Happy New Year, all! Whew! I hope all y’all’s holidays went well. I knew sometime in late November that I wouldn’t be taking my foot off the gas pedal until mid-January. See, I have reason to celebrate January 1st, 3rd, 7th and 14th. Actually, for me, it really goes until the 25th, and this year, next week will be packed with good stuff. The annual UGC Bordeaux tasting comes to San Francisco next Friday, the 21st. Also, we have the Sauternes/Barsac tasting dinner with Aline Baly, and the fabulous wines of Chateau Coutet coming up at Restaurant Picco this Monday evening. Another Sauternes friend will be arriving Wednesday, and there are more dinner plans. Followed by what will be my first glimpse into the newly bottled 2008 Bordeaux! Whew! Is right.
I just returned to the treehouse after being treated to dinner by one of my dearest friends. She and I go way back, and we are often spotted at Brandy Ho’s on Columbus & Pacific. In all the years I’ve been going to that restaurant, there is one dish I order EVERY TIME. It is the spicy Smoked Ham With Cloves Of Garlic. If you like smoky ham, garlic and lots of hot pepper, I highly recommend it. One of our favorite rituals is that she asks me to take the leftovers (I call them “Brandovers”) for the next day, provided I send her a text when I’m eating them, expounding on their delicacy. So, a bit of a rarity, tonight being Saturday, I will not eat my Brandovers at work tomorrow, I will eat them here, so I get to pair them with wine! What wine, you may ask? Tomorrow, it will be the 2006 Dry Marlborough Riesling from Isabel Estate Vineyard. So the story goes something like this: Just as the ever-popular, sold out, 2004 Chateau Mont Perat, we caught a distributor closing out a great wine. (Please keep in mind that we taste a lot of “closeouts” and pass on the vast majority of them.) But this wine was poured for me blind, in a sense, and as I inhaled the aromas, I was impressed. It had an herbal note that was unmistakeable, a mineral drive and that petrol-like complexity that Riesling of distinction can have. On the palate, it was crisp and lively. The fruit was in harmony with the herbs and minerals, and it was as complex as some of my favorite dry Rieslings from Alsace. Anya already knew what I didn’t, but when they told me the price, I took a glass to a very busy David, and asked him what he thought. Stop. For a second. David is an expert. His ability to evaluate a wine is amazing. So when I do things like this, I don’t tell him a thing about the wine. I just handed him a glass. He took in the aromatics, blind, mind you. His response was “It smells like Riesling with a little age, but on the palate, it has New World fruit … it’s enigmatic, but really good!” I then told him that we could sell it for 8 bucks a bottle. He arose from his busy desk, greeted the rep, asked how much they had, and bought it all. Now, we can offer this to all of you … for 8 bucks. If you love dry Riesling with character, this is a no-brainer!
So yeah, Monday night will be the dinner with Aline at Picco, and that will be epic. I may have a seat or two (no more than that) available, and will be checking my email Sunday and Monday, in case any last minute Coutet fans may fancy hanging with us. But one night before, I will be enjoying my Brandovers with a couple of glasses of the 2006 Dry Riesling from Isabel Estate Vineyard! – Peter Zavialoff