Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chez Panisse

Chez Panisse, Berkeley

Well executed.


Baked Andante Dairy Goat cheese with garden lettuces $10

Wood over-roasted squid with cannellini beans, kale, rosemary, and toasted breadcrumbs $19

My wine pick:

2008 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé


The kitchen in action between service.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Eric Kent Spring Releases

We like them a lot. It is always a pleasure to support small production, high quality wine made by great people. In other words, the name of the game.

The first two Spring releases are in.

2008 Eric Kent Pinot Noir Russin River Valley
Retail: $35.99
The first “appellation” Pinot Noir from Eric Kent and a wonderful house wine that delivers loads of drinking pleasure. Light ruby in color, with aromas of bing cherry and pomegranate. Offering up notes of cherry, raspberry, plum, and cola. Medium bodied and fruit forward with gentle but present tannins. The final blend consists of 93% Windsor Oaks, 4% Cleary and 3% Stiling Vineyard.

2007 Eric Kent Syrah Dry Stack Vineyard
Retail: $39.99
2007 hearkens back to a cooler vintage like ‘05, but what a different wine! A clonal mix of 877, 174 and 470 – no Estrella River in this one – plus 1/3 whole-cluster fermentation and more time on the skins has made a wine with layers of complexity, wonderful depth, a medium to full body and great structure. Classy Syrah.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Carlisle Spring Releases

The 2008 Carlisle Spring releases are in this week.

2008 Carlisle Winery Zinfandel Sonoma County $22.99

A blend of various old-vine vineyards such as Taylor in Dry Creek, Tin Cross in Alexander Valley, and Rossi in Sonoma Valley. A little Dry Creek Petite Sirah from Teldeschi Vineyard seemed to bring the components together, rounding out the palate nicely. Aged in French oak, 20% new, and based upon the success of our experiment last year, bottled completely in screw cap. Tasting Note: Medium-dark ruby-garnet. Red cherries, berry compote, and notes of bittersweet chocolate and brown spices greet the nose. Fresh and juicy on the palate with red and black berry fruits highlighted by hints of licorice, smoked meat, and earth. Finishes with great energy and thrust. Once again, an absolute steal for the price. 481 cases produced.

2008 Carlisle Winery Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley $33.99

Predominantly from Teldeschi Ranch (planted in 1885) and Mounts Ranch (planted in 1952), yields were generally in the range of 1.5 to 2.5 tons per acre. An 11% mix of petite sirah and carignane completed the palate, adding just the right amount of tannin and acidity. Aged in French oak, 23% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Tasting Note: Medium to medium-dark garnet-ruby. Classic Dry Creek zin aromas of red cherries, minerals, and dusty, red earth. Bright and lively in the mouth with plenty of cherry-laced fruit flowing into the persistent, sappy finish. Strikes a lovely balance between ripeness and freshness. 292 cases produced.

Small production. Artisan wine. Reliably great. Realistically priced.

The wines of Uccelliera

Wine Advocate
says: The proprietor of the Uccelliera estate, Andrea Cortonesi, embodies the finest of the artisan tradition in Montalcino. Cortonesi’s wines have always been bold and exciting but with the newest vintages Cortonesi has arrived at a new level of elegance.

Wine Spectator
says: ... a sweet little winery with about 16 acres of prime vineyards near some of the top vineyards in the region. Uccelliera, which in recent years has been making top wines, has some outstanding to great reds in the works. And if it's any indication for Montalcino as a whole, it means plenty of excellent Sangioveses in the future.

say: we like ‘em. These three wines represent the very latest releases from Uccelliera. Some are in very limited supply.

2008 Uccelliera Rosso di Montalcino
$29.99 Italy

2005 Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino
$59.99 Italy

2004 Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
$141.99 Italy *very limited

Our best advice regarding wine buying in general is always, find a producer you like, and buy them in all vintages. You will discover that not only does the winemaker find a way to make the best wine possible under all conditions, but you will also experience the singular place where that wine comes. Uccelliera is one such producer to follow.

The charming estate is located in the Montalcino countryside just below the town of Castelnuovo dell’Abate, where the beautiful Sant’Antimo abbey is.