Tag Archives: Burgundy

Life is Full of Second Chances: the 2007 Gérard Raphet Clos Vougeot Grand Cru

30 Dec

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Boom.

It’s not every day one gets to drink a grand cru Burgundy.  Then again, it’s not every day that one is in Berkeley.  I decided to take a short trip up to Berkeley for New Year’s, though I don’t know anyone here anymore (a fact driven home by the fact that I had a solitary–though excellent–meal at the fantastic Trattoria Corso on North Shattuck, which will be the subject of another post), to get out of LA and recharge my batteries for the full onslaught of 2013.

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A Friday Impulse Buy: the 2007 Christophe Buisson Bourgogne

8 Jun

I just registered to take the introductory sommelier course through the Court of Master Sommeliers, and after reading about Burgundy in my course manual late yesterday evening I couldn’t wait to drink some delicious Pinot.  Thus, after doing a bit of work at Black Brick Coffee today, I stopped by at Bottle Shoppe and picked up a bottle of the 2007 Christophe Buisson Bourgogne.

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A Kermit Lynch selection, I figured that this basic-level Burgundy would make for simple, decent drinking. I was going to drink it with dinner this weekend, but my roommate Amit had just received some great news–his company, Bitponics, had just reached its $20,000 funding goal–and I decided that wine was called for. The first sip confirmed this belief: a bit tight, with sour cherries and a vivacious acidity.  The finish was green stemmy, and I thought that some time in a decanter would improve it.

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Rewarding Patience: the 1997 Louis Jadot Nuits-St. George “Les Damodes” 1er Cru

16 Apr

I know, I know: it’s been nearly six months since my last post.  Forgive me, those few of you who read this blog.  It’s been a helluva year, but despite that I have been extremely lucky.  I have wonderful friends and have been able to drink some really great wines.  These next few months will see me posting more regularly–or at least until the next huge life event derails my publishing schedule!

To fill you in a bit about what’s been going on, I’ve been living in the tiny Alexandria, VA neighborhood of Del Ray, which with its small Craftsman-style homes and tree-lined streets reminds me a great deal of my native South Pasadena.  It has everything one might want for good living, including a great barbecue restaurant and bar, independent coffee shop, and a kick-ass wine shop.

The name of this kick-ass wine shop is Planet Wine, and I’ve whiled away many an afternoon there browsing its very carefully curated selection of bottles.  I’m salivating over a bottle of 2003 Loire Valley Chenin Blanc I’ve laid down in my basement, and I’ve tried a fair percentage of the shop’s inventory.  As I’ve told the manager, Tim, this is exactly the type of shop I would open if I had my druthers.

On a recent occasion I had opportunity to purchase and open a Burgundy from 1997, the 1997 Louis Jadot Nuits-St. Georges “Les Damodes” 1er cru ($45, on markdown first from $65 and then from$ 52 at Planet Wine).  The vineyard is named after a triad of Druid goddesses who were believed to control harvests, and is a limestone-rich mix of clay and silt.

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Champagne Day at Weygandt Wines (and a Whole Lot More)

7 Nov

I had the opportunity to go to a media night at Weygandt Wines last Friday, on the occasion of International Champagne Day.  This was Weygandt’s first effort to reach out specifically to DC food and wine bloggers, and from what I can tell it was a great success.

Weygandt Wines, located in Cleveland Park, reminds me a lot of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant.  That venerable Berkeley institution is one of my can’t miss shops whenever I visit my alma mater, and for good reason: the wines I buy from the store are perhaps the freshest, most vibrant wines I’ve ever found.  KLWM is sort of like a farmers’ market for wine.  If that is the case, then Weygandt Wines is sort of like the Eastern Market of wines.

The namesake of the shop, Peter Weygandt, and his wife Maria (née Metzler) have been importing boutique French wines since 1987.  He has recently expanded his portfolio to include wines from Italy, Germany, Austria, Australia, and Spain.  He imports some killer Beaujolais and Burgundy, and has an excellent Rhône selection.  In all, they import around 70,000 cases of wine from over 100 producers.

The Weygandts were not at the media event, but the event was run by the store’s general manager, Tim O’Rourke.  Tim has an interesting history, having started out as a chef.  He graduated from L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland in 2000, did tours at Café Atlántico, Ristorante Tosca, and Citronelle, and has cooked with such celebrity chefs as Daniel Boulud and Michel Richard.  Being the general manager of a wine store probably has its own set of stresses, but I can imagine that it might also be very relaxed in comparison to working in some high-profile kitchens!

I had been to Weygandt only once before, and recently: I picked up a bottle of Cabernet France for an ongoing dinner with friends at Dino (which is right across the street).  The store was technically closed but I sneaked in and asked who I found out later to be Tim whether he could recommend a good Cab Franc, which he did.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember which bottle he selected, but it was good, and I appreciated being able to pick up a bottle after closing time (and at a substantial discount to boot!).

The event started out with a flight of six sparkling wines–one Crémant de Bourgogne and five Champagnes.

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Getting Reacquainted with Home: or, California Versus France

13 Dec

You wake up one morning and you realize that two and a half years have passed. And yet, this time did not just fly by: it was full of wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) memories and experiences, and with friends and family.

Of course, this being a wine blog, the time was also filled with some excellent wine.

I type this from sunny California. It is literally sunny (yesterday was 77 degrees, today is going to be 80), with uncharacteristically perfect blue skies through which you can see the San Gabriel Mountains. I just flew in from DC on Saturday and have already had some great Chinese food–great Mexican food awaits.

Bookending my flight: Life by Keith Richards, which I highly recommend; two finals, courtesy of law school; clinic work, also courtesy of law school; drinking, courtesy of my nascent alcoholism; and a few bottles of wine had on either side of the continent.

The first bottle I want to write about is the young 2008 Roger Belland “La Fussière” Maranges 1er cru (Ansonia Wines, $22).  This is almost criminally young, but despite that (or because of that…?) it is tantalizingly good.  The nose on this is incredible, just exploding from the glass with strawberry and red fruits.  It has pronounced acidity and not too much tannin, and it is very lean and juicy.  It is a pretty expression of Burgundy, fruit, not funk; berries, not earth.  This is reminiscent of good Beaujolais cru.

Contrast that to this bottle right here:

The 2008 Meiomi “Belle Glos” Pinot Noir (Pearson’s Wine and Spirits, $20ish) is a blend of Pinots from California’s Sonoma, Monterey, and Santa Barbara counties.  I had had it before at Mission Wines in South Pasadena, but that was years ago.  All I remembered was that it was a quality wine but one I didn’t necessarily want to purchase again.  I tried it again at Pearson’s with Heather, and again it was not impressive–except that there was something about it, some Mickey Rourke-like spark that kept me from writing it off.  There was some funk hiding beneath the tired waves of old fruit that made me wonder if this had something else to offer.  I told this all to Larry, the pourer, who said that this bottle had been open since the day before and that he would open a fresh bottle (so nice of him, right?  I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND Pearson’s to anyone with access to Glover Park).  The new bottle: wow!  What a difference!  The tired waves of old fruit were rejuvenated and became supple cascades of ripe plum and jujubes, offset by baking spice and underlined by that funkiness I had tasted in the first bottle.  Substantial body and great tannins to balance the acidity.  Very fragrant nose.

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South Pasadena, je t’aime!

11 May

After an unconscionably long hiatus (I blame finals and other end-of-the-year miseries) I am back!  “Back” applies in two ways: first, I am back to posting this blog, where I intend to write posts weekly over these 14 weeks of summer, and second, I am back in California.

I will be in California for five more weeks, after which I will be headed back to DC for a few days, and then eight weeks in beautiful Wilmington, Delaware, known in legal circles as one of the locations of the Court of Chancery (where I’ll be interning) and known in pop culture circles as the nameless setting of Fight Club.  Hopefully during this time there will be wine, wine, and more wine.  If this past week has been any indication, there will be plenty of that this summer!

I have to write a few posts, one of Deep Sea Wines (which was gracious enough to send me two bottles to review), another for a great product known as the Wine Diaper (it’s probably not what you think it is), and yet another for a book by Matthew Frank entitled Barolo.  And, I’ll have to write about a very wonderful evening at Founding Farmers in DC at which a bottle of Riesling figured prominently–that’ll be coming soon.  All of these will take place in good time, but before I do I wanted to “clear the palate,” so to speak, by writing about a few of the wines I’ve had at home.

One of my habits while at home is to buy a few bottles with which to tide over my mom until my next visit.  I had purchased a few bottles during Spring Break, and to my surprise (and pleasure) I found that one of the bottles had not yet been opened.

This bottle was the Candidus from Malm Cellars.  Malm Cellars is a one-person show, helmed by Brendan Malm.  He doesn’t have a winery or vineyard, but he sources fruit from select growers to make his wines.  One such wine, his 2007 Sonoma County Pinot Noir, garnered a great review from the LA Times.  The Candidus, which is made from a bunch of undisclosed white Rhône varietals (but also apparently includes Chardonnay concentrate according to Dave from Mission Wines), is about $16.  It’s intensely aromatic–I’m thinking Viognier or Muscat (though I’m not sure if Muscat is a Rhône varietal)–with an assertive nose of quince and honey.  It’s pear-colored and appears on the viscous side.  Excellent: full of dried apricot and citrus, full bodied yet light, good acidity, very pleasant.

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An Excellent Evening with Ansonia Wines & Friends

26 Mar

I’m a very happy person by disposition, though I’ve been known to have my emo moments.  However, one thing I have learned about myself is that I very rarely like the place I am until it’s time to leave.

For instance, I spent four and a half years in Berkeley, and it wasn’t until my last year that I truly started to enjoy it.  Suddenly, its wonders started presenting themselves to me like a blossom of gastronomic joy.  Where the hell was Gregoire all my life?  Why didn’t I go to Kermit Lynch before?

I am also a native of the Los Angeles region–Alhambra and South Pasadena, to be exact–but I can’t say I truly loved LA until I left for law school here in DC.  Now I love LA; every moment I spend there on break is a little blessing.

You might have heard me railing on DC.  I’ve always had the feeling that it’s trying to be like many different cities but failing.  I hate the crazy humidity of the summer, and I don’t like the absolute lack of tall buildings.  I hate how the Metro closes early–or at all–and how the bars close early.  I also don’t consider myself a very political person, which considering the town is not such a good thing.

However, DC has begun to grow on me.  There are little pockets of DC, a coffee shop here or a restaurant there, an alleyway here or a circle there, that I love.  Of course, one can choose to explain this cynically by pointing out that every city has its charms.  Still, I think I’ll be missing Amsterdam Falafelshop a lot once I leave DC.

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A Winter Adventure: Braised Lamb Shanks

9 Feb

Part One: Starting the Day

School was cancelled these past two days, which means I haven’t been in class since Wednesday evening.  I’m hoping that tomorrow will be cancelled as well, which would mean I would be out of class for TWELVE days (I don’t have classes on Thursdays and Fridays, and this Monday is Presidents Day).  This is basically longer than my Spring Break, which is coming up at the end of February.

As my blog has indicated, I’ve been cooking a lot, eating well, and drinking a lot of great wines.  For instance, yesterday morning started with my making a bachelor’s breakfast skillet consisting of a layer of leftover mashed potatoes, two eggs, shredded cheddar cheese, thyme, and a whole lotta Tabasco sauce:

I had purchased two small 5″ Lodge cast-iron skillets for this very purpose but seldom use them.  I should more often.

Although this was a good introduction to the day, I had bigger ambitions for the evening.  See, my roommate Alex was coming home from Europe yesterday, and I figured I should welcome him back to the US of A with a proper meal of lamb shanks and butternut squash.

But how do I cook lamb shanks?

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Burgundy: Not Just for the Reds

12 Dec

About a week or so ago I wrote a post about some delicious, delicious red Burgundies I shared with some staffers of the Nota Bene.  However, that was only half the story, as along with the three excellent pinots we tried three chardonnays.

I think a lot of people, when they think about Burgundy, see in their mind’s eye big jug wines labeled “Burgundy.”  (An aside: I was looking up Carlo Rossi’s Burgundy to see what grapes go in it but was unsuccessful.  I have no clue what goes in their Burgundy, and apparently no one on the Internet cares enough to do the research!)  This is horrible, and my hat goes off to those wine drinkers who appreciate well-crafted, artisanal pinot noir-based Burgundies from Burgundy, France.

But that’s not all this wondrous region has to offer.  I would argue that some of the world’s greatest white wines–and definitely the world’s greatest chardonnays–come from Burgundy.  Those white Burgundies I’ve tried have all been vastly superior–to my palate, at least–to those super-oaky butterballs that California seems to churn out with a vengeance.

To each his own, though, right?  This might be the case, but in my age demographic (20-30, generally) white Burgundies get ignored.  This can be chalked (heh) up to four broad reasons:

  1. When people think of Burgundy, they think of horrible jug wines.
  2. When people don’t think of Burgundy in terms of jug wines, they think that all Burgundies are red.
  3. Many people are turned off by the “butterball” super-oaky style of chardonnay championed by Californian winemakers.
  4. White Burgundies can be friggin’ expensive.

I’ve already addressed numbers one and two.  As regards number three, white Burgundies are as a general rule much less oaky than California wines.  However, they do exist on a stylistic scale ranging from lean and mean to round and supple, which makes Burgundy a veritable playground of chardonnay.

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A Burgundy Moment

4 Dec

I’ve been meaning to update this blog with the results of a fantastic Burgundy tasting I hosted for the staff of the Nota Bene a few weeks ago, but I never got around to it (I think finals, which start next week, has something to do with it).  However, a post on the Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant blog “Inspiring Thirst” inspired me to post at least a short entry on a few of the wines we drank that evening.

We had a spate of seven wines for the tasting, starting with the decidedly NOT Burgundian Drappier “Carte d’Or” Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne which I included because, hell, it’s 100% chardonnay, and hell, who doesn’t like Champagne?  We went through three whites–a basic Mâcon-Villages, a Chablis, and a Chassagne-Montrachet–and three reds.

The first red, the 2005 Domaine René Leclerc Bourgogne, was a basic rouge I picked up at MacArthur Beverages for around $25.  However, it was really, really good, with nice acidity, some spice, and a hint of funk.  This is definitely something I’d pick up as a “house Burgundy” if I ever make that much money in the future.

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