Monday, January 31, 2011
Thin, narrow dining room, like eating in a windowless train. Dark too, elegant, modern - no tablecloths. Started with an arugula salad with figs, baked oysters rockefeller and an antipasto platter. I really enjoyed the start to the meal - chef definitely goes big. Makes a strong statement, very assertive flavours. Oysters were warm, punchy, rich and creamy. They actually make their antipasto themselves, curing and all. The prosciutto, salami - yeah I see that. But they also serve you cured venison. Won me over then and there.
I don't think so.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
This film left me weeping.
Zhang YiMou's been doing nothing but martial arts epics and the Olympics this past decade, so it's wonderful to see him pare everything down and go back to what he's actually pretty good at - telling stories. It's stunning to see the contrast between directing such a minimalist film and the 2008 Olympics opening/closing ceremonies, but it's a return to the Zhang that people have forgotten about. Behind the theatrics, all those grand swatches of colour lies the brilliant storyteller that gave us the classic artistic masterpieces, 大红灯笼高高挂 (Raise the Red Lantern), 摇啊摇，摇到外婆桥 (Shanghai Triad) and 活着 (To Live).
This film is so heartbreaking, you don't really want to finish watching. But you have to.
Cinema doesn't have feeling anymore. But this film does. Behind all those furtive glances and quick smiles between the lovers shimmers deep ribbons of feeling, the kind that catches your breath . . . it's almost unbearable.
Don't weep for the characters, so much as the loss of innocence.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
left to right: Ms. Aline Baly, Owner of Château Coutet and Ms. Virginie Achou-Legape, Marketing & Communication of Château Climens
DF and Mr. Pierre Montégut, Director of Château Suduiraut
DF and the peerless Comte Stephan von Neipperg, Director of Château Canon-La-Gaffelière
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Château Canon-La-Gaffelière - pure fruit, very ripe, clean and linear on the palate, juicy and very fruit forward
Château Figeac - pure fruit, spicy, great transition into long, firm finish
Château La Couspaude - dark berries, ripe and concentrated, well made
Château La Dominique - oaky fruit, ripe, oak roars on the palate
Château La Gaffelière - spicy fruit, hard tannins, good purity
Château Larmande - soft
Château Larcis Ducasse - spicy fruit, very lean
Château Troplong-Mondot - oaky fruit, ripe and structured, tannins a bit hard
Château Clinet - omg $219, fruit is very pure, ripe, elegant and quite fine
Château Gazin - ripe fruit, concentrated, tightly structured like a rock, very true to the Gazin style
Château La Conseillante - very bright fruit, softly structured
Château Carbonnieux - oaky and very hard, closed like a scared clam
Domaine de Chevalier - smoky, toasty but refined oak, lean fruit, lively structure
Château Haut-Bergey - ripe fruit, soft berries, lean and well structured, good potential; I was told to hold onto the 'o5's for another 4-5 years
Château Clerc-Milon - oaky, fine palate
Château d'Armailhac - lean, spicy oak
Château Lynch-Bages - the superstar, ripe and floral, spicy oak, structured with linear fruit
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande - spicy fruit, linear on the palate, very tightly wound
Château Cos-Labory - good fruit, soft texture, all cashmere on the palate
Château Lafon-Rochet - oaky nose, well structured, all riding on top of the fruit
Château Phélan Ségur - oak, oak, oak, fruit and tannins ripe(r)
Château Beychevelle - graphite minerality, linear, tight but very fine, a good one
Château Branaire Ducru - spicy oak, good fruit, finely structured
Château Gruaud-Larose - rustic aromas, the only one this year; follows on the palate too
Château Langoa-Barton - ripe, structured, impeccably balanced
Château Léoville-Barton - perfumed bouquet, very elegant, the only archetypal Saint-Julien
Château Lagrange - very oaky, ripe, big structure
Château Léoville Poyferré - oaky (again!!), hard tannins
Château Brane-Cantenac - a bit jammy, flabby on the palate, finish takes a dive
Château Giscours - oaky, graphite minerality, very lean
Château Kirwan -ripe berries, softly structured
Château Labégorce - ripe pure fruit, balanced
Château Lascombes - oaky coffee aromas, hard tannins
Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry - fresh berries, pure fruit, tight hard tannins
Château Marquis de Terme - oaky, lean and very sharp, finely structured
Château Prieuré-Lichine - pure fruit, ripe, minerally character, quite good
Château Rauzan-Ségla - oaky nose, soft fruit, supple tannins
Château Poujeaux - graphite minerality, linear structure, pure fruit, very classic and fine
Château Chasse-Spleen - Rich berries, creamy oak, ripe and very elegant, delicious
Château Citran -confected, flabby, no
Château La Lagune - oaky mocha aromas, very fine, spicy and quite forward
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Moving onto Sauternes. I bought only a few bottles of 2008 - these are wines that demand bottle age, and I can't afford to pay so much money for wine that I can't touch for a decade. Like the dry white wines, 2007 was a good year for Sauternes. Rich and concentrated, but with a higher acidity. Good botrytis character too. Was I ever pleased with myself for hedging my bets on those wines. As it is with Bordeaux, no one ever hears about how the whites are doing. After all, as they say, the first duty of a Bordeaux wine is to be red.
This tasting showed quite well for Sauternes. The wines were dense and had lower acid than 2007, but were balanced, and classic. A few had a lovely stream of minerality. The botrytis is not apparent in this vintage, but as with all the wines, we are judging them far too prematurely.Château Climens - clean apricots on the nose, concentrated and sweet
Château Coutet - balanced fruit, sweet but good acid, long
Château Doisy-Daëne - pure fruit, slight herbal in character, spicy, great length
Château Guiraud - concentrated, punchy fruit, juicy and rich, slightly bitter on the finish, complex
Château La Tour Blanche - slightly herbal, beautiful minerals, balanced and lean
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey - concentrated and sweet, good mineral character, balanced
Château Sigalas-Rabaud - very concentrated, lots of sweetness, thick
Château Suduiraut - aromatic apricots, concentrated, syrupy and very rich
As is usual, I began my night with dry white Bordeaux. Really interested to see how these would show - the 2007 whites were stunning, ripe and racy, showing lots of potential. The 2008's turned out to be a bit spottier, with many of them showing lots of oak and green, unripe flavours. A lot of the wines seemed clumsy, with a few closed - this isn't the best time to be tasting these wines. The oak needs to resolve, especially for the wines which used a high percentage of new barriques. Curiously, many of the wines seemed green and unripe, with very little fruit character. The semillon seems to be muted, sauvignon a bit too aggressive at this stage. Just doesn't have the energy or the harmony of the 2007's.Château de Chantegrive - grassy, herbal and green, which follows on the lean, bitter palate
Château Rahoul - waxy herbal nose, muted palate, oaky finish
Château Bouscaut - oily on the nose, diesel fumes, creamy in texture
Château Carbonnieux - oily nose, herbal, lean and balanced, but green
Domaine de Chevalier - creamy, balanced, showing lots of green sauvignon fruit, elegant
Château de Fieuzal - creamy but closed at the moment, round and extracted finish
Château Larrivet Haut-Brion - balanced, waxy
Château Latour-Martillac - green and herbal, very oaky, in a very awkward stage
Château Malartic-Lagravière - precise, clean balanced fruit, herbal and creamy palate
Château Pape Clement - so oaky, lots of green on the palate
Château Smith Haut Lafitte - pungent vegetal aromas, spicy oak, balanced, but the oak needs to integrate, especially on the palate
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
They're showing 2008 Bordeaux, a vintage that was praised by some as fabulous, derided by others as mediocre. It was certainly an interesting En Primeur campaign - in the midst of a global economic downturn, the French promptly reduced prices by about 40%, with the First Growths leading the way. Of course, Latour was still going for $345, but you get the point. What I thought was my only opportunity to afford a single lot of First Growths was thwarted by proper wine collectors who buy by the case, not by lot. Lesson learned.
Very much looking forward to tonight's tasting at the Four Seasons. Of course, I'll be taking the subway down sober, and returning with blackened teeth, lips, and tongue. Might even get good and tipsy.
Please come back soon for photos from the event, and full tasting notes.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
2006 Alvento Sondra, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
White tea is actually green tea. Yes, oh you fancy huh, drinking white tea like thas wassup. No, it's just green tea - more tender leaves, yes, but still a green tea. Does it taste better? That's up to your judgement, you tea-baggers.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
2007 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Riesling Kabinett, QmP Piesporter Goldtröpfchen
I said I'd leave the Mosel rieslings until the weather got warmer, but that's easier said than done. Too hard, just too hard. Still a bit effervescent, yellow in colour, expressive in bouquet. Creamy citrus, high minerals, honey . . . absolutely intoxicating. Lots of energy on the palate, very refined in sweetness, crystalline acidity, great length. Delicious all around.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
The last bit of tea we bought in April from 龙井. Fine tea, as in wine, is all a lesson in the significance and tangible character of terroir. Appreciated by lovers of subtlety, a quiet moment of contemplation as the leaves release their aroma and soft essence.
Friday, January 14, 2011
2007 Cantele Riserva, DOC Salice Salentino, Puglia
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The red pot brings back a lot of memories for me and my UWP boys. Late night, chicken soup slowly boiling away . . . good times. Dug it out the back of the cupboard last weekend for the most amazing winter pasta.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
2008 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Always a pleasure to drink and talk about LCJ, a producer that I've gotten to know quite well. As in, as well as you can get to know a wine from the outside, I suppose. The premise was always lofty - a partnership with Boisset to make Niagara wines evocative of the Côte d’Or, blending Burgundian expertise and experience with Niagara's youthful exuberance. The wines are expensive and hard to find, but they're getting there. These are some of the finest examples of New World pinot noir you can find, and proof that terroir-specific wines exist outside of France.
Just released a few months ago, some wine writers have deemed it necessary to already dismiss the 2008's. For those of you with a paying account, check out the reviews here. What a shame.
Fragrant, linear fruits, all cranberries and crushed rose petals - the floral character and linear structure are hallmarks of this producer. Develops a rusticity, mushrooms and earth. Absolutely delicious, and will only build more nuance as it ages.
The people who are already panning this wine in its infancy . . . stupid. No wonder y'all can't be considered professionals.
Monday, January 10, 2011
2007 Prince Florent de Merode Les Chaillots, AC Ladoix
Sunday, January 9, 2011
I have this strange relationship with these plum wines from Japan. They tend to be syrupy, one-dimensional, and Japanese . . . but if these wines are done well, they're not bad at all. Balanced sweetness, good acid, intense plum flavours - the big question is what to drink it with. I had it with hotpot, and with our seafood, simply divine. Of course, one glass was more than enough, but that one glass showed me a great time.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Friday, January 7, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
A trio of pinot noirs, one Niagara, two Burgundy . . . beautiful, no? Alas, it was not to be. Trying to repeat an exercise I did last year, just not as successful. Didn't have the mood for it, I guess, nor the leisure bliss of slowly drinking late into the night.
The bottle on the right, the Domaine Fleurot Nuits-Saint-Georges was heat-damaged. Reeking of melted rubber and oil, just completely nauseating. Too bad, as it was the most expensive out of the three.
Maybe I'll try this again in a year. After all the excesses of the holidays, its time to scale back in a big way. Back to drinking $15 bottles, and sparingly at that.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Monday, January 3, 2011
And as fast as it came, so quick did it pass. Dammit, back to reality. Damn it to hell.
Relatively speaking, I had a good holidays. Didn't go on any fabulous trips. Which wouldn't be so bad were it not these past two weeks being a non-stop Facebook pageant of people bragging about where they're going, how excited they are, all this T-x days bullshit (wtf is this, a NASA countdown?), this omg, I can't believe the airport has wifi!! . . .
Bitter, in the season of joy and giving.
But I did get to drink plenty of incredibly rare, expensive wines. Yeah, let me peacock it up a bit, let me have my little moment. Boom, and opened off the new year very well. Got warned, but I was being led on.
Right, the wine. Didn't drink as many red Burgundies as I planned on. One of the bottles, a Nuits-Saint-Georges, was horrifically heat-damaged. If it was just TCA taint, I wouldn't have a problem exchanging another bottle. Heat-damage is a completely different problem, which affects the entire crate of wines. But I did get to drink a lot of Barolo, a lot of Vintage Port, and a fair amount of Champagne. White Burgundy too. Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve dinners were with the family - the host families served wine, but I made the safe choice and guzzled Moosehead and Heineken.
Finishing off the last day of the holidays with the remaining drops of 1997 Warre's Colheita Port I have left, with a few slices of Capola prosciutto.
This here is me and my drinking buddy - we always sit together because we pour for each other, as it's so rude to pour alcohol for yourself. I'm on my 4th beer, and he's about 4/5 into a bottle of Le Piat d'Or . . . the more I drink, the louder I get, but the more he drinks, the more layers he takes off. Did you know that he started off the evening wearing a sweater vest and a cardigan? Good times, good times.
Egg dumplings, so quintessentially Shanghainese and vital to New Year's celebrations. The tradition is to prepare them for the Lunar New Year, but as long as I'm not making them myself, any occasion is a good one to stuff 5 or 8 into my mouth.