Sunday, August 24, 2008

What I Drank on my Summer Vacation

Do you realize that in New York City in just over a week from now, about 400,000 kids, literally, are going to write short essays with almost the exact same title as this post? Another summer comes to an end.

I love summer in New York City. Yeah, it's hot and humid and the streets can get a bit smelly, but it's beautiful in the evening, especially from our deck, with the light coming through the leaves. On the weekends it can get eerily quiet though, as people flee for the country. We were lucky enough to get out of town twice in August - a long weekend in Vermont and more recently, a week in San Diego and Portland.

Here are some of the wines we drank in Vermont with my pal Deetrane and his family:

2007 Domaine de 2 Anes Vin de Table Rosé, $14. This is my favorite rosé of the season at the under $15 price point. It's a deliciously fruity wine that retains interest and drinkability because it's also lively with acidity. This is a Grenache blend, a natural wine from the Jenny & François Selections portfolio. 2 Anes (2 Donkeys) is in Corbières in the Languedoc, although for some reason this wine doesn't have AOC status.

2004 Château Pontet-Canet, $41. Decanted for about 90 minutes and served with a beautiful porterhouse steak. People salivate over this stuff in their CellarTracker notes. I just don't get it. It's perfectly pleasant dark, rich and ripe wine, with nothing particularly interesting about it, no distinctive character. You're going to tell me that it needs 20 years in the cellar, that I drank it too young. Maybe it will improve with age, but it wasn't a knot of tannic structure or anything when we drank it. It was open and showing its primary fruit. And that's all there was.

1997 Chapoutier Côte-Rôtie, price unknown. Deetrane says that '97 was an off year in the northern Rhone. I really liked this wine - it was light in color and in texture, a highly perfumed jumble of floral and earth aromas. So much better with the porterhouse than the Pontet-Canet, in my opinion.

2005 A. et P. de Villaine Bouzeron, price unknown. This was a lovely gift from Joe when he visited a little while ago. I drank the 2006 and wasn't crazy about it, but this was delicious. Incredibly full bodied and loaded with sweet lemon fruit, and cut with good acidity. Very nice indeed, although it bares little resemblance to any Aligoté I've had - this is much fuller in body and in flavor. Yes, this is the DRC wine maker.

2000 Voirin-Jumel Champagne Millésimé, $37. This is a crazy price for this wine, or for any vintage grower Champagne, really. Gotta love Astor Wines. This is a rich Blanc de Blancs with mature notes, but it hasn't lost its youthful fruit yet. With a little bit of airtime there are broad aromas of roast nuts and biscuits and the palate is deeply mineral with good acidity, nicely focused. Astor still has a few bottles too...

On one of our nights in San Diego, BrooklynLady and I drove out to Bird Rock, just south of La Jolla to have dinner with Jeremy Parzen, the professor of Italian wine, and a few of his pals. What a night! I'm telling you, if you have the opportunity to meet up with a fellow blogger, to share a meal and some wine - do it. Some think it odd to meet in person with people you only know from the internet. There are times when it is weird, but this isn't one of them. You already know each other, in a way. And Jeremy and I slipped naturally into conversation as if we'd been hanging out together for years. A gentleman and a scholar, and his friends are nice too. We enjoyed some very tasty seafood at taqueria Bahia Don Bravo, along with a smattering of interesting wines. Here are notes on some of them:

2007 Robert Sinskey Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, price unknown. Each year this is without question my favorite American ros
é. It's well balanced with delicious stone fruit and good acidity. Great with shrimp ceviche tostadas.

Guy Charlemagne Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut Réserve, $40. Salty minerals all the way, great focus and acidity, fresh and light, almost sheer. Just delicious.

2000 Dessilani Ghemme Riserva, price unknown. Dr. J calls this "an outer-borough Barolo." I guess he means that Ghemme is close to Barolo the way the Bronx is close to Manhattan. And that you can eat good Italian food on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for half what you'd pay in Manhattan. This wine was soft cherry earth deliciousness, so nicely balanced and food friendly. I enjoyed the complexity of aromas - smoky, fruity, earthy...excellent wine, and completely new to me.

1996 Fleury Champagne Brut Millésimé, $56. This is a crazy price for a wine of this caliber. I found it on the shelves at a place called Meritage in a mall near Encinitas. I doubt that they raised the price over the years that they stocked this wine. Live in or near San Diego? Like Champagne? This one is worth the drive, especially at $56. Beautiful mature nose of roast nuts, honey, and bitter minerals. Let this one air out a bit and it becomes truly beguiling. So elegant and poised on the palate, soft and creamy, but still very focused with powerful acidity. Just delicious wine.

Then there's the amazing dinner in Portland with Peter Liem and his friends. This post is long enough already though, so tomorrow you'll hear about the ridiculous wines we drank that night.


peter said...

Welcome back. Sounds like good times. What say you to a blogger dinner sometime in earlyish Sept.?

Anonymous said...

Oh MY !!! You are too funny! It sounds like you had a wonderful summer vacation!


Brooklynguy said...

hey peter - sounds great. September is very busy for me with work, but maybe we can find a good time. email me when you have a moment and we'll talk.

Michael D. said...


Cannot agree with you more about the Sinskey vin gris. A little story: Several years ago at a restaurant in Baltimore, I recieved the daunting task of picking the wine for a group of 25(some wino's some not...but never that much fun being that role). My palms got sweaty and nerves hightened with the inevitable dirty looks I would recieve from a dissapointed imbiber. So, I scanned the list looking for the crowd pleaser......and there it was:Sinskey Vin Gris.Everyone went home happy.

Joe said...

Neil - glad you liked this one. Perhaps not typical of Aligote, but nobody likes the traditional kind, do they? I stuck a few away in the cellar as an aging experiment. That Dessilani sounds very cool - I recently shared a Barbaresco with Marcus (a 2000, actually) that just seemed so Brooklynguy - can't explain it, sometimes you just associate a wine witha person. Anyway, I have one more left, will open it when you get to Montreal. Cheers!