Tag Archives: France

Why You Should Read About Wine: Reason #1 – Crazy Wines Are Often Where You’d Least Expect Them

23 Aug

You always hear the stories about how someone buys a painting or, say, negatives from a garage sale for five dollars and it turns out to be a long-lost Cézanne.  But how often does that happen, right?

It happens all right, and you can improve your odds of such discoveries by having expensive tastes and keeping your eyes open.

Two Fridays ago I was at the Dover farm of the Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice.  Chief Justice Myron T. Steele was kind enough to open his home (and extensive lands) to legal interns, clerks, and staff–past and present–for a barbecue.  There were fireflies, barking dogs, frisky ponies, and the good smell of roasting chicken and ribs: there was magic in the air.

There was also a big tub of beer and wine on the lawn.  It had nothing too fancy–mostly Bud Lite and Yuengling on the beer side, with some standard-issue Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay on the wine side–but who cared?  It was perfect, lazy evening weather, and the conversation was good.  I was also very thirsty, so I returned time and time again to the tub to get fresh beers.

On one such trip I rummaged around the ice and saw a bottle of white wine I had not previously noticed.  It was a gorgeous honey-amber color.  My first thought was that it was a Spanish wine of some sort–I’ve had some good Verdejo that came in bottles that color.  But this wine wasn’t in a colored bottle: the bottle was clear.  I reached into the tub and turned the wine around, then audibly gasped.

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In Defense of Drinking Alone

12 Aug

We’ve all done it.  There are those evenings after a bad day at work or school or whatever where the only thing that will get us through the evening is a drink.  Alone.

There is such a stigma attached to drinking alone, for a variety of reasons.  For one, drinking alone implies that you have no one else to drink with, i.e. you are a loser.  Or, drinking alone implies that you have a drinking problem, i.e. you are an alcoholic:

But drinking alone is not in of itself a bad thing.  It is a useful tool, one of the great friends of mankind.  There are times when you need to take the edge off of life, or times when you just want to forget about everything and just get to the next morning as quickly as possible.  Obviously, indulging in individual imbibment on a regular basis may be indicative of deeper problems, but then again, merely drinking with other people doesn’t mean you don’t have a problem, either.

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A New Bunch: DC Wine Appreciation Society

13 Apr

It’s an idea whose time had come.

I had always wanted to be part of a wine club, one whose members were genuinely interested in wine and learning about wine, and one whose members would not be adverse to chipping in for very nice bottles.  But for one reason or another the club did not materialize.

If you’re reading this blog there’s probably about a 10% chance you’re a law student.  If so, you’ve no doubt taken torts.  Torts–which can loosely be defined as civil actions to recover damages for injuries to person or property–can be divided into two broad categories: intentional torts and unintentional torts.  Unintentional torts encompass negligence, the five elements of which are:

  • Duty
  • Breach of duty
  • But-for (factual) cause
  • Proximate (legal) cause
  • Damages

The proximate cause can be defined as that which gave rise to the injury.  For instance, if I accidentally push someone through a window, then the proximate cause of the resultant injury is my push.

But-for causation, however, is an interesting concept because it recognizes that every outcome is the result of many different causes.  For instance, in the above scenario there are multiple but-for causes, such as the victim’s sitting on the window, my being on the second floor, the host throwing a party, etc., all the way to very distant events such as my being born, my parents meeting, ancient tribes settling in what is present-day Korea, and so on.  The analysis for but-for causation becomes: “but for X’s action, would Y have suffered injury?”

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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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Preparing for Snowmageddon: Buy a LOT of Wine

6 Feb

As you  might have noticed by now, I am a native Californian, so it’s easy to surmise how crazy “Snowmageddon” is for me.  Snow itself is still sort of a foreign concept, so 30 INCHES of it is strange, indeed.  This is the view from my fifth-floor window in DC:

That being said, I went to Trader Joe’s on Thursday to stock up on foodstuffs.  Unfortunately, everyone and their mothers (literally) had the same idea, and the line wrapped all the way around the inside of the store and down the oils/pastas/nuts/dried fruits aisle.  Yikes!

What was more pleasant for me was going to MacArthur Beverages (as chronicled in a recent post) and then to Ansonia Wines to pick up some wine.  I’ve had the opportunity to have a friend or two over with whom to brave the cold, and we’ve gone through a few bottles of wine.

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A Joyful Wine: 2007 Côtes du Rhône “Cuvée Sélectionée par Kermit Lynch”

4 Feb

My joy is complete.

I just found a bus line–the D6–that takes me from 20th and L Street to MacArthur and V Street.  What’s at MacArthur and V Street?  Only one of the finest wine shops in the DC Metro area: Addy Bassin’s MacArthur Beverages.

You might recall an earlier post where I purchased the bottles for a Spanish wine tasting from MacArthur.  My mission today was to pick up a bottle of the 2001 Penfolds “RWT” Barossa Valley Shiraz for a fancy Australian Shiraz tasting I’m having next week.  However, I ended up, as per usual, lingering for a bit, talking with Phil (an excellent wine steward who remembered that the last time I came in–last semester–I was wearing a suit and had picked up a bottle of the 1999 R. Lopez de Heredia “Viña Gravonia” blanco), and picking up a whole lot more than I came in for.

I was in the mood to pick up nice, simple table wines–nothing too pricey but still offering good quality to price.  Something like the 2008 Vin de Pays du Vaucluse from Domaine de Durban, an $8.99 table red made mostly of Grenache from Kermit Lynch that was just so fun and delicious to drink.

Bingo.

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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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Note: 2005 Pierre Andre Saint-Aubin “Les Anges” Premier Cru

2 Sep

I have had much to be thankful for this past week.  For instance, classes started up again and, strangely enough, they’re all pretty interesting (though the amount of reading I have is daunting at times).  I finished up the main portion of a Student Bar Association (SBA) program I was in charge of which consisting of pairing 1Ls with upperclassmen mentors.  I got two more Riedel Vinum Burgundy glasses, and my friend Sharon got a sweet part-time job at Banana Republic (which will result in sartorial benefits for m, I hope!).

Thus I wanted to get a decent bottle of wine with which to celebrate.

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