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Slow Drink Nation

Drink Tables

They call it Slow Food, but let me tell you that some of the biggest lines are at the drinks tables. Of all the sections, though, I have to give the nod for the beer pavilion as the best of them all. Why? Not just because it's the quickest service, but because of the diversity and breadth of the selection. The beer pavilion is divided into three bars, each representing a method of beer delivery: bottle, cask, and draught (below).

Wine Report from Outside Lands

The big surprise for me after attending the Outside Lands Music festival was not that Radiohead puts on a good show, that Cake still has it or that Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings is the best act going in the US these days. What was most shocking was how thoroughly packed the wine tent was.



All these rockers--young and old--were buying wine. And thanks to Peter Eastlake of Vintage Berkeley wine shop, who organized the whole wine pavilion, they were sipping on some unusually good vino.

<i>Wine Spectator</i>'s Award of Meaninglessness

This is getting good. The wine world is abuzz with reaction.

Are Napa Valley Cabernets Getting Better?

In yesterday's New York Times, Eric Asimov wrote a thorough account of his attitudes toward Napa Valley Cabernet. He voiced a preference for a certain sort wine we'd call "old school" (he called them "balanced," "restrained," "subtle," and "nuanced").  He describes many Napa Valley Cabernets, however, as "jammy fruit bombs that overwhelm food."



 

Zuni Cafe: Through a Glass Newly?

If I tell you that the picture below was taken at Zuni (which you already should have recognized), what do you find significant about  the scene?



The answer has nothing to do with the always-sensational roast chicken or the fact that Thierry Lovato, the wine director, paired it for me with a half bottle of lovely Crozes-Hermitage from Domaine Combier, an interesting if not classic choice. No, the real shocker in the photo is the glass, which you can see is not the regular old lousy Zuni wine glass. Rather, it was a thin-rimmed, deftly shaped bowl that worked beautifully for wine in every way that Zuni's regular glass (at left in the picture below) does not.

Orson: Six Months In

 

After months of traveling and nose-to-the-grindstone work, I finally made it to Orson, only about six months after it opened. Considering that restaurant critics don't even give new joints the customary two-month lag before reviewing them anymore, my tardiness could be seen as more than genteel. Anyway, I wasn't going in to review it but to enjoy it. And, largely, that's what I did.

Peay Vineyards: A North Country Love Fest

I'm just back from the annual Peay Vineyards Sommelier Love Fest. For the wine trade only, it's an event that I am fortunate enough to insinuate myself into. I bring you pictures for two reasons.

Sicily's COS winery: New Wine in Very Old Containers



I recently became reacquainted with some of my favorite wines in the world, the wines of COS, a small producer from the southeast corner of Sicily in the DOCG region of Cerasuolo di Vittoria. A year and a half ago, I was fortunate enough to visit this property and spend some time with its owner, Giusto Occhipinti (below).



Some of his wines, such as the bottle pictured here, are unusual in that they're fermented and aged not in steel tanks or in wooden barrels but in terra-cotta amphorae.

Domaine Tempier Rose: Sunday in the East Bay with Jonathan

Last weekend, Christie and I ventured to the East Bay for a dinner party at the house of Jonathan Waters, the wine director of Chez Panisse. As with any trip to a foreign land, we prepared by getting all the necessary shots and vaccines and loading up our vehicle with water, dried and canned goods, ammunition and flares. We hardly ever go to the East Bay, so you've got to prepare for the worst.

Luckily, none of the above would be necessary. Jonathan put out an unbelievable spread. The pièce de résistance was a huge, vegetarian paella that he expertly cooked over a roaring backyard fire.


Chateau Montelena: Next, A For-Sale Sign on Mount Rushmore




Not really, but it's quite amazing that two huge, historical and prominent brands have recently been sold to European firms. First, Budweiser, the King of Beers, goes to InBev of Belgium. Now Chateau Montelena goes to the Bordeaux house Cos d'Estournel.

Both were good buys, given the state of the dollar. Still, it's weird that there's not more outrage that our national beer and wine icons are being wheeled and dealed like a used Chevy. Where are the anti-Gall cries of today? What are the new Freedom Fries?
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