Well, I just finished my last flight of Rhône wines this morning, and now I get set to write my next tasting report on the region (slated for the Nov. 15 issue). As I run the numbers, I see I tasted 626 wines in total - a big jump over the previous year, when I tasted 401.
I'm going to throw the floor open to questions, comments, criticisms and praise of our Restaurant Awards Program, which announced this year's winners in the current Aug. 31 issue. Just a quick run-down first though: The program presents awards based on a restaurant's wine program.
I sat down with Bruce Jack the other day, to get caught up on things in South Africa. Jack, 36, is the owner and winemaker at Flagstone winery, and he’s what I consider a typical South African vintner: quality oriented, producing a moderate volume (about 70,000 cases a year) and focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc (the Cape’s best grapes, along with Chenin Blanc).
I just got excited over a flight of Côtes du Rhône, not exactly the wines I normally get fired up over. Sure, there are plenty of good ones, and even the occasional outstanding one. They’re great with bistro fare or when you want to knock something back without paying big bucks or having to think too much about it.
The only thing hotter than New York City right now (where it is a steamy 95+ degrees) might be the '03 Hermitage from Jean-Louis Chave. With production at one-third of normal levels, the wine has quickly reached stratospheric prices.
Let’s set the record straight – at least, my record – on this whole ‘wineries making wines in a style to please critics’ argument that’s raging right now in my colleague James Laube's blog.
I usually prefer simple food with great wines, like a grilled steak with a big Bordeaux or Rhône – or the opposite, complex foods with simpler wines, such as seafood with exotic spices and sauces with a clean, crisp white.
Thanks to the four-day weekend, I was able to pillage my cellar a little bit more than usual. And when I looked back on the carnage of empty bottles (the heavier the recycling bin, the better the weekend, I say), I saw how the weekend could be divided up into its own wine flights.
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