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Everything posted by RobInAustin

  1. RobInAustin

    Help please

    how much would a good vernaccia or a Terre di Tufi cost? and can you get these from liquor store or do you have to go to a wine shop? ← Expect to pay between $15-20 for them. If the liquor store has a very good wine selection, they should have them, otherwise go to a good wine shop.
  2. RobInAustin

    Help please

    Look for a good Vernaccia. Terre di Tufi is my favorite.
  3. For Lexica, I wish I could give a good "rule" of x minutes for y degrees, but alot depends on where the fridge temp is set... My "rule of thumb" is start with fifteen minutes and then "touch" the bottle. then go by ten minute intervals from there. Bearing in mind the warmer the bottle, the longer the chill. I don't bother with a thermometer (Im with Craig C - shoot me if I start to use one). Bottle cool to the touch, but not cold probably 65. Cold to the touch probably 55. Chilly and sweating in the room, 45-50. You get used to it pretty quickly and soon discover how long and what the "feel" is for the chill you like on the wine. Cheers, Rob
  4. Every wine class I teach contains the line "Most Americans drink their Whites too cold and their Reds too warm" and "Room Temperature means little unless you define the room: A London flat in January's "room temp" and a Dallas Dining Room in August are TWO very different temps." Red wine is best served at a "cool room" temp, closer to London in January...the lighter the red, the chillier it can handle. Beaujolais is really best almost cold, about 55 deg. Pinot Noir/Burgundy say closer to 60/62 (a slight chill). Anything heavier, to me should be served with the bottle cool to the touch, but not "sweating cold"...Certainly any wine stored at normal US room temps of over 72 degrees should be chilled a little bit. I caused a small stir when I wrote a local article entitled "Waiter, CHILL that RED wine a while"...but I've said that exactly many times out. Cheers, Rob
  5. RobInAustin

    wine for the bird

    My personal favorite is Alsatian Riesling with Turkey, especially the Trimbach Cuvee Frederick Emile. I personally find most Beaujolais too light, unless is a good Cru from a small producer with some body. A GOOD domestic viognier (and trust me, there are not many) works, I highly recommend the Miner or Martine's (same vineyard supplier) White Rhone blends are also a good match, Marsanne/Rousanne stufff.... Also, any good Rose Champagne... Cheers, Rob
  6. There actually is a second one in the US, here in Austin, at Tuscany Market. It works quite well, I checked it out, though silly Tx laws require an employee to TAKE the customer's card and physically get the pour and hand it to the customer... Cheers, Rob
  7. I agree that a clean, non oaky dry white, not too heavy is good. Some of the inexpensive French vin de pays blends, like Rene Junot or L'eparyie work just fine, and are $5 or less for a .750. Non oaky Sauvignon Blancs works well, as does Entre Deux Mers...IMHO, in addition to the other suggestions above.
  8. RobInAustin


    Porto Rocha made the millenium blend. It was labelled as a blend of their Colheita vintages. I sold my entire allocation of 6 bottles of it! I've had many of the Rocha Colheitas, going back to the 1933...Right now, I think their 1950 is drinking fabulous. Thanks for the additional clarification on Colheitas, I was in a hurry to get out the door. Cheers, Rob
  9. RobInAustin


    There are three different kinds of Port: 1. Vintage dated. Designed to be aged for many years not really to be consumed young and by law must be bottled young. A vintage dated port less than ten years old will keep fine for a month at least open, and will probably improve some. A vintage port 20 years old, I wouldn't keep open for more than maybe a few days to a week. Any older vintage port will fall apart after a few days, in my experience. 2. Non Vintage (NV). Usually sold as "Tawny", "10 yr." or "20 yr" . Follow that above rules. 3. Colheita (my personal favorite). Kept in cask not bottle, some for decades. THESE gems, having been kept in cask, will stay perfect in the opened bottle for as long as it takes to finish, and IMHO are the BEST value going in Port today. For the same $50 you pay for a young "vintage" port that you can't enjoy for twenty years, you can HAVE a 20 year old colheita ready to enjoy now! The least well known Port product, it is well worth seeking out from the few producers left. I have the rare privelege to taste a Colheita blend bottled in 1999 for the year 2000, it was a blend of 1898, 1895, 1890 and 1886 left in cask for a century. and it was AMAZING! and frankly, the retail price of $500 was not ridiculous given when compared to bottles of vintage port. Cheers, Rob
  10. RobInAustin

    Sparkling Wine

    To actually answer your question, Piper Sonoma Brut is not a hugely "important" sparkler. I tend to find a real max of a few months at refrig. temps is about right, maybe six for a Piper. My real "beef" with you is this: Bubbles are NOT a "special occassion" wine! They go GREAT with many foods...I think Friday is a great occassion for sparklers. Napoleon said "In Victory, one deserves Champagne, in Defeat one NEEDS it!" Call a NEW set of friends in for Sunday dinner and open the Piper. OR better yet, make Eggs Benedict or Lox and Bagles and serve it for Sunday Brunch...need more ideas? ask! CHAMPAGNE IS NOT JUST FOR NEW YEARS ANYMORE!!! Cheers, Rob
  11. RobInAustin

    Dinner with Paul

    Fifi We had Pont l'Eveque, a blue chevre and a chevre from burgundy wrapped in a birch leaf (who's name escapes me). Yes, Becky is the importer for Camille's wines. I don't think she has a bad wine in the portfolio, and her's is one of the few companies I will consider to buy a wine from untasted. I have had the wonderful pleasure of dining with her on several occassions As for today, I prefer to quote Napoleon: "In victory one deserves to drink Champagne, In defeat one NEEDS to drink Champagne." A good bottle on tonights menu. I need it. Cheers, Rob
  12. RobInAustin

    Dinner with Paul

    saingant is french for bloody rare.
  13. Finally, a meal with wines that even Florida Jim can appreciate! (just kidding) Dinner at home with my closest wine curmudgeon friend Paul the lawyer. I cooked, he brought the wines. 1st course: Modern Salad Nicoise. Fresh Ahi tuna poached in olive oil and provencal herbs, lemon and garlic, served with tossed field greens in vinaigrette, with blanched haricots verts, roasted grape tomatos with anchovies, roasted baby potatos. 1988 BEAUNE LES REVERSEES, 1ER CRU, CAMILLE GIROUD Immediately on opening, a waft of fresh matsutaki mushrooms, forest floor, and leather but with a tease of floral notes underneath. Similar flavors on the palate. After about fifteen minutes, it began to blossom, with clean new leather and fresh black cherry notes on the nose and palate, with an elegant elegant elegant balance of "fine tannins" no sharp edges, but body. With the food, it became almost crystalline in structure, as the mushroom faded and the black cherry and wet forest notes took charge. This is not your new world in your face flashy slutty pinot, nossireeBob. This is the epitome of what I call the elegant contradition of Burgundy: "Amazing depth and body in a weightless wine." Sadly, the vineyard changed hands, now belonging to Ann Colgin...so, the available finite supply of Camille Giroud has now decreased by at least one bottle....If you see some, buy it. 2nd Course: Bistecca Fiorentina. I found a premier butcher, who cut me a PRIME Porterhouse Steak a literal 2 INCHES thick. (dont ask the price....) Grilled over a very hot fire, left warm but saingnant inside, sliced then drizzled with lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and fresh pepper, served with fresh spinach sauteed in olive oil and garlic. 1999 BARTOLO MASCARELLO, BAROLO, 4 VINEYARDS: CANNUBI, SAN LORENZO, RUE, ROCCHE Decanted two hours. Totally inert out of the bottle. 2 hours later, was finally starting to open up with dark leather, wet forest and some red fruit notes and hefty tannins. Evolved quickly in stages; next came an amazing red licorice, star anise and black cherry. With the steak, it turned crystalline pure. White truffle come on, along with the red licorice and cherry. By the end of the course, it was a sheer delight on the nose and palate...Again, the exact same profile as the burgundy: Amazing depth and body in a weightless wine... Mascarello is a MASTER of Barolo, and this wine and vintage are well worth buying and holding...Just sheer pleasure, but again NOT the slutty, flashy in yer face style some are turning to. 3rd Course: assorted cheeses. 1996 DOMAINE LE PEU LE LA MORIETTE, VOUVRAY MOELLEUX WOW, just a blast of apricot, honey, carmel and citrus on the nose and palate, in a delightful wine of light texture and elegant balance. Nothing cloying or sticky about it, the acids were just exactly in harmony with the flavors....Sheer hedonistic delight in the glass. This wine will make a fan of ANYONE who claims they don't like any "sweet" in their wine. Think a sexy beautiful elegant 30 something in a simple Chanel dress.....still young enough to be fun, but mature enough to be complex, elegant, and subtle... What a nice way to finish off a nice week in Los Angeles....Nate n'Als for brunch now, Back to Austin tonight. Happy Halloween. Cheers, Rob
  14. RobInAustin

    Ordering wine

    This is indeed a tough subject. As for whether the waitstaff is helpful or useful, is sadly a factor of two things, usually price, and your familiarity. As a general rule of thumb, more "upscale" restaurants usually have a good sommellier (or two) and well trained staff. Now, that said, I HAVE myself run into the "pushy" sommellier in an upscale place. The one that "knows" they "know better than the customer" and insist on pushing their choice. Now, Im a wine professional, and been into wine since the 1977 vintage, and yet, had sommelliers sniff at my personal choice and push something they want me to drink, instead of what I KNOW I want after careful purusal of the list. If the sommellier or wait staff ask THIS question first, you're probably in good hands "What is good to YOU, what kinds of wine do YOU like?" I've seen waitstaff push wines they know nothing about because there is often a promotion or bonus for selling certain wines. Its a dirty little secret sometimes, but a restaurant that sells a lot of a big producer's product will earn a trip to the winery, or a cash bonus...it happens. I've seen waitstaff "fake" their way through the wine list too. They know nothing beyond what the manager told them to say. The best advice, from my point, is to build a relationship with your favorite restaurants whenever possible. Get to know their taste and knowledge, and they can get to know your tastes and preferences. These days, many restaurants will pour a small taste of a wine they sell by the glass if you ask them for one first. Don't be afraid to ask for one if unsure. All they can say is no. Don't be afraid to engage the waitstaff/sommellier in dialogue. TALK to them about what you like, what you want. Most importantly, don't be afraid to speak up if you DON"T like the wine they suggested/chose. Its YOUR money, don't be intimidated to say something. A quality restaurant will never have a problem with it. MY horror story about waitstaff: I went to a new "upscale" expensive place in Palm Springs Calif. in the mid 1980s. It was a close friend's birthday, and my treat. I ordered the Jordan Cabernet (1978 the best vintage ever) from the waiter, who brought the bottle unopened to the table and plunked it down and left. I wanted it to breathe, but the waiter disappeared for half an hour. I finally got the busboy to ask the waiter to come open it. Busboy comes back with corkscrew, saying the waiter told HIM to open it...Poor kid had a terrible time, broke the cork and took it to the bartender, who pushed the cork INTO the bottle, and got alot of cork bits into the wine... Waiter shows up finally, and I ask for another bottle of the cab. I explained that I did not care for cork bits in my wine...Waiter says I HAVE to pay for a second bottle. I insist that is not an option. Waiter gets the MANAGER who agrees I have to buy a second bottle. I insist Im not drinking wine with cork in it, so Im not paying for the bottle THEY ruined. they can bring me a replacement bottle or Im not paying for it. They rudely insist on holding their position firmly. Bill comes, I pay for everything EXCEPT the wine, and leave a 50cent tip on a 80dollar tab. As I leave, I tip poor busboy ten bucks IN FRONT of the waiter telling him he earned the tip and NOT to share it, and told the waiter to his face the fifty cents on the table was all he earned and said they were free to call the police if they had a problem with the wine tab. Luckily that awful place was closed in less than six months. Any more questions for your article, just let me know, glad to help. Time to dash to dinner. Cheers Rob
  15. Just an update on my last post. The evil, vile, nasty pseudo Mexican place on Guadalupe, to be avoided at all costs despite it being there forever is "El Patio"... Does ANYONE know why the place stays busy even tho the food is awful?
  16. RobInAustin

    Dinner with friends

    Jim, You just plain ROCK! I love reading these notes, and your choices of food and wine continue to entertain and delight me. Huet walks on water. I love his wines. As for the Trimbach Cuvee Fred, it is one of my "desert Island" choices. My favorite wine anecdote comes from a wonderful lunch at the Four Seasons with Jean-Michel Trimbach. It was me, him, and two restaurant owners and a rep from the Trimbach distributor. Over lunch, this fat, "bubba" restaurant owner says, with a West Tx twang "Mister Trim-back...how much new oak do y'all use in your wines?" Jean-Michel, next to me, stiffens slightly, smiles and says purringly (oh so French) "Oh, I do not know...we really don't use many oak barrels...one wears out after many years...it is replaced. We do not really use oak barrels for our wine..." Bubba: "Weyall, wah DON"T ya use oak in your wines?" J-M: (sipping a 25 year old Cuvee Fred, long pause) "well, it is easy. We are WINEMAKERS, not a LUMBERYARD" I snorted the Cuvee Fred out the nose before I could stop myself... Cheers, Rob
  17. Sadly, the Austin Fire Marshall disagreed with you. He finally said the wall behind the grill was so soaked with grease they were afraid it would catch fire, plus the two main drains finally failed so they and floor had to go too... It "looks the same" only different. You should have read Kelso's column in the Statesman this morning about what they did! PS, the Aventis blood donation center next to Ruby's closed recently. Building now vacant. Cheers Rob
  18. Re: Dirty's on the Drag. Its not the best hamburger I've ever had (that goes to the Double Double at InN'Out in Southern California), but it IS the best burger in Austin. For the first time since 1926, they RE-Modeled the place the last three weeks. It is CLEAN, no more grease soaked walls and floors and the bathrooms are finally for real. So the original ambience is gone, the vent hood actually works, so the place "smells" clean. but the burgers taste the same, thank god. I live two blocks from Ruby's and can honestly say I never eat there, the meat is dry and tastless. There is place that is "historical" as its been there for years, the mexican food place on Guadalupe at 30th, next to Centennial liquor...can't remember the name, "El Carmen"? maybe...I only know it is the WORST NASTIEST MOST GAWD AWFUL FOOD I ever ate. Can anyone explain WHY that dump is packed on weekends? Cheers, Rob Cheers
  19. I've had this wine, and have to concur with both reviews! Am thrilled that I snagged three last bottles for my personal cellar. Cheers, Rob
  20. I prefer N. Lamar, though right now with the remodel things are not what they should be. N. Lamar is VERY good about ordering whole fish or special fish whenever you want. I have gotten Loup de Mer with only 3 days advance notice, and fresh Belon oysters from them.
  21. A friend, ex college football player, was having his 30th birthday party at his favorite bar. He booked the patio for the party. He had recently returned from a trip to Mexico. When you walked into the patio, the front of the bar was covered with individual, airline bottle sized, bottles of Mezcal, each with a worm. The host forced everone to shoot one bottle with worm, before you could order anything else to drink...and he drank one with each guest. The entire party was thrown out of the bar, when the host, about 6'5 and 250, started arguing with the seven foot tall ice maker machine and started to beat up the machine. He was hallucinating and thought it was some other guy giving him a hard time...Took seven of us to drag him out of the bar...I don't remember much else, but I can still see Tom screaming obscenties at the ice maker and punching it out...pretty sad but pretty funny at the same time. Ever since that night, fifteen plus years ago, I can not STAND even the smell of Mezcal. Cheers, Rob
  22. Turley is even worse. The winery personally must "approve" every single account in advance before they get any. The entire allocation for the state for RETAIL is something less than three cases. Turley Zin starts at $100 in the restaurants and goes northward rapidly. Pretty much, those wines are jokes in our market, and we rarely think of them. All thanks to the managment of the winery. Quite literally, I was at a tasting where ONE single bottle of Turley was opened by the distributor. I tasted it and asked what kind of allocation I could get, the distributor poured another 2 ounces in my glass and said "There it is"...They belong to the "more money than taste" crowd in Texas. Give me Thurow Zinfandel at $20 a bottle any day over Turley or Rafanelli.
  23. As a Texas retailer, I can tell you that outside of California, Rafanelli literally REFUSES to release their wines to the retail trade beyond literally a few bottles, as a result, here in Tx, the only way to taste Rafanelli Zin is at the three or four restaurants in town with it on the list, the least expensive offering can be had for $85 a bottle...hardly reasonable in my book. California is not like the rest of the country in terms of availability.
  24. Forget finding Rafanelli, and if you did the price is way too much money. You guys all forget another great producer, Dry Creek Vineyards. Their Old Vines and single vineyard Zins all define that style. My good bud Don Wallace loves his zins, and they really define Dry Creek style. Even better, they are not hard to find and reasonably priced. Cheers, Rob
  25. Congratulations Mary! Can not think of a better choice. Cheers, Rob
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