'Tasted: Bordeaux, red'
Before We became so focused on Our United Slurps of America project, Our wine consumption was roughly 50% France, 45% California and 5% everywhere else. Over the past few weeks, France and California have been replaced with places like Kentucky and Iowa. While We have mostly enjoyed the wines We have tasted from these lesser known wine-producing states, We are both thirsty for Our go-tos.
While grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, She picked up several bottles of wine and some whiskey, vodka, and gin. The check-out chick asked Her if She was having a party or just stocking up. The question confused Her, as the answer was neither.
After having the Gruet for our NM post, We were curious to taste a California counterpart. Having lived in Yountville for years, She has consumed copious quantities of the local sparkler, Domaine Chandon, so We chose a Sonoma bubbly. And, oh to have some red Bordeaux…
Sonoma Brut, Gloria Ferrer NV ($19)
She said: Pale translucent yellow with fine bubbles. On the nose: yeast, golden delicious apples, hint of vanilla, hazelnuts. Has flavors of Granny Smith apple, lemon, pear, and a hint of lychee. The finish is long and creamy, like lemon curd. No overwhelming sensations of yeast or toast in the finish, but rather clean and citrusy fresh. Lovely and light, like a Spring day.
He said: Little bubbles give way to scents of Apple, pear and white grapes. Crisp, getting flavors of raisin. Long, tongue-numbing finish. Still not the best at articulating my sparkling wine notes. I’m able to note if I love or hate a Champagne or sparkling wine, and this one for me is neither of us. It’s a just-fine, drinkable bottle.
Médoc, Grand Vin de Bordeaux, Château Meric 2007 ($10)
She said: Very opaque purple garnet color. On the nose a hint of eucalyptus, tar, mushroom, and sour blackberries. The wine tastes very fresh and has obvious but unobtrusive acid. Fresh berries, licorice, long finish with vanilla, soft tannin, cassis. There is a slight sharpness that lingers in the mouth (burnt wood?) but other than this an elegant wine. Would be excellent with grilled meats. A terrific bargain and a very worthy everyday-whenever-right now table wine.
He said: Very dark and purpley. On the nose there is vanilla, cherry, toast, blackberry, maybe some butter and floral (almost soapy) notes. Light tannins and a creamy vanilla-tinged feel and taste in the mouth. Not a super heavy or full wine, but hints of fruit with a little too much heat in the finish. Yeah, it has a strange finish. Despite the finish, this is a very nice wine for 10 bucks.
Red Bordeaux (or shall We be fancy Français about it and say Bordeaux Rouge) is the topic of our upcoming Swirl Smell Slurp Sunday Salon. This time around We’re asking our guests to bring a bottle of the Frenchy stuff, keeping the cost at $20 or under. (We provide everything else: meet-and-greet bubbly to start the afternoon off right, glassware, informative notes, a tasting notebook, and light snacks.)
It occurred to Us that We should try and find and drink a few Bordeaux before next weekend’s Salon, to whet our palate… and also to make sure that finding one under twenty bucks that doesn’t suck is possible. Turns out We had found one already. The blog is becoming a great reference for Us to keep track of what We tasted when and what We thought about it. (Beats all those misc. notebooks, cocktail napkins, and back of receipt reviews We used to try to keep track of.). Clicking the Bordeaux Reds category under Tasted brings up a very favorable review of an $8.99 Bordeaux We bought at the local corner liquor store. Oh, how we love Big Mac’s.
While we encourage our guests to go to their local, independent wine shop to buy wine, We found that a few of our guests at the last Salon were intimidated by wine shops. “No, no,” We told them, but the snobby reputation of wine, is just that, a reputation. But it is tough for some people to brush aside this perception. We’re doing our part to persuade such folks that this is simply not so. And if they encounter such a place, hell yeah, never go back and tell all your friends to do the same.
If there is not a local wine shop in our fellow Salon-er’s neighborhood or they simple decide to buy their wine the last minute, We recommend these shops that are on the way to SSS headquarters (depending on what direction they’re coming from) to purchase the day’s theme wine: DomaineLA, Silverlake Wine, City Sip, Palate, and Rosso Wine Shop. And if wine shops are really just not their thing, well, there is always Big Mac’s.
The place We do not recommend our friends stop at before the upcoming Salon to pick-up a red Bordeaux is our neighborhood Gelson’s. Here’s why: they only have one Bordeaux under $20 and it is very meh. Our review:
Montagne Saint-Emilion, Château Forlouis, 2006 (François Janouerx, $15.99)
She said: Deep garnet in color, cloudy/muddy/opaque. In the nose are barnyard and dirt aromas with a background of plums and misc. red fruit. Very sharp in the mouth. Tannins are ripe and very vocal: there is very little fruit or any other flavors to distinguish. Finish is sour. The wine may benefit from some oxidation. Tasted it immediately after popping the cork and an hour later, but there was little change. Perhaps leaving it open overnight (tomorrow’s breakfast wine?) will help dissipate the harshness. Would not consider the wine a bargain, even priced at $15.99, because it lacks fruit and balance.
He said: Well, actually He took a quick sip and said: “Gross.” And then He went back to His architecting. He’s too busy to write a real review, but the drawings He’s working on sure look good. She guesses His rating would be the same as Her’s (if He knows what’s good for Him).
- L. Preston Dry Creek Valley, Sauvignon Blanc, CA 2007
- avocado citrus salad with grapefruit and lime, arugula, and cracked picholines
- chicken liver pâté
- chanterelles over polenta
- oven-roasted pork chop with small potatoes, brussels sprouts, and apples
- buena chica cheesecake
- cookies and confections
- Bordeaux Château Cadillac, France 2006
James Welling photo courtesy of Dérive.
Last night we invited our friends D & M to join us for a trip to Regen Projects for the opening of the James Welling: Glass House exhibit. The place was architect-heavy (Greg Lynn was there) and so D & M (both architects) instantly ran into people they knew. Also, as it turns out, M designed the Regen Projects space, so of course M knew the owner. And She and M both knew Stacy, who is Regen’s assistant. It’s strange how small the second largest city in the United States can be.
Oh yeah, the show was great. We had two glasses of nondescript white wine in plastic cups and perused the very colorful images of Philip Johnson’s Glass House.
Leaving the opening, we were all hungry and had to decide somewhere to eat on a Saturday night with no reservation. Lou, The Hungry Cat, Lucques, AOC?
It was obvious that we wanted to eat some Suzanne Goin. I have never been to a Goin restaurant (except The Hungry Cat, which isn’t totally her) and have only eaten her food secondhand; meaning what we have cooked out of the book Sunday Suppers at Lucques. It’s almost a crime to live in LA and not eat at AOC or Lucques, so I was pushing for one of those.
We pulled up to Lucques and could see through the window that we were not going to get a seat here anytime soon. Off to AOC.
AOC was less full, but still busy, busy. We asked the host if there was any possibility of us getting a table for 4, or sitting at the bar. She informed us it would be almost impossible, but would be at least 50 minutes. (To be fair, it is ridiculous for us to think we are going to get 4 seats at AOC on a Saturday night without reservations.)
She decided that before we left to our third choice for dinner, She would use the restroom. And who does She see on the way to the restroom…her old dear friend Suzanne Goin. The hostess saw them hugging and I heard the maitre’d mutter “oh” under her breath and look back at her reservation list to see if there was anything she could do.
Suzanne came and introduced herself to D, M & I, and then spoke to the hostess (Suzanne also called Lucques herself to see if there was anyway for us to get in there. This woman might be the greatest restaurateur I have ever seen; calm, hospitable, sweet, very welcoming.)
Five minutes later we had a 4-top at AOC. We began with some bubbly and then the wine steward came over to introduce herself (at Suzanne’s bidding) and assist us with selecting our wine. We had:
- Lassalle Champagne (to begin)
- Bordeaux Superior (with dinner, recommended by the steward and very nice, but we both forgot the name. Think it starts with an “M”.)
- Tement Sauvignon Blanc (for dessert)
- jamon serrano
- chicken liver crostini with pancetta
- little gems, dungeness crab, avocado and lime
- braised pork belly, kabocha purée and gremolata
- farro and black rice with pinenuts and currants
- arroz negro with squid and saffron aioli
- clams, sherry, chanterelles and garlic
- grilled quail (Sent out by Suzanne)
- hooks blue
- tomme savoie
- warm pink lady apple crostata with caramel and vanilla ice cream
- banana choux à la crème with toffee and bittersweet chocolate
Everything was great; the food, the wine, the service. I want to go back very soon (can we get a reservation tonight?)
We didn’t take any pictures, but for a very comprehensive review with nice images, check out Kevin Eats (from whom we borrowed the pic above).
Alright, it’s Tuesday. We bought a bottle from Big Mac’s yesterday with the intention of popping it open and taking some notes. But then the neighbor came down to Her place with a bottle of Hendricks gin. We’re not just wine lovers, We like spirits too and couldn’t resist a couple of g&t’s. So We pulled the cork tonight on an inexpensive Bordeaux.
By way of background, four or five times a week We find ourselves at Big Mac’s, a neighborhood liquor store on Sunset Blvd. We’re not always shopping for wine ($14.99 for a big bottle of Skyy, oh my), but on Monday’s We make a point of it. The store fits the bill for our quest to learn about and taste accessible wine. (We’ve said this before, but it’s worth restating: We’re also regulars at the many local wine shops–and you should be too.)
We always keep price in mind when We pick out a bottle and this week We also decided to choose a Bordeaux, the area We are reading about in Zraly’s excellent book for beginners like Him: Windows on the World Complete Wine Course: 2009 Edition.
As usual, we follow a basic tasting method: swirl, smell, slurp…and savor.
Chateau Les Rosiers (Patrick Jolivet), 2005 ($8.99)
She said: It’s dark outside, where we’re tasting, so the color is a bit hard to distinguish. It’s dark and reddish and a bit translucent. On the nose I get currants and subtle wood, with a little bit of pepper and a chemically smell. Tannins are initially soft but linger long on the palate. Way more structure than I would expect from a Bordeaux of this class and price. And it’s the kind that I like: a bit taught with long lasting, tannic finish. Pepper again in the mouth. No real fruit characteristics, per se, but nothing flabby or soft about it. Really good value for the price. I’m impressed, I may buy a case of this. Can imagine all kinds of grilled meats and hearty flavored dishes with the wine as well as stinky cheeses. Makes me hungry.
He said: Like She said, it’s dark outside (and, I repeat, I’m colorblind) so I guess that this wine looks very red and probably opaque. On the nose I am getting very light strawberry, that chemical-balloon-y thing I still can’t pinpoint, sharpie/magic marker–it stings a little bit. In the mouth I get strawberry again and a little blackberry. The flavors are very light, I don’t find this to be a bold wine at all. Nothing is jumping out at me, soft tannins, easy to drink, not much aftertaste. Earlier this week I proclaimed that the cheap Bordeaux I was drinking paired well with Peanut Butter. I don’t know why, and my education in reds is just beginning. Whites are much easier for me to understand, but I really enjoy learning about (and drinking) reds. I initially thought this wine was very coy, and didn’t much care for it. But, it is opening up and I am liking it more and more.