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Birth of a Great Lunch


Baby Shower for a Sommelier

Normally I try to avoid baby showers. They tend to be rather staid affairs with tea, crumpets, and lots of baby clothes. Actually, they’re not that hard to avoid, since I never get invited. But recently I did, and it was one I wasn’t going to miss: the baby shower for Paul Roberts, wine director for all of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, including the French Laundry and Per Se.

Seek Nua Experiences



After several months of trying, I finally made it by my friend David White’s  new (less than a year old) restaurant and wine bar Nua.

First of all, chef Anna Bautista’s menu was really excellent: we dined happily on such things as grilled octopus and chickpea salad, piquillo peppers stuffed with brandade and sardines with an eggplant caponata.

But what I’ve always admired about David White is his palate and his enthusiasm for the often overlooked wines of the world. He has a nose for well-balanced, interesting and—most important—well-priced wines. His list is full of them.

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.

Turning One

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.


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