Tag Archives: riesling

Enough is Enough: the 2005 Trimbach “Cuvée Frédéric Emile” Riesling

1 Sep

I went sort of crazy yesterday at MacArthur Beverages in DC.  I’ll be leaving the East Coast for a while and headed to California to do some contract legal work, so I figured that to celebrate the occasion I should buy some fancy wines:

From left to right: 2005 Trimbach “Cuvée Frédéric Emile” Riesling, 2010 Broc Cellars “Cuvee 12.5”, 2006 Paolo Bea “Rosso de Véo” Sagrantino, 1996 Christian L. Remoissenet Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, 2007 Mount Eden Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet, and 2006 Ridge “Monte Bello” Cabernet.  I didn’t buy the Broc or Paolo Bea at MacArthur; I also bought during my trip to MacArthur, however, a bottle each of Gruet Blanc de Noirs and Brut sparking wines and a bottle of Broadbent Vinho Verde.

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Little Golden Drops of Wine: or, Bargain Shopping in Boston

11 Jul

There’s something great about coming into a new, unexplored city, a sense of adventure and possibility.  Though I’m not well-traveled by any means, I have been privileged to see a lot of the ole’ U S of A.  Most places–even Wilmington, DE!–have their own set of charms and attractions.  Lexington, NC was full of pork barbecue and sweet tea, and Hamden, CT is home to the illustrious Three Brothers Diner.  Last week I added yet another city to my list, and Boston for me will be forever linked with wine.

While the centerpiece of my trip to Boston was taking the Court of Master Sommeliers’ introductory course, I did also have a little bit of time to explore the neighborhood in which I was staying.  South End is a very nice, very settled area with stately townhouses, ample greenery, and hip little cafes and restaurants.  I really enjoyed Render Coffee’s dyslexic but delicious BTL and cold-brewed coffee, and had way too much grease from Laz Cafe, and sipped some delightful fino and amontillado Sherry at Toro.  I also had some good kidneys and a pint of dark wheat Pretty Things Brewery beer at the South End location of Le Petit Robert, a local Boston chain of French bistros.

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The Quiet After the Storm: Two More Wines With Which to Get Through Snowmageddon

7 Feb

I’ve been on a wine-drinking and -writing bender lately.  Counterintuitively, I found that there’s something liberating about being trapped indoors by the falling snow: the physical fact of being kept indoors turns the mind inward as well, so there’s been plenty of time for reflection and self-analysis.

And of course, eating and drinking.

Added to the bottles thus far consumed during Snowmageddon are the two below:

The one on the left is a Riesling, the 2008 Selbach Riesling Spätlese ($14.99 from MacArthur Beverages).  I opened this for a dinner of mahi-mahi, wild rice, and roasted asparagus.  The mahi-mahi was pre-marinated, courtesy of Trader Joe’s, in a sweet-salty sauce, so I figured that the semi-sweet Spätlese would be a decent match.

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Even Dwarves Started Small: Alex’s Ultramarathon, a 1990 Riesling, and Herzog’s New Movie “Bad Lieutenant”

24 Nov

As I had mentioned in my previous post, my roommate Alex ran the JFK 50 Miler on Saturday, finishing 41st out of 1050 competitors.  As per our custom, to celebrate and to help him recuperate I cook a “fancy” protein-filled dinner for him a day or two afterwards.

This particular meal, however, would be extra-special.

I had purchased a case of wine from the excellent MacArthur Beverages in Georgetown a few months ago, ostensibly for the purpose of hosting various wine tastings (including the Spanish tasting, the notes from which you can read here, and the outstanding Burgundy tasting, the write-up of which will be coming out later this week).  While there I came across this bottle:

It was the 1990 Weingut Max Ferd. Richter Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese from the Mosel region of Germany (seen on the label as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer).

I was intrigued.  Law students don’t come across 19-year-old bottles of wine very often; one comes across old white wines even less frequently.  The price was right, too, at around $35-$40.  Phil, one of the wine stewards, saw that I was getting a few off-the-beaten-path-type wines like the 1999 Viña Gravonia Crianza and recommended the wine, saying that it was still very much alive and well though with some of the characteristic oxidation found in aged whites.  To seal the deal, the wine was apparently stored at the winery in perfect conditions until only a few months prior.  I couldn’t resist.

After the Burgundy tasting a few weeks ago, this was the last wine from my memorable trip to MacArthur Beverages.  But it was soon to join its noble brethren, as I had plans to open it for Alex’s celebratory meal.

For dinner, we invited the always engaging (and fellow Golden Bear) Waiching, who brought fresh blueberries and blackberries for dessert.  I can’t really describe what I cooked–it’s a recipe I made up some time ago and never bothered to write down.  I guess it could loosely be named lemon-mushroom chicken.  For my own purposes (I forgot what ingredients I needed while I was shopping for the meal at Trader Joe’s) I will list the recipe here:

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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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Three Days of Wine

20 Sep

I’m listening to Cannonball Adderley’s rendition of “Autumn Leaves” (with Miles helping out on trumpet) with the window open–the air is fresh, the sky is blue and flecked with fast-moving clouds, and the temperature is a lovely 64 degrees.

Needless to say, I am pretty content right now.  Washington, DC is a great town, and I find myself enjoying law school much more than college.  One of the reasons for that is there are some good people here, and fun things to do.  Like drink.  And cook.  And drink and cook I did for three consecutive days.


My friend Adrian invited a few people over (all guys, regrettably) on Sunday for beef stew and poetry.  I brought over my “house red”–a bottle of Nero d’Avila from Trader Joe’s (retail: $4.99)–and we discussed Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” over steaming bowls of stew and sips of wine.  To repay the favor, I invited Adrian and two of our friends to my place on Wednesday for a meal of roast lamb, honey-rosemary potatoes, and roasted garlic asparagus.

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Mission Wines Tasting: April 19th

28 Apr

I love wine tasting–actually going to a wine bar to try a flight of different wines.  Unfortunately, I don’t like WRITING about the tastings afterward because there are just so many to list.  I can’t imagine how Robert Parker and Kermit Lynch do it (though, of course, they get paid $$$ to do so).

I took a few days off of work just to chill out and get my second wind, so to speak, before heading off to law school in July.  Thursday and Friday were spent with the family doing nothing in particular, so Saturday afternoon was ripe for something fun: Mission Wines with the co-workers was in order.

The official lineup for the day was:

  • 2006 Leitz Drachenstein Riesling
  • 1996 Lopez de Heredia Gravonia
  • 2005 Rauzan Despagne
  • 2005 Foulaquier Pic St Loup
  • 2005 Ridge Lytton Springs
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    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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    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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    Wine Snobbery

    20 Jan

    It’s easy to poke fun at people like Miles in the movie Sideways (which was better as a movie than the book was as a book, in my opinion)–people for whom the entire world revolves around wine.  It’s also fun to stand around in some fancy wine bar and agree with your friends that adjectives like gunflint, slate, leather, barnyard, plum, stone fruit, etc., etc., etc. are just the sign of snobbishness.

    But in reality, isn’t that what much of the fun of wine is all about?

    Sitting around a table at night with one of two of your friends, a bottle or two of newly-purchased wine.  The first is–say, the 2006 estate riesling from Robert Eymael, which is a gorgeous amber or straw color, sweet, with a honeyed mouthfeel.  It’s nice to take turns describing the wine in terms wine critics would be proud of, nice to know that for a little bit of money one can feel part of the social and cultural elite.

    Because that’s a huge reason for why someone would start to have an interest in wine.  People who choose to take an active interest in anything–poetry, sports, cars, food, photography, music–start to delve deeper into their subject, to examine all the details and nuances of the Red Sox or William Carlos Williams (one point for someone who can name the very superficial link between those two!).

    Yet wine transcends mere hobby.  It’s a lifestyle–more than that, it’s a statement of a lifestyle.  It’s very possible to drink wine casually with dinner or during social gatherings.  But why not… water… or soda…?  Or malt liquor, for that matter? 

    To get a nice buzz is a good reason.  But come on.  Anyone who’s ever tried to impress a date would know that a glass of good wine is more showy than a glass of Mr. Pibb (which is delicious).  A glass of wine says something.  A glass of soda does not.

    There is the 100-point scale of Robert Parker.  There is the “Do You Know What You Like?” metric developed by Best Cellars (try it–it’s great!).  There is the rather unorthodox method of Wine X Magazine of comparing wines to songs, or ideas like “a deep French kiss in a phone booth–nice depth, great mouth feel, a little woody, a bit tight.”  Then there is the Song family method of “good” and “bad” wine.

    There are so many wines out there, so many different regions and winemakers and varietals and cuvees and blends–it’s impossible to learn about wine without relying on categorizations.  So have fun–feel classy–write tasting notes–get a little bit snobby.  Give wines a score, assign them an idea, or split them into the good and the bad.  It’s why you picked up that bottle before showing up to a fancy dinner party, right?

    UPDATE: My friend Laszlo just as I published this post sent me this link for an article from The Wall Street Journal that talks about wine snobbery!  Give it a read!