Posts Tagged ‘Wine’

El Celler de Can Roca, a marvel of understated food perfection.

Posted by Mike Tommasi on 25 March 2013 in Restaurant Reviews

Six of us decided to take off for the weekend and have lunch on Friday Nov. 23rd 2012 at this most exquisite place, certainly the best restaurant in my experience. The room is airy and calm, built around a central triangular glass atrium of birch trees, with the tables set far apart from each other, and additional privacy being provided by the movable furniture used to store things like menus, plates and glasses but acting like discrete room dividers, without cutting up the space. One feels comfortable at El Celler, there is no rush and everyone who works there is tuned into making your stay pleasant. The service is perfect, available when you want it to be and always ready to explain in detail what you are eating. Davide was our waiter, as he had been for our last visit in 2008, when El Celler strangely had only two stars. We all opted for the 165 Euro Menu Festival.

Unlike eating at El Bulli, with all the basic flaws that I listed in a blog review back then (basically: monotonous mushiness of all dishes, complete lack of consideration for wine, fundamental errors in the balance of tastes, manifest desire to mask out any taste associated with the ingredients), eating at El Celler is a precision affair. The techniques pioneered by Adrià are used here not to make the ingredient’s taste disappear, on the contrary, tastes are exalted and therefore Joan Roca uses prime local seasonal produce. Instead of making mushy or explosive or simply acrid morsels to shock a jaded decadent bourgeoisie like the master of Cala Montjoi, Roca keeps everything under control and always perfectly delicious and varied. In addition he develops a kind of narrative about an imaginary world tour, exploring the intricate relations between the local Mediterranean traditions and the many exchanges that happened throughout history between the Mare Nostrum and many faraway places. He is aided by his brothers, Josep, a brilliant sommelier with an interest in all wine (and not just Spanish), and Jordi, a pastry chef of incredible talent.

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A hazy geography of blended vs single-varietal wine terroir

Posted by Mike Tommasi on 12 September 2012 in Wine

The great wines of Burgundy, Alsace, Loire, Northern Rhone, Barolo, Mosel, Austria, Hungary and Slovenia use only one grape variety, while those of Bordeaux, Southern Rhone, Languedoc, Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Portugal are blended from many grape varieties. One can easily draw a line separating the blenders from the purists… but the line is not straight: neither geographic latitude nor Winkler index (GDD) correlate to this distinction. What if it all came down to how hazy the sky is?

blend or single varietal wine areas

Looking at a map of the great European wine areas – those with a not too recent history of superb winemaking – one could easily draw a curved line separating the generally more northern areas, emphasizing the purity and completeness of single varietal wines, from the southern areas, whose wines achieve comparable complexity by blending several grape varieties. The line is curved, because climate is influenced not only by latitude but also by winds, seas, microclimates, etc.. This paper results from a speculative but reasoned inquiry to see if I could identify a climate parameter that correlated well with the distinction between blending areas and single varietal areas.

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Beyond natural wines: Domaine Lisson in Languedoc. Help!

Posted by Mike Tommasi on 27 June 2012 in Wine

About 10 years ago I brought winemaker and blogger Iris Rutz of Domaine Lisson from the wild hills of the Languedoc to the Slow Food fair in Turin, where I presented a workshop on what I then called “wild wines” from France. It sounds better in French: vins sauvages. I wanted to convey that these were indeed natural wines, while avoiding the pitfalls of the “natural wine movement”: the sectarian connotations of this fractured movement, the frequent correlation of “natural” with “drink young”, and the strange tastes of many natural wines.

lisson

The vines of Domaine Lisson, Languedoc

Iris Rutz makes impeccably clean long aging complex wines using traditional methods in the vineyard, with sulfur and, in very difficult years, some copper. In the cellar she uses minimum sulfite levels (these are marked exactly on the labels), with no filtering or fining and 18 months of barrel aging. Another winery that works its wines with a light hand, and yet the wines age beautifully, is Dupéré Barrera in the hills of coastal Provence. They also participated in the Turin workshop.

Iris Rutz adds two other aspects to her winemaking that, in my judgment, truly qualify her for the “wild” label.

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Recipe for a good cork

Posted by Mike Tommasi on 13 September 2010 in Wine

cork oak

Corks are not made the way they should be. Shortcuts result in bad quality and cork taint. The industry should go back to the original recipe, given here in its simplified version:
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Star Drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 18 August 2010 in Wine Tasting

Taltarni ‘T’ NV Sparkling – $15 – ** – A non-vintage blend of chardonnay and pinot noir. Medium bead, with the faintest blush – from the pinot component? Peachy nose has a hint of strawberry fruit. The strawberry is also apparent on the palate and the wine finishes just off-dry.

De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Grigio 2009 – $14 – ** – Very pale with a green apple, sherbet-like nose. Clean, fresh, grapey flavours are enhanced by soft citric undertones and a mildly acidic finish. Read the rest of this entry

ABNZSB

Posted by Martin Field on 19 May 2010 in Wine

‘Anything but New Zealand sauvignon blanc!’ A friend muttered as we perused a wine list recently. It’s claimed that eight out every ten bottles of wine sold on Australia’s Sunshine Coast are NZ sauvignon blanc so it is hardly surprising that locals’ palates are jaded.

Nothing wrong with the stuff, occasionally – but every day? Like watching endless re-runs of Frasier – monotonous.

The river of NZSB flowing into Australia has turned into a torrent. And especially at the cheap end there tends to be a certain sameness of style: underdone, lightweight, green grassy, acidic and thin.

At least Australian SBs exhibit a wide range of styles – from tropical to cool climate, but to this palate NZSB has become a cold-climate, one–dimensional trip. I mean, how many hits of hyper-methoxypyrazine can a wine drinker handle in a year? It’s almost enough to drive one back to Australian over-oaked chardonnay.

A light luncheon in Noosa

Posted by Martin Field on 13 March 2010 in Restaurant Reviews

iS Tapas Bar (249 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville, Queensland, 07 5447 1818). In usually sunny Noosaville it was gusty and alternately raining and shining, looking for a light lunch we stopped at the open-fronted iS Tapas Bar and were given a table with views of the Noosa River.

iS is fully licensed but allows patrons to bring their own wine ($4 corkage fee per bottle) and we took along a 2003 Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling. Despite its rather warm cellaring in our house it was in excellent condition – sprightly and lemony with just an occasional hint of that aged riesling character that we all know and love yet find hard to describe without annoying winemakers.

From the longish menu we chose Chili mushrooms – in a light sauce/marinade of butter, lemon juice, chili, garlic and finely chopped herebs; Parmesan crumbed artichokes – these were served with the stems (quite edible) attached and looked a little like chicken drumsticks – served with a truffle and lime mayonnaise; Manchego cheese croquettes – crumbed, about the size of pool balls – with a quince paste sauce, and Tempura vegetables on skewers -tiny morsels of crisp veg in the lightest of batter.

The food presentaion was attractive, the waiter was hip and we really enjoyed each dish. The bill for two, including corkage, totalled $42.

Highly recommended.

is tapas

Star Drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 21 December 2009 in Wine, Wine Tasting

Yarra Burn Blanc de Blancs 2004 – $45 – ****

100% Chardonnay. Very pale yellow with an edge of green, fine bead. White flower petals, light biscuity yeast and a hint of green apple on the nose. Youthful, dry and elegant in the mouth with delicate Apple Danish flavours against a background of beautifully integrated lime acidity at the finish.

De Bortoli Rococo Yarra Valley Rosé NV – $22 – ***

A sparkling blend of chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir. The colour is a pale, just off-white, candy pink. Lively fragrant nose of rose water and strawberries. Shows a dry, clean palate of new season summer berries with a tang of lemon zest at the finish. Ideal summer luncheon fizz.

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A jug of wine, no loaf of bread

Posted by Martin Field on 27 October 2009 in Food and Wine

Bread has all but disappeared from restaurant tables and we should all lament its absence.

In mediaeval days, they served meals on trenchers instead of plates. The trencher was a thick slice of stale bread and the meat and gravy were ladled on to it. When the meat was finished, nobles and peasants alike gobbled up the gravy-enriched trencher as a second course. Read the rest of this entry

Star Drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 27 October 2009 in Wine, Wine Tasting

Holey Dollar Over Proof Rum – seen around at $55 to $65 ***

This is a powerful drop at 57.2 per cent alcohol, but the power is smooth and constrained in its rich mouthfeel. Flavours are reminiscent of molasses, vanilla, walnuts, chocolate, toffee and warm spices. It goes down very well on its own, with ice, or with a splash of water. Try also as a fine mixer. For a Dark ‘n Stormy, pour one measure of rum over ice and add about four times that amount of dry ginger ale, garnish with a wedge of lime.

Chandon Vintage Brut 2006 – up to $40 ****

Yarra Valley, Victoria. Pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot meunier blend. This bubbly spent two and half years on yeast lees and the lees contact is evident in the aromatic, bakery oven nose. The palate shows brioche like flavours along with new season white peaches and a hint of lime juice. It finishes with lip-smacking zest. Read the rest of this entry