Archive for October, 2012
My wife, Cheryle, & I recently went to New York to attend the International Chefs Congress put on by starchef.com. This certainly was quite the event.
While there we also has an opportunity to eat at a myriad of places for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here were 3 of our most memorable experiences.
We were really impressed with Babbo. Normally we have found restaurants with such high acclaim often turn out to be disappointing as it really hard to live up to the mystique. In this case however we loved this stylish eatery & its rustic Italian food done with a New York edge. The foods were tasty, a dynamic combination of interesting flavors and VERY wine friendly (which is a detail many restaurants do not think about). Some of the highlights included the Grilled Octopus with mushrooms & Chianti vinegar;
Bruce & Barbara Neyers purchased their 40 acre ConnValley vineyard in 1988. The estate ranges from 400 feet to 1000 feet elevation & has several soil profiles. They first planted Merlot in the basalt (compacted volcanic ash) soils. They first planted cabernet in 1996. The high slope parcel was only recently dynamited & then also planted to Cabernet (where in 2005 their AME bottling was produced from). The vineyard is farmed organically & sustainably. Their other superstar vineyard source, is Il Novillero.
2010 Chardonnay ‘El Novillero’ –
It was another fun night in our VINO restaurant. We had the opprtunity to again sample some top caliber wines, each with some bottle age to it. Yes….another fabulous learning experience.
We started out with the 2000 Raveneau Chablis Premier Cru “Foret” . This was not one of the highly rated years on the “vintage charts”. Goes to show you once again, vintage charts are often generalizations. When you are tasting wines of this upper echelon, I believe, each vintage just shows the taster another perspective on the vineyard & the winemaker’s skill. The true test of that skill is when a year produces many challenges & the winemaker has to be VERY selective in choosing the grapes to be used & then using his skill to make the wine sing. I love trying Raneneau’s wines, no matter what vintage it may be. This is another stellar example of his amazing talent.
Because of our VINO restaurant, we are always on the look out for interesting, really good Italian wines. It is harder than you would think. Recently we had the opportunity to sample THREE really good Italian RED wines, which I thought you might be interested in.
The first is the 2006 Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino. Without a doubt, Siro Pacenti is one of the standout producers of this highly revered Tuscan appellation, albeit very modern in his approach to winemaking. Thankfully, however, his Brunello di Montalcinos still taste Italian.
I am sure many avid wine aficionados have read alot about the 2009 Bordeaux wines. The main issue for me is the price. I am not saying they are not good wines, I am saying for the top echelon chateaux, I just can’t afford them.
In addition, when buying wines for a restaurant. especially nowadays, I am always looking instead for wines which over deliver for the dollar. To me…….Value will never be out of style. Please understand, I am NOT saying cheap……….VALUE.
Having said that, here are two Bordelais chateaux which fit the bill.
We were first introduced to Winemaking Partner Paul Wilkins by Chad Melville a few years back at the Hospice de Rhone wine festival in Paso Robles. Of all of the many, many wines being poured that day, Chad strongly suggested we taste Alta Maria’s Grenache & Syrah wines. He was right! They were awesome.
The bad news though was in that particular vintage (2004 I believe), Paul only produced 1 barrel (roughly 25 cases) of Grenache & 3 barrels (roughly 75 cases) of Syrah. Nonetheless we were thankfully able to get a tiny bit of each in addition to a few cass of their red wine blend as well as a little Pinot Noir. We were absolutely thrilled & thankful.
Without a doubt, Matt Trevisan of Linne Calodo from Paso Robles is one of the very top echelon winemakers out of California today.
In the old days, I would just drive by Paso Robles as I headed from San Francisco down to the Santa Barbara appellation. I had always thought Paso was just too hot for producing top caliber wines. Back then there were only a few wineries from the area & generally speaking their wines showed nothing interesting enough for me to make me a stop.
The Haarts own roughly 7.5 hectares of vineyards in Piesport–4.5 in Goldtropfchen (soft, splintered gray/blue slate) , 1 hectare in Grafenberg (red slate) & .4 hectares in Domherr (deeper, finer soils from erosion). In addition they own .3 hectares in their monopole Kreuzwingert (big stones/clay soils, cooler microclimate, which is actually a parcel in the Goldtropfchen vineyard) & .3 hectares in Wintricher Ohligsberg (big stones/hard blue slate with quartz).