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This is one of Gasnier's cheaper if not his cheapest Cabernet Franc.  Less than $20 a bottle.

Gasnier must be a pretty fantastic winemaker.  Cuz at less than $20, this is an unbelievable value.  This is REAL WINE, with all the characteristics of REAL WINE.  It isn't the last word in depth and complexity -- not near it.  But it's got nothing to be ashamed of.

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I read all these threads about these fabulous dinners people have at home, with photogenic, obviously labor-intensive food, and legendary bottles.   I can't speak for anybody else on this board, bu

If I'm not enjoying wine when I'm seventy, then my nieces and nephews are going to be stuck with a shitload of wine they won't know what to do with.   Or my next wife, who by then should be almost

Whaddya mean? That's more than half the meals I serve. Tossed with great care, I might add.

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90 degrees last night in the country, tri-tip grilled in the wood oven, butter-seared yukons, green salad.   We don't keep good wine in the country because of super hot temperature spikes.    Unscrewed the cap on this blend from Portugal that I remembered WS had given a 90.    This is definitely a vin de soif.   Son said he was off wine but would take an inch and a half; husband has been off reds for some time but would give it a try.    The bottle must have had a hole in the bottom.  I helped.   (Grandson chided his dad that he'd counted 7 inches.)    A checkered tablecloth, tri-tip on the deck wine @ 10 bucks.  



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Now that my fever has lifted, I thought I could venture some alcohol.

First course, New Catch Herring rolled around in field onion.  There's no doubt that this frozen tray of fish is not as good as what Russ & Daughters sold in the past (not to mention what you get from any stand in Amsterdam). There's also no doubt that it approximates New Catch Herring.  Second-rate New Catch Herring is better than no New Catch Herring.  To drink with it, what Maxwell Smart would call The Old Genever In The Freezer Trick.

Second course, duck (just a breast) (Rohan) with cherries.  Steamed sugar snaps (I mean I'm sick) on the side.

Whoever came up with the duck with cherries idea, generations ago, was like a genius.

Wine, both in the sauce and the (single) glass (I'm sick) (good thing tomorrow's dinner can go with this same wine) was pretty obvious.

2018 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

There is no doubt that the late Jim Clendenen is my ATF American winemaker.  This might be the last bottle of his that I have (but might not:  who knows what's lurking in there?).

This is his entry-level cuvée.  I remember when he used to blend some Mondeuse in it, and it was even better.  But I'm not kicking this out of my glass.

What's so great about Clendenen's wines?  Not that they taste like Burgundies, cuz they don't.  It's that they taste like New World wines that don't suck.  Fresh forward fruit -- but not jammy.  Not a lot of deep secondary flavors -- this is a New World wine -- but a very very balanced presentation.

Clendenen's were among the most drinkable wines I knew.  I miss him.

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I had a queasy stomach:  a late-onset and unexpected COVID symptom (I KNOW you're all deeply desirous of the blow-by-blow details of my COVID experience).  So I decided to forgo the raw herring course of my planned dinner -- even though New Catch Herring have a very short shelf life.  I hope I'm up to a veritable herring fest tomorrow.  (Despite the questionable historical implications of eating Dutch food on Independence Day in New York.)

I had planned to make roast cod on a bed of lentils.  But:  I'm out of lentils!  I decided to swap in Tepary beans, which aren't lentils (they're beans duh) and don't taste like lentils (they're beans duh), but look like lentils.

One problem is that whereas lentils cook in a half hour or less, Tepary beans, being quite dense, take even longer than other beans.  Which meant I had to resort to pressure cooking, which I had resolved to avoid for future bean-cooking.  But these lentil substitutes weren't going to be about the broth anyway.

Tepary beans really don't taste anything like lentils.  They're beany.  When you do some digging and discover that they're mainly valued for their unique ability to grow in the desert, you wonder about their culinary value.  But I'm going to speculate that growing under stressed conditions concentrates their flavor (like wine grapes).  These guys are little, but they pack a huge beany punch.  I much prefer them to lentils (not that they're even like lentils, except in terms of size and rough appearance).  Indeed, I'd have to say that they're now one of my (many) favorite beans:  their concentrated flavor is hard to beat (they're slightly sweet -- sweetish is more like it [must be all that desert sun] -- so cook, season, and use them accordingly) (NO carrots!) (as I was gonna put into the lentils) (I'm even wondering whether it was a good idea to put in a spring onion).

We'll be seeing them in other dishes later in the week, which I had also planned to have with lentils.

The cod was topped with breadcrumbs mixed with that great Hebraic contribution to Chesapeake cuisine, Old Bay Seasoning.  I'm not gonna claim any culinary accomplishment in roasting a cod filet.  But it was GOOD.

My queasy stomach inclined me to skip the green vegetable, too.  But I had already blanched some borage, so I felt contstrained to go ahead and sauté it.  Good thing, too.  Borage, with its cool cucumber flavor, is really good -- especially with fish.  It's one of those weeds that you feel a little funny paying for -- you wonder if the farmer at the Greenmarket is laughing at you -- but it has proved to be a valuable kitchen player (at least in my kitchen).  (It would have been even better if I had squeezed a lemon into it.  But I didn't.  I'm sick.)

One whole point of this dinner was to use up the Pinot Noir left over from yesterday.

2018 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir and roast cod duh.  A classic pairing for a reason.

The wine didn't get any better overnight (it's not "good" enough to).  But it didn't get much if any worse.

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The world knows that July 4 is Hot Dog Day in Brooklyn, but I made burgers.

Vaquero beans fit for a cowboy on the side, and some leftover restaurant fried onions with ranch dip.

But first I had some New Catch Herring with icebox Genever.  I want to talk for a minute about that pairing.  I've been having New Catch Herring and ice-cold Genever for like decades (sometimes, when I'm lucky, in Amsterdam!).  But for some reason last night it really struck home what a great, indeed perfect, pairing that is.  The gin, which has malty, slightly nutty overtones but is nevertheless still quite cutting, hits just the right buttons with the full-flavor, fatty fish. 

What's interesting is that this is completely accidental:  Genever wasn't formulated to accompany the local favorite seasonal snack, and God knows the snack wasn't formulated to go well with Genever.  This isn't a case of "what grows together goes together"; it just happened that the flavor of the gin and the flavor of the snack turned out to complement each other perfectly.  I guess the most you can say is that the Dutch palate is consistent.

I'd also like to say that Bols's standard entry-level Genever is a lot better than you'd expect most mass-market products to be (even more so than say Beefeater's).

The wine pairing for the burgers and stuff wasn't as successful.

2019 Wöllfer Estate Classic Red Blend

This Merlot-forward Bordeaux blend from the Hamptons is very well regarded by the kind of people whose opinion you'd respect.  I just don't like it that much.  It seems dull to me:  all the stodginess of generic Bordeaux without the depth and complexity that makes a good Bordeaux still, despite it all, a wonderful thing.

And you would never expect a Long Island wine to be so heavy.

One thing I did wrong though:  I had forgotten that the producer somewhat counterintuitively recommends this to be drunk at cellar temperature.  So I went to the trouble of chambrering it.  Surely it wouldn't have seemed so unduly heavy at a lower temperature.

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First the New Catch Herring/Genever course duh.

Then, pork/beef sausage on (wait for it) a bed of Tepary beans.  Unremembered Asian collard equivalent on the side, sautéed.

2019 Wöllfer Estate Classic Red Blend

Sitting overnight in a sealed decanter didn't calm this down any.  But -- even sealed -- it did give the wine a chance to dissipate a little.

So this wasn't as syrupy cloying as last night.  Still not my dream date, though.

It occurs to me that maybe I'm drinking this too young -- not that this cadet cuvée is anything you'd think would be ripe for aging.

I still have a few bottles (they were cheap).  (Maybe I should give them to @paryzer, who seems to like this kind of thing.)  I'm not gonna forget to leave them at cellar temp.

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I hate to repeat things. But.

The obligatory opening New Catch Herring with Genever course.

Then, I still had a duck breast and I still had cherries.  So duck breast with cherries.  In my defense, a different preparation than last week.  To my detriment, not as good.  But good.  (The duck itself was better prepared.  The duck was, to my taste, just about perfect.)

If you're not having a Pinot Noir or a quite off-dry Riesling with your duck with cherries, there's one thing you are having (in the sauce too).

2018 Domaine de Robert (Patrick Brunet) Fleurie "Cuvée Tradition"

Another good Beaujolais vintage, and wouldn't you know it, another one Partick Brunet nailed.

This was a Big Vintage, so this is a bit more syrupy, a bit less incisive, than I would like. Not the perfection of Brunet's 2014.  But just about perfect for what it is.

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