Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Leftcoast log


Florida Jim
 Share

Recommended Posts

Diane and I flew into SFO last Wednesday, snagged the last convertible at the Hertz desk, negotiated five o’clock traffic to get to our hotel (and a complimentary upgrade to a suite) in the city and found a really lovely restaurant on Post called Fino. Not a bad start.

The next day we were off to a four-story fabric store (Diane’s latest work requires it), the Museum of Modern Art and adjacent gardens, Union Square and then, lunch at the Slanted Door. This remains my favorite restaurant with its exquisitely “clean” food and fabulous wine list (especially the by-the-glass list). ‘Got to meet the owner and tell lies and we enjoyed the new location (although the room is noisy). The Ferry Building is beautifully re-done and the shops inside are worth a look.

Then off to Santa Rosa to chez Bevan for the weekend’s festivization. Russell and Victoria have a Frank Lloyd Wright-esque house with the most spectacular view since the porch at Paloma. The guest list included more than a smattering of familiar faces from throughout the U.S. and the wines available were many and grand. Without specific notes I’d say the mag. of 79 Brabaresco (Cerretto, Asili, I believe), was strikingly authentic and at full song; the 99 Rostaing, Cote Rotie, (Cote Blonde, I think) was the best developing wine of the evening and the 98 Clos St. Hune the most intellectually stimulating. But so many other fine wines; so many . . . (including a mag. of 95 Dauvissat, Clos, the remains of which I used to bring my palate back to life during the next day’s big tasting)

The following day we prepared for the scheduled 94 Cal. cab. tasting featuring about 34 different wines (massive overkill certainly, but some lessons were learned; especially that this vintage is, in the majority, not ready yet). Also, a single head-to-head tasting of the 94 Leonetti cab. vs. the 94 Pahlmeyer cab. resulted in a somewhat unanticipated show of hands for the Washington wine.

That night we were off to Mirepoix (in Windsor) for a multi-course dinner that had me stuffed before the finales came out. Nonetheless, a wonderful meal with inspired preparations and also a few good wines in attendance. Among them a 92 Bonneau, Celestines, a couple of Marcassin chards. and a bottle of the 90, St. Anne, Syrah CdR which, in this taster’s opinion, stole the show.

Unfortunately, most of the gang had to leave town that evening or early the next day, but we stuck around and had a chance to visit Bevan Cellars and taste some fermenting lots of what will be the blending lots of the first wine (cabernet) from that producer.

Then back to Russell’s place for some pear and gorgonzola risotto prepared by the Curmudgeon and my first introduction to the wines of Silver Pine courtesy of winemaker Greg L. who joined us (the SP vineyards are visible from Russell’s place). A full flavored, somewhat tropical sauvignon blanc and an 03 Rose that was both atypical and fantastic. Crushed raspberries on the nose and palate so penetrating that it seemed I was introduced to the essence of that fruit. Only 25 cases of it produced but, oh my, what an unusual and captivating wine.

The following day Diane and I headed north through the Anderson Valley with stops at the Navarro, Greenwood Ridge and Husch tasting rooms, lunch in Booneville and a top- down drive up the Avenue of the Redwoods.

Then to Mendocino for a little shopping and people watching and, later, to the Albion River Inn for dinner. Accompanying our meal was a 98 Cotat, Chavignol Rose, which was absolutely pure and lovely.

Awaking the next morning at the Little River Inn gave us a chance to sit on the veranda overlooking the Pacific at dawn. Tranquility.

Next it was down the coast on the 1 with a stop in Point Reyes for lunch and the chance to witness a deer that looked both ways before it crossed the road. A behavior I wish were more prevalent.

Then into SF and to Greens for a light supper before heading to an airport motel for the evening so that we could get out early the next morning and catch our flight.

A whirlwind tour and much too short.

And we are now sadly in need of salads and some sleep.

But a couple of comments I’d like to share:

-Yellowjackets can kick hummingbird butt. I watched one chase hummers away from a hummingbird feeder, repeatedly. Considering their relative sizes, most impressive.

-Navarro is doing even better work that the last time I visited and may just be the first domestic wine mailer list I want to be on.

-For me, it is big medicine to be in a winery and feel a part of the process of evaluating juice and its eventual treatment. I never thought I wanted to make the stuff; now, I’m not so sure.

-Rose wines are starting to amaze and delight me. How about that?

-California cabernet is just not a wine I can stomach anymore. I had a chance to taste through a lot of good ones and none were anything I wanted to taste again, ever.

-The 2002 French white Burgs. (Chablis or otherwise) I’ve tasted seem to have a good future but they are intensely acidic right now. Cellar time is a must.

-Some of the nicest people I know live in northern CA; my sincerest good wishes and thanks to them – my life is so much richer for their friendship.

Best, Jim

www.CowanCellars.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

California cabernet is just not a wine I can stomach anymore. I had a chance to taste through a lot of good ones and none were anything I wanted to taste again, ever.

Really? Ever? I'm not quite there with you, yet. I'll certainly finish what's in the cellar, and I'm guessing you have some in your cellar as well. But I'm probably done buying the stuff.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Really?  Ever?  I'm not quite there with you, yet.  I'll certainly finish what's in the cellar, and I'm guessing you have some in your cellar as well.  But I'm probably done buying the stuff.

Brad,

Save for a bottle or two, I have consigned all my CA cab. to a local restaurant. And I am long over buying the stuff.

Somebody else called it a one-note wine and I agree, but its worse than that. Its too tannic for me, made with too big an alcohol, too much wood, costs too much and has too little to distinguish it from its bretheren. And it goes with virtually nothing that I eat.

I think CA can make good wine and, on very rare occasions, great wine. But not from this grape.

Fortunately for the industry, I am in the minority.

Best, Jim

www.CowanCellars.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Brad,

Save for a bottle or two, I have consigned all my CA cab. to a local restaurant. And I am long over buying the stuff.

Somebody else called it a one-note wine and I agree, but its worse than that. Its too tannic for me, made with too big an alcohol, too much wood, costs too much and has too little to distinguish it from its bretheren. And it goes with virtually nothing that I eat.

I think CA can make good wine and, on very rare occasions, great wine. But not from this grape.

Fortunately for the industry, I am in the minority.

Best, Jim

I am not disagreeing with you (chacun a son gout) or even putting myself in the same wine drinker class as you. I am an occasional imbiber of wines and not a sophisticated or knowledgeable taster.

That said, in my limited experience, I've felt that cabs, as opposed to zins and perhaps merlots, are as a class more nuanced and varied. I've found more to like, sometimes dislike, and occasionally fall in love with amongst the cabs than the others. Perhaps it's my limited experience with all wines. I'd be interested to hear others' opinions on this.

Sacred cows make the best hamburger.

- Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That said, in my limited experience, I've felt that cabs, as opposed to zins and perhaps merlots, are as a class more nuanced and varied. I've found more to like, sometimes dislike, and occasionally fall in love with amongst the cabs than the others. Perhaps it's my limited experience with all wines. I'd be interested to hear others' opinions on this.

Definitely regarding merlot. Zinfandel has become this way, although it didn't used to be. You can still find some zinfandel wines with complexity. As far as California Cabernet is concerned, I think I've commented on this forum about a wine dinner I had with fellow wine enthusiasts in Davenport, Iowa. We each brought a California Cabernet. The four wines were 1988 Heitz Cellars Martha's Vineyard, 1990 Flora Springs Reserve, 1991 Shafer Hillside Select, and 1995 Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages. We all lamented that California -- on average -- doesn't make wines like these anymore.

Two general interpretations of that: 1) Not many California Cabernet wines age gracefully anymore, and 2) the style is different along the lines of Jim's lament of too much extraction, too much tannin, too much alcohol, and too much oak. Too much of everything. And wines that have too much of everything are not good partners with food -- and for Jim it's almost all about pairing with the food.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jim

You have discovered what I did years ago, after visiting napa/sonoma at least once or twice a year. Calif. cab is just WAY over rated for the dollars you have to pay for it, and frankly so is Merlot. It goes with almost no food, and has such little complexity.

My favorite Cal Cab story:

Am in my shop last year, talking with a major customer/collector/friend about his cellar. He wants to make room. so I tell him to start getting rid of his 1994 Napa Cabs, since they weren't going to get any better.

Another customer behind me says "No WAY! you're wrong...I have three cases left of my Caymus '94. Sure the fruit is gone, but whats LEFT!!!"

I turned to my friend, and quietly said..."yeah, whats left??"

The Emperor is butt naked...Cal cabs just aren't what they should be, more so for the price of admission IMHO>

Cheers,

Rob

"When I lived in Paris, and champagne was relatively cheap, I always enjoyed a half-bottle in the middle of the morning and another half-bottle at six or so in the evening. It did me a tremendous amount of good." - Gerald Hamilton.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Emperor is butt naked...Cal cabs just aren't what they should be, more so for the price of admission IMHO>

Rob,

There's a whole lot of folks that disagree with us.

And though I have never balked at being in the minority, I certainly understand folks who feel otherwise.

My "too, too, too comments" are, of course, my own take but Brad has boiled it down perfectly - if it doesn't go with the food in front of me, I don't want it. And that statement is made regardless of label or prestige or price tag.

And if you saw me, you'd know that the dinner table is a friend of mine.

Best, Jim

www.CowanCellars.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And if you saw me, you'd know that the dinner table is a friend of mine.

Jim

I already knew that without seeing you, just from reading your posts!

As for the rest, believe me, Im more than happy to sell a customer anything they want to buy, and the Cal Cab and Merlot sections of the store made me more money than any other! I just sit back and laugh at the "more money and more pretention than taste" crowd...You know, the ones who order the very latest release of Opus One in a restaurant (at $350) with dinner and crow how "wonderful" it is with the meal!!

PS, been working on the fish poached in oil recipe, and is working great. A chemist acquaintance assured me that the freezer to microwave or boil in plastic bags ARE safe to use, just don't use ordinary sandwich bags. The oil does make a GREAT base for a simple sauce, and I did tuna with asian herbs (garlic, fresh ginger, lemon grass) which was awesome when I took some oil and made a wasabi-soy sauce to go with it, paired with a Riesling Kabinett from Prum.

"When I lived in Paris, and champagne was relatively cheap, I always enjoyed a half-bottle in the middle of the morning and another half-bottle at six or so in the evening. It did me a tremendous amount of good." - Gerald Hamilton.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great travel logue, Jim, a culinary ride-a-long.

I had a Cabernet epiphany a while back, and I wasn't even drinking the stuff. I was preparing food for our annual Superbowl party, but I had been reading Laube's cabernet reviews in WS. Although I think we all agree that he is very consistent, which is desirable in a reviewer, I was thinking how different our taste in cabs are. He likes cherry, cassis, leather, cherry, cassis, leather, cherry, cassis, leather . . . herbal notes are sometimes given a doubtful nod, sometimes a thumb down. I like herbs and pepper in cabernet! And I thought, 'A plain cab is as bland as . . . cherry pie.' And then I thought, 'Hey, why should cherry pie be boring?' So I made a homemade crust with tons of Parmesan and fresh ground black pepper and whipped out a cherry pie with a little more pepper in the filling. It was the hit of the dessert lineup, and went well with our casual array of red wine! :wink:

It's kind of sad that thinking about cabernet and cherry pie together made me feel bad for the pie. :sad:

_____________________

Mary Baker

Solid Communications

Find me on Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So I made a homemade crust with tons of Parmesan and fresh ground black pepper and whipped out a cherry pie with a little more pepper in the filling. 

Mmmmmm.

Along those same lines, one of the best dolces I ever had was at Travigne in St. Helena; raspberries in black pepper sauce.

Best, Jim

www.CowanCellars.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PS, been working on the fish poached in oil recipe, and is working great. A chemist acquaintance assured me that the freezer to microwave or boil in plastic bags ARE safe to use, just don't use ordinary sandwich bags. The oil does make a GREAT base for a simple sauce, and I did tuna with asian herbs (garlic, fresh ginger, lemon grass) which was awesome when I took some oil and made a wasabi-soy sauce to go with it, paired with a Riesling Kabinett from Prum.

[

I appreciate the follow-up.

Best, Jim

www.CowanCellars.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mmmmmm.

Along those same lines, one of the best dolces I ever had was at Travigne in St. Helena; raspberries in black pepper sauce.

Best, Jim

Another dolces along these lines was a meringue filled with strawberries & ground fresh black pepper, drizzled with aged balsamic and basil chiffonade.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...