Monday, January 12, 2009

Celebrating 30 years of me at the wine bar

I spent yet another great evening at Terroir (from here on out I'll refer to it as 'the wine bar,' since I really don't go out drinking wine anywhere else). This time I was lucky to share the good times and natty vin with friends, family (i.e., my brother Michael - yes, wassup Michael!) former and past co-workers, a few tasting group members, and even a few readers of this blog. Yep, two of you actually came out and celebrated with some random blogger. So a special thanks to frequent commenter Steve L (great to finally meet, thanks for your continued feedback and contributions on this site) as well as fellow blogger Cory Cartwright of Saignee. Given Cory's enthusiasm, knowledge and facility with writing literate, down to earth wine prose, I had thought that he was in the wine business. If you ever were to need a break from your current gig, Cory, I suspect you'd be able to find a wine job in no time. It was wonderful to meet Cory and his wife, who also happened to stop into K&L yesterday on their way back to San Jose. Hope you two enjoy the Hauth Kerpen.

And les vins? To start, my co-worker and K&L Champagne buyer Gary Westby bought a bottle of Larmandier Bernier Terre de Vertus Blanc de Blancs. No dosage, native yeast, biodynamic, 100% chardonnay based champagne here from two vineyards in the 1er cru rated village of Vertus. It was bright and classy, though a lot more ripe, soft and playful than I remember it. Very little of the austere cote des blancs acidity and chalkiness, just a delicate, but full flavored, blanc de blancs from this southernmost 1er cru village in the CdB. Maybe this is based primarily on '05 juice? (just checked the Polaner website, and it is in fact all '05)

I really enjoyed some La Cigarrera Manzanilla. This is a producer previously unknown to me, but making some serious manzanilla. A bit fleshier than the La Gitana (my,and most sherry drinker's benchmark for everyday manzanilla), but still with terrific saline tang and satisfactorily savory walnut flavors on the finish. As usual, not many people were drinking sherry which left much of the 500ml bottle for me. No me quejo - no complaints!

Kiralyudvar's '06 demi-sec Tokaji was its usual stunning, vivid, fruity, precise self. 11.8% alcohol, 19.1 g/l rs, 7.6 g/l acidity - I like these numbers. In a pretty strong line-up of wines this was probably my favorite. Think of something akin to cantaloupe and lime juice, with the sort of purity and sugar/acid balance that only a drink made from top quality white wine grapes fermented into wine can deliver, and then drop that thought and just buy a bottle to experience yourself.

2006 Alice & Oliver de Moor Chablis Bel Air was pure and kinda tasty, if a little bit unexciting, overly soft, lacking in acidity and missing something. Oh yes, it's made from chardonnay grapes. Oh chardonnay, yet again you show your deceit.

At some point mid-late evening, Cory generously poured me some Antoine Arena Vermentino. Very dry, very textural, very mineral on the palate.

Now a pair from 1979. Heitz's Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (no vineyard designate, just a Napa bottling) was fading. Ripe napa style cherry fruit with some green vegetal hints, a bit of green peppercorn, and a fairly hollow mid-palate. Not much of a finish to speak of. As promised, I opened one of my most memorable from '08, a magnum of 1979 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. According to their website, this one is a drinker indeed. The site recommends that you 'create a special dinner around this one.' Maybe one day I will, provided that the French portion of the ownership at one natural wine bar in the city by the bay are not present. Cabernet from a particularly ripe vintage in sunny California would be two strikes against this wine for these two particularly discerning palates. I enjoyed drinking this. It tasted just how I remembered, of sweet, ripe dark fruit. And hoisin sauce. And cola. Now what decent, God fearing, red blooded American doesn't like the occasional cola? Though a few folks enjoyed various aspects of this wine, I did not enjoy it as much as when I first tasted it six months ago. Definitely not a repeat purchase, though SCMV's library pinot noirs could well be worth further exploration.

There you have it. Five hours of steady drinking at the wine bar. Now the various birthday celebrations are officially over, and there is much work to be done. Will keep up things on this here site and hopefully even add a few new wrinkles in the coming week, probably including more original photos and maybe even some audio/video.

Peace and out.