Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
And now for the heavyweights. 2009 was always, from the very beginning, lauded as a fabulous vintage for the red wines. Legendary even, if you'd believe some of the breathless reports coming back from American critics. Lots of ripeness, soaring alcohol levels, all incredibly voluptuous - very Moulin Rouge, all sex and legs without being whoreish.
Château Canon-La Gaffelière 2009: presented by the one and only Stephan Von Neipperg, dashing as always draped in an orange sweater; oaky rich fruit, great purity on the palate, oaky but quite structured, very long
Château Figeac 2009: oaky on the nose, crunchy fruit, very complex; palate disappoints, seems to completely drop off; at an awkward stage?
Château Troplong-Mondot 2009: So much oak here, dark fruit; refined and very elegant on the palate, finely structured, a good one
Château Clinet 2009: at $265 a bottle, certainly not being bashful; warm fruit, extremely ripe, slightly macerated; a bit disappointing, as I want richness and freshness in a warm Pomerol vintage
Château Gazin 2009: my favourite right bank wine, a real winner; this wine always quite rich, and ages very well - you almost feel like it'll never lose its fruit, in any vintage; dark and really big, rich fruit; dense oak on both the nose and palate, tannins are a bit coarse; very structured, needs time - all the elements are present, so much potential here
Château Petit-Village 2009: ripe fresh fruit, some oak, well integrated; big, grippy tannins
Château Poujeaux 2009: beautifully ripe, fresh fruit, so well put together; such an incredible fragrance, elegant palate, with the oak coming up slightly on the finish; very fine indeed
Château Chasse-Spleen 2009: my first time meeting Pierre Foubet, Managing Director of Chasse-Spleen, sans moustache (!); really fresh, pure fruit, so fine, so elegant, remaining structured and pure on the palate; delicious already, I'm SO glad I bought this wine
Château La Lagune 2009: the wine that introduced me to fine Bordeaux - 7 vintages in my cellar and counting; fresh fruit, really pure, some well integrated oak; grippy tannins, really structured, I'm really looking forward to seeing this age
Château Angludet 2009: complex, fine nose, really linear fruit, structured; really, really great
Château Brane-Cantenac 2009: so oaky, completely hiding the fruit; not offering much on the palate; can you say I'm awkward today?
Château Cantenac Brown 2009: that oaky nose again; ripe fruit, remaining fresh on the palate as well; finely structured
Château Du Tertre 2009: degree of oakiness, fine structure, but more luscious in texture
Château Giscours 2009: oaky all over, structured, pure fruit
Château Kirwan 2009: oaky ripe fruit, that middle of the line palate
Château Prieuré-Lichine 2009: so fresh, vibrant in fruit, really elegant; good structure, beautifully put together; 50% new oak
Château Rauzan-Ségla 2009: fine fruit, some oak, really linear palate; finely structured, really delicious; the famous (and hideous looking) Karl Lagerfeld-designed labels
Château Rauzan-Gassies 2009: crunchy, oaky fruit, good integration, fine palate; quite good in fact
Château Beychevelle 2009: fresh, vibrant fruit, good density, rich but balanced; delicious already
Château Branaire Ducru 2009: I need to take a closer look at these wines; fine oak used, linear fruit, elegantly structured; so fresh, very good potential
Château Gruaud-Larose 2009: oaky, fine fruit; linear, fresh, well structured; it's the freshness and balance that was giving my boy Stefan the shakes
Château Langoa-Barton 2009: good depth, dark, and linear; finely structured, tight and dense; the potential here is obvious
Château Lagrange 2009: fresh, well integrated oak, good structured, slightly candied in fruit
Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 2009: slightly bretty here, the only one (!); rustic palate, good structure, fine
Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron 2009: clearly the finest red wine here; really elegant, pure fruit, fresh, and incredible pedigree here; absolute silk on the palate, weightless; so fine, so grand, I'm losing my mind here
Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse De Lalande 2009: some oak, fine fruit, elegant structured and with great breed; excellent potential here, one of the grand wines of Pauillac ($295 a bottle)
I don't want to suggest that Sauternes is in some trouble, but as with other sweet wines, it's near impossible to shed its label as something you only drink with dessert. And we all know how those go - almost no one actually opens another bottle after dinner, and no one even thinks of having it with dinner. Let's change that. In a great, cool vintage where the wines retain a good acidity, yet have ripeness and that all important botrytis character - a LOT like 2007 - the wines are absolutely stunning on the table. Few things in the world provide that deep satisfaction as old Sauternes, and yes, let's work together and change the perception of these wines. First by NEVER referring to them as dessert wines, omg.
Château Climens 2009: pure, linear fruit already apparent; very pure and fine on the palate, sweet yet balanced
Château Coutet 2009: presented by the always articulate Aline Baly, Marketing & Communication Manager; honey and ripe fruit, viscous; round and sweet on the palate, long with good richness
Château de Fargues 2009: clearly the finest Sauternes of the tasting, and at $87 for a half bottle, it should be; botrytis spice on the nose, floral and ripe fruits; honey on the palate, long and a very spicy finish; fine and elegant, already complex with great depth
Château de Rayne-Vigneau 2009: ripe fruit, pure, mineral; compact on the palate, slightly bitter on the finish, interesting and needs time to come together
Château Doisy Daëne 2009: a wine I've been following for quite some time - I am SO excited for the 2007's to start coming around; pretty, almost floral in aroma, very refined fruit; really sweet, dense, rich, and long
Château Guiraud 2009: pure fruit, quite pretty, flowers and all that, the signature of Guiraud; ripe sweet fruit, textural and really viscous on the palate
Château La Tour Blanche 2009: blast of oak over the fruit, sweet palate, some spice on the finish; really needs time in the bottle
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2009: spicy oak on the nose, pure fruit, sweet but balanced palate
Château Suduiraut 2009: I have a half-bottle of the 1997 somewhere - we'll see soon enough how this ages after a decade in bottle; a bit reticent on the nose, but the fruit is very pure, concentrated and very sweet; a big, big wine
The dry white wines of Bordeaux are always exciting to taste. The past few years have seen successive vintages of stunning dry whites from here - 2005, 2008, and definitely 2007 have all been winners. Just something about the acidity and levels of extract on the palate that make the experience feel like drinking electricity. And, might I add, these are the few white wines in the world that wear so much new oak with such style.
Château Carbonnieux Blanc 2009: so delicate on the nose, linear and fresh, very clear fruit; a very cool style of wine indeed, very pure, with just a kiss of oak; very fine and elegant example, a favourite of mine
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2009: always such a pleasure talking to Monsieur and Madame Bernard, the passionate and eloquent managers of this estate; really well-integrated oak, floral notes, so fragrant already; delicate, ripe fruit, exceedingly elegant on the palate, showing the most amazing peach and tropical character on the palate; just a delicious, friendly, complex, and inviting wine
Château de Fieuzal Blanc 2009: slightly green in aroma, those sauvignon notes, with the fruit quite open; lean palate, put together, but altogether more grounded
Château Haut-Bergey Blanc 2009: I quite like this wine, but it was showing slightly awkward tonight; a fair bit of round oak, with the fruit reticent
Château Larrivet-Haut-Brion Blanc 2009: this wine is always well priced, showing well in 2007 and 2008; slightly green on the nose, fruit a bit shy at the moment; sweet oak on the palate; all the elements are there, just needs time to come together
Château Latour-Martillac Blanc 2009: that hideous label is an absolute eyesore, but the wine is the real deal; ripe fruit on the nose, fresh; beautifully extracted on the palate, with the fruit becoming almost crunchy in texture; a fabulous success for this estate, for this vintage
Château Malartic-Lagravière Blanc 2009: the oak is present, but remains in the background, rising up a bit in the mouth; nutty, but too bad the fruit is hidden
Château Pape Clément Blanc 2009: the heavyweight at, check it, $245 a bottle . . . horrifying; some oak on the nose, but the fruit is ripe and holds it nicely; really elegant in texture, very fine, with the oak rising up on the finish; heavyweight indeed
Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2009: for once, their reds out-price the whites; oaky ripe fruit, really bright on the palate; well integrated already with the oak rising on the finish; this estate always likes more structured white wines, and the 2009 does need some time to just come together and develop into itself
Tasting notes for Barsac and Sauternes next!
Saturday, January 28, 2012
I had the lamb burger - so satisfying. Also went on to have a pint of Railway City Dead Elephant Ale and a Big Butt Smoked Dark Ale. And I'm paying for it now, badly hungover. It was a good night, but everything after 11pm seems a bit hazy. Let me wake up, and I'll start posting my tasting notes.
Friday, January 27, 2012
So, we've finished the UGC Bordeaux tasting of the 2009 vintage and are at C'est What, grabbing some food and a few pints. Just some quick thoughts - the reds were stunning across the board, with some truly exciting wines. The cabernets were a great success. Still an issue with some right bank wines being overextracted. Lots of new oak everywhere, but in the best examples, the elements are already well-integrated. The dry whites lacked energy, but did show ripe, tropical fruit characteristics. Sauternes was very sweet and rich.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
I've lived alone with my father for 3 weeks now. And I can't believe it, but I've turned into a petulant teenager again, all would you leave me ALONE/just give me TWO minutes of quiet/NO I shouldn't have to confirm something we do every single day. Petulant like I can't even help myself.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Shirakawago Sasanigori | Gifu Prefecture
It looks like milk doesn't it? It's good to challenge yourself with new things once in a while. Keeps you nervous, and as they say, on your toes.
The thing I miss most about being in Shanghai is eating with family. It's a different kind of food there - it's being back in the old country, and eating things that can't be found here. And the drinking. Oh yes, the rice wine. I've got these awesome uncles that everyone needs to have. It's a source of great pride for the Fangs that we are immune to the Asian glow. We drink until we can't stand/talk/walk straight, but we do not turn red. I particularly remember an amazing lunch we had the last time I was back home . . . . . oh God, that was almost two years ago. Food was amazing, just a full table of authentic, traditional Shanghai and Ningbo cuisine.
I've got so much love for two of my uncles, my father's oldest, and youngest brothers. And they were determined to see if I lived up to the Fang name. I'd like to think that I did pretty well. We finished something like 5 bottles of Shaoxing rice wine between the 3 of us - big 820 mL bottles, pushing 20% abv. I like drinking, but my goodness, it almost seemed a bit ridiculous to be indulging like this for lunch. We finished eating, about to have dessert served . . . I thought we were wrapping up when I fully realized the calibre of men I was drinking with. They called for 3 more (1 litre) bottles of beer to, as they said, rinse out the palate.
Needless to say, making our way back home through the Shanghai Metro was a bit of a struggle.
What a totally irrelevant story to this nigori sake. Milky white, with that extracted rice aroma. Gritty in texture, dry, with the alcohol showing a bit. Certainly a different experience. And it's good to open yourself to different things. Oh God I miss Shanghai.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
A Shanghai classic, yellow croaker and pickled cabbage soup. One of the most humble fish, that we can't even find fresh here . . . taking all of 20 minutes to put together. And as I was cooking, something occurred to me about how these dishes became, well, classics. Any real Shanghai native will recognize what this is. The simplest ingredients, but satisfies everything you want a a savoury fish soup to be.
Monday, January 23, 2012
My mother's still in Shanghai, so it's not much of a celebration this year. And of course, the first day of the new year today was a shitfest. Just nothing seeming to going right, from apparently losing my keys to not bringing my workout pants to, yes, even forgetting how I write my signature.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
It's snowing a bit. Out soon to a family friend's for dinner, to celebrate our New Year. Have the wines ready, some Chilean, some Argentinean. Ready to eat and become thoroughly, as they say, bottoms up. Photos, and possibly a tipsy video, to follow.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
We bought that glass teapot in Shanghai, when I was last home in 2010. We've used it maybe twice? It's actually a terrible vessel to brew tea in. Doesn't hold heat well, the spout doesn't really pour right, and the fit of the glass top is suspect. But you do get to see the tea leaves do their dance, moving up and down in the hot water. If only the tea were as interesting. Brews lightly flavoured water, a suggestion that you're drinking tea.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
2001 Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva, DOCa Rioja
Monday, January 16, 2012
I'm having these crippling episodes of self-doubt and anxiety again. I look like shit, I can't sleep, drinking heavily again . . . and the real business hasn't even started yet! It's been a few years since I've graduated, and lately, it's becoming quite clear that if I'm going to make something of myself, as they say, I need to go back to school. So it's time to tighten up that sphincter and get to work.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Something to look forward to! Yes, it's that time of year again when all the aristocrats from Bordeaux come to Toronto to allow us the privilege of tasting their sweet sweet nectar. I'm so excited, because in 2 weeks, the UGC will once again host a tasting of their wines, this time the vaunted 2009 vintage. The last 2 years, the red wines were certainly underwhelming. This year looks to be much different.
I've always been so impressed with the quality of dry white Bordeaux, and 2007 was a wild success for Sauternes. The reds? Really hit and miss for me - I've felt indifferent about them far more than not at these tastings. The prices being asked for them certainly play a role in that perception. But the 2009 reds are said to be amazing, and I can't wait to taste. Also, looking forward to meeting and talking with some of the owners and estate managers again! Plus . . . it's all on a Friday night. Who knows, maybe we'll see a repeat performance.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
We want to take a look at these beers in a more natural setting; namely, the table. For individual tasting notes for each beer, refer here please.
It's almost a shame that beer is most often think of as being best enjoyed on its own. After all, few alcoholic beverages have the versatility to go with a wide range of foods as beer does. Wine certainly doesn't. Try to drink the wrong wine with the wrong dish . . . utterly disastrous. And unfortunately, wine and food can be tricky. Why do you think there are so many writers whose entire careers revolve around piece after boring piece about what to drink with what?
Just as the true winos have disproved the whole red meat with red wine, white meat with white wine absurdity, we have to get beyond the notion that beers are best ice cold and on its own. That's no good. So let's start now and make a conscious effort to drink good craft beers with food, and understand how different styles match different flavour profiles. Beer is versatile, so incredibly versatile with food. Savoury food, spicy food, all kinds of proteins, raw seafoods . . . start of meal, end of meal, and pretty much everything in between, beer can handle it all. The key is to know the style. And by style, we're really looking at the hop profile, the type of malt used, and what kind of roast was applied. So as long as we can identify the flavour profile of the beer, we can determine which ones to serve with any specific food.
For friends in Ontario, this was shared with me by Rubaiyat Wine and Spirit - the availability of the following beers through the LCBO are as follows:
Celt Native Storm Crafted Ale, LCBO Item #260299, will be released as part of the LCBO's Spring Beers on February 26, 2012.
Celt Golden Crafted Ale, LCBO Item #224600, will be released as part of the LCBO's Summer Beers on May 20, 2011
Celt Bronze Crafted Ale, LCBO Item #236091, will probably be included in their Autumn Ales released in September, although this is not yet confirmed.