Archive | March, 2009

How Do You Cook YOUR Steak? Or, Helping Alex Recover from the National Half-Marathon with Filet Mignon and the 2001 Arrowood “Le Beau Melange” Syrah

23 Mar

While waiting for my dinner to cook (just some spaghetti, pre-made alfredo sauce, and a frozen seafood mix from Trader Joe’s) I’d like to write about YESTERDAY’s dinner: filet mignon served with steamed fingerling potatoes tossed with leeks and goat cheese.  To wash this down was a fair amount of the 2001 Arrowood “Le Beau Melange” Syrah from Sonoma Valley.  Altogether, a great meal.

le-beau-melangeThe impetus for this meal was a half-marathon Alex ran the previous day–the National Half-Marathon–as practice for the true full marathon he was planning on running in early May.  He did very well, coming in I believe 74th out of hundreds if not thousands.

The wine was to help celebrate; the steak was to help him recuperate.

True to form, Alex and I had a bit of the Arrowood before dinner–it got us crunk.  At 15% alcohol, this one was a heavy hitter.  However, it didn’t taste hot, nor was it too big and bold for our tastes.  It reminded me of one of my favorite wines–the Chateauneuf-du-Pape from Domaine La Roquete.  However, THAT wine, being from Southern France, was made primarily of grenache, while the Arrowood was composed of syrah.  It felt more like a “French” wine–apparently, too, Le Beau Melange is Arrowood’s Rhone-style offering.  It succeeds despite the higher alcohol content.  Australian shiraz it ain’t.

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Wine Note: 2006 Philippe Jouan Bourgogne-Passetoutgrain

20 Mar

Just a short note on the wine I mentioned the other day, the 2006 Philippe Jouan Bourgogne-Passetoutgrain.  As stated in that previous post, this wine hails from a subappellation of Bourgogne (Burgundy) and is made from at least 1/3 pinot noir and at most 2/3 gamay.  I am assuming that this particular example is made more or less from those two grapes in that proportion.

I opened the bottle yesterday for dinner, which was completely Trader Joes: spinach and ricotta ravioli with tomato sauce, and vegetable pizza supplemented with goat cheese.  Good dinner, and I bet that the wine–which was described as acidic–would go well with the tomato sauces and cheeses.

Transparent purple color, with a promising nose which smelled like a Cotes-du-Rhone, actually–but my roommate and I found the wine a bit too insubstantial, too acidic.  Some cherry and minerality, but there was no heft.  It was like a pretty girl with no substance behind her smile.  It wasn’t a bad wine, just perhaps a touch too acidic.

Not to write it off too soon, I corked the bottle and put it in the fridge to see if a day to “breath” would round out the wine.  Now I’m drinking it with some more pizza–straight-up cheese–and it’s still acidic but a bit more open.  I noticed a little tinniness on the (short) finish I hadn’t noticed before.  Good with the pizza, actually, and better than what Clive Coates, MW described:

“A blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir might promise to be barely drinkable.  In practise as this wine is largely from grapes which barely ripen in the coolest parts of the  Burgundy vineyards the results are usually worse.  Someone must like it, for the amount produced each year is not negligible.”

from An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France

The coolness leading to the low ripeness must lead to the wine’s low alcohol and light body.  Though more pleasurable than Mr. Coates warned, I would probably not buy this wine again.

More Joon!

18 Mar

Not too much in the way of news or drinking.  I’ve not been able to drink very much lately because I need every brain cell I have in order to finish this appellate brief which is due on Sunday.  I did go to The Wine Specialist today with my friend Waiching to pick up some makoli, which is fermented Korean rice beer.  I ended up picking up a new bottle of Bushmill’s 10-year, a new bottle of St. Germaine, a bottle of Allagash Black beer (a Belgian-style stout… wha?!), a bottle of Hakutsuru Junmai Ginjo sake (delicious), and a bottle of the 2006 Bourgogne-Passetoutgrain from Philippe Jouan.

I’m keen on trying this last one because it comes recommended from Trey at The Wine Specialist and seems to have received some favorable press online: the Bourgogne-Passeltoutgrain is a small appellation located in the larger Bourgogne (Burgundy) region.  By law the red wines of this region must consist of at least 1/3 pinot noir and no more than 2/3 gamay–thus, it represents a vinous transition from the Beaujolais region and its gamay-based wines and Burgundy and its pinot noir-based wines.

Otherwise, my law school’s newspaper just launched an online version!  I’ve been writing pretty regularly for the paper, which is published biweekly.  Check out my last article here!

Ruminations on Home

6 Mar

Home.  For the longest time I called a small gray house on Westminster Avenue in Alhambra, California home.  My family lived there since a few years before I was born: my parents had graduated three children from Fremont Elementary and Alhambra High.  This house remained home until early in my college career, when we sold it and moved to an apartment in South Pasadena.

It was strange coming back to a place I did not know, strange sleeping on a couch when I used to be able to sleep on a bed.  I didn’t know the new area very well, passing through South Pasadena only to get from Alhambra to Old Town Pasadena.  And my father had recently been diagnosed with kidney disease, meaning his health was always uncertain.  That apartment on Huntington Drive, new and without the comfort that came from years of familiarity, certainly didn’t feel like home.

Some years have passed.  I graduated from Berkeley, worked for two years at, and am in the middle of my second semester at law school in Washington, DC.  Although I started to really like South Pasadena during my two years as a working stiff, it wasn’t until I left California for the far-off Eastern Coast that I truly started to consider South Pasadena home.  We are still living in that small apartment on Huntington; it sounds a bit strange for someone coming from the historical hubbub that was the site of the Inauguration, but I can’t think of anything better than returning to South Pas for good after graduation.

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From the East Coast to the West: the “Tres Picos” Garnacha from Borsao

4 Mar

I am at home, taking a much-needed break from law school.  First semester was a breeze compared to the marathon of mock trial, briefs, classes, and journal competition!

Having lived in DC now since August, I feel like I have a sense of the city.  True, I haven’t really explored too much, but enough to realize a few things.  First, DC is a nice city–to visit.  Second, there are nice restaurants–in the $$$ range.  Third, there are some good cafes–if you’re willing to take the Metro and walk a while.  Fourth, there ARE some good wine shops, though the District of Columbia isn’t exactly the Bay Area.  I am pretty certain that I will be returning to California after law school.

I really do like certain aspects of DC.  I do like the cold weather, for instance, and the snow (although it can be a real pain when you’re trying to walk in slush and frozen ice).  I do like that you can generally get around using public transportation (traffic today in LA brought back some bad memories).  But, after all of this, and despite LA’s problems, LA is still home to me.

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