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Jordan Mackay

Movers and Shakers

My move continues. After packing most of the night on Sunday, we greeted a couple of movers early Monday and proceeded to break our backs carrying boxes, bags, plants and any number of hernia-inducing objects.


Pierre Peters—one of our favorite Champagnes

Truth in Wine



Recently I had the privilege of interviewing Paul Draper, winemaker for Ridge Vineyards since 1969, over lunch. Without a doubt he is my favorite winemaker in America—not just for the wines he produces, but also for his views, his techniques, his beliefs and his inexhaustible curiosity and interest in wine. At age 71, he is as spry of mind and youthful of spirit as I could ever imagine anyone being.


Gary Farrell Sighting

I went up to Healdsburg for the 25th anniversary dinner for Gary Farrell winery. Gary Farrell, the winery, if you don't know, is one of the top, top producers of Russian River Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It's one of my faves. But Gary Farrell, the man, is also famously reclusive and shy. He never leads tours of the winery, never shows up to tastings and, generally, makes no appearances.

Though there are pictures of him here and there, I've always questioned whether or not the image in the photos was really Mr. Farrell or just some actor that they got to pose as him. I even began to question whether he even existed or if the idea of this reclusive winemaking genius was just a clever marketing ploy.

Tequila's Madre

Those who know me know that mezcal is one of my favorite spirits. What is it? It's known as the mother of tequila—that is, mezcal is what was produced in Mexico before tequila became a region or an entity. In fact, tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila. (To be tequila, it has to be produced in one of the designated regions.)

Anyway, the point of this post is to say that mezcal had earned a bad reputation as rotgut stuff that will make you hallucinate, which is nothing but hooey. The fact is that ever since one company started marketing mezcal with a little worm in the bottom of the bottle, the quality and expectations for the brand have gone way downhill. While tequila ascended, mezcal descended—mostly because of marketing.

Tequila Shots


The bar at Colibri

Most people think of tequila as a shot or an ingredient that gives a margarita its kick, but it’s actually unique in the spirits world. While it's distilled just as vodka or whisky, the fact that it comes from a plant (instead of grain) that has to ripen gives it qualities that are wine-like. That’s what make it one of the most complex and diverse spirits on the planet.

Moving



We have to move apartments, not altogether a bad thing, just a pain in the you-know-what. The biggest problem for me is relocating my bar, which over the years had swelled to more than 100 bottles.

My old apartment had a built-in bar/buffet, which was large enough to accommodate everything. The new place has nothing like this. It took me hours to box up all the bottles (11 cases worth), put them in the car and take them up the stairs. I did this alone to avoid any sort of complaining from the wife about how sprawling the bar has gotten.

French Issues


Standard-style Bourdeaux label (left) versus the modern Chateau de Launay

Whisky Without Mystery



When this product first came out last year (or a littler earlier), I was a bit skeptical. It's blended whisky—but under this new brand, it cuts through the opacity of a lot of Scotch whisky labels. The brand is called John, Mark & Robbo, representing a few guys who describes themselves as "three mates (two of us brothers), who passionately believe that decent quality whisky should be enjoyed and not worshipped."

The Beauty of Nopa


Neyah with a special, unlisted cocktail

You know they're doing something right at Nopa when you’re willing to wait 25 minutes for a bar stool, and fight off vicious competitors while doing it. It's clear why people are so eager to get seats here: The bar is genius.

More of Italy's Finest


Gaia Gaja with Mauro Cirilli

Next winemakers to come into town was Gaia Gaja (the first and last name are actually pronounced the same way), the daughter of perhaps Italy's most famous winemaker, Angelo Gaja. Here is Gaia, sitting next to Mauro Cirilli, Perbacco's terrific sommelier.

The Gajas, father and daughter, produce many different wines, but are best known for the Nebbiolo-based wines from the Piedmont region of Italy, as well as for Brunello di Montalcino, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and a Cabernet Sauvignon.
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