Monday, January 31, 2011

3 One Line Resto Reviews

Live in SF and looking to try some new restaurants? Visiting town and don't want to be disappointed by any of your precious few meals? Here are three more (very) brief reviews to consult.

Starbelly (16th/Market, Castro)

Location, location, location. Floppy greasy pizza, mediocre food, comfy patio.

Mission Beach Cafe
(14th/Guerrero, Mission)

Bright. Tasty, somewhat expensive, egg dishes good, huckleberry pie, superb.

Ichi (Mission/Godeus, Mission)

Cozy, but energetic, good sushi, beautiful plating, wagyu - yes. VALUE.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Verses from a blogger


Every now and again, as the feeling strikes me, when the moon shines just so, casting its strange yellow-white light down upon San Francisco, I'm going to provide a lil' internet rap for you (by the way, much has already been made of the "internet MC" phenomenon - I'm cool with being called that since, for now, that is essentially my brand of MCing, and yes - I'm aware that the MC nomenclature for such MCing is dubious). If you rap, or are into hip-hop, and want to constructively comment, then feel free to do so. If neither of the above applies to you, please know that there is a certain rhythm with which these verses need to be recited, rhythm which you probably do not possess. Therefore, while you may be fit to critique it as poetry, you definitely cannot comment on its qualities as hip-hop verse.

We'll see if this new feature joins the growing list of other features which have since disappeared into the blogging ether or, perhaps, if it actually has some legs.

Here are my 8 bars. Enjoy.

I'm from the town of McNulty, red checkered cloth, gnocchi
Mochi, Benkyodo, pre-packaged? Out my dojo
Always free, not for dough though For real? Yep, for real though
Too much gimme, too much sponsors, too much whoring, no responses
I'm contrarian, antiquarian, surge like Tankian
Bubble like Mittoo, you a musician, oh me too
An artist, a drinker, hyper link linker
Real sick thinker, relaxed like the south of France

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Grenache, take 3

Grenache made well is a beautiful thing. A fruity, spicy, rich yet simultaneously fresh, sappy, scruffy mediterranean herb tinged beautiful thing. Unfortunately, I don't get most, or even some, of these personal palate memory descriptors in most grenache based wines: not in Cotes du Rhone, Gigondas, Chateauneuf du Pape, nor in California's central coast. Burgundy is often described as full of landmines for those seeking authenticity and value, but how about Chateauneuf du Pape? Rare is the CdP which balances the generously spicy, savory and tangy qualities of a classic grenache driven blend.

Rather than dwell on what I hate (always good fun, but rarely constructive), I have decided to focus on what is good. Instead of focusing on how disappointing that 2000 Rayas, or 2000 Vieux Telegraphe, was, I'll opt to remember the 2001 Fonsalette, or most Gramenon and Texier grenache based wines I have drunk.

And here are two more wines to add to the steadily burgeoning list of grenache I actually like.

2005 Chateau Montfaucon Cotes du Rhone

A blend of grenache, syrah, cinsault and carignane, co-fermented and aged for 18 months in concrete. I would not be surprised if the somewhat rustic, spicy, and surprisingly fresh qualities on display here have something to do with the contribution of the latter two grapes. Also, the winery only uses estate fruit, organically farmed, from lower yielding vines. According to the website, organic compost consisting of sheep manure and marc is used, native grasses are grown between rows, and plowing is only done when necessary in very dry vintages. This wine manages to show both ripeness and delicacy, intensity and nuance, spicy herbs and higher toned fruit. Delicious wine and a real keeper, if only I had another bottle to keep.

2008 Qupe Sawyer Lindquist Grenache Edna Valley

All I remember about Bob Lindquist’s new, younger vine grenache (I was about 40 wines in prior to tasting it) is the beautiful, translucent, light ruby color, and the tangy red fruit. A delicate side of grenache, courtesy of a winemaker who clearly values both grenache and delicacy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Year, New Project

Well, once again I have abandoned you, dear blog. I can't say that I have a particularly good excuse, though I'm just going to go ahead and blame it on Comcast. Though I canceled my cable internet months ago and now enjoy a slightly less dysfunctional internet connection with AT&T, I think that Comcast, for as long as they continue to exist as a company, makes for a useful scapegoat.

I've been checking out lots of podcasts recently. For some reason, the only ones which have proven to be any interesting, even listenable for more than a few minutes, have generally been the ones which are also on the FM airwaves and have proper distribution through PRI and the like. And as for podcasts discussing wine...let's just say that there is not much out there.

You may be able to see where all this is heading. Though I've since removed it, you may have noticed a podcast widget on this site. While I toyed with the idea last year, even interviewed a few folks (btw if you are one of these people, I'm sorry to have taken up your time only to not use these interviews), things just did not materialize. This year, though, I'd like to think that I'm better prepared. I have a better, easier to use site to host the podcast, I have started working on a little trailer, and will shortly be heading to Petaluma for some fun as well as podcast related work.

I have a good idea about how I want this podcast to sound, the types of subjects and interviews I'd like to feature, the general flow. But I'd love some ideas from anyone who has got them. All things considered, it's time for some fresh air in this American life of wine podcasting (corny public radio show puns intended).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I've been doing this for a little over three years now, and have seldom been inclined to check out things like page views, traffic sources, you know, the type of information that may be of commercial interest if I were doing this to make money. Information that may be reassuring if I were trying to be the most popular wine blog on the internets (I'm not), or indicative of a steady upward tick in readership (tough to tell, I cannot seem to access page view stats for anything further back than May 2010). You get the picture, when it comes to this blog I guess I'm not much of a numbers guy.

That does not mean, however, that I cannot mine the "stats" link on blogger for some pretty interesting factoids about the readership, popular posts and the like.


Old School Funk - TOP 10 songs in the rotation at work

Apparently many folks viewed this, which even elicited one slightly vexed comment:

"Do you mean to tell me that the original shuggie otis song [Strawberry Letter 23] is superior then the Brothers Johnson Version? You must ate [sic] shit when you said that. The Shuggie Otis version is weak and Brothers Johnson totally remade the song which made the song popular around the world. you need to check yourself."

Why, yes! Perhaps I SHOULD check myself, lest I wreck myself. Anyhow, the next two most widely viewed pages were this one involving a night at Terroir, followed by my Top 10 of 2010. Though it has less than half the views of the old school funk playlist post, it is encouraging that one of the top 3 is also a more recent post.


Google by far takes the cake here. A distant second is Facebook, though hot on the social network's heels is actually one of my favorite blogs devoted to wine and food, that of the indefatigable Brooklyn Guy. Thanks, Neil. Now keep that link up, would ya? Sneaking in at the bottom of the list of referring URL's would be the Dog jacket site. Huh?

PAGE VIEWS BY COUNTRY (most views first, fewest last)

United States
United Kingdom
South Korea

Of course US views outnumber the others by a lot, nearly 20 times. What I cannot quite grasp is...why Brazil? I know there are 150+ million people there and all, but I did not think it to be a huge wine consuming (and by extension, wine blog reading) populace. At any rate, obrigado, Brasil! With all the mention of wines from Spain, I'm surprised that there are not more views over there? Spain, why you sleepin' on Old World Old School - DORMIENDO, os digo! Finally, while I am pleased to see Russia and South Korea rounding out the list, I am disappointed to not get a single view from Italy or Japan (could that be correct?) Maybe I should use this as motivation to drink more Italian wine (wines that I admittedly do not drink very often) and, for Nippon (maybe that will work, use their country name instead of ours), expand the coverage on natural wines and Opus One.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Yeoman's work: A tip of the hat (and gangsta' blogger sign) to three fellow bloggers

What to do when the creative juices aren't flowing, when the New Year greets you with one of the more tenacious head colds you've suffered in the past few years, and you generally just are not into putting the time that goes into creating new original content for the blog? Well, there are a few options: 1.) Disappear for a while, 2.) Post some youtube videos, or 3.) Cite some examples of others' fine work on the blogosphere.

Though #2 is always better than doing nothing, in this case I will go ahead with #3. Here are three blogs to check out from people who I've noticed are putting in good work.

David Driscoll and David Othenin-Girard's K&L Spirits Journal

Yes, one of the Davids (Driscoll) is a co-worker of mine and I generally try to separate work from this blog, keeping the shilling and insider industry stuff to a minimum. However, these guys are doing such a great job of not only updating the site frequently (typically 4-5 times a week) but of writing some genuinely interesting stuff. Both David's write well, and this should be required reading if you're at all interesting in single malts, other whisky and the wide world of distilled beverages. Driscoll has recently taken an interest in sherry too, so I must admit that I'm looking forward to more of his posts on the subject (which, of course, cannot hurt our fledgling sherry department at the store!) David and David, well done, gents.

Guilhaume Gerard

[Full disclaimer: Guilhaume is a friend, but undoubtedly still deserves props for his new blog!] Guilhaume, a one-time founding partner of Terroir (the SF one) and current partner in Selection Massale, once had a blog (Wine Digger, RIP) which quickly built up a following based on the author's strong opinions, keen photographic eye, and sharp focus on some of the most interesting wines which France has to offer. Guilhaume describes his new URL, in his own words: "New blog, new name, same shit. Producers visits, wine, travels, restaurants, music[...] still very little words so i don’t piss off the NYC wine intelligentsia, and lots of pictures." Sounds about right. Looking for someone with good taste? Guilhaume's got it for days and days, and extra days.

David Lebovitz

A food writer and Bay Area ex-pat living in Paris, Lebovitz continues to dish out some snappy material on culinary delights in his adopted home city of Paris. A former pastry chef at Chez Panisse, Lebovitz writes with authority and wit on all manner of food, wine, and Paris related topics. Sometimes a wee bit precious and self important (check the about section, you'll see what I'm talking about), but usually entertaining enough so that you won't mind too much. This should be required reading for anyone interested in picking up pointers for the kitchen (sweets, especially) as well as for anyone planning a visit to Paris.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cheesy noodles and Piemonte rossi

Seeing as I was cooking up the Macaroni Italienne a la Escoffier (perhaps with a little more cheese than he calls for - like double the cheese), I thought it might be fun to enjoy some Piemontese red wines for the occasion. In retrospect, piemonte probably was not the way to go here, but heck I was craving these wines for some reason. As always, the pasta was great - what's not to love about gruyere, smoked swiss and parmesan melted on noodles, baked with some kale for extra vitamins? As for the wines...

...2008 Castello di Verduno "Basadone" Pelaverga

Sadly, a bitter disappointment. Hopefully no one takes too much offense, as I know that calling this pelaverga disappointing is in some circles akin to calling your baby ugly. What was missing from this wine was a sense of Piedmont: it lacks acid, lacks earth, floral qualities, grip. Even a (usually) lighter wine like grignolino or freisa has at least one of these components. To me, this tasted like a medium grade mencía raised in stainless, with a clumsy reductive quality and not too much going for it.

2006 Angelo Germano Langhe Nebbiolo

Better, with darker fruits, some minerality and a tannic, muscular, if a bit overbearing and clumsy grip. Tracking this over a few days, the wine failed to improve and was in clear decline on day 3.

2004 Da Milano Barolo Cannubi

Yes, I know that these guys are full on rotofermenting, barrique using modernists. The wine shows it, with a heavy handed, dumb dark fruit and oak expression that is not going to win many awards for excellence in nebbiolo. However, underneath all the method and make-up was a glimmer of minerality and expressive fruit. I'd be curious how this wine might have turned out if the fruit that they are sourcing was then harvested, processed and fermented by someone more traditionally minded.

Saturday, January 1, 2011