularly good. Unfortunately it echoes many other Dolcetti I have tasted.

Photo's of wines and accompanying food to come....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Robert Camuto Book Signin and Tasting TOMORROW at 18 Reasons

Just a reminder about this event. Should be educational and lots of fun - check it out.

Wine Tasting, Discussion and Book Signing with Robert Camuto
18 Reasons Gallery
539 Guerrero St (near intersection at 18th St, between 17th & 18th)
Thursday February 19th, 7-9pm
Cost $15

Some meditations on Baltimore

Oh, Baltimore
Man it’s hard, just to live

In the classic, but oft overlooked Sly & Robbie produced tune by the Tamlins (which upon further review, is actually a Randy Newman cover) the everyday hardships of many who struggle to get by in the city are exposed. As everyone from the city will tell you, yeah, Baltimore can be a rough place. However, there has always been a certain, hard to describe likeability about this place. Rather than dwell on the negative in these gloomy economic times, I thought I would make a few observations about the Baltimore that I have come to know and love.


While it is one of the country’s (and therefore one of the world’s) largest Jewish populations, everyone is miraculously either related or otherwise connected by two degrees or less! I know, this seems strange, but ask any nice Jewish girl from out of state who has married a Baltimore Jew. They will give you a knowing nod and explain how they’ve never encountered anything quite like it.


In the tumultuous, hyper competitive radio industry, a lot can change, even in a midsize market such as Baltimore. One of the few constants in the landscape has been the domination of 92Q. Like most other large, corporate owned stations, this one has the same repetitive, boring programming as its competitors within their radio genre. Nonetheless, it’s always fun to hear your hometown radio station commenting, in the hometown accent, on local news, sports, and gossip. And, all considered, 92Q has done a pretty solid job. Just one thing though – what happened to the ‘Big Phat Morning Show?’ It has apparently been replaced with a show by a personality named Rickey Smiley, whose show is promoted with the tagline ‘Rickey Smiley and DEEZ NUTS!’ Come on now guys, did you really have to descend to this grade school level humor to promote your morning show?


I’m not the biggest fan of deli. Or lox. Or many of the delicacies specific to eastern European Jewish cuisine. I know, how could I disrespect my culinary heritage, right? Generally I prefer light and fresh over heavy and processed, as a general rule. And as much as I love sandwiches, typically they involve a tasty Spanish, French or Italian cheese between two layers of fresh baked, crusty, flavorful bread. Not pastrami on rye. That having been said, it’s hard to beat a delicious rare roast beef on rye from Pikesville’s incomparable Edmart deli. It’s nearly good enough to make me think twice about those fancy European cheese on artisanal sourdough sandwiches we’ve got here in San Francisco.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Goodbye, N-ana

Winter, of late, has not been a good season for my grandparents. Pepa passed away last January, and early yesterday morning, my grandmother on my father's side, Na-na (real name Vivian Manekin) died of lung failure.

A few memories of my late grandmother. She was an incredibly elegant woman. This was her reputation, and she certainly lived up to it. A beautiful woman, she would never dare be seen in public without her make-up just so and her jewelry on. Her beautifully colored red hair - with nary a single strand out of place- was admired by her many friends in the tight-knit world of senior Jewish Baltimore social life. She often times would address family as 'dear,'the sound drawn out so that it would sound like 'DEE-yuhr....' Na-na always offered her support, though she could be a tough critic, often times following up a comment with which she perhaps did not fully agree, or a proposed business idea, with a tough line of questioning, preceeded by an emphasized 'DEE-yuhr....' That's when you knew you were about to get a healthy earful of critique. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that many people have benefited from her tough love and constructive criticism over the years. I know that I certainly have.

As it relates to this blog, Na-na did enjoy wine, especially a fine Burgundy, though the high acidity meant that she could indulge infrequently, in tiny amounts. Her real tipple of choice was Scotch, a blended Scotch served on the rocks with a splash of water. While I prefer single malt served neat, I will surely be enjoying a wee dram (or a few) over the course of the upcoming weekend in Baltimore, to celebrate my grandmother's memory and her love of a good party.

Goodbye, Na-na. We will all miss you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Back in the Old World Again - OWOS soon to hit Paris & Champagne

Recently I received an email from a major airline, advertising really low fares to various cities in Europe. I couldn't resist - a brief excursion seemed a terrific idea and Paris was calling. Once before, nearly a decade ago, I stayed briefly in the city of light. I was traveling amongst a group of friends during the millennial craziness, and needless to say there was much partying. A lot of the city's magic was either virtually impossible to access or neglected by our large, party hearty group.

So I'm excited to be returning to Paris as well as visiting Champagne six weeks from now. What do you have to look forward to in this reportage? Well, probably a few notable Parisian wine bars, at least a day's worth of pedaling across arrondissements via Velib, a few detailed reports on visits to Champagne producers, some rich, fatty regional Champenoise cuisine, and perhaps a few photographs showcasing interesting sights in Paris, looking all the more tempting in that famous diffuse, grey-ish Parisian light.

Though I feel like I've got a pretty good handle on food and wine stuff in Paris, I'm welcoming any ideas for restaurants, bars, shops, or any other sites of interest worth discovering. Many thanks for the suggestions.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Corkscrewed Author Robert Camuto Discusses and Pours Wine at 18 Reasons

On Thursday February 19th, from 7-9pm, author Robert Camuto will be appearing at 18 Reasons, a small gallery that hosts weekly wine tastings put on by Bi Rite Market. Mr. Camuto's book is an entertaining, lighthearted but thought provoking account of the author's travels and conversations with vignerons in French wine country. See McDuff's Food & Wine Trail for an informative book review (not to mention a fun comment thread) which is actually the genesis of a special offer which Camuto first proposed and emphasized to me in a recent email:

"PS: Joe, Any way you can blog this event in advance? Also, I am serious I will do a little extra something for those who arrive on bicycle and mention your/David's blog...."

I will definitely be there, and since I will be heading there directly from work I intend to ride there. Last I heard, fellow San Francisco based wine blogger Wolfgang Weber will also be there (arriving via bicycle, perhaps?) I encourage anyone based in the Bay Area to check it out, and if possible ride your bike there to get some VIP bicyclist treatment courtesy of the author.

Wine Tasting, Discussion and Book Signing with Robert Camuto
18 Reasons Gallery
539 Guerrero St (near intersection at 18th St, between 17th & 18th)
Thursday February 19th, 7-9pm
Cost $15

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Few Gardening Tips

Thought I would share a few tidbits of knowledge with my fellow aspiring urban gardeners.

When planting from seed, it's a good idea to cover the area with garden cloth draped over some gopher wire or stakes,anchored to the ground with some stones. Not only does this discourage snails from eating tender young leaves, but it also creates a slightly warmer microclimate which protects against wind.

Make effective use of all your plot. This one seems obvious enough, but it bears emphasis. In our case, we have a shady portion of the plot due to some heavy tree cover overhead. We did not have luck growing a few plants over the summer in this corner, and let the clover and weeds take over. Until recently, that is, when we transported some baby mustard plants which were growing in the walkway. The mustards were growing in the walkway because they were doing quite well last summer, went to seed, and the seeds spread.

Which brings to mind one last piece of advice. Note which plants do well in your plot, as well as neighboring ones, and then grow the shit out of them. This is what we intend to do with the mustards, as well as garlic, which already has come up and started growing rapidly in a few short weeks. Fava beans as well, which seem to really thrive in our community garden.

If you're not already experimenting with growing some food, there is no reason not to. For a small partial day project followed by a minimal amount of regular upkeep, it is worth the effort for the food and knowledge you will gain in the process.

Friday, February 6, 2009

'Super Brooklyn,' or 'The Mario Bros Beat'

What's up former (and current?) original Nintendo players?

Is BROOKLYN in the house?

Old Clos Roche Blanche PdA Rose (in case you were wondering)

I came across a $1.99 bottle of 2004 Clos Roche Blanche Pineau d'Aunis Rose on our closeout rack yesterday. Rather, a customer whom I recognized as a frequent patron at Terroir spotted the CRB, purchased a few, and tempted me to do the same. How has the wine held up, you ask?

Well, if bottle one is any indication, not too well. Pale onion skin, Tempier rose color. Very little flavor on the palate, certainly vaguely a faint whisper of the exuberant pineau d'aunis strawberry fruit. To the wine's credit, it is not oxidized, and still has a bit of fruit hanging in as well as acidity. This is typically a terrific rose - not so terrific after spending 4 years in bottle, however.

For less than $5, though, I've done far worse.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

100% of my February wine budget has gone to Huet's '07s

I don't have too much experience tasting the brilliant wines of Huet. The '02 Petillant is terrific, much classier and more interesting than many a Champagne. I recently tasted a Touraine rose sparkler, made from 100% gamay. Pretty cool wine, with a touch of gamay earthy, roasted peanut-like savor. And once I tasted a vin de glace from '80, which was truly compelling. It was a tiny taste, and all I remember is being jolted from my seat by the searing acidity.

Finally I have purchased a few bottles of Huet's better known, bread-and-butter offerings from his famous single vineyards in Vouvray: Le Mont, Le Haut Lieu, and Clos du Bourg.

It means that I'll be drinking a bit less often and more on the cheap than usual this month, but I think this should prove to be a small price to pay for enjoying Huet Vouvray in the years ahead.

Monday, February 2, 2009

And once again…RIOJA

[Since I'm trying to get the most of my writing and time these days, I thought that I would show you a sneak peak at my March newsletter article where I work. Yes, I am well aware that I am doing some double dipping here.]

Well, I’ve written about wines from Rioja before, I’m writing about them now, and I’m sure I will continue to discuss the virtues of this most noble of Spanish wine regions in future newsletters. Located along the banks of the Rio Ebro, the river which diagonally cuts a large swath across much of the northeastern quadrant of Spain, Rioja is divided into three sub-zones: Rioja Alta (coolest climate, and as the name suggests home of the highest elevation vineyards, as well as most of the better known bodegas), Rioja Alavesa (a bit warmer and drier, in the Basque province of Alavá) and Rioja Baja (warmest, driest, and furthest south, where garnacha is most commonly planted). Here are a few exciting, recent Rioja arrivals:

2005 Viña Izadi Rioja Crianza- $16.99
Excellent winemaking and balance as usual with this Rioja Alavesa wine. It shows intense, youthful black cherry fruit and hints of vanilla from oak. The issue of oak is no less divisive in Rioja as anywhere else these days. Used American barrels are traditional (despite the fact that some wineries insist that French has long been the standard bearer of quality). To further complicate things, wineries such as Marques de Vargas ($24.99 for their ’04 Reserva, by the way, is quite tasty) have successfully experimented with Russian and Ukrainian oak, something which no doubt has awakened the snark in many of their peers. Back to the Izadi, the back label states that the wine has been aged 14 months in American oak. Would have fooled me – I thought for sure it was French. Bottom line: balanced wine is good wine and this Izadi is balanced and ready to accompany a wide range of your favorite meals at home.

2005 Zuazo Gaston Rioja Crianza - $16.99
This is a family winery owned and managed by Prudencio Zuazo Gaston in Rioja Alavesa. His family has been growing grapes in Rioja Alavesa for a few hundred years. Though they still sell much of their production, they produce an increasing quantity of their own wine. And that’s a good thing. All four major varieties (Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano) are grown, and together they produce a classically styled Rioja crianza – full of bright red fruit, a touch of savory spice, and a mellow, nicely balanced end taste.

1994 Viَña Valoria Rioja Gran Reserva - $59.99
Located in Logroño (La Rioja Alta), Viña Valoria produces an impressive range of traditionally styled Riojas. For fans of mature Bordeaux, might I suggest this special gran reserva bottling from the terrific 1994 ‘cosecha’ in Rioja . There is a very savory nose of beef tenderloin, damp clay and roasted poblano peppers (some unique aromas, to be sure, but together they’re just fine - work with me here people!). On the palate there is red fruit, a touch of sun dried tomato, some mineral on the back end, and fully resolved tannins – the mouth feel is velvety and all one could hope for in a mature red wine. This wine is currently drinking at its peak. Drink it up now and over the next few years.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The battery is re-charged

After a busy week of cinema, Pro Tools, quarterly inventory at work, and an irregular sleep schedule, I think I should be back to normal.

Great day today (Sunday), without any wine consumption, wine reading, or contemplation - well, not quite. The exception was some cheap, warm climate sangiovese (2007 F. Mantellassi 'Maritma' Maremma Toscana IGT) with linguini marinara at dinner. I awoke having had 9 hours of sleep and then drank Gyokuro green tea. Headed up to the garden, saw The Killers on the big screen, decided to go on an impromptu afternoon bike ride to the Golden Gate bridge and up the Marin headlands, watched the last 2:30 of the superbowl, and for all intents and purposes finished up my first full song on Pro Tools. It is untitled for now. The song functioned as an introduction to beat production: find a terrific sample, loop it, and add a bit of additional instrumental color. I'm pleased with it. Not the most original work, as it seems to be right out of the mid 90's (it brings to mind early Mobb Deep in particular), but still I like the results.

Attention qualified, skilled MC's.

Spread the word - Old World Old School's gonna soon have some killer beats.