Thursday, March 26, 2015


The second half of the dinner from the post below this one was a beef tenderloin in a crushed, black pepper crust.  It was a very good piece of meet, and the peppercorns had some of their bite removed by sauteing them in olive oil prior to becoming the coating for the tenderloin.

The wine for this course was a 2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia from Napa Valley.  This particular Insignia vintage has some history behind it - it was the Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year in 2005 and it is a wine that Robert Parker scored 100 points.  That's a lot of hype for any wine, and the type of hype that would normally send me running in the opposite direction.

I pay attention to Mr. Parker and to James Laube, the California Cabernet Guru of the Spectator, for unusual reasons.  Their palates and mine do not agree so they serve as a great guide on wines to avoid.   That said - I liked this wine, but I didn't love it.

Things began with inky dark colors and a full on fruital assault on the nose.  Immensely fruity wine with black cherry and blackberry jam flavors.  The tannins had settled in and provided a structure without insisting on playing a leading role.  Even with the richness of the fruit there was still ample acid to support everything.  The finish was quite lengthy and finished with a fruity but dry note.  This wine was full of itself without being overpowering.  And yet, something was lacking and I'm still not sure what it was.  Perhaps the best way to describe this wine was to say that it wonderfully correct and beautiful but lacked any personality to make it stand out. 

2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia.  Napa Valley red wine. 14.5% alcohol and $270.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


An excellent dinner last night was a replacement for one that was postponed during one of the February blizzards in this area when driving became hazardous and every one stayed home.  

I was responsible for the first course and it was well received and very good.  There was lobster ravioli in a brown butter sauce finished only with some fresh white pepper.   There is a local place that makes ravioli daily and these were from them, saving me much work.

The wine was a Jean-Paul  & Benoit Droin Grand Cru Chablis, Vaudesir from the 2011 vintage.  It was a beautiful wine in the glass with a pale gold color.  One sniff was all it took to know that this was Chablis.  Rain on dry earth (petrichor) and ocean spray were strong.  The wine was closed up a bit and took half an hour for a true taste to emerge, though the dry and crisp mouth feel was evident from the start. 

When the wine did open up the flavors were bold with hints of fresh picked, green grapes and a bit of citrus, but this wine was more about its place than its flavor.  It was Chablis  and it tasted like spring.  With the ravioli it was even better as it cut both the richness of the lobster and the pungency of the brown butter.  A wonderful pairing.

2011 Jean-Paul  & Benoit Droin Grand Cru Chablis, Vaudesir.  13% alcohol and $70.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Just a Few Old Memories

Spring cleaning is underway here and I decided to tackled my oldest file cabinet.  Since the files were very old and mostly ignored for some time it is a slow task. I find myself stopping and looking or reading because of the memories generated.  One of the folders contained a number of old wine labels from the time where they were easy to remove from the bottle by simply running warm water into and over the bottle.  It also contained hand written notes about some of the wines. 

My notes on a 1979 Chateau Montrose, a second growth Saint-Estephe written in 1989.

Lots of cedar and cigars in the nose.   Dark color with no browning on the edges.  Strong flavors of cherries, cedar and graphite.  Long finish with lots of fruit.  Strong tannins.  Dinner was a lamb stew.  Shared with Steve M.

The wine may have been memorable, but apparently Steve M.  wasn't because I have no idea who he is these twenty five years later.  Perhaps another bottle of Montrose would help me remember.  ☺

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Last Day of Winter

The last day of winter and the weather was on that cusp - cool and gray but not cold nor biting.  The grill is up and running and there was a two rib thick pork chop from a Berkshire hog that spent half an hour warming up with a mop sauce of cider vinegar, dark soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, granulated garlic and onions, salt, pepper, oil and water.   It was basted half a dozen times both directly over the coals and when it was finishing on the cooler side of the grill.   

The wine was one of my favorites - a Riesling from Alfred and Rolf Merklebach in the Mosel.  Specifically it was and Urziger Wurzgarten Spatlese from the 2009 vintage.  With it's sharp acidity and its taste of ripe apples it was just a dream with the fatty pork.  And the sharpness of the vinegar on the surface of the chop was a perefect partner for the residual sugar in the wine.  This was a treat.  I have never had a Merkelbach wine that hasn't been a thrill to drink.

2009 Alfred Merkelbach Urziger Wurzgarten Riseling Spatlese.  9% alcohol and $20.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


We were treated to a preview of spring yesterday - 70 degrees and lots of sunshine.  A Hemingway Daiquiri, AKA a Floridita, seemed in order.  Fresh lime juice, fresh grapefruit juice, simple syrup, Maraschino liqueur and rum.  Shaken vigorously with ice until astoundingly cold and strained into a glass with fresh ice.  A thin slice of lime for garnish.  Repeated.  Early to bed and very happy.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Cidre Again

Five years old and smelling of ripe apples. fresh earth and mushrooms.  Log lasting bubbles and a wonderful taste of tart apples.  Very nice.  The last bottle.

Ettiene Dupont Cidre Bouche Brut de Normandie.  5.5% alcohol and $8

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Little Dickens

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.

Charles Dickens
Great Expectations
 2012 Benanti Rosso di Verzella.  14% alcohol and $15