Sunday, April 29, 2007

Wine with the In-Laws, San Diego Style

I'm lucky because my father in-law likes wine and keeps some good bottles in the house. That means that no matter what else is happening during a visit, there will always be at least that one thing to look forward to - some interesting wine in the evening. Oh yeah, and San Diego is very beautiful, incredible flowers and other vegetation everywhere (even if they have to drain billions of gallons of water from elsewhere to irrigate, but that's another issue).

So that was us for the past few days, driving around a little between baby's naps, stopping at our little Mexican place in Escondido, El Callejon, the one with hundreds of Tequilas on the wall and grilled green onions in Magi sauce to snack on, marveling at the beautiful plants and flowers everywhere - even in mall parking lots, hanging out with the in-laws...

Overall feeling on San Diego at this point: love visiting, even starting to appreciate the odd quirks, like blond surfer dudes munching bagels with smoked salmon spread at Einstein's bagels in the middle of some mall, gray gloomy weather in April, May, and June, face lifts and other body-"improvement" surgery as the norm. I was impressed with the two wine stores I went into. Good selection and decent prices, although a bit higher on some French wines than on the east coast. One store called Meritage had magnums of 1997 Latour and other prized Bordeaux just sitting out in bins like it was Yellowtail. $500 bottles of wine in the bins! They would have been under lock and key in a NYC wine store. The city just seemed safe like that, more civilized. Clean too - no trash on the roads, but that might be because no one actually walks on the roads.

Anyway, here are the wines we sampled on this visit

1996 Cristom Pinot Noir Mt Jefferson Cuvee, Willamette Valley - Funky, rotting aromas at first, but blew off to reveal mellow red and black berries, leathery earth. smooth texture, well integrated tannins - almost melted away, prominent earthy underbrush with some red fruit too. None of the primary fatty fruit remaining. Really good wine, and extra impressive to me because '96 was nothing special as a vintage, and this cuvee is not one of Cristom's top wines. A nice example of an Oregon Pinot improving with age, gaining complexity.

2001 Hafner Reserve Chardonnay, Alexander Valley - Great nose of vanilla and tropical fruit, pineapple, citrus too. Full bodied, oaky, but well balanced wine with bright fruit, floral, and buttery oak flavors. Very nice, particularly with dinner. 13.4% alcohol - not too bad. Not a style of wine that excites me but this was a strong example of this style and I can see the appeal.

2000 Hafner Reserve Chardonay, Alexander Valley - Not in the same league as the '01 right now. Over the hill, flat with no discernable acidity, not unpleasant but definitely past its prime. I wonder how it was in its prime...

2002 Michel Colin-Deleger Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chenevottes - Such a pronouncedly different style from the Hafner. Much more tense, lighter in the mouth, better balance, not as showy. lighter yellow with a bit of a greenish hue, compared to the bright lemon yellow of the Hafner 01. nose is pure rainwater, still quite reserved. same with the palate, but there are flavors of stone fruit, citrus, and mineral. this needs time to ope up - the last glass over an hour later was really kickin.

NV Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut - uh uh, not the style of Champs that I like. Thick and without finesse, no mineral quality, very toasty and heavy.

1997 Hafner Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley - So have you figured it out? Father in-law digs the Hafner. This one was dark purple, with a medium body. Not so impressive overall, as the nose and the palate just don't have all that much to exhibit. Was this an off year in the Alexander valley? Some cassis on the nose, hints of herbs. Unfocused palate of dark fruit and herbs.

Next visit I plan on helping the Father in-law translate his writing pad full of scratches and notes to Cellar Tracker.


RougeAndBlanc said...

Speaking of wine experience, I went to Pinot Days NYC. Wow, what an eye opener!. Tasted so many pinots. In general, I find OR pinots are on a higher level than the CA pinots. (but CA pinots are generally easier on the wallet).
If you happen to go to SFO at the end of June, I strongly suggest joining that festival.

Brooklynguy said...

Hey Andrew,
I hope you will do a write-up of the Pinot Days tasting. I'm looking forward to some details about the event. Are you planning to do that?

And I'm really glad to hear that Oregon Pinot showed well. I have always believed that they represent the highest quality Pinot in the US. Harder on the wallet than Cali Pinots - not sure I agree, especially on a QPR basis.

What were your favorite wines? I'll check Rouge and Blanc for a write-up.