Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Grilled Chicken Wrapped in Shiso

One of my favorite yakitori. The shiso adds a layer of herbal flavors, perfectly complimented by a crisp, mineral, citrusy white Burgundy, like the 2008 Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Chenevottes, Domaine Henri Prudhon & Fils.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Burgundy and Renkon Chips

Fries are so yesterday. Try renkon chips with your Red Burgundy or Pinot. Yum.

1990 Red Burgundies are drinking so good right now. I wouldn't hesitate opening any. The flavors are deliciously fresh, still rich and dark, yet the texture has softened into a voluptuous sexiness. Like this awesome 1990 Beaune Marconnets Premier Cru of Bouchard Pere et Fils. Bought this only for $20.99 on release. You'd probably pay double for the CURRENT release of this.

To find equivalent quality Burgundy for under $30 these days you have to check out producers the likes of Didier Montchovet, with his 2010 Hautes Cotes de Beaune, an overachiever made from vines up to 50 years-old planted a few kilometers from Pommard.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Post-Brunello-Tasting Dinner at Credo SF

As often happens after our tasting events, I invite folks to join me for a convivial dinner at a fun restaurant that would hopefully allow us to open more bottles. Tastings are great for sharpening one's tasting skills and for intellectual stimulation, but wine is best enjoyed on the dinner table, preferably with good conversation.

And so that's what happened the other Friday after our Brunello tasting. A small group headed to Credo in San Francisco, an interesting Italian restaurant serving modern, trattoria-style food in a setting surrounded by walls printed with quotes from famous people. Clearly, the quotes are intended as conversation pieces but they also look like neat graffiti-decor. Frankly, I couldn't think of a better setting for post-Italian-tasting dinner.

One of my favorites on the menu is the pork meatball app, a really tasty polpette in a great sauce.

Because it's not something I always see, I ordered the tortellini with English peas and mushroom. Very good, balanced, creamy flavors that went well with the red wine.

The salad--tuna conserva--and mains--roast half-chicken--we ordered turned out to be delicious as well. Yet, hands down, the winner on the menu that had me thinking of returning asap was the house-made torrone ice cream of pistacchio and frozen honey. This was chunky and rich. Pistacchio happens to be my favorite that's why I ordered it, but my wife gobbled almost the entire serving after I offered her a taste. And so now I'm left with a craving. I need to return to Credo soon.

360 Pine Street (Montgomery)
San Francisco, CA 94104

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cappellano's Barolo

"Vino secondo natura (wine by nature)" Teobaldo Cappellano

If you love Barolo and you run into some from Cappellano, consider yourself fortunate. Cappellano's magnificent Baroli are exceedingly rare, only about 800 cases or so are produced in a year, and almost immediately snapped up by the cultish following of this venerable estate.

The late Teobaldo Cappellano passed away in February 2009 and since then his family's legendary Barolo estate has been run by his son, Augusto. I am pleased to offer the last two vintages of Cappellano Barolo before Teobaldo died: 2007 and 2008 vintages. I tasted both wines again just a few days ago. The 2007 sweeter and velvety, irresistible to drink even now, while the 2008, brooding and structured, its tannins coating my mouth.

Cappellano has held to traditional practices for over a century and its natural winemaking approach had been championed by Teobaldo Cappellano long before the natural winemaking trend became popular in France and the rest of the world. He deemed each vintage great and unique and hated his wines to be scored by wine critics.

Cappellano is in Serralunga d'Alba in the Gabutti cru producing uncompromising, traditional Barolo since 1870. The Barolo Rupestris comes from vines planted in the 1940s grafted on American roostock. Vinified in natural yeasts then aged for over four years in botti, or large casks. It is a beautiful Barolo of superb depth, richness, and length. Comparable in quality to some of the best Baroli but more reasonably priced. Don't miss these rare offerings!

Barolo DOCG Otin Fiorin Rupestris, Cappellano 2007 $82.00 (Click to buy!) 

Barolo DOCG Otin Florin Rupestris, Cappellano 2008 $84.00 (Click to buy!)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Toast Mother's Day with One of the Finest Grower-Producer Champagnes

Based in Avize is one of the greatest grower-producers in Champagne, Agrapart & Fils. I visited them several years ago and saw for myself what they do: truly natural and artisanal winemaking, utilizing basic, traditional farming and winemaking implements.

The Champagnes are produced without artifice:
  • The domaine-owned vineyards are predominantly Grand Cru in the area of Avize
  • The vineyards are farmed organically and plowed.
  • Harvesting is done at optimal ripeness.
  • The wine is barrel-fermented using wholly indigenous yeasts.
  • Extended bottle aging on the lees.
  • Low dosage.
The magnificient Les 7 Crus Champagne is from 85% Grand Cru vineyards and the other 15% all Premier Cru. The quality is truly overachieving, rivaling the quality of Champagnes that are much more expensive. One of the great buys in naturally-crafted, grower-producer Champagnes today.

Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Les 7 Crus, Agrapart & Fils $35.00 (Click to buy!)
From one of the top grower-producers based in Avize, Agrapart makes this rich, distinctive Champagne, mostly from grand cru vineyards. Quite dry and intense on the palate, with stunning mouth presence and persistence on the finish. Unquestionably, one of the best values you'll find in high quality Champagnes.