Saturday, November 29, 2008
Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to be drinking, the night before a blood test. Oh well.
Made up a spreadsheet, charting my wine spending. Not looking good, when you add up all the numbers. Not good at all.
Maturity in all things, wine and finances, is a virtue. Sparkling wine is lovely in its youthful effervescence, its racy acidity, and its lively mousse. But with some age, it puts on some weight, and presence. It's this quality that makes fine sparkling wine worth aging. Oh how I wish I had more bottles of this Vouvray!
That's why I put so much Champagne away. I absolutely love Champagne, but especially when it settles down a little. Bubbles are the most amazing phenomenon in wine, but they're experienced the best in the mouth, not by the eyes. That's why a fine mousse is so prized - you don't necessarily have to see the bubbles, but the way they tickle your palate is the sexiest sensation in wine drinking.
Mature Champagne deepens in colour, becoming more and more golden. The mousse settles down, perceptible only in the mouth. The texture and aromas takes on an amazing roundness in the mouth. One of the most sensational wine experiences.
If you really want to get an expert opinion on the virtues of Champagne, visit this blog. I greatly admire this writer, not only in her taste but her writing as well.
I've made up a spreadsheet, documenting my wine purchases going back 3 years. I've noticed something interesting - the average price per bottle has remained quite constant. It's just the totals that've jumped. And something really disturbing has happened. My wine buys from May to October have been very low - the lowest it's been since late 2006. But November? I've bought more wine in that month than the last 4 months combined. Disturbing, and something I need to keep under control.
My Bordeaux En Primeur has been a different story. I paid less for my 2007's than my 2006 order, even though there's more bottles in the 2007 order. Interesting. And average prices for my 2007 wines are the lowest in 3 years.
It's a process. Maturity in managing my finances is going to take a while. But like my Champagnes, it'll happen eventually.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Some good news finally. Great news in fact. And on top of that? An order, sent in for bottles of 1997 Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, Grand Cru Ambonnay and Grand Cru Choilly. Excellent, because you can never drink too much Champagne.
Champagne's the ultimate in refinement, in sophistication, but most importantly, in celebration. And we desperately need to celebrate, after the year we've had. So tomorrow night, I'm popping some corks, and we're going to celebrate the fact that we've survived so far, and for better days ahead.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I figured out something. Today, of course, is a release day for VintagesOnline. If you try to order something on the day of a release, the website won't work. The prices are never right, and it crashes on you the moment you click on payment.
Wait..........didn't I promise to somewhat control my wine spending? After all that business with the 2005 Bordeaux? What can I say - I go weak at the knees for wine, just like I do for that gorgeous, thin, genteel, brunette Mediterranean girl who worked at Waterloo's ML cafe, who always smiled at me and called me sir. Sweetheart, you're the best memory I have of food at Waterloo.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
A lot of middle-aged people taking the exam, which made me feel better. I don't care what kind of job experience you have, once you enter a classroom, it's all different. You really need to know how to do these exams, and it has nothing to do with knowledge of the subject.
Anyways, it was one of those, I'm not quite sure how I did, type of exams. Let's see how this one goes.
My buddy Alan would be laughing his ass off at me if he knew I was throwing in the towel. How he managed to do all this stuff in a month is amazing.
Too tired to think. And I don't want to be thinking about this stuff anymore because it's going to keep me awake. Let's get to it. Show me your worst!!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Studying/cramming the night before a big exam. Where and when have I done this before? Seems familiar.
Let's see how much I can focus. I honestly just want to jump straight into bed. Shit, it's almost midnight.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I'm too graduated, too tired, too sick of studying. Shit, I've been studying for 16 out of 22 years. That's long enough. The CSC can bring it, I'm either too arrogant or too stupid to care.
I loaded up on some Champagnes, some Northern Rhones and of course, Left Bank Bordeaux. One of the wines I picked up was this - 1999 CH. Potensac, AC Medoc. Being one of the more dependable and consistent Bordeaux wines, I felt that this was the safe choice for someone who still wasn't (and isn't) intimate with the region yet.
I still have the bottle. I will be opening it in the next month or so. Looking forward to seeing how this bottle will do. $39 is not cheap, but then again, good things in life never are.
Some great wines, which I believe will age well. Of course, I would have wanted the Grand Vin, CH. Ducru-Beaucaillou. But, that wine goes for, I believe, upwards of $250 a bottle so...................
2005 Croix de Beaucaillou, AC St-Julien, 2nd wine of CH. Ducru-Beaucaillou
2005 CH. Gaudin, AC Pauillac
2005 CH. Cote de Baleau, AC St-Emilion Grand Cru
2005 Les Hauts de Pontet Canet, AC Pauillac, 2nd wine of CH. Pontet Canet
Fantastic opportunities to still pick up great 2005 Bordeaux at relatively good prices.
I went to Bayview Village first. Nothing on the shelves - all the labels were there, but the shelves were empty. The only thing there was the CH. Gaudin, so picked up a few bottles. Mistakenly thinking that it was all sold out (on the Friday before the release!) I went to Fairview. Nothing there too - but did manage to pick up CH. Cote de Baleau. My prize bottles were the two 2nd wines. Ended up calling Bayview Village, where the lady told me that they had 60 bottles of the Beaucaillou. Hurried back to Bayview Village, where they had just put them out on the shelves.
The crazy things I do for wine. But......I don't mind to suffer. Back and forth, back and forth. As long as I get my wines. As it turns out - I was absolutely the first person in North York to buy bottles of all these wines. How's that for persistence and diligence.
The only wine I'm missing now is the Les Hauts de Pontet. Turns out, none of the LCBO's have received it. Guess it's still in transit somewhere. I'm coming for you!!!!!
Colangelo took a gamble, and it's an obvious failure. This team is shallower than a f*cking 6 year old's wading pool. I just get so pissed seeing opponent after opponent abusing the Raptors in the paint. At what point do players start thinking - this is starting to get ridiculous and the next man who drives into the paint is ending up on his ass.......
50 wins this year? I'll be surprised if this team is sub-500. We're glorious in our mediocrity.
When you sit in someone's car, you respect the car. Because if you don't respect my car, then you won't earn my respect. Keep your f*cking fingers to your damn self and leave my car alone. F*CK, is that concept so hard to understand!?
There. Just had to get that shit off my chest. I feel better now. I apologize for cursing. But if it happens again I swear I'm going to lose my f*cking mind. Write on my foggy windows again and I'll toss you out at 80 km/h.
Dinner went well. Got all the food out nicely, all prepared to plan - no surprises. Nothing burnt, over-seasoned, undercooked. Seafood came out perfectly.
Wine was great. Drank some Bordeaux and Cahors. Elegant wines with great freshness and restraint.
Wow I'm tired. Maybe because I was responsible for indulging in at least one bottle tonight. Or maybe because I was running back and forth, switching between cooking and entertaining, and making sure everyone was eating and drinking. But I love it - after all, what can be the greatest pleasure than having friends over for dinner?
Guess who's going to be sleeping in tomorrow...........................
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Went back and forth, Bayview Village and Fairview Mall LCBO's. Really, I went back and forth so many times, and all for this blockbuster release. Lots of good wines on release, so it was very important for me to get my hands on a few. Tired, and still missing a wine I want, but very, very happy. The things I do for wine........
Drank a Ribera del Duero in my new wine glasses. Absolutely delicious, surprisingly restrained in fact.
Tired today, so going to bed soon. Lots to do tomorrow, in preparation for our dinner. It's going to be epic!!
Probably won't have time to write tomorrow, but will definitely try! Lots of good things going on, just enough to offset the rest of the shit that's been happening. Raptors lost a heartbreaker today to New Jersey - who felt gutted after watching them win on a VC reverse dunk? I know I did. Guess I'm finishing this bottle tonight.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I've made my decision, it's final. On this release, I am going to gorge on all the fine Bordeaux on offer. I'm going to splurge and spend like I never have, all in the name of the coming holidays and in the name of good wine. Hey, I promise I'll cut back my spending after this release. Promise.
Il Divo: The Promise has just been released. I don't know what the confusion is: my mother was in HMV and she couldn't figure out the difference between the $15.99 set and $19.99. How hard can it be? Now I have to go.
Saturday, we're having our dear family friends over to celebrate. It's been more than a year since we've hosted a dinner, so it's long overdue. Came up with a fantastic menu - we're talking 15-20 dishes of flavour and delight. I've also prepared the wine I'll be serving. It's going to be an epic dinner, and I'll try to document as much as I can. Of course, everyone knows that when we host, I always end up trashed because I've mastered the very Chinese art of forcing guests to eat and drink as much as humanly possible. Because dinner is typically 4-6 hours long, that also means eating and drinking as much as humanly possible yourself. I end up nice and buzzed halfway through. But all in good fun. No one really gets drunk.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Please, if you but have the tiniest amount of respect for me as a writer, please read this piece. It made me giggle at first, but the more I examine, the more profound it is. Exceeding in its wit and insight. Brilliant!
Early bedtime tonight. I'll post some images up tomorrow. There's an explanation to why I wanted this set of glasses so bad. And most importantly, we'll see how they perform.
Heading out tonight, to hopefully be able to pick up those Riedel glasses. Set of 6 and a decanter. Not so much use for yet another decanter but then again.......you can never have too many pieces of Riedel crystalware.
Wish me luck, I will do anything to get those glasses!
Monday, November 17, 2008
Drive home was stressful. Funny isn't it...I don't think twice about driving 120 km back and forth from Waterloo but I get stressed out thinking about a 5 km drive down Finch. Maybe just because it's Finch. Hate that road.
Coming up with a wishlist for this release. Lots of good things - a LOT of good things.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
What is it about wine? I don't think I can answer that, to be truthful. I've had fleeting fascinations with a wide variety of things - Chinese art and calligraphy, guitar, illustrating, interior design, clothing........but these things have come and gone. Of course, I still maintain an interest, but nothing more than dabbling. Wine has become a constant, a dominating subject matter that I want to cultivate. I want to be known not as the "wine guy" but someone able to spread wine's joy and pleasure.
Is that good justification for my wine spending?
Absolutely delicious foods, on an otherwise gloomy night. Didn't go too well with the wine we were having, but that's ok. Comfort food.
Dark colour, great saturation. Dark berries, smoky oak. A little uninspired, quite a generic nose, which is so disappointing. Tight in the mouth, big tannins, but integrated oak. Again, this reminds me of the Languedoc, not the Loire. Unfortunate. Trying to make a blockbuster styled wine is a sadly misguided route, that'll fizzle out once this trend ends. Shit, and I had such high hopes for this wine.
The coat was nice, it was grey, and it was my dear Lacoste. But then, I've changed my clothing buying habit dramatically the last 3 years. Substitution, my friends. Transfer all that spending over to wine. After all - you'll never outgrow the wines you love.
This release is a blockbuster. And these 2005 Bordeaux couldn't have come at a better time. A lot of second wines from great estates, and some great regions. Looking forward to stocking up on this vintage, so I'll have a steady supply to enjoy in the years to come. I'll live frugally now - trading off consumption now for greater utility in the future. But then again, I've talked about this before. Just buying wine and building up my cellar gives me utility now.
So, coat or wine? No argument, no debate. Is there?
That Wusthof chef's knife though, is a different story. You always need a great chef's knife.
That's why recessions are sometimes blown out of proportion. People aren't affected as much as economists say. We have a credit crisis, but the only spending that's affected is spending on big items - houses, cars, furniture.....are standards of living going to plummet because you can't buy a new car?
If anything, it's a great market for people looking to buy their new houses. Real estate is plummeting, and it's a buyer's market. For first time buyers that is - what good will lower house prices do you if the house you're trying to sell is dropping as well?
On a household level, people just aren't that affected by macro issues. Unless I see barren malls and empty restaurants, I won't believe any of this crisis nonsense. The economy will right itself. Unless of course, the government overreacts as usual, and starts to implement more centralised regulation. You see, the Communist system of market control does work!
Of course, I'm not saying this crisis is soft. I've seen my investments go to shit. So this is a serious situation. But I'm a believer in the free market system. What's wrong is the greed that's pervaded the North American financial environment. Dammit.......if we were in China, these people would be guilty of capital crimes. Execute a couple to set an example. See who still wants to f*ck around.
Economists are like historians. They come up with all these impressive theories explaining what happened after the fact. They're useless when shit is actually happening. Give them 10, 20 years and they'll be able to provide a great analysis, but as far as advising people what to do in the moment? Absolutely useless. Yes, I do have a degree in Economics - the more you learn, the more pretentious the discipline seems.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Will have to do lots of work this weekend. Keep studying for that CSC. But at least now, I'm working towards something. Things can only go up.
No rest for the hard-working. It's taken a lot, but finally, I'm working hard to get what I want.
2004 Chateau de L'Estang, AC Cotes de Castillon. When I bought this wine last June or July, it was $17.85. Last week when I bought it, it had risen to $21. 95. Do you mean to tell me that this 23% price increase correlates with an increase in quality and therefore demand for this wine and vintage? Of course not! Drag any Bordeaux drinker, and ask them how familiar they are with the Cotes de Castillon. How many even know that it's a Right Bank appellation? And let's be honest, the majority of people don't like this vintage. I mean, the serious drinkers are going for the 2000, 2003, 2005.......not 2004. So how come this increase?
Strategic pricing. Monopolization. And the simple fact that LCBO can get away with it. I'm outraged, but what the f*ck can I do?
Another dish I'm looking forward to - sea cucumber braised in chicken stock, left to simmer for an hour or so, and sprinkled with shrimp roe. An amazingly delicate, subtle flavour with an absolutely incredible texture.
What wine are we having? A Chinon, of course. I could care less if it goes together - I've been aching for a Loire wine, and tomorrow's the night!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Just sent in my order through Vintages Online. I should receive my wines in 2-4 weeks. Did I just really call you guys dumb f*cking retards? Oops.
Been trying to sleep so early everyday, to rearrange my sleeping schedule. My body has to start getting used to waking up at 7am again. That's why I now have the bedtime of an 8 year old. No tv, no laptop, just dinner, walk, shower, then sleep. Not that I'm, you know, complaining or anything. At least now I can buy all the wine I'd been holding off on.
2005 Domaine La Bastide Blanche Cuvee Estagnol, AC Bandol.
It's been far, far too long since I've seen a Bandol. Can't wait.
I'm irate, can you tell? Don't ever come between me and a wine purchase.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
But this one guy really went above and beyond what anyone else has done. Remember those Bordeaux futures receipts I have yet to receive? Well, I called in again and we talked for a bit. Turns out one hasn't even been printed and one seems to be lost in the mail. So that lady that told me she'd send out a double order for my receipts? Kind of talking out of your ass, no?
Anywyas, this gentleman said he'll send out an order for another print, and he'll email me something. Turns out he emailed me a copy of my order, something that the sales staff see on their systems. He had to print it out, black out the credit card info, scan it into a .pdf file, and then email it to me as an attachment. That, boys and girls, is what you call customer service.
Now, I don't even give a shit whether they mail the receipts to me or not. I have evidence, on paper, that my order is in their system. That's all I really wanted to know, anyways.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Through this entire process, there's been lots of people that have stuck by me and helped me immensely whether it was networking, referrals, or just giving advice. I'm thankful to all those people. I don't want to mention her name, but a family friend has been fantastic in introducing me to people she thought could help me. Also, a big thanks to my dear friend Stephen. Not only from helping me out with my resume and cover letters, but also introducing me to new and exciting opportunities.
A flip side through all of this is the people I thought I could count on. I was wrong - in times of need, it becomes clear who your true friends are. There are instances where I felt betrayed and used...I won't forget it. I don't forget violations of trust, and I'm hard to forgive, especially when I needed support the most. My eyes have opened and my mind is clear.
Thank you once again for everyone's support. It's been a tough year for me and my family. But then again, nothing's been accomplished yet. Let's get to it!
Friday, November 7, 2008
Rabbit legs and loins in a balsamic vinegar reduction. Carrots and celery, onion and garlic, sear the rabbit, let it simmer with the sauce and serve together. I swear I placed it really nicely - just forgot to take a photo until halfway through, so that's why it looks like this. Tasted better than it looked.
Rabbit soup, with mixed vegetables. This was done more in a Shanghainese style. We like our clear broths. Mostly bones, but simmer it for long enough and the flavour is just amazing.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Picked up some wild white shrimp, asparagus, peameal bacon, brie, and of course, fresh rabbit.
Now, I'm not a monster, I had no part in this animal's death. This is how I bought it. I was just responsible for cutting it up and cooking it. I love rabbit - I had a fantastic pan-seared rabbit dish when I was in France that I still dream about. Rabbit has that spicy, gamey flavour and it's so tender. Look at this - it's kind of scary seeing it like this. But keep thinking about it as food, and just get to work. I separated all 4 legs, the loins, chopped the bones up, and stripped the fat. Also, I severed the kidney, liver, and heart. I had in mind 2 dishes. Nothing wasted at all, and that's the most important thing. Respect what the animal gives to you, and make sure there's no waste.
1998 Bolla "Le Origini" DOC Amarone della Valpolicella Classico. A gift actually. A dear friend of ours was having her wedding and I was asked to speak at the morning church service. I guess they didn't want an all white service. Because, you know, sometimes a Chinese guy is the best public speaker in a group of 100 white people. Anyways...the father-in-law was a big wine guy. I heard rumours that he has 1000+ bottles in his collection. Great guy. He gave us this bottle at the rehearsal dinner, as a thank you for my participation. And I've held onto this bottle ever since!
Cork looks great for a 10 year wine. I've kept it under sometimes questionable storage conditions, so this is a great relief. The wine was browning a bit at the rim, but still held good saturation. Fine sediment.
Look at this - perfectly rare, tender and so juicy. Look how evenly it's cooked! You only get that when you use the oven, and let it rest for long enough. Beautiful.
An empty plate means the food was absolutely delicious.
2001 Tokaj Kereskedohaz Tokaji Aszu 4 Puttonyos. As you can see from above, it has a beautiful amber colour, great saturation. Lovely aromas of dried fruits, dried red dates, mineral. Lean on the mouth though - this has about the same amount of sugar as Sauternes, but tastes nowhere as sweet. Acidity is bracing - that's what's covering up the sugar. Refreshing, perfect with fruit. A delicious wine, but still lacking. I'll stick to my Sauternes.
Check this site out: http://www.thewinedoctor.com/
One of my favourite wine sites. Incredible source of information, lots of respect for this guy. Enjoyed the Bordeaux reports immensely.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I have a lot of stuff I should be writing about in the next few days. Not tonight. Good wine makes me relaxed, and I kind of want to go to sleep right now. Deep, relaxing sleep.
Drank a Tokaji, and an amazing Amarone.
The perfect steak.
Butchered and cooked a rabbit two ways.
Some amazing wild white shrimp.
An LCBO Vintages sales staff member who went above and beyond.
Some wines I'm picking up at this release.
So get ready for it, lots to do in the upcoming weeks!
America showed everyone that it holds its founding values to be true. That everyone has equal opportunity to achieve anything. America proved that it is as progressive as it claims to be.
I have nothing but the highest respect for what Obama's accomplished - but now comes reality. He's won the election, but in a sense, he hasn't done anything yet. Let's judge his presidency beyond the fact that he's the first black President and whether he's able to bring the change that he's promised over the last 21 months.
Americans sent a clear message tonight - people are fed up with Republican bullshit, and there needs to be a new direction for the country. Bush's policies and misguided, ignorant ideology has led the country down a dead end that'll take several terms to correct. The Democrats now own the Presidency, the House, and the Senate. I'm excited for the future. After all, things can only go up from here.
Economics is a priority but international diplomacy is crucial. Obama has to learn from Bill Clinton and understand that with all the shit that America's stuck in now, the answer isn't more firepower. You can continue bombing the bloody hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but that won't accomplish anything. You have to use those two areas as leverage, to force other Middle Eastern countries to manage the situation. Let the area govern itself, while at the same time holding itself accountable to the international community. That means keeping the f*cking terrorists out and supporting the peace. The place is a f*cking desert already. More bombing just makes the grains of sand finer. Obama needs to return to diplomacy, while using military strength as leverage. Realpolitick, folks. True bargaining strength is in the appearance of overwhelming power - NOT the actual use of it.
It's not just about being a black President. It's about a completely new direction to take the country in. There's so much that needs to be fixing. So far, Obama's only proven that his policies appeal to voters - the test now is to see how much of what he's spoken about is feasible, and how much of it is he actually willing to implement.
I've witnessed history tonight. The White House isn't so white anymore. That's a great thing. Democracy at its finest.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Democrats, to be honest, aren't going to be much better. But at least it'll be start to get America, and therefore the rest of the world, back in the right direction. I think the polls will be right this time for once. But let me say...if Americans prove themselves to be as dumb as advertised, and vote the Republicans back into office, then we're f*cked.
I might think about emigrating back to Shanghai. I'll ask the Communists to take me back.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
To make sure you don't kill yourself, you never eat it until it's marinated for 7 days. As you can see above, the soft, orange matter still has texture, and is given a delicious flavour. The meat squirts right out of the shell. So delicious, in fact, that you quickly get over your initial squeamishness. This stuff is deadly though - don't forget that it's alcoholic. That's why you never eat more than 2 per sitting.
This Saturday, I had a friend over to talk and to drink some wines. Gamay. First was a 2006 Malivoire Gamay. Earthy, with a touch of oak. Bright cherry fruit, with that characteristic Niagara rusticness. Lean in the mouth, a dusty texture, with a bitter finish that drops off. Beautiful nose, but disappoints in the mouth. What can you do - Niagara still has some work to do, but a wonderful wine.
Next wine was a Cru Beaujolais. 2006 Collin-Bourisset "Les Terres Bleues", AC Cote de Brouilly. I expected this one to be the powerhouse - well structured, ripe fruit, earthy tones. Completely surprised me because unfortunately, this wine didn't live up to expectations. Candied, juicy raspberry and red fruits, lush in the mouth, good freshness, but no character. Reminds me more of a Nouveau, which is a terrible thing to be associated with. Long finish though.
Surprising. This confirms that Niagara can produce great wines, but still has some way to go. I question the oak use in the Malivoire. The Collin-Bourisset is a victim of over-maceration, in search of deeper colour. Now, if I had a Moulin-a-Vent, or a Morgon, it'd be a different story.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
I'm most excited about tasting the Tokay. I have no experience with Hungarian wines and I hope that it's as epic as its reputation would suggest. Looking forward to the Chinon as well. It's been far too long since I've had a bottle.