Tuesday, December 30, 2008
As I noted in an article in the Memphis Flyer (click here), Restaurant Iris is getting a exclusive cuvee from Robert Turner Winery. It is a testament to the level that Iris is operating at that an ultra boutique, high quality producer would bottle an exclusive blend for them. I had the pleasure of tasting the Robert Turner Winery Restaurant Iris Cuvee Chardonnay 2007 Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley not 2 hours ago & I'm absolutely in love with it. Thats saying quite a lot coming from me considering that chardonnay is one of my least favorite varietals. As readers of my blog, you can attest to the fact that I've almost never written about chard. But this is something different entirely. Immediately the nose gave off notes of clove, apple skin, vanilla, hints of licorice & cinnamon. The palate was rich & layered with ripe pear, a luscious texture, mouthwatering acidity & a finish that stayed on my palate for an incredible duration. What struck is that I kept wanting to return to the glass to smell & taste again. It seemed to give me a new expression of flavors each time. That is, to me, the utmost sign of quality. When a wine holds my attention & brings me back to the glass time & time again thats when I know I've got something special.
Since this is a unique cuvee, Iris won't have much of this wine for a very long time. Go now! Experience this wonderful juice for yourself.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
In my business the holidays slip away very quickly. Who am I kidding it shoots right through everyone's fingers no matter what your profession! Amidst the insanity there are moments of calm enjoyment & pleasure that make me exhale & think to myself that no matter the craziness going on around me I can count on my family & friends to show me what the holidays are all about. Our very good friends Becca & Lee took Kelly & me out for a surprise dinner at The Blue Fish last week. We dined on one of the most delicious (& dangerous to harvest) animals on the planet...whole Alaskan King Crab. They don't call it Deadliest Catch for nothing, but I can see why they go to all the trouble. The friendly & very personable server brought out the whole crab for show before it went back into the kitchen for preparation. This delectable monstrosity took up an entire tray, not a little cocktail tray but the ones used to carry out 8-10 large plates to big tables. It looked almost prehistoric or alien with its pointy hard shell, multiple plump limbs & large claws. I could barely contain myself. The server prepared the crab for us by cutting off its juicy appendages, placing bowls of drawn butter by each of us & flipping the carapace over to reveal the succulent lump meat at the joints. As we all tore into our crustacean each of us remarked on how fun the process was & how it reminded us of being children. I hear that Blue Fish has just a small handful of these coming in for New Year's so jump on them now before they are all gone. It is simply delicious & so much fun. Thank you again Becca & Lee! We love you!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Sorry about the lack of posts, I've had the crud thats been going around. Luckily I was well enough to go out for dinner for my anniversary. We initially tried to go to Andrew Michael but they were booked up until 9. Oh well, better luck next time. So instead, we stopped by Joe's to pick up a little something special. I love all things Italian, of course, & Kelly loves Barolo....so we grabbed a 2001 Claudio Alario Barolo. 2001 was practically a perfect year in Piemonte, everything just came together beautifully from rain level, fog, all that. This perfect storm produced wines that are almost indescribable. Nebbiolo is without a doubt a grape type that needs some time to develop, soften & come together. With 7 years in the bottle I knew this was beginning to be ready, even though it could easily age for another 13. We popped this baby open & decanted. Immediately what struck me was the aroma of tar & dried rose petal........& that was just from the decanter across the table. Once I took a big whiff of my glass I got notes of truffle, forest floor, dried black currant & a sweet spice note that I couldn't quite place. This is what is exciting about wine. When I can't fully discern what a wine is expressing to me than I know its something special. Every time I sipped, I inhaled deeply & got more layers of aroma. Every time I sipped, the textures & flavors hit my palate in a different way. This wine is something special & made our anniversary that much more special. 7 year old Barolo & 7 years of love. How perfect.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
I've said it before & I'll say it again. I am blessed with some ridiculously great friends (see my previous post about a little goodie from Becca & Lee). Last week my friend Elizabeth texted me to say that she had a book for Kelly & 2 bottles of wine for me. Score! She came over to talk vino & snack on a little dinner while catching up. When she unveiled the bottles I was taken aback....Pieropan Calvarino Soave 2004. 2004! Soave with some bottle age? Never thought to hang on to Soave. The garganega grape has never struck me as one built to go the distance. Granted yes, it is only 4 years of age but some whites fall apart after just a couple of years. Still, I've learned my lesson & I always keep my mind open. I needed to explore this on my own. The next night I popped open the bottle & poured a glass. It was a rich golden tone with a clean translucency. The aromas were of slightly poached apples, hazelnut & vanilla cream. The palate was round & full but not heavy with a crisp acidity on the finish. That finish just lingers & lingers & lingers. Thank you Elizabeth!!!!
Monday, December 01, 2008
My very good friend Becca gave me a plethora of gourmet deliciousness for my birthday. One such yumminess was a bar from Vosges Haut Chocolat. Anyone who hasn't heard of this chocolate company, go out & immediately buy anything you see from them, no matter how weird it sounds. The founder & head chocolatier, Katrina Markoff, starts with the best quality cocoa beans & crafts them into an unctuous & sublime chocolate. Many would be satisfied to stop there. Not Markoff. She adds in spices, herbs & even meat to create a flavor, texture & even aroma that has never been experienced before. Olives? Check. Smoked sea salt? Check. Curry? Check, & even bacon, yes bacon. The above bar, thank you Becca!, is called the Naga Bar. Its filled with curry powder & coconut in a deep milk chocolate & its....oh....so....incredible. What struck me immediately was how aromatic it is. The combination of mildly spicy curry & chocolate gives off a dark, savory sweetness that is exotic yet comforting. The snap of the coconut flakes adds a nutty sweetness & the chocolate itself is slow melting & not too sweet. I think I'm in love.
My friend Ken Neill invited Kelly & I over to his house this past holiday. Its a tradition of his to have his children & extended family over for a holiday meal & something special. Each year he opens up a selection of wines from some of his family's birth years. Now this was simply astonishing. I've been lucky enough to drink some old wines, but this was something truly exceptional. Before we got into the birth year blowout, we sipped a few aperitif wines. Ken poured me a glass of 2005 Kia Kaha Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand. Given the age of this wine, I was curious to say the least. Sauv blanc from the new world is not built for aging. However, this tasted fresh, crisp & refreshingly delicious. Before sitting down to dinner I also had a glass of 1999 Prinsi Barbaresco from Piedmont, Italy. Readers of this blog know how obsessed I am with Italian wines so this was a nice treat, a nebbiolo with a little age on it. The color was a dusky rust tint with a dark core, aromas of rose, smoky tar & a ripe, rich texture in the mouth.
The first birth wine was a 1996 Landmark Damaris Reserve Chardonnay Sonoma County in honor of Ken's grandson JD. The color was, just as I expected, dark gold...almost amber tinted. The texture was similar to a light Madeira. It was juicy, with a soft acid that was barely detectable with a nuttiness on the finish.
Next was a 1994 Erath Reserve Pinot Noir Weber Vineyard Willamette Valley in honor of Ken's grandaughter Neill. Ken wasn't expecting too much from this bottle, but I was very excited & kept an open mind. Obviously Ken's cellar is the optimal storage facility so I had faith that the Erath would be drinking good. The wine had a dark core in the glass that gradually gave way to a ruby/brick color that dissipated towards the rim. On the nose was a wild, earthy, dried spice & fruit aroma that wafted up like smoke off a camp fire. It was still very much alive...& delicious. What a way to drink Oregon pinot noir, with a little age on it. The texture was succulent & velvety, like I imagine a silk scarf would feel like if I licked it.
Up next was a 1982 Robert Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley in honor of Evan. The color was still quite dark & the aroma had dark dried currant & leather on it. Unfortunately the palate was done for. It came on with a little fruit & spice but quickly dissipated.
Our next endeavor was a 1977 John Walker & Co Pinot Noir from Central Coast California in honor of . JW & Co is a wine merchant in San Francisco who over the years has had wineries bottle certain cuvees specifically for the store. This particular pinot was from the original Chalone Vineyard! The cork was a bitch to work with, completely disintegrated on me when I attempted opening it. Thank goodness for the decanter & filter. Its color was muddled & odd but the aroma was all earthy, mushroomy, dried clove, tea leaf....like they made this in an attempt to beat the Burgundians at their own game. Which makes sense considering back then, in the '70's, CA winemakers weren't going after the stratospheric brix levels that they are now. They were into subtlety much like their old world counterparts were. I digress. On the palate was a finely aged pinot noir. Silky, wildly textured, dried cherry & cola with a sensuality more than a flavor. Yes we had a bit to drink by now but this was a wine I felt rather than tasted.
Next was a wine I couldn't believe I was about to taste. When Ken showed me the lineup for the night it took every ounce of willpower not to scream & jump up & down. I wasn't seeing things, I was actually about to taste a 1971 Chateau Margaux. Oh......my. This rare & special wine was in honor of Ken's daughter, & my good friend, Molly. She is also pretty special & rare! The wine's color was alive, dark & without a hint of muddiness, with a gradual color transition working its way out from the core from dark ruby to pink. Aromas of sweet grass, hay, clove, dried cherry, currant, earth & leather spun out of the glass. This wine was still very much alive. Tasting it sent shockwaves of texture throughout my mouth from top to bottom & across my palate. It tasted of rocky soil, clove, vanilla with a presence that seemed to say "I may be 37 years old but I have a lot of life left." The finish continued on & on, I lost track really.
The last wine of the night was a 1966 Chateau Beau Site from the Saint Estephe district of Bordeaux. While opening this bottle to decant, Senator Steve Cohen pointed at the bottle & said "Saint Steve!" Hmmm. Our oldest wine of the night was in honor of Sherman, Molly's fiance. After the appropriate toast Marlinee stated that the was actually for her husband Max who himself was born in '66 & whose birthday was the very next day. We hoped that was going to be the only declaration she made that evening. I say that with the utmost love, Mar. Back to the vino. Its 42 years of age barely registered in the color. While there was a brick tint to it, the hue wasn't faded or thin looking. The one thing that shone through the most on the palate was the cocoa bean & coffee. It was almost immediate, very vibrant. The weight was surprisingly full for its age, it spread across my palate with a luscious texture & flavors of leather & dried cranberry.
Wow. What a night. Thank you so much Ken! I can't wait until next year!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Christmas has come early. This past Monday we tasted through a slew of reduced priced wines at one of our wholesalers. There were a couple dogs yes, but what I found were some truly exceptional gems. Sadly, not every wine is appreciated when it is brought to market. Some of them are misunderstood, unappreciated or disregarded for reason or another. Many wines just aren't ready to be drunk upon release. Not every buyer in town understands these things. Fortunately, we get to reap the benefit of these poor bypassed wonders (such as the Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir from the previous post!). One such standout was the Gregory Graham Syrah 2000 Napa Valley. 2000 was not necessarily considered the best vintage in Napa, but if there is one thing I've learned its to not always listen to the critics. This dark, blue velvet toned wine was rich & unctuous but a little closed off at first taste. I went back to it after tasting through another 20-some wines & this second time it seemed almost awkwardly pungent. But I just knew something was there, I could feel that it was going to blossom.....& did it ever. After work the next day I poured myself a glass from the open bottle & took a big whiff. The nose had developed into a thick perfume of smoke, bacon fat, drying blueberry, beef jerky, fennel & clove. The palate was fleshy, rich & dark with a round unctuous texture that still displayed some bright acid. Bright enough for the rich dish it would need such as lamb with black olives, peking duck or braised pork tagine. There are next to no bottles left so the minuscule amount that we get in at Joe's will surely go quickly. I know I'm going to grab a couple for my cellar!
Monday, November 17, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
We were lucky enough to score some Novy Family Winery Blanc de Noir 2007 Willamette Valley $26.99. It may sound like it but it is NOT a sparkling wine. I know, I know wines designated a Blanc de Noir are typically sparkling but this (as my post title states) is something.....different. 2007 wasn't necessarily the best vintage for Oregon. Therefore, Siduri/Novy wanted to make the proverbial lemonade from lemons. Winemaker Ryan Zepaltas crushed their pinot noir grapes & immediately ran them off their skins so as not to pick up any color. Hence the Blanc (white) de Noir (from black grapes). The wine does have a slight flesh tone to its hue, but this beauty is all about the aroma & texture. The nose gives off aromas of star fruit, passion fruit, clove, white raspberry & a hint of soil. On the palate is a ripe viscous texture that is not overwhelmingly heavy (think of a balanced viognier or grenache blanc something Northern Rhone) or weighted. Its balanced with a bright acidity & a somewhat lanolin-esque finish. My immediate thoughts when tasting this was that it would be perfect paired with all the upcoming holiday dishes. Turkey, dressing, ham, even lamb!
Find this at Joe's, I'm not sure if anyone else got any. Yours truly had them send a sample bottle in since this market wasn't slated to receive any of this wine.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Thursday, November 06, 2008
No secret. I love Italian wine. Love it. Love it. Delicious juice. This little beauty is an amazing score. Villa La Selva Felciaia 1998. With 10 years in the bottle this wine is fleshed out with a luscious texture, aromas of fennel blossom, dried cranberry, earth & a bit of barnyard. On the palate are tannins that are still very pronounced with a rich texture, dried cranberries, dried raspberries & a lengthy finish. I'm drinking it by itself but I think it would blossom with a braised beef dish, grilled lamb or even a plate of salami & olives. Sorry about the picture, it just wasn't turning out the way I wanted it to look. Find it at Joe's.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Thanks Becca & Lee!!!!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
|Dear MRA Restaurant Member,|
Wight and I will be meeting with the Health Department this Friday, October 10th to discuss inspection procedures and regulations. We would like to have feedback from you about your recent experience with your Health Inspector to take into our meeting. All input is welcome (positive and/or negative). What was your overall impression of your most recent inspection? How does it compare with past inspections? Do you have specific suggestions as to how future interactions with Health Inspectors can be improved upon? Rest assured that your anonymity will be protected.
Please e-mail me at email@example.com with your feedback.
Memphis Restaurant Association
Member Relations Director
I'm not gonna lie, what's the point? You read this so you know. I am absolutely infatuated with Italian wines. This week I met & tasted with one of my idols, Lionello Marchesi. His love of the sangiovese grape is evident in his sublimely beautiful wines. I truly admire not only the exquisite quality of his wines but also his focus on showcasing this beautiful grape at all price points. As much as I hate to admit, we are in an economic crisis. Its nice to have options in the wine world across all price points. Lionello started me with his basic sangiovese 2006 (approximately $15 retail). The color was typical of the grape, dark ruby with an orange-red tint at the rim. It had the traditional nose & palate of Italian spice & cranberry. Next up was the Chianti Superiore 2006 (approximately $18.99) a classic example of the great Chianti district. It was on the darker side for a Chianti, but expressed the spicy clove, fennel, red berry nose I've come to expect from that region. The palate had significant weight & grip with a lusciously dark flavor & a bright beautiful acid. The next to be poured was a 2005 Chianti Classico Riserva (approximately $30.99). It was a dark, velvety beauty with supple tannins, licorice & black fruit flavors. Next was the 2005 Rosso di Montalcino ($?). As you fellow cork dorks know this is the baby Brunello. The Sangiovese Grosso grape used for Brunello is aged for less time & then released as Rosso di Montalcino. Its a perfect wine for an introduction into the beauty that is the Brunello. The Rosso has excellent concentration, a dark viscous texture with a smoky clove, fennel & dark licorice aroma & flavor. The tannins were pronounced due to its youth but they were integrated enough to be balanced.
I could hardly wait to get to my baby, the Brunello di Montalcino. I was a bit apprehensive about it given that it was a 2003 & that vintage was excessively hot all over Europe. That heat led to a lot of wines expressing roasted or cooked fruit nuances which to me overpower a typically elegant & balanced wine. This was not the case with this wine. Marchesi explained that his Brunello vineyards were very high up & their altitude saved them from being subjected to the monstrous heat of '03. Its color was dark purple with a red/rust tint to the rim. On the nose were aromas of fennel, clove, smoke, blackberry & a violet note. The palate was rich, supple bodied, ripe with layers & layers of sensually textured tannins & dark fruit. This Brunello didn't disappoint at all, it had a finish that just wouldn't let go. It kept going & going & going & left a lasting impression of dark spice & black fruit & a hint of soil as well.
Go out & support the economy! Buy a Brunello!
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Octoberfest in October, not September like it normally is. On Thursday October 23rd Joe's Wines is hosting an Octoberfest beer tasting at the Cotton Museum (65 Union Avenue) in Downtown Memphis. They will be pouring approximately 25 beers for sampling alongside some hearty Autumn fare. Tickets are $20/person. To purchase a spot, you may stop by the store, 1681 Poplar, or call 901.725.4252. For all you beer fanatics out there, this is not a tasting to miss. All your favorite craft breweries will be represented alongside some new houses that are just now being represented in Memphis. There is limited space available so act fast! Beer, brats...what else could be better??
Friday, October 03, 2008
As readers of this blog know, I am an absolute sucker for Austrian wines. Totally in love, can't get enough, can't live without, enamored....all that.
I truly feel that Austria is one of the most exciting, if not THE most exciting, wine growing regions in the world today.
Stift Goettweig has been producing wine for, oh about forever. They are producing some of the best gruner veltliner out there. At approximately 14% alcohol the Gottschelle gruner is among the ripest styles on the market. If it was a Wachau it would definitely be a Smaragd designated wine for sure (meaning the ripest). In the glass, this wine is richly golden with a viscous quality as it swirls around. The nose is laden with lemon & lime peel, slate, chalk, limestone, apricot & peach skin. On the palate is a rich texture, vibrant acidity, flavors of white peach, lemon curd & only hints of the residual sugar that the ripe alcohol level implies. The finish just sails on & on & on....& on. This is a wine that lingers for days. It would be perfect with bouillabaisse, seared scallops on a white bean & garlic saute, or shrimp & grits.
At $32.99 (at Joe's Wines in Midtown) it is on the more expensive side but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that its worth every single penny.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
What better excuse than a birthday to cook up something delicious & pop open wines that I've been DYING to open. In honor of Richie's 28th bday, I braised some free range lamb shanks in wine, stock, celery, onions, garlic, tomatoes, basil & oregano for about 9 hours. I took the lamb out of the braising liquid & reduced it by 2/3 to make a rich & savory sauce. On the side I served cauliflower that I roasted in the oven with cream, wine, garlic & onions. It almost came out like risotto. This meal called for something special, something earthy & spicy. So I popped open a 1995 Tinto Pesquera from Ribera del Duero, Spain & a 1997 Paterno II from Azienda Agricola Il Paradiso in Tuscany.
The Pesquera was laden with a mysterious spice & dense with earthy aromas. It smelled of dark, dried soil & rocky clay. The aroma was thick with clove, cinnamon bark, dried fennel seed, lavender & dried plum. The palate had mellowed over time. I could tell that upon release this baby was a little monster. Its tannins were soft & near disappearing, but when sipped with a bite of lamb, oh ....my. A wonderful pairing. The wines dried fruit & spice played off the gaminess of the lamb in a terribly good way.
I thought it couldn't get any better, but then I tasted the 1997 Paterno II. Oh....my....goodness. I haven't lucky enough to taste enough wines for so called "Classic" vintages. Not as much as I would like anyway. If this wine is any indication then everything you have read about the '97 vintage in Tuscany is without a doubt true. The first sniff of my glass was thick with barnyard, which gave way to fennel spice, violet, rosemary, dried currant, light graphite....it just went on & on! On the palate was a rich, super supple texture that caressed its way across & up & down my mouth. It gave flavors of blackberry, basil, clove, cinnamon, dried thyme, smoke & dried cherry. The finish just kept....on.....going. I was sad when I finished my glass. Because I knew there was no more to be had.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Thursday September 25th at 6:30 p.m. we are hosting Phillippe Bourgeois of Bourgeois Family Selections at Tsunami Restaurant. Phillippe will be leading us through a tasting of his top-quality wines paired with the magnificent cuisine of Chef Ben Smith. All of the wines that Bourgeois Family Selections imports are at the very least sustainably farmed with most either organic or biodynamic. Phillippe's extensive portfolio is comprised of small family growers (one has only 8 acres) finally bottling their own wines instead of selling grapes off to larger negociants. These wines represent the value and quality of French wines prior to a decade of price increases. Cost to attend this dinner is $65 (including tax & gratuity). There will be special discounts given for orders placed that evening. Our last wine dinner at Tsunami sold out in 2 DAYS so act fast. To purchase a seat, please stop by the store or call and purchase your tickets over the phone (901.725.4252). There are only 22 seats available. Don't miss out on the opportunity to interact with the man who is importing some of the most exciting wines in the market served alongside with Chef Ben Smith's excellent cuisine. The menu is as follows:
Domaine de Ballade Sauvignon Blanc-Colombard 2006 Cotes de Gascogne
Seared sea scallops with saffron beurre blanc and curry zucchini noodles.
Le Drunk Rooster Chardonnay 2007 Vin de Pays
Pepper crusted tuna with warm strawberry vinaigrette/salsa.
In Fin Rose 2007 Cotes du Ventoux
Roasted duck breast with Parmesan croquettes and grilled Asian eggplant.
Domaine de la Berthete Cuvee Sensation 2006 Cotes du Rhone
Szechwan lamb with sweet potato risotto.
Domaine de Chateaumar Cuvee Bastien 2007 Cotes du Rhone
Monday, September 08, 2008
1958: ruby core to a brick-orange rim, light sediment is evident but not as much considering its age. Clarity is muddled & cloudy but typical of age. A nose, of cedar, cinnamon stick, dried cherry forest floor & almond. The palate is very elegant, light & lithe but with a lively acidity for its age, hits on the sides of my tongue with a velvet finish.
1959: light ruby core, orange-rust rim, sediment is evident. Hints at sulfur on the nose with dried plum, obviously dead. Almost pinot noir-esque on the palate with barely a whisper of spice box, hot on the finish, over.
1961: sludgy, rust colored, looks dead. Roasted overcooked fruit on the nose with a funky, sulfur influenced aroma. The palate is tart, tastes of chambourcin. Dead.
1967: garnet core to a brick rim. Nose of currants, cigar box & anise.
1969: bright & clear, clean, rust colored rim, obviously filtered. Dark currant, smoke & slightly cooked fruit on the nose. Subtle, clean palate with bright acid but no mid palate. Hits at the back of the palate.
1974: Cloudy & rust colored. The nose is sulfurous with a pungent licorice/penicillin aroma. The palate is disjointed & seems astringent, hits the hard palate, acid is in line but the alcohol is hot & out of balance.
1978: Garnet color to a pink rim. Dialed down aroma, reserved, black fruits, light earth but not expressive. Soft, hot with no mid palate & unimpressive.
1979: Cloudy core, dark ruby color. Pungently dark core of spice & fruit, somewhat odd & disjointed aroma. Spice box, leather, tea, not impressive, simple & leaves the palate quite quickly.
1982: Cloudy core with a rust rim. , smells off with a pungent, sulfurous nose. Palate expresses cooked fruit with a tangy, light finish.
1985: Ruby garnet, slightly dark at the core. The nose is hot but has notes of black currant & plum. The palate is leathery, black currant, dried raspberry but falls flat on the finish.
1991: Nose of cognac, barrel spice, cedar, cigar box, leather. The palate if round, fleshy, voluptuous, spicy, coats the palate in a luscious fashion.
1992: Clean, ruby color. I found sulfur on the nose with a hint of dried berry. The palate was on the lighter side (lighter than '91) with smoky licorice with a pungent characteristic. Hits the hard palate.
1993: Nose of fill, mustard seed & cranberry. The palate is round, voluptuous, fleshy, leathery & had the most tannins of the night, so far.
1994: Spicy, anise laden nose. A rich, but not heavy, texture with a dark core of supple fruit, tea & cedar.
1995: Heavy with herbes de provence, anise & red currant on the nose. The palate is fleshy & round, big & brawny.
1997: Dark tinted core. A pungently dark, odd, cooked fennel aroma. The palate is big & brawny, the tannins are still too big. Almost overpowering.
1998: Dark ruby core of color. Almost no discernible aroma. Soft fruit. Finally...A MIDPALATE! Hints of spice box. Supple & caressing, just lovely.
1999: Light aromatic expression on the nose, simple & not very interesting. Lusciously powerful & gorgeous on the palate. The finish keeps going on & on with currants & dark blackberry.
2000: Still way too big, but has great potential.
2004: Huge & fruity. Typical Napa cab with big tannins & big black fruit. Seriously needs a steak!
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Mark your calender's. This Thursday is sure to be the mother of all Italian wine tastings. Joe's Wines will be hosting a tasting of 30-35 wines (with a beer or two) on Thursday September 4th at the Vine, 1819 Madison in BEAUTIFUL midtown Memphis, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $35, call Joe's at 901.725.4252 to purchase.
Monday, September 01, 2008
So I wasn't feeling that well at work on Saturday. All at once I felt nauseated & as if my batteries had run down. After a few hours of keeping myself moving & hydrating I started to come back to life. As much as you all might think, no I was not hungover! I'm not sure what was wrong with me. Richie was concerned not only for my health but also for our plans. We had planned to convene at his condo with our significant others to taste some wine & cook up a tasty meal. Well, after coming back to life, we were back on track. We both were ecstatic to discover that a well aged bottle of Champagne was tucked into the bubbly cooler. Pommery Brut 1992! What a find! We were eager to pop this little beauty open. I downloaded a program called WinePad to my iPhone so I took this as an opportunity to give it a run. The wine poured a rich golden hue with a distinctive clarity, & slow, tiny bubbles. The aroma gave off apricot, nuts, toast, brioche & orange peel with notes of chalk. Richie shouted "it tastes like a triple cream cheese!". In fact it did. It also had flavors of apricot jam, macadamia nuts, artichoke & a lengthy palate that still had so much vibrant acidity.
I love it when we find hidden little gems.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Last Thursday, my very good friend Paula was in town so we decided to convene at Restaurant Iris for dinner. For those of you who haven't dined there yet, you are either living under a rock or you can't get a reservation. Trust me, make a reservation. I started with a French 75 cocktail, they do it seasonally so for the time being it is Hendrick's gin, simple syrup, lemon juice & sparkling wine. Quite possibly the best aperitif I have had. It's refreshing, delicious & gets your mouth ready to eat. Aside from the food, decor, service & overall atmosphere of the restaurant, I really love that they offer a wine list that is left of the norm. Anyone can slap a wine list together, but they take pride in offering wines that not only complement the food but are also interesting, unique & good values. We ordered a bottle of the Lachini Vineyards Pinot Noir Family Estate 2006 Willamette Valley, OR. What first struck me was how much of a departure the '06 was from the '05. Where the '05 was masculine & up front, the '06 was elegant, restrained but not subdued. This pinot was a gorgeous translucent ruby color (exactly how a pinot should look!), with aromas of forest floor, red cherry, tea, cola & black raspberry. It was very silky on the palate, so caressing & elegant but still giving great mouthwatering acidity. Go order this next time you dine there or pick up a bottle at Joe's Wines.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I just finished reading "Adventures on the Wine Route" by Kermit Lynch. This man alone is responsible for introducing true expressions of French wine to the U.S. market. Luckily we are able to find some of his wines here in Memphis (check out Clos la Coutale Vin de Cahors of Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape). I will admit that this book is more for a wine lover. However, anyone who is remotely interested in wine & loves a good read that is informative & entertaining should pick this up. His prose is so laden with romance that I easily could mentally teleport myself to the regions he discussed. Ugggh I long for the Rhone Valley! It also made me even LESS of a fan of Bordeaux. Lynch really sums up why I loathe that region. They are money hungry, concerned more with pomp & circumstance & all about the facade. I want honesty of expression in my wines & he does a marvelous job of hammering home why that is so important. Maybe one day I'll be able to see that firsthand in the vineyards of Cahors or Cote-Rotie.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Friday, August 08, 2008
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
- Tenuta Frigiali 1997 Brunello di Montalcino
- Paterno II Toscano Rosso 1997
- Cayuse Syrah Cailloux Vineyard 2001 Walla Walla, WA
- Tinto Pesquera 1995 Ribera del Duero
- Pierre Andre Gevrey Chambertin 1998
- Clos Erasmus 1997 Priorat
So, what bottles of yours are calling out to you?
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Two things are inexcusable when it comes to wine service at this level, or rather the level that River Oaks is portraying themselves to be at. One is improper temperature of the bottles. Both reds were served way too warm & required chillers, which I asked for. If they are going to serve warm red wine they should purchase more chillers or ask the table if they would like their red wine chilled down for them. I shouldn't have to ask, they should know better. Second, is a dirty wine glass. All three of our glasses that we were given with the first bottle were dirty. Not just "the dishwasher left some residue" dirty, I mean, greasy thumbprints & lipstick dirty. Again, a restaurant that wants us to see them of a certain caliber shouldn't allow this to happen. Eww.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Okay, I admit it. I'm a little mad about rose. With the disgusting, appalling, oppressive & downright hellish heat & humidity of Memphis, how can I not be? Last night I popped a bottle of In Fine Rose 2007 ($12.99 at Joe's) from the Cotes du Ventoux. It is a lovely little quaffer with nice pink hue, aromas of fresh berries with a little spice & a refreshing, fruity & dry palate. This isn't meant to be contemplated, its meant to be drank. Sometimes I don't want complexity, I just want refreshment & this wine offers it in spades. Drink up!
Monday, July 28, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
- Piazzano Rio Camerata 2005 Chianti $17.99
- Colognole 2003 Chianti Rufina $17.99
- La Valentina Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005 Abruzzo $17.99
- River Aerie Sangiovese 2006 Columbia Valley, WA $19.99
- Coldisole Brunello di Montalcino 2001 Montalcino $64.99
This goes to show that you may think you know a grape but tasting blind will make you realize that you don't.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Last night Kelly & I had a lovely dinner at Kristi & Warner's house. To start the evening we had these interesting little things to the right which are wild hibiscus flowers in hibiscus syrup. We dropped a flower & a little syrup into the bottom of champagne flutes & filled them up with Louis Perdrier Rose Brut NV sparkling wine from France. Both the flowers & the bubbly were a gift from our friends Justin & Amy (thanks Justin & Amy!) The syrup just slightly sweetened the bubbly enough to be refreshing & fruity. The flowers themselves had the consistency of dried fruit or fruit roll ups. They are a bit addictive once you've popped one in your mouth. Next we had a bottle of Smith Madrone Riesling 2005 Spring Mountain, Napa Valley. I've been curious how this wine has developed over the years. When I first had it the wine was linear & bright with lots of acidity & peach, meyer lemon flavors. This bottle could have been aged for another few years! It was still very bright with notes of slate & dried lemon & lots of vibrant acidity. We enjoyed a salad that the lovely Mez brought over of spinach, strawberries, almonds, red onion, dried cranberries & blueberries, Laura Chenel Herb Chevre & an organic raspberry vinaigrette. It was perfectly fresh, light & delicious. Kristi's main course consisted of tamarind marinated
shrimp with brown jasmine rice, fresh peppers, celery, onions & garlic in a coconut ginger broth. The dish had a mild heat with a creamy texture & super aromatic spice....Yummmmmm! Our next bottle of wine was Torre Muga 1998 Rioja, yet another bottle I've been curious about. Obviously I've been cellaring this one almost too well because of its youthful weight & texture. It was still bold & dark & had only slightly softened from the first time I had it years ago. It was at first very new world in style with dark ripe fruit on the nose & palate that spread out & became earthy & spicy. What a hell of a finish on this thing, Wow! This wine could have lasted another 3-5 years at least even though it was oh so delicious now.
For dessert Kristi grilled fresh peaches with rosemary & salt & topped them with vanilla cream & balsamic vinegar. The balsamic was a perfect touch adding a tangy sweetness to the luscious texture of the fruit & cream. That was fun!
Saturday, July 05, 2008
I love a good pinot noir. I haven't been drinking much of it lately due to both price escalation & a kind of boredom of the varietal. It seems we are inundated with pinot after pinot, a veritable sea of bland juice. But there are still many great wines made from this so-called "heartbreak" grape. Case in point, Siduri Sonoma Coast 2006. At $30 a bottle this isn't necessarily an inexpensive wine but then again, its all relative. Not to mention that you get what you pay for. Good wine is like good food, sometimes it costs a bit but almost always its worth it.
The first thing I noticed about this wine is its elegantly translucent color. Some people might call it pale, especially compared to the hedonistic ripe fruit bombs of Santa Lucia Highlands or Sta Rita Hills. There is a smoky sultry quality on the nose, but still dialed back enough that it isn't overwhelming. The nose gives aromas of dark cherry, smoke, cardamom & hints of tea & earth. When the first sip of a wine makes me close my eyes & blocks out my surroundings, wow! That speaks volumes. The palate shows a sensually silky texture, a round smoothness, acidity that is just bright enough to elevate the strawberry, black cherry & cola flavors. This is a truly exceptional wine that is drinking surprisingly well for its youth. Drink up!
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
I'm sipping on one of the most stunning white wines ever produced. I've had the Stadt Krems Sandgrube Gruner Veltliner 2006 Kremstal, Austria many times, but it just never ceases to truly amaze me. This pure, concentrated, ripe white has layers of white pepper spice, peach, apricot, minerality & acidity. It is simply stunning. Which makes it all the more tragic that the Sandgrube vineyard in Kremstal was obliterated by hail in late 2007. The vineyard has been replanted but it won't be producing for at least another 5 years. But how can these newly planted vines ever reproduce the magic that the old vines so liberally displayed? Each sip of this sublime wine almost makes me cry thinking of how I'm drinking history & helping this beautiful thing along to extinction. But its too delicious to stop.
Restaurant Iris is a welcome addition to the Memphis dining scene that is sure to continue to wow us in a comfortable & elegant fashion.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
The second meal was also Mexican in style & theme. Our friend Kristy's birthday was Saturday, in honor of the special day she & her husband Jeff had a mexican fiesta. Nice sombrero Jeff! First of all, the margaritas were fabulous. There is just nothing like a fresh margarita, it was obvious that they had gone through the trouble of juicing fresh limes instead of using a mix. Outstanding!! The dish that stood out to me the most was the goat. I have never had goat before so I was extremely curious. Kristy gets the meat from a farm in Iowa (I'm pretty sure she said Iowa) that humanely raises its livestock & uses no chemicals, hormones, etc. Jeff prepared the goat in a dark sauce laced with chilis, cumin & I'm not sure what else. The goat was succulent & tender & just melted on my tongue. The sauce had a smoky heat as opposed to a spicy heat that savory-sweet at the same time. I must say that I would definitely try goat again.......as long as Jeff is preparing it! HAPPY BIRTHDAY KRISTY!!!!!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
- Morrell Wine Bar: This cozy but beautiful locale was next door to one of the best wine shops I've ever been to. It had an extensive wine list & a menu of small plates perfect for sharing. We had a few glasses of rose (Kelly's was from Provence, mine was from Bandol) & a plate of charcuterie. The bar was curvy & sleek with a wall of wine to the left of the entrance. Very cool but very comfortable place.
- Flute: This former speakeasy is below the street in a dark space with multiple pockets of plush seats & couches. The small but excellent selection of champagnes, sparkling wines & cocktails are perfect for a early evening. We found this place at about 5:05 on a Friday after walking around & sweating our asses off. Try the Marquis de Sade cocktail. I won't spoil it for you.
- The Bubble Lounge: This Tribeca spot boasts an unbelievable amount of Champagnes & sparkling wines. Kelly & I found this place the last time we came to NYC & couldn't wait to return. This lounge is very cozy with exposed brick & dark red chairs & sofas. I love, love, LOVE Champagne so I was just a sucker for this place.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
For dinner last night we made reservations at Perilla in the West Village. We are huge Top Chef fans so naturally we wanted to eat at Harold Dieterle's (the 1st Top Chef winner) restaurant. The decor & layout were very beautiful. However, on this boiling day it seemed as though they didn't have the air conditioning on. That wasn't pleasant, but we got over it. The second strike was the poorly made sidecar cocktail. Kelly was not happy about it but he drank it. It needed more lemon & more sugar on the rim to balance it out. However, as soon as we sat down at our table we were very excited about the menu in front of us. Kelly decided on the spicy duck meatballs for a starter & I chose the halibut cheeks. Both were outstandingly delicious. The meatballs came with a raw quail egg on top that melted into the broth. Fantastic. My cheeks were seared crisp on the exterior with a juicy interior. For our entrees I had the roasted duckling breast & Kelly had the ricotta ravioli with fiddlehead ferns & truffle butter. Oh my goodness...We chose very wisely. Both dishes were perfectly cooked with delicious layers of flavor. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting Manhattan. Just call ahead & ask if the a/c is working.....& don't order a sidecar.
Monday, June 09, 2008
I just received this release from the Majestic Grille. They are planning what is sure to be one of the best wine dinners this summer. Local food & good wine in an incredible setting. What more could you ask for?
MEMPHIS FARMERS MARKET WINE DINNER
Wednesday June 11 – 6:30pm
Pizettas - Carmelized spring onions, bonnie blue goat cheese, arugula
Radish "Sandwiches" - Sea salt and chive mayo
Bon Bon Shiraz Rose, South Australia 2007
Roasted Jumbo Scallop - Baby beets, oranges, mixed greens
Marquis Phillips Holly's Blend, Southeast Australia 2007
Veal Tenderloin - Stuffed with chard, zucchini and fresh herbs with natural juices, sugar glazed carrots and roasted fingerling potatoes
Chris Ringland's Green Lion Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley CA 2005
English Strawberry Trifle - Fresh strawberries layered with sponge cake, English custard and canilla cream
Paringa Individual Vineyards Sparkling Shiraz, South Australia 2004
$55 per person plus tax & 20% gratuity. Slow Foods members $50.Please call 901-522-8555 to make reservations. Seating is limited.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Blind tasting is always so humbling. I'm a bit rusty but that just means I need to do this more often.
My descriptors were pretty spot on but I led myself astray on the varietals. Oh well.
Here's the lineup:
Sebastiani Barbera 2004
Tablas Creek Vermentino 2003
Bell Vineyards Merlot 2002
Pepper Bridge Merlot 2003
Isenhower Horse Heaven Hills Syrah 2004
For an extra added bonus, Michael Barar brought a 1993 6 Puttonyos Tokaji......mmmmmmmmm
I decided to share a Turley Cellars Zinfandel Rattlesnake Ridge Howell Mountain 2005 with the gang. Oh my god. It is no wonder that Turley is so highly sought after. They are truly exceptional wines. It was smoky barbecued pork in a glass......mmmmmm.