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Muscadet with Soul



More famous as the classic vinous accompaniment to oysters than as a wine in and of itself, Muscadet has a fairly shoddy reputation. Most people consider Muscadet to be a bland, light-drinking, unmemorable wine. And—to be fair—most Muscadet is exactly that.

But there are exceptions. And this wine is one of them. Domaine de l'Ecu is probably the best producer in the region, making fully biodynamic wines that are true wines of minerality and terroir. The Domaine’s owner, Guy Bossard, makes three wines, each expressive of a different soil type: granite, gneiss and orthogneiss.

The Last Days of Tomatoes

We went to the farmer’s market last weekend and bought a 20-pound flat of tomatoes ($35 from the lovely people at Ella Bella farms), as it’s one of the last weekends of dry-farmed early girl tomatoes this year. The tomatoes get softer and sweeter at the end of the season, but you want them a little earlier than that—when they still have great acidity.


Wine From Beyond

Actually, from Down Under in New Zealand, a couple of things worth mentioning:

First, a spectacular bottle of Pinot from Palliser Estate. When it’s on, I think Martinborough is currently the most consistent and best pinot region in New Zealand, and Palliser is one of the producers there that I really love. Richard Riddiford, the pugnacious and often obstreperous owner, is a real wine visionary, an amazing character and a gracious host who entertains guests with cannon firings and meditative wine drinking at the grave of his late, lamented dog.


Adieu, Boris



Boris Champy (left) is leaving Napa’s Dominus Estate in December and being replaced by Tod Mostero (right).


Live Wine



I want to acknowledge a great post by Eric Asimov of the New York Times on the subject of Live Wines. Asimov puts something in writing that I’ve noted myself in tasting over the last several years but never got around to describing, as there’s no formal vocabulary for what he’s talking about. Here’s what Asimov says:

Another Note About Old Wine

Last week, I wrote This is not a Rosé, about the surprising vitality of that 1982 Hitching Post with the bad cork. And I said you can’t always judge a wine’s quality by the color. Well, while we were on the East Coast, we discovered some forgotten bottles of white wine. We thought that there was no chance in hell that a bottle of 1990 Mouton-Cadet blanc (Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon) and 1994 Georges Duboeuf Viognier, both from France could be good … and this time, we were right.

 

This Is Not a Rosé



It’s actually an old Pinot Noir, a bottle of 1982 Hitching Post from Santa Barbara County. Frank Ostini, the winemaker, gave it to me after a large tasting—he had brought the bottle to open for the tasting but never got to it, so he just handed it off to me. It was his first vintage. I’m not even sure if the wine was released commercially.


Big-Ass Glass



I must say that this glass— a Sommelier series Pinot Noir glass from Riedel—is insanely big. It’s about 10 inches tall and can hold a whole bottle of wine.

And you know me—I like drinking wine from tumblers as much as from fine stemware—but I gotta say, Pinot smells and tastes incredible from this glass. I tried the same wine, Chalone Pinot Noir 2005, from several glasses, and the Riedel sommelier glass was the winner by a long shot. Too bad it costs something like $40 a stem….

Champagne and Spices



I went to a bizarre little Szechuan restaurant in the Richmond the other day called Spices II. It was bizarre, not because of the food—which was quite interesting and good—but because of the goofy sort of “Hello Kitty”/schoolgirl-motif interior, and the robot-like schoolgirls who waited on our table.


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