Welcome to the new Cross-Blog!
Hope this can be an informative interesting rambling journey about wine & food posted on a weekly basis every Monday for IWFS members.
Time to look back on my Top 10 interesting wines of 2012:
10. 2007 CONO SUR 20 BARRELS PINOT NOIR
Dependable versatile juice in a limited edition using best grapes from their El Triangulo Estate in the Casablanca Valley of Chile. Winemaker Adolfo Hurtado and crew make 6 different pinot noirs all good value but this one and Ocio are world class made in a separate winery with unique shallow ” swimming pool” shaped fermenters. Bought several cases on sale for $25 and enjoying every bottle as a house wine with roasted quail or chicken.
9. 1991 ROBERT MONDAVI CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE
Fav since release for the balance, elegance and complexity. Still shows class in blind vertical next to the 1990 – though 1974, 1987 (better than 1985) and 1997 also shone brightly. Bring on the lamb dishes.
2002 Screaming Eagle, 2002 Colgin “Cariad” and magnum 1994 Harlan not too shabby in 2012 as well.
8. 2008 CATENA ZAPATA MALBEC ARGENTINO
All Argentina Malbec is much improved and no one is doing more than the
Catena family led by Laura. Their special high altitude vineyards of Adrianna & Nicasia accentuate the terroir in all their excellent wines but this one has dramatic concentration with cloves, mocha and wonderful oak integration. Also look for their Alta line for quality chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon and entry Catena level.
7. 1989 CHABLIS LES CLOS GRAND CRU DOMAINE LAROCHE
Love Chablis with Seafood – especially fresh Dungeness Crab. This showed maturity and richness next to the 1990 with all others in the Les Clos vertical being younger and all from William Fevre (an outstanding producer) but needing more cellaring. Put some spectacular 2010 from Fevre or Christian Moreau away in your cellar!
6. 2004 FOXTROT PINOT NOIR
First release from small quality producer in Naramata, Okanagan Valley, Canada. An amazing surprise because partially maceration carbonique and not the great winemaking of recent vintages. Nevertheless maturing well and showing exotica with almost a wispy DRC Oriental spice. So many unknown BC pinots to get to know including Howling Bluff, Reimer, Quail’s Gate, Cedar Creek and more. Also from Ontario check out
Tawse, Le Clos Jordanne and others.
5. 1999 SPERSS BAROLO ANGELO GAJA
Enjoyed this with the 72 year old great man himself and it was stellar with oxtail ravioli
and bagna cauda. Also outstanding that night his 1999 Sori San Lorenzo! Also a powerful 1978 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino finally coming through the tannic structure.
4. 1986 CHATEAU MOUTON ROTHSCHILD
Last of the classic Moutons in the 1961 and 1945 style. The 1982 served with it was more charming soft and cedary but the aristocratic cedary balance of this ultimately best. A 1961 Chateau Palmer – one of the best wines every made – showing a touch too much earthiness but still exquisite and the 1981 Chateau Margaux (clearly the wine of the vintage) strong runners up.
3. 1999 MUSIGNY VIEILLES VIGNES COMTE DE VOGUE
Jean-Luc Pepin described it well as ” an iron fist in a velvet glove”. Brilliant.
More drinkable among all the DRC, Rousseau Leroy bottles tried was the unbeatable 1985 Clos de Tart!
2. 1979 KRUG CHAMPAGNE
Initially released as underrated fresh rather light and acidic bubbles this has now blossomed into a really spectacular Kruggie treasure. So much fuller and so very well balanced. Another 1928? Many improved sparklers around the world now but can’t beat the complexity of Champagne! Other greats in mag included 1990 Pol Roger, 1990 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame & 1990 Dom Perignon.
1. 1989 CHATEAU HAUT BRION
What can you say. So fantastic in the elegant, earthy, tobacco drinkability. Wow!
Tried against the 1989 La Mission which was in a photo finish for the win and even though more masculine and powerful presently showing less finesse and less delicious. Both can still improve with time in your cellar!
TOP TEN INTERESTING WINES OF 2012
Welcome to the new Cross-Blog!
Well, I can claim to have tasted one of Sid’s top ten – the ’99 Comte de Vogue Musigny. I have one bottle of La Mission’s 1975 left in my cellar. Should I be drinking it now?
1975 La Mission is a 100 point Parker. I have been fortunate to try it over the years on many occasions including in 2012. On release the power and terroir were always impressive and it was a bit of a tannic monster so typical of the vintage but also showing good intense fruit. As it has aged now into it ‘s 38th year I find it more bottle variable – all as expected. Well stored it can still be improving provided there is enough fruit left as those tannins subside. No rush. Note The better balanced underrated 1978 tried in 2012 was sensational!
We’re having a dinner party Sunday evening featuring ’82 Bordeaux and I’m hoping one of our guests will bring a Mouton! Will let you know how it is if we’re so lucky.
Why is my name spelled wrong? Should be Kuhlman.
Think the 79 Krug is probably the best vintage I’ve tasted, one of those out of worldly experiences, but lucky you finding a bottle still in great shape. Or perhaps it was from magnum with great provenance? (Krug’s Museum Collection?)
de Vogue’s 99 Musigny was one of my wines of the year too, tasted against JF Mugnier’s Musigny which didn’t quite match the profound depth and complexity of the de Vogue. Opposite result with 02, Mugnier’s 02 Musigny is seriously singing right now.
Surpised that Giacomo Conterno’s Monfortino didn’t edge out the Sperss, but love them both. Drank my 1990 Monfortino way too early I suspect.
An interesting list Sid. Like Yvonne and Dave I have only tasted the 1999 de Vogue Musigny which was very impressive. Some nice champagnes, was fortunate to have tried the 1979 Krug from bottle in 2009 and it was outstanding. Up there with the superb 1988. May 2013 bring you all many great bottles.
I think the most interesting tasting I did in 2012 was a vertical of ports from the 1980 vintage for the May luncheon of the Chicago branch. It’s an unheralded vintage stuck between 1977 and 1983 and contains many great wines, but also some really mediocre ones. The 1980 Dow is a wine that is otherworldly and incredibly youthful, with decades of life left. The 1980 Gould Campbell isn’t far behind.
What an amazing list Sid. I tried a couple of the vintages of the Foxtrot Pinot Noir whilst in Vancouver and thought it was delicious.
A really interesting pairing I was privileged to enjoy was the 1990 Chateau d’Yquem against a 1990 Chateau de Fargues. Interestingly a number of people at the table preferred the Fargues which was drinking beautifully, however the d’Yquem’s acid structure won through for me.
Very pleased to see a GC Chablis on the list and certainly agree that is compliments seafood wonderfully especially oysters. As well as Fevre or Christian Moreau I would also recommend Raveneau – if you are lucky enough to source any of the beautiful 2010 vintage.
NEW YORK TIMES JULY
LA CRISIS, An empty table outside a restaurant downtown Madrid. (photo not included shows empty chairs on street pavement))
Chefs Face Economic Calamity In Span
UGENIO GARCIA, a third generation restaurant owner, measures the intensity of Spain’s economic crisis in precise terms: sales of cold tubos of beer and tapas like quail eggs and chorizo, or pork loin in whiskey sauce.
People who once spent 14 euros on a meal, about 16, are now spending 10 at his popular Taberna Coloniales, he said. His regular customers are vanishing to chase construction and architecture jobs in Dubai. He counts a toll of 25 restaurant closings in this city’s quarter near the Church of San Pedro, where his oldest tavern has been for 14 years. He sold one of his two restaurants after watching the customers dwindle.
“Before, people would order a bottle of wine and now they don’t “he said. “They drink less, eat less. The atmosphere for everyone is really pessimistic. We have passed through four years of crisis. Right now it’s like a ship in a tempest. You can only grab the mast and wait for what happens.”
Spain may be revered as e home of gastro chic (or cocina de vanguardia, as it is known here), yet its hospitality industry is reeling, in a country with the highest unemployment rate in Europe (24 per cent), where the budgetary shortfall has recently forced government to raise taxes, threatening to erode further consumption . Those forces are battering restaurants, from high-volume taverns like Mr Garcia’s to upscale dining rooms that once catered to bankers and politicians.
Their chief rival is now a home-cooked meal; to compete with dinner parties, some owners are inviting diners to bring their own wine. Restaurants are changing menus and cutting prices and portions. Customers are noticing new charges for extra ice or tap water served in a pitcher.
Even some of the very best restaurants are giving up Michelin stars to offer lower-cost alternatives, form trattoria fare to standard hotel cuisine. This summer, trendy outposts are remodelling to create a casual look, they don’t change, they will not last.
Long a country with an almost unmatched bar culture, Spain is confronting a challenge that could threaten its role as a leader in global place on international lists of top restaurants.
In the last few months, David Munoz a prominent Madrid chef and the owner of DiverX0, which has stars, has questioned whether Spain can main momentum in the crisis.
Ferran Adria, a celebrated chef who helped transform Spain from a culinary backwater, insists that best restaurants are shielded from the downturn.
“Really good restaurants aren’t anywhere near closing but the ones that do dose are those run by businessmen who didn’t really know much about gastronomy” Mr Adria said. “Crisis or not, you’ve never eaten as well as now in Spain.”
But even one of Mr Adria’s favourites, the Madrid mainstay Sula, is remodelling to keep its customers.
Perched in trendy Salamanca neighbourhood, the restaurant was known for deluxe “Ham and Champ” tasting of artisanal ham, Joselito Gran Reserva, Dom Perignon Champagne. Recently Sula started offering cava, Spain’s version of sparkling wine, as a cheaper alternative.
(Photo show Casa Robles in Seville empty at dinner hour)
The owners are overhauling the restaurant at a cost of 4 00,000 euros to convert the ground floor into a tapas bar and to create space for private corporate diners. “Nobody can afford to take three hours to have a meal these days,” said Jose Gomez, an owner of Sula. “If you don’t invest money in making this kind of overhaul, you risk being on our way out of business.”
The worst year was 2009, when 5,000 res rants and bars closed, according to an annual market report issued this year by the Nielsen Company in Spain. But the disappearance of restaurants has continued with the relentless force of La Crisis: 4,000 in 2010 and 3,000 in 2011, reducing the total to 220,000, the fewest since 1997.
In Madrid, some of the Spanish capital’s most emblematic restaurants have shut down. Two were long-time redoubts for financiers and celebrities, including the half-century-old Principe de Viana and Club 31, which opened in 19 59 and belonged to an ex-politician who was unable to attract new financing. The casualty list includes well-known names Nodo, O’Lif and Hakkasan, the Chinese restaurant with seven locations around the world.
A few days ago, the Michelin-starred restaurant Evo, in the Hotel Hesperia Tower in Barcelona, announced its closing, bemoaning the difficulties of maintaining gastronomic restaurant in the crisis. NH Hotels, the owner of the hotel, is planning to transform the restaurant, started in by the Catalan chef Santi Santamaria (who died last year) into something “without pretensions.”
In Valencia, every type of restaurant is feeling the crunch. This month, the owners of the T.G.I. Friday’s chain shuttered the branch that had opened just last year. In May, the chef Rau1 Aleixandre closed his 30-year-old Ca’ Sento, a Michelin-starred restaurant, laying the blame on economic difficulties.
“Old-school places, even if top notch, are pretty much disappearing,” said Jaime Ruiz-Morales, a Madrid entrepreneur and self-acknowledged fine-food fanatic. “I guess that’s normal when your customers suddenly start to pay 30 euros for their wine rather than 200.*
Here in Seville, the restaurant trade has been hit hard by a regional unemployment rate hovering at 30 per cent and by foreign tourists arriving on discount flights who are spending less. From 2007 to 2010, more than 2,000 restaurants and bars closed, a decrease of more than 16 percent, according to an economic yearbook published by La Caixa, a Spanish savings bank.
This month, Seville’s city hall and the local hospitality industry announced a campaign, Saborea Sevilla (Savor Seville), to entice tourists with packages combining hotels and restaurant meals.
On some evenings, restaurant owners confide, they have no idea what to expect. During lunch hour, Manuel Blanco, who has been in business for 25 years, gazed at empty tables. At his counter, he had prepared a list of tapas dishes that he was developing, to attract customers with more typical Spanish cuisine than the Mexican-style tacos he serves.
Beyond that, he said, his strategy couldn’t be more basic: “I don’t take vacations. We don’t go anywhere.”
Some owners are shutting award-winning restaurants t offer cheaper alternatives.
Last fall, Victor Enrich and his wife, Maria Vega de Seoane, closed their restaurant El Atelier d’Enrich and sol their black velvet sofas, mirrors, lamps and Champagne glasses. The restaurant, in one of ‘Madrid’s most ex-elusive neighbourhoods had attracted executives from ‘major corporations -like Telefonica, but suffered when business clients cut ‘back.
Mr Enrich they .opened two new restaurants in the same neighbourhood: a brassiere, El Pract & Co and a diner Taller de la Hamburguesa, where a hamburger with lettuce and onions sells for as little as 7 euros. The couple said both restaurants were thriving.
“The choice now is between adapting or dying,” Ms. Vega de Seoane said.
Late last week, Lucas Lopez and his partner were the only diners at a Madrid restaurant, Mikacho. The couple used to eat out six nights a week, he said, but now they have cut back to two. “There is no longer anything spontaneous about how much is spent and how often we go to a restaurant,” said Mr. Lopez, himself a manager of a restaurant, La Mordida. “There is a mortgage and other things that can’t be ignored.”
Alejandra Ans6n, who runs Elite Gourmet, a corn promoting Spanish delicacies like cured merina sheep’s cheese and smoked sturgeon, said that Spaniards were king to delicatessens so they could entertain at home.
“I think that Spain remains incredibly creative in terms of gastronomy,” she said, though she added that La Crisis reduced ambitions. “There is a generation of new chefs who probably thought they could almost automatically become the next Adria, but who instead must first learn how to the best tortilla.”
Sid, glad to hear (in your comment on Foxtrot) that you will be investigating other BC pinots, for which our cold but warming climate may be well suited. Look forward to hearing of any more gems you might find. I was hoping that the Road 13 Jackpot Pinot would have appeared at last week’s tasting, since I find it very pleasant if a little light. I’ve only tasted the Foxtrot 04 once, and it was indeed very good, but subsequent vintages I thought a little too rich. I like Foxtrot’s other pinots which can be a little more restrained, e.g their Erickson and “The Waltz”, the latter only available at West and other TopTable restaurants.