Monday, April 27, 2009

Tilth, After Drooling For Over a Year.

A few weeks ago we were in beautiful, cool Seattle. Now I'm in balmy 80 degree Memphis. Sticky. Humidity short circuiting brain.

While in Seattle we dined at Tilth. I had initially read about this restaurant in the New York Times last year when it was named one of the Top 10 best new restaurants OUTSIDE of New York. I was drawn in by the photograph of this beautiful old house painted an earthy green tone. It just seemed so warm & cozy. The restaurant focuses on local, sustainable produce, meat, fish, etc. Since I was on the veggie tip on my last post, I'll start there. There are two dishes that stand out in my mind. Kelly ordered the cassoulet based on earthy, creamy, unctuous beans with wild chanterelles & Oregon truffles. Simply superb! I know, I know! Cassoulet without duck confit & duck sausage! If it makes us feel more comfortable we can call it something else.

The second dish was absolute heaven. Braised pork cheeks over a pig trotter cake in a pancetta-parmiggiano broth. Honestly, I wish I could describe this dish but I really don't think I could come close. The only thing I can say is that it gave me the same feeling I used to get when I was in my grandmother's kitchen smelling those sweet/savory smells & eating her incredible food. It paired perfectly with an rich, earthy, truffly, dark cherry laden Evesham Wood Pinot Noir 2006 Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon. I plan on seeking this winery out when I go to Oregon Pinot Camp in June. Cheers!

No I'm Not Going Vegetarian But...

Kelly & I went to Whole Foods in East Memphis for a class on veggie burgers taught by my very very good friend Justin aka The Chubby Vegetarian. His Lentil-Mushroom burger was absolutely outstanding! It was meaty & earthy & was a perfect meat substitute. With Kelly becoming a vegetarian I'm always looking for ways to update my cooking repertoire. I still love me some meat, as anyone who has visited this blog will see, but damn those veggie burgers were yummy!

Go on over to Justin's site & get some recipes from him.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Even More Surfaces...

Check out this post at Dr Vino, click here.

The way I feel about is that sure we would love to all take advantage of freebies. I'm just being honest here. But that can dilute the enthusiasm about a particular wine region because it basically amounts to being bought & paid for, in a sense. For example, when I went to Taste of Washington recently I did so on my own dime. There were some trade events that I was not charged for, such as entrance to the Grand Tasting & a trade tasting on Friday, but I paid for everything else. Travel, accommodations, even my seminars on Saturday. My enthusiasm & passion for Washington wines is a result of my own curiosity & insatiable desire to learn more. Not because I was bought off.

Friday, April 17, 2009


This is quite possibly one of the most entertaining email exchanges I've ever read in the wine world.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Washington Is Grape Heaven

I've returned from my first excursion to Seattle for the Taste of Washington....& it was truly one of the best & most well planned series of events that I have ever attended. For someone like me, who is in the biz, it was amazing. But anyone who enjoys good wine would love the Taste of Washington. To see some of my rockstars (Chris Camarda, Charles Smith, Ron Bunnell, Chris Upchurch) & taste their wine was an experience like no other. I sat in on a couple seminars about two "grand cru" vineyard sites; Klipsun & Champoux. Patricia Gelles, owner of Klipsun, is an English transplant who saw the winemaking potential of Red Mountain in Eastern Washington in the early 80's. Her vineyard supplies the raw material to such luminaries as Lachini, Januik Cellars, DeLille & small group of highly sought after wineries. Bruce Schoenfeld of Travel & Leisure led both the Klipsun & Champoux seminars. What I found really interesting was his observation of the uniqueness of WA state. "It has long struck me that Washington may be the most unique wine growing region in the New World," he said. "Vineyards are not monopoles." This allows the showcasing of many different styles of making wine from the same vineyard. Its blatantly obvious that the true stars of WA are the vineyards. However, the winemakers put their own spin on the beautiful raw material they are given. I immediately got the impression that Patricia was a force of nature.

Bruce: "Have you ever turned a winemaker who has asked to purchase some of your fruit?"
Patricia: "I have. If I taste some of the wines they've previously made & don't like them I shall refuse."

John Bigelow of JM Cellars recounted a story of when he was trying to get into the winemaking business. He went to Patricia to try & buy her fruit & she refused based on his inexperience. With his tail between his legs he went to Pete Hedges of Hedges Family Estate & asked him if he could buy some of his fruit. Hedges said that he didn't have any of his own estate fruit to sell but he did have some very expensive fruit from another vineyard that he wouldn't mind selling. That vineyard: Klipsun! John & Pete agreed on a price & John left feeling very accomplished. Shortly afterwards he ran into Patricia & said "I'm getting some of your fruit after all, isn't that great?" Her response: "No you are not." She explained that she controls who gets her fruit & would not stand for anyone superseding her authority. Patricia promptly rang Pete Hedges & gave him an earful for trying to sell off some of her fruit that he had contracted to purchase. Thankfully, she did take pity on John & finally agreed to sell him some Klipsun grapes.

Patricia: "Washington merlot on its own has such substance & depth. California merlot doesn't have that kind of grip even at triple the price."

She couldn't be more right. I'd had merlot from WA in the past that I thought was exceptional (Milbrandt, Andrew Will, Nelms Road) but never had I been subjected to such an overwhelming merlot. merlot. Not the thin watery, hollow swill from most CA producers but dark, luscious, supple, gripping, spice laden, fruit laden deliciousness. Merlot haters, get the hell over yourself & get on board with this fantastic elixir. Seriously.

It really was a unique experience to taste a group of wines all from the same site. We tasted three wineries, Januik, JM, DeLille. A barrel sample & a finished wine from each plus two Mystery wines. One from Klipsun & one not.

The Klipsun wines all had similar opaque purple cores with dark red rims along with similar plum-like aromas. While they shared similar characteristics it was how they expressed them in different nuanced ways that was so cool. They also all shared a liqueur quality on the nose & palate with significant concentration.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Taste Washington!

I'm in Seattle right now. Came out here for the Taste of Washington; a series of trade tastings, seminars, networking & a Grand Tasting focused on the wines of Washington State. It has been a whirlwind to say the least. The seminars were very eye-opening & fun, one was on Klipsun Vineyard the other I went to was on Champoux Vineyard both are grand cru sites in WA. I'll update with a more extensive post after I return to Memphis. Today I'm off to the Grand Tasting. Wish me luck!