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Archive for May, 2012

We Return to PUBLIC

For Lorelei’s second trip to New York I asked William if we could dine at PUBLIC. Lorelei had not eaten there and it had been some years since we were last there. It is hard to believe that PUBLIC is now nine years old. Walking around the restaurant instantly reminds me of dinners and New Years Eve of past. The industrial design has not aged which is no surprise since, for example, the bar is lit by Crouse Hinds explosion proof pendant lights. When I look through my old images taken at PUBLIC time is marked by changing hair, glasses, and clothes. At the restaurant it is marked by a changing menu and newer vintages (and some older!) on the wine list.

We joined William for dinner as soon as the doors opened. An early start maximizes the amount of time Lorelei may stay and we needed as much as possible to sample a variety of Chef Farmerie’s excellent dishes. The bar immediately sent out the St. Thyme wine cocktail. The thyme and rosemary infused St. Germain shows ideal balance between herbs, sweetness, and bubbly acidity from the blanc de blanc. We started with such appetizers as the Parsnip soup in an espresso cup (fun to mix the espresso creme fraiche) , Marinated white anchovies (fresh notes of the ocean), Grilled kangaroo on coriander falafel, and Grilled Kobe beef tongue (grilled bits taste great with the relish).

The least we can do is bring up a couple of bottles of wine to drink with dinner. To start we drank the 2002 Donnhoff, Riesling Spatlese, Norheimer Kirschheck, Nahe. At ten years of age there is a rich yellow color. It is still quite young showing great focus, clarity, and honeyed yellow fruit. By the end of the evening a racy vein of fruit developed giving a hint of its future. The fruit, acidity, and ripeness are impeccably balanced. This will surely make old-bones and is best left in the cellar. ***(*) 2017-2035. While our entrees were prepared we lingered over the bottle while enjoying a dish of vegetables such as pickled carrots and crispy leaves with truffled hummus.

Our entrees consisted of the Mushroom and Ricotta tortellini (beautiful texture), Roasted Chatham cod with manila clams (the clams alone are amazing), and Szechuan crusted tenderloin and roasted belly of Berkshire pork. Intensely aromatic there was no need to tilt my head for aromas filled my nose as soon as I was served. For these dishes we drank the 1999 Rene Rostaing, Cote-Rotie. Having been decanted for an hour or so it showed a strong aromatic personality of earth, minerals, and spice. In the mouth it was refined and elegant with flavors that followed the nose. Fresh in the mouth with plenty of acidity it neither subverted nor was upstaged by our entrees. **** Now-2019.

For our dessert we went with Sticky toffee pudding with Armagnac ice cream, Hokey Pokey ice cream, and the PUBLIC chocolate plate. Lorelei devoured the Hokey Pokey ice cream so I deeply satisfied myself with the Sticky toffee pudding and chocolates. Wine Director Erin Scala surprised us with a trio of New Zealand dessert wines. Having never tried this style of wine before I was excited.

The 2004 Dry River, Riesling, Late Harvest, Craighall Vineyard, Martinborough was floral with controlled ripeness on the nose. In the mouth the elegant fruit had some weight easily matched by the acidity. A wine that may certainly be drunk by the glass. *** Now-2022.

The 2010 Seifried, Riesling, Sweet Agnes, Nelson was markedly different with dry toast aromas, cereal, a hint of berries, plenty of acidity. Not my particular style of wine but certainly interesting to taste. ** Now-2017.

The 2004 Vinoptima, Gewurztraminer, Noble Late Harvest, Ormond was the sweetest of the three with viscous tropical flavors, supporting acidity, and though assertive, it had a seductive personality. I opted for a second pour of this one because it worked will with the Sticky toffee pudding. *** Now-2019.

Jenn loves port so Erin brought her two more glasses. I did not get to try the NV Seppeltsfield, Para Grand Tawny, Barossa Valley for Jenn certainly appreciated the glass. The 1985 Bodegas Toro Albala, Don Pedro Ximenez, Gran Reserva, Montilla-Moriles was thick with fig-like texture and flavors, baking spices, and caramel with good acidity and length. I have no clue how these age. Though it should certainly last for a long time why not drink it now? *** Now-2027.

Spurred by Erin’s excitement about wine at our dinner I contacted her after our vacation. Erin is the Wine & Beverage Manager having joined PUBLIC just over one year ago. Having taken on a developed wine list she has made some small changes like including younger Australian producers such as Some Young Punks. The wine list is predominantly focused on the wines of Australia and New Zealand but does include various selections from around the world such as 1981 Adelsheim, Elizabeth’s Reserve, Willamete Valley and 2004 Contino, Gran Reserva, Rioja in triple magnum. Erin’s most notable inclusion is the Antipodean Influence Abroad page. In keeping with the theme of the restaurant this list features wines made from Australian and New Zealand winemakers in Europe and the US. Through these wines she wants to highlight the growing global influence of Roseworthy and Otago. She is particularly excited by Angela Osborne’s Tribute to Grace Grenache and Michelle Reeve’s David Family Pinot Noir. In the early years the wine list gained vintage depth through lots purchased at Langton’s wine auctions in Australia. Today the auction purchases happen locally in Manhattan. With a reduced focus on Australian wines they may readily win interesting lots to add to the list.

I definitely recommend you check out the PUBLIC wine list and at dinner you should ask Erin for help in picking something new. Bring your friends and curiosity for there is much to recommend. Any enthusiasm will be warmly embraced and nurtured. For those wondering what Erin drinks outside of PUBLIC check out her new wine blog Thinking.Drinking.

A Pair of Italian Wines for Dinner

It would be fun to pour both of these wines at dinner this weekend.  For I was quite pleased by both which were recommend by Tim. The Bisceglia, Dry Muscat was quite intriguing with its pure notes of thyme and rosemary.  I became rather hung up on just smelling the wine!  The Casaloste has more vigor as the good fruit stands up to the oak.  Both Jenn and I found it a satisfying wine right now but I would personally cellar it a few years.  Both of these wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Bisceglia, Dry Muscat, Terra di Vulcano, Basilicata  – $12
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Muscat.  The medium-strength nose reveals beautiful Muscat aromas which developed on the second night into delicately floral and fresh, thyme with rosemary.  In the mouth the flavors followed the nose with a dry quality, stones, some ripeness, and drying tannins on the cheeks.  *** Now-2014.

2007 Casaloste, Riserva, Chianti Classico,  – $22
Imported by Massanos Imports.  This wine is 100% Sangiovese which was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel with indigenous yeasts.  It underwent malolactic fermentation then aged up to 14 months in 50% new French oak barriques.  The wine begins with tight, stoney  blue and red fruit before notes of subtle, tight, ripe black fruit comes up.  There is a touch of obvious wood to this medium bodied, well-framed, yet generous wine which wraps up with ripe, drying tannins.  This was slow to open up so either decant for several hours or cellar for the short-term.  *** Now-2019.

Two Lebanese Wines from Chateau Ksara

May 29, 2012 1 comment

Last month I drank a satisfying glass of 2010 Chateau Ksara, Cuvee de Printemps. I recently followed this glass by trying two other red selections.  I would certainly pass on the Reserve du Couvent but would recommend consideration of the Cabernet Sauvignon.  If you are new to Lebanese wine then it is a reasonably priced introduction.  Otherwise wait for it to go on sale.  These wines are currently available at Wegmans of Fairfax.

2009 Chateau Ksara, Reserve du Couvent, Bekaa Valley – ~$12
Imported by American Fidelity Trading.  This wine is a blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon which underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for 12 months.  The fruit was tart with a woodsy note.  The red fruit flavors were soft yet lean with acidity stepping up in the middle with a citrus-like nature.  The tannins were drying and chewy.  * Now-2014.

2008 Chateau Ksara, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cuvee Speciale, Bekaa Valley – ~$16
Imported by American Fidelity Trading.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for 14 months in 50% new French oak.  This nose was more interesting with black fruit and cedar box.  In the mouth there was good blue and black fruit, a little more concentration, and fine, spicy, ripe tannins.  There was a juicy quality as old wood notes came out giving this a good twist between modern and traditional.  ** Now-2017.

Recent Purchases from Despana, NYC

May 29, 2012 1 comment

For Memorial Day Weekend we returned to New York City to visit William and a few other friends.  Located near our hotel in Soho is Despana Vinos y Mas at Broome and Lafayette Streets.  Owned by Angelica and Marcos Intriago they have been importing Spanish food products since 1971.  Despana Brand Foods primarily focused on the wholesale and retail markets.  In 2006 they opened the Despana food market as a public store followed by the wine shop in 2011.

The compact store maximizes space by utilizing floor to ceiling shelves to display several hundred selections of Spanish wines and other drinks.  The left side features red wines, flanking the staff door in the back are two wine fridges, and the left side features white wine, sparkling wine, and other beverages.  Rare bottles may be found in wine fridges.  The wines are grouped by region and for other visitors from Washington, DC you will find a comfortable mix of familiar labels alongside those never seen in our area.

Throughout the store and underneath the counter are bottles of Cune, La Rioja Alta, Torres, Vega-Sicilia, and Lopez de Heredia from the 1960s and 1970s.  These cooked and seepage stained bottles are not for sale.  Instead they are evocative of the 1960s Spanish motorcycle which stands in the storefront window.

I asked for help in selecting six red wines from Terra Alta, Montsant, and such which I had never tasted before.  Matt Diaz kindly picked the selections listed below.  Check back in the near future as I start tasting through these wines.  I cannot wait!

  • 2007 Vina Aliaga, Garnacha Vieja, Navarra
  • 2009 Clos de Noi, Negre Samso, Vinyes velles, Montsant
  • 2009 Edetaria, Edetana, Terra Alta
  • 2009 L’Inconscient, Les Cousins, Priorat
  • 2004 Oriel, Setena, Terra Alta
  • 2009 Vinos del Tros, Ay de mi, Terra Alta

Categories: Image Tags:

A Vintage Label from Bully Hill Vineyards

I recently attended a birthday part for a friend.  While we were hanging out in the bar room drinking Cava and Prosecco I spotted this old bottle from New York.  The Taylor Wine Company has a long history in the Finger Lakes Region.  In 1958 Greyton and Walter Taylor purchased the land where the winery was originally located.  Over the years they built up the vineyards and winery.  When Walter Taylor was fired from The Taylor Wine Company in 1970, he and Greyton founded Bully Hill Vineyards.  In 1977 The Taylor Wine Company merged with Coca Cola and Bully Hill was sued.  Walter Taylor was no longer able to use his last name on his wine labels but he could use his signature if he stipulated he was not connected to The Taylor Wine Company.  If you look close at this label from the 1977 Bully Hill, Baco Noir, Special Reserve you will see the last name of Walter’s signature scribbled out and “Taylor” in The Taylor Wine Company redacted.

Categories: History of Wine, Image

Two More 2010 Cotes du Rhone

For the second vintage in a row the La Grange de Piaugier is in the top group of my favorite affordable wines.  While it is an appealing wine for weekly drinking or big parties, it certainly stands up to more serious scrutiny.  Starting with the 2005 vintage the Cuvee Jules Rochebonne has been a standout wine for me.  It always evoked earthy, dark, old school flavors.  The 2010 vintage shows traits of these earlier vintages but this bottle was really shutdown.  It should be retasted in several years.  The Piaugier is currently available at MacArthur Beverages.

Sophie Autran of Domaine de Piaugier kindly answered some of my questions.  Thank you!  The La Grange de Piaugier is produced from 15-year-old Grenache vines in Sablet, 15-year-old Syrah vines, and 40-year-old Carignan and Cinsault planted by Jean-Marc’s father.  Indeed this cuvee is the only one which incorporates the Carignan and Cinsault.  The varietals are co-fermented with indigenous yeasts for 10 days in concrete vats before aging for 8 months in concrete vats.

2010 Domaine de Piaugier, La Grange de Piaugier, Cotes du Rhone – $12
Imported by DS Trading. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault, and Syrah sourced from 15-45-year-old vines. It was aged in tank.  The color is almost a medium, purple ruby.  Drunk over two nights it delivers a good scented nose which is fresh and framed with red and black fruit along with ripe floral notes.  The mouth follows the nose with good acidity and a touch spicy tannins.  Quite appealing. *** Now-2017.

2010 La Bastide Saint Dominique, Cuvee Jules Rochebonne, Cotes du Rhone – $18
Imported by Simon N” Cellars.  The wine is blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache sourced from 15-35 year old vines.  It was aged 18 months in vats for the Grenache and barrel for the Syrah.  The tight nose lets escape bright red fruit than seen in previous vintages.    This is at most a medium-bodied wine with old-school Syrah notes.  The wine is both restrained and rather young.  There are notes of pencil, fine tannins which coat the lips, and watering acidity.  With a lot of air some black berries and spice come out.  Definitely cellar this for several years before trying again.  **(*) 2015-2022.

Three Recently Released Cotes du Rhones

Here are a trio of Cotes du Rhone wines which recently became available in Washington, DC.  The Saint Cosme provide pleasurable and affordable drinking while still providing elements to engage ones attention.  The Grand Veneur and Gour de Chaule are more serious along with several Dollars more expensive.  The Grand Veneur provides early pleasure whereas the Gour de Chaule should be cellared for a few years.   These wines are currently available at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Chateau de Saint Cosme, Cotes du Rhone – $13
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is 100% Syrah.  There are blue and black fruit, stone notes, hints of white fruit, and a straight-up personality.  There are grapey tannins, a touch of spice, concentration, and smokey bacon notes.  This is a good solid wine to be drunk over the short-term.  ** Now-2017.

2010 Domaine Grand Veneur, Les Champauvins, Cotes du Rhone – $16
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is an approximate blend of 70 % Grenache, 20 % Syrah, 10 % Mourvedre which was fermented in stainless steel.  The nose shows a pure, red berry nose but with air develops ripe and botanic aromas.  In the mouth the red, ripe fruit wants to jump out into the mouth only to follow with blueberry flavors.  Fresh and assured there is definite body to this wine along with ripe, drying tannins.  This appears destined to drink earlier than the 2009.  I would give this a year to settle down.  **(*) 2013-2017.

2010 Domaine du Gour de Chaule, Cuvee de la vigneronne, Cotes du Rhone – $17
Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant.  This wine is 90% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre which underwent malolactic fermentation before aging in large foudre.  The tight nose makes way to tight blue and black fruit in the mouth.  There are fine, dusty tannins, black fruit in the finish which matches well with the acidity.  With air the nice fruit takes on a touch of spice, cinnamon in the finish, and very mild ripeness.  **(*) 2015-2019.