Monday, March 31, 2014


Since the weather turned better yesterday a celebration was called for, and there's nothing better than Champagne to make any day a celebration.  In this case it was a Camille Jacquet Blanc de Blancs Brut.  

Champagne is a beautiful wine to look at in a tall flute, but when I'm at home the first glass is usually in a large red wine glass.  It's opens up quicker and one gets a better sense of the wine in that type of glass.  Great pale color in the glass gave way to distinct aromas of bread and cardamon mixed with tart apples and white peaches.  The more I swirled the more baked goods came out of the glass.

Once it got into the tall flute the bubble stream was textbook - slow and steady and of small to medium size.   The wine does seem to hold it's temperature better in the flute than the red wine glass, and since I don't like Champagne bitingly cold the flute works great after the first glass.

There was salty food in the form of brined chicken wings lightly dusted with seasoning and flour and fried in a cast iron skillet and some shrimp and pasta salad.  Later in the evening there was some popcorn dusted with black truffle salt and a bit of melted butter and another glass of the wine.   
Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector. It encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless, while lie detectors are only a challenge to tell lies successfully.   -- Graham Greene
Camille Jacquet Blanc de Blancs Brut.  12% alcohol and $60.00

Sunday, March 30, 2014


"The word March comes from the Roman Martius. This was originally the first month of the Roman calendar and was named after Mars, the god of war. March was the beginning of our calendar year. We changed to the 'New Style' or 'Gregorian calendar in 1752, and it is only since then when we the year began on 1st January.

The Anglo-Saxons called the month Hlyd monath which means Stormy month, or Hraed monath which means Rugged month.  That seems more appropriate as yesterday it snowed and today there is bright sunshine and green things are sprouting from the river banks.  That growth made for one very happy and hungry Mallard this morning.

The forecast is spring for the next week so I think a celebration is in order tonight.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Leftovers for Lunch

Bits and pieces of things from the refrigerator that were put together for lunch today.....  Clockwise from the top - some pasta, grape and blue cheese salad;  a ring of sweet red pepper with some Provencal mustard;  some rare sirloin steak sliced thin and dipped in the mustard;  and finally some roasted beets on a bed of mixed greens with a yogurt dressing.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Wine to me is passion. It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It's culture. It's the essence of civilization and the art of living”. - Robert Mondavi
The last Barolo of the evening was different than the two Boglietti wines. The 2001 Mario Marengo Brunate was not as polished.   The first two had no sediment in the bottle and this one had some bottle attached to the sediment.  It was definitely old school Barolo and it tasted that way.  The tannins were stronger, the color a bit paler and the aroma profile different. It was textbook Barolo with a big emphasis on fresh road tar mixed in with the roses.  It was much more savory than the first two.  It was also my favorite wine of the evening because all the parts came together in perfect symmetry to make a wonderful wine.  There is a second bottle of this wine in the cellar and it will get five more years. 

2001 Mario Marengo Brrunate Barolo.   14% alcohol and $55 about five years ago.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Case Nere

Here is another of the Barolos that showed up at the dinner discussed below, a 2001 Enzo Boglietti Case Nere Barolo.  A stablemate to the first wine if you will.

2001 is regarded as a better vintage and I have two bottles of this wine aging so I was delighted to try it.  The flavor profiles were very similar, but after some breathing time this wine added one more element to the profile - elegance.  The Fossati was bolder and riper but this wine had a smoothness that made the difference for me.  There was an aroma difference also.  Both wines smelled of flowers but the rose scent in the Case Nere was much more pronounced while the Fossati had other flowers in the mix.     

Added minutia: Case Nere translates to black case.

I would be perfectly happy drinking either one of these wines again - and with the Case Nere I will.

2001 Enzo Boglietti Case Nere Barolo.  $75 and 14% alcohol.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


The wines at last night's fifth annual Barolo dinner were very, very good.  My contribution was a 2000 Enzo Boglietti Fossati.  I decanted the wine early in the day and then returned the contents to the bottle (minus enough to taste and take the picture in the post below this one).  Dinner was beef Barolo, a large section of cow cooked slowly in Nebbiolo wine.  In this case a Langhe Nebbiolo was used since the price of a true Barolo for cooking was prohibitive.   

The wines were definitely the star of the show. Boglietti wines are a more modern approach to Barolo in that they are more approachable at a younger age with a wee bit less tannin and a bit more color.  That said this wine was anything but shy or unassuming.  It was a big wine with a lot of tannin.  After being open for more than eight hours the wine  gave up it's aromas of deep fruit in waves intermingled with a bouquet of roses and wildflowers and earth.   The more I swirled the glass the more aromas came out.  The flavor was full, but delicate at the same time - a wonderful juxtaposition that stayed on the savory side of things.  The tannin gave great support to the fruit.  Fun to drink and great with the beef.

2000 Enzo Boglietti Fosatti Barolo.  $70 and 14.5% alcohol.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Open the Pod Bay Doors, Hal

I just decanted the first bottle of red wine for a multi-wine Barolo dinner tonight and had to pour just a bit in a glass.  It took me back to Stanley Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey.  The wine is a 2000 Enzo Boglietti Fossati Barolo. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Normally when I open a bottle of Riesling I'm expecting tart apple aromas and flavors to work their way to the foreground.  Not so with the Weingut Jakob Schneider 2008 Niederhauser Klamm Kabinett from the Nahe region.  After the initial bit of kerosene and minerals this was a lesson in peaches.

The aromas were most like what one gets when you start peeling a peach and the flavors were mostly about fresh, white peaches.  There was a bit of lime and lemon peel, but this was peaches the rest of the way.  Wonderful wine to just sit and sniff when peaches are out of season, and an even better wine to sit and sip. 

2008 Weingut Jakob Schneieder Niederhauser Klamm Kabinett.  8.5% alcohol and $18.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Shrimp and Pineapple

Along with the second half of the bottle of the 2006 Grosset Watervale Riesling pictured below there was this.

In the center is basmati rice cooked in coconut milk and a wee bit of lemongrass. The shrimp and pineapple were grill roasted after being brushed with peanut oil, salt and red pepper flakes.  And there was a Thai peanut sauce with peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, garlic, hot sauce and a few other things that came a long for the ride in the blender. 

Great match with the wine as both had sharp acid and sweet undertones. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Down Under

Sharp and tart.  Crisp apples.  A bit of earth and mineral.  Refreshing.  Delicious.  Proper age and ready to drink.

2006 Grosset Watervale Riesling.  Australia.  12.5% alcohol and $20 a couple of years ago.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the the light and winter in the shade.

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations.
 A few words and some purchased, out of season flowers.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Austrian Riesling

Along with the pork roast a couple of posts below this one there had to be wine and we went in a slightly different direction for one.  We opened an Austrian riesling.    Normally I buy Gruner Veltliner when I buy Austrian wines, but there were several Rieslings aging in the cellar and 'it just seemed time to open one."

The wine was a Domane Wachau, Terrassen, Federspiel from the 2006 vintage.  Federspiel in this region is a wine between 11% and 12.5%.  When the pork came out of the oven it needed to rest for an hour and that was when I opened the wine.  That was a good choice because the wine needed that much time and more to really open up. There was a good bit of kerosene and sulfur at the start.  It took a fair bit of swirling to minimize those aromas in the glass so I decanted most of the rest of the bottle.

A medium golden color was a good indication of some age on this wine and there was great body in the glass.  After a few minutes it began to smell like Riesling,  The hint of kerosene was still there but so was an intense aroma of summer rain on dry limestone.  The fruit was mostly barely apples and peaches.  This was a firmly structured wine that played with going over the edge in both dryness and tartness but succeeded in only pushing the the boundaries. 

With the pork it was almost perfect.  There was a sweetness in the crust of the pork from the brown sugar rub and that really intensified the apple qualities in the wine.  There was a sauce for the pork that included cooked down frozen peach slices and that was an amazing match for those flavors.  All the way through the meal the wine stayed balanced and refreshing.  Great choice and a good wine.

2006 Domane Wachau Terrassen Federspiel Riesling.  12.5% alcohol and $17. 

Monday, March 3, 2014


Today would have been the eleventh birthday for three very dear friends. Sadly dogs never live long enough.  There will be a toast with three small drams tonight, a Lagavulin, Knockando and a Te Bheag Nan Eilean to celebrate and remember.  (clockwise from the top) Scott, Doer and Ellie. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Winter Food and House Warming

Nothing warms the house better in winter than a pork butt cooked slowly in a low oven. The one above cooked for five hours at 300 degrees after spending the previous twenty-four hours in a a rub of salt, brown sugar and pepper.  It's definitely winter food because it warms the house slowly and thoroughly and has the added benefit of perfuming the air in the house.  It also builds a huge appetite.

A too large portion was consumed for dinner with roasted carrots and a salad and a sauce of white wine, peaches, pork stock, vinegar and sugar all cooked down to a pourable thickness.  There are leftovers and pork will be on the menu for the next several days.