2005 Louis Jadot Chassagne Montrachet. It's rare when I open a 6 year old white and think it's immature. This is an explosion of earth and metal. Iron fist in a kid glove. Wait on this for another couple of years for full effect.
What was the spark that inspired me to start the Corkdork Blog?
I come from a wine obsessed family. My late father amassed a small, but high quality cellar starting back in 1978 and so began the family tradition of wine talk at the table. For us, a special meal needed something special to drink, and even after having a modest cellar going, my father was always able to pull out something appropriate to rise to the occasion.
Once I was out on my own, I usually found I had Champagne tastes on a beer budget, and good wine was hard to find in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, where after pressing your nose to the window, squinting to read labels, the local wine merchant passed the bottle to you through bullet-proof glass. But then I moved to San Francisco. Here I gave myself a $3.00 a bottle limit and at that time, I was able to get crazy treasures for 3 bucks --Stag's Leap Petite Syrah and Ch. St. Jean Chardonnay, for instance.
I could find, by trail and error, something decent to go with dinner, but when I went out and faced a huge wine list, I found I could only fall back on the familiar or the splurge wines I knew growing up. Then I attended my first big tasting, ZAP, the annual mega-Zinfandel festival. It was 1997 and they were pouring the 1995 vintage for the most part, and barrel pours of the 1996s. This was the first time I had an opportunity to taste a single varietal, treated in a staggering array of ways, with distinct profiles of the classic regions. Every wine from every neighborhood seemed a little different and I found an affordable way to start collecting, learning about the mysteries of terroir, and training my palate. I could stray away from the "3-Rs" (Ridge, Ravenswood, and Rosenblum) and find little producers that created something different, something that smacked of thier little patch of the earth.
And I made friends. I found I could make fast friends with winemakers. I was thrilled to have other people to share my wine talk with, other than my family. A bonus for my table-talk-fatigued spouse as well. My brother, my friends and I, would share our favorite finds from ZAP and share them by email and sync them to our first-gen Palm Pilots so we had our lists when we went shopping.
Fast-forward to 2005 and the rise of the blogosphere. When I saw that you didn't need to have a Masters of Wine to write about wine, it dawned on me that a blog could be my special place to remember the bottles I love, the dishes I want to share, and a public place to put my favorites from big tastings like ZAP.
The Rancho Bello Vineyard is just north of the Green Valley AVA, which is near Sebastapol and Occidental. There, the grapes are both ripened by sun and stressed from lack of water - a good combination for Zinfandel. On nose, it has tinges of nutmeg and cinnamon spices with boysenberry/blackberry fruits that rise from the glass, like a beautiful black fruit cobbler. It's a full-bodied wine and has all the ripeness of a Russian River Valley Zinfandel, without being stewed or prune-y. Winemaker William Knuttel has a great touch with Zin, which can be a crazy uneven ripening beast --so much so that Ottimino is devoted exclusively to Zinfandel. This wine is a steal and offers a clean, classic Zin experience for under $30 a bottle. Recommended.
I have been eating at Japanese restaurants for 30 years and have been to Japan, but I never have seen any soup like this before. Tan Tan Men is a not-too-spicy miso based broth with ground pork, bean sprouts, seaweed and ramen. So delicious. I can't imagine a better dish if you have the sniffles, which I happen to have...If you're in San Mateo, I highly recommend it.
Just a reminder to pass on to the wine blog community that I am hosting WBW 73 this Wednesday. "Spark" is our theme to rekindle your interest in Wine Blogging Wednesday. Re-taste the kind of wine that sparked your desire to write about wine and share it on Wednesday, January 18th. I'll be hosting and doing the round-up. Post on your blog and send me your permalink by either email me (thecorkdork - symbol here - gmail - period - com) or post the link as a comment on Wednesday. Looking forward to it! I have my wine picked out...I hope you do to. See you then.
2008 was a tense year for growers in Napa. Low yields due to cold temps and shatter. But after the weather started cooperating, it allowed growers to get nice ripeness on the berries that were left.
Winemaker, Cameron Parry at Chateau Montelena has started to work with bringing in smaller batches of fruit, starting with this vineyard. This new practice should help on uneven ripening years and bring a "small winery" feel to the wines.
This is a young wine, to be sure, but it's drinking nicely now. What Cameron calls "barrel spice" is pretty forward now, but in 4 or 5 years this should integrate nicely. I like the burnt sugar overtones, mixed with red fruits. This is not a massive, chewy wine, which is one reason I like it. The body is not terribly dense and viscous. I get a touch of meaty tang from the small bit of Cab Franc in there, which I like. SRP is $49/ street prince is around $35.00 and that's a great price for a well made wine like this.
Another great tasting at the SF Wine Center. Remind me again why you don't store your wine there? The price of your rental gets you into tastings like the one on Friday night. And if there is something you want, they are all for sale because it is hosted by the Wine Center and a number of top local distributors (Martine's, Chambers, etc). Such a deal!
Here were some of my favorites: (there were probably 75 wines total)
2005 Paul Pernot Pommard Les Noizons - great and ready to drink. $52 2006 Gaja Sori San Lorenzo $450. Fantastic - some of the finest tannins I have ever experienced. 2000 Chateau Haut Batailley - Killer! $70 1985 Chateau Haut Brion $450 - beautiful cocoa overtones 2008 Hundred Acre Ark Vineyard - $275 - My favorite cult cab of the evening. Eucalyptus explosion. 2008 Chateau Lafleur-Gazin Pomerol - $40. - great deal 2004 Louis Roederer Vintage Brut Champagne - 50/50 Chard and Pinot. Very good buy at $54 2004 Louis Roederer Cristal - super fine bubbles distinctive Le Menil flavors -$190 2009 Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatieres 1er Cru - awesome. Sexy. $80 2005 Chateau Rauzan Segla - great Cab Franc dominated Bordeaux. $125 2009 Holdredge Pinot Noir Russian River Valley - Classic RR Pinot great deal for $35 2008 Guigal St. Joseph Vignes de l'Hospice - Small batch St. Joe, delicious but pricey $99 2007 Verité Le Desir - lovely but scary price: $325 - but one of 3 100 point wines from Verité poured 2008 Domaine de L'Arlot Clos des Forets - $64 - I fell in love with this. One of my fav. burg's of the night 2008 Ramey Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay - $45 - Pegged this as classic Carneros from one sniff. Nice! 2006 Cassanova di Neri Brunello - great price from a great year $42 2005 Francois Jobard Meruseault Pourzots 1er Cru - $90. Really delicious 2004 Perrot-Minot Mazoyeres-Chambertin VV Grand Cru - beautiful lifted scents of violets. $150 2006 Michel Gay & Fils Corton-Renardes VV Grand Cru $85 2009 Gilles Robin Hermitage $85 - Great but so young!! 2005 Bonneaux de Martray Corton Charlemagne - tight but a real treat from another member's collection>
It's for January and it's called "Spark". And it's being hosted by the Corkdork blog.
Because the number of participants has been declining and the blogosphere is so crowded with other things commanding our attention, it's time to go back to what Sparked your interest in wine blogging in the first place. There was a wine you couldn't get out of your head and couldn't wait to share with the world, there was a grape that you started obsessing over, there were family times where a good bottle would be pulled...something there made you say to yourself that you wanted to blog about wine. And 6 years ago, when we started the first collaborative online tasting group, Wine Blogging Wednesdays, something captured your attention. I know you've grown and your wine knowledge has expanded, but it's time to revisit the kind of wines that sparked your desire to blog, retaste, and share.
January's challenge, "Spark", is to re-visit the wine that first turned you on to the infinite wonder of the world of wine. Write about it and post on January 18th. I will host and do the round-up. Please pass on the word and keep WBW going!
I often wonder what to do with Artisan Vermouth. It's too intensely flavored for a normal Martini most of the time, imho. But a good one is delicous on its own, so I came up with a variation of an old favorite.
When I used to tend bar, a lifetime ago, the house drink was the Half-n-half, equal parts red and white vermouth, over ice with a small twist of lemon. It's a great pre-dinner cocktail, because it is a low alcohol aperitif and the herbal nature gets the juices flowing.
My new take on it is using a generous pour of my friend, Carl Sutton's tasty Sutton Cellars Brown Label Vermouth and a slightly less generous pour of Cinzano Red Vermouth. Delicious.
While you're surfing on Carl's site, buy some of his excellent Syrah from Bennett Valley. One of my favorites.
I recently cracked open a different kind of treat from my friend, Jill Matthiasson...jam. I'm a huge fan of the Ribolla-Girolla-based Matthiasson White (I'm drinking the 2008 tonight) and am lucky to have a few bottles of the Red Hen Merlot in my cellar for special treats. This Raspberry Peach Jam was made from the Red Hen property's fruit trees and berry bushes, and was such a great surprise. It has just the right amount of lemon to cut the sweetness of the peaches and raspberries. I can only hope Jill sells it on her website or to the Wine Club next year. She and Steve have been working on a blog lately. Here's the link. Also, seek out their wines, which are getting more widely available in the Bay Area. I found some 2010 White at Vintage Berkeley on College Avenue yesterday.
Just delicious. I don't often reach for the Cal Cabs, but this one, which was a gift from a friend recently, is everything a great Cab should be without the sticker shock. I love the cigar-box scents and plummy flavors. Recommended.