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?