James and Jazz

30 March 2012, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Diane and I recently went to dinner with her coworker, Nicole, and her boyfriend, Elliott. The plan was to see Dr. John at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Nicole recommended the restaurant in Brooklyn for dinner beforehand – James.

The food was great – new American, well prepared with good, timely service. The jazz was incredible – a tribute to Louis Armstrong with a series of trumpet soloists (our favorite was Arturo Sandoval).

The wine was a bit of a disappointment.  We brought a bottle from the latest spring Kistler shipment, the 2010 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir:

2010 Kistler Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Very young with strong tannins, bursting with red fruit but missing the earthiness that I vividly recall from the 2009 we had just a few months earlier. While a minor disappointment, we’ll have to see how it tastes with a bit more age on it. Still fermented with native yeasts and bottled unfiltered and unfined, looking forward to redemption about a year down the road.

** 2010 Kistler Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, $65

Dinner, Wine and Friends

7 January 2012, 100 Jane Street, Manhattan

Recently, Nard, Clair, Diane and I cooked dinner and invited Dan, Sul and Manoj. Food and wine pairings below:

the five wines of the night

1. 2004 Agrapart & Fils Champagne Blancs de Blanc Brut

My first Blanc de Blanc and it was delicious. Agrapart is made from 50 year old vines in Les Robarts and La Voie d’Epernay. The winery uses organic farming and fermentation with natural yeasts. The champagne explodes in your mouth and felt cleaner to me than regular champagnes. Minerality with good acidity and a light but lasting finish.

2. 2009 Kistler Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – roasted beet salad with arugula, shaved parmesan with an olive oil and lemon dressing

My first Pinot Noir from Kistler (I’ve had several of their Chardonnays) and it was probably the best California Pinot Noir I’ve ever had. The wines are fermented with native yeasts, aged in French Oak for 14-18 months and finally bottled unfiltered and unfined. Strawberry, red fruit and surprising earthiness with a medium body. The wine had a complexity that changed on your palate and was great with the salad. This was the group’s wine of the night.

3. 2007 i Clivi Brazan Collio Goriziano – fettucini with a mushroom and onion cream sauce

I Clivi is a vineyard in Friuli that focuses on non-interventionist wine-making using organic methods. A small producer, they make about 1,500 cases of their DOC whites which are blends of Tocai, Verduzzo and Malvasia. The soil composition is a mixture of limestone, clay and sandstone with yields of about 1.0 ton per acre. The wine is fermented with its own yeast, undergoes malolactic fermentation and matures in stainless steel tanks on its own lees for 2 years with no racking or filtration. No oaking or wood of any kind is used to fully express the purity of the grapes.

The wine tastes the way it was made – clean, non-interventionist with subtle hints of stoned fruit. Medium acidity and clean, but short finish. Had enough acidity to keep up with the pasta but not the best pairing as the weight of the pasta overwhelmed this simpler wine.

4. 2001 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili – prime rib rubbed with garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil

I’ve written about Giacosa’s wines before and this was incredible as expected. Upon opening the bottle, it was extremely acidic and fruity with exploding tannins. After a 7 hour decant, the wine was showing in a much more integrated way: a strong nose of spice, Giacosa earthiness and tar. The palate had hints of sweet, ripe red fruit with spice and mustiness. Perfect wine for a red meat roast and still has a lot of years left to develop in the cellar.

5. 1990 Chateau d’Yquem – poached pears in a red wine sauce and brownies with French Vanilla Breyer’s ice cream

The most incredible wine that I think currently made is Chateau d’Yquem. This bottle was courtesy of Dan and it did not disappoint. Exceptional elegance with sweetness, acidity and good body. It has an incredible texture of honey and peach with perfect acidity to balance the wine. The perfect wine:

1990 Chateau d'Yquem

*** 2004 Agrapart & Fils Champagne Blancs de Blanc Brut, $80

*** 2009 Kistler Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, $75

** 2007 i Clivi Brazan Collio Goriziano, $25

*** 2001 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili, $130

**** 1990 Chateau d’Yquem

Two wines, One birthday

Diane loves to celebrate her birthday.  Over the past week she’s had countless birthday dinners, presents, cards and reasons to celebrate, but this puts her in a good mood so I relent.  We had two wines together that were new for both of us and worked for their respective meals.

18 November 2011, Aquavit, Manhattan

Diane’s birthday dinner this year was at Aquavit – a Nordic style restaurant in midtown. I recently ordered a few Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from Kistler through a work friend who’s on their mailing list so we decided to try one of their single-vineyard chardonnays:

2009 Kistler Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard

To put this in perspective, Diane and I went to a white burgundy tasting this past Monday so we were drinking very subtle, acidic whites that night. This bottle was explosive compared to the French wines – big oak aroma and palate but had enough acid and fruit taste to finish with good balance. The drinking window on this wine is 2012-2017 and I’d find it interesting to see whether it gains a bit more balance after a few years in the bottle. Few notes from the producer:

  • Vineyards range from Western Sonoma to Carneros – all chardonnay vines are the same clone and made in the same fashion so all differences among the single-vineyard productions are due to terroir
  • All wines are produced using native yeasts and aged in French oak – bottled unfiltered and unfined
  • All chardonnays are barrel fermented with sur lie aging in those same barrels for 11-18 months before bottling

19 November 2011, 1117 Woodruff Ave, Hillside, NJ

For Diane’s actual birthday, we went to New Jersey and spent the day running some errands and relaxing at her home. Her father and I were more interested in eating the delicious corned-beef and cabbage he prepared in the afternoon but that night we ordered pizza and we decided to go with a lighter, fruitier red:

2008 Bruno Giacosa Barbera d'Alba

A good wine for pizza and a great wine for Thanksgiving. It was light bodied with low tannins, reasonable acidity and tons of fruit on the palate, easing into a simple but long finish. It has enough flavor and fruit to hold up against the abundance of Thanksgiving sides and turkey but doesn’t have the astringency that would leave a bitter taste after eating lighter meats.

*** 2009 Kistler Chardonnay Hudson Vineyard, $75

** 2008 Bruno Giacosa Barbera d’Alba, $25