Tag Archives: cabernet sauvignon

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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The Dangers of Buying New Wine: or, How Picking Out Wine is a Lot Like Chinese Food

17 Feb

My family has really gotten behind my drinking–er, wine blog adventure. My brother won over my mom for me by saying I could make a lot of money in the upcoming years by selling ad space. Thus, my boozing has become synonymous with “investing for the future”, and if anyone has ever had ANY experience with Asian families, investing for the future = awesome.

Thus, it stands to reason that I must drink a lot of wine to produce the material for the blog. (Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, and every other writer known to man would probably attest to alcohol’s magical creative properties.) I’m not an economist, but I believe this is what’s known as the “trickle-down effect.” Right?

Over the past week I had three reds I’d like to write a bit about:

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The Third Bottle: Proverbial and Otherwise

11 Feb

I absolutely love to open new bottles of wine. It’s like going out with someone new… how balanced are they? How full-bodied? How… sweet?

At the same time, it’s hard for me to try new wines at home. There are only two large drinkers in my family: myself and my mom. Thus, there’s a chance that the great wine I opened the night before will just sit for two, or three, or four days and turn into a sour vinegar. Such a waste when wine should be consumed right then and there!

This is not just a problem I face at home. This was a very common phenomenon for me while I was at college (so long ago!). Sometimes I just felt like a glass of wine, but what to do with the other four (or three, depending on your point of view) glasses? It certainly didn’t help that my residents were waaaay underage.

I was lucky enough to be in the company of one Alex B., a Bavarian by extraction who revels in drinking as much as, say, the next Bavarian, which is to say, A LOT. I have had nights when I’ve foolishly chugged one or two bottles of cheap wine in the effort to get as drunk as possible as quickly as possible. With Mr. B., I tend to drink large volumes of alcohol, but always good, delicious alcohol.

And it is with Alex that we go through two or three bottles of wine, quite easily. This is no dainty wine tasting with spitting into little porcelain cups–nay, it is real drinking! And by the third bottle, I can no longer taste the nuances of a wine, but it is so wonderful to rub my face.*

Thus is the raison d’etre for “The Third Bottle” red from GustavoThrace.


Imagine a dinner party–maybe… six people… three couples, right? You gotta figure that in the average party there will be at least one person who drinks way more than average and at least one person who drinks way less than average. Say that this is a nice meal… appetizer, main course, dessert. Start off with a white… then move onto a light red, maybe a pinot…

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Mmm Mmm, Malbec!

20 Jan

I love malbec. The best are sensual, sexy, full-bodied red wines that, at a price range between $7.99 – $11.99, are a great bargain.

It’s sort of an immigrant grape. One of the up to six grapes used in Bordeaux wines, it rarely took center stage except in other more “rustic” regions like Cahors. (One example is the really excellent Clos La Coutale from Cahors, which is a bit southeast of Bordeaux. The Clos La Coutale is 70% malbec, 15% merlot, and 15% tannat. This Kermit Lynch selection has the finesse and grace of a fine merlot but the suppleness of a Argentine malbec.) It took the importation of this grape to the New World in the mid-1800s to give malbec the home it deserved.

The growing conditions in South America–especially Argentina–were ideal for malbec, which requires more sun and heat than cabernet and merlot (its more famous compatriots). This allows for New World wines that are 100% malbec.

My favorite malbec is from Maipe, which is an intense, staining shade of deep purple. It almost pulses with an animal, sensual energy. There are dusty fruit aromas that, upon drinking, fill your mouth with an utterly satisfying, powerful explosion of plum, chocolate, earth. It’s a bronze fist covered with a silk glove. It is delicious by itself, with chocolate, with anything you can throw at it–I wouldn’t, however, pair it with fish or anything too delicate. The Maipe would destroy any gentle partner.


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The Green Day Syndrome of Wine and the Sam Adams of Wine

15 Jan

I have to admit that I am a bit of a wine snob (as if this blog weren’t proof enough!). I go for “artisanal” or quirky wines, or wines from obscure French domaines and Spanish bodegas. When it comes to huge wine conglomerates like Kendall-Jackson, Robert Mondavi, etc., etc., I usually turn up my nose in disdain.

But as Mark Oldman points out in his entertaining, easily-accessible, and informative book Oldman’s Guide to Outsmarting Wine: 108 Ingenious Shortcuts to Navigate the World of Wine with Confidence and Style (link to Amazon here!), there are many low-cost, high-value wines out there from winemakers I felt were “too big” or “too successful”.

Call it the Green Day syndrome of wine.

At any rate, one of the producers he mentioned numerous times as consistently satisfying was Chateau Ste. Michelle. Never mind that this winery is in Washington state and has a name like a bad French domaine. It is Washington’s oldest “and most acclaimed” winery, and its labels can be seen in supermarket aisles everywhere:


For “hip” young wine drinkers like me, this ubiquity was a death knell.

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An Afternoon of Wine

24 Dec

I am fortunate to have had a few good drinking buddies over the years. One of them, Alex, was a fellow Resident Assistant at Clark Kerr Campus. Being German (or Bavarian, more properly) he was quite fond of drinking. Being in a fraternity (and Korean) I, too, was quite fond of drinking. Unfortunately, with the exception of Brian and Diane and a few others, there weren’t too many drinkers on our staff.

No matter. Drink alone and you’re an alcoholic. Drink with someone else, even to the point of utter disregard for personal safety, and you’re just being sociable.

Alex was home for the holidays and decided to take the Amtrak down to Burbank, where I picked him up. We headed promptly to the Los Angeles Farmers Market on Fairfax, where we lunched magnificently at Moishe’s–he had the falafel plate while I had chicken shawerma. Afterwards, we went to Monsieur Marcel for a post-meal glass of wine. As we fully intended on drinking much more during the course of the day we decided to start with whites.

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