Christmas

14 December 2012, 100 Jane Street, West Village

With a newly decorated Christmas tree in our apartment, Diane and I decided to have some friends over for the holidays to celebrate. Nicole, Elliott, Pedro, Christina, and Manoj came over for appetizers and wine:

The Lineup

The Lineup

The food during the night was (in no particular order):

  • Cured meats and cheeses – my favorite cured meat in the world is the Jamon Iberico from Spain. Nearly impossible to find in the US, Murray’s Cheese typically carries some and is where I usually load up. Our favorite cheeses including the clothbound Cabot cheddar and aged manchego also made an appearance.
  • Mini cheese-burgers and portobello-mushroom-burgers – the beef was from our local butcher, Florence Meat market with minimal seasoning and American cheese. The mushrooms were marinated in a balsamic vinegar sauce. Both cooked in the oven broiler.
  • A few assorted desserts  – cookies and ice cream

I spent a fair amount of time planning the progression of wines and thought it worked out fairly well:

  1. *** NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rose – my go-to rose Champagne. Reasonably priced and delicious with food or as an aperitif. Floral and fruity with a lighter body, I like drinking it out of a white wine glass to allow the bubbles to dissipate and wine to warm a bit. It gives me a better sense of the aromatics and freshness. $80
  2. ** 2010 Copain Chardonnay Tous Ensemble – as I mentioned before, the best value wine I had on my trip to California. Completely unoaked and an old-world style wine. This was served at the same time as our next white wine to compare it against. $28
  3. ** 2007 Martinelli Chardonnay Three Sisters Vineyard – a classic example of a well-made California style Chardonnay. Plenty of oak and vanilla and a much heavier mouthfeel than the Copain. While most enjoyed both wines, the majority preferred the Copain (at less than half the price!). $60
  4. *** 1999 Bruno Giacosa Barolo – the Azienda Agricola (non-estate) bottling, this was sadly my last bottle of this great value/entry level Giacosa Barolo. Still young and powerful, I decanted the wine for 6 hours and it still had plenty of sweet red fruit and smooth tannins. This wine was served at the same time as the next red to compare. $95
  5. ** 1981 Il Colle Brunello di Montalcino – not as aromatic or open as the last time I tried this wine a few months ago. More tar and leather than fruit in the aroma or palate; I was a bit disappointed compared to what I tasted the first time I had this at dell’anima. The opinion here was split but more people preferred the Giacosa. $85
  6. * 1969 Hugel Traminer “Hugel” Reserve Exceptionelle – a wine we tried more to explore than anything, the bottle was in surprisingly good condition for its age. On the palate a bit disappointing, well past its prime, it was barely clinging on to the fruit and acidity it probably once had and just retained its residual sweetness. $80
  7. ** 2010 Domaine des Bernardins Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise (375 ml) – great wine for the price. Lots of sweet stone fruit and honey, medium body for the sweetness and well balanced. Great after dinner digestif. $15

Dinner at Anthony and Jennifer’s

16 November 2012, 222 Park Avenue South, Union Square

Before the holiday season got into full swing, Anthony and Jennifer invited Dan, Sul, Diane and I over for dinner at their place. As part of their wedding registry, they had several wines they chose at New York Vintners and they opened several of those bottles they received from us for this meal!

The Lineup

The Lineup

  1. *** NV Krug Champagne Grand Cuvee – a perfect aperitif paired with some cured meats, this champagne was light, floral and crisp. We quickly went through two bottles before sitting down for the meal.
  2. *** 2007 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino – from one of my favorite producers in Tuscany, this wine was drinking surprisingly well at a relatively young age. The wine was decanted for many hours before the meal and had the typical leather and tobacco aromas of a well-made Brunello. Smooth tannins and very strong fruit on the palate. Great to drink now and I think will continue to develop for over a decade.
  3. **** 2001 Guigal Cote Rotie La Turque – allegedly the middle child among the three great Guigal wines of Cote Rotie (La Landonne and La Mouline being the others), this wine typically has a small percentage of Viognier for added aromatics. Huge fruit, big body but with a lingering but somehow light finish. Doesn’t leave your mouth coated or blown away like most California Syrahs – much more elegant and refined.
  4. *** 2008 Chateau Rieussec – my first time having this Sauternes, delicious, young, vibrant and a long life ahead. I don’t have much experience with Sauternes but this was the closest in balance – acidity, mouthfeel and sugar – that I’ve ever had when compared to d’Yquem.

As is always the case when they have us over for dinners, the food at Anthony and Jennifer’s was incredible. I took no notes but vividly remember each course today, over two months after the meal:

  • Assorted cured meats: my favorite meats were the jamon and bresaola – an air-dried, salted and aged cured beef.
  • Tagliatelle with white truffles: the most decadent dish of the night, fresh pasta with butter, an egg yolk and shaved white truffles – an unbeatable dish for the Fall/Winter.
  • Roasted leg of lamp: seasoned with garlic and spices, a perfect main for the big red wines we had lined up.
  • Mixed green salad with a mustard vinaigrette
  • Cheese course: I had my first taste of an incredible cheese, Mont d’Or. This rich, creamy cheese (only available in winter months) is held in an oak encasing. Anthony told me you typically leave it on top of the oven to heat up and serve slightly warm. Made from cow’s milk, this  is incredibly rich with a woody taste imparted by the encasing.
  • Assorted cupcakes and banana cream pie from Magnolia

Tavel and Chateauneuf du Pape

9-10 May 2012, Tavel and Chateauneuf du Pape, France

On our way to tastings

Diane and I recently spent one and a half days tasting wines in Southern Rhone. Along with our tour guide, Francois who runs Avignon Wine Tours, we spent half a day in Tavel and a full day in CdP. Francois was great and we both highly recommend his wine tour if you plan on visiting the region. Don’t have pictures of all the bottles but tasting notes below:

Tavel

Les Vignerons de Tavel

1. * 2010 Les Vignerons de Tavel, Cuvee Tableau

  • Salmon rose, heavier, medium body, sandy soil
  • Very dry – 14% alcohol; apricot and melon
  • € 7.50

2. * 2011 Les Vignerons de Tavel, Les Lauzeraies

  • Pink rose, smoother than the Cuvee Tableau, limestone soil
  • 13.5% alcohol; red fruit, flower
  • € 7.20

3. * 2011 Les Vignerons, Cuvee Royale

  • Pink, strong colored rose, cobblestone soil
  • 14% alcohol with a longer finish; raspberry aroma, white pepper with a full body, stronger flavors
  • € 7.20

Domaine de la Mordoree

4. ** 2011 Domaine de la Mordoree, La Reine des Bois, Lirac

  • white from a blend of Grenache, Viognier, etc.
  • 14% alcohol, pale, clear lemon; palate of lemon, white pepper, citrus and fennel; medium body with medium+ finish
  • € 14.80

5. ** 2011 Domaine de la Mordoree, La Reine des Bois, Tavel

  • medium pink; sweet red floral fruit
  • 14.5% alcohol; very smooth, long finish with a medium body of strawberries; made from 40 year old vines
  • € 13.80

6. ** 2010 Domaine de la Mordoree, La Reine des Bois, Chateauneuf du Pape

  • purple, dark red berry and black currant aromas
  • 80% Grenache, 10% Mouverdre, 5% Syrah et al
  • 15% alcohol; wood and black pepper, huge tannins with an extremely long finish; from 60 year old vines and 70% of the wine is oak aged
  • € 45.00

Chateauneuf du Pape

Domaine de Cristia

1. * 2011 Domaine de Cristia Vin de Pays Grenache Rouge

  • 100% Grenache from 30 year old vines
  • 13% alcohol; simple dark fruity
  • € 5.40

2. * 2010 Domaine de Cristia Vin de Pays de Mediterranee Vieilles Vignes

  • 100% Grenache, aged in old oak and stainless steel
  • 14% alcohol, more complexity, not organic – licorice and spice from a new vineyard acquisition
  • € 6.90

3. * 2011 Domaine de Cristia Cotes du Rhone Rouge

  • 100% Grenache
  • 13.5% alcohol; no oak, tons of red fruit with good tannins and complexity/spice
  • € 7.40

4. *** 2010 Domaine de Cristia Cotes du Rhone Vieilles Vignes

  • 15% alcohol; aged in oak for 12 months – delicious Cotes du Rhone
  • herbs, red fruit, spice on the finish with good structure and tannins
  • € 10.00

5. *** 2009 Domaine de Cristia Chateauneuf du Pape

  • 90% Grenache, 10% Syrah planted in sand/clay
  • 15% alcohol; big full body, red fruit, jammy – 35-40k bottles produced annually; 18 months barrel aging
  • € 48.00

6. ** 2010 Domaine de Cristia Chateauneuf du Pape

  • 75% Grenache, 25% Syrah
  • 15% alcohol; more leather and earthiness, huge body and tannins – very long finish
  • € 27.00

7. *** 2010 Domaine de Cristia Chateauneuf du Pape Renaissance

  • 60% Grenache (110 year old vines), 40% Mourvedre
  • 15% alcohol; 6,000 bottles annual production, all oak aged for 18 months; jammy, sweet with a smooth finish
  • € 48.00

8. *** 2010 Domaine de Cristia Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes

  • 100% Grenache
  • 15% alcohol; 4,000 bottles annual production, black currants and plum, huge body with a very long finish
  • € 57.00

9. ** 2011 Domaine de Cristia Collection Vin de Pays Grenache Blanc

  • 100% Grenache
  • 13% alcohol; great citrus and acidity; simple summer wine – this wine is sold under the Cristia label but is not their estate wine
  • € 5.40

10. ** 2011 Domaine de Cristia Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc

  • 40% Roussan, 30% Clairette and 30% Bourboulenc
  • 13.5% alcohol; more complex, citrus, rosemary, flowers
  • € 18.00

Roger Sabon

11. ** 2009 Roger Sabon Chateauneuf du Pape Les Olivets

  • Blend of Syrah, Cinsault and Grenache
  • 14.6% alcohol; dark fruit, peppers and spice on the finish with good tannins and structure

12. ** 2009 Roger Sabon Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve

  • Blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre
  • 14.5% alcohol; more notes of leather, black olives, cloves with huge structure and tannins

13. ** 2009 Roger Sabon Chateauneuf du Pape Prestige

  • Blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre et al
  • 15% alcohol; black currant, medicinal nose with a smoky, leathery and earthy finish

Domaine de Beaurenard

14. ** 2011 Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc

  • Blend of Grenache, Clairette, Roussan and Bourboulenc
  • 14% alcohol; pineapple, lychee, smooth – dry with a slightly sweet finish
  • € 26.00

15. ** 2008 Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf du Pape

  • 14.5% alcohol; black pepper, smoke, black fruit
  • € 25.00

16. *** 2006 Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf du Pape Boisenard

  • jammy, full bodied
  • € 39.00

Clos Saint Michel

17. ** 2010 Clos Saint Michel Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc

  • Blend of Grenache, Roussan and Clairette
  • 14% alcohol; sweet pear nose, apricot
  • € 21.00

18. *** 2009 Clos Saint Michel Chateauneuf du Pape

  • Blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre
  • 14.5% alcohol; barnyard, jammy with black pepper and red fruit
  • € 21.00

19. *** 2006 Clos Saint Michel Chateauneuf du Pape

  • 80 year old vines
  • 14.5% alcohol; animal, leather, spice
  • € 35.00

Diane and I with our tour guide, Francois

Wooj’s 31st Birthday Dinner at Jungsik

23 March 2012, Jungsik, Tribeca

Wooj’s birthday this year landed on a Friday so he was able to take escape from his atrocious banking hours and celebrate. We went to a new restaurant in Tribeca called Jungsik – it’s a formal, high-end Korean restaurant where they use traditional Korean flavors and ingredients with a French-style preparation. Instead of doing the prescribed wine-pairing, we picked our own bottles.

For the various amuse courses, we started with a N.V. Rene Geoffroy Brut Rose de Saignee from a magnum:

N.V. Rene Geoffroy Brut Rose de Saignee (magnum)

100% Pinot Noir with no malolactic fermentation, this wine had great acidity and minerality that cut through kimchi purees that accompanied the various fried meats and vegetables.

For our next courses which included noodles and a miyuk-gook risotto, we had a 2010 Hexamer Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Riesling Quarzit:

2010 Hexamer Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Riesling Quarzit

The Riesling had a citrus aroma but on the palate you could taste a combination of lime and sweetness (stone-fruit). A tart, medium finish – easy drinking Riesling and pairs well with food.

The next set of meat courses started with a 2008 Walter Hansel Winery Pinot Noir Cuvee Alyce:

2008 Walter Hansel Winery Pinot Noir Cuvee Alyce

From one of the oldest winemakers in Napa (1978), this was a good, not great, classic California Pinot Noir. Aroma of red fruit, berries and spice, it had a smooth mid palate and medium finish. Good acidity although less tannins than I would’ve expected for still a relatively young wine.

For our final savory course, braised short-ribs and samgyeopsal, paired extremely well with our last wine of the night, a 2008 Domaine de Saint Prefert Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve Auguste Favier from a magnum:

2008 Domaine de Saint Prefert Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve Auguste Favier (magnum)

This blend of 81.2% Grenache, 15% Cinsault and 3.8% Syrah was aged in cement tanks and large oak barrels. The dark ruby color led to a powerful nose of spice and berries. The palate attacked with fruit, acidity and licorice – great wine and would’ve paired well with any fatty, red meat.

The wine service at the restaurant was excellent – glassware was perfect and they stayed up to speed with each course.

*** N.V. Rene Geoffroy Brut Rose de Saignee (magnum), $160

** 2010 Hexamer Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Riesling Quarzit, $25

** 2008 Walter Hansel Winery Pinot Noir Cuvee Alyce, $35

*** 2008 Domaine de Saint Prefert Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve Auguste Favier (magnum), $100

France, the North Fork and back to Italy

18-26 February 2012, 100 Jane Street & Bistro de la Gare, Manhattan

After a week of traveling for work and golf, I got back-logged on the wine I consumed recently so I’m combining a few meals in one post.

1. One of my goals this year was to learn more about French wines. Diane and I went to a red Burgundy tasting at LeDu’s Wines and although we didn’t find any Burgundy we liked, we bought a bottle of a white Rhone Valley wine – 2005 M. Chapoutier Chante-Alouette Hermitage. Not knowing anything about the varietal, we bought this bottle just based on the producer and wanted to try something new:

2005 M. Chapoutier Chante-Alouette Hermitage

Very full bodied, almost creamy with a nutty finish. A smooth mid-palate but with good acidity and a elegant finish. The first bottle of a Marsanne varietal that I’ve ever had and it was difficult to find good analogs. A link on the Chapoutier website that explains more:

http://www.chapoutier.fr/hermitage,chante-alouette,white,wine,22.html

2. A group of us went to dinner at Bistro de la Gare on this past Saturday – Cohen, Michelle, Nard, Diane and I – started out with some wine at our apartment and brought a couple bottles to the restaurant.

Our first bottle was a 1999 Lenz Cuvee – a sparkling wine from my favorite vineyard on the North Fork of Long Island and although we love their Merlot and Chardonnay wines, this was the first sparkling we tried:

1999 Lenz Cuvee

This bottle was actually aged at the vineyard and wasn’t disgorged until recently, allowing the sediments/yeast to age inside the bottle. The initial taste was smooth for a sparkling wine – very dry with a bit of earthiness that came from the aging. Not as complex as old French champagnes but a very pleasant wine to start the night.

Next up was one of my favorite discoveries from Sicily – Frank Cornelissen’s Contadino 8. A blend of indigenous red and white varietals, this wine is unlike any I’ve ever tasted. The grapes are grown on Mount Etna and the yields are extremely low. Focused on natural wine-making and farming with minimal intervention, I think Cornelissen makes some of the most unique and interesting wines in Italy:

N.V. Cornelissen Contadino 8

The wine itself has low acidity, high fruit and a funky aftertaste that tells you it was grown on a volcano. People had somewhat divergent views on this wine – some people said it wasn’t for them, I think it’s delicious.

At the restaurants, we started with a 1973 Riesling which I unfortunately don’t have the name of as Nard brought the bottle and the label was tough to read – I’ll hopefully find out what this was, as it was incredible, and post on it later.

The piece de resistance of the night, and this post, was the 2000 Soldera Case Basse Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. An incredible wine that has layers upon layers of flavors:

2000 Soldera Case Basse Brunello di Montalcino Riserva

A strong nose of tar and leather, the first taste is of dark red, ripe fruit and spices. High tannins and acidity and oddly, the owner of the restaurant recommended not to decant the wine. I went along with her recommendation but towards the end of the meal began to regret the decision as the wine started to open up in the glass and the last sip was definitely the best.

Soldera is an interesting producer – he bought the plot of land in the 1970’s and believes in creating an entire ecosystem to make healthy vines and good wine. More at his website:

http://www.soldera.it/en/default-fx.htm

3. The last meal of the weekend was at home on Sunday night. Nard, Clair, Manoj, Diane and I ate a casual dinner while we watched the start of the Oscars. The main entrees were the chicken with salsa verde from Barbuto and a simple pasta dish we threw together at home – rigatoni with homemade tomato sauce and some spicy and sweet sausages from Florence Meat Market.

We opened up a bottle I’d been saving for a while, a 1999 Ar.Pe.Pe. Grumello Buon Consiglio. 100% Nebbiolo but not from Piemonte! The vineyard is located in Lombardy and their wines tend to be more subtle, elegant versions of Nebbiolo:

1999 Ar.Pe.Pe. Grumello Buon Consiglio

The wine has a softer nose than most Barolos – almost floral – and the palate has much more red fruit and less tannins than a standard Piemonte Nebbiolo. Easy to drink and great with the pasta.

** 2005 M. Chapoutier Chante-Alouette Hermitage, $75

** 1999 Lenz Cuvee, $60

*** N.V. Cornelissen’s Contadino 8, $25

**** 2000 Soldera Case Basse Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $250

*** 1999 Ar.Pe.Pe. Grumello Buon Consiglio, $70

New Year, New Wines

31 December 2011, 140 W 22nd St, Manhattan

At a holiday party this past December, I informed Cohen, to his surprise, that he would be hosting a New Year’s Eve party at his apartment. I had no plans, had no intention of hosting myself, and made Thomas host once already so I figured it was Cohen’s turn – I offered to send out the Evite on his behalf if he didn’t care to.

Not surprisingly, the party was incredible – 14 people total for a seven course meal with wine pairings and some bubbly left over for the midnight ball drop.  A brief synopsis below:

1. 2008 Fontezoppa Marche Rosso

a. Roasted red pepper puree with a ricotta crostini

b. Roasted beet, apple and shallot salad with a champagne vinaigrette dressing

I lump these two courses together as they were accompanied by this same wine, an Italian IGT.  50% Sangiovese, 40% Cabernet and 10% Merlot, the nose reminded me of a Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 3 months followed by a cask for 12 months. Very light bodied, fruity however a bit simple and not the most compelling wine of the night:

2008 Fontezoppa Marche Rosso

2. 2009 Brut Naveran Cava – Shrimp and pineapple wrapped in bacon

I’m not a huge fan of super dry sparkling wines – they remind me of bad champagnes that leave a bad aftertaste in your mouth.  Cavas, I find, tend to avoid this issue but often lack the complexity and depth that good champagnes can develop. This cava was as expected – light, refreshing and crisp – just dry enough to not leave a lingering taste and the bubbles were great with the bacon. The cava is made from Chardonnay and parellada with bottle fermentation and 2 years of aging:

2009 Brut Naveran Cava

3. 2010 Yves Cuilleron Condrieu La Petite Cote – Strawberries with vanilla ice cream and balsamic vinegar

For me, the wine of the night. 100% viognier from northern Rhone, the wine was incredibly aromatic and slightly sweet. Went well with this palate cleansing coarse, however, when consumed with salty food, you could easily see the saltiness and fruit. Fermentation is done in oak barrels with natural yeasts. Total annual production is about 24,000 bottles:

2010 Yves Cuilleron Condrieu La Petite Cote

4. 2006 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet – Prime rib roast

A delicious main course was the oven roasted prime rib. Cooked perfectly and served with the wine Diane and I brought – a solid Napa Cabernet. What you’d expect – very fruit forward, with sweet, smooth and balanced tannins. Aromas of plums and blackberries – very easy drinking. The blend is 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot.  Aged for 25 months in 100% new American oak and 20 months in the bottle:

2006 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet

5. 2010 Patrick Piuze Chablis, Terroir de Chablis – assorted cheeses

Pedro and Christina brought the wine for the cheese course. He asked for a suggestion from me earlier in the day and I sent him to NY Vintners. The chablis was perfect – after a long meal with the heavy meat course right behind us, a lighter wine with citrus and minerality was perfect with the various cheeses:

2010 Patrick Piuze Chablis, Terroir de Chablis

6. 2004 Madame Fleur Sauterne – red velvet cake and other assorted desserts

The last course was a full dessert dish with a Sauternes. I have very little experience with sauternes but tend to find that they typically err on the side of being too sweet and syrupy and lack the necessary acidity to balance the wine. I found the same to be true with this – while a pleasant wine with the dessert courses, definitely needed to be taken in a small portion:

2004 Madame Fleur Sauternes

* 2008 Fontezoppa Marche Rosso

** 2009 Brut Naveran Cava

*** 2010 Yves Cuilleron Condrieu La Petite Cote

** 2006 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet

** 2010 Patrick Piuze Chablis, Terroir de Chablis

* 2004 Madame Fleur Sauterne