Saturday, July 31, 2010

This is how we roll

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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.

DF

Keep it simple

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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.

I'm writing after drinking heavily, please disregard the nonsense. Keep it simple. At a friend's dinner, instead of serving some kind of plonk like Coor's or Labatt's, he serves a lesser known form of junk. I drank 4 or 5, so I certainly wasn't complaining. Keep it simple.

DF

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sichuan-style poached fish

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Our host cooked this dish, a novelty for Shanghainese dinners. A Sichuan-style fish, poached in chili peppers and peppercorns, spicy and numbing and absolutely delicious.

DF

Food everywhere

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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.

DF

Thursday, July 29, 2010

In photos: Veuve Clicquot, après

1990 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage Reserve

And the gentleman photographer takes another photo, after pop. 1990 Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin, so rich, so delicious. The definitive experience of my Champagne drinking life. I just can't thank my friends enough for giving me this bottle. Beautiful, in every way, every way.

DF

In photos: Veuve Clicquot, avant

1990 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage Reserve

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.

DF

1990 Veuve Clicquot

1990 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage Reserve

1990 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage Reserve Brut, AC Champagne

Mon Dieu - where do I begin. This was a very generous gift from my dear, dear friends, to commemorate my university graduation, many years ago. I've been holding onto this bottle for a much more significant occasion, as all great wines should be - for my 20th anniversary of living in Canada. Yes, I arrived in Toronto in 1990, a little 4 year old Chinese kid, not a word of English, not a friend in this country. It's been tough, but 20 years is certainly something to celebrate.

The cork came out cleanly, without so much as a whisper. I was worried about storage, but the wine was still perfectly bubbly. Deep golden colour, the bouquet is just extraordinary. Rich, creamy, thick - penetratingly mature. Such fragrance, so complex, so perfect. This wine has taught me what a perfectly mature Champagne is at its peak. Still fresh, still lively - this is as good as it gets.

Many, many thanks to my friend who gave me this bottle - I can't thank you enough. A dream come true, merci bien.

DF

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

NV Ambonnay

Marguet Père & Fils Blancs de Noirs

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.

This is a special bottle to me. I've been holding onto it for a few years - the disgorgement date isn't labelled, but I have reason to believe that it was disgorged around late 2006, early 2007. The British palate dictates that nonvintage Champagne deserves at least 18 months of bottle age before it's acceptable to be drunk, so I faithfully tried to adhere to that unspoken rule - the results turned out quite well for me.

A small producer, this wine has a beautifully deep gold colour, with flecks of orange fire. Such freshness, almost green aromas. I always thought it silly that people detected apple core in wine bouquets - wtf is apple core? I kind of understand it now...it's definitely an apple aroma, but the acidity is so high that, yes, it does smell like the portion you wouldn't eat. Autolysis character present, very well integrated - I took my time with this bottle (as with all my wines) and after 24, then 48 hours, it becomes more rich, more round, more delicious.

Damn, and it figures that I have to pay over $50 for such a wine experience. Sugar mammas, email this gentleman.

DF

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mulberry wine

Mulberry wine

The mulberry wine, pictured earlier with the berries. As discussed, the wine itself isn't what's interesting about this fruit wine - the berries, after absorbing all the liquor, are the real excitement. At this point, we had been keeping this for too long. Perhaps a product of using less than stellar fruit to begin with, the wine was listless and bitter in flavour, although it's quite creamy in texture. Clearly lacks the colour, and the flavour explosion of the first bottle, drunk way back.

DF

Mulberries and liqour

Mulberry wine

My paternal ancestry is from the coastal town of Ningbo, in the southeast Chinese province of Zhejiang. This is a fortified fruit wine that they make. The mulberry tree grows everywhere in the region, and enjoys the reputation of producing fruit of high quality - perfect for making these wines. Picked at their ripest, the mulberries are dropped into a 52% Chinese sorghum liquor, usually Maotai, and aged for 1-2 years. We managed to bring a few jars of this treasure back, and it's been sitting, forgotten, in the back of the fridge for at least 5 years. I finished our first jar a while back, and I'm holding onto two more, although a taste of this has me convinced that I better start drinking soon.

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.

DF

2008 Marlborough

2008 Staete Landt Riesling Auslese

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.

DF

Monday, July 26, 2010

2007 Victoria

2008 Red Hill Estate Pinot Noir

2007 Red Hill Estate Pinot Noir, Victoria

I don't drink much Australian wine. Why? Prejudice? Perhaps. But I've yet to be blown away by anything I find from here. Maybe at the high end, I'll find it, but if I'm going to spend $50-$100 on a wine, it sure won't be from Australia. Anyone with a few vintages of Penfolds Grange who feels like sharing?

That's why this was such a great surprise. A pinot noir from the Mornington Peninsula of Victoria. Pale colour, pleasant earthiness, taut...the balance won me over. This is a good one. With another 24 hours, the wine gets meatier, more savoury. A proper pinot noir. Well done.

DF

2008 Rapel Valley

2008 Vina Casablanca Syrah

2008 Viña Casablanca El Bosque Winemaker's Choice Syrah, Rapel Valley

Chilean syrah has been getting a lot of press recently, earning itself a feature in a recent issue of Decanter magazine. Since I aspire to have a British palate, time to start drinking! And well, because I love syrah, especially cooler climate examples, which this bottle professes to be.

Maybe I shouldn't have gone for the sub-$15 wine. Jammy, flabby, non-varietal flavours. A South American disaster.....moving on.

DF

Sunday, July 25, 2010

2005 Rheingau

2005 Kloster Eberbach Riesling Spätlese

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.

DF

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Numb it with ice

Icy

To beat the heat, nothing really sparkles like an icy flute of Champagne. In this case, a grower Champagne, blanc de noirs, proving the notion that wine can quench the thirst, and also stimulate the palate.

DF

Beard Papa's

Beard Papa's

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.

DF

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cameron's Dark

Cameron's Dark

Cameron's Dark

Another beer from Cameron's stable. Slammed this one down the night we got back toasted, hard, from downtown. Toronto can be such a fun place, if you know where to drink. Dark, but not as heavy as stout. This is good, very refreshing - interesting style.

DF

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cameron's Auburn Ale

Cameron's Auburn Ale

Cameron's Auburn Ale

We've been having a hot, humid, tropical summer this year in Toronto. Lots of opportunities for refreshing, sweat-wicking drinks. Variety is nice, and sometimes, I just need to slam a beer down my throat. Proper taste at first, then I start gulping. Cameron's sells beers in 4 packs - each a different brew that they produce. This is the Auburn Ale - good malt character, round, refreshing. Good, gulpable beer.

DF

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Courvoisier Exclusif: The Tasting

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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.

DF

Courvoisier Exclusif: The Event

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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!

DF

Repo Men

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Watched Repo Men recently with a friend - I can't say it induced us to start drinking, but the wine certainly helped dull the ludicrous plot, spotty acting, sadistic gore. But there was one highlight - I love the fact that Toronto is displayed so prominently. Set 25 years in the future, but the streetcars are still '70's era relics. Guess Miller's Transit City plan didn't really pan out. Pearson Airport, in all its brightly lit, sans-serif glory. Alice Braga is simply stunning. I'm in love.

I don't get it. A few details indicate that the city is Asian, vaguely Japanese - a few quick shots of Japanese store signs, characters on receipts. Doesn't seem like a dystopian kind of government - but why would a corporation be given leeway to kill people at will, in the most gruesome manner, just for defaulting on payments? No one blinks an eye when bodies show up, mutilated with organs missing? This movie plays like an organ trafficker's wet dream.

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??!!

Did I mention the ludicrous plot?

DF

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Julie's Cuban

The real deal

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.

I ended up having at least 5 mojitos. My friend and I managed to stumble back into the subway, back up north to safety. Queen is just unscrupulous at night. Caught up to another buddy's birthday dinner just in time for cake. Still breathing alcohol fumes as we sung happy birthday.

DF

Monday, July 19, 2010

Expresso, please

spicesafar

Tasted at spicesafar. Expresso, made with their new hydraulic press system, yielding a coffee that's more textural, rounder, but with intensity and focus. Even with the little girly cups.

DF

spicesafar

spicesafar

spicesafar

After watching the game, after the beer, and after the shots, we wandered over to spicesafar, a trendy café/lounge on King Street. Beautifully decorated inside, very relaxed, very chill. Coffee and pastries, high quality as well. They're beginning to hold a lot of events during the week, spreading the word of good coffee and wine. This is why I need to live downtown.

DF

Two for the tartare

Tartare antidote

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.


DF

Le Sélect Bistro

Le Sélect Bistro

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.

DF

Sunday, July 18, 2010

NV Crémant d'Alsace

Heimberger Brut Rosé

NV Cave de Hoen Heimberger Brut Rosé, AC Crémant d'Alsace

This was great. So great that I finished the whole damn bottle myself, without offering anyone a glass, without remembering to shoot a half-full photo. I love sparkling wine. I'm old world, all the way around - I drink bubbles all the time, anytime. Who needs an occasion to hear that pop? This one was special - a pink sparkling wine, made from 100% pinot noir. Very rare, very rare, and I wasn't in the mood to share.

Great earthinesss, rusticity, all mushroomy pinot noir-ness. Wonderful, but does thin out in the mouth a bit. I finished the bottle, so it mustn't have been alright, no?

DF

So good in your mouth

Prosciutto

The beef we ate for our meatfest was extraordinary, but this stood out above all the rest. Two friends brought over the most amazing prosciutto. Unbelievable flavour, just perfect texture - lots of bite, silky, and so, so delicious. Many thanks, a real culinary experience.

DF

2003 Cahors

2003 Château Lagrezette, Cahors

2003 Château Lagrezette, AC Cahors

This is what I was waiting for all night. To drink with our last beef course, a rib steak. What looked like a chunk of dinosaur bone and meat, it was 2 pounds of mouthwatering awesomeness. And this wine was more than up to the task. This bottle meant a lot to me. I had bought it towards the latter end of my university career. It sat in our residence kitchen for a few months, enduring a lot of abuse. Not a particularly old wine, vintage-wise, but with the amount of heat, and light, and movement it was exposed to, I certainly had a few concerns about its well-being.

No need.

A dark wine, the bouquet was extraordinary. Minty, savoury, earthy - all the richness and complexity I had hoped for. Beautifully integrated in the mouth, linear structure, good length. So delicious, so round, yet retaining a focus that brought all the elements together. And what was most impressive? The alcohol integration. It was listed at 14.5% - a recipe for disaster, for a lesser wine. My palate, demonstrated in all the wine I write about, is far, far removed from high alcohol wines. Anything over 14% worries me, but this wine showed none of the flabbiness, or the burning vapours that an unbalanced wine is blemished with. Truly the exception rather than the rule, this wine demonstrates that with perfectly ripe grapes and careful handling in the cellar, elegant, high alcohol wines are not a contradiction.

This is what bottle age can do for a wine. Sublime.

DF

1998 Chianti Classico

1998 Monti Verdi Cipressone Chianti Classico

1998 Monteverdi Vigneto Cipressone, DOCG Chianti Classico

A friend had remarked to me that she'd never seen me serve an Italian wine for dinner before. No, I really haven't. I don't drink much Italian wine, barely have any in my cellar. Brunello's a bit of a mess, Barolo's too damn expensive, and I'll drink any cheap port before I touch Amarone. What else does that leave me with, that I can easily find at LCBO? A few quirky Sicilian wines, cheap Barbera's, and not much else. I would drink more Sangiovese di Romagna if it was offered, and if I wasn't verbally mauled everytime I write about it.

But what the hell, I decided to pull out an older Chianti for our dinner. Second beef dish, a pan-seared rib-eye, cooked medium-rare. A toasty wine, very much the new style of Chianti. Drinkable, but also unremarkable in every way. And wine should not have to be that way. See why I hesitate to drink Italian?

DF

Saturday, July 17, 2010

2008 Côtes du Roussillon-Village

2008 M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut Rousillon

2008 M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut, AC Côtes du Roussillon-Village

The first wine of our meatfest. Let me explain first. I cooked dinner for friends, and devised a menu made up entirely of beef. A few different cuts, prepared the same way, with the idea that we wanted to determine the different tastes each cut of beef brings. For the first, a t-bone steak, sliced thinly by my butcher, seared and basted in olive oil and butter.

This wine was a great surprise. All the garrigue character of the Languedoc, exemplified in this bottle. An elegant and complex wine, with fine tannins, perfect weight and balance. The bouquet sings of flowers and Mediterranean evenings, wild and untamed. With the beef, lovely.

DF

Friday, July 16, 2010

2004 Cahors

2004 Château St. Didier Parnac

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...

DF

Thursday, July 15, 2010

2007 Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

2007 Max Ferd. Richter Riesling

2007 Max Ferd. Richter Riesling Kabinett, QmP Erdener Treppchen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

Glorious.

No other description needed. My goodness, the full, shining, bright glory of Mosel riesling, in this bottle, in the glass. I was awestruck. Shimmering, magnificent bouquet, all pure fruit and minerals. Gripping, intense, righteous minerals. High acidity, so linear, perfectly balanced. Just steel cables and tension. Beautiful wine to bring tears of elation to your eyes.

Just glorious.

DF

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dipped in wax

2005 Royal Tokaji

The beautiful bottle of Tokaji. Dipped in wax, it was a sticky handful to get off, but then again, you have to work a little to experience great wine. Tall, tapered, as sexy as a bottle can be.

DF

Clear for all to see

2007 Carmes de Rieussec

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.

DF

2005 Tokaji

2005 Royal Tokaji

2005 Royal Tokaji, Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos, Hungary

The second wine of our evening. King of wines, wine of kings. Right. Another sweet wine drunk far too young, but I was proving a point - sweet wines belong on the dinner table, with food. Simply relegating them with dessert does them a disservice...who wants to drink a sweet wine with a sweet dessert? The one that is less sweet will lose, horribly. With our Chinese cuisine, this wine married just beautifully.

Look at the colour - deep and luminous, shining and bright. The bouquet is just extraordinary, with ripe apricots singing on top of the most amazing rusticity. Just mushrooms and earth character - this is going to develop so well with some bottle age. The excitement follows on the palate, perfectly balanced, elements integrated, viscous and full with a lovely stream of acidity on the blooming finish. Supple and long, at once also being fresh and lively.

This is an extraordinary wine. With food, stunning. I think I proved my point.

DF

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

2007 Sauternes

2007 Carmes de Rieussec

2007 Les Carmes de Rieussec, AC Sauternes

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.

DF

Sgt. Major India Pale Ale

Sgt. Major IPA

Sgt. Major India Pale Ale

Here, I finally found it. I think I may have found one of the finest Ontario beers I've ever tasted. A true India Pale Ale, made in the proper way, with the proper amount of hops. And yes, this is as hoppy as they come. Round malts, beautifully aromatic hops, so complex, so delicious. And look at the bottle it comes in!

DF

Monday, July 12, 2010

2006 Montagne Saint-Émilion

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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.

DF

Post No. 1801

Profile - Colour

Summer's here, in a big way. If you thought 2007 was going to be a blockbuster vintage for Niagara, wait for 2010. Warm winter, early budbreak, sudden and dramatic heatwaves? All the elements to make big wines.

At almost 3 years in and 1800 posts of La Cave de Fang, it's time for some change. No more blind writing - a photo (good, preferably) and story with each one. Getting into the habit of bringing my camera everywhere, skin thickening as I shamelessly get into random people's faces to get a shot. Yeah, I'm turning into that guy. Running around downtown shooting the G20 protests was harrowing, but a life-changing experience. And since we need to enjoy this weather for the few months we get it, trying to head downtown more. So, here's to more eating, more drinking, and more making merry!

DF

Sunday, July 11, 2010

2007 Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

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2007 Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett, QmP Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

Priced relatively high, but round, supple, ripe fruit - some oily minerality showing well-balanced. Simple, charming, pure wine.

DF

2007 Pfalz

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2007 Wachtenburg Winzer Spätburgunder Halbtrocken, QmP Wachenheim, Pfalz

These German pinot noirs are getting quite good. So good in fact, that I'd gladly drink spätburgunder over any of the big blockbuster pinot noirs coming out of the new world. Such a pale colour, great pinot noir character. Sweet on the palate, charming.

DF

2003 Vintage Port

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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.

DF

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hemp red lager beer

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Millenium Buzz Beer

Made using B.C. hemp, I wanted to see if this beer would get me high. Failed on that regard, but it's not bad. Round, supple, bit of sweetness. Not as fresh, but the touch of skunkiness is from bad storage. Gorgeous colour though.

DF

Friday, July 9, 2010

1992 Pauillac Premier Grand Cru Classé

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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.

DF