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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 86 (May 8, 2006)

Monday, May 1: Sometimes I wonder if it's worth leaving home. The amount of work that piles up is out of all proportion to one's normal day-to-day obligations. An interesting email from a sommelier in Ohio asking me if I had ever had a Basque wine called Txakoli. I confessed that not only had I not had it, I had not heard of it, which prompted this reply:

Since writing to you initially, my early June cookout has turned into a full blown wine tasting.

That is a good thing. It will give me the opportunity to educate my guests about choosing summer wines for the rest of their summer events.

I will start by discussing wines that are traditionally served chilled. I am going to open with a Brut Cava, nice and cool. Then close with a Beaujolais to make the point that if you have to serve a red, even the winemakers of Beaujolais suggest serving their wines at white wine temperature or cooler.

Then I will discuss low to no residual sugar. I will serve dry, but tart, white wines, sort of like a refreshing glass of lemonade. I'm going to serve a Vinho Verde, a Txakoli (pronounced Chok-kolee), which I will have to mail order from the coast since their are no Basque people in Ohio, then a Greek Moschofilero.

Then I will discuss low alcohol and serve a Moscato d'Asti and a frizzante red malvasia from the Asti region that is also only 5% alcohol. The red malvasia is sweet and tastes like a blend of 70% cranberry juice and 30% pomegranate juice.

I think that should go over quite well. Thank you for your response. I hope you get to try Txakoli some day. If you like Vinho Verde, you will love Txakoli.

Sounds like a great tasting. He might have added Grüner Veltliner because that's what I was tasting at an Austrian event at Flo Restaurant this afternoon. I could only spend about an hour there but tasted some excellent wines, including Weingut Aichinger Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben 2005 and that winery's Sauvignon Blanc 2005, Brüdelmeyer's Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben 2004, and Rabl Grüner Veltliner Vinum Optimum 2004. But the wine that really blew me away was Weingut Allram Riesling Zobinger Heiligenstein 2004 (amazing, spicy tangerine flavours, very elegant). Pity it's $30 a bottle through the Consignment warehouse. Dinner (hamburgers, Chinese rice and vegetables) – a bottle of Sterling Vintner's Collection Merlot from California's Central Coast. An ideal BBQ wine.

Tuesday, May 2: Finished an article on Canada's wine regions for a travel magazine, wrote my 680 NEWS reviews and tried to clear my desk to leave on Thursday for the big Italian tour. This evening we were invited to a Santé winemaker's dinner at Mistura. Tom Seaver worked for seven years as Jackson-Triggs head winemaker before he was wooed away by Gallo. A Southern California native, he told the guests, "I spent twenty-four winters in Canada," and now he lives in Modesta, California. We spoke privately about Constellation's take-over of Vincor and he told me that Gallo was in the running. Here's the menu with the wines.

Taste the Magic of Sonoma County
E & J Gallo Sante Dinner at Mistura

HORS D': TUNA TARTARE & PICKLED CUKES IN A SOY PAPER CONE
WHITE BEAN & BLACK TRUFFLE PUREE
PARMIGIANO & BALSAMICO NUGGETS
STUFFED OLIVES
GOAT CHEESE BALLS WITH VINCOTTO DIP
Tott's Cuvée Brut Champagne

1. OCTOPUS CARPACCIO, SURF CLAM, BAY SCALLOP CEVICHE & SALMON CAVIAR
E & J Gallo Sonoma County Chardonnay 2003

WARM NOVA SCOTIA LOBSTER TAIL, TROPICAL SALAD & VANILLA FOAM
E & J Gallo Laguna Ranch Vineyard Chardonnay 2003

BONE MARROW RISOTTO WITH OXTAIL RAGU
E & J Gallo Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2004
E & J Gallo Frei Ranch Vineyard Zinfandel 2001

TRIO OF ROASTED GOOSE, LAMB RACK & KOBE BEEF STRIP LOIN WITH FOIE GRAS STUFFED MOREL MUSHROOM & A VEGETABLE BRUNOISE
Ernest & Julio Gallo Northern Sonoma Estate bottled Cabernet Sauvignon 1999

CHOCOLATE CREPE WITH BERRIES COMPOTE & A SPICY CHOCOLATE GLAZE
Rancho Zabaco Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel Port 2001

The first Chardonnay was corked and so was the Zinfandel but that happens in the best of families. Gallo bottles their Turning Leaf brand under screwcap in the UK. They should go screwcap for everything as far as I'm concerned. The star of the night was the 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon, a delicious Bordeaux-style wine that matched the dish perfectly. I was surprised to see that they still use the terms Port and Champagne on their labels.

Wednesday, May 3: Recorded my 680 NEWS reviews this morning and spent the rest of the day writing stuff for the site. Tomorrow I have a conference call meeting for the Masters of Wine (North America) Advisory Board before driving to the airport to catch an Alitalia flight to Milan. This evening is the Santé gala dinner at the Carlu. 680 News held a competition for two couples to join our table. It turned out that they were two pairs of sisters and I was the only male at a table of ten. The event began with a reception where they served Taittinger Brut Reserve and Fielding Estate Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2002 from Ontario. I ran into Peter Jensen, who owns Creekside (as well as making the Mike Weir wines). He told me that he had just made on offer on Willow Heights winery. Great. All this activity now that my atlas has gone to the printers. There are over 500 guests at the dinner that's called Santé's Ultimate Winemakers Dinner. The lady sitting next to me (who won the invitation in 680 NEWS' competition) has a cold. She does not eat cold soup, doesn't like fish, was unimpressed with the bread, didn't like duck. I asked her what she ate at home. Pasta, she replied. I said we'd send out for some. The evening started with the presentation of prizes for winning a spot at this dinner (I was part of the blind tasting committee). Here's the menu the lady next to me couldn't eat:

Asparagus – Two Ways (a cold soup and cooked asparagus on a polenta cake, I think) created by Corbin Tomaszeki accompanied by Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2005 and St. Supéry Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (they ran out of the Kim Crawford before they reached our table, so we got Mike Weir Chardonnay 2002).

Seared Snapper, Leeks and mushrooms in a Champagne velouté (by Rob Rainford) with Champagne Louis de Sacy Tentation 1986 and Gallo Laguna Ranch Vineyard Chardonnay 2003.

Duck Cupcakes created by Bob Blumer (a pink swirl of mashed potatoes on shredded duck, in the shape of a cupcake) with Domaine Porto Carras Chateau Carras 2001 (ours was corked) and Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 served in decanters.

Canadian Cheeses – frozen to molten (created by Lynn Crawford) served with Pillitteri Vidal Icewine 2004 (Bleubry, Le Baluchon, Biobio 3-year Organic Cheddar, all Quebec cheeses).

Maple Pecan Tart with Cream Cheese Ice Cream (created by Anna Olson) and served with Santo Wines Vinsanto 20002 from Greece.

I'm ending my week here, as I fly to Milan in the morning. There may be a hiatus of twelve days or so before I can post the notes on that trip.

 

 

 

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