Tag Archives: merlot

Celebrating Christmas with a Cab and a Chihuahua

25 Dec

I have quite a few entries to post, including some from a very nice wine tasting trip up to Santa Barbara, but I will post this one first.  I had purchased a bottle of 2002 Chateau St. Jean “Cinq Cepages”, a wine composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot from Sonoma.  While one could think of this as a meritage the people at CSJ classify it as a Cabernet because of the high percentage (at least 75% in any given vintage) of that grape in the blend.

I was very excited about this wine, having had it shipped from invino to my home back in California.

We opened it up yesterday for dinner, which was New York strip steaks topped with caramelized onion, creamy mashed potatoes, and a nice green bean, tomato, and feta cheese salad.  True to form, I opened it up about an hour before dinner to drink while cooking.  Very dark, saturated color.  On the nose there was prune and blueberry, and herbs.  When my mom tried it she said it tasted salty–I agree: there was sort of a cured olive aspect to the wine.  I got the prune and berries, along with tar, tobacco, licorice, and stone–nicely integrated, soft tannins.  It had a long finish, resolving to lighter red fruit notes.

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Autumn in DC

2 Nov

Hello, again.

It’s been a while, I know.  I just finished a 12-page memo for my legal writing class; I have a very small window of freedom before the wheels of finals start turning.

Just because I haven’t written for over a month doesn’t mean I’ve stopped drinking.  Well–I’ve cut down my alcohol consumption generally, which is a good thing.  (For instance, I can actually remember what I’m doing while I’m doing what I’m doing!)  Nonetheless, I have had many, many bottles of wine.

My original intent for this wine blog was to keep track of the wines I consumed.  I’ve let dozens slip through the cracks, unfortunately.  My solution for this is to post shorter comments more frequently.  Occasionally–when I have time–I will post longer musings on wine and its connection to life, etc.

Photo Credit: Elise @ Simply Recipes

Autumn in DC has been pretty cool–literally.  Currently, it’s about 55 degrees outside.  There were days of high 30s – low 40s.  I’m used to short bursts of cold weather in California (especially up north), but sustained cold is something new to me.  I like it, however.  I don’t get all sweaty walking around; I can layer; my roommate Alex can make thick, hearty stews; and I feel more alert.  Oh yeah, and there are no more darn mosquitoes to eat me alive.

Concomitantly, I’ve turned away from white wines and have started to look more to reds to sustain my alcoholic tendencies.  Côtes du Rhône come to mind, as do malbec from Cahors and tannat-based wines from Irouleguy.

I will be making rabbit stew for dinner tomorrow (you can buy rabbit at Eastern Market for like… $3.99 a pound!) and am thinking of serving it with a Clos La Coutale from the Cahors region of France.  This wine–70% malbec, 15% merlot, and 15% tannat–was one of my favorites from Kermit Lynch in Berkeley, and I was so excited to see one lone bottle at the Wine Specialist the other day… for $13.99 it was a bit more expensive than in California, but then again, we ARE on the opposite side of the US from Berkeley.  I will be sure to post my thoughts on that meal afterwards–if I have the time!

One Last Taste of Home

9 Aug

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.

A Long Hiatus from Writing (but not Drinking!)

24 Mar

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.

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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 Psychology of a Dying Party, or: The Elements of a Good Party

4 Feb

One of my favorite books is Cannery Row by John Steinbeck.  It’s one of his shorter works, clocking in at only 228 pages as opposed to his masterpieces, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden.  It’s also one of his “happier” books–though happier is a subjective term.  It’s happier than East of Eden but not a happy book.  It’s lighthearted at times, but lighthearted in the way only deeply profound insights can seem to be.

The plot doesn’t drive itself as much as it saunters and moseys easily along.  The basic plot is set in the Cannery Row district of Monterey and revolves around a cast of well-meaning bums trying to throw a party for Doc, who is the central figure of the story.  They throw one party that ends in disaster but, by the end of the book, are able to throw a party that is hugely successful.

(What does this have to do with wine?  Or anything, for that matter?  Patience.  Have another sip of your merlot.  I’m getting to it.)

As a former social chair at a fraternity and a catering assistant for almost three and a half years, I’ve seen my share of parties–both highly organized and wildly spontaneous.  I’ve seen seventy-year-olds get drunk off their minds at bar mitzvahs and what looked like seventeen-year-olds do keg stands in dark basements.  There are events complete with wine charms and little signs for different types of cheese, and others that aren’t planned as much as they arise from some primordial, yearning, post-pubescent muck.

What characterizes a good party?  And how can one ensure that the party one is throwing is a success?

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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.

maipe_malbec.jpg

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Sparkling Pinot Noir: Mission Wines Tasting

30 Dec

At Mission Wines, my friends and I are the sole representatives of the 25 and under demographic.

It’s a bit sobering to chip in five or ten bucks each for a $20 or $30 bottle of wine–nothing to shake a stick at–and watch as silver-haired gentlemen wearing well-worn L.L. Bean vests and Eddie Bauer sweaters carry out cases (CASES!) of $50 wine to their idling sports cars.

That’s why I love going to wine tastings. For $10 I can try five different wines. Nothing’s worse than spending good money on a vaunted bottle of wine and finding that it’s terrible. (I guess the same goes for first dates, eh?)

The five wines at the tasting today were:

  • Juve y Camps Brut Rosé | Sparkling Pinot Noir (Sant Sadurini D’Anoia, Spain)
  • Breggo Ferrington Vineyard | Sauvignon Blanc (Anderson Valley, California)
  • Luzon | Monastrel/Syrah (Jumilla, Spain)
  • Chateau Puygueraud Cotes de Francs | Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Malbec (Bordeaux, France)
  • Graves | Syrah (Paso Robles, California)

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