Tag Archives: California

Beautiful Berkeley

19 May

What a beautiful place, Berkeley.  I didn’t really enjoy the place until late in my college career–perhaps starting my fourth year, definitely my fifth year.  I have been back up numerous times, but through a number of reasons was unable to do so for nearly the past year and a half–far too long in my book.  Thus, I planned to visit the Bay Area for a spell of a few days after my exciting and rainy adventure in New York the previous week.

The concrete reason for my trip was to visit two of my former residents (and current friends), Semra and Kana, and their awesome apartment up in the hills on North Side.  There was a sentimental reason, too–namely, that all of my residents and thus the vast majority of the people I knew in Berkeley would be graduating and leaving for the big vast world after college.  

There was a oenological reason, too: I wanted to drink a lot of great wine!

Again, as in my New York post, I’m going to just write down phrases that will hopefully serve to jog my memory when I’m looking back after a few decades.  =)

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A Few Parting Words Before Finals

12 Apr

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.

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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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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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A Triumphant Return!

3 Jul

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?

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A Cold Weather Red: 2005 La Grange de Piaugier

25 May

After days of 95+ degree weather, there’s been a cold spell punctuated by clouds and rain. The temperature ranges from the 50s to 60s, and it’s nice to throw on a sweater before going out.

I have not had too much wine as of late because of the heat–I focused on Anchor Steam beer, as these were sophisticated, delicious, and refreshing. I couldn’t bring myself to open a bottle of wine–even nice, thirst-quenching varieties like vinho verde and sauvignon blanc. Reds, of course, were out of the question.

Thus I was pleased when the thermostat was turned down a few degrees, especially for my longer than usual Memorial Day weekend (I took this Friday off and get Monday off as well!). On Friday I headed to Mission Wines for a spell to pick up a good cold weather red.

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Sit Back, Relax, & Enjoy the Show!

23 Apr

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.

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An Extremely Long, Memorable Wine Tasting: Part Two (#7-11)

1 Mar

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.

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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.

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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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Spring in a Glass: 2006 Ampelos Rosé of Syrah

9 Feb

I am not the biggest fan of white wines. Anything lighter than, say, a pinot noir is subject to my intense scrutiny and occasional disdain. Even pinot noirs are not on safe ground: it’s the rare pinot that I like. Beaujolais and beaujolais nouveau are lighter than pinot noir but I like them for some reason–they’re whimsical, easygoing wines.

My first exposure to rosés was when I worked at Adagia Restaurant in Berkeley–specifically, we had Brander Vineyard’s Chateau Neuf de Pink and Domaine Tempier’s Bandol rosé. From what little I remember of those two wines, I liked Tempier–it had an austere quality, bone-dry. All I remember of Brander’s selection is chef Brian Beach poking fun at the name.

All in all, however, I was unimpressed. Reds–especially the brooding malbec and the sensual shiraz–were still my willing mistresses.

That changed when I tasted the Ampelos Rosé of Syrah last year. It was the late summer, hot as heck. “Teeth-staining” and “tannic” were not the qualities I was looking for in my wines, let alone any beverage. At a tasting they poured the Ampelos rosé and it was love at first taste.

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