Tag Archives: France

Tears of Morro, Tears of Joy

13 Jun

I’ve been back here in LA for a few weeks now and it’s great. We’ve been having a long spell of overcast, mild weather–perfect light sweater weather. That’s fine with me, especially since I escaped the heat and humidity of the East Coast so recently (as well as the steaming crucible of law school).

Thus, I’ve been able to go to Mission Wines, my favorite local wine spot here in little South Pasadena. I rounded up a crew of the usuals–William, his friend Sam, Chris M. and his gf, Sasha and his gf, and Jack M. from days yore–and we hit up the wine tasting this past Saturday. Manning the bar were the always dependable Dave and Matthew; Kirk from the Rose Bowl committee was there along with a spate of regulars.

The tasting started off with a 2008 Pierre-Marie Chermette “Les Griottes” Beaujolais rosé, made from gamay.  A Beaujolais rosé?  I mean, much Beaujolais is darn close to rosé, anyway.  Nonetheless, this was a nice wine with a vibrant pink color and an austere, slightly coppery taste.  It wasn’t sweet and not overtly fruity.  It was my first Beaujolais rosé, so I was delighted to have it be a positive experience.  

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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.

daumas-gassac-logo

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More Joon!

18 Mar

Not too much in the way of news or drinking.  I’ve not been able to drink very much lately because I need every brain cell I have in order to finish this appellate brief which is due on Sunday.  I did go to The Wine Specialist today with my friend Waiching to pick up some makoli, which is fermented Korean rice beer.  I ended up picking up a new bottle of Bushmill’s 10-year, a new bottle of St. Germaine, a bottle of Allagash Black beer (a Belgian-style stout… wha?!), a bottle of Hakutsuru Junmai Ginjo sake (delicious), and a bottle of the 2006 Bourgogne-Passetoutgrain from Philippe Jouan.

I’m keen on trying this last one because it comes recommended from Trey at The Wine Specialist and seems to have received some favorable press online: the Bourgogne-Passeltoutgrain is a small appellation located in the larger Bourgogne (Burgundy) region.  By law the red wines of this region must consist of at least 1/3 pinot noir and no more than 2/3 gamay–thus, it represents a vinous transition from the Beaujolais region and its gamay-based wines and Burgundy and its pinot noir-based wines.

Otherwise, my law school’s newspaper just launched an online version!  I’ve been writing pretty regularly for the paper, which is published biweekly.  Check out my last article here!

Ruminations on Home

6 Mar

Home.  For the longest time I called a small gray house on Westminster Avenue in Alhambra, California home.  My family lived there since a few years before I was born: my parents had graduated three children from Fremont Elementary and Alhambra High.  This house remained home until early in my college career, when we sold it and moved to an apartment in South Pasadena.

It was strange coming back to a place I did not know, strange sleeping on a couch when I used to be able to sleep on a bed.  I didn’t know the new area very well, passing through South Pasadena only to get from Alhambra to Old Town Pasadena.  And my father had recently been diagnosed with kidney disease, meaning his health was always uncertain.  That apartment on Huntington Drive, new and without the comfort that came from years of familiarity, certainly didn’t feel like home.

Some years have passed.  I graduated from Berkeley, worked for two years at LegalZoom.com, and am in the middle of my second semester at law school in Washington, DC.  Although I started to really like South Pasadena during my two years as a working stiff, it wasn’t until I left California for the far-off Eastern Coast that I truly started to consider South Pasadena home.  We are still living in that small apartment on Huntington; it sounds a bit strange for someone coming from the historical hubbub that was the site of the Inauguration, but I can’t think of anything better than returning to South Pas for good after graduation.

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From the East Coast to the West: the “Tres Picos” Garnacha from Borsao

4 Mar

I am at home, taking a much-needed break from law school.  First semester was a breeze compared to the marathon of mock trial, briefs, classes, and journal competition!

Having lived in DC now since August, I feel like I have a sense of the city.  True, I haven’t really explored too much, but enough to realize a few things.  First, DC is a nice city–to visit.  Second, there are nice restaurants–in the $$$ range.  Third, there are some good cafes–if you’re willing to take the Metro and walk a while.  Fourth, there ARE some good wine shops, though the District of Columbia isn’t exactly the Bay Area.  I am pretty certain that I will be returning to California after law school.

I really do like certain aspects of DC.  I do like the cold weather, for instance, and the snow (although it can be a real pain when you’re trying to walk in slush and frozen ice).  I do like that you can generally get around using public transportation (traffic today in LA brought back some bad memories).  But, after all of this, and despite LA’s problems, LA is still home to me.

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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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L’Authentique Red Table Wine: Anything But Authentic

26 Nov

So on my most recent trip to Trader Joe’s I picked up three bottles of wine:

  • 2003 Beaulieu Vineyard Reserve “Dulcet” (Cabernet/Syrah) | Napa Valley, CA | $19.99 (sale: $35-$40)
  • 2007 Cono Sur Carmenere | Colchagua Valley, Chile | $7.99 (sale: $8.99-$10.00)
  • 2007 L’Authentique Red Table Wine | France | $4.99

The last bottle was purely gratuitous. I put it into my cart because I figured it five bucks wasn’t too much to pay for a gamble. I was willing to gamble due to my previous wonderful experience with Trader Joe’s.

I’m glad it was only $4.99.

Two hints that this wine would be terrible:

  1. No wine worth its salt would be named “L’Authentique.”
  2. The back label says to store the wine horizontally, in a cool place.  So that’s what I’ve been doing wrong all this time!

What a horrible wine.  Flat, with a cloying sweetness that just came out of nowhere.  Tannins were out of whack; thinnish body.  My roommate and I each took a sip of the wine and let out audible groans.

It might have been that this particular bottle was baked–it had the “baked” qualities to it.  But I don’t want to pay another five bucks to find out.

To be fair, also, some other blogs have been kinder to this wine.

Please don’t get this wine.  I never thought I’d say this, but if you must, pick up a bottle of Charles Shaw instead!

(I’ll be reviewing the other bottles later!)

All Grown Up: My First Hosted Wine Tastings

21 Nov

It’s strange being 25.  I remember being a kid in grade school and looking up to the new young teachers, those who were obviously younger than people like Mrs. Donaldson or Mr. Kinter–people who had been at the game for years and years.  They didn’t really know what they were doing yet, but they were bright and fun and energetic.

And now I might very well be older than they were at the time.

(My torts professor summed it up quite nicely when he quipped, “It’s a strange feeling when both the president-elect AND the chief justice are younger than you are.”)

Now that I’m a quarter century old, I feel as if I should be an adult.  I certainly feel adult-like at certain moments–for instance, when I cook dinner, or when I go to the Ritz-Carlton for drinks (that one time!)–but sometimes feel as if I’m a child playing grownup. I think many of my peers feel the same way.

All that aside, it IS nice to get together and do grownup stuff–like hold wine tastings.  My roommate and I decided to throw a wine tasting; I decided also to throw a wine tasting before that wine tasting to get the feel of things.

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2003 Domaine La Roquète: Finally, A Worthy Successor (or, Look Out for Specials from Trader Joe’s)

5 Nov

There are a few great things about law school.  Sure, it’s a lot of work; sure, there are always things one can be doing; and sure, there’s stress, etc., etc., etc.; but many times it beats having a job.

For instance, my last class got out 20 minutes early today.  After coming home from school, I lounged about for a brief and wonderful spell in bed, reading parts of Master and Commander and listening to Van Morrison.  This was at around 2 pm–which would be just past my old lunch hour at LegalZoom.  I got out of bed, studied a bit, tidied up the apartment a bit, and decided to go to Trader Joe’s to restock on some essentials.

There was a very light rain–a sprinkling, actually–and just enough light to cast shadows on the leaves of the trees lining L Street.  I got to Trader Joe’s, selected my items (more polenta-in-a-tube, by the way), and was heading to the checkstand when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, cases of this wine:

la-roqueteIt was on sale for $13.99.  Big deal.  That’s actually kind of expensive for Trader Joe’s, I thought.  But there was a sign–oh, those darned signs!–that said this was a special selection, that there were only a few cases (420 bottles total) at this store, that the normal retail was at least $26.00, and that it was 70% grenache, 20% syrah, and 10% mourvedre.  I happen to like combinations of grenache, syrah, and mourvedre–I immediately think cold weather red, which is a good thing in my book.

But I was torn.  It was a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and man, those Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines are usually like… $50+.  How good could a Chateauneuf that’s on sale at Trader Joe’s in Washington, DC for $13.99 be?

I picked up a bottle and looked at the label more closely.  Cool label, heavy bottle, with a deep punt (indentation at the bottom).  I saw the names “Frédéric & Daniel Brunier” on the lower edge of the label.  For some reason that didn’t come to me till later, the name “Brunier” rang a bell.

I decided: why not?  I hadn’t bought a bottle for a while, and it was only $13.99.

I’m glad I did.

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