Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we want it to, or plan it to. Sometimes it gets away from us. One of the compelling things about wine is that it is not only about the bottle, or the grape: wine means something. Without wine, at least for me, I would lose one way to look at and appreciate life.
I don’t usually like jazz covers of pop songs. To me, they’re the epitome of elevator muzak. But now, on my second glass of 2009 Robert Craig “Affinity” Cabernet Sauvignon (approx. $45), this version of “Yesterday” by Lee Morgan is sounding pretty nice.
That doesn’t do Lee Morgan justice. Great bop trumpeter, much better at his chosen profession than I’ll ever be at anything I do, probably!
As for the juice: a “Bordeaux blend” that is more California than France, consisting of 86% Cab Sauv, 6% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot, 2% Malbec, and 1% Cab Franc. Wow, when was the last time you had a Bordeaux blend from Bordeaux that had Malbec?
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.
Chances are, dear readers, that I will not be posting anytime soon. This is on account of law school finals, upon which–like a red wheelbarrow–so much depends. But, I fully expect to post with more regularity after April 30, a date which happens not only to be the day of my last final but also the day of my birth, 26 years prior.
This post won’t be one of my long narrative spiels but rather a placemarker for a few wines I feel I should record for perpetuity. The first I purchased for the occasion of James’s (of The Eaten Path fame) visit to DC: the 2006 Mas de Daumas Gassac from the Languedoc ($49.99). This wine is billed as “The Grand Cru of the Languedoc” and contains merlot, cabernet franc, tannat and pinot noir, as well as a collection of Italian grapes (nebbiolo, barbera and dolcetto), chardonnay, viognier, chenin blanc, petit manseng, marsanne, roussanne, sercial, muscat and more. It’s a crazy wine, and I was aching to try it.
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.”
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.
After a long, involuntary hiatus from the drinking of alcohol I have again been getting my liver “wet”. I am ashamed to admit that my tolerance has gone way, way down–much too low for the amount of drinking that must needs take place in DC this fall.
I dipped in gingerly a few days ago, having a Firestone Double Barrel Ale after dinner. It got me legitimately “crunk” (keep in mind here, good readers, that I AM Asian, after all… my ancestors weren’t exactly quaffing tankards of beer around some round table in the forests), but it was a delightful feeling. The Double Barrel Ale is a good beer, moderately hoppy, somewhat sweet, a rich amber color. The only down thing about the DBA was that it had an off-putting aftertaste–more like an afterfeel… a bit syrupy, but not in a pleasant way. Oh well. It was a good beer, though not one I’d put into my standard rotation.
Today after work my co-workers and I opened a long-saved bottle of Joel Gott “815” cabernet sauvignon. (Named after the birth date of Gott’s daughter.) Four of us chipped in a few bucks each for the bottle back in MARCH, but there never was any real occasion or opportunity to open it up and enjoy. What better day than the day before the Fourth of July?
Johnny Cash ain’t necessarily the first thing that pops in my head when I think of wine. This changed recently, as “The Show” from Rebel Wine Co. demonstrates.
The Rebel Wine Co. is a collaboration between three winemakers: Charles Bieler, Roger Scommenga, and Joel Gott. You might recognize Joel Gott from his eponymous label (he makes a cult California zinfandel)–a post I have planned in the future will be devoted to a review of his new “815” cabernet, which is sourced from fruit grown all over California. I will be sharing the bottle with a few co-workers–presumably after a day at LegalZoom.
The cool thing about “The Show” is the label: there are three different designs, each created by Hatch Show Print, which has been producing bold, colorful show posters for artists ranging from Cash to Coldplay, Buddy Guy to Bruce Springsteen.
It has been a while since I last posted on this blog. To my loyal readers (all two of you): never fear! I intend to update this blog frequently. Being a “writer”, however, I find myself in long periods of time where writing is the LAST thing I want to do, especially after a day of work or a night of carousing. These days–and nights–I find myself in the mood not to write about wine but to drink wine.
These past two or three quiet weeks have been filled with drinking. I can’t say I’ve had anything too spectacular to drink: however, I’ve had some solid, easygoing, and inexpensive bottles. Even better–I was joined by my family, who have slowly started to look at wine not as a drug, per se, but as something that can have health benefits in moderation.
Finally some free time in which to write about the remaining five wines from last Saturday’s Mission Wines tasting!
7 | 2004 Arzuaga Navarro Crianza | Ribera del Duero, Spain | $29.99
This was the seventh wine of the series, second round of overtime. Dave from Mission Wines was kind enough to pour the party a tasting of this really excellent tinto fino (as tempranillo is known in this region) from the dry river of Duero. Being a crianza, it was aged for thirteen months in oak. I was expecting it to be huge and powerful, expecting some forceful tannins (I’ve found tempranillo from Ribera del Duero is “stronger” or more assertive than those from Rioja), but this wine was surprisingly smooth. Plummy, a little hint of leather. I think this wine probably benefited from my having tried the tannic firebombs of the Barrel 27 and the Tejada beforehand. I would love to compare this one to the Tinto Pesquera, which is another wonderful tinto fino from Ribera del Duero.
(95% tinto fino, 3% merlot, 2% cabernet sauvignon)
8 | Sean H. Thackrey “Pleiades XVI” | Bolinas, California | $23.99
This is a crazy wine. Dave poured this for the party and told us to try and guess what it was. I sniffed and got menthol. A lot of menthol, as in eucalyptus. I also detected a bit of anise as well as other herbs.
This picture is from an older vintage, but you get the picture.
The taste was amazing and yet, very polarizing. No one else in my group liked it at all. Erica compared it to drinking rubbing alcohol. Someone else said it was like Listerine. I can understand: the menthol did impart a bit of a fiery element to the wine, and it did have a fair level of acid. However, it was complex and unlike any other wine I’ve ever had. Tar and citrus, earth and fruit. I don’t know quite how to describe it other than it’s probably the most interesting wine I’ve had in a while and one that every “serious” wine drinker should pick up.