Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Champagne: Why this is the BEST gift for your wine-guzzling friend

What to get your wine lover/wine snob/wino friend for Christmas?
I HEARTILY recommend Champagne. WHY, you ask? I'll tell you why:

Just about every wine-drinker (especially in California) who starts out buying and collecting wine, starts off with Napa Cabernet, or Bordeaux. We cut our teeth on it. Then, our palate changes, and we try different wines, different regions. We start discovering Barolo, Riesling, Riojas, and eventually our palate will evolve, so we start drinking new and different wines. (Meanwhile, our cabs, Bordeaux sit in a pile somewhere). Though some people will stay with Cab/Bordeaux and that is fine. But many wine drinkers branch out. Think of wine as food. Would you like hamburger for every meal?

And then there is Champagne.

So very different from any other wine. Uplifting, exuberant, minerally, graceful and makes you want to swoon. It's difficult not to love it. It possesses an inherent, special quality. As wine snobs will attest, a party with Champagne is always a great time. The only problem with Champagne, is... there never seems to be enough. I may have pricey bottles of Cab or Bordeaux in my cellar, but what is really precious to me are the bottles with the bubbles.

The writer Dorothy Parker said it best:
"Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, content, and sufficient Champagne."

You said it, girlfriend!!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Year in Retrospective - Best wines of 2011 - Trumpets, please!

This isn't Wine Spectator's Top 100 or whatever, it's MINE. Which matters the most... to me, that is. :)

Someone asked the question: What are your Top Wines of the Year? Here are my answers:

  • What was your favorite wine of the Year?
2010 Schloss Lieser Niederberg Helden Spatlese - by the time I got to try this, it was already sold out from the distributor so I ran to one of our competitors and bought a case

  • What was your favorite red wine of the Year?
2002 Clos Roche Blanche - Gamay
Stunning, haunting, beautiful fruit and nuanced... it was all that, and under $30.

  • What was your favorite white wine of the Year?
Equipo Navazos La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada #10
Sea-salty minerally goodness. Just supremely good!

  • What was your favorite effervescent wine of the Year?
Pierre Peters NV Brut Cuvee de Reserve Grand Cru. Also, a good friend brought a 1988 Billecart-Salmon Blancs de Blancs to a party which was outstanding. Also the 1996 Dom Perignon Oenotheque was very good.
(Pictured: Pierre Peters Champagne being chilled. Just kill me now)

(Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1996, rarely seen in the states. Beautiful wine!)

  • What was your biggest new producer discovery of the year?
Patrick Piuze!

Chablis winemaker, Patrick Piuze. Yes, he's adorable, but he makes great wine! Start buying his wines now, before they get too expensive in the future!

  • What was your favorite tasting of the year?
Tie: The Rudi Wiest German trade tasting, and the Terry Theise Champagne tasting.
Pictured: Rudi Wiest - One of the coolest people in the wine biz.

  • What was region did you start getting into this year that was new for you?
Sicily/Mt. Etna - These are wines made at high altitudes in volcanic soil. Wines with breathtaking minerality and graceful fruit. Look out for the Occhipinti Frappato, and other Mt. Etna wines such as Tenuta Terre Nere.

  • What wine disappointed you this year?
I had the Pierre Peters 02 Chetillons recently and I usually love that wine, but was disappointed. Maybe it's going through a dumb phase, or I am!

  • What was your favorite QPR this year?
2010 Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina ($17) and killer.

Those are my picks. What are yours???

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bringing out the Big Guns

Sometimes, you gotta go balls out!

Such was the case when our friend, Phil came back from Iraq, after flying Blackhawk helicopters after one of his several tours of duty for the Army. Phil is a supremely awesome guy... so a bunch of us winos got together (some coming from Seattle, Texas and NYC... gotta love that) to celebrate Phil's safe return.

Everyone brought some very special bottles to give a proper hero's welcome. Along with some Flannery steaks and spot prawns we drank:

1988 Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blanc - my first aged Champagne, and such an excellent year for Champagne. Astounding... amazing, mind-blowing wine.

1996 Dom Perignon Oenotheque - used to be, that we couldn't even get Oenotheque in the States. That has changed, though. Beautiful wine. Rounded fruit, fresh, citrusy. Delicious.

2002 Serveaux Fils Champagne Brut

Jadot Richebourg - They only make ONE BARREL of this a year. A lovely, graceful expression of Pinot Noir. Was lucky to drink it.

1995 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau - The nose on this... Man! Now this is barnyard! Dark red fruits, earth and more barnyard and herbal notes. Very good.

2001 Chateau Pavie - Everything a winemaker could do to manipulate this wine, they did. Ugh! Tasted like an over-extracted/overdone California or Aussie cab. Nothing elegant about it. Severely disappointing, bordering on undrinkable.

Chave Hermitage - Beautiful red fruits, gorgeous as always.

Lignier Clos du Roche

This list will be continued... the blogger needs to get some sleep!


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Rosé 2010

HOWDY!!! It's been a while.

Well, up until last year, I used to say Domaine Tempier Rosé was the best of Rosés. I had the chance of tasting the 2010 Tempier... very good! Very nectarine-y... and I looove nectarine. But it wasn't the slamming good cantaloupey goodness of the 09. What's with that?!!

Having tasted more Rosés than I can count... this year, my favorite seems to be the 2010 Clos Marie Pic St. Loup... from the friggin' Languedoc! The Fontana of France. I had to keep my wine snobbery in check, especially since this Languedoc wine beat out a Bandol Rosé... and cost twice as less. Amazing wine this is, limpid, refreshing, lots of cantaloupe and delicate all-round. Amazing. $17, and I got it at The Wine Country. I'm going back tomorrow to pick up as much as I can.

Second fave was the Commanderie Peyrassol. From Provence. Yaaaayyyy! Delicate, light, melon fruits running around. All too delightful. $21.

Third this year (in my books, anyway) was Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé. Still beautiful, awesome. With a delicate freshness, and spurts of nectarine. Very good stuff. The price tag might push off a few: $32. For the hardcore Rosé lover.

TIED for 3rd place is: the Ameztoi Rubentis Txakolina (all of these are 2010, by the way). There's a bit of Cherry Jolly Rancher in this one (but dry), and a bit spritzy (it's supposed to be that way). Ever so refreshing. I love this wine and am intending on buying a case. $17. If you want to impress a wine geek, bring this wine.

OK, so I had 3 ties for Third place, the last (but not least) is the Schloss Schonborn "Pink" Rosé, made of Pinot Noir. Think of watermelon juice, but dry. So very good. $16. I've already bought a few of these.

Ahhh! Good summer sipping. Cheers!!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Top Chef Korean Challenge! Go Korea!

A great time had by all for the Top Chef Korean Challenge, held in gorgeous San Diego.

Some highlights right now... more pictures and words coming soon!


Thursday, February 03, 2011

An Eastern Winter

Last week was very eventful for my friend Chef Anahita Naderi, as she put out an exquisite meal for those of us lucky to be at her Pop-Up Restaurant, which she aptly named, "Hidden Dinner".

Chef Anahita and her assistants had to improvise and turn a break room into a professional kitchen to create this delicious and visually appealing meal. My table mates were Aimee and Scott, a lovely couple whom I sat with for this special dinner. We were allowed to bring our own wine or beer, so I brought the Claude Carre et Fils Champagne... Light yellow with persistent bubbles, a nose of marzipan and dough, and taste of lemon curd, ginger, very crisp and citrusy.

The evening started with farfar, a dish I was not familiar with, but easily came to love. Crunchy, with pink, green and yellow rice bent into whimsical shapes. It was served with honey and Pop Rocks Candy. There was a "Snap, Krackle, Pop!" with the emphasis on Pop! Pop Rocks and Champagne? Who knew that could be so good! The course was also served with a Spiced Chai Tea shooter... warm and soothing.

The next course was a crispy potato latke, smoked salmon, chilled Creme Fraiche served with a dab of caviar on the top. The crunch, soft latke meshed with the salmon and savory Creme Fraiche. The caviar gave it an extra "Pop" at the end. Wonderful.

Why, HELLO Darling!

From there, we had a waffle with date spread, and on it sat a lovely Tamarind Shrimp... served with a side sip of Coconut Curry Soup. This all interwove.. the brine from the shrimp, the sweetness of the date, the comforting waffle and the savory curry soup.


Cold Beef Noodle Salad. I think this dish was overlooked by many because it was served in such a simple manner. But it was incredibly delicious and I could have just had that all night. Simply presented... yes, but with great flavor and texture.

The entree:

Seared Duck Breast with Pomegranate Walnut Emulsion, and (get this!) Savory Saffron Krispies. OMG... the Saffron Rice Krispies were heavenly. Again, more of the "Pop" in your mouth sensation, but the flavor of the saffron was very refined. So very good. To put such a sophisticated flavor profile on Rice Krispies was profound and totally unexpected.

Just when you thought it couldn't get better...

Almond Cake with Marscapone, and Beet Ice Cream. WHAT?? Beet Ice Cream? Amazing.
The almond cake was like eating marzipan straight from the tube, and with a flaky crust. Anahita got the recipe for the Beet Ice Cream from Thomas Keller of The French Laundry. Instant love.
And to think I have absolutely hated beets for most of my life (until this year). But never would guess Beet Ice Cream to be the end of this meal.

A great dinner made by a good friend, and made other friends on the way. So good!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Terry Theise! Go!! Go check him out!!


Legendary importer, hero to the modern wine world, and bon vivant Terry Theise is a guest for a couple more days on WineBerserkers. This is the man who helped forge the grower Champagne movement, and responsible for bringing some great wines to the US. He's on the board and answering any questions from anyone. Intellectual questions, silly questions. All of them. A lot to learn from him, and he is so gracious. Most excellent!