Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tom Collinses, Mad Men and the Most Influential Man in My Life

Did anyone happen to catch the wonderful Oil Painting Studio post on this blog? Unfortunately I cannot take credit for this deliciously non wine, food or music related promotion, as it seems that after a long hiatus someone has managed to sneak a spam post onto this blog. And sadly, if you missed it by now then you'll never have the chance to read about it because the post was deleted.

On to other, slightly more pressing matters, I'm ashamed to admit that I just concocted a Tom Collins cocktail and poured it into one of my Isastegi Sagardotegia glasses, seeing as there was a lack of other suitable glassware for such a drink. Please don't tell anyone in the Pais Vasco, especially if they are in the business of producing cider. Truth be told, I'd much rather be drinking Isastegi sagarda right now, but for some reason the gin was calling me, especially since I plan on re-watching the last half of Mad Men Season 2, episode 5, during which I dozed off last night.

And finally, on to other much more pressing matters, my grandfather, Bernard Manekin, aka Pop-pop, is living out his last days in the physical world in Baltimore. I feel lucky to have had a grandfather as loving, supportive, and influential on my life as Pop-Pop. I hope that his last days pass with comfort and full of memories of a life well lived.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Week in Review

A few highlights from the week, in phrase form since sentences are just not gonna form right now:

- 2007 Pena das Donas Ribera Sacra (white - Almalarga and red - Verdes Martas) tasting very good, especially the white. All godello.
- Shameless plug: we (K&L) will bring in a quantity of the aforementioned Ribera Sacra wines in the next week or so. $17/btl
- Tasted yet again the ageing capabilities of 'light,' 'dilute,' and/or high acid vintages, in this case for '02 Rioja crianza.
- As told to me by a proprietor of a natural wine bar: "These wines (Lopez de Heredia reds) have too much oak. They are not wines of terroir."
- 2007 Joseph Swan Cotes du Rosa Carignane Russian River Valley - pure fruit, vibrant, great with pizza.
- 2008 Ameztoi Rubentis and 2008 Gurrutxaga Txakoli Rosé...perfect for the season. Gurrutxaga in particular showing increasingly better each time I drink.
- Overheard after a customer finished up his beer tasting at work today and reported back to his friends: "That was the worst line-up of beers I ever tasted. They were like, flavored and stuff."
I do hate it when my beer has flavor.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Non-Phixion - Rock Stars

Fun video. Dope group. Ill Bill. Many hip-hop cameos. Enjoy this one.

'88's and no heartbreaks; far from slumming it in Oakland

This past Sunday in the burgeoning Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, a few of us kicked it Oakland style: basking in the east bay sun, drinkin' outdoors and, of course, barbecuing. Thanks to chemist/ Burgundy lover Arjun Mendiratta, data cluster protector/ bon vivant Slaton Lipscomb and software dude/winemaker Eric Lundblad for hanging out and sharing some terrific bottles of wine.

In order of consumption we drank:

1988 Veuve Cliquot RD

Delicious. Nutty , succulent, and really deep, bright, palate filling flavors with gutsy, real deal acidity. Loved it.

1988 Michel Esmonin Gevrey Chambertin Clos St Jacques
Woodsy, deep sous bois nose lead to a very savory, dark cherry and hoisin inflected palate, with some meaty and decaying notes. Though I enjoyed this for its maturity, I must admit that initially I preferred the Chevillon NSG below, only to reconsider my position after taking the last sip of this very good wine.

1988 Robert Chevillon Nuit St George Les Perrieres
Good wine. Very fresh, primary, red cherry aromas. Deep, intense, fresh and vibrant red fruit flavors with a hint of orange peel. Is this 20+ year old burgundy I'm tasting?? Very impressive for its vivacity and youthfulness. Q-tip might refer to it as a viverant, vivrant.

In addition to the '88s we drank a very decent bottle of '00 Fevre Chablis Bougros that was in a good, chalky mineral yet open-knit spot. There was an 01 Eric Texier Cote Rotie (didn't even know he dabbled in Cote Rotie) which was pretty, relatively lighter weight and actually reminded me of a richer Pineau d'Aunis a la Domaine de la Belleviere. '99 Drouhin Beaune Clos de Mouches was toasty, fat, a bit sweet and not really enjoyable without food - don't know if even the right food would have redeemed it's ripe, oaky qualities. '96 Fleury was fine, softer, not as wound up and less intellectual than my last few experiences with the wine.

Good drinking and hangout session, gentlemen. Special thanks to Arjun for hosting, providing the red burg and cooking delicious salmon.

Friday, August 7, 2009

FIREHOSE - Down with the Bass

Consider this a musical dialogue with one of my esteemed blogging peers, Mr. David McDuff. In case you missed it, he recently posted an amazing archived 1985 interview (conducted on January 3rd, my birthday, in fact) with Minutemen prior to a gig at the original 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., during their Double Nickels on the Dime promotional tour. If you were ever into this band, 'zines, or simply curious about an important slice of musical history citing what was arguably the most important record label in the 1980's, you need to read DMcD's interview.

Below, though, is a clip from Mike Watt's slightly jazzier, and at times surprisingly jam band-esque group, firehose (not to be confused with hard rockers Firehouse), from their album "Flyin' the Flannel."

Orange Wines -PT. 2

I found this second flight to be more along the lines of what I have come to expect in an 'orange wine': deeper, spicier, more cidery aromas and flavors with red fruit sneaking in. No doubt due to the longer skin maceration times of the wines in this sequence. While I was pleased that one of my favorites, 02 Radikon Ribolla, really shined, I was equally disappointed that the 01 Gravner did not show as well, to my taste anyway.

Flight 2, "Oh Josko, where art thou?"

1. Gravner 2001 Ribolla Gialla "Anfora," Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Venezia Giulia IGT
Personal notes - smelled indistinctive. Tasted a bit murky and 'marshy' (an in the moment descriptor - honestly I'm not sure what I meant there). If I would surmise a guess, it was that this seemed to lack focus and distinction. A disappointment given the pedigree.
Wine notes - Ribolla gialla. 6 to 7 mo. maceration on skins in terracotta amphorae, followed by 3 yrs in botte (ed. note - 'botte' is plural for 'botta' or cask; thanks for clarification, Slaton)

2. Damijan 2003 "Kaplja," Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Collio
Personal notes - not too expressive on the nose. Better on the palate, with stone fruits and mandarin essences.
Wine notes - Chardonnay, malvasia istriana, tocai friulano.

3. La Stoppa 2004 "Ageno," Italy, Emilia-Romagna, Emilia IGT
Personal notes - Smells great! Very intense. Spicy red cherries smell. Bit of brett ("brett factory" was uttered by another taster). Intense spicy red fruit flavors reminded me of top notch kriek, just vinous and not as sour.
Wine notes - Malvasia bianca, trebbiano, ortrugo. 30 day maceration on skins, then pressed into neutral barrels & stainless

4. Zidarich 2000 Vitovska, Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Carso
Personal notes - sort of white burgundy-like aromas. Strange, though. One taster likens it to 'nursing home pee.' Oak still shows on the palate. Definitely an outlier in this flight. Not a tasty one at that.
Wine notes - Vitovska. 8 to 10 days skin contact, then racked into mid sized Slavonian casks. Note: from the wine we drank it would appear Zidarichhad not yet started using extended skin contact back in 2000 vintage.

5. Radikon 2002 Ribolla Gialla, Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Venezia Giulia IGT

Personal notes - terrific, spicy, red fruit inflected aromas. Familiar wine, this. On the palate, great cutting acidity, with a linear quality and a whole lot to like. Nutty, sans soufre finish. I was not surprised to learn that this was Radikon's 2002 Ribolla Gialla, a wine I had brought to the dinner. It's not for everyone, but I love it and will continue to defend it. Awesome wine.
Wine notes - Ribolla gialla. 3 1/2 month maceration on the skins, including entire alcoholic fermentation. 4x daily punchdowns. Racked into neutral botte for 36 mo. No SO2 ever added.

6. Vodopivec 2004 Vitovska, Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Venezia Giulia IGT
Personal notes - Smells a bit like nail polish remover! On the palate, however, there are very pure red currant and mixed berry flavors. A mineral core to the wine. The purity here is striking. I wavered between this and the Radikon as to which was my favorite of the flight.
Wine notes - Vitovska. 15 day fermentation on the skins, then racked into botte & aged 2 yrs.

Please see some other takes on the SF event:

Organizer Slaton Lipscomb's notes
Richard Jennings' take

And for some New York City flavor (36 orange wines tasted - wow!):

Thor Iversen's write-up of the New York City tasting.
Might as well check out the incomparable Alice Feiring's take on it all
And many people's favorite critic and champion of the weird, Eric Asimov, was also reporting.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Orange Wines, La Cucina di Sardegna at La Ciccia - PT. 1

This is the first in a two part post about a recent orange wine tasting held last week. As I don't have many good pictures of the evening and try not to subject you to too many in-depth wine notes at once, I'm dividing this post into two. Enjoy.

So, how'd I arrive at the 'Clockwork of Orange' tasting? It comes back to two great connectors of people: Cory Cartwright's insightful, innovative 31 Days of Natural Wine series on his blog Saignee, and San Francisco natural wine merchant/bar Terroir through which I finally met Slaton, a cool, knowledgeable wine drinker who occasionally comments on this and other blogs. He invited me to tonight's west coast version of Levi D's New York City orange wine tasting, and I was all in.

Here's how it went.

Before we begin, though, a brief definition of 'orange wine' is probably in order. Wine made from a grape traditionally used for white wine production, which when fermented with extended skin contact with the juice (as is the case for red wines, anywhere from 15 days to eight months), obtains a darker color than is usual for white wine, an appearance which may be a clear or cloudy amber, occasionally with reddish glints. Sometimes this wine is aged for an extended period of time in clay amphorae. It may likely contain the barest minimum of added sulphites, or as in the wines from Stanislaus Radikon or Franck Cornelissen, none at all.

We starting the evening with a relatively young, fresh white wine, an 06 vermentino from 6 Mura, and enjoyed a few terrific appetizers, my favorite being a spicy, calamari based seafood sautee, which had some terrific olive oil which I think really elevated the level of this dish. Paper thin, delicate slices of smoked raw tuna were also quite good, as were the sardines if you're into strong, oceanic/fishy flavors.

On to the orange wines. For each of these I will include personal tasting note, as well as some winemaking notes provided by event organizer Slaton L.

Flight 1, "California does Zin, California does chard, but can California do orange?"

1. Frank Cornelissen 2006 "MunJebel 3 Bianco," Sicilia IGT
Personal notes - Controversial to say the least. This is wine from someone who is said to produce the most natural wines in the world. Acetyl, dirty, and uniformly disliked by the crowd, this was my least favorite wine of the evening. It may well be delicious when drunk close to his vineyards around Mt Etna in eastern Sicilia. Maybe, as someone suggested, it gets better after 10 days in the fridge (if that's the case then I certainly didn't see it). But at the moment, this particular bottle tasted like band-aids mixed with cider vinegar -not a good combination.
Wine notes: Carricante, grecanico dorato, coda di volpe. Vinified like a red wine, with long skin-contact.

2. Paolo Bea 2006 "Santa Chiara," Umbria IGT

Personal notes - citric, with orange and sweetened red grapefruit flavors that struck me as direct to the point of simplicity, though the wine did open up nicely and improve with air.
Wine notes - Grechetto, malvasia, chardonnay, sauvignon, garganega. 16 day fermentation on skins, finished in stainless.

3. Monasterio Suore Cistercensi 2007 "Coenobium Rusticum," Lazio IGT

Personal notes - as good a showing of this wine as I can remember. Many other tasters also quite liked the wine. Very distinctive and one of two wines which I fairly easily guessed, probably owing more to the fact that I have drunk it within the past 6 weeks than anything else. Pure, appley and pleasantly tannic on the finish. It showed less bitter chestnut honey than when I had last tasted it, a good thing in my book.
Wine notes - Trebbiano, malvasia, verdicchio, grechetto; 15 day fermentation with
the skins, extended lees contact. Yes, as we all know by now this is harvested by nuns....

4. Movia 2005 "Lunar"

Personal notes - this was my wine of the evening. Cloudy amber hued, the wine showed a good amount of red fruit and fetching oxidative aromas. Also a hint of washed rind, stinky cheese on the nose. A terrific, spicy, cidery balance bolstered by good acidity on the palate makes this a strong bearer of orange style.
Wine notes - Ribolla gialla, 65 yr old vines. Whole grape clusters are placed in barrels. The wine is never pressed off the skins or racked, and after 7 months the free run juice is bottled unfiltered.

5. Cowan Cellars 2008 Sauvignon Blanc "Silver Pines Vineyard," Sonoma Mountain (Barrel Sample)

Personal notes - Indeed this was very SB-like on the nose, with a touch of a grassy quality, which seemed to border on stronger vegetable root aromas with a hint of mintiness as well. It tasted like it has received the least amount of skin contact of this grouping, though it is still fun, bright and not at all boring. Probably the wine that best complemented our seafood as well.
Wine notes - For those of you who know him (and I suspect many of you out there do), Florida Jim makes this wine. Sauvignon blanc. 13 day cold soak with no sulfur, followed by 15 day alcoholic fermentation before pressing off skins. Full malo.

6. Natural Process Alliance 2008 Chardonnay "Skin Fermented," Sonoma Coast

Personal notes - Another wine which I had a pretty good idea of what it was. An interesting twist on New world chardonnay flavors: clean, pure, noticeably riper than its burgundian counterparts, but also a whole lot more textural, balanced and interesting than 99.9% of other California chardonnay. I'd be curious to see what would happen if these guys were to use less ripe grapes and increase the amount of time on the skins.
Wine notes - Chardonnay. 18 days on the skins (entire alcoholic fermentation) w/ 2x daily punchdowns, then pressed off to neutral barrels.

While going through this flight, I devoured a plate of fregula pasta in a sea urchins sauce. Rich, subtly powerful, deeply satisfying flavors and textures made this my favorite dish of the night, and good sustenance to ready me for the second flight.

to be continued....