Monday, January 31, 2011

Post No. 2110

Profile - Colour

A little behind schedule for this one, but didn't want to break up my UGC Bordeaux notes. And here we are. My winter depression is setting in - I've been budgeting since the holidays. Sucks. But still having fun on Friday nights.

Our New Year is coming up. Besides the usual rounds of calls to family back in Shanghai and Tokyo, some important meals to prepare for. New Year's Eve with the family, as per Shanghainese tradition, while Saturday night will be spent with family friends. Going to get drunk out of my mind. What to drink with these meals? Chinese spirits, of course.

I'm setting down a more regular schedule for writing this year. Daily, yes, but only if it's worth writing. We'll see how it goes. Let's work on being a better trader. Counting on my TFSA account to fund a new Nikon lens, trips to wagg, and wine.

DF

Frank's Kitchen

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First, a thousand apologies for the horrendous eyesores taken on my phone. You guys deserve better. Downtown Toronto is a strange part of town, teeming with strange people and one-way streets. I hate driving there, but Frank's Kitchen was in Little Italy and I was hungry. How perfect then, that I made reservations for dinner on one of the coldest days we've had in recent memory, the wind chill at -33°.

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.

Entrées of St. Jacob's pork three ways, lobster ravioli, and seared arctic char with sea scallop. Slightly underwhelmed here. Pork was overcooked . . . just by the smallest degree, with the loin rubbed in what I'm convinced is wasabi. Lobster ravioli, absolutely delicious in its tomato broth. Arctic char, sea scallop - could do with a harder sear, but the dish as a whole is well put together.

Ended with a black plum tarte tatin and vanilla ice cream. Could do without the caramel, but this is a nice end to the meal. The chef sends around various little things to nibble on in between courses, a really nice touch. Amuse-bouche of fried goat cheese balls over salad and potato purée. Raspberry and tarragon sorbet. The most amazing, melt in your mouth, creamy chocolate truffles.

Drunk with a bottle of 2008 Tawse Echos Riesling, VQA Niagara Peninsula. Delicious, balanced with high acid. Lots of green apple, linear minerality. Overall, not a particularly exciting wine list, but well priced. Relatively speaking, of course. Like the food menu, fairly compact, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, if done well.

I like the restaurant. I like the food. Watching the kitchen work in the open works for them - very calm, organized, competent. Maybe the food isn't groundbreaking or mind-blowingly exciting, but in Toronto, a restaurant that presents well-cooked, seasonal foods is always a wonderful thing.

DF

A few lines on drinking Vintage Port with dinner

DF bowtie

Is it too much to do an entire meal with Vintage Port?

I don't think so.

Why is there a stigma against sweet wines with food?

Why is there a stigma against sweet wines in general?

Port shouldn't be reserved for stuffy Brits who still say stupid shit like going to the cinema.

Old vintage ports reveal nuances upon nuances, outgrowing their primary sweetness.

Am I making as strong of a case as I think I am?

Port and cheese, cheese and port . . . the greatest food/wine marriage known to mankind. But just try it with a dry-aged steak. Peppercorns and all that.

DF

Sunday, January 30, 2011

山楂树之恋

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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.

The Chinese expect tragedy . . . a product of a culturally ingrained pragmatism, perhaps. And so when we see a film about love, the inevitable tragedy that befalls the protagonists may not be something that people from lesser backgrounds accept or understand, but is essential to understanding what it is to be Chinese.

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.

A tremendous sense of loss, visualized in every frame. Zhang wants us to understand the phrase 我不能等你一年零一個月了,也不能等你到二十五歲了,但是我會等你一輩子. Beause we don't know how to truly love anymore, pure love. There is love for wealth, for fame, for excess. But deep love, innocent of all else but him/her - there no longer exists such thing. And that's very tragic.

Don't weep for the characters, so much as the loss of innocence.

DF

Friday, January 28, 2011

UGC Bordeaux, final thoughts

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left to right: Ms. Aline Baly, Owner of Château Coutet and Ms. Virginie Achou-Legape, Marketing & Communication of Château Climens

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DF and Mr. Pierre Montégut, Director of Château Suduiraut

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DF and the peerless Comte Stephan von Neipperg, Director of Château Canon-La-Gaffelière

This year's UGC Bordeaux tasting was once again, an invaluable look into the 2008 vintage. It's also fascinating to see how different a vintage can be for each producer, and meeting the people behind all the wines is always wonderful. I made a conscientious effort to speak with a few of the owners and directors of each estate . . . and was very glad I did. These people are so passionate, so eloquent about their wines - very inspiring.

The 2008 vintage, overall, is consistent. If one is to make generalizations, which are very unfair at this stage, one would have to say that the vintage is good, not great. Above all though, I feel like this is the wrong time to be tasting these wines. Having just been bottled for a few months at most, so many of the wines were either closed or at a very awkward stage - I can't help but feel that these wines would show much better in 12 months. In any case, some kind of judgement has to be made. The dry whites don't have the energy or the sheer sex appeal of the 2007's. The Sauternes are good, some with wonderful minerality, but not as focused as 2007. The red wines were more successful, riper than 2007. However, this is still a fairly lean, tight year. Oak management is a big issue, with many of the wines seeming clunky, with the oak sitting on top of everything. The majority of the wines remain elegant in structure, but a few showed hard, almost greenish tannins.

Good, not great vintage. This was a strange year all around, with the substantial price decreases initiated by the Bordelais. At the time of the campaign, it was said that this was a very good vintage, better than 2006 and just sitting beneath 2005. This tasting showed maybe otherwise. We'll see in 10 years.

DF

Thursday, January 27, 2011

UGC Bordeaux - 2008 Saint-Émilion Grand Cru/Pomerol

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The right bank is always under-represented at UGC tastings. I'm probably 60/40 on Bordeaux, with the right bank having a slight edge. Just more interesting, especially the ones coming from limestone-heavy vineyards. And look at these guys - the ever so charming Comte Stephan von Neipperg, showing the young guys how it's done with the sharp suit and draped orange sweater. The wines? More of the same - some good ones, some closed.

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

DF

UGC Bordeaux - 2008 Pessac-Léognan Rouge

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DF and Mr. Olivier Bernard, Manager of Domaine de Chevalier. Fresh off a feature in Decanter magazine, we had an extended conversation about the history of white Bordeaux, Pessac, dry white wines, white Burgundy, harvesting techniques, wine philosophy . . . what a fascinating man. A trip to Domaine de Chevalier is definitely on my list now. The red wines coming out of here, again, are not bad in 2008. But when you're paying north of $60, not bad doesn't cut it.

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

DF

UGC Bordeaux - 2008 Pauillac/Saint-Estèphe

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The heavyweights of the tasting, at least to the rabid trend-chasers these events always seem to attract. At least Lynch-Bages didn't run out this time. Nothing spectacular again - these wines are just so awkward right now. Good, not great . . . this should not be something these wines are striving for, at least at these prices. Yet I'm certain that if we were to taste them in a year, impressions would be vastly improved. A shame.

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)

DF

UGC Bordeaux - 2008 Saint-Julien

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Saint-Julien interests me. Overall, the wines showed well. Solid, classic Bordeaux, although a few were closed. Geez . . . I know they want to push the newest vintage, and LCBO wants to pump up their futures sales before the wines arrive, but come on, this is just about the worst time to taste these wines. Oak just completely sitting on top of everything, with many showing hard tannins.

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

DF

UGC Bordeaux - 2008 Margaux

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I've never really known what to think of Margaux. At the top, the wines are some of the most alluring, feminine, sexy wines in all of Bordeaux. But it barely takes a sneeze to topple these wines into overpriced mediocrity. And that's how the wines came off at the tasting. Just in a very awkward stage, either closed or muted. Tannins were either nonexistent, or very hard - lacking ripeness? Oak is sticking out too.

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

DF

UGC Bordeaux - 2008 Moulis/Haut-Médoc

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DF and Mr. Jean-Luc Chapel, Brand Ambassador of Château La Lagune. We had a conversation about my love for his wine, particularly my partiality to the '86. He affirmed that Hong Kong was a major market for them, and La Lagune enjoys great name recognition there. Anyways, onto what I believe is some of the highest value wines in all of Bordeaux. Speaking about Poujeaux and Chasse-Spleen of course, two wines that are modestly priced yet are of exceptional quality. And they were wonderful, my two favourite wines of the tasting. Elegant and classic clarets, making me very happy I bought both.

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

DF

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

UGC Bordeaux - 2008 Sauternes

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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

DF

UGC Bordeaux - 2008 Graves/Pessac-Léognan Blanc

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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

DF

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

UGC Bordeaux, 2008

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The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux is back in Toronto, here we go again.

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.

DF

Monday, January 24, 2011

Alvento whiting out their labels?

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I noticed something very interesting on the back label of my bottle of Alvento Sondra. Look at the left column, the very last sentence. It reads It is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc in the style of the great wines

Notice that there's no period, and the sentence really leaves you hanging?

The final words should be . . . of Bordeaux. So why were those two words whited out? Huh? Did Alvento not like the impression that they were making Bordeaux-inspired wines? There's no shame in that - everyone in the New World is inspired by the French. Just bizarre. So someone at Alvento took white-out to every single bottle? Am I processing this right? Please help me understand how any of this makes sense.

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Blogger's note, Jan 27, 8:43pm:

Got my answer, now I get the whole white-out situation. Mr. Richie Roberts of Fielding wines illuminated things for me. Apparently, VQA regulations stipulate that labels cannot reference any other region. Stupid regulations from the VQA, how could I not have known.

DF

Sunday, January 23, 2011

2006 Niagara Peninsula

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2006 Alvento Sondra, VQA Niagara Peninsula

I've never heard of Alvento. An oversight of epic proportions? Perhaps. Or maybe just being romantic about Niagara as usual. I'd like to pay a visit soon.

Haven't changed my position about Bordeaux-style wines in Niagara. Still don't think much about much of the cabernet based wines being made . . . these varietals simple struggle to ripen in this climate, and too many of them have a disgusting road tar aroma to them. Merlot, on the other hand, might be a different story. This wine proves it. A right-bank inspired blend of 90% merlot and 10% cabernet franc.

Dark in colour, and initially, quite oaky, with the wood manifesting itself in aromas of mocha and general toastiness. The website says that the wine is aged in larger Burgundy casks - it might be an issue of a higher percentage of new barrels, the youth of the wine, or the general structural makeup of the wine, but the wood is primary. Alcohol is a bit sharp at first too, on both nose and palate. Lean, with the alcohol coming up again on the finish.

I knew this wine was better than how it was showing. After 24 hours, everything integrates much, much better. The oak gives way to a more earthy, savoury character, with a distinct spiciness. Fruit is much purer, even quite minerally. Lean, but much more balanced, with the alcohol just about imperceptible. At a listed 12.5% abv, it better be. Spicy finish, good length.

A very good example of what Niagara merlot can achieve, but give it some time. Finely structured, it'd be interesting to taste these with a few more years of bottle age. And I need to visit this place, meet these people.

DF

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cured chicken

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We cure our own meats. Lots of salt, peppercorn, star anise . . . and a few other secret spices. Then you string them up, letting them flutter ever so carelessly in the breeze. This is chicken thigh and leg. Once the meat tightens, we chop it into smaller pieces, and quickly steam.

DF

Thursday, January 20, 2011

White tea

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White tea refers to the tender shoots and buds of the Camellia sinensis plant that have been slightly oxidized and lightly processed. That's what they try to market to you, as justification for charging higher prices.

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.

DF

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Curvy and smooth

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A very cool Christmas gift from some friends who know me very well . . . an oak cask stave, repurposed as a candle holder. It's been finished, so you can't smell the oak anymore, but the grooves where the iron hoops were tightened, as well as the charred interior are all intact.

The only problem . . . my kitchen table's not big enough!

DF

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hold it down

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I'm drinking rum again, and it's been awesome. Havana Club, holding it down until I have a steadier supply of wine coming in.

DF

Monday, January 17, 2011

Press to see the lights

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I've had my MBP for nearly 8 months now, and I'm still learning new things about it. The button to the left of the lights . . . until this weekend, I had no idea that that was a button. I just kind of ignored it, without realizing that you press it to display battery level. And why is this of interest?

I have no wine to talk about, duh.

DF

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2007 Mosel

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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.

Because drinking Mosel riesling is going to allow me to live forever.

DF

Saturday, January 15, 2011

龙井茶

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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.

DF

Friday, January 14, 2011

2007 Salice Salentino

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2007 Cantele Riserva, DOC Salice Salentino, Puglia

The new year's all about expanding wine drinking horizons, so why not start by drinking obscure Italian wines? A blend of indigenous grapes, 80% Negroamaro and 20% Malvasia Nera, this is surprisingly very good. Dark colours, some oak, but a graphite minerality showing. Develops a meaty, savoury character, harmonious on the palate, transitions well.

A balanced, interesting wine . . . we all need to be drinking more of those.

DF

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Love for the pot

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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.

DF

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2008 Niagara Peninsula

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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.

DF

Monday, January 10, 2011

2007 Ladoix Les Chaillots

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2007 Prince Florent de Merode Les Chaillots, AC Ladoix

Ladoix is a little appellation, click the link. Prince Florent de Merode died in 2008, and his vineyard holdings were sold off - but more interesting is the leasing of his three Corton Grand Crus to DRC. Very interesting indeed, but does this more humble bottle reflect its aristocratic owner?

Not really.

Coarse, slightly confected fruit, which develops some mineral character. A simple wine, pleasant enough . . . just not good enough.

DF

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Umeshu

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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.

DF

Saturday, January 8, 2011

On Champagne and common perception

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I was talking to a wonderful girl last night, just a total sweetheart. About wine, bien sur. She committed the cardinal sin of wine talk with a wino . . . she asked what my favourite wine was. I mumbled something about oh, the wine I'll drink with you will be my favourite, or something close - my memory of the night is hazy from 11 pm onward. But I did mention that I was a Champagne guy. And she said, I like Champagne, but it's too sweet.

What? Is that the perception that people have about Champagne? Disregarding the fact that people call everything sparkling a Champagne, is that what people think these wines taste like? That's a problem.

What's going on? Are the Champagne houses not doing a good enough job at educating people about their wines? Or are they doing too good of a job, that people associate any cheap sparkling plonk with it? A deadly combination of both, perhaps. I hear it among my friends as well . . . oh, let's pop open some Champagne, and what do you see but a bottle of Henkel or prosecco being opened. And then you realize, mon Dieu, they've never drank a Champagne in their life.

Is this just a silly, pedantic hangup over a name? Perhaps, but there's a deeper issue. People recognize a French wine from a Californian, Chilean from Australian - why is Champagne so abused? This is going to be a big issue, especially if the Champagne houses continue charging what they're charging. If people can buy $15-20 cavas and proseccos and Crémants, and think of them all as Champagnes, why would they pay $40 minimum for the real thing?

Especially if they think it's going to be sweet??!! Someone help me understand.

DF

Friday, January 7, 2011

Traditions

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I like tradition. It's what separates us from lesser beings. So I'm setting one now, because it's something I've tried doing for the second straight year.

The holidays mean bringing out your best to eat and drink, and for me, the pinnacle of wine remains with red Burgundy. For two years running now, I've done 3 bottles of pinot noir, a mix of Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve, with the other two being either another Niagara or Burgundy. There are probably a lot more meaningful things I could be doing, but this is literally the only thing I care about getting done over the holidays.

What traditions do you have?

DF

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chap my ass

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I know it's part of the whole deal, but I'm still a bit aggravated. My butter-fingered father broke yet another one of my (brand new and expensive) glasses. These being the same stems that I told him clearly, and in no uncertain terms, that he was not to touch. Under any circumstances. And the thing that chafes me the most? The fact that he's trying to blame me, because he broke them while he was doing me a favour by rinsing them out.

Broken, and it hasn't even been 3 weeks since I bought them. I haven't even paid my credit card bill for them!! ARGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DF

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Damaged goods

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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.

DF

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Have a seat

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This is how to eat smart at a family dinner. I grabbed a few beers, sat myself in front of the prosciutto, and said, let the feast begin!

DF

Monday, January 3, 2011

A final drink

12.31.2010 - 3

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.

DF

Egg dumplings

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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.

DF