I sampled two outstanding Rhone rangers recently. Graff Family Vineyards is a small producer in the Chalone AVA of Central California. They specialize in Rhone varietals & they do them justice. Their 2005 Consensus is a blend of 94% Syrah 4% Mourvedre & 2% Viognier. It has a beautiful purple/ruby color in the glass with aromas of blueberry, smoke, beef, soil & anise. The aromas are bright but not overpowering. Flavors of dried meat, blackberry & a viscous texture are evident on the palate.
Next I tried Gloria Ferrer Syrah 2002 Carneros. Yes that Gloria Ferrer. I was surprised that they produced anything but bubbly. The real surprise was in the glass. Aromas of cassis liqueur, bacon fat, smoked meat & blueberry-balsamic compote were leaping out of the glass. The palate is still very vibrant, round & super super delicious. There were flavors of blueberry, beef, clove, pepper & a sort of violet-vanilla thing going on. Tasty tasty stuff. I apologize for the photos. Iphone is great but pics, not so much.
My very good friend Emily said something very inspirational to me yesterday. "Memphis has a lot to offer. It is a pretty exceptional city & we should live like we're tourists in our own city." With that being said she took me to a Sakura sushi out in Germantown. Admission: I am one of those people who makes it a point of not venturing out East. I don't like it out there. I don't feel comfortable out there. It doesn't seem to have any personality...ok I'll stop there before I piss someone off. But I stopped & thought to myself "why the hell not?" I'll break out of my comfort zone! The sushi was delicious & the company even better. Emily makes me laugh so hard & I always have a good time with her. On top of that she is cute as hell & sharp as a tack. After our sushi extravaganza I suggested that we go somewhere that neither of us would think to go. We ended up at Folk's Folly, an East Memphis steakhouse institution with leather & wood everywhere & wingback chairs with low tables & a piano in the bar. At first glance, not my scene. But we had a great time sipping on Castello di Monastero Chianti Classico 2006. This Tuscan beauty lies somewhere between modern & traditional styles. The nose has a concentrated cranberry-raspberry compote aroma with a bit of fennel/anise. The palate is balanced with bright acidity, moderate tannins & tangy fruit. Thanks for such a good time Emils!
For those who haven't dined at the Majestic Grille, I highly suggest that you do. They have perfected very good, simple, bistro food. Who doesn't love that? Last night we celebrated Kelly's moms birthday at the Majestic. The space is beautiful (its in an old theatre), the service is spot on, portions are very nice & the food is delicious. Kelly & I both had a ceasar salad which was perfectly briny, not too much garlic & creamy without being gluggy. For my entree I had the smoked salmon appettizer & the chicken/bacon flat bread. The salmon was cold smoked, perfectly seasoned & was accompanied by capers, onions, horseradish sauce, mustard sauce & crostini. My flat bread was obviously hand thrown. It had the rustic semi oval shape of a hand tossed pizza with a perfectly crispy, snappy crust & a creamy, garlicy bite to the toppings. I would have had a glass of wine or two but after this weekend I needed a little break.
This past weekend was Kelly's birthday so I decided to take him out for a little wine & good eats. We began at Restaurant Iris for a cocktail on their comfy cute patio. I had a glass of Quinta do Portal dry rosé 2007. It had a deep crimson color (almost looked like a pinot noir) with aromas of overripe raspberries & earth. On the palate I tasted super ripe strawberries, almost a pickled watermelon note, clove & it had a weighty viscous texture. A delicious glass but I think it might have needed a bit of Chef Kelly English's Neola Farms beef shortrib Raviolo.
Next we ventured onto Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen. We started with a couple splits (187 ml) of Zardetto Prosecco. I really wish more restaurants offered these one glass sized bottles of bubbly because I love beginning a meal with bubbles. They're fun, tasty & open up the palate. Kelly ordered the polenta to start & being a vegetarian the chefs made him a meat free white wine & tomato sauce to top it with. It was creamy & heavenly.
I began with the seared scallops with fennel, braised leeks & a truffle vinaigrette. It was unctuous, earthy, sweet & so incredibly delicious.
Next I had the lamb sirloin with artichokes, fingerling potatoes, olives & tomato. The lamb was cooked to a rosy pink & was so tender & delicious. This particular cut is only slightly gamy with a nice toothsome texture. The natural jus it was in tasted as if it had been fortified with garlic, veal stock & wine. The sauces pungency was a perfect match with the delicate earthiness of the lamb.
The entire dish perfectly complimented the Domaine Drouhin "Laurene" Pinot Noir 2004 Dundee Hills, Oregon. This wine was rich, concentrated & filled with earthy dark cherry & hoisin notes. But to tell you the truth I think I opened it too soon. It could have used another 5 years. Oh well, it was so damn tasty!
Selections from the U.S. West Coast (Oregon, Washington & California) will be poured at a wine tasting on June 25th from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m at the Vine (map). Come join me & the rest of the Joe's Wines staff as we lead you through a selection of 35-40 of the best wines these states have to offer. Cost to attend is $35/person. The ticket price will be deducted from the purchase of a case (mixed or solid) if you place an order that evening. Other special discounts will be offered along with a variety of picnic style snacks to nosh on. The wines will be delicious & the company will be even tastier...if I do say so myself! Stop by Joe's to purchase tickets.
Check out my recent post about one of the best dry rosés in the world (at least in my opinion Samantha). We will have the Robert Sinskey Vin Gris of Pinot Noir 2008 $25.99 back in stock at Joe's Wines, 1681 Poplar, on Wednesday June 10th. Get it while you can. I know for a fact that the winery is sold out so after its gone you'll have to wait until next year for some.
The very same goods & services cost differently in different markets, cities, states etc. No one would think twice about seeing the same house cost vastly different in Memphis than San Francisco. So why exactly is it ok to complain or annoyingly point out that a bottle of wine cost differently elsewhere? It drives me mad!! This woman yesterday complained that she bought the same bottle of sangria in New Orleans for $5 cheaper. I got news for ya lady. YOU AREN'T IN NEW ORLEANS!!!! First of all, Tennessee has one of the highest, if not the highest, alcohol tax in the country. Second of all, different stores buy different amounts of the same product. The more the store buys of something, the less it costs them & therefore the less it retails for. Third, bottled sangria? SERIOUSLY? You're going to complain about some god awful rot gut? I wish I knew where she worked so I could go in & point out how differently I paid elsewhere for the same goods or services she offers. I'm sure I'm alienating people by writing this post but its my blog & I just feel the need to vent.