Tag Archives: cabernet franc

Celebrating Christmas with a Cab and a Chihuahua

25 Dec

I have quite a few entries to post, including some from a very nice wine tasting trip up to Santa Barbara, but I will post this one first.  I had purchased a bottle of 2002 Chateau St. Jean “Cinq Cepages”, a wine composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot from Sonoma.  While one could think of this as a meritage the people at CSJ classify it as a Cabernet because of the high percentage (at least 75% in any given vintage) of that grape in the blend.

I was very excited about this wine, having had it shipped from invino to my home back in California.

We opened it up yesterday for dinner, which was New York strip steaks topped with caramelized onion, creamy mashed potatoes, and a nice green bean, tomato, and feta cheese salad.  True to form, I opened it up about an hour before dinner to drink while cooking.  Very dark, saturated color.  On the nose there was prune and blueberry, and herbs.  When my mom tried it she said it tasted salty–I agree: there was sort of a cured olive aspect to the wine.  I got the prune and berries, along with tar, tobacco, licorice, and stone–nicely integrated, soft tannins.  It had a long finish, resolving to lighter red fruit notes.

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I Love LA, Part One: Bacaro L.A. Wine Bar

31 May

LA*: what a world of possibility; what a world of great food and places to go!

I was meeting up for dinner with my friend Camille from high school and had to find a place to eat.  But where to eat?  I looked around the internet and scoured the annals of my own experience to come up with four or five choices, which I proffered to her to choose from.  She chose Bacaro, a wine bar in South LA.

(Thanks to Yelp! for the pic.)

(Thanks to Yelp! for the pic.)

Bacaro came recommended from one of my fellow bloggers, Horny for Food.  It was supposed to have a good, reasonably-priced wine list, and good, reasonably-priced small plates.  Note also the cool atmosphere–blackboard wall, wine bottle ceiling, good mix of yuppies, hipsters, and yupsters.

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A New Year and a Whole Lotta Bottles of Wine

11 Jan

Another year, another few scores of bottles of wine.  I’m not sure if the start of a new year necessarily engenders hope and thankfulness–usually, I feel more of a mix of relief and a creeping feeling that maybe my life is slipping past me–but 2009 in Washington, DC, has found me in a very thankful mood.

For one, I’m living in a nice, comfortable apartment with great food.  I have a wonderful family that I appreciate more as I get older; great friends.  I am going to a good law school with outstanding professors and classes.  I have nothing to complain about, and I am going to try to be more appreciative of the incredible opportunities I’ve been given.

To kick off the new year, my roommate and I hosted a champagne and sparkling wine tasting, the details of which will be coming out in the upcoming Nota Bene (GW Law student newspaper); I will write up my blog observations on that evening a bit later.  Suffice it to say that the big winner in the tasting were a beautiful sparkler from France, the Charles de Fere Blanc de Blanc Reserve Brut ($12.99)–was, as I described it, “the group’s favorite, with a nose of hazelnut and toast, a light, almost ethereal mouthfeel, and notes of apple and pear.”

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One Last Taste of Home

9 Aug

First, I must apologize to my readers (both of you!) for the long delay in posting.  I have moved to DC for my new life as a law student at the George Washington University Law School; thus, for the last two and a half weeks or so I’ve been busy getting ready to leave California, traveling to DC, and settling into DC life.

And settle in I have!  DC is a great place thus far–definitely more humid than I’m used to, and subject to strange liquor laws that prohibit my buying beer, wine, or liquor in markets or drug stores (what gives, DC?).  However, DC is home to a great deal of wine stores, bars, pubs, and restaurants with wonderful, wonderful happy hour bargains.  And I have met some good people here, both my future classmates and friends of my roommate, Alex, who works at a local think tank.

I’ve already been to a wine tasting and taken an unofficial tour of some of the wine shops in the area.  And I HAVE had a bit of wine, notably a 2006 Morgon beaujolais from Jean Descombes (Georges Duboeuf) that was tremendously thirst-quenching after a hot summer afternoon.  I also have a Julienas beaujolais–also from Duboeuf)–that arrived as a housewarming gift waiting in the fridge and a Rosso di Montepulciano from Avignonesi that I will be drinking tonight at a spaghetti dinner in Crystal City.

I wanted to talk about my last night in LA, however: maybe it’s the passage of years, but I am actually more homesick than I thought I would be.  I also miss my parents and family much more now as a 25-year-old than I did as a young naive 18-year-old shipping off to Berkeley.  It might be because I have a greater sense of mortality now given certain events in my life; it might be because my dad’s 65 and not getting any younger.  I find myself drawn back to California because that is where my family–and therefore my heart–is.

This last night we decided to open a bottle of Bordeaux my brother’s girlfriend had bought him when she visited the US.  It was a 2003 Chateau Talbot (from Saint-Julien), a fourth growth which consists chiefly of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, with smaller amounts of petit verdot and cabernet franc.

The issue with this wine was that, since it was relatively (much) more expensive than any of the wines I’ve bought for home, we couldn’t find any suitable occasion to drink it.  And we had it for over a year.  I figured that since we weren’t really capable of storing it properly for much longer we would just have to drink it.  Soon.

I wanted to take it to a restaurant, maybe have the staff decant it to beat up the youngish tannins, and have it with a nice, thick steak.  But alas, I was never in the mood to go out for a fancy meal for my last closing days, so we decided to open it up and drink it solo.

Man.  What a gorgeous wine.  Full and round, like a voluptuous, raven-haired woman.  Cherry and plum in the nose.  Subtle spice and tobacco were what I tasted.  But this wine wasn’t as much about the taste or aroma as it was about texture–just so smooth and yielding, so wonderfully structured.  It went down like a potion made of velvet, and once it got to the stomach it felt warm and soothing like a nice port.

And the finish?  Long, stretching out all the way from that moment, that evening, to the pages of memory.

Wine Tasting for Grad Students: How a $7.00 Tasting is Sometimes Better than a $7.00 Meal

9 Jul

I’ll be leaving for DC very, very soon–I’m flying out there on the evening of August 2. Thus, I’m trying to spend some quality time with SoCal friends before I do.

Jonathan L., my erstwhile LegalZoom co-worker, poet, historian, and future Columbia grad student, was in the neighborhood. We’re both fond of wine, so we decided to have a bit to drink together before we again went our separate ways.

Where else than Lou?

Now keep in mind that we’re both going to be grad students in the near future; not only that, we’re both going to be living in rather expensive metropolitan areas. Personally, I had enough money that day for wine tasting or dinner but not both. Oh well. I’d cross that bridge when I came to it.

We met up at Lou at around 7 pm. The place was dead. There were, including us, seven patrons at that time. No matter. We had a job to do.

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Wine and Dine at Lou on Vine!

6 Jul

It’s funny how seemingly different things are related. For instance, it’s been well-documented on this blog that I love Intelligentsia Coffee. I was reading more about this specialty coffee roaster online when I came across this New York Times article on the interior design of Intelligentisa:

I really like the blue and white tile. (Thanks to the Times for the picture!)

At any rate, Intelligentsia’s space was designed by a woman named Barbara Bestor. I found that she had also designed the interior of a quirky wine bar / restaurant called Lou, which happens to be in a seedy strip mall–sandwiched between a Thai massage parlor and a 24-hour laundromat–off of Melrose and Vine in Hollywood.

I did some more reading on Lou and liked what I read: a fair-sized and eclectic wine selection? Check. Hip interior? Check. Good food? Check. All I needed was to actually go.

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Irouléguy: or, How Poorly Korean Food Matches with ANY Wine

28 Feb

I know–I know: I promised #2 of the long, memorable wine tasting from Saturday. That will come soon. First, I want to take the time to review a quirky little wine and talk about stuff such as ethnic food pairing and how the bouquet of every wine smells like cherries.

There. I’ve said it. Maybe it’s because I’m a “neo-oenophile”, but almost every red wine smells like cherry. Almost every wine is evocative of cherry. I suppose this is somewhat understandable, given that wine = fruit = cherry (I got a B- in second-semester calculus, so you can be sure the transitive property applies here!). However, oft is the time I’ve opened a new bottle, poured a bit of its content into the waiting glass, swirled the liquid around and around, and raised the globe to my nose to smell one and but one thing: cherry.

One recent wine stands out as an exception to this rule. The Pleiades from Sean Thackrey, one of the wines I had at the Saturday tasting, smelled overwhelmingly of menthol–as in eucalyptus–and anise–as in biscotti. Cherry, it was not. Delicious and unique, it was. More about that particular wine in the promised post!

Speaking of unique wines, or, more properly, wine regions, there’s an obscure little appellation in Southwestern France–just by the Spanish border–called Irouléguy. This runs into the Basque area of Spain, and many people here speak Basque in addition to French and Spanish. The majority of red wines produced in this area is made of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and, most importantly, tannat.

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An Extremely Long, Memorable Wine Tasting: Part One (#1 – 6)

24 Feb

LegalZoom = overtime. A lot of overtime. For instance, this means that once every three or four weeks we have to come in for half days on Saturday. Luckily, the time passed relatively quickly and I was able to drive down the 101 South to the 110 North, then exit Orange Grove, then make a left onto Mission Street and, two or three blocks past the Gold Line, pull into the familiar parking lot of Mission Wines and meet up with the usual motley crew of my co-workers, regulars, and newbies for an afternoon of conviviality.

Joining me in the 25-and-under group were some fellow “Zoomers”: Jonathan (not Jonathan Lewis from entries past), a film major from USC; Will, the Guatemalan martial artist who can squat-press over 1,000 pounds; Erica, of Coloradan extraction; and her boyfriend, Jack, the New Yorker accountant.

We were in for a treat: a wine broker was present for the tasting showcasing wines from his portfolio. This portends well because importers, winemakers, and brokers are pretty keen to put forth their best; Saturday was no exception. The five wines on the “official” tasting list were:

1 | 2006 Lioco Chardonnay | Sonoma, California | $19.99
I hate to admit it, but my palate’s not very refined. I sipped this chardonnay and thought I detected vanilla and oak. Hell, I was dead certain I detected vanilla and oak. The broker came over and told us some more about the wine, including the little fact that this chard had not been aged in oak. At all. It had not even touched neutral oak. All stainless steel. I did taste a lot of fruit–very tropical–and some nice acid. A bit of butter–not a big butterball like many other California chardonnays I’ve had. Overall, one of the better chardonnays I’ve had, though I would have to say that I still have never encountered a chardonnay I wanted to take home with me.

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Sparkling Pinot Noir: Mission Wines Tasting

30 Dec

At Mission Wines, my friends and I are the sole representatives of the 25 and under demographic.

It’s a bit sobering to chip in five or ten bucks each for a $20 or $30 bottle of wine–nothing to shake a stick at–and watch as silver-haired gentlemen wearing well-worn L.L. Bean vests and Eddie Bauer sweaters carry out cases (CASES!) of $50 wine to their idling sports cars.

That’s why I love going to wine tastings. For $10 I can try five different wines. Nothing’s worse than spending good money on a vaunted bottle of wine and finding that it’s terrible. (I guess the same goes for first dates, eh?)

The five wines at the tasting today were:

  • Juve y Camps Brut Rosé | Sparkling Pinot Noir (Sant Sadurini D’Anoia, Spain)
  • Breggo Ferrington Vineyard | Sauvignon Blanc (Anderson Valley, California)
  • Luzon | Monastrel/Syrah (Jumilla, Spain)
  • Chateau Puygueraud Cotes de Francs | Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Malbec (Bordeaux, France)
  • Graves | Syrah (Paso Robles, California)

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