Thursday, April 7, 2011


The variety of wines I choose to drink is probably too narrow in scope. There's a lot of good wine out there, and even if I had the budget to get through more, I don't have the time to properly enjoy it. As a result, I tend to ignore large segments of the market, sometimes with reason and other times without.

I'm particularly critical of California, but it wasn't always that way. When I took up this sport, I bought in to the idea (probably because I read it somewhere) that nothing went better with a big, juicy steak than a big California cab. But over time and many more bottles my tastes and preferences changed. I won't bore you with the reasons why, but new world wines in general, and California wines in particular, are low on my list for allocation of scarce resources (time and money).

Thinking back, I would guess that I haven't purchased a bottle of California wine in about three years. That's purely a result of stereotyping, narrow mindedness and unfair extrapolation on my part, but I have to make choices somehow, and, in my experience, California wine didn't offer anything to keep me buying.

Never say never.

Based on countless recommendations from people with similar sensibilities, I recently purchased of couple bottles of 2009 Edmunds St. John Bone-Jolly. It's a light and refreshing wine made from Gamay, and the label tips its hat to Beaujolais, from whence the best known, if not best overall (forget not the Loire), gamay-based wines hail. Although this is plainly not Beaujolais, it's not difficult to draw comparisons. The ESJ is fruity (maybe a touch too much so) and easy drinking, with laser-like acidity. I gulped it down with barbecued pork ribs (dry- I don't dig the sauce) and chips, and that's my measure of a wine's true vaule.

I've read that ESJ syrahs (I think there are several bottlings) age beautifully. I've also heard that ESJ used to be available in Chicago (Sam's, RIP), but I've never come across it here.

So, I suppose I won't paint with quite as broad a brush anymore. Like all consumable culture, wine styles change, and the wine press has been writing quite a bit about producers that are breaking out of what I perceive as the California mold. But nonetheless I will be taking baby steps back into this pool.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Good Run

So I forgot to post anything to this blog for a year. I had shit to do.

I had a couple of outstanding Champagnes recently, and although I fear the jinx, these bottles demand outing:

NV Marie-Noelle Ledru Grand Cru. I know I’ve got something special on my hands when my wife comments on the wine three times without prompting. It’s everything a kid could want from Champagne, hitting delicate notes of flavor and texture with pinpoint accuracy. If you live in Chicago, call the great Craig Perman, and beg him to locate some more. Here’s a great write-up on Marie-Noelle Ledru from Brooklynguy.

1999 Chartogne-Taillet Fiacre. I love it when this happens. I was out for a business dinner at an acceptable but very corporate establishment, and in the middle of a Champagne list full of big house names BAM! this little gem. Not outrageously priced either. So I ordered it from the waiter, and the sommelier promptly appeared with the bottle, beaming. “I’m so happy you ordered this,” he said. And notes that it’s his last bottle. He actually seemed kind of disappointed. I offered him a taste. “No way I’m going to pass on that offer,” he replied.

The wine was exceptional- long and clear and true. Even the non-Champagne nerds in our party (i.e., everyone except your author) appreciated its beauty.

It’s bottles like these that keep me popping corks and spending beyond reason. I wish Champagne was less expensive. Unfortunately, like Count Mippipopolous, I only drink it from magnum.