Saturday, May 30, 2009

Um Yay, But....

So I had to work a class last night, it was brutal knowing that I was going to be missing the game....I was going to be drinking Blanc de Blancs Champagne, so there's that but still. Had the hubby TIVO the game and asked, (a couple of times) the people at the class to refrain from telling me ANYTHING, good or bad I didnt want to hear it, I wanted to finish the class and go home to watch....

I'm a real Lakers fan, been my whole life, well, as long as I can remember anyway, so this stuff means a lot to me, the energy, the fight, the cheering, I love it, not to mention it is something that my son and I share. I know there are many that don't care, that find it silly to get so wrapped up in something that you really have nothing to do with, and I totally respect that, don't watch but I dig it, let me have it.

Yeah, so one attendee walks up to me mid class, big grin on her face, leans in and says, "It's 96 to 74 so you have nothing to worry about" then skips off to her seat....DUDE!!!! I stood there, icy cold bottles of Champagne in my hand, mouth agape feeling like somene had just kicked my in the tummy.....could not believe it, why? Why would you do that?? So freaking rude, I was crushed, and watched my plans for the evening go right down the crapper.

Not sure if she wanted me to slow down, if she wanted to hang out longer, (many customers don't leave after my bubble nights, they stay seated, chat and nibble on potato chip crumbs) not sure what she was after....but she absolutely ruined my night. Not funny, not helpful...just rude.

So even knowing the outcome, I came home and tried to watch the game....yeah, it was so not even close to the same, the fire in my belly was pee'd on, and clearly I am still pissed off. Very happy that the Lakers won and looking forward to seeing which, rather scary team we are going up against next, but people, I implore you....don't ruin other people's fun, don't kick them in the tummy, don't tell them what they are getting for Christmas, don't tell them the ending of the movie and for the love of all that is holy....DON'T CRUSH A FAN'S NIGHT BY TELLING THEM THE SCORE OF A GAME THEY ARE TIVO-ING!!!

Yay Lakers, boo mean spirited customer.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Long, Childish Day With A Sexy Older Finish

“I prefer white Burgundy to red, I just don’t think I get red Burgundy” our Spanish and Italian buyer, Ronnie said to me one afternoon. “I can fix that” I replied with a grin, “Not sure I want you to” he said with a chuckle. I already knew which wine I was going to share with him, a bottle of 1990 Domaine de Montille Bourgogne, a gift I had received last Christmas…the point was to have him smell an red Burgundy, even a modest one, from a great producer, with some age on it. Now Ronnie loves Barolo, a wine that is, or can be, very high in acid, tannic and shrill when young, but with age they open, silken and become other worldly…in short they remind me of red Burgundy. I kind of put the conversation out of my mind but when I was bolting out the door for a pre-surprise party, (for Ronnie’s 40th birthday) drink with Amy and Sexy Bitch, (for new folks, Sexy Bitch is Amy’s husband…and the name he asked that I use for him…sigh) the conversation popped into my head, and I made a last minute lunge to the wine cooler.

Sunday was a big day, had my little sister’s graduation early in the morning, she was graduating from Cal State Fullerton…with honors, (can you tell I am so proud?!) but I was going to have to bring my brother….sigh…, man. He and I just don’t click, I think I make him nervous and to cover that up he takes a bunch of swipes at me, snide little remarks about me being a snob or bitchy, which when being picked at….I probably am. Anyway, there was some drama the night before and morning of the graduation, baby sister in tears, the whole deal, told her not to worry and that everything would be fine….and poured myself a long glass of Pastis for breakfast…I know, that screams of “having a problem” but I knew that with some anise flavored booze in my belly, my brother’s remarks would bother me so much less. It worked, so too did the little splash of Pastis I poured into my roadie water bottle, it was my medicine and went a long way in curing the “pain in my ass”.

After the graduation there was dim sum, delicious, dropped the brother off at his car and plopped down on the couch, still in my shirt and tie, and fell asleep. Woke up to Call-o shaking me, “Amy and Sexy Bitch are out front. They want to go have a couple drinks before Ronnie’s party” I sat straight up, one eye still closed, my curled and sprayed hair matted into a nest the size of grapefruit, on the back of my head….”shit…shit” I had been hoping to change and freshen up before the party, but the stress and Pastis had benched me. Swipe of powder to the face, wipe the sleep and smudged eyeliner from under my eyes, slip on the flip flops, open the screen door and “Oh let me grab the Domaine de Montille!” stashed it in my purse and stumbled out, loosening my tie and undoing my top button, (felt over dressed) to the waiting Amy and Sexy Bitch.

Now imagine if you will, what a place called, Martini Blues looks like at 4:00 on a Sunday afternoon….yeah. Amy and I made our way to a table that was surrounded by 4 overstuffed chairs, you know those chairs that when you slump in seem to almost swallow you, the ones that have your arms closer to your ears than your sides…maybe not the best for a bar. I kept having to swing my feet and scoot my rump trying to get to the edge of the seat so I could reach forward and take a sip of my martini, I felt like one of those pill bugs that had been flipped on its back, legs flailing, arms swinging…..lame, but after the 2nd martini I just teetered on the edge of the seat for fear that I might not be able to fight my way out of the swallowing chair. Now the 3rd martini may not have been the best choice before going to another party, but not to worry, right after it arrived a rather sobering event sent us heading for the door.


When you are in a bar, in the middle of a Sunday afternoon and a 7 year old sits by you…and the bartender switches the television to the Cartoon Network….well, that goes a long way in making it okay to leave a bit of your cocktail and getting the hell outta Dodge. Now before you get too shocked, the place is a sports bar and they do serve food, it was legal for the kid to be there, it was just a bit surreal and gave me a pang of, “Dude….that’s bad”. Pounded water all the way to the next stop….the not-so-much-a-surprise party.

Had a few snacks, sipped on some J. Laurens Cremant, a lovely little bubbly from Limoux, full of green apple and buttered toast…always a tasty little sparkler and at like $13…a wicked value, the next thing I know, Ronnie is standing in the backyard with the rest of us….no big countdown, no yelling, “SURPRISE” nothing, it was like, “Oh…oh, Hi Ronnie” guess he had a feeling something was going on. The one thing he did not suspect, a 1990 Domaine de Montille Bourgogne.

After he had said his, “Hello and thanks for coming” to his guests I pulled the wine from my purse, he was pleased and tried to hide the wine from the, how should I say…the less than wine savvy partygoers, an aged red Burgundy might be a bit, “lost” on the, “I’ll just have a glass of red wine” set. Once he popped the cork, the wine did just what I wanted it to, it sucked him in with the aromatics, he wasn’t sipping as much as smelling and that is what just floors me about a Burgundy with a little age on it….seductive aromatics.

The wine had more of a brick-ish color, it had lost that oily purple rim and its primary fruit, this wine was all about secondary aromas and flavors; dried fruit, dried herbs, underbrush, roasted meat, tea and just a tiny hint of spice. Light and amazingly elegant on the palate for a Bourgogne, there was this slick, sultry mouth feel, not plump or rich…just, silky and polished with a finish that was still nervy as hell, and long with a seriously meaty flavor that was lifted by the fresh herby, tea like flavors. I could not have been more happy with what this wine gave me, it far exceeded my expectations and just goes to show that even humble wines, grown in great soils and made by a dedicated winemaker can bring remarkable pleasure.

Not sure if it changed Ronnie’s mind, or enlightened him to the magic of red Burgundy but it reassured me that there are few things on the planet as sexy as red Burgundy….

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Well No Wonder...

I’ve always been baffled when people say they don’t like or don’t drink Champagne….”I don’t really drink much Champagne”…I know what each word means, but put together that way…just sounds like jibberish to me. How could a beverage that inspires such passion in me be so easily dismissed by so many people?! Sadly, I think I tasted why.

“I’m going to be out with the Vranken rep this week, can we come by and taste you on a couple things?” the email read, I’ve had the wines before and never thought that much of them, didn’t hate them, matter of fact, they didn’t even inspire enough intrigue for me to hate them. “I’ve tasted them before and didn’t really care for them, don’t want to waste your time” was how I responded. Got another email saying “doesn’t hurt to try again” so I agreed to sit and taste with them, one sniff and I regretted it.

Now I’m pretty reserved when I’m tasting with a sales rep, even more so when they have a supplier with them. I don’t dig hurting people’s feelings and don’t feel the need to tell these people what I think is “wrong” with their wines, I know other buyers that do but that aint me, I taste, take notes and “it’s not my favorite” is the worst you will ever hear come out of my mouth. When I got up from the table I said, “Not my favorite” but walking away I was kinda pissed that we wasted each other’s time, even more annoyed that wines like that have the marketing budget to get their bottles on lists all over town, which when tasted, leave consumers saying, “I don’t really like Champagne”…well, with overpriced boring bubbles like that, it’s no wonder!

I fell in love with great Champagne 11 years ago, it was a bottle of 1989 Billecart-Salmon Nicolas Francois, it was more than I would have normally spent, $89.99 at the time, ($119 now) but I was talked into it and I have never been the same, that being said I feel that the wines from that estate have been creeping beyond what the bottle delivers…but Nicolas Francois will always have a special place in my heart…..without that bottle, who knows if Champagne would have ever stolen my heart and yanked me deeper into this world of wine that I love so much. Up to that point I’d had plenty of bubbles but they were the mass market brands that grace every supermarket shelf…the ones that most people drink, and while I never turned down a glass of one of those, I rarely bought or even thought about buying them. Then I was drinking the “idea” of Champagne, now I drink the “flavor”.

So while sipping on Heidsieck and Demoiselles, Rose, Vintage and Bruts I just kept thinking…”What would inspire anyone to buy this wine a second time?” which of course had me taking a pass on brining them in…I’m not in the business of selling one bottle, one time to one customer, 12 times….I want you to love them, crave them, dream about them and come back over and over again, if I sold anyone wines like the ones I was tasting, not only would I feel horrible about it but I would be perpetuating the whole, “I don’t really like Champagne” thing, and that….that would make me sad.

I try not to spend too much time shit talking on the top Champagne houses, they do have some good wines, maybe a tad too pricey, but some solid wines to be sure but for the most part, their basic or non vintage bottles are really freaking BORING…that and they make so damn much of the crap that it often sits in warehouses, (of the distributor) for God knows how long, getting tanky and stale tasting…ewe. I can honestly say I have had more off bottles of Veuve Clicqout and Taittinger than any other Champagne I have ever had….really harsh when you think about the fact that I buy those maybe three times a year…if that, when stuck in a grocery store needing a bottle of Champagne, or in a restaurant with a serious Champagne jones…that’s a pretty crappy average if you ask me. So I won’t go so far as to say I hate them, but I will say that I don’t trust them…and there are just so many better bottles to be had. So if you don’t like Champagne or don’t drink it often, maybe it’s just that you haven’t had some really good ones, and by good ones I mean hand-crafted, artisan bottles….don’t go thinking Perrier Jouet flower bottle when I say good….I’ve had it, it’s fine…not great, not that exciting, but fine…

So do this old bird a favor, before you utter phrases like, “I don’t really like Champagne” or just write the marvelous, frothy beverage off as something you toast with, get your hands on a couple of really serious grower Champagnes, really taste them…you may just have to get a new phrase.

Visit a wine shop, a good one and talk to the buyers there, find out what they are drinking, read Peter Liem’s blog, read this blog…but find the real deal and get to tasting. Here is a small list of some of my favorite growers:

H. Billiot
Jean Milan
Camille Saves
R H Coutier
Pierre Peters
Rene Geoffroy
Jose Dhondt

There are lots more but those are my “hit the sweet spot” almost every time estates…have fun and drink some yummy bubbles!

What Up With That?

Now how is it that when

scores 40 points in a game he is called "The Greatest Player Ever"

and when he

does it, he is called a "Ball Hog"???

Just wonderin'

Thursday, May 21, 2009

If Only I Had Known

Just a few minutes ago, I passed through my home without one thought of you but somewhere between washing the days grime from my face and passing through the kitchen still lingering with the evening dinner aromas, my mind flickered, a faint memory, a night of which I have barely spoken…my night with you, the way I had longed for it and the way it went horribly wrong.

I’m not romantic by nature but there is something fascinating about the way these things happen, they way one look, one touch or how something as harmless as an invitation to dinner can change forever what you thought you would…or would not do. How quickly we can get lost, lose our footing and stumble into something we were in no way ready for…my night with you, that night…I let myself stumble and I spend more time than I care to admit thinking about it.

I have wanted you for as long as I can remember, thought about touching you, having your scent envelop me, have my breath smell of you, feel your power overtake me and feel myself softening beneath your weight. I had let my mind spin a wondrous stories about how it may happen, where we would be, who might be with us, when I would know, know the second it was about to happen…when you were ready to surrender, open up and let me take you in.

To harbor such desire for so long, to let your mind play while your body is unable to..only makes the flame hotter, makes the longing more deliciously painful, even thinking of those years before that night, make me wish I could go back there…pay closer attention, know what I wanted more, know what part of you I might linger over the longest…would I spend my, much ached for seconds hovering over you…taking deep lung filling smells, let your aroma seep deep inside of me, saturate me….or would I let my tongue be my memory, let your taste spread all over me and be the one that I would measure all others against? Flashes, fantasies, seconds, minutes, hours…all you, they all belonged to you, and it was all lost, in one night.

Have you ever wanted someone so bad that you quiver at the very thought of it, have a physical reaction to the mere idea of being close enough to smell their hair, taste the salt on their skin, dreamed of that first second when your lips touched…the way your heart pounds and breathing gets more labored and desperate…now what if you had no idea it was them?

My issue? Blind tastings.

Now there has been all kinds of chatter on the internets about bloggers, wine critics and credibility as of late, and one thing that keeps flashing before my skimming of the chatter eyes….”the only way to truly judge a wine fairly is to taste it blind” and to that I have to say bullshit, or sort of bullshit. To remove the acquisition aspect of some wines is like making love to that person you have been wanting for years…with the lights off. Would it mean as much if you had no idea who it was? It may not change the actual physical feeling but part of the pleasure is in the “having” of it…with them. So okay, you just made love to someone, it was nice…maybe not the best you have had, but viola, you turn on the lights and it’s Angelina Jolie…change anything….would it change anything if the lights were on BEFORE?! Okay, I’m being sexist, for the ladies lets imagine Denzel Washington or George Clooney…although speaking as a hetero female, Angelina…just sayin’.

I was invited to a dinner a couple of years ago, the wines were tasted blind and we were given a check off sheet, with almost all the questions being ones that had you looking for flaws, we ran through the wines….rather quickly as I recall, checking off all the less than nice things we found in the wines, only after we had completed our “sheets” were we able to see what we were tasting….Comte de Vogue Burgundy…multiple vintages.

Now had we not been led to pick the wines apart, had we seen what it was that we were tasting I think the actual “reviews” would have been truer…..and more honest. We weren’t looking for anything lovely, or subtle. We were blind tasting red wines with a scorecard of “how much of this yucky stuff did you find”…it was retarded and lives in infamy as one of the longest most crushing nights of my life. Part of it is I am a Burgundy lover, had I known what I was tasting I might have been paying more attention, if I had been given like a few positive things to look for I may have had different answers and the biggest part was being surrounded by passionless people that seemed to relish in ripping these wines, (even blindly) a new one…ick, boo and hiss.

If only I had known….known it was…you.

So...Um, You Tired Of Rose Yet?!

I fear that I may become the blogosphere equivalent of a Rose pimp but I tasted two today that so stood out, I just felt compelled to tell anyone, that was still listening, about them. Now most of the Roses I have been writing about have been soft, gentle and infinitely glug-able, and I love them for that, but these wines today literally stopped me in my tracks and found me grabbing that area right below the jaw…kinda between the jaw and the ears, that is highly sensitive to tang. …as a biter…I like being bitten back…rawr.

The first wine I tasted late this afternoon just as we were getting ready to start our commuter tasting, I was rushed and a tad annoyed that the salesman had shown up so late. I grabbed my notebook and ushered the rep into the tasting room, no time for seats as our tasting was only 15 minutes from getting underway. I flipped open my book and buried my nose in the glass, my mood went from slightly pissy to, “Oh, oh, whut dis iz?”

2008 Bastide Blanche Bandol Rose, ($18.99) Now while I was geeking out about the baked clay like aromatics I heard our domestic buyer Bennett say, “Wow, this is pretty earthy” where I thought that was a sexy thing that made the wine different than the rest we carry he found that stark soil like aroma a bit off putting, aint wine grand? On the palate the wine was plush and packed with a flavor that reminded me of the way baked clay smells, just minerals with a smack…or bite I should say, of brightening lime rind. The zing from the acid went right to that jaw/ear area…when a wine can physically make you feel something…makes the hairs on the back of my neck go all wiggy and keeps that wine in the forefront of my mind. Maybe not the depth of Tempier, (most renowned Rose of the region…or most renowned Rose ever is more like it) but at about half the price…I’m just sayin’.

The second wine was a sample after-the-fact. There are certain wines that get a pass of sorts with me, these are wines that I carry year in and year out and they have yet to make me question their place on the shelf. That being said, I order new vintages in one case first, then decide from there how much more to bring in. One of those wines arrived this evening…

2008 Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet Bourgogne Rose, ($19.99) Chuck Morris, my rep for Beaune Imports was in this afternoon and told me, “The new vintage of Chateau de Puligny Rose is in, take a bottle home with you tonight and I will replace it” never one to pass on a bottle of a long time favorite, I tossed a bottle in the fridge and waited until Amy arrived to open it. Again Bennett was there to add his opinion, “Tastes a little thin this year” he commented….dude, dude…it’s not thin, it is a reflection of the vintage. I dug the hell out of it, the wine is full of green freshness, like watermelon rind, just not quite yet ripe raspberries and tart cranberry. My palate was racing from the first sip and I found it damn near impossible to put my glass down. The finish is long but in a tangy way and the acidity is damn near perfect. With all the fluffy, softly fruited Roses to choose from, this is another stand out wine for those of us that love a little…bite.

Feeling Very Lucky

As I begin writing this post it occurs to me that a good chunk of my readers are not from California, matter of fact most of them are not, (have one of those counter dealies that tells you where people are reading…not who they are mind you, but where they are from) but I had such a, “Man we are so lucky back home moment” while visiting my son in Louisville that I just had to share the experience.

Monday afternoon we met Jeremy at work just in time to take him to lunch on his break, food is so important to us and I spend a bunch of time worrying that he isn’t eating well. He is a foodie kid, he grew up in the food and wine culture, everything from multi course meals in high end restaurants to hovering over a plate of sloppy tacos in some of the dodgiest places in Los Angeles. I worried about him moving to Kentucky, (not that there are not good places to eat…I’m not sure where they are and on his student budget he wasn’t likely going to be able to afford it anyway) but he is also a pretty solid cook so he has been able to survive. So I figured taking him to lunch to discuss what he would like us to make him and his roommates for dinner was a natural.

He and his buddies had just moved into a beautiful old Victorian home with a kitchen he could not stop bragging about, so we were planning on killing two birds…see the new pad and stuff some 20 year olds with homemade food. I knew we had sent Jeremy a bunch of cookware, oils and other assorted goodies from home so I was sure everything I would need as far as utensils would be there. (Turns out one of his other roommates is also into cooking so they had lots!) His request as far as what we should make…kind of surprising….baby back ribs, baked beans and butter cake, oddly southern considering he was living in Louisville! But we were down with giving him what he wanted, I now think he knew about the limitations as far as supplies go, and that may have influenced his decision.

We headed back to the hotel to make the shopping list and check the internet for the nearest market….now had we thought of it, we should have looked for a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s but we weren’t looking to go all fancy so we found a Kroger’s right down the street from the boy’s house. When we walked in we were greeted by a very nice, albeit somewhat loud greeter lady…she was just there to welcome us, a little startling to us coastal dwellers, but I will admit to finding it rather charming. We walked into the produce department, Nice and big” I thought at first but the more I looked around….damn, kinda awful. No real greens to speak of, lettuce looked sad, took me forever to find an onion that was not a sweet onion and I feared I was walking around in circles because I kept ending up in front of sweet potatoes and bananas…what the hell?! I wasn’t walking in circles as it turned out, while the space was large there in the produce department, it was just super lean on selection, those potatoes and bananas were placed in three different areas…”Well shit, I’m glad he didn’t ask for salad” I said and moved on to get the ribs.

So if I thought the produce department was odd, the meat department was worse! The selection of fresh meat was depressing, tons of prepackaged stuff, most of it frozen, (including the ribs) and the biggest selection of breaded meats I have ever seen…oh, one wicked cool thing was the assortment of pork goods! Like 20 different kinds of sausage, smoked pork parts things like that. I understood the frozen seafood but thought there would be more fresh meat…I was wrong. As we meandered around the market I scanned people’s carts, 95% of what was in those carts were prepackaged, frozen and boxed “food”….I was getting sadder by the second. The worst was yet to come….

They have a butter “situation” there at the Kroger’s in Louisville, (keep in mind I am not talking about all the stores in Louisville…they have a growing movement towards fresh and local…hasn’t reached the Kroger’s yet) there were 3 whole refrigerators, and I am not kidding here, 3 whole refrigerators full of margarine and butter spreads, many of which I thought were extinct, and only 2…you hearing me…2 different kinds of real butter, not 2 refrigerators, 2 kinds, Kroger’s brand and Land O Lakes, I grabbed the Land O Lakes and headed to the wine department…..yeah, they don’t sell wine in the Kroger’s…dammit.

We ended up having to go three places to get the stuff we needed for what was a pretty basic, (by our standards) meal. Found a Liquor Warehouse where we were able to find some white wine…had to really look though as the place was full of white wines from like 2002, not even for cooking am I going to use a Pinot Grigio from 2002, and we found a butcher and produce market for the ribs. The produce part of the market…still horrid but the meats were beautiful and wicked affordable! The best part, the service and this is where living in a smaller town really wins….the butcher that took our order, wrapped it up, walked it to the tiny counter, where the checkout lady called us hon and sweetie, he bagged our ribs and offered to take it to the car for us…huh?! That would NEVER happen here. Nor would the exchange we witnessed, a customer, (BIG dude) walks in with what looks like a 5 gallon paint jug, (turns out it was an emptied lard tub) with “SOUP” sprawled across the side, he hands it over to the butcher and asks for 3 gallons of chili…they poured 3 gallons of chili in his tub and charged him 20 bucks…awesome!! Made a mental note to tell the boys to get themselves a refillable tub and headed over to make dinner for the starving students.

Dinner went off without a hitch….aside from the fact that these 20 year olds didn’t have a wine opener, beer openers everywhere but not a corkscrew in sight. I laughed my ass off watching these kids try and get into the bottle of Honig Sauvignon Blanc I had purchased for myself to enjoy with dinner…the synthetic cork proved to be a problem, they took a knife to it, (that freaked me out) pounded a screw into it and tried pulling, kept stripping, ripping little bits of the “cork” out but it just wasn’t budging. After 30 minutes Jeremy headed back to the Liquor Warehouse and they now have a corkscrew! The Honig was beautiful, full of citrus and white flowers, quite full in that fruited way..not the oaky way…in the mouth and the finish was both refreshing and long, I’ll be drinking more of this wine for sure.

The next day we spent the afternoon on Bardstown Road, a slightly swankier part of town loaded with cool independent shops, restaurants and where we found a pretty cool wine store called Old Town. They had a much bigger selection of pretty interesting wines but still nowhere near the variety that we get back home, especially in the French wine department, not sure if it is because there is no demand, although reading other blogs that does not appear to be the case, or if it is just that no one is bringing those wines into the state…if it is the latter, there may be an opportunity there for someone, because there are some really amazing wines, at better prices by the way, from France that are not being represented there in Louisville….I’m sure it’s not just there either.

Spent our last night in the hotel, watching the Laker game with Jeremy, another thing that caught us off guard…Louisville closes damn early! Even the fast food joints closed at like 10:00 pm, so there was really no place to watch the game which started at 9:00….we found one sports bar place but they did not allow minors after 9:00 so we were kinda stuck for a spot for me and my Laker loving son to watch, so the hotel room it was. Jeremy remembered a fried chicken spot that was open until 4:00 am on the weekends so surly they would be open at 10:00 on a Tuesday….hot damn, they were!

We sat there perched on top of the bed, the three of us eating the best damn fried chicken I have ever eaten, deliciously smoky collards and creamy macaroni and cheese…eating right out of the containers with hotel towels across our laps, the whole time Jeremy and I yelling, and cheering… heart and tummy were bursting. I sipped on the 2008 Crios Torrentes that I picked up at Old Town Wine, it was nice, quite expressive aromatically but I felt it fell short as far as on the palate, too simple with a hint of marshmallow which can trigger my gag relex. I much prefer the 2008 Zolo Torrentes, we have at the shop, explosive aromatically, vibrating with white flowers and tropical fruit. The nose suggests that the wine might be sweet and upon first sip one might be led to believe that there is some sweetness but the finish is all nervy acidity and quite dry….a favorite sipper for those unbearably hot days.

I came home last evening, admittedly sad to be without Jeremy but so proud of the amazing young man he has become, really a remarkable person that I feel lucky to know. I was also humbled by just how lucky we are here in California, the food and wine that we have….even in the major supermarkets, is so fresh, diverse and affordable! How buying something as simple as lettuce can be an adventure as there are so many options, farmers markets year round and importers that bring us spectacular wines from all around the world….one afternoon shopping in a market outside of here went a long way in insuring that I do not take for granted just how lucky I am.

I sipped away on my glass of Cotes du Luberon Rose, letting it wash the airplane yuck from my throat, marveled at its pure balanced fruit, and the way my pleasure from drinking it lifted my heartbreak a bit…guess once in a while it is good to take a trip just to remind us how nice it is to be home.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Greetings From Louisville...Y'all

Sunday morning found me both excited and bummed, excited because I would be hopping a flight to Louisville for a much needed visit with my wonderful son Jeremy, but sad that he would be working inventory so our dinner plans were so not going to happen. I was also bummed that I would be missing game 7 of the Lakers Houston series, with any luck, (which for me when travelling…is risky at best) I would be able to catch the last bit of the 4th quarter in the Louisville airport, not horrible considering that we had no dinner plans anyway. I packed the wine I was bringing with me in the Wine Mummy bags I got at The Wine Country, a tad freaked out and praying that they actually worked as I had never used them before….as I eluded to above, my track record with travel….shity, something always happens, I’m just lucky like that.

“Your bag is 3 pounds overweight. Is there anything you can remove and take on board with you?” awesome. I knew that taking out one of the bottles would probably do it, but seeing as you cannot bring liquids on board a flight…I had to just ignore the glare from the hubby and cough up the extra money for my chunky bag.

“It’s going to be tight time wise, to catch our connection” the hubby announced. I knew the second the words fell out of his mouth that we were screwed, only had to wait to see how badly. Running from like gate 30 to gate 1A only to be told our flight had switched gates to 27….yeah, missed it and were rebooked for another flight, 5 hours later, perfect. There was an upside to being stuck in the Atlanta airport, they have bars, always a great way to cope but even better, television! I got to watch the Lakers crush Houston and sip on Gin & Tonics…hooray.

With the game over we tried to get on standby for one of the 2 flights that were leaving before ours, so funny story….they showed me boarded on that original flight…of course. “See, um…but I didn’t make that flight” I informed them. “We can’t rebook you when you are showing as making that flight” we were told, just another tick on that travel scorecard of crap that happens to Sam. 40 minutes and many calls later they were able to rebook me, they take that security stuff real serious I can assure you. Made it to Louisville, late but safely and I opened my bag to find 4 bottles intact, hooray Wine Mummy. Popped a bottle of 2008 Francois Chidaine Touraine, finally relaxed and even got a text message, “I’m off now, you guys want me to swing by the hotel?” it was my sweet son, “Hell yeah!!” I replied and I ended the day, with a Laker win, whole bottles of wine and being able to wrap my arms around the greatest person I know….

It was a bumpy road but I am here now and hearing that, “Hi Da Momma” and being face to face with the only person that calls me that….worth every bit of it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Interesting Twist

Got home from a pretty productive day at the shop, got lots of wine up, helped a bunch of customers and gathered a few goodies to smuggle back to the kid in Louisville for our upcoming trip. I felt good, I love those busy days when the hours fly, the team is working together to get everything done and my department looks full and ready for the picking. Came in the front door and rather than plug in my laptop and flip on the television, which is my regular routine, I grabbed a few trash bags and started cleaning out our way too small pantry. It’s amazing the crap that gets piled up in that thing, odd oils that I needed for a dish that I never made again, multiple containers of unsweetened coco, used for our once passionate, now dead, ice cream making…junk like that. Three bags and a damn near empty pantry later, I poured myself a Pastis and made my way to the couch.

Call-o called from the driving range….the “what do you want for dinner” call…I was expecting it and had given it some thought. “Let’s just do hotdogs” I told him “it may be boring, but it’s cheap, easy and satisfying in that ghetto way” he had to agree and headed to the market. He came home with wheat buns, (I was very impressed) and hotdogs….but not the Nathan’s that we usually get when we are hankering for a dog. I looked at the grocery bags and figured out why, he went to the store that doesn’t carry Nathan’s, so we were going to have something new…Farmer John’s hotdogs.
Looking at the pale dogs I noticed that they were on the teensy side, both kind of skinny and short, sizing them up to the big fluffy whole wheat buns, I could tell that we would be tearing hunks of bun off to correct the bun to dog ratio, (shrugging) no problem. Now we are normally a boiled dog house but I wanted something a little different, so I asked Call-o to toss them on the, “oh-so-crappy” shared apartment grill. This is always an adventure, the thing is as uneven as hell in the heating department and not everyone that uses it is great about cleaning up after themselves, so the likelihood of a fire is always high.

There was a fire and Call-o returned with a plate of, black on one side and perfect on the other, hotdogs….sigh. While he had been out fighting fire and punishing our hotdogs, I had assembled the toppings, mayo, mustard, chopped onion and one twist, diced kim chee. Amy threw a hotdog party for Jeremy once, grilled dogs with every topping you could imagine, I brought the kim chee and it was a freaking hit, so remembering that we had some, I diced it up and put it out with the rest of the toppings.

In their scorching the already tiny dogs had gotten even smaller, so there I was hacking my bun to fit this burnt offering, seriously had to whack off about half the bun…both at the end and across the top. I dressed my modified bun with a swath of mayo, little mustard and a sprinkling of kim chee, plopped my puppy of a hotdog in the bun and took a bite…an abomination. Holy hell was that a nasty hotdog, Farmer John, stick to bacon dude…blech! The spicing was weird and the thing was a little on the sweet side, who makes a sweet hotdog?! I piled on a mountain of kim chee and only then could I choke that nasty bastard down.

I went to the fridge and grabbed one of the bottles that Amy and I had cracked into the night before, we had opened more than the four that I wrote about last but thought 4 bottles for 2 people was probably just about enough… thankfully there were leftovers!

2008 Pascal et Nicolas Reverdy Sancerre Rose, ($21.99) now I will tell you that we didn’t continue with this wine that first night because it has one of my least favorite smells….banana. I have heard that a yeast is responsible for this characteristic, and I know tons of people that rather like it…I don’t, that being said, beyond the banana there is some beautiful stuff going on, I just had to get past that initial, “ewe”. Clearly Pinot Noir on the palate, plenty of dark cherry, watermelon and gentle spice. Very delicate on the palate, light and airy with just enough snap from the racy acidity. The wine was delicious with the spicy sweet hotdog, something about the softness went well with the spicy topping and the tangy bits of the wine were a nice contrast to the slight sweetness of the dog.

Got me thinking about the other night when we had a table full of beautiful food, (When Only Rose Will Do) that just clashed with the exquisite bottle of 1999 Pierre Peters, absolute disaster…two beautiful things that beat each other up in the mouth. Well here I had two things that I didn’t really like that were made better when brought together, the wine was much tastier with that hotdog and the hotdog was much more palatable when washed down with this wine….this is the shit that just geeks me out, just proves that there is no perfect answer to this whole pairing thing and we can never know it all….which of course makes this business that I adore even more interesting…man, I dig that!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Only Thing That Made THAT Better

All day, I was waiting all day to watch the Lakers end this already, after Tuesday I thought it was done, they just had to close in Houston. Yeah, not so much, horrible...what a horrible game. The Lakers sucked, Houston was on fire AND, Kobe Bryant was not fouled in the second or third quarter?! C'mon, I gotta call bullshit on that. That being said, Kobe...if you are not getting calls, stop trying to draw a foul from the 3 point line okay?! Poopie.

So I sat there in pain, once again watching MY team get punked, only one thing made me feel better....well 4 one things.

2008 Chateau Mas Neuf Costieres de Nimes Rose, ($10.99) lovely dark pink color, dark berry fruit with a medium weight and a super gulpable, friendly finish.

2008 Chateau la Canorgue Cotes du Luberon Rose, ($15.99) best vintage ever from this favorite estate. Light, just barely pink color, lean, super mineraly and that kind of tart that leaves your mouth watering...damn.

2008 Domaine de la Fouquette Cotes de Provence Rose, ($13.99) another faintly pink wine with massive flavor! Watermelon and wild strawberry, black pepper and wet cement, easy to love and even easier to drink.

2008 Domaine Vissoux Beaujolais Rose, ($12.99) okay this wine looks as refreshing as it is, the frosted bottle just looks like the wine is icy cold and waiting to refresh you! Quite dry, tons of clay and soil mixed with tart red cherries on the nose. The palate is light, quite lean and uber dry...not what one might expect from a Gamay Rose...really very tasty!