Monday, June 30, 2008

New Blog

Check out my friend Justin's blog here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Graham Beck

While Kelly & I were in NYC recently we stopped by the wine bar Xai Xai in Midtown Manhattan. I was intrigued by it after seeing it profiled on Wine Spectator in a video with James Molesworth. When we stopped by, it was a Wednesday around 5 p.m. & there was only one other couple there. I ordered a glass of the Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc 2006 for Kelly & a glass of the Graham Beck Brut for myself. The bubbly was classically styled, with toasty notes, a creamy texture, beautiful beading & a round texture. It was a perfect example of South African winemaking. That region is producing wines that straddle the gap between the Old World & New. I don't believe this winery is available in Memphis, but hopefully it will be very soon.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Meat & Vegetables

This weekend I had two excellent meals that really stood out not only for their excellent quality but also for their polar opposition in the same genre. The first was at our friends Justin & Amy's house. Justin is an amaaaaazing cook who just so happens to be a vegetarian. As we walked in the door, Amy poured us a cherry-basil mojito (she is a master mixologist!) that was perfectly minty, sweet & refreshing with just an undertone of basil. Justin had prepared a mexican spread like no other: grilled corn with vegan mayonnaise, parmiggiano, chile & lime; quesadillas with cheese & vegan chorizo; black bean tamales & a spread of different salsas. The meal was outstandingly delicious, full of a variety of different bright flavors & just that right amount of heat which paired well with a 2006 Chateau Marouine Cotes de Provence rose & 2006 River Aerie Malbec, Columbia Valley. Justin just amazes me every time he prepares a meal for us. I am a without a doubt a meat lover, even though I don't eat it often, but I never...ever leave his dining room feeling unsatisfied in anyway. Hell, after this meal I was so stuffed I couldn't finish dessert!

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 long as Jeff is preparing it! HAPPY BIRTHDAY KRISTY!!!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wine Tasting

This just in:

Joe's Wines next big tasting will be held at the Vine, 1819 Madison on Thursday June 26th, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Cost to attend is $35 per person. They will be pouring a selection of wines from around the world, with each station focusing on a particular region (Austria, Washington, California, etc....) If you would like to purchase tickets, please stop in the store, 1681 Poplar or call 901.725.4252. With gas prices so high, why not skip your vacation & come to a wine tasting instead?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Post Vacation Depression

We just returned from NYC on Saturday & reality has set in. We are already planning our return, I'm planning my return to Morrell (to stock up on more incredible bottles & to converse with the lovely Harriet) & Kelly is planning our move to the city. Seriously, he wants to live there. I had hoped to do a bit more shopping for some boots & jeans but it just didn't work out that way. Instead, I spent my shopping budget entirely on wine but hey that was my plan anyway! We ended shopping only a little bit....but eating & drinking a LOT! We found a few lovely little wine bars:
  • 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

Viva Italia!

Check out my new article here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Kelly & I are in NYC right now. Just got here yesterday & it is hot as HELL. I should be used to this having lived in Memphis for 8 years, but it still doesn't help. Our driver was taking us over the Brooklyn Bridge & just happened to mention that it was 102 degrees! We didn't let that deter us from doing some exploring on foot. We happened upon Morrell Wine shop next to Rockefeller Center. We must have looked like vagrants because one of the wine stewards followed us & stood near us to prevent shoplifting! Hey, I can't blame her, I probably was soaked with sweat & stinky so....But after she engaged me in conversation & learned my tastes we were having a good time & I was spending too much money on really good wine. Kelly made a very interesting observation that "New York has places like this Morrell in one of their most heavily touristy areas. Memphis has rib & burger joints & shops that sell silly bobble heads or other crap. That shows you the different plane that New York is operating on."

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

Farmer's Market Dinner at Majestic Grille

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?


Wednesday June 11 – 6:30pm

Reservations Required.

Hors D'Oeuvres

Pizettas - Carmelized spring onions, bonnie blue goat cheese, arugula

Radish "Sandwiches" - Sea salt and chive mayo

Bon Bon Shiraz Rose, South Australia 2007

First Course

Roasted Jumbo Scallop - Baby beets, oranges, mixed greens

Marquis Phillips Holly's Blend, Southeast Australia 2007

Second Course

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

All Carova, All The Time!

Finally the Carova Milk Bar has reconvened. It has been far too long! I haven't blind tasted in quite some time so I suggested we do just that. Everyone brought a brown bag bottle that was not to exceed $25. After the reveal I could tell most of us had cheated on the price point, but what the hell.

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.