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Jaybert41

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  1. I just wanted to comment on what a great tasting experience I had today at Hendry Ranch Winery in Napa Valley. I had just tried their 2001 Block 28 Zinfandel for the first time last week, which is what prompted my visit. There wasn’t time enough to go through the entire tour, which I understand is quite unique as I have heard that George Hendry is a bit of a pioneer in terms of gravity flow winery design. When we talked about this briefly he explained that it was his desire to allow for whole berry fermentation that ruled out the common use of pumps which would accommodate whole berries. Besides being gentler on the wine some say, I have never encountered wines with such extensive whole berry fermentation (15% in the Pinot Noir). They also make a big point about separately vinifying their different blocks of different varietals, which was something else that I had little experience in tasting through. A quick tasting revealed a rock solid portfolio of wines that I cannot believe I had been missing until now: A ’04 Pinot Gris was pleasant, clean and fresh. I haven’t hade much Pinot Gris in Napa and this one seemed to come in a little bit on the lighter and more delicate side. I found this a great wine for $17 and would be perfect for just sipping on in the summer months. A side by side comparison of an ’04 Unoaked Chardonnay ($17, Wente Clone) and a ’02 Blocks 19 & 20 Chardonnay ($25, Dijon Clone) was fascinating. I tend to prefer unoaked Chardonnays but ended up picking up some of the Blocks 19 & 20 today which sees about half new French Oak. The unaoked chard highlighted the citrus notes of the grape which was held in place by a solid core of acidity and structure that you don’t often find these days. I really enjoyed this wine, but favored the balance of the Blocks 19 & 20 for its integration of the oak without faulting the body or acidity of the wine. This was one of the few Napa Chardonnays that I have ever purchased. On to the 2003 Pinot Noir ($30)… This wine was astonishing!!! I couldn’t believe the big, dark, black fruits that this thing was sitting on! It also carried such a fine firm line of toasted oak that made this really interesting for feeling substantial enough to hold up to some pretty robust food. This was unlike any other Napa Valley Pinot Noir in its price range that I have ever tasted. I feel that it took up a great position between the supple, smooth mouth feel of a great pinot without being over done by excessive oak or alcohol. This wine is a ringer for some Russian River pinots, (Williams Selyem) and George Hendry said that he often times has a hard time picking it out of a blind tasting of such. This wine is a real gem and I am a little surprised that I have seen any notes on this one with all of the attention Pinot is getting lately. The two Zinfandels: an ’01 Block 7 and ’01 Block 28 (both $28) were delicious. On their own they were equally enjoyable, but side by side a stark contrast could be made. The Block 7 tends to lean more towards the Pinot end of the spectrum in terms of body and mouth feel and the Block 28 takes on more of a Cabernet approach. Without much surprise, George said that by tasting them side by side you can then see just how one over the other could be chosen for different types of food. He is also one the first people that I have met to use the saignee method of bleeding the tanks prior to fermentation to get rid of some of the sugars that often times are responsible for Zinfandels atrocious alcohol levels. These were Great zinfandels for a non zinfandel lover. Also tasted was a Hendry Ranch 2002 “Red Wine” ($30), which a new bottling utilizing some of the surplus Meritage grapes. This one was particularly heavy on the Malbec, which I enjoyed for its blueberry scent and marked acidity. And lastly was the Block 8 Cabernet. This wine was rather closed and lean, but did put off a nice fine scent that I associate with cooler growing conditions that I tend to enjoy. By this point in the tasting, I was pretty shot, but grabbed a few of these bottles for good measure and can report back sometime later. I will try to get back over there in a couple of weeks when they start to offer the 2001. In all, I am thoroughly delighted to have a found a new producer for a consistently delicious portfolio of reasonably priced wines. As a comparison, these Hendry wines will be taking over the roll in my cellar previously held by Robert Sinsky. Nothing against Sinsky, but these wines Hendry wines were humming! I would love to hear anybody else’s opinions or experiences. (crossposted to Squires Wine Talk BB)
  2. Jaybert41

    Young Sommeliers

    Regardless of age, the proof is in the product. If a young sommlier can offer me unique and enjoyable wines at a good price then I'm in. Just like anything or anyone in its youth- there are sure to be some over steps and abuses along the way. Maturity, experience and modesty does account for something important. I consider myslef to be a very open minded wine consumer and would enjoy somebody that is passionate and enthusiastic about less well known and often time less expensive wines. I'm not sure that I would put mysleft in thier hands while consulting a few decades old Bordeaux options, but would certainly let them lead the way otherwise.
  3. On my way back from Montelena today I decide to pull off to check out Vincent Arroyo winery in Calestoga. Much to my suprise I was completly floored with his wines! He himself was there in the winery pouring '02 Merlot, '02 Cab, and '02 "Nameless" and "DKC" meritage blends. Having been out tasting most of the morning, I was pretty tired and had not been impressed much with that days bounty. I was shocked to taste just how full and lively all of these wines were. There was such a nice balance between the CA fruit, earth, structure, tannin and most importantly- acidity. He commented that they are known for petite syrah and later drew off a barrel sample due to be bottled in three weeks. Considering that is was a barrel sample, again I was very impressed with it's balance for such a monster as petite syrah. My favorites of the day though were the two meritage blends, especially the DKC. I enjoy the fact that he uses a higher percentages of petite verdot and cabernet franc than most. I find that these make for a more interesting nose that I am quite fond of. For estate wines that ranged from $27 to $38, this marks one of my new favorite Napa Valley wine makers. I would be curious to know of other people's opinions or experiences. Thanks.
  4. Passionfruit is also exceptional with Cauliflower. The flavors of pasionfruit also merry well with Sauvignon blanc and match particluarily well with shellfish.
  5. Try Fish's Eddy in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
  6. Jaybert41

    Per Se

    I'm not sure just how to take that? It always bugs me when people act as though a particular chef is not in their very kitchen that anyone should somehow receive a vastly different meal. I think that what people so often fail to realize is that in high end professional kitchens (like Per Se) all of the cooks, their movements, their mise en place, their seasoning, their cooking, their plating are all so highly orchestrated that should one individual not happen to be there it doesn't change the fact. Sure, there is a personality element that a chef can contribute to a service or a menu but to suspect that the food would be held to any lesser standard is absolutely ridiculous. I understand that many people may have the attitude of letting things slide when the boss is away, but most of the people in these types of kitchens all want to be the boss someday so the thought of them operating at a lower standard of quality is highly unlikely. Sure, it is convenient and sometimes fun for us to poke fun at the fact that Thomas Keller, Alain Ducasse, Daniel Bouloud, and the like cannot all be in every one of their restaurant kitchens at the same time and that it may be a reason for a flawed meal. The people who work in these operations are professional through and through and I have the utmost confidence that the actual execution of a restaurant service varies very little from one night to the next, regardless of who is at the helm. I am so tired of the dart throwing at these types of chefs. Get over it already... These guys dont cook your food anyway.
  7. Yeah, I'm in. I was recently called a "Cork Dork" for the first time and sort of found it both flattering and worrisome at the same time. Oh well... 1. A dork will make you feel uncomfortable. They are supercilious, punctilious, and from my point of view, just plain supersillious. A geek, however, will make you feel comfortable, and value your opinion of his wines. Geek here, I love hearing people's opinion about wine and feel uncomfortable myself if I too enthusiastically impose my opinion on someone. 2. A dork holds his glass by the base, or with his fingers curled sensuously around the body of the glass. A geek grabs his glass by the stem and just sticks his nose in. All business. Yeah, stem and nose for me. I dread holding a glass by the bowl and getting finger smudges all over it- which just kills my girlfriend, but I have trained and feel quite comfortable enjoying nice stemware by the stem only. I suppose I would be all business in a way being that I am empathic about a wine's sent, but many people that I know who love wine just drink it rather that smell it. 3. Geeks love sweet wine and the women who drink them. Always keep a bottle on hand for the sensual possibilities. A dork does not keep sweet wine or palate deadening spices in his kitchen. Yes, and yes! I adore sweet wine and am enamored with woman who share the same view. Although spices are an instrumental part of my everyday cooking, I do take them in to account wen serving food with wine. So where does that leave me? I dont know. Anybody up for some Indian food with a little 2001 Chateau Climens? 4. Dorks love to mention Bordeaux and Burgundy. Geeks speak and kiss French. Well, I am not thrilled about Burgundy, but I wont hesitate to say that I love all of the above. 5. Dorks spend as much as possible for large bottles at auction, hoping for the ultimate photo opp. Geeks barter, trade and wheedle for wine, but always seem to have plenty on hand. Anybody looking for a used car? An original Beatles ticket stub? a Dyson Vacuum cleaner? Elvis stamps? How about my NYC apartment? I have got to get myself some more 2001 Sauternes, 2002 Loire, 2000 Bordeaux, 2000 Vintage Port, anything German ... I am in nedd of wine... somebody please help me...! 6. Dorks will ask, "How long will this wine cellar?" Geeks will age a wine only as long as necessary to make it drinkable. They have been known to pick up old bottles and hold them up to the light, shaking the sediment around, and saying, "Do you think I can drink this now?" Yeah, my girl thinks I am crazy when she come home to find me shaking the hell of the decanter. She just doesn't understand that it is 2000 Bordeaux that really isn't ready to be drunk but we just have to have it tonight! C'mon! 7. In a restaurant, dorks will swizzle wine loudly through their teeth before taking the first swallow. Geeks never do this on a first date, because they know if you laugh, the wine will come out your nose. I haven't been on a first date since I have been afflicted with the wine bug, and therefor I cannot say for sure, but I do consider myself to be conscientious of any audible wine movements. 8. Dorks will order food, then a wine to match. Geeks order wine, and a totally unrelated food. They're always surprised by how well food and wine go together. I think that I tend to do a little bit of both. I do tend to look at the wine list first, if that counts for anything, but also take into consideration to a degree what we will be eating. 9. Dorks follow numerical wine ratings and place their bets accordingly. Geeks are the hecklers of the wine world, and can often be overheard saying, "That wine got an 87? Geesh, I woulda given it a 91. 92?!? How did that wine rate? Are we sure that's not the judge's age??" I enjoy points because they are quick, but also understand that they don't necessarily mean that I will like the wine. Points are new to me and I am a little unsure of just how they affect my buying habits. 10. Dorks have a proper cellar for their wine collection, with adequate temperature controls, and chairs. Geeks and winemakers use their cellars for "important stuff," and store their personal selections in the garage, between the kayak and the workbench. Total geek here. But if I could be a dork and have every single one of my bottle under the ideal storage condition I would in a heart beat. Even if it meant being a cork dork... ←
  8. Jaybert41

    Clos du Val

    Thanks for the reply. Sterile filtration is certainly a bone to pick with Parker...
  9. Jaybert41

    Clos du Val

    Parker v. Clos du Val is an interesting point... I happen to like both, and would be curious to know if there is any correlation between the two. We're drinking a 2001 Cabernet tonight in fact... (waiting in the decanter)
  10. I dont know about that one... unless the 2003 is differnet from the previous vintages, Cakebread does oak their Sauvignon Blanc. I am particulariy sensative to new world SB that is masked by oak, and even the 30% or so at Cakebread is not to my liking. I like the St. Suprey a great deal, and also St. Clement. as they are all done in stainless steal.
  11. Its not in upstate NY, but maybe Palmex is what you are thinking of: Palmex Website
  12. Jaybert41

    Bouley

    I dined at Bouley last night and am left with a deep disappointment that I have never felt with any other restaurant in it's league. The biggest factor of the evening is that we were incredibly rushed. We were a four top at 6:30 that ordered the tasting menu with wine pairings and I couldn't believe how the fast courses came out. Literally one after the next. It was apparent to me that they needed the table back for a 9:00 reservation and were determined to get it. A few of the things that really bothered me: -The room itself, it is really strange. I immediately felt cramped and overwhelmed by the sheer volume level of the room. It was so loud! There were points during the meal where it sounded like a bus of tourists had just been dropped off at Times Square and the sound level increased dramatically. -The lamps on the tables; sure it created nice light, but every time someone from our table or the table next, or the next table next to them had to get up to use the restroom, everyone had to pause their meal to make sure that nobody got tripped up on the cord which was just dangling off the edge of the table. Another annoyance with these amps was that it somebody across the room happened to be touching the plug on the floor, there was a flickering light going on and off that permeated the entire dining room. -Two out of the four menus that we received when we sat down where missing one of the three pages. They weren't just omitted, they were completely ripped out. The back page of the cardboard menu covers looked like someone ripping wallpaper off a wall. There was the remains of a menu past and it looked absolutely terrible. Very, very tacky. I can understand a page being omitted here and there, but half of the table getting the rubbish left behind is completely unacceptable. How can a captain not notice that the menu is incomplete in the book? -The wine list; though nice in its content it was terrible by design. The three hole punch bound wine list was affixed so tightly that you couldn't view the left potion of the page because it was so stiffly bound. Literally, you couldn't read the entire line because it was "in the crease" of the book. Again, very shotty for such a high end place. -Bread service kept us with a constant supply of good rolls on our plates, but the butter dish had long since been finished. I couldn't believe that someone could keep bringing us bread but not notice that the only butter plate on the table was completely wiped clean. -I also found it very discomforting that the tasting menu was often times a repetition of the ala carte menu. I wish that I could have just simply ordered the tasting menu in its entirety which the choice of a supplement or two; but there were between two and five choices for each of the courses on the tasting menu. With a four top it became less about enjoying the chefs menu as we had to deal with making choices that should have been eliminated by originally selecting the tasting menu. Overall, the food was good. I was annoyed at a lot of the repetitions of certain ingredients and the use of some unseasonal items. Hon-Shimeji Mushrooms twice on the tasting menu is a little bit redundant for a restaurant of this caliber. Can't you use another kind of mushroom? I am also a quite concerned that in the middle of January, Bouley has Green Asparagus, Porcini Mushrooms, Peas & Sugar Snap Peas on the menu. All of which are vastly out of season. On the topic of feeling cramped, it was also uncomforting that each time a waiter came to the table to fill water/wine or clear a plate we had to stop eating in order for them to reach what they were after. At that level of dining there should be no inconvenience to the guests during the meal especially when clearing a course or filling water. There was one point where I was enjoying my Bass that a waiter's tie swatted me in the face as he reached in to get an empty wine glass from across the table. It was all terrible awkward and I never encountered such obstacles when dining. It was also shocking that we were never offered any cheese course with our meal. They had a cheese course on the ala carte menu I later found out, but no mention was made as to whether or not we would like any cheese with our tasting menu. That would have been a prime opportunity to up-sell us on some cheese and additional wine. Again, I was very surprised that they didn't take the opportunity to allow us to further enjoy ourselves. All that negativity being said, one redeeming aspect of the meal that I will take with me had to do with the wine service. As our wines were poured for each of the tasting menu courses, they would leave the bottle/s on the table for us to study for a while. As they came back thereafter, they would top off our wine glasses with those bottles. I found that very classy. There have been many restaurants that I have been left needing more wine with my course (Blue Hill at Stone Barns being the biggest offender) and it was nice to have a generous pour available. Aghh... when it is al said and done and am left feeling very disappointed. Based on this singular experience here, I will not return to Bouley even though I have admired his food from afar for many years. I am tempted to write a letter to David Bouley about the meal but am reluctant to do so as I work in a similarly high end restaurant here in NYC. Really though, I am so bummed about the meal...
  13. Jay, the dough sheeter is just like a large pasta machine, without the noodle cutters, which can be cut by hand. Think of 3 30" long stainless steel rolling pins w/ conveyer belts that go back and forth until the dough is the desired thickness. This is a piece of equipment that I will never work w/out again, especially if we are making pasta... What is a fish file? Heard that about the power outlets, a ton are always needed.... ←
  14. Here's a couple: -Electric Pasta Machine, and oversized wooded board -Haake Water Circulator -Dehydrator -Raytek instant read thermometer gun -Fish File -Commercial Electric Meat Grinder (not the whimpy KitchinAide one) -Internet access and a lot of power outlets!
  15. I just got back to NYC from my annual trip to A2 to check in on the status of the topic of this thread. We stopped by Restaurant Eve to see what they were up to, but it was closed and there was no menu in sight. It looks pretty nice by A2 standards, but I am curious about the execution of the food, price point and how business is doing. Anybody been to the newest contender "Rush Street" in the old Zydeco slot? It looks strikingly trendy and oozes with ambition. The menu looks okay from the website, and I would be curious to see what people have experienced. Thank God though that is isn't another Main Street Ventures cookie cutter concept restaurant that has overrun Main St. I am still holding onto hope that some like-minded individuals can pull something together "ala Chez Panisse style" in A2 in the upcoming year or two... I know that there is the talent, just looking for the money to get it off the ground.
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