Saturday, May 31, 2008

It Must Be Summer

The unofficial start of summer here in Ohio is Memorial Day, which was last Monday, but Saturday was definitely the start weather-wise. After an incredibly cool month of May the temperature soared to 85 degrees and the humidity rose in a like manner.

Warm , humid temperatures are meant for rose' wine with a slight chill to them. That's exactly what happened when I opened a 2006 Domaine Pierre Guindon - Saint Gereon Chateau D'Ancenis gamay rose from the Loire Valley in France. It had the requisite bright strawberries and cherries, a nice dose of acid, and a dry finish highlighted by a subtle taste of rhubarb. The dry finish was just wonderful, and was probably the best part of this wine. Not great, but for $10 it may appear on the table again.

I threw some Long Island Sound oysters on the grill for an appetizer. We are nearing the end of the season for oysters and these were plump, sweet, salty, and tangy. While we devoured the oysters a large rib steak took up residence on the grill and some garlic and rosemary potatoes roasted in the oven.

The wine was even better with the steak as the fruit really came to the fore and the acid did it's palate cleansing job, and there was enough fat in the steak that Scott and Ellie were thrilled to be on the receiving end. Good steak, good wine, great oysters.

The nice thing about this time of year is that it cools off once the sun sets so we ended the day watching the Stanley Cup hockey finals and sipping a glass of the world's best Scottish whisky, Lagavulin. Strange coincidence that it is Scott's registered name? No.

The storm door from the previous post? It was pounded back into submission with a rubber mallet and is at least usable. The new door will be here Monday or Tuesday.

Perfect Storm?

Well, it wasn't exactly a perfect storm, but it will do.

I ordered two books that were delivered yesterday. The first, pictured here, is The Wines of the Northern Rhone by John Livingstone - Learmonth and the other was The Billionaire's Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace. The latter has been creating a storm of it's own in the wine world with its 'investigation' of the 1787 Thomas Jefferson Chateau Lafitte bottles. It's ruffling a few feathers so I decided to see what the fuss was about.

The books were delivered while I was out and the postal service tried to put the box between the front door and the storm door. There was quite a bit of wind yesterday afternoon and it was coming from the southwest. The box was a little too large to fit where the postal worker put it so that left an opening for the wind to do strange and terrible things to the storm door. The result of all this was the need for a new storm door today and two very unhappy dogs who will have to content themselves with looking out the window instead of sticking there heads out of the door.

Later in the evening as I was reading notes on Cote Rotie and sipping a Cote du Rhone the severe part of the storm began, and it continued until early this morning. The three witches from MacBeth showed up, Thunder Lightning and Rain, and they brought their uncredited sister Windy with them. Windy destroyed what was left of the storm door.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wineries & Leftovers

It was an almost perfect ending for a three day weekend, which could have only been surpassed by someone declaring it a four day weekend.

Today (Monday) was the day we ventured down to Ripley OH on the Ohio River to pick up the 2007 white wines from Kinkead Ridge. As I have mentioned before this is an Ohio winery making some outstanding wines, and this weekend was the release of their 2007 white varietals.

There was a terrible Easter frost in April 2007 and it basically decimated the white grapes in this area, along with apples and other tree fruits. As a result there was significantly less wine available this year so a trip to the winery was necessary to assure getting some of them. How little was available? The 2007 Riesling came in at 38 cases. They took all the other white varietals this year and blended them into a white wine they call Revelation. Mostly Roussanne, it also included some chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, semillon and pinot blanc. There were 48 cases of this wine.

The Riesling was tart and drier than last year's version. Very floral on the nose it also gave hints of peaches and just a touch of citrus. That all carried through on the taste and then finished with a limey minerality that was very refreshing. The wine had 1.2% residual sugar. I loved last year's vintage, and I very much like this year's.

The Revelation was very interesting. There was definitely some kiwi fruit along with some peaches and pears, and to me a hint of yellow plums. Wonderful acidity, a full body and a very lengthy finish made for a good effort from a terrible year.

They were also pouring their 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and this was the first I had tasted since it was released last September. It has changed, evolved and come together in those months.

I brought home a mixed case of six Rieslings (the limit), four Revelations and added two Cabernet Sauvignons to fill out the case. The Cabs joined their four siblings in the cellar to make an even half dozen.

Later in the day I popped one of the Revelations in the refrigerator and began supper.

There was a leftover lobster from Saturday so the meat was removed and the shells steeped in some water and then reduced to a quick stock. I chopped a leek and sauteed it in olive oil and butter, and opened a Revelation and added half a cup of that. Once the wine reduced we added the lobster meat, a chopped tomato, a pinch of saffron, just enough red pepper flakes to give it some pizazz, a little lemon juice and some heavy cream. When the cream reduced and the lobster pieces warmed it was served over fresh tagliatelle with some parsley and basil tossed over the top.

It was tremendous with the Revelation and there were a few crusty rolls for mopping up the sauce. The wine was almost a perfect compliment to the pasta, and may have even been better with a chunk of bread soaked with the remaining sauce. Life is good.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Saturday was the annual Lobsterfest. The local, upscale market flies in a huge amount of fresh lobsters (this year from Maine) and offers them at a great price, $12 each. They start selling at 9:00 AM and continue until they are gone, which is usually a little after noon.

The lines form early, but they are great lines to be in since they offer samples of cream cheese and bagels, small appetizers and a white wine or two while you are waiting. If you're going to stand in line at a market, you might as well be drinking a glass of wine.

This year we had twelve people so we picked up 13 lobsters. The friend who hosted the party this year brews his own beer, so he had an "industrial" natural gas burner and large tank normally used for his brewing. Saturday this equipment doubled as a great lobster cooker. We steamed them in two batches, took off the claws and tails and served them buffet style with lemon and thyme infused drawn butter, a twice baked potato, green beans, risotto cakes and four white wines. An outstanding meal.

The wines ranged from expensive to relatively cheap and the results were surprising. There were three serious wine drinkers in attendance and each of us tends to like something a little different in red wines. Today it was a unanimous verdict for the same white whine and it was the least expensive wine on the list, Burgans 2006 Albarino from Rias Baixas in Spain. Tart, citrusy, yet with good body and finish. It was a delightful wine at $13 and everyone was pleased with it. A simply great wine for lobster as it totally complimented the crustaceans, but then again, Albarinos are known for complimenting shellfish.

The second favorite was also unanimous, the Nigl Kremstal Gruner Veltliner 2005. Subdued fruit great acid and minerality and totally refreshing, this wine was a great contrast to the lobsters. $15 and will last for several more years.

In third place with 2 third place votes was the Rochiolli 2005 Chardonnay from California's Russian River Valley at $45 a bottle. It was over oaked and tasted more of hazelnuts and pineapple than anything else. It was way over the top and it was terrible with the lobster, and I suspect it would have been over kill for almost any food. What a disappointment this was, since this is one of my favorite California producers and previous vintages of this wine have been delicious. Throughout the course of the evening I re-sampled this wine several times and it never got any better. I had this wine in last place.

The last wine was the 2006 Naia, a Spanish Rueda wine made from the verdejo grape. Thin and herbaceous and almost totally lacking in fruit, it just did not match well with the lobsters. I thought it might be better with some spicy chicken. $16 per bottle.

All in all it was a great party and a wonderful way to start a three day holiday weekend, that will end with a visit to the local winery, Kinkead Ridge, on Monday.


It's a beautiful Saturday morning here in Ohio, so here's my small tribute to Georgia O'Keeffe, an artist I have always enjoyed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Islay Again

Another pleasant, cool evening topped off by a small glass of Caol Isla 18 year old single malt scotch.

Dinner was a prime rib steak done over charcoal with a baked potato sprinkled with black truffle salt and butter. There was a modest little Cote du Rhone, La Ferme de Gicon 2005. The wine is a good summer red. There is nothing heavy about it, it takes a slight chill and it is mostly about soft fruit and acid. At $10 a bottle there may be more of it once the weather turns warmer.

The whisky? Light peat smoke, some herbs and a little bit of the seashore on the nose. The peat and grain are there in the taste, though I was expecting a little more iodine. Nice lengthy finish that ends in a touch of honey and caramel. A very nicely balanced effort from Caol Isla. I have had several bottles of the 12 year old, and this 18 year old is an elegant addition and a step above the 12 year version. The Islay whiskies are unique and just have that wonderful sense of place about them.

The two, resident Gordon Setters spent some time sniffing the bottle, so I will take that as a sign of their approval.

As for the photo, I have to admit that I like the fact that the camera kept focusing on the reflection of the building across the way instead of the whole glass. I also like the streaming of the last of the day's sunshine shining through the whisky. Another day ends well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Tremendous evening weather-wise here, lower 60 degree range, sunny and no humidity.

Dinner was some spicy, garlic shrimp over tagliatelle. Garlic and shallots were sauteed quickly in some olive oil, then some paprika and red peppers were tossed in. A half pound of wild caught shrimp were added and quickly sauteed. A teaspoon of butter and some salt and white pepper came next. Finally a half cup of white wine was added. The shrimp were served over pasta with a handful of fresh parsley tossed on top.

The evening's wine (pictured) was a Domane Wachau Terrassen Federspiel Gruner Veltliner 2005. This is a very nice Austrian wine. Sharp and tart on the nose with a lemon / grapefruit aroma sitting on top of limestone. Medium body and almost completely dry it just tasted like spring, fresh citrus and fresh herbs. It certainly held up well with the shrimp, and at 12% alcohol it was easy to drink. The photo is the last glass of the evening. It's cool enough that there may be a Scots' whisky on the patio before the evening is done.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sensory Overload...

...and definitely palate fatigue. That's about the only way to describe today's Fleurs de Fete, a 300+ wine and food extravaganza. The event is held under a huge tent in a park along the Great Miami River. The weather cooperated for the most part; it was a little chilly with a north wind at the start of the day, but it was mostly sunny and totally dry. Throw in a local jazz combo and it was close to a perfect Sunday in the Park.

As usual my first chore was to quickly cruise the 25 food booths where local restaurants were serving up some wonderful food to go with the wines. The lines are generally longest at the food booths and there are some folks who come just for the food. Tops on my list for this year was a baby spinach and grilled salmon salad with strawberries and almonds. It was very lightly dressed and just plain delicious. There were five or six salmon dishes available from various purveyors and this one won my vote over small, two bite salmon cakes that were very spicy and topped with faux caviar. They left a distinct burn in the mouth and forced me back to my favorite Riesling of the day, a 2006 McWilliams Homewood Riesling from southeast Australia. Good match.

Several restaurants featured beef, and both of those were very good, especially the sliced filet served on a small slice of bread with horseradish sauce, though there was certainly nothing wrong with the small chunks of ribeye steaks served in a wine sauce.

One thing that I find almost impossible at this annual event is to pick my favorite wines. There are just too many wines to make fair evaluations, though one can certainly winnow things down and separate out some of the better wines.

Rule #1 for me is to insist on one sip samples, and not the generous half glass that most seem to pour. Rule #1a is to immediately dump anything more than a sip or two.

Rule #2 is that with the exception of a Stag's Leap Wine Cellars wine I refuse to drink anything with a cute animal on the label or in the name. No funky llamas, no blind moose, no flying fish, no leaping kangaroos, etc. I don't claim to have much dignity, but what little I have doesn't permit me to indulge in animal wines.

Rule #3 is that I try not to taste wines that I drink on a semi regular basis. I look for things that are new, different or hard to get in this area.

With those three rules in mind I managed to find some very nice wines at this event.

Having said that choosing a best wine is impossible, I'll stick to that statement, but I can narrow it down to two that stood above the rest. I took extra time with these wines, and with both I went back for a second, larger sip. The Jean-Marc Brocard 2004 Chablis Grand Cru Valmur was just what I look for in my favorite French white wine. Sharp and crisp with acid and apples, it also had a wonderful body to it and a very nice finish. The 2005 Clos du Mont Olivet "Cuvee de Papet" was full bodied and dense. It was somewhat closed up but there was good fruit and earth on the nose and in the taste and a nice finish with tannins hitting all the right spots. I have a 2000 vintage of this wine in the cellar, and now I'll have to add a 2005 or two. Very good Chateauneuf de Pape.

The best American wine of the day was a Washington state wine. The 2003 Columbia Crest Walter Clor Reserve Red Wine hit you with a new world bouquet on the nose, but the wine was well balanced and one could get earth and some herbs in the taste to go with the layers of fruit. It is a blend of the classic Bordeaux varieties and finished with some nice tannin.

I mentioned my favorite Riesling above, the McWilliams from Australia. My biggest disappointment of the day was the total lack of any German wines. There were a handful of other Rieslings, but a German or two would have been a plus for me. Another plus would have been an Austrian Gruner Veltliner or two.

There were two other chablis in the event, and I liked both of them. The William Fevre Champ Royeaux 2006 was crisp and refreshing. I've had the 2004 and 2005 of this wine, but this was the first taste of the 2006. The other was Jean Marc Bocard's Veilles Vigne Chablis from the 2005 vintage. It suffered a little by being tasted immediately following the Grand Cru Valmur from this producer, but it was still a good little wine.

I tasted several Robert Mondavi wines as a tribute to their late namesake. Best of the lot was the 2004 pinot noir which I thought was very well balanced. I did not care for the reserve as it was just too much for a pinot. That said a Gloria Ferrer 2004 pinot was better.

There was a very nice 2005 Minervois from Chateau de Paraza and I liked the Chateau Paviel de Luze 2005 Margaux.

I finished the day with a full glass of Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut sparkling wine, and thanks to a designated driver I managed a nap on the way home.

Fleurs de Fete

Off to a wine celebration in a park in Dayton, Ohio today, the Fleurs de Fete. The photo was a geranium after a light shower this morning. There will be 300 wines at the festival and numerous restaurants serving small portions. So many wines, so little time, heaven bless designated drivers.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sunset & Scottish Whisky

After several days of rain the skies cleared late yesterday and we had sunshine for the last several hours of the day. There was an afternoon cookout at work so the evening ended with only a small appetizer and an equally, small salad. The evning called for a Scot's whisky.

This particular Buichladdich is very "peaty" for this particular distillery which is more attuned to a lighter style of Islay single malt. Iodine, smoke and sea spray in complete balance made for a wonderful nose. At 110 proof, I did cut it with some spring water. Very good stuff.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

True Bargain

A quick stop at a different market last night resulted in a true bargain of a wine.

Realizing there was nothing in the house that wasn't frozen I stopped in the early evening and picked up a small pork tenderloin. Since I was there I naturally wandered over to the wine department. In the "reserve" room I noticed this bottle of Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva from the 2001 vintage. There were two bottles marked at $11.99.

Knowing the vintage and the producer I decided they were worth a try so I put one in the cart. Halfway to the checkout station I decided that this really was a decent price so I went back and picked up the other bottle.

The big surprise of the day was when the clerk rang up the wine and the bar code scanned not at $11.99 which I thought was a good bargain, but at $1.99. Now that is a bargain even if the wine was relatively poor. I mentioned this to the clerk and she re-scanned the bottles and they came up $1.99. I paid her and brought the bottles home.

We sliced the pork into medallions, pounded them lightly, dusted them in flour and Italian seasoning, sauteed them in a little olive oil, added some mushrooms and shallots, removed the medallions, added pork stock and balsamic vinegar, a half teaspoon of tomato paste and whisked and reduced the liquid. I added the medallions back in to rewarm.

The wine? Bright cherry fruit and Tuscan earth on the nose. Good, dark color and no signs of age. It had already surpassed my investment on just the nose and appearance. The cherries were in full force on the taste, along with some underlying currants. There was that wonderful Chianti acidity and the the earthiness that I love. It was more than sound, it was a very good wine. I would have been very happy with this wine at $20, but I was ecstatic at $2.00.

We served the pork medallions alongside some wide noodles, adding the sauce and mushrooms. A handful of flash cooked haricot vert with garlic completed the meal. The chianti was perfect with this meal.

Sipping the remainder of a glass after cleaning up I decided that the wine must have had more than sangiovese in it. The color was darker than I expected and there was that underlying flavor of currants. I suspect the wine had some cabernet sauvignon in it. Whatever it was it was very good and a nice mid-week treat.

Monday, May 12, 2008

One More

We drank a Mazzocco Matrix on Friday night, and on Saturday, after a busy day with the dogs we opted for the 2004 Stone Ranch, Alexander Valley Zinfandel from the same producer.

The 1999 Matrix was somewhat refined and balanced and went great with a meal. The Zinfandel was it's polar opposite. There was nothing refined at all about this wine. It had a huge, jammy, fruity nose with tons of blackberries on the taste. The wine was on the sweet side and was a little low in acid. There was considerable tannin and an alcoholic finish. It was a good wine, but it wasn't made to be a dinner wine. This is a sipper wine and not a drinking wine. For what it is trying to be it does a very good job, but a 16.9% table wine means that I may not be awake for dessert.

Good stuff, but not my cup of tea.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Most Excellent

Friends were in town from Illinois for the weekend, arriving Friday evening. It's an annual event on this weekend in May and we do have a great time.

We started with a great rose' champagne. The wine was a Lombard & Cie brut from Epernay. Beautiful salmon color, nice tight beads with a lot of fruit and yeast in the nose. Strawberries and some tart cherries were the predominant taste and the finish was crisp, flavorful and refreshing. It's exactly what a rose champagne should be.

There were assorted snacks to go with the wine, but the big hit was a bowl of very lightly buttered popcorn sprinkled with black truffle salt. The earthiness in the truffle salt and the fruit in the champagne just totally complimented each other. It was jokingly referred to as the ultimate San Francisco hors d'ouevre since a mutual friend from the bay area informed us that it was quite popular. It was definitely a pleasant surprise.

For the main course we ground black, white, green and Szchecuan peppercorns in a grinder with a little salt and rubbed it into both sides of a flat iron steak. It marinated, wrapped tightly in the refrigerator, for 24 hours, and was grilled quickly over a hot fire on the barbecue. It was sliced thinly and served simply with the accumulated juices.

With that was a room temperature pasta dish of asparagus, fettucine, and fire roasted red peppers served with an anchovy, grainy mustard and olive oil dressing.

My friends brought the dinner wine, a 1999 Mazzocco Matrix from Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley. The wine is blend of 64% cabernet sauvignon, 18% malbec, 13% merlot and 5% petit verdot. A nose of deep fruit, currants and dark cherries was matched by a full body. The acid levels were good, as were the tannins. A nice long, wonderfully smooth finish was a perfect ending. The wine was totally balanced, fully mature and a delight to drink. 13.5% alcohol.

We finished off the evening with a sampler of two gelatos, hazelnut and chocolate with orange. A small cup of freshly brewed coffee made for the perfect accompaniment.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


There's a big weekend coming so we ate lightly tonight. The local market had a wonderful price on globe artichokes so we steamed one in the microwave, added a small salad and a slice of toasted rustic bread, popped a beer and called it a meal.

We pulled the leaves, dipped them in lemon butter, and ripped off the fleshy part of each. Definitely a taste of spring. Artichokes really destroy wine so we opted for a Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA instead. Good choice as the 'hoppiness' of the beer matched well with the artichoke.

Three Good Ones

Surprising end to the day yesterday as friends called with an impromptu dinner invitation. They had been busy all day slow cooking a beef brisket. We accepted on the spot.

I pulled a bottle from the cellar and when I arrived there were two more sitting there waiting.

The first wine was a 1997 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Rotenberg Pinot Gris. Deep honey colored, it certainly looked aged, but there were flowers and apricots in the nose. Very full bodied, almost viscous, it was anything but over-the-hill. Bright acidity balanced by residual sweetness, its apricot and dried peach flavors went well with some appetizers while the brisket finished cooking.

There were two wines with the beef. The first, pictured above, was my contribution, a Paul Jaboulet Aine' 1997 Domaine de Thalabert Crozes-Hermitage. Spices, dirt and mature fruit on the nose, the taste kicked in with mature strawberries and fully ripe raspberries. It had both a medium body and a medium color, but the taste was bigger than what the color indicated. Good firm tannin on the finish and great acidity. The wine was fully mature and I don't think it will improve any more, but it was a nice wine with the beef.

The third wine was a 1999 Col Solare, the Washington state project of Piero Antinori and Chateau Ste. Michelle. Full bodied and tannic, it was still a young wine. Deep currant and cherry flavors up front with good acidity, but the tannins overwhelmed everything at the start. After an hour or so the tannins receded a little and the fruit came forward. It was a full bodied wine with a very long finish.

The verdict was that all three wines were very good. We also agreed that the Crozes was the best with the beef but the Col Solare made for a great after dinner drink. It needs three or four more years before it will be at its best. A great way to end the day.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Spring Shearing

An overcast day today so it was time to shear the resident Gordons for the spring. Ellie (above) and Scott (below) both love the grooming table because it's one on one attention and they don't have to share the time.

They were very shaggy after the winter and this day was definitely too long in coming. They are far from done, but they at least look presentable and they look like Gordon Setters again.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Redbud and Pine

The redbud tree outside the door has finally decided it is spring in Ohio. It's about three weeks behind most of its relatives and we were beginning to wonder if it was going to bloom at all this year. Over the weekend it decided to bloom in full force. It looks very interesting with the pine in the background.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Not So Young Australians

A friend was inventorying his cellar and decided it was time to open some Australian Shiraz wines that he had squirreled away and feared might be passing their peak. We planned a brief meal of a sausage and grape appetizer, a coupe of cheese plates, and a grill roasted pork with some side dishes. We began tasting in the late afternoon and finished with the meal after watching the Kentucky Derby on television. That gave four of us the opportunity to taste the wines over a five hour period. They did change with breathing time, and my preferred order changed somewhat. The bottom line, of the six wines there was only one that I felt was at its peak. The others had plenty of life left in them.

The wines in my order of preference:

1994 St. Hallett Old Block, Barossa Valley. My initial favorite and it stayed there. Lighter in color but with a nose of mature fruit, especially blueberries and plums, but red plums instead of the darker varieties. Much fuller body than the color predicted . Good acidity and a nice long finish with just a touch of soft tannin at the end. Elegant wine that was totally balanced and was perfect with the sausage and grape appetizer and with the pork. Very much an old world type wine and one that I would love to drink again. For a 14 year old wine it was in great shape. It was also the favorite of the group. 13% alcohol.

1998 Kilikanoon Oracle, Clare Valley. Much darker color and a more restrained nose. Dark fruit, mostly black plums and berries. Full bodied with a long finish that left just the right amount of tannin and acid on the back of your tongue to make you eager for the next sip. The wine was a little closed at the start but it opened up nicely over the course of the evening. After three hours the nose became much more giving and the fruit just bloomed. I originally had it in third place, but once it began to blossom it quickly jumped ahead. The best part is that I have a bottle of this wine in the cellar. I will hold it for a couple of years. A very nice wine. 13.5% alcohol.

2001 Brooksland Valley Verse 1, Margaret River. Nose of light leather and dirt with some fruit peaking through. Very tight and restrained. Had the second most tannin of any of the wines, but there was enough depth of fruit to compensate. Plums and blackberries and almost a hint of cedar in the taste. I originally had this wine fifth but it opened and changed more than any of the wines over the course of the tasting. At the end the fruit was coming forward and the tannins were receding. Great with the roast pork. 14% alcohol.

1998 Larrikin, Barossa Valley. Very fresh fruit on the nose, and it was almost candy like in its sweetness. The second darkest wine of the group, but the lowest in acid. Blueberries and some currants on the taste and just a touch of earth on the finish. A very nice, drinkable wine but not the equal to the first three. 14% alcohol.

2002 Reilly's Stolen Block, Clare Valley. A huge wine full of fruit and tannin. Huge body, almost syrupy in the mouth-feel. Black plums bordering on prunes in the taste. Decent acidity. The wine was loaded with tannin. Still, it was balanced and did not over power the food. Definitely a wine to put away for five years and try again. I have two bottles of this wine in the cellar and that's where they will stay. 15.5% alcohol

1997 Rosabrook Abattoir Block, Margaret River. Certainly the most interesting wine of the day and the most different. It all began with the nose. Wet, dark dirt and horse manure was about all that was coming through. "Earthy" would be an understatement. After swirling I could get wet leather out of the nose as well as some herbs (thyme primarily). What I couldn't get was much fruit. On the first sip all I got was tannin, tannin and more tannin with a healthy shot of acid at the end. I finally decided this wine was tainted with brettanomyces, but there were other interesting kind of earthiness going on also. Over the course of the evening this wine finally showed some plums and berries, but the wet dirt and damp leather remained, as did those tannins. This was not a wine that I disliked, but it is one that probably needed 24 hours in the decanter to show its true colors or we needed a second bottle not tainted by brett. A totally fascinating and thought provoking wine. 14.5% alcohol.

In summary, there were two exceptional wines, three very nice wines and one enigma. For wines that were supposedly at their peak they showed more youth than I expected. This was a very fun and enlightening evening.

A Rare Treat

It was a good meal.

The plane arrived earlier in the day from the northeast and some totally fresh day boat scallops were part of its cargo. They were only a day out of the water, and for the US Midwest it doesn't get any fresher than that. Something that good deserved a great wine so we went to the very top shelf.

If I could have only one chardonnay based wine there is no question that it would be a Chablis. There are some other great ones, but Chablis is simply my favorite. I purchased a couple bottles of the Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru "Les Blanchots" 2000 several years ago. One was drunk almost immediately and this bottle was stashed away.

Greenish gold in color, the nose immediately had that flinty or mineral smell that I love about Chablis. Tart, but ripe apples, a bit of pineapple and some lemon zest were in full force on the taste. The wine was a tad understated and was "asking more questions than it answered" when sipped before the meal.

The scallops were pan seared in a little butter and olive oil and tossed at the very end with lemon juice and a scattering of chopped lemon thyme fresh from the herb garden. Every question the wine asked by itself was answered with the food. The deep ocean flavor of the scallops was perfect with the understated wine. They refreshed and totally complimented each other. A stronger wine would have over powered the scallops, and the understatement in the wine became an asset. The wine was perfectly mature and I don't think it will get much better with any more age. At the very end there was a small bit of oxidation that just reaffirmed that it was the perfect time to drink it.

The Chablis will get full consideration in in December for my wine of the year. The 1996 Staglin Cabernet and the 1998 Luciano Sandrone Barolo will give it some stiff competition. I love these three choices.