Saturday, July 31, 2010
Wu Liang Ye. A lethal sorghum liquor of China, at 52%. It was my friend's birthday, so I was ready to celebrate and to rumble. Lethal and long in every way, but it's a Chinese drink. If you can't take this - you have absolutely no business calling yourself Chinese. I drank myself silly, to the point of not being to stand straight. But I celebrated my friend's birthday properly. And that is as Chinese as it gets.
Keep it simple, assholes. Keep it simple - I could add in an expletive, but because if I want to advertise these pieces as something I do, I'd have to go back and censor everything. I was born a Communist, so I've developed a frustration with censorship, no matter how little.
Friday, July 30, 2010
We had a dinner last week to celebrate a friend's birthday party. The Shanghainese enjoy their food. I snapped a shot as we were wrapping up. They're going to be eating leftovers for a week. Drunk and well fed - that's how we do dinner. Drank and well fed. That's all I want my friends to be, after dinner chez Fang.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Here's to the slow dance. Two people, body on body, hot and sweaty. What does this have to do with 1990 Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin? If you have to ask, you just won't get it. All love, all love.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
NV Marguet Père & Fils Blancs de Noirs Brut, AC Ambonnay
Champagne is the dream, always. Everyone talks about desert island wines; I hate these idiotic clichés, but apparently, you can't be a successful blogger without resorting to them, so here we go - if I were forced at gunpoint to name a desert island wine, it would probably be a Champagne. And I won't go into how only wines produced in the region of Champagne can be called a Champagne, because if that concept eludes you, I don't care much for you as a human being. I've been drinking, dear reader.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
What's extraordinary is that the wine has lost a lot of the flavour and the alcohol - everything has been absorbed into the fruit. Four or five of them, and the room starts spinning. Complex flavour, with the texture remaining firm, the most delicious berries in all the world.
2008 Staete Landt Estate Riesling Auslese, Marlborough
How interesting is this - a New Zealand riesling labelled in the German manner, in this case, an Auslese. From the region of Rapaura in New Zealand's South Island, I had every expectation that this was a riesling made in the tradition of the gems from the Mosel and Rheingau. I was so right - this riesling is all sex, all style.
The bouquet is so gorgeous, busting with minerals, citrus, and lanolin cream aromas. The richness is apparent, which carries to the intense palate. Very crunchy, substantial amounts of extract in the mouth, impeccably balanced and so long. A clean wine, no botrytis aromas or flavours, if the grapes were allowed to botrytise. Builds and builds, relentlessly. Holds up well to the third day.
Certainly an impressive wine. It would be fanciful to think that it's the soil that contributes to this intensity and extract, wouldn't it? Could be the low yields, age of the vines, sur lie aging - any number of things, but this is a spectacular wine. I'm convinced more than ever that when New Zealand gets it right, it's really right.
Monday, July 26, 2010
2007 Red Hill Estate Pinot Noir, Victoria
Sunday, July 25, 2010
2005 Kloster Eberbach Riesling Spätlese, QmP Steinberger, Rheingau
This bottle of wine took me on a journey. Couldn't find it in Bayview Village (delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, no doubt), and I ended up finding it in little Waterloo, Ontario, of all places, in my old hangout - the King Street LCBO. What was I doing in Waterloo? Why, attending a buddy's convocation, bien sur, looking like this.
The things I do for riesling. We caught a few strange looks - Waterloo folk, good hearty people all, drink whisky and beer. Fresh, minerally, riesling? Not so much, despite their Bavarian heritage. Not to mention I was traipsing around the store in a grey suit, silk handkerchief, and sunglasses. Good times.
Right, the wine - a bottle from Steinberger, the vineyard which arguably enjoys the finest reputation in the Rheingau. A shame to be drinking a spätlese so young, especially from a really ripe vintage like 2005. The colour is just phenomenal, just hinting at the immense power it possesses. Deeply rich bouquet, oily, minerally, lots of apples - palate follows with a stunning level of extract, acid, and minerals. Intense sweetness, which should integrate beautifully with at least another 5 years of bottle age. Very structured, if I can call a white wine that - so expressive, so delicious, so worth the effort to track it down. This vineyard certainly produces wines of great richness and depth, but all with exceptional balance and ageability. Glorious.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
My friends brought a box of Beard Papa's pastries over the other night - half of them were the original cream filling, the other half were green tea. Delicious, all around. Rich, creamy, perfectly balanced sweetness - this is get down, get down.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Cameron's Auburn Ale
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Now...this is what a wine consultant should be doing at a tasting - some actual tasting. The interesting portion of the Courvoisier Exclusif event.
There was a placecard at each table, with positions for two Cognacs - left, the Courvoisier Exclusif and right, Courvoisier XO Cognac. The Exclusif is being marketed as a mixing spirit, for any and all kinds of cocktails. Cognac brands have been feverishly targeting a younger crowd for their products, as the image of a connoisseur drinking out of a huge snifter by a fireplace is just, well, bad business for them. As a wine drinker and purist, I can't say that I agree with this strategy - great Cognac, like great Islay scotch, like great vodka, does not belong in a mixed drink. No matter how high-brow the drink is. Like great wine, you must learn to appreciate a great drink for what it is. And if it isn't a good drink.............well then, you shouldn't be drinking it anyway, in any form.
The Exclusif was round, oaky, toasty, harsh, alcoholic - lacking subtleties, which in fact, make it suitable for a mixed drink. The XO Cognac, on the other hand - this is what established Courvoisier as a grand producer. Minerally, stony fruits, elegant, incredible length. Was I prejudiced because this wasn't a blind tasting, of course I was. I don't drink a lot of Cognac - I don't drink much liquor at all. And if I was, Islay scotch would be my first choice. It's puzzling, for me to appreciate a drink who's primary flavour comes from oak. All accounts indicate that the wine Cognac is made from, primarily ugni blanc grapes, is dreadful.
I sound like a sour, stuffy Englishman. My apologies - this was a fantastic event, thoroughly enjoyed it. Cognac is a fascinating subject, with lots of history. Unfortunately, we don't have access to a lot of the smaller growers and producers from the region, and the ones we do see are frightfully expensive. But on a quiet, contemplative winter evening, I can't imagine a more well-suited drink.
Courvoisier, the epitome of big name Cognac, hosted an event in Toronto at the Park Hyatt. Courtesy of Matchstick, I managed to get in with a friend. Wacky event, but it was the unveiling of a new product in their lineup - Courvoisier Exclusif, a branded Cognac blended with 6-12 year old eau de vie.
The room was filled with hip bloggers, the best Toronto has to offer. All really plugged in, all heavy-duty social media folks, which begs the question - what was I doing there? At least there was plenty to drink. The sidecar martinis offered when we stepped in, made with Courvoisier Exclusif bien sur, was a bit unbalanced, too alcoholic. Russian bartender, who smirked and said I drink voooodka. The event started off with a little Cognac 101, replete with the usual clichés - all Cognac is brandy, not all brandy is Cognac, and the succinct, Cognac is to brandy what Champagne is to sparkling wine. Well done. A tasting followed, of Exclusif, as well as their high end XO Cognac. Tasting notes to follow, guess which one I preferred?
A bunch of dancers were hired. Didn't know if the prancing around was necessary, but there was a guy on stilts. After the dancing, the tasting, there was a mixing contest - the table who concocted the best mix drink with Exclusif won a bottle of the hooch, each. We had no clue what we were doing, but at least we did get to drink some more.
Fun event. Met some great people - I'm even featured in a blog, for what I was wearing. Check out Jas' blog, Sartorial Savillian, focusing on high end menswear. Many thanks for the mention. Also, for more photos of the event, there's a bunch on Ricky Lam's Flickr and on Courvoisier's Facebook - look closely for DF, shaved head and all.
And please, fill out this survey - every completed survey results in Matchstick donating $2 to the Redwood Women's Shelter. Get to work!
TTC was also given a nice cameo - clearly the Bloor/Danforth line, clearly the same stupid automated voice system and fuzzy red polyester seats in place, grimy stations and all. Maybe it's because of budget considerations, maybe the director was just lazy, but all of TTC's markings were intact - logo, door warnings, train numbers. Yeah, Torontonians got a good look at the future of our public transportation...it's like time stood still, not far off from the probable truth.
The Volkswagen product placement was unfortunate. Touaregs? Really?? Have them drive at least something like the Phaeton, not a mediocre SUV with suspect build and performance - come on guys, you can do better. Ending a little cheesy, no? Yeah, let's just blow up the lifeline of this all-powerful, all-encompassing multinational corporation. Even though the frenemies just tried to kill each other a few scenes ago, they're suddenly sipping umbrella drinks on a beach, and.............wait a minute, wait a minute......that's the twist ending??!!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Now, the real reason I ventured into the heart of downtown Toronto - for mojitos at Julie's Cuban Restaurant. Authentic Cuban food, done by Cubans - it doesn't get better than that. We were tired, sweaty, a bit inebriated from earlier - a round of mojitos was just perfect. I've been searching for a properly made mojito, and I got it here. Vigorously muddled mint, fresh lime, perfectly balanced. The guacamole, a bit under-seasoned, but good texture. The vaca frita, a Cuban meat, rice, and black bean dish was savoury, meat slightly overcooked, but flavoursome. The seafood paella was absolutely delicious. I'm Chinese, so I'm a bit picky with rice dishes, but the paella was fantastic.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Right, so after the tartare, my friend and I became a bit........apprehensive. It was pretty hot that day. And we just ate raw meat. Remedy? There was a World Cup game on - consolation game, Germany/Uraguay. So we got a few shots of Jägermeister. Nasty as all hell, but we didn't puke the entire day, either end, so it did its job nicely. Chased by a pint of Smithwicks. My goodness - 3 pints of beer in 2 hours, buzzed at 3 in the afternoon.
Awesome, like nothing else.
Last week, I spent the day downtown with a few friends. It's about time that I start exploring downtown Toronto - 20 years in this city, and I don't know a damn thing south of Eglinton. We started with a late lunch at Le Sélect Bistro, a trendy, classically Parisian establishment. Beautifully decorated inside, stunning bar. I need to live beside a place like this.
Service was wonderful, eating out on the patio, likewise. To start, a pint of Michael Duggan's No. 9 India Pale Ale. Darker colour, so aromatic, incredibly delicious. Blew my mind, and the food wasn't on the table yet. Lamb burger, Moroccan-spiced, and medium-rare, was a revelation. Cooked perfectly, tender, full of flavour. Bison tartare, stunning as well. Great lunch - well-cooked food, relaxed and elegant ambiance - not much more else you can ask out of a bistro.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
2003 Château Lagrezette, AC Cahors
1998 Monteverdi Vigneto Cipressone, DOCG Chianti Classico
Saturday, July 17, 2010
2008 M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut, AC Côtes du Roussillon-Village
Friday, July 16, 2010
2004 Château St. Didier Parnac, AC Cahors
I pulled this out of my cellar a few weeks ago. That's always a difficult process - staring, wondering, trying to make the decision about which wine to choose. Twice as tough when you're agonizing over wines you've held onto for a few years. I've had this bottle since university. Storage, extremely suspect. It was in our kitchen cupboard for a few months, enduring heat and Waterloo's dry air. Figuring that I had nothing to lose, this was the one. I had a thing for Cahors back then. Still find them interesting, but not enough to deprive myself of a drink.
I wanted to host a meatfest for my friends. Yes, all red meat, only red wines, nothing green, nothing from the sea. Thought about syrah, about Bordeaux, but then I came across the only two bottles of Cahors I have left. What the hell. Drank this one first, to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into. Double decanted for an afternoon before drinking, the brettanomyces on this is agonizing. Integrates a bit better on the second day, but this amount is flawed, even for someone who enjoys rustic wines like myself. Fine structure, some fruit, but this is a wine that should have been drunk 2 years ago.
So, it was with a bit of apprehension that I opened the next 3 wines for my friends, as we carved into our beef...
Thursday, July 15, 2010
2007 Max Ferd. Richter Riesling Kabinett, QmP Erdener Treppchen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Thought this was an interesting contrast. While the two aforementioned sweet wines shared a lot of commonalities in terms of taste, the packaging was very different. Both in half bottles, one was presented in the classic Bordeaux style bottle - high sloped, square and Protestant shoulders, while the Tokaji was bottled in a gently sloping, feminine chalice. One thing I love about Bordeaux is the corks they use. The producer, as well as vintage is printed. Remove the foil wrapper, and everything, in plain view.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
My 2007 Bordeaux futures finally came in, pulled out a bottle because this was the least expensive of my order - therefore, I would feel the least guilty about opening this bottle. Funny how you find all sorts of justifications when you just want a drink. The second wine of Château Rieussec.
Anyways, the first of two sweet wines I opened, to disprove, definitively, that sweet wines should only be drunk with dessert. So, being such a young wine, I double decanted for a few hours, chilled it, and got ready to be dazzled. Powerful bouquet, lots of honey, apricots. Certainly rich and viscous, even on the nose. Alcohol is roaring though. Palate shows quite the same. It's a good wine, but a blunt butcher knife. Hopefully age can give it some delicacy, transform it into something more fine.
Works well with Chinese food though. Well-balanced, our food brought out some mineral elements, the creaminess. I'm certain 2007 Sauternes need at least a decade to settle down - the alcohol is an issue at the moment, and the botrytis needs bottle age to develop. But I'm convinced as ever that these sweet wines marry beautifully with dinner. The second sweet wine, next.
Monday, July 12, 2010
2006 Château Piron, AC Montagne Saint-Émilion
So we return to the right bank of Bordeaux, in a not as well known satellite appellation. I love this area - it's a hilly region overlooking the much more famous terroir of Saint-Émilion - sand and clay on limestone, all the proper elements for producing the most compelling merlot in the world. This bottle is a simple example of what this terroir can produce. A rustic, full wine, lots of savoury characters, great regional typicity. This is what Bordeaux can achieve, without the all the hype.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
2003 José Maria da Fonseca & Van Zeller Vintage Port
Take a chance, take a shot? On a relatively inexpensive 2003 vintage port, maybe. Dark colour, juicy berries, ripe, but the alcohol roars and absolutely shreds what semblance of balance the wine has. Hot on the nose, hot on the palate - that is a problem.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Millenium Buzz Beer
Friday, July 9, 2010
1992 Château Mouton Rothschild, AC Pauillac, Premier Grand Cru Classé
It was with a great sense of humility that I opened this bottle of Mouton. A gift from a very generous friend with a deep cellar. The first bottle of Mouton I drank, nearly two years ago, also courtesy of his kindness. This one, a 1992, from quite possibly one of the softest vintages Bordeaux has ever seen. But Mouton is Mouton - the terroir should still be present. If only it weren't mildly corked...
The colour is still deep, with a rim of amber red. Mature nose, elegant palate, soft finish. A damaged wine, so I won't say more than that. Such a shame - how true it is, that there are no great wines, only great bottles. Many thanks to my dear friend.