Anyway, I arrived at the table and Gordon was already there. He had a nervous smile on his face. I am not sure what he was expecting. He had two bottles on the table that had been covered in paper. Plus David had a bottle that he wanted to serve me blind. Maybe he was feeling a little guilty that he was putting me on the spot.
"I bet you get this all the time," he said, after introductions. "People always want your opinion, or they want to catch you out."
I didn’t mind. I am used to it by now. It’s great when I get it right!
Anyway, David served a lovely Chardonnay that seemed Burgundian from the nose but the palate was much more New World. I loved the apple and floral aromas with vanilla and cream undertones. It was full and rich but not overdone, with a fine, dense core of pineapple and honey fruit on the palate. Fresh acidity too. Balanced and delicious. I gave it 92 points. I said it was definitely California Chardonnay but didn’t offer anything else. It was a 2005 Ceritas Parker Bass Vineyard Russian River Valley Sonoma County. David said about three barrels were made. First time for me, and it was serious stuff.
It went well with the selection of oysters, thinly-sliced bigeye tuna and horseradish, and gilled octopus salad. A fruit-forward, fatty California Chardonnay wouldn’t have worked here. And I am not very keen on that style of wine. I appreciated the freshness and delicacy of the Ceritas.
Gordon is a keen wine collector and he seems to know a lot of the cool wine shops and happening collectors in town. By day, he is an investment adviser working on his own for a handful of clients. But his passion is obviously wine, and he has about 1,000 bottles in his cellar.
He’s in his 40s, with a couple of young children, and living in Beverly Hills. He’s relaxed and fun to hang with. He was even born in Florence because his dad was working on his advanced degree in Italy at the time. Check out the video that I made at the end of dinner to see how much fun we had.
He said that most of his wine collection is Bordeaux, because it has the track record for improving with age and it increases in value. But he said that he doesn’t like to flip or sell his bottles because he "bought them for drinking." He said that he buys some of the big names from lesser vintages and some of the lesser names in big vintages with Bordeaux. Good strategy, I told him.
He hadn't bought a lot of 2005, except for six bottles of Malescot-St.-Exupéry, the Margaux that made a wonderful wine in that vintage. Anyway, I tasted his two reds. The one on the left was sort of pruney and stewed on the nose and the palate was fruity and attractive but it was a little earthy and funky. I gave it 87 points. The second wine was a class act. It showed wonderful aromas of blackberries, vanilla, and chocolate and opened to a full body, with velvety, soft tannins and a long fruity finish. It was so wonderful to drink but it showed an underlying firmness and tannins structure. It was so together and balanced. 92 points.
I thought the first wine was Italian and the second Bordeaux. I blew the vintage. I said 2003 for the Bordeaux. And Right Bank, may be St. Emilion. In fact, it was a 2005 Pomerol, Château Rouget. He said he paid about $46 for it. That shows how wonderful the 2005 vintage is. Gordon had never had the Rouget before and was blown away. I bet he buys a few cases today.
The second wine was some private label Tuscan thing from Costco. Honestly, I thought it was a wine from Abruzzo. It didn’t taste like Tuscany to me, but I liked it. It’s called 2004 Kirkland Signature Toscana and is made from Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I would be surprised if all the wine came from Tuscany. I think I was a little generous in my score.
We also had a wine that I brought. And I didn’t serve it blind. Why bother? I gave it 100 points, and I shipped it over from Tuscany a few weeks ago. It was the 2001 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto. The nose was reserved at first, even after decanting it an hour before. But it soon showed amazing complexity and depth of minerals, vanilla, blueberry, cherry and light sage and mint character. It was full and very silky with a dense core of fruit. It kept on changing all the time in the glass. I love the wine. Still perfect for me.
I think Gordon was pretty happy with the wine too. (I gave part of the bottle to David to drink with his friends after service.) And it went super-well with our roasted sea bass and a roasted Niman Ranch flatiron steak. The assorted mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes, and sautéed baby broccoli were delicious too.
We had a really good time. The evening was just another example how great wine and delicious food gets good people together and creates memorable moments.
Chris Lavin — Long Beach, CA — January 18, 2008 6:07pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — January 18, 2008 7:14pm ET
James Suckling — — January 18, 2008 9:49pm ET
Brad Kanipe — Atlanta — January 18, 2008 10:08pm ET
Steven Glazer — Orinda — January 20, 2008 11:07am ET
Gordon Trachtenberg — Beverly Hills, CA — January 20, 2008 12:00pm ET
John Poggemeyer — Cleveland, OH — January 21, 2008 1:19pm ET
Roberto A Rojas — Costa Rica — January 21, 2008 4:39pm ET
Philip Smith — January 21, 2008 5:29pm ET
John Freeborn — CA Huntington Beach — January 22, 2008 2:24am ET
James Mccusker — Okemos, MI — January 22, 2008 1:08pm ET
John Osgood — New York, NY — January 22, 2008 3:22pm ET
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