Sunday, June 24, 2007

Napoleon Dynamite

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

How Did I Get Here?

I woke up this morning and David Byrne's prose was clanging in my skull, "How did I get here". I'm in a remote hilltop village in Provence where there's no coffee shop, no ATM, I have no way of getting around save for a hybrid 10 speed and when I do hop on this thing I roll up my jeans like I'm Ernie from My 3 Sons. Was I really just living in NYC for nearly the last 10 years of my life? I really don't know...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Invading Normandy

Hey everyone, a hearty how do you do from moist and drippy Normandy. Ended up here by a lucky roll of the dice as my friend was guiding a trip of WWII enthusiasts and needed a hand in sharing the weight. I graciously accepted the tour of duty and am happy to say that its over and all went home with a smile. Not much wine unfortunately in these parts as the weather is too cold and rainy to grow grapes but there are other things available for the intrepid drinker. Cider. Cider is made from apples grown in the region and can range from Doux, sweet; Demi-Sec, half dry; or Sec, dry. They're simple, refreshing, low in alcohol and really delicious. The one I had of note is pictured above, its a "cidre doux" from Philippe Daufresne. The wine was typical of all the cidre doux's that I have tasted: aromatic, sweet, light bodied with a spritzy, perrier-like quality. The differentiating factor in this drink is its overall balance. It had just a little extra edge of class over the others that I tasted and it left me in quite a happy state. Cider will never reach the highs that one would receive from drinking great Champagne or Burgundy nonetheless its place in the world of fermented produce is one of firm standing and should be discovered.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pairing Wines for Bubba.

Ahh… the perks of being a sommelier: you get to taste a good portion of the greatest wines ever produced and meet some of the most important people on the planet. Last month was exactly this as the Clinton family stopped in for dinner. Things got off a bit shakey when I decided to comp the three of them a Champagne cocktail. The drink—which is a house specialty—was NV Taittinger Champagne mixed with a spoonful of Elderflower syrup; its deliciously light, crisp and hugs the line brilliantly between not enough sweet and too sweet. After tasting it, ol’ Bubba had an allergic reaction. He was coughing uncontrollably and his face had turned 3 shades of red as he gestured me to come over to the table. “What did you say was in that drink?" Elderflower syrup, Mr.President, I said. “Well, this has given me the worst allergic reaction that I can remember." Jesus..., I muttered to myself as images of 3 sunglassed men dressed in black suits quickly coming out of the woodwork to put me in a full-nelson and drag me brusquely into an unmarked Econoline van played in my head. I’m so sorry, Mr President, I said sheepishly. “Aww, that’s alright, I didn’t know I was allergic to elderflower syrup…what is elderflower syrup,anyway?” he said to me with a big, toothy southern smile. I have no idea, but I think it comes from the alps, I said. And that was it...

Later on in the night I set aside some special wines that I’d pair with each of their savory courses. They were, naturally, Burgundies. The first was a 2000 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Folatieres, Paul Pernot. Bill seem to like this one the best…in fact this was the only one it appeared that he took a sip of later replacing it with his trademark can of diet coke. It was crisp, minerally and steely with grand cru-type length. Next was a 1996 Meursault 1er Cru, Domaine Leroy. Hillary seemed to enjoy this one the most and appeared to be quite impressed when I told her that the winemaker/owner was a woman. The wine had deep aromas of mushrooms, lemon, earth, and stone and was sitting nicely in its early stage of maturity. If stored correctly this one could last a good while. Lastly, we moved into red and what a red it was: 1985 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru, Les Haut Doix, Robert Groffier. Chelsea loved this wine and later in the evening had asked me to write down the name for her. The nose could only be described as quintessential aged Red Burgundy with aromas of beef broth, earth, black cherries and raspberries. The palate was quite elegant and high-toned in its acid but lacked a bit of concentration. Nonetheless it was delicious for a 22 year old premier cru.

All in all it was quite a thrill to chat about wine with the Clinton family. They were all so nice and down-to-earth, and they all appear to LOVE Burgundy. For that alone they have my vote.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

BYOB at Fuleen Seafood or: How I learned to Love the Grape

Had a BYOB wine dinner last night at a Chinatown dive named Fuleen Seafood. The food was truly superb, the atmosphere and decor not so much. In fact, I’ve seen better décor in the 2nd floor bathroom at the Port Authority. But décor wasn’t the reason of the get together. The reason was hooking up with my buddies in the biz who really really love wine. And believe it or not, in this business there is a shortage of people who really, really love wine. Through my experience over the years in the wine business, I would sum up the constituents of the biz in the below pie graph:

A little glib and snarky? Perhaps. But I call 'em as I see 'em and thats the way I see 'em. You run into a lot of clowns and perpetrators in this business and when you get together with fellows of the same mindset you rejoice. The standouts of the night were: 05 Coteaux-du-Loir, L' Effraie, from Domaine de Bellivère and 1999 Riesling Rangen Clos St Urbain Grand Cru from Zind Humbrecht

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I have unearthed Eldorado. I have found the absolute worst wine/label combination known to intelligent life. This dubious honor goes to the putrid 2000 Thunder Mountain Pinot Noir. The best way I can describe this wine is if one took a glass of Welch’s grape juice and added an equal part of the cheapest brand of rotgut bourbon you could find. Thus creating a beverage which is sickly sweet, unbalanced, woody and alcoholic. And the label! Look at this monstrosity! Appears that He-Man has decided to sell his stock in Castle Greyskull to try his hand at winemaking. Where’s Skeletor when you need him?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Bianna Golodryga: PS, I Love You

I'm not one to watch a lot of TV as I don't have the time nor the cable connection but I stumbled across a online video segment with such a beautiful correspondent that I had to write about it. Her name is Bianna Golodryga and she stunned me with her erudite explanations about the appeal of Sanjaya on American Idol; so much so that I found myself with--to quote Velvet Jones--"a burning in my loins I had never felt before". So deliciously exotic, she is hands-down the best looking woman I've ever seen on TV. Anyone know which parts of the world this beauty is from?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Someone Puked on My Car

Living in New York City can really bring you down sometimes. The list of grievances is long but for me the pain ranges from early morning scuffles to find a seat on the L Train to resigning to the fact that I will never get rid of the German Cockroaches in the bathroom vanity. It’s a city to which you must make compromises in order to live a somewhat sane existence. And as in all compromises sometimes you emerge on top and sometimes you get owned. Today, I was owned. Parking my car in the street was something that I never wanted to do. Yet, I had no choice as I could no longer afford Nice Parking LLC’s usurious price of $450 a month. I had to make the compromise. It’s been just one week of parking on the street and just this morning I discovered two things: 1) my back right tire is as flat as a pancake; 2) some asshole puked on my windshield. Sigh. I’m going to R&S Strauss for some fix-a-flat.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Grab The Mic Like Doug Llewelyn

Was at the Polaner wine tasting yesterday and I think I saw Doug Llewelyn. Who knew that Judge Wapner’s right hand man was a wine-lover and as well one who enjoyed small producers from off the beaten path? Maybe he was on a recon mission on behalf of the judge to investigate the growing counterfeit wine epidemic? I was this close to approaching him to see if it really was the famous People’s Court color commentator but alas my cold feet got the best of me. Doug, if you’re reading this, what did you think of the 05 Coteaux-du-Loir, Vieilles Vignes Eparses from Domaine de Bellivère?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Why I love Bollinger Special Cuvee

Number 1: Its delicious. The predominant grape is pinot

Number 1: Its consistant. Being a bigger house it has access to a larger amount of reserve wines

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Chateauneuf-du-Pape, AKA: Old Faithful

The more I open wine for guests at the restaurant the more I realize that Chateauneuf-du-Pape is the most consistent and accessible of all the wines on my list. It’s deliciously spicy and brimming with sweet red fruit in its youth. Its funky, furry, rich, and without total shutdown of fruit in its mid-term. And it’s soft, earthy, sweet and nuanced in its maturity. It is a wine that in any stage of its life can be enjoyed and purchased with little trepidation on a restaurant wine list. And the best part is that the wines are usually very well priced considering their quality. My favorite Chateauneuf on the list at the moment is the 1997 Domaine de Pegau “Cuvee Reservée”. Not a great vintage but drinking so nicely at the moment that you could really care less what the critics say. It’s open and sweet with funky barnyard aromas (a good thing) and such deliciously soft Grenache flavors that would pair nicely with beef, lamb, chicken or duck. A truly versatile restaurant wine. If I had to say one critical thing it would be that it lacks a bit of structure and can be a little too soft, but considering the vintage this is an excellent effort.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Fartman Drinks my Wine

Howard Stern and his stunning lady came in the other day. Both as tall as sycamore trees. This is whats great about being a sommelier. Not so much meeting the people but interacting with them and turning them on to great wines. I figured Howard to be a wine lover. "What would he like with his Halibut", I thought. Surely he knows Burgundy and the '69 LaTache would work like a charm. I approached his table with the decision already made (in my mind). We had a bit of banter and he quickly said he was feeling a little tired and only wanted a glass. 2 glasses of Cali Cab of the list for he and his woman. Bummer.

Bad Poetry

’05 Cuilleron Condrieu “la petite cote”. Young and overweight and very handsome. You wear your oak like a pair of husky jeans from sears. Its easy to mistake you at the moment for a flabby and fat chardonnay but I’m paying attention to you. And Im listening. I feel your obvious thickness but I’m looking deeper. And I listen. And I hear you. That little scream and burn of length is quite small at the moment. But I know it will get louder. And Im going to let you. You need to figure this world out for yourself. All I can do is give you a roof over your head. Ill check in on you in about 10 years.