'Tasted: Loire, whites'

Toasting the new home sweet home

The first slurps on the new patio were delightful, plentiful, and the prettiest shades of pink.

Our pal S came by and we watched the sunset, drank rosé (it’s L.A. in October, totally appropriate), sipped bubbles, and later made a mess of the kitchen preparing potatoes, haricots verts, slow cooked greens, and a roasted chicken. (Which turned out to be more challenging than it should be as we adjust to the new oven. Hmm. The chicken initially looked a little anemic, but we broiled it for a few minutes and got it close to brown.)

Having a housemate who loves to cook and is damn good at it is a (tasty) treat. Between the two of us, He is going to eat very well. Combining our tools of the trade and larder has our kitchen packed to the gills including an amazing, fragrant collection of spices, oils, vinegars, and oh yeah, wine. Loving it.

The first toast was a perfect: 2004 Nicholas Feuillatte Blanc de Blanc. Sweet flowers on the nose, racy citrus on the palate, with some green apple. A terrific aperitif. When the bottle was empty, we tried another French sparkling, this one a blend of Pineau d’Anuis and Chenin Blanc: NV Domaine Brazilier. After tasting the elegant Feuillatte, the Brazilier stuck me as flabby in structure. But it is also lovely in its own way: ripe pears, yeasty, hints of allspice, long finish.

The hot housemate had a bottle of rosé open from the night before: 2010 Prieuré Saint-Hippolyte from Languedoc. It was a beautiful orange pink, fresh, fruity, and simple. And it matched the sunset. You’ve got to love a town that has weather so moderate and wonderful that rosé season is practically year-round.
As we feasted on the chicken and veggies, we sampled three reds (as I said: there is a lot of wine at the new digs): a spicy, dense Rijoa (2005 Vina Santurnia Reserva), an absolutely wonderful and elegant Marc d’Grazia selection from Sicily, and a rather vegetal Chinon (2009 Le Paradis). If I could buy a case of the 2010 Etna Rosso, Tenuta Delle Terre Nere I would, but sadly George at Silver Lake Wine sold me his last bottle. I’ll be seeking it out elsewhere.

The conversation around the dinner table centered around what we would be cooking, eating, and drinking at our first dinner party. I loved the old Hollywood house, but this was a damn good move. Hello, Silver Lake: I love you.

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List w/o Commentary: Dinner at Harrison’s house last night

Pre-game:
Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley Vineyards

Pre-dinner:
Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé, Lucien Albrecht
Quincy, Adele Rouze 2008
Rosé, Columbia Valley, Charles and Charles 2009
aged goat cheese
French butter with fleur de sel
jamon serrano

Dinner:
Just for the Love of It, Sine Qua Non 2002
Syrah, lillian 2006
mussels in white wine with snip yourself fresh herbs
baby romaine with anchovy viaigrette
leg of lamb with rosemary, marjoram and lavender
roasted beets, potatoes, and baby carrots

Digestif:
The Balvenie 12 year old

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List w/o Commentary: Barbrix last night

Drink:

  • Blanc de Blancs, Parigot & Richard N/V
  • Savennieres, “L’Enclos,” Morgat 2006
  • Tempranillo, Tinto Pesquera 2005

Food:

  • seared ahi tuna carpaccio with sambuca fennel, orange aioli, cara cara oranges, 2009 olio nuovo
  • hamachi crudo with ginger creme frâiche, avacado, paprika oil
  • deviled eggs with marinated boquerones
  • saffron arancini stuffed with smoked mozzerella
  • and three cheeses I forget the name of

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Rose Bowl & Rosemary

Nearly three weeks on the road means we are in desperate need of reuniting ourselves with our gym membership. This afternoon we donned our snuggish sweats and headed out.

But why was our usual 10 minute drive to Equinox in Pasadena taking soooo long. And why were we seeing so many people in orange shirts with cow horns on them?

Oh. Is it the Rose Bowl today?

We finally made it, did our sweat thing and took surface streets back to Silverlake. And in our starving-must-eat-something-right-away mode, quickly made a big salad and popped open a bottle of wine (we were thirsty too): an inexpensive Pouilly Fumé by Caves des Perrieres from Trader Joe’s ($8.99).

The salad was quickly and greedily consumed and we continued to munch on a few Wisecrackers’ Roasted Garlic with Rosemary Low Fat crackers. Suddenly he says, “These crackers really don’t pair well with the wine.”

Wow. His first food pairing declaration.

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The Joule: Cool


The Joule. (Image courtesy of Luxury Insider.)

Yesterday, we had a great day touring around Downtown Dallas checking out art, walking around, and even rode a trolley named Matilda. And of course there were cocktails and wine involved. After a few rounds we decided it might be best not to drive, but stay Downtown for the night.

There are lots of hotels in the area, but The Joule was our immediate choice, a sleek and luxurious new hotel that we had been hearing about. “Hi…we don’t have any reservations, but do you have a room for the night?” And lucky for us, they did.

It’s kind of nice to check into a hotel with no bags. And funny. The bellman asked if we needed any help with our luggage. And where was our luggage? She had a small purse and He had a camera, no need for the friendly bellman tonight.

We walked across the street to a CVS to get a few overnight essentials and then went up 10 stories to our room. So great. A circular bed! Neither of us had ever slept on a round bed, much less one with a red leather headboard. The room was small, but perfect. Dark wood, frosted glass, and zebra print carpet (which matched the collars and cuffs of the robes that we promptly slipped into). Amenities included martini glasses and a cocktail shaker. Put us in the mood for drinks, so we put our clothes back on and headed downstairs.

Charlie Palmer has a restaurant at The Joule called…Charlie Palmer at The Joule. Unimaginative name, beautiful place. We sat at the bar, as is our usual protocol. The bartender was very nice and polite, almost to a fault: “sir” and “ma’am” began and ended every sentence. While we were looking over the extensive wine list (notebook style with tabs for each category) we overheard him mention his “manscaping” to a server. Hilarious.

She ordered a Manhattan and He ordered a bottle of 2005 Muga. The bartender continued to loosen up throughout the evening and gave us excellent, entertaining service (our large bar tab probably helped).

Although we had had a late lunch, the menu looked too good to pass up.

First up were Lobster Corn Dogs, which are exactly what they sound like and were very good. Next we were expecting grilled baby octopus. The chef came out to personally tell us that the octopus he received from his vendor wasn’t up to his standard and he wasn’t comfortable serving it to us, but he could grill some calamari. It was nice for him to come out, and we said that of course we would like some calamari. So that came out next–and it was the best calamari either of us have ever tasted, so tender and served over luscious, smokey white beans. The next plate that came out was the Salumi, not quite as memorable, but very good. The duck ham and the Dijon mustard (She swears it was her favorite: Edmond Fallot) are what we remember most.

We had seen the Sommelier bustling about the dinning room all night and when we told the bartender we wanted to take a bottle to the room, he finally came over. He was nice and helpful, if a bit awkward (or maybe nervous?).

And what was that he was holding? A digital wine list on a tablet computer. We had fun playing around with it. Really a cool way to search through an extensive list. We took a bottle of 2004 Louis Métaireau Muscadet to go.

Back to the room and back into those comfy robes.

We were on the same floor as the pool, which is outside and cantilevers over the street below. We wanted to check it out and have a smoke, so walked out in our robes. She saw steam coming from the pool, assumed it was heated, and walked down a few steps into the water. Maybe it was the slippery steps, maybe it was the drinking, but She fell straight on her ass into the pool. She clambered out laughing, robe soaking wet. It was hard for Him not to laugh too, but he also realized that to be a good boyfriend He had to give Her His dry robe which therefore ended His robe-wearing part of the evening. Not very funny.

A few sips of wine and then finally…sleep. Did we mention the bed is round?

We awoke to breakfast and coffee in bed before we showered in the fantastic shower with two shower heads. After confiscating all the soaps, shampoos and q-tips, it was time to check-out.

Goodbye sweet luxury hotel. We will miss you.

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Sunday Salon: what we drank

salon-post
(The morning after: many, many empty glasses and bottles.)

Our first Sunday Salon was a success. Fifteen of us gathered in Her living room (aka the patio) for an evening of smelling, swirling, slurping, and lively conversation (mostly about wine).

A big cheers to our guests for sharing our Sunday ritual with Us and for generously bringing along a bottle. As luck would have it, several of you brought the same wine, allowing for generous pours. Here’s the line-up:

  • Touraine, Dom. La Renaudie, 2007
  • Muscadet, Sèvre et Maine, Dom. des Trois Toits (Hubert Rousseau), 2007
  • Sancerre, Les Monts Damnés, Carl Roger & Christophe Moreux, 2007
  • Vouvray, Barton & Guestier, 2007
  • Muscadet, Sèvre et Maine, Les Dabinières, Jean-Jacques et Remi Bonnet, 2008
  • Muscadet, Sèvre et Maine, Cuveé Vielles Vignes, Clos des Brierds, 2008

(Sense a theme here? Kudos if you do.)

We’ll post a detailed recap of this delightful evening on Sunday. In the meantime, We’ve got some dishes to do.

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Wines of Note: A Marvelous Muscadet

bottle shot

I wouldn’t say that I’m the more serious wine taster; more often than not He says, “Should we take our Tasting Notebooks?” when we head out. And this is even if we’re just going to the grocery store or someplace like that–you never know when a wine tasting opportunity will pop up. I like this kind of thinking.

But…last night He was a little less serious about the tasting part. Or rather, he was less serious about the taking notes and concentrating part; there was plenty of tasting.

As He said in his post: “Sometimes you get a little tipsy and decide to go to Cha Cha, and then forget to review the wine or the shop.”

Yes, all of these things did happen (the chicks totally kicked ass at foos ball at Cha Cha, by the way) but, I still took notes on the terrific Muscadet we tasted from the equally terrific wine shop domaineLA.

Hands down this is the best wine that I’ve tasted that’s been reviewed here. Seek it out.

Muscadet, Sèvre et Maine, Domaine de la Pepiere, 2007 ($15.99)

She said: The wine is very pale with very little color, just a hint of yellow. On the nose it is fresh and clean with strong notes of grapefruit, lime, and lots of mineral. One sip fills the entire palate. The flavors again are citrusy, especially grapefruit. Also detected oyster shells, wet stones, and a chalkiness. It has a bright, almost abrasive acidity. A bit taut here, but I like that quality in a Muscadet and in whites in general. The long, floral finish reminds me of a flowering almond tree. Truly delicious and quenching. I can imagine all kinds of foods to pair it with: shellfish, of course, but also spicy stuff like bbq or Thai, and wouldn’t sushi be perfect. It’s also a great value for the price.

Facts: The winemaker, Marc Ollivier, is highly regarded by both wine drinkers and fellow wine makers. The wines come from about 40 year old vineyards which overlook the river Sèvre. Ollivier is the only grower in the Muscadet who does not have a single clonal selection in his vineyards; they are all from original stock. What also sets Ollivier and his wines apart is his insistence on hand harvesting, a rarity in the region, and using only natural yeasts. He doesn’t inoculate the wine with additives or yeasts to speed up fermentation, rather he waits for the wine to finish naturally.

Postscript: And if you still aren’t convinced that you should seek out and try wines by this wonderful maker, just look at this face. How can you not smile and resist a wine made by this man?

mark_olivier
(Photo from Wine Anorak.)

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So, here’s the thing…

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Sometimes you have a wine blog. Sometimes you take that blog very seriously. Sometimes you visit a great new wineshop, and buy a great bottle of Muscadet. Sometimes you have every intention of reviewing the shop and the wine. Sometimes you get a little tipsy and decide to go to Cha Cha, and then forget to review the wine or the shop.

He Said: The wine shop is awesome, you should all go. The bottle of Muscadet that we bought was also awesome, we will buy another bottle and review it. But sometimes it is better to just be social, enjoy the wine, but not take it too seriously.

Sometimes life is just good that way.

(and, duh, the image of the bottle isn’t Muscadet. We just liked the editorial comments on the chalkboard. The wine we drank was Muscadet, Sévre et Maine sur Lie, Domaine de la Pepiére 2007)

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