Sunday, August 31, 2008
Shiraz has a bad reputation. For me at least. When I hear shiraz, I think about douchey people, with their douchey friends, talking in their douchey, stuck-up way. In other words, people that think it's fashionable and trendy to be drinking big red wines, but really don't have a clue. Which is a shame, because Rhone Valley wines are some of the wines that excited me about wine in the first place. When managed for properly, shiraz can create some of the most earthy, pure wines you'll ever drink.
My buddy brought over a bottle of 2006 Creekside Estate Winery Shiraz last night. A humble wine, by any stretch of the imagination. But it was actually quite well made, more so than the price would suggest. Lots of white pepper, earth and ripe berries on the nose. Develops so much sweetness and velvety texture in the mouth. Finish drops off a bit, but enough stiff tannins to leave an impression. Can age and would be wonderful with entrecotes.
Never judge a wine before you taste. What it's like in your mouth, that's all that matters.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Outside of sparkling wine, I try to decant everything. I know, it's a pain in the ass to clean, and you have to give it some time to breathe, but it's worth it. Properly aerating wine really opens up the complexities, provided that the wine itself is of high quality. No point in decanting $8 bottles of shit. A grand wine truly benefits from oxygen, and you miss a lot of its nuances by pouring straight from the bottle.
I chill the wine for a bit, usually in an ice bucket, or if I don't have ice, I throw it in the freezer for about 15 min. It'll warm a bit, once you pour it out, but I like to start off cold. I don't believe in any rule about how much time you should wait before you drink. Usually, the wine changes for me hourly, and it's fascinating to drink and watch a wine evolve over a meal.
Take some time, try it once. It'll make a huge difference, especially if you're drinking a wine that you've been saving, or a wine that you know has some pedigree. Remember - wine is a film, not a snapshot. Give it some time to evolve, and you'll be richly rewarded.
The vessel on the left foreground is your standard wide-bottom crystal decanter. In the back, the small one is from my Riedel 'O' Series, great for drinking Sauternes or Port. The right is my beloved everyday use decanter I bought from Nice. Bumblebee detail on the side, charming.
I'll decant the wine, which should really open it up and put some weight on it. Will be cooking a big meal tomorrow - think chicken, lamb, fresh greens, pan-seared fish. I'll write about the meal tomorrow, and how well the wine matches up.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Nothing feels like a good jog. Well.....maybe there is. Like a nice glass of claret, right about now.
I remember a few years ago, the dentist telling me to be careful of erosion in my teeth. He told me to stay away from acidic drinks, like Gatorade, because it was eroding my enamel. That's why I never drink energy drinks anymore - just wine, water, tea, and occasionally some coffee. But it got me thinking of something.
Wine is acidic in nature. Chemically speaking, it's acidic. So what's it doing to your teeth, if you drink a lot of it? And not to mention, your tongue and gums? My neighbour, who's in his mid-seventies commented to me that he's losing his sense of smell and taste. I guess that's why a lot of people comment that as they age, they prefer their wines to be younger and younger. Anything that still doesn't have stiff tannins and acidity doesn't make an impact on their palate anymore.
So the lesson in this....drink a lot of wine while you still have your palate intact. And exercise! It's raining outside right now, but I'm going for a jog.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I know, I'm sorry - another piece on rieslings. I promise it'll be one of the last for a while. Besides, don't have any more wines in the house. Anyways, it was a magnificent wine. Cork was moldy and black - got me worried. But it's so exciting whenever you open a bottle that has more than 10 years of bottle age on it. You really never know what to expect. The colour was lighter than I expected. Such a fragrant wine, holding onto its sugar and acidity, explosive minerality and endless finish. Still so young, which is why I still have a few bottles put away. Undisputably mature, but still holding onto the sweetness of its youth. A glorious wine, which still has many years of life left.
I decanted this bottle. Some people don't decant, some don't believe in it, some decant only reds. I decant everything. And it really helped bring out the wine from its slumber. Brought the wine into focus, and really intensified the minerale. Beautiful.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I hate fake wines. I love wines that show a sense of place, and have character. So what if the tannins aren't exactly smooth and polished, and the nose has a few aromas that seem off? A wine's complete array of attributes makes up its character, whether they may be flawed or not. That's what makes a unique wine, and a wine worth remembering.
Getting frustrated with fake people. You'd think with a university education, some people mature and be more comfortable with who they are, but you'd be surprised how insecure some still are. It's not worth it. Be honest about yourself, because no one's a perfect liar.
Does anyone feel hollow after the Olympics? Its like I'm having a hangover. Turning to some wine literature to bring me out of my misery. Reading Neal Rosenthal's illuminating ode to terroir, in his book, Reflections of a Wine Merchant. A wonderful, thought-provoking piece. Now, if only I'd have the opportunity to try some of the wines he mentions...
Sunday, August 24, 2008
What an emotional close to the Olympics. As a country, we've waited so long for this, and we've prepared so hard to make sure it was a success. And what a success it was. Every Chinese person owes all the volunteers, the performers, the Chinese athletes, the organizers...everyone involved in these Games...we owe them so many thanks. They deserve our appreciation, for representing our country with dignity and bringing honour to the Chinese people. Thank you.
Director Zhang YiMou is without a doubt, a legend. London can forget about matching even half of what these Olympics were. That's it - every Olympics from now on goes downhill from here. Beijing has set the standard for the next 100 years.
I came away absolutely f*cking disgusted with Canadian media covering the Games. After watching coverage from both CBC and NBC, there was no doubt that there was a thick layer of bias on the part of the Canadians. You have these broadcasters finding any excuse to criticize China, and try to impose their own views on an entirely different culture, a culture which Canadians have only glimpsed at. Of course, there's also the fifth-rate journalists writing their garbage for the Toronto Star. I always thought journalists were only a step above prostitutes, but now I'm thinking that that's unfair to the sexual service industry. Is there any wonder as to why the CBC will no longer be covering future Olympics Games? Say what you will about the Americans, but at least they have a sense of journalistic integrity, and the importance of providing a balanced, objective viewpoint.
Lots of memorable moments in the Olympics. Yao Ming at the Opening Ceremonies. The Chinese men's gymnastics team. The absolutely adorable Shawn Johnson and beautiful Nastia Liukin. Phelps. The Redeem Team. Liu Xiang. The emotion of seeing the young Chinese women's gymnastics team winning gold. Divers dominating the field. So many great moments, memories that make your heart soar. When you see an athlete work so hard to compete at the Olympics, and finally succeed, it's heartwarming, regardless of what flag is on their uniform.
So what's next? These Games showed what China is capable of, particularly in the face of a catastrophic earthquake, who's aftermath is still far from being resolved. I hope people have gotten a better sense of what my country is like - a country of great hospitality, of wonderful heritage, and a country with great hope for the future. One World, One Dream.
If you notice the time, it's 6am. I havn't slept yet. Got home around 2:15 am, just in time to watch the Olympics Men's Basketball Finals. USA vs Spain, an epic matchup. Glad that Jose Calderon didn't play, Raptors don't need him any more injured than he already is.
It was a fantastically entertaining game. Closer than I expected, and a lot more competitive. Not as clean as well, but the stars shined when it mattered the most. Wade was impressive but Kobe was the one that really put the game away. Lots of heart and passion, stuff that we don't see in the NBA regular season.
It's something about playing for your country that brings out that special quality in you. You have loyalty to your NBA team, but only as far as your salary takes you. When you wear your national flag on your chest, that's something entirely different. You compete for pride, for your people - everything but yourself. That's why international competition is so riveting.
One thing that still pisses me off is the absolutely terrible officiating. Terrible. The majority of calls made were inexcusably awful, and just left me confused. And not because viewers don't see the game like the officials do. No, the confusion is due to the refs not understanding what amounts to a violation and what doesn't. There were moments when the refs blew whistles and called for offenses that were totally different from another. At one point, a ref called a foul on Wade, while another ref called a travelling violation. Ridiculous.
Great game overall. The US men definitely deserved it, CB played like a monster. Will remain awake for the live 2008 Beijing Olympics Closing Ceremonies, in roughly 30 min. What a fantastic Olympic Games! One World, One Dream.
Friday, August 22, 2008
It was a good game. Expected it to be a blowout after the first quarter, but Argentina came back strong. Didn't appreciate how dirty they play. I got excited when Carmelo got into Oberto's face - I wanted to see them rumble.
Don't get me started on the officiating. Blatant no-calls, phantom fouls called on the Americans. You know which call blows my mind the most? CB was defending Scola, no hand checking at all, using his chest. And somehow, it's counted as a foul. Unbelievable. That's why FIBA Basketball is irrelevant. Fire all the blind mices officiating, and maybe international ball will become respectable.
USA vs Spain, Gold Medal Game on Sunday. I have my pick on USA of course, but I love how Calderon competes and it'll be an epic game.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Definitely will have to visit when it opens in the fall. Who knows - it might replace Bayview Village as my new hangout.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I kicked it up even more. I told him that I'd bike a return trip - 50 km total. And I accomplished it! The last 10 km was so, so painful. I fell off my bike too...flipped right over the front handle bar. Got lost, had to bike an extra 6 km. Completely exhausted and famished when I got back. First thing I had to do was drink water and eat. But I accomplished it.
I swear, whoever invented biking as a competitive sport was a masochist. You're just abusing yourself, and if you're a male, you know exactly what I mean. I'm hurting even now, 3 days later, in places that I don't ever want to be hurting.
This 50 km bike ride is the first and last ride I'm ever going to attempt. Sticking to jogging.
What I'd really like to drink right now? A mature, left bank claret, with some nice pan seared lamb ribs, finished with a hunk of roquefort and 2001 Ch. Guiraud.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I identify with him, and am especially proud of him, because he is from Shanghai. He looks like us, he talks like us - 100% authentic. That's why I'm so crushed at what I saw today. He was in so much pain, and watching him kick the wall in frustration brought up a lot of emotions.
It's not fair, all the pressure being placed on him. It's an obvious case of over-training. And still, he tried his best - he walked out, got on the blocks, and started. If it wasn't that schmuck that false-started, he would have pushed himself to get over those hurdles. I don't think people realize how serious his injury is. You hear about athletes competing injured, but his injury was dangerous. Tendons are fragile, and there was a real possibility of him being taken out on a stretcher. So yes, everyone's disappointed, but as a Chinese, we should be so proud of him, for his fight to compete and fulfill everyone's ridiculous expectations. If you're going to blame someone, blame the coaches for not watching out for his health. Liu Xiang is the last person we should be upset at.
Liu Xiang, we're so proud of you. You represented every Shanghainese and every Chinese person with great dignity, and you can hold your head high.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I recently opened a bottle of Champagne Chapuy, Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs. A lovely wine, lots of complexity in the nose, with an incredibly intense flavour profile in the mouth. Very focussed and precise - this is not a sipping wine. It went beautifully with foods that were quite rich. A long, long finish, just a gorgeous wine.
Buy based on taste. Don't buy on fame or name brands. The luxury labels are great, but there are better ways to waste your money.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I feel terrible for this girl. She did a good job, she deserved a medal. It's when you have judges and a judging system that's so out of touch and so far from reality that you begin to wonder, what's the point? Unbelievable, especially when you look at who won the gold. Listen, I'd love nothing more than for the Chinese gymnast to win gold, but Alicia was absolutely robbed. It's heartbreaking, and there's something seriously wrong with gymnastics.
Learned that you never talk about wine, or anything for that matter, in black and white terms. Someone who's wine knowledge I respect very much told me that "You can't drink wine that's more than 5 years old. The acidity doesn't matter, it just doesn't age." And to that, I respectfully disagree. I've had 2 German rieslings recently that were so beautiful - a 6 year old wine and a 14 year old riesling. Both showed wonderfully, and proved that blunt statements like that are misleading and quite frankly, ignorant.
Watching a lot of the Olympics. The competition's been amazing.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
This show is fast paced, and so fun to watch. Lots of great food, and I love that he demonstrates how to cook each dish. A segment I also enjoy is him catching his own food, from rabbit, wild boar, or wild salmon. He catches it, guts it, and cooks it. A lot of great dishes that I want to try cooking as soon as they come into season. Clams with angel-hair pasta. Braised rabbit in ragu. An incredible looking fresh apple tart.
I think this type of programming is the way to go. North American channels are so uptight, so fake, so excruciatingly politically correct that there is no entertainment value. What the hell do we have? Fake 'reality' shows? Shows based on attractiveness of the actors that make you hit mute? This is not the way to go. The decision-makers are so self righteous, it's comical that people complain about Chinese censorship. Give the people what they want - shows that are more than pretty people, shows with substance, and shows that at least have a touch of creativity.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
It was a great game - I thought China showed a lot of heart. No one expected them to win, but they kept it respectable in the first half, until their lack of depth caught up with them. Team China should be proud, they played well, showed passion, and has come a long way. The goal for this Olympics should be trying to get into a medals game. They're developing some good looking players. I really liked Sun Yue - he's a 6'9'' guard with good shooting range and good ball-handling skills. Just signed with LA Lakers. Things are looking up, great job Team China!
So what do I do now? The upcoming releases are big, but doesn't have a lot of wines that are that interesting. I still have a few cases of wine put away, but that stuff is for long term aging. I'm really going to have to live bottle by bottle now.
Friday, August 8, 2008
I'm on a patriotic high right now. What the motherland has achieved is history making, and I'll never forget this moment ever in my life. What the Chinese people are able to achieve is incredible, not to mention all the disasters that've happened this year.
We had a fantastic dinner tonight to celebrate. I opened a Champagne Chapuy, Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs, from the village of Oger. Wonderful wine, I'll have to talk about it later. Prepared some nice fresh organic greens with my own balsamic/olive oil dressing and crumbly goat's milk cheese. Sauteed Chinese celery, as well as duck wings and squid from the deli.
The main dish? An extraordinary braised sea cucumber, poached in fresh chicken stock, topped with ginger, green onion, and shrimp roe. Delicious, and one of my favourite dishes.
Wow, I don't think I can sleep tonight. Just too excited with what I've seen, and what this means to my country. We'll never, ever, see an Olympics like this again. One World, One Dream.
I came away stunned with the amount of work and planning that had to go into every performance. The costumes, the choreography, the precision - just astounding. A lot of use of new a/v techniques, very interesting.
I think the director, Zhang YiMou, did a magnificent job. I'm a huge fan of his movies, and the Opening Ceremonies was unmistakably a Zhang YiMou production. The huge swaths of colour, the grand tone of the music and choreography, the sheer size of the cast - he really put his stamp on the show. And he's really the only one that can handle something of this nature. No one else really has the artistic vision to create something so elaborate yet have such clear themes. He's proven without a doubt that he's a legend.
By far, without a doubt, undisputably - this is the greatest Opening Ceremonies in the history of the modern Olympics. No need to argue. A grand spectacle, I'm so proud of my country and my people. Will be celebrating tonight with some fine wine and cuisine. One World, One Dream.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
I've been looking forward to this event for a long time. Anyone who knows me understands how much I love my homeland and how proud I am not only to be from Shanghai, but to be Chinese. A lot has happened to China this year, but I have no doubt that the Olympics will be the most spectacular in the history of the games.
I'll be waking up at 6am tomorrow to catch the opening ceremonies. I'm a huge admirer of the director, Zhang YiMou, a visionary and a film legend in Asia. This event really will be an opportunity for the world to see modern China.
No doubt, this will be the greatest Olympic Games the world will ever see. One World, One Dream.
2006 Flat Rock Cellars Nadja's Vineyard Riesling.
This is their high end riesling, single vineyard. Everyone makes a single vineyard wine nowadays, and I think it's just a ploy to charge more. Anyways. I really loved Flat Rock's estate riesling, as I've written about here. Really great value, shows fantastic varietal and regional characteristics. High expectations for this bottle, as it is a bit more expensive but at $20.35, it's really at a great price point.
Nice nose, fresh tropical fruits, honey, spice - not unlike the estate riesling. Same on the palate, with good weight and texture, smooth creaminess but with a racy acidity and a long, subtle, minerally sweet finish. Fantastic, but I just didn't see the need to pay more for this wine, over the $17.35 estate riesling.
After we wrapped up our conversation, I saved about a glass and a half worth to keep for later. It's after you let this wine breathe that it really starts to shine. Begins to show its individuality as well as characteristics of the vineyard.
It develops a yeasty, nutty nose. Beautifully reminiscent of an aged Rheingau riesling, it has such character and spice to it. Nice weight as before, and the finish just lasts forever.
So, next time I go up, will definitely pick up a few more bottles. I'd love to see how well this wine ages. Never let price points affect your judgements on taste and quality. Both Flat Rock's estate and Nadja's riesling are exceptional. Like all good things, they just need a little bit of time to breathe, to reveal their secrets.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Really looking forward to see how these wines develop. Have a few bottles of the 2005 in the cellar. Will wait until the end of this year before I drink them. If you still think that Niagara can't produce good red wines, then look for this bottle at the LCBO.
The Beer Store is having a sale on 24 packs of Corona, as well as a few others. Time to stock up! I love Corona - probably because it's lighter, more refreshing, and just easier to just gulp down on a hot day.
I'd love to talk to someone who's as into beers as I am into wine. Really interesting to get their perpective. Beers are really misunderstood, because everyone drinks it, without giving a shit about quality. Must really piss beer connoisseurs off.
Creepy, watching the Joker. He's so convincing as this pyschopath that really doesn't care about anything. Genuinely terrifying. And Two-Face. Damn. Great actors, great characters. My only issue is how they killed everyone off. Two-Face isn't supposed to die so soon. Fantastic movie, if you havn't seen it, you're missing out.
What I don't understand is why they don't sell alcohol in theatres. I'd enjoy the movie so much more if I had a beer. What are the options? Greasy popcorn and junk food, washed down with extra large cups of coke. If you have to be of a certain age to watch certain movies, then why can't you be given the option of buying alcohol? I just don't get it. You can get beer at ballgames, at concerts.....so why not at theatres? You're ripping us off with concession food already.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Anyways...what does it mean to have a soft touch? People really value it, whether you're a basketball player, a musician, a forklift driver. It's a skill that shows technique, that shows skill, that shows a restraint that's beneficial in the long run, that takes the big picture into account. So what does that mean to my wine experiences?
I love wine that shows restraint. I hate overripe, pruny wines, with incredible amounts of new oak, and with obliterated sense of place. These blockbuster wines are nothing but flash, and have no substance beneath the exterior. A wine with big tits but little charisma and intellect. Excuse me - I've been drinking.
There's so few people that understand that wine is sacred...that the highest ideal it to let the grapes express themselves. That express their origin, their place. So few people really respect the land and mother nature and tradition. So whenever I find a wine that has these precious qualities, I hang on for dear life. A wine with a soft, deft, delicate touch. A wine with class, grace, and substance.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Went through it, was very disappointed to see that a lot of the prices didn't go down as much as I had hoped. If the Bordelais were running an honest business, prices would have gone way down. But what can you do when rich consumers with callow palates are driving up demand? And we're talking about the same consumers who drink for face, not for taste, as Decanter so eloquently puts it.
Researched, filled out the form, and sent it out in an hour. I've been reading a lot about the 2007 vintage, so I had a good idea of what area to go after. White Bordeaux, and Sauternes/Barsac wines. For red, the only wines I'm getting are 2 estates that I'm trying to build a vertical of. I'm a loyal person, what can I say - I know I'm getting ripped off.
We're getting spanked by the French this year. Prices havn't gone down significantly like they should have. But then again, if the quality of the white wines are as good as advertised, then I'll be happy. A lot poorer, but happy.
2007 Ch. La Lagune, 3e Cru, AC Haut Medoc
2007 Ch. L'Arrosee, GCC, AC St-Emilion
2007 Ch. Carbonnieux Blanc, Cru Classe, AC Pessac-Leognan
2007 Ch. Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc, AC Pessac-Leognan
2007 Ch. Caillou (37.5 cL), 2e Cru, AC Sauternes
2007 Ch. Carmes de Rieussec (37.5 cL), 2nd wine of Ch. Rieussec, AC Sauternes
2007 Ch. Clos Haut Peyraguey (37.5 cL), 1er Cru, AC Sauternes
2007 Ch. Coutet (37.5 cL), 1er Cru, AC Sauternes
2007 Ch. de Rayne-Vigneau (75 cL), 1er Cru, AC Sauternes
2007 Ch. Guiraud (75 cL), 1er Cru, AC Sauternes
Hopefully, I'll be able to get all of these. Will wait with my fingers crossed until they begin processing this. I still don't understand why LCBO won't pull its head out of its ass and implement a better system to do these orders.