Not long ago, I attended a couple of tastings featuring Italy's finest wines—the ones you don't get to taste every day, but are worth writing about when you do.
That our hardworking restaurant wine professionals will bother to assemble at midnight on a Saturday—each bearing a bottle or two of expensive, classic wine to give to his or her comrades blind—for the purpose of learning and understanding is admirable.
Paul and his sister, Noah, Allen and Jean-Laurent Vacheron
Two-Buck Chuck, aka Charles Shaw, Chardonnay—famous for being one of the cheapest wines in the world—won the gold medal for best Chardonnay at the State Commercial Wine Competition in Sacramento. It was voted in a blind competition by a panel of wine industry professionals.
The region just north of Burgundy on France's east side is famous for its chalky white soils, which gives that minerally texture and Chardonnays of lovely power and grace. There are many great producers, my faves being Dauvissat, William Fevre, Louis Michel and of course Domaine Raveneau, who makes highly individually styled wines and is also greatly popular in San Francisco.
We hosted a big dinner party last night at my house celebrating the visit of my sister Eden and baby Clementine (who will one day be one of the world's great gastronomes). Many courses, many wines--a great time was had by all. But, the challenge with so many wines--and having a wife who prefers to use a separate and proper glass for each one--is the clean up in the morning. Ugggh.
At a nice dinner the other night, several friends and I decided to compare three top single-vineyard Côte Rôties from the vintage of 2001. If you don't know, Côte Rôtie is one of the top Syrah appellations in France's Rhone Valley. Actually, it’s one of the top Syrah appellations in France—okay, the world. All right, to my mind, it's the greatest place for Syrah in the world. Some might argue that Hermitage is better, but I'll take Côte Rôtie's lighter body, floral high notes and silky tannins any day.