Posts Tagged ‘Karaisrad’

This changes everything!

July 28, 2011

Remember The NeverEnding Story?

Remember when Bastian first starts reading?

There’s this troll-looking dude that flies around on a bat, and he’s hanging out with a guy in a top hat who rides a racing snail.  So they’re chillin’ in the woods, when they hear a rumbling in the distance.  It gets louder and louder and LOUDER.

Eventually, out from the trees comes a giant dude made of rocks riding a tricycle.

See? I told you!

They called him the Rock Biter, since his diet consisted of rocks.  I guess you are what you eat.

Anyway…

The Rock Biter starts hanging out with the other dudes, and they get to talking about this thing called The Nothing (an entity that is threatening to destroy their world of Fantasia).  The dude on the racing snail and the troll begin to tell of the things they had heard second-hand, but the Rock Biter had an actual run-in with The Nothing.

He told them about this beautiful lake that was in the center of his home town.  It was loaded with plenty of delicious lime stone rocks (which would be important to a rock biter).  But one day… One day The Nothing came, and then the lake was gone.

“What do you mean it was gone?  Did it dry up?” the racing snail dude asked.

“No.  It was just not there anymore.” the Rock Biter responded.

“What?  Like there was a hole instead of a lake?” the troll dude asked.

“No.  A hole would have been something.  There was NOTHING there!” the Rock Biter explained.

I totally understand what the Rock Biter was saying.  You can talk about The Nothing as much as you want, but there is no way you could ever understand it unless you experienced it.  In the movie, the Rock Biter moves with just a little more urgency because he knows what The Nothing is all about.  He wants everyone to understand what The Nothing is.

I started thinking about The NeverEnding Story last night while tasting some wine.

I started to think about The Nothing.

I’ve always been a fan of Riesling.  I’ve especially been into the Rieslings of Washington state.  I’ve never been afraid to bring a 6 dollar Riesling to a dinner party, because they are always crowd-pleasing.  They always have a nice balance of acidity and a little residual sugar.  Perfect with food.

Recently, I’ve been reading through Kevin Zraly’s wine book, and he spends quite a bit of time talking about the wines of Alsace (specifically Riesling).  While reading it, I was all like, “I know about Riesling.  I know that the stuff from France is gonna be a bit more dry.  I know it’s gonna have nice mineral notes.  I know it’s gonna have some good acid.  I know it all.”

Apparently, I had no clue.

It turns out that Alsatian Riesling is my Nothing.

Here’s what went down…

Alsace (France) vs Washington State

I picked up two completely different Rieslings from two different stores for two different reasons, and decided to taste them side-by-side…

F.E. Trimbach 2008 Riesling from Alsace, France

I picked up the Trimbach 2008 Riesling at BevMo for $21.99.  Easily, the most I’ve ever paid for a Riesling, but this is the first wine that Zraly suggests you taste in his book.  If I am to know about the Rieslings of Alsace, I’ve got to taste them.

I figured that if I really wanted to get to know this wine, I had to compare it with something I was familiar with.  So yesterday I picked up this…

Chateau Ste Michelle 2010 Riesling from Columbia Valley, Washington

The Chateau Ste Michelle 2010 Riesling will set you back $5.99 at Trader Joe’s.  This is my go to Riesling.  This is the one that I bring to parties.  This is the one that is just delicious.

And now…

The tasting.

Sing along with me! "Feelin' so fine. Tasting some wine... Side-by-side!"

Color: The Trimbach was a straw yellow.  It was considerably darker than the Chateau Ste Michelle’s pale yellow hue.

Nose: The Trimbach was hella complex on the nose.  Tons of small, not quite ripe, green apples.  White raisins.  There’s this crushed vitamin C characteristic that is really cool.  There’s also a little lime, fig, and motor oil.  The Rock Biter would also appreciate the lime stone minerality of it.

The Chateau Ste Michelle smells EXTREMELY sweet, in comparison.  There’s lots of fruit on the nose.  Pear.  Apple pie.  Peaches.

Taste: This is where it gets fun.  The Trimbach is RAZOR SHARP in its acidity.  I never understood the whole “Razor blades on the tongue” description that Gary Vaynerchuk talks about until I tasted this Riesling.  This is intense!  There’s a ton of lime and grapefruit on the palate.  There are also hints of green apple skin and walnut.  But really… the star of this wine is the dry, sharp, mouth-watering acidity.

The Chateau Ste Michelle, in comparison, is almost dessert-like in its approach.  I never felt that way about it before.  This thing is SWEET.  It has light peach and mango fruit on the palate.  There is a nice, clean acidity to this wine, but the fruit wins out.

Score: By all accounts, the Trimbach was everything I’ve read about Alsatian Rieslings, but nothing I could have ever expected.  This wine is a game changer for me.  I could write about this wine until my fingers fall off, and you still wouldn’t understand it.  Much like The Nothing, I need you to know how great this is.  Give it a 91.  Buy it.  Save it as an aperitif to a fancy seafood dinner at home.

The Chateau Ste Michelle is a good Riesling.  It is a respectable 87, and a real value.  I have no problem with popping this open with some Tuesday night Tai food.

But that Trimbach…

That Trimbach was something.

And since we had plenty of the bottle left after the tasting, Kara and I had the rest with dinner…

Meatless Mediterranean cabbage wraps and romaine salad of cucumber and dill by KaraIsRad. Entertainment by Dish Network.

The Nothing teaching me about Riesling?

Ain’t that something!

Stay Rad,

Jeff

The House of Thevegetarian: A Bordeaux Vertical w/ Enough Food to Make a Man Grow Horizontally.

July 10, 2011

Remember when I asked you to pick which wine I should drink?

Fine then!  Go here to refresh your memory.

One of the wines I featured was this guy…

Chateau Ballan-Larquette 2006 Bordeaux

At the end of the post, this guy (the winemaker for Chateau Ballan-Larquette) asked me to let him know what I thought about it.

Well…

The other day at BevMo, I was checking out the wines for the 5 Cent Sale (again… a total scam), and I found that they had the 2007 and 2009 vintages of the exact same wine I already had.  I decided right then that I had to purchase those other vintages and do a vertical tasting.

The problem is, 3 bottles of wine is just too much for one man to drink alone (1 bottle is too much).  So I needed to make an event out of it.

That’s where the Thevegetarians come in.

Dave Thevegetarian has been my best friend ever since we were in third grade.  Third grade, man!  If you want to figure out how long we’ve been friends, take the age that you are supposed to be when you’re in third grade (I’m too lazy to ask my Kara.  She teaches third grade.) and subtract that from 33.  That’s about how many years we’ve known each other, or something.

Dave and his wife, Kara Thevegetarian, both happen to be vegetarians, coincidentally.  They love throwing dinner parties.  I would invite the Thevegetarians over for dinner at my house more often, but I doubt they would eat my Blue Cheese Burgers.  They had us over for dinner last Friday.

“You bring the wine,” Dave told me, “and I’ll make some dope food for you, home boy.”  In spite of Dave Thevegetarian’s odd choice of words, I pulled my three bottles from the old wine fridge along with a little bubbly, grabbed Kara by the hand, and headed over to the House of Thevegetarian.

“It’s on!” I shouted.

“Oh brother!” Kara responded.

We arrived at 6:30 pm to a table loaded with vegetarian hors d’oeuvres and a cork screw.  I opened up the three bottles of Chateau Ballan-Larquette and arranged them thusly…

Chateau Ballan-Larquette 2006, 2007, 2009, and vegetarian goodness.

While waiting for the wine to breathe a little, Kara Thevegetarian poured us each a glass of this…

Clos La Chance 2009 Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc. Why it was kept in the vegetable crisper is beyond me.

I’ve always been a fan of Clos La Chance.  So much so, that KaraIsRad and I were married there.

See! I told you!

The Clos La Chance 2009 Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc is a grassy lemon/lime machine.  The perfect aperitif on a hot summer day.  I’m not giving you a score for this one, ’cause I didn’t take any notes on it.  Let me just say that I recommend it.

On to the vertical tasting…

The Cateau Ballan-Larquette is a “value” Bordeaux.  The list price for this one is $19.99.  At BevMo, you will pay that much for it during the 5 Cent Sale, but when it’s not on “sale” you should be able to get it for about 15 bucks.  This wine is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc.  It spends 12 to 18 months in steel and cement tanks.

Up first…

2006

Color:  Ruby red with a little rust.

Nose:  Chalk (I love chalk), Cola, Green Bell Pepper.

Taste:  This wine is GREEN!  Bell peppers for days!  There is also a spicy black pepper component.  Good acidity.  There is a little bit of bacon fat in this one which really brings the whole thing together.

Score:  A solid 88.  Solid!

How about some food?

Roasted Asparagus Soup by Dave Thevegetarian.

Up next…

2007

Color: Same ruby color as the first.  Maybe a little darker.

Nose:  Bright Cherry.  A little wood shop action too (Strange, since to my knowledge this wine is not oaked).

Taste:  Very green with some SHARP tannins.  Sour Cherry.  Acid.  A little rubbery bike tire thing.

Score:  I originally gave this one an 87, but after the tasting was completed I gave it a retaste.  It just doesn’t hold up to the other two wines.  I now give it an 86-.

Note:  I bought this wine two weeks ago at the 5 Cent Sale.  All of the vintages at Bev Mo were 2009, but I found this one tucked in the bin.  At Bev Mo, they display their wines upright at room temperature.  There is a strong possibility that this bottle was sitting around the store for two years before I bought it.  Not being stored properly, this bottle may not represent the 2007 vintage properly.  Two questions:  A) Have any of you tried the 2007 Ch. Ballan-Larquette and have notes to share?  B) Would any of you ever buy an odd-vintaged wine that was not stored properly?

What?  You want more food?  Okay…

Stuffed Zucchini Crumble. It tasted WAY better than it looks.

Alright.  More wine…

2009

Color:  Same as the rest.

Nose:  Blueberry.  Cocoa.  Chalk (I love chalk).  I’m looking at my notes from Friday.  It says “DOPE!”

Taste:  Bell Pepper.  There is this sweet lacquered wood taste to it.  See that table in the picture above.  Imagine taking a bite out of that, but in a good way.  There is also a cranberry and white pepper component.

Score:  The 09 was my favorite.  It edged out the 06 because it was a little more complex.  Give it an 89+.

For fun, I also had the other folks rank the wines before I revealed my scores.  Here’s what they said…

KaraIsRad: She liked the 07 the best.  It was followed closely by the 09 which barely edged out the 06.

Kara Thevegetarian: She also thought the 07 was the best, but she liked the 06 better than the 09.

Dave Thevegetarian:  He was very much in my camp, scoring the 09 as the top wine (followed by the 06 and 07).

The takeaway for me was that this is a wine that can be consumed young.  If you are going to hold it for a while (I had mine for 3 years), make sure that you store it properly.  Put it in a cool place if you do not have a wine fridge, and keep them on their sides.  Decanting for 15 minutes to a half and hour is a good idea.  The 07 did start tasting off after a few hours, but again… I think it was doomed from the start.  I am looking forward to tasting more wines from Ch. Ballan-Larquette.

What?  MORE FOOD?!?!?

Baked ziti of smoked mozzarella. Like a circus, this dish was "in tents"!

After the business of the night was done with, we had a really fun time hanging out.  We even had a dance off.

Here is what my camera saw…

Sparkling white wine paired with sparkling bon fire.

Emile's California Champagne by Guglielmo.

Croatian Fig Brandy. Yikes!

Good times, but now I’m hungry…

Dave called my bluff and brought me some fruit. What a sweetheart.

Stay Rad,

Jeff


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