Monday, January 26, 2015
Sunday, January 18, 2015
What a strange machine man is! You fill him with bread, wine, fish, and radishes, and out comes sighs, laughter, and dreams. Nikos Kazantzakis - Zorba the GreekThe image is a glass of 2013 Barbera d'Alba from Gianfranco Alessandria. Bright hues of red and purple in the glass and a gushing aroma of fresh red cherries and dry earth made me think of summer in the dead of winter. Lots of acid to keep things tart and refreshing and there was a good amount of tannin to give the wine some structure.
On day two the edges had mellowed but that wonderful fruit and crispness was still there.
On day three there was just a bit left in the bottle and the wine was still singing to me.
To be sure there was still a few rough edges on my palate, but not as many as there would have been a couple of weeks ago. There is another bottle awaiting complete recovery.
2013 Gianfranco Alessandrria Barbera d'Alba. 13.5% alcool and $14.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
It began just after midnight on Tuesday when the NCAA football championship game ended with my alma mater, the Ohio State University, winning by a score of 42-10 over the University of Oregon. It continued the next day when, sickly taste buds be damned, I was going to have a good wine and a good meal to celebrate. I brought home a very fatty slice of Alaskan salmon from the market and reached back into the cellar for a bottle of champagne, a Cattier Chigny Les Roses Premier Cru Vintage 1999.
No need to delay here - had I known that the cure for the taste buds was to eat salmon and drink older vintage champagne I would have done this two months ago. The salmon was silky smooth and I could taste both the flavor of the fish and each seasoning, and I could feel the texture of the fish.
The wine smelled wonderful. It was full of fruit and bread and earthiness. The first sip of the wine, was abrasive and bitter, but the second sip was better. The third, and much larger, sip was nothing short of amazing. It was like drinking fresh baked biscuits with a smear of strawberry jam on each half. There were some subtleties like white pepper and peach that I could actually taste. The acid did not offend, it tasted wonderful. There was only the faintest trace of bitterness on the back of my tongue to limit the full appreciation of the wine. To play a Robert Parker or James Sucking role here - I'd give my taste bud recovery program a score of 91. That is the best reason of all for a celebration.
And things got even better yesterday when I went with a friend to check out a much expanded wine store about and hour from home. I was still hesitant to buy anything expensive, but I bough a few bottles to try out. We stopped for lunch at a local, British style pub. The beer was very good but the fish and chips were almost perfect. the fish was moist on the inside and the breading was crunchy and good. The Parker/Suckling scale is now at 93.
1999 Cattier Chigny Les Roses Premier Cru . 12.5% alcohol. $65 about ten years ago.
Saturday, January 10, 2015
I took this bottle of 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey in Colorado to go with a steak at a group dinner. I knew that several of the folks who would be there love "big" red wines, and this one checked in at 15.2% alcohol.
It was certainly the biggest wine of the night, full of dark, sweet cherry flavors, more than its share of oak and a gripping set of tannins. It was the second favorite wine of the night for the group.
I have to admit that it overwhelmed me with both its jammy qualities and its alcohol. It left my mouth dry and bitter, even with a bite of rare steak. It was just too much and too overpowering for me, and I suspect that I would not have been thrilled by it even if my taste buds were fully recovered from the recent bout with some medication. Because of that, and the fact that others liked it, I won't pass judgment on it. I should add, I had the regular bottling of this wine a year or so ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.
2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey, Colorado. 15.2% alcohol. The wine was a gift.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Saturday, January 3, 2015
Finally something tasted almost as good as it should. Pictured is a large duck breast that was very slowly seared on top of the stove with the skin side down to render all the fat. It was flipped over and a glaze of maple syrup, orange zest, thyme, five spice powder and red pepper flakes was painted on before it went in a medium low oven. It got basted twice more until it finally came out of the oven at 115 degrees. It rested for ten minutes under foil.
I cut thin slices and drizzled them with a bit of the reserved glaze. Sweet, spicy, earthy, flavors and a soft silky texture of red meat woke up what taste buds have come back. I believe it was the texture that won me over. Most things have tasted grainy and gritty for a month, even butter, but this was like pure silk on the tongue.
The tougher under section of the breast was removed before slicing and a Gordon Setter and a visiting Papillon enjoyed a slice or two mixed in with their kibble.
Thursday, January 1, 2015
A new year with lots of hope. There were six wines at the party last night and I'm thrilled to report that two of them tasted very good, three of them tasted better than I would have predicted, and only one was not something I would have liked even if my taste buds were properly working.
More about them in the days to come, but last night was the surest sign yet that things are returning to normal.
The picture is one of the appetizers I took to the party - melon balls wrapped in prosciutto.