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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.


New Zuni Wine Director



I love Zuni Café and could happily eat there every day of my life—if someone wouldn’t mind subsidizing me.

With the golden light that reflects off the towering white walls and the white paper tablecloths, the ambiance inside is wonderful. Furthermore, the food is consistently very good. The worst I ever have is something that doesn’t make me say “wow,” or perhaps a slightly overcooked chicken. Usually, everything is delicious. While in the past there have been some service issues, in the last couple of years I’ve had nothing but exemplary, warm service.

No “R” in August



Despite the fact that there’s no “r” in August, the oysters at Hog Island Oyster Company were sure tasting good. Some people like to drink Guinness with their oysters, others prefer Sauvignon Blanc, Champagne or even sake. For me there is one wine for oysters that stands above all others: Muscadet. And thank goodness Hog Island always keeps one on their menu. Fresh, bright, citrus and mineral—it’s the one wine that reliably matches oysters point for point.

A Birthday to Remember

It was my friend Hannah’s birthday last Sunday, but I got a present too, which was being invited to the epic dinner thrown for her by her boyfriend David—with a huge assist from the amazing team at Rubicon, which opened specially on a Sunday for the occasion.


First Dinner in New Apartment



Christie and I promised to say no to all invitations and devote a full day to unpacking our boxes and buying the requisite furniture to store things in our new closet-drawer-and-cabinet-deprived apartment. When most was said and done, all we had energy for was to order our pizza from Escape from New York (which we found surprisingly delicious), pop in a video of the Wire (season three of which we’ve been trying to complete for about six months now), and drink a bottle of wine (De Loach 2004 OFS Pinot Noir—very good).

Another Winery, Another Party



We made another quick jaunt up to Sonoma last weekend for the grand opening of the Patz & Hall winery in Sonoma. Justifiably famous for their Pinots and Chardonnays, P&H worked steadily to become one of the premier brands for those varieties in California. There is excellence in the bottle, of course, but part of the charm, no doubt, is the traces of the personalities of owners Donald Patz, James Hall, Anne Moses and Heather Patz.


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