Thursday, November 29, 2007

You take the good you take the bad

Sat down last night with two bottles of Cab Sav, one from France - Duhart-Milon Lafite Gran Classe 2004, and one from Napa Karl Lawrence 2004.

I have been looking forward to trying the Duhart for some time, waiting till the moment was just right. Last night after what has been a number of long days at work I thought a reward was needed and broke it open. The nose slowly woke up with notes of chocolate, dark cherry, spice but when I went in for my first sip I was very disappointed. There was a total lack of flavor and weight as well. The tannins were there but no real structure just a watery drink. I am not going to say that I am not a fan of this wine because I have to believe that there was something wrong with this particular bottle. I have a number of customers who buy this wine again and again loving it each time. It also comes from a trusted producer in a trusted area. It definitely wasn't corked or oxidized but something was off. Any thoughts??

To make up for this loss we opened up a bottle of Karl Lawrence 2004 Mike Trujillos side project from Sequoia Grove. I picked this wine up a couple of months ago when I visited with him. A great representation of Napa cab. Strong velvety tannins that work their way across your mouth while expressing dark fruit and spice. Really a beautiful wine from what seems to be a great vintage.

Even though the Duhart was "off" it was a good experience to drink these two side by side. The nose on both had similarities and differences. You could tell right off that they were both cab but then after that they highlighted two different kinds of cab. One, the Duhart, was more reserved with relaxed fruit, deep chocolate, and some earth characteristics. While the Karl Lawrence was more up front and powerful really throwing fruit right out of the glass.

I wonder if that difference is based more in soil and geography or wine making style?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Creating Thanksgiving

Finally had the chance to sit down and enjoy a meal with friends Saturday night. Wasn't planning of really cooking dinner but things came together just right.

Camren and I cooked our first stew of the season in my favorite fashion, just throwing whatever is around in a pot together. We had a pound of dried mushrooms, kale, bacon, and spices. Slowly cooked the mushrooms and kale in a pot with water and salt for 1 1/2 hours. Cooked the bacon separately in butter, nice and crisp, then broke it up into the stew. Added flour to the bacon fat then added that to the stew giving it great texture. Dumped in all over rice and...Oh Boy - good stuff. Had fresh cornbread and yams on the side. Followed up with fresh baked apples, caramel and vanilla icecream topped with grand marnier.

Started the meal off with hot totties then opened a bottle of Ransom 2005 Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley. Took a while for the wine to open up, if I had known I would have decanted it for about an hour. Once it did open up though it showed bright rasberry fruit and spice with a very light body. Went OK with the stew, would have been better if it had some of that classic french barnyard stomp going on.

I definitely appreciated sitting around a table with my friends. Funny thing about working on a Holiday is that you don't feel like the actually Holiday is a Holiday. The feeling comes back once the house warms, fills with people and there is the smell of food in the air.

Makes you realize that maybe some of the people running around on Thanksgiving day trying to make everything perfect may have missed the actual holiday.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Holiday Treat

To celebrate making it through Thanksgiving me and the other managers shared a bottle of the Kosta Browne 2005 Koplen Vineyard PN. This bottle is one of the best I have every had. I am not normally a great fan of CA pinot noir, although I don't usually drink the really good stuff either. But this one really stood out.
To begin with I would have been happy just getting a sniff of this wine. The nose is so expressive: mixed dark berries and cherries that are so lively in the glass. You can tell it is young, fruit packed wine right away. But then on the palate the wine takes on a complexity that really focuses all of the fruit. And it is so velvety. Just coasting of your palate to a beautiful long finish. And at 15.3% alcohol you don't even notice.
It is a wine like this one that stays on my mind for a week. It is not only the good juice but also the story behind it. The winery was brought together by two sommelier restaurant workers saving up their tips who first started making wine very simply and in small amounts. Then they finally went all in and after what I would imagine to be a lot of hard work here it is. Only after 10 years of making wine they are being praised in every publication I have found, and it is not BS.
Makes you dream. If they can do what they did with no previous wine making experience....

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Beginning

Just finished up the first Holiday of the season at the restaurant and released my first wine list so I figured it would be a good time to write my first blog entry with plenty to talk about.

To start off I am relieved to say that after working 14 hours yesterday this Holiday was the best we have ever had. This year we limited seating, increased the amount of staff we had on and I would say improved the food quality. From what people said after asking for me or flaging me over to their tables we did a great job. Many said that our holiday buffets will now be a family tradition. After working a sold out brunch we rolled over quickly to a sold out dinner.

I have never seen the space look better with our X-Mas tree up giving great lighting and all the big tops in place it seemed cozy. Gave me the idea to buy more tables as well. Never realized that we had so much open space, what I see now as too much. As I have been told people like being in a restaurant "assholes to elbows". Dinner was busy and was the first night with my new wine list out. I received it late and with many corrections still needed, so instead of putting it in our wine book I paper clipped the pages together. The only people that thought it odd were my co-workers and I was glad just to get it our there. If you are giving people a new list with more options and in some cases cheaper juice what do they care, 4-star or not.

We moved a lot of wine in places that I wanted to. The Sharecroppers PN from OR. sold well - 4 bottles (2 more tonight) and my 8 bottles for 28 dollars took off. Glad to see because that was the main change that I made. I want everyone to have a bottle on their table and not have to labor over getting a bottle or not. 28 bucks for an average bottle of wine, why not?

Also tasted an amazing wine to celebrate which I will write about tomorrow. And will be posting my wine list on here for your viewing pleasure, once I get the corrections completed, please let me know your thoughts.