Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mom on Reading Between the Wines

I generally don't write about the books that I work on here. I find that I mention many authors or occasionally reference the books in passing, but as this is not an official UC Press blog, I avoid reviewing my books. Despite the significant overlap between my work and personal lives, reviewing the books I work on here seems a bit flackish. That said, today I present a review of one of my fall titles.

First, a story. This past spring, after more than 35 years and a long run of Best Independent Bookstore awards in the Hartford Advocate, my mother closed her bookstore. Which is both a good and bad thing. Now she has time for gardening and travel and movies and all of those things you can not do when running your own store. She is even coming to visit next month! But she is also not surrounded by books all day and I know that she misses it. She also can no longer hand sell the books I am working on by explaining to her customers that it is her daughter's book. They generally got placed on the front counter for easy access.

On the other hand, she now has more time to actually read books. So, I send recommendations, mainly for mysteries and very rarely even books. But as she is neither a wine expert nor an academic, many of the books I work on are not ones she is likely to sit down on a Sunday afternoon and read. But, sometimes it happens.
A couple of weeks ago when my advance copies of Terry Theise's Reading Between the Wines arrived, several were damaged. Not too damaged to read and enjoy, but too damaged to send out to reviewers or the general public. As a former bookseller, my Mom would not be offended to receive a slightly gluey copy. She likes wine, although she herself would say that she is far from an expert. But I thought that just maybe the book would speak to her. And, well, as I said, it was kind of sticky.

So I sent a copy and waited. It turns out that I did not wait very long. As I reported a week ago on twitter, she called me at work a few days later to say that she could not put the book down. (And, no, it was not just the glue.) I asked her if she would mind telling me why. I'll paste her review below because as much as I am looking forward to more traditional reviews, this one is special.

Amy, no wonder you have such a high regard for Terry Theise. I'm reading a preview copy that you sent me of "Reading between the Wines" And, I am both amazed and delighted by his book. It's concise and poetic, charming and edgy, romantic and practical, and informative--but, not pedantic. I am loving this little book which is both philosophical and sensible. Everything that he says about wine is a metaphor about living an holistic life--awareness, appreciation, acceptance, and openness. Bravo to him and to your publisher for printing this small gem! Love, Mom P.S. It's also very funny!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Stage 20 Paris!

The 2010 version of the Tour de France ended this morning as Mark Cavendish won rather easily out of the pack on the Champs Élysées. This was a repeat of Cav's rather exciting win last year. As my daughter would be happy to tell you, I yelled Go Mark or even Marky at the tv this morning.

I should probably do both a cycling and wine round up at some point. We shall see. For now, a few brief moments to remember:
Cobbles, Crashes, Fabian!
Cadel in yellow with a broken elbow, The rare George spotting (usually falling off the back),
Frenchmen winning stages, Chaingate, Vino attacking and attacking again, Any Jens! sighting,
Cav's 5 stage wins, Lance's farewell: say what you will, without him we would never have been able to watch live. So, thanks.

Yellow: Contador
Stage: Cav!
Green: Petacchi

To drink:
We end as we began with champagne. Another Alice Feiring suggestion from New Year's.

Leclerc Briant "Les Chêvres Pierreuses" Single Vineyard Brut Champagne

They say:This Champagne is composed of 41% Pinot Noir, 19% Meunier and 40% Chardonnay from a seven-acre vineyard that is the steepest of the three offerings. Perhaps the most plain delicious of the three wines; this Champagne has great fresh apple fruit, lightly toasted bread notes and good refreshing zing. It amazes me that a wine can be so distinctive and complex while still maintaining such easy going charm. A fantastic aperitif! (Gary Westby, K&L Champagne and Sherry buyer)

I say: Hard to taste champagne after 19 pies, but am hoping the bubbles will be good for me. Crisp but with some nice toasted notes.

And yeah, we tasted some pie at the SF Food Wars Pie or Die Challenge. K voted Banana Cream, I voted Sour Cherry Berry. We'll wait for results.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

stage 19 The Time Trial

Bordeaux to Bordeaux
I suppose for most non cycling fan, the Time Trial makes more sense then many of the other racing days. Each man is sent off the ramp individually and is in complete control of his own race. Theoretically you could catch the rider in front of you or be caught by the one behind, but that is not typical. Instead, a rider spends his time alone on the bike, racing a course with nothing in mind but speed. The current master of this discipline is Fabian Cancellara, the winner of today's stage and as a friend keeps reminding me, one of the best looking cyclists around. One could quibble with that, but in truth, watching him on a time trial bike should be standard training for anyone who wants to learn the sport.

Stage Winner: Fabian Cancellara
Yellow: Alberto Contaor
Green: Petacchi

To drink still avoiding red Bordeaux and celebrating I have opted for:

Château Roûmieu-Lacoste 2000

Cause, honestly I had it in the house.
They say: Belonging to Hervé Dubourdieu, Roumieu-Lacoste is a Cru Bourgeois from Barsac and offers light, complex and fruity sweet wines. Roumieu Lacoste is light in colour and full of rich aromas of candied fruits and spices on the nose with good length and sweetness on the palate. Its freshness and liveliness makes it perfect with foie gras.

I say: After canning 20 pounds of tomatoes today I needed a treat. This is it. In fact, time to drink a glass and relax. Tomorrow, on to Paris!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Stage 18 Cav!

Salies-de-Béarn > Bordeaux (198 km)

At the start of the Tour, there are always a few stages that clearly appear to be for the sprinters. Today was one of them and it did not disappoint. Like most of these long, flat stages, it featured a doomed breakaway and the eventual regrouping of the peloton as they neared the finish. Today's winner, to my delight was Mark Cavendish. I admit it, I am charmed by the immensely talented, often out spoken and arguably world's fastest cyclists. One of the most amusing moments from the dull until the last two minutes was the image of Cavendish in the peloton pretending to urge the race forward, imaginary whip in hand.

Yellow: Alberto Contador
Stage winner: Mark Cavendish
Green: to my disappointment, Petacchi

To drink: Well, a traditional Bordeaux would have been too obvious. Also, something I do not keep on hand. So for our two days in Bordeaux I am going white. Tonight Bordeaux Blanc and tomorrow Sauternes.

08 Chateau Ducasse

They say: The old vines are 55% Semillon, 35% Sauvignon, and 10% Muscadelle. There is a gunflint aspect, along with citrus perfumes like citronelle and orange blossom. On the palate too, freshness, and liveliness, which mirrors the exquisite bouquet.

I say: Clean, crisp, easy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stage 17 All Over But the Shouting

Barring any mechanical issues, Alberto Contador won the Tour de France today. Which saddens me for two reasons:
1 We will always wonder what might have happened had Andy Schleck's chain not dropped
2 The race is almost over. Having done Giro wines and Tour wines, I'll be skipping the Vuelta to spend my August with Riesling.

Today's stage was a great one, though I found the ending sad. I am just not a Contador fan. And as mentioned above, he most likely won today not by attacking but by marking Andy Schleck all day.

Yellow: Contador
Stage win: Schleck
Green: Thor

To drink: 2005 Clos Lapeyre "La Magendia" Jurancon (375ml)

They say:
From Clos Lapeyre comes this unctuous 100% Petit Manseng, fermented in new oak barrels. Nuances of exotic fruits (pineapple, mango, passion fruit). Powerful, yet controlled toast and vanilla flavors, with a hint of additional wood spice. Plenty of fat on the palate is accented by a citrus note on the finish which helps lift the fruit to new levels. Rich, sweet and delicious, with fine length. 13.5% abv.

I say: I've been looking forward to this one. I have plans for Sauternes Saturday for the time trial so this is a nice "appetizer." This is not a little wine, fruity and well balanced. Nice acidity and indeed some citrus.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stage 16 and a Confession

So not only is this post a day late, but I must confess that I did not drink my Tour wine last night. Instead, I was lucky enough to join Charles Olken and Stephen Elliot for a tasting of 07 and 08 pinots for their CONNOISSEURS' GUIDE to CALIFORNIA WINE. It was an offer I did not want to turn down, especially as we are publishing a revised edition of their classic book this fall. So I enjoyed the pinot, placed my votes on tasting favorites and ignored my planned French wine. Apologies to any who care. But, really, you would have done the same thing.

Today, Wednesday, is a rest day and I will taste French wine tonight. Which remains to be seen. After a day of baseball and a poor showing by the Red Sox, refreshing may be the key.

Yellow: Alberto Contador
Green: Thor Smash!
Yesterday's stage winner:
Pierrick Fedrigo (despite a valiant final effort by Lance Armstrong that excited the announcers to a frightening extent.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Stage 15--The Curious Chain Incident

Well, well, well. Turns out surprise does lurk around every corner or perhaps at the top of each hill. On the day we anticipated a showdown between Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador, we had instead endless internet discussions about cycling etiquette. What is clear, is that while attempting a move today, Andy Schleck dropped his chain. Why is for those who know more about bikes to explain.
What happened next will be debating for a long time as Contador, Samuel Sanchez and Dennis Menchov then took off up the hill rather than waiting for Andy to fix his bike. By many accounts, this breaks quite a few unwritten cycling rules. While Contador claims, despite evidence to the contrary, that he did not see what happened, I have yet read any comments from Sanchez or Menchov. What is clear is that Schleck failed to catch back on and lost his yellow jersey. The fall out remains to be seen, though I probably owe an apology to my neighbors for the profanities I screamed at the tv this morning.

Stage winner: Thomas Voeckler
Yellow: Alberto Contador
Green: Petacchi

Wine: 2008 Clot de l’Oum Compagnie des Papillons

Jon Bonné says:Made by Eric and Leia Monné. . . from numerous organically grown parcels near Maury in France’s Roussillon region, it’s a mix of equal parts Carignane and Grenache from approximately 60-year-old vines, with a bit of Syrah added in. That mix would tend to make you think bright and fruity, but it’s a dark beast to behold, aged in older oak and delivering its wares at 12.7 percent alcohol, further testament to the wonders of old vines. The Carignane hits you on first sniff: Wilting lilies crushed by dark stones, with a delicate plum fruit and that tart cherry. But then it’s astonishingly light on its feet, leathery in moments and salty in others, all about the promise of deep fruit rather than the delivery.

I say: Read what Jon has to say. He is a professional after all. I'm amused that on a stage I did not consult with him, I have ended up with a wine he wrote about. This one came from Jason at Solano Cellars, who provided me with most of my Tour wines. That said, deep in color, both fruit and flowers on the nose, lighter in taste than I would have expected (had I not read the paragraph above). Nicely balanced, with more acid than I would have anticipated, it paired nicely with the bacon in my BLT.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Stage 14 & Hey, Food!

July 18, Stage 14: Revel - Ax-3 Domaines 184.5km

So today was another up at 4:30 to watch the cycling day. Thus, it is not yet 4 p.m. and I'm preparing dinner. Or really, linner as I had breakfast far too early and missed lunch. What am I eating? Roast chicken, done simply with butter on the skin in an ode to my mother and some garlic in the pan. On the side, one of my favorite summer salads of green beans, new potatoes, and fresh corn with a mustard, champagne vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette. Recipe available if desired, but really it is easier than pie.

As for the race:
Well it was a day many thought could be decisive. Instead Schleck and Contador spent the day marking each other, essentially coming to a stop on the mountain at one point as neither wanted to lead the other. Meanwhile, their rivals escaped as much as possible with both Menchov and Sanchez gaining some time on the leaders. Stage winner was the very worth Christophe Riblon, the lone survivor of an early break. Even if you are not a fan, today's stage is worth watching for the scenery alone. I know where I want to go soon--The Pyrenees!

Yellow: Andy Schleck
Green: Petacchi
Stage winner: Christophe Riblon

To drink: Leftovers!
In this case: I'm going to revisit the Savoie wines to see how they held up and also the remnants of last night's Chateau La Roque 2001 "Cupa Numismae" Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Loup

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Stage 13

Rodez to Revel (122 miles) - It will be another demanding day, with five Category 3 or 4 climbs en route through some very scenic countryside.
Well, demanding day? Maybe. Honestly it was a a dull enough stage that I hit the farmers market rather than sit through the end. Corn! Tomatoes! 10 lbs of blueberries for canning! Muffuletta! Cherries! And more!
Back home, with a purring cat begging for Boccalone meat, the race continued. It appeared we were heading for a sprint finish until Vino, the man who must attack, launched himself. Thus, stage win Vino, sprint finish to Cavendish.

Stage winner: Vino: Alexander Vinokourov
Yellow: Andy Schleck
Green Alessandro Petacchi

To drink: Well, tonight we are in the Languedoc and I have a bottle sitting at the ready. But, to be honest, I have a lot of open bottles. On the other hand, company tonight.
Chateau La Roque 2001 "Cupa Numismae" Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Lou
that has a scrolled note on it "next 10 years." A wine that I undoubtedly bought at Kermit Lynch upon release and just never got to.

They say: A ruby robe with garnet hints; intense nose, with Garrigues notes, hints of spices and cacao. Rounded and complex on the palate; it offers fine aroma of red and black berries; snappy touch of cherries, persistent and fine tannins give a rounded, nicely elegant finale.

I say:
Some sweetness on the nose, hints of caramel. Lot of fruit with a touch of earthiness. Very smooth. Sure wish I had a lot more aged wine in my "cellar."

Friday, July 16, 2010

Stage 12 More Climbing

I tweeted at some point this morning that I could not leave my house because the bikes were climbing. Today we had an attack from Vino, a lot of Saxo Bank on the front and a late attack from Alberto Contador, "dancing on the pedals" up hill to pull back 10 seconds on Andy Schleck.

Yellow: Andy Schleck
Stage Winner: Joaquin Rodriguez
Thor Hushovd (another clever move in the break for points)

My wine was a source of stress for me today. Strangely, on my original TdF wine shopping trip I did not acquire anything. Today when I went out in search of Hermitage, I failed. Instead I left Kermit Lynch with 3 bottles of Clape, 2 Cornas and a Cotes du Rhone. For tonight:
The 08 Cotes du Rhone

They say:
Never make the mistake of grouping Clape’s Côtes-du-Rhône in with other
wines bearing the same appellation. You should think of his version as a young-
vines Cornas, a pure Syrah grown in granite—no resemblance to the Grenache-
based wines farther south. It is a Syrah from one of the masters, Auguste Clape,
cheaper than most domestic Syrahs!
$36.00 per bottle

I say: At the age of 21, I decided that I was a Rhone girl based upon one relatively amazing CDP bought for my then boyfriends 21st birthday. Years later when traveling through France, my then husband scheduled Burgundy and I pushed for the Rhone and Provence. When we got divorced we split our rather limited wine collection--he took the Burgundy and I took the Rhone, some of which I still have. That is all to say, this wine makes me happy. Fruit, herbs, spice and structure. Coming in at 12.5% alcohol, it is accessible now. I'm interested to see what happens as it has more time and air. When I win Lotto, I'll buy it by the case.

Tonight I also decided to experiment a bit with glassware. As those I've entertained know, I'm more of an Ikea glass girl than anything fancy. Given my poor eye hand coordination and an 8 year old in the house, we break them to often to be fancy. But I was sent an Eisch glass so am trying it out.
They tell me that: a wine poured into an Eisch breathable glass for just 2 to 4 minutes will show signs of aeration equivalent to the same wine that has been decanted and aerated for 1 to 2 hours. This fully natural process takes place within the wine itself, in just minutes. The original character and structure of the wine are preserved, yet the wine’s aorma and palate impression become more open, generous and polished.
I say: I actually do taste a difference. The Eisch glass taste is different. Now, this is not a blind evaluation, I may do that with a friend later, but this wine at least, the Eisch is noticeably more open. Does that mean I have to stop buying my glasses at Ikea?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Apricot Jam--the easy way

Apricot Jam--the easy way

40 pounds of apricots-10 to eat raw= 30 pounds of canned apricots.
This year we decided on apricot chutney, apricot jam with amaretto, apricot jam flavored with their kernels, apricots with alcohol (brandy and Qi) and apricot syrup ( a lovely by product of the alcoholed fruit).

Here is a basic jam recipe, with kernels. We quadrupled it.

3 pounds ripe apricots
1/2 cup water
6 cups sugar
2 T lemon juice

Slice apricots in half, reserving pits. Crack pits, remove kernels, blanch them in simmering water for 20 minutes. Put the blanched kernels in a spice bag.
In a saucepan combine apricots, bag of kernels and water. Simmered covered for 20 minutes until fruit is soft. Remove from heat.
Add sugar and lemon juice to pan. Heat over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved and then raise the heat to medium high. Boil until jam mounds on a chilled dish. Remove from heat. Remove spice bag ladle into jars and process for 10 minutes.

Stage 11 The Drama

Wow. Just wow. Today the Tour journeyed from Thursday, July 15: Sisteron > Bourg-lès-Valence (184.5 km). Most of the journey was uneventful. And them we came to the sprint and it all changed. Fans of the sport will know that there exists a sometimes unpleasant rivalry became two American teams: HTC and Garmin. Last year, in a move that quite frankly guaranteed that I will never ever root for Garmin, that team "stole" the yellow jersey from long time American cyclist George Hincapie. It is, of course, more complicated than that but between that move and the theoretical sprint rivalry between the two teams, there in no love lost.

Today it turned ugly. There are many ways to analyze what happened and much disagreement about what we all saw. My take has Julian Dean interfering without leadout man Mark Renshaw who retaliated with three had to see to be believed head butts. Really, on the bike during a sprint. Renshaw eventually peeled off the sprint, slowing Garmin sprinter Tyler Farrar as his teammate, Mark Cavendish sped to victory. People yelled, ranted, screamed and Renshaw was tossed out of the race. Given that earlier in the race a cyclist attacked another with a wheel, I think this was a crazy punishment. But, I don't make those decisions.

Yellow: Andy Schleck
Stage Winner: Mark Cavendish
Green Petacchi

And to drink? Well, after my first caprese salad of the year from our beloced Piccino and ice cream from the always wonderful Mr and Mrs Miscellaneous it is home for rose. In this case:

2009 Côtes du Ventoux Rosé Domaine de Fondreche "L'Instant"

They say: Domaine Fondrèche is situated on the picturesque foothills of Mount Ventoux in the village of Mazan. Young winemaker Sébastien Vincenti, a protégé of André Brunel, is without a doubt the leader in quality in this southern Rhone appellation. The 35 ha of vineyards at Fondrèche are cropped to produce nearly half the yields of his neighbors, making Sébastien’s wines deeply textured and intensely fruited. Although well known for his deliciously concentrated red wines, the best-kept secret here just may be the Rosé. Made from three grapes, it is a blend of 30% Syrah, 30% Grenache, and 40% Cinsault. The 2009 l’Instant Rosé has beautiful pink color, lovely aromatics, and fully dry palate. Serve well chilled!

I say: pale coral-pink color, dry, lots of aromatics. Perfect for a warm night or perhaps a picnic?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stage 10

Chambéry > Gap (179 km)

For Bastille Day we have possibly the most boring stage of the tour, breakaway and all. For me, it was a day to miss the finish of the stage to attend a Rutherford Dust tasting of 2007 Cabernets. I'll report in about that later.

Yellow:Andy Schleck
Stage Winner: Sergio Paulhino
Green Thor Hushovd

To drink: leftover Savoie white. And, of course, I had a lot of Cab this morning.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Stage 9 And then There Were Two

Morzine-Avoriaz - Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne 204.5km

How I love mountain stages. Steep roads, depleted pelotons, drama. The 4:30 wake up to watch? I don't love it quite as much. But today was a day not to miss in the Tour as our two pre-race favorites, Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador made it almost a two man race as Cadel Evans and many others appeared to crack. Later we found out that Cadel had been riding with a fractured elbow.

Stage Winner:Sandy Casar
Yellow Andy Schleck
Green: Thor Hushovd (and picking up points in the break)
Teammate of the day: Jens! Voigt

Wine: Charles Trosset Mondeuse l'Expression d'un Terroir Vin de Savoie-Arbin
They say:
The Trosset brothers, Louis and Joseph, are part of a winemaking tradition that spans at least four generations of winegrowers before them. The domaine is located in Arbin, a couple of towns along the curve of the mountain slope from Chignin. Arbin is one of the 17 crus that exist in the Savoie, although all the wines go under the appellation Vin de Savoie. Located a bit further along the slopes than Chignin and just before Cruet, Arbin specializes in Mondeuse and it is the only grape the Trossets have planted. Mondeuse is not a high alcohol grape. Even in hot years like 2003, Mondeuse across Savoie still had difficulty reaching 12% natural alcohol. The juice from Mondeuse is a wonderful beet-colored red. These red wines make an excellent accompaniment to pork roast, veal stew, or sausages with polenta. Of course, the local tomme cheese (or comté for that matter) also pair marvelously with the grape's deep, intense fruit. 12.5% abv.

I say: Deep color, pepper on the nose, earth, herbal. Nice acidity, much lighter in the mouth than the color might suggest.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stage 8

From McDuff's Food and Wine Trail:
Stage 8, Sunday, July 11: Station des Rousses > Morzine-Avoriaz (189 km)
The first day in the high Alps, starting in the Jura and ending in the Haut-Savoie, all the while within a stone's throw (or two) of Lake Geneva.

Otherwise known as the day Lance fell down a lot and eventually fell off the back. Our first so-called hard mountain stage. And an exciting day it was. We had early crashes, Lance yo-yo-ing, Vino attacking and dropping, Schleck the younger taking time off Contador on the final ascent and winning the stage, giving hope to all non Contador fans. And, as Versus coverage could not let us forget, the end of Lance Armstrong's hopes for a final tour victory. I admit it, I was up at 4:30 to watch and may have screamed at the tv a few times far too early on a Sunday morning.

Stage winner: Andy Schleck
Yellow: Cadel Evans
Green Thor Hushovd

To drink: Dom. Labbé 2009 Abymes (Vin de Savoie)

They say: The Savoie region, hard by Lake Geneva, can barely produce enough to meet the demands of winter sports enthusiasts and summer hikers, but we’ve been lucky enough to secure one of its top estates. Abymes, and its slightly better-known neighbor Apremont, produce light, aromatic, exquisitely balanced wines from the Jacquère grape. The brothers Labbé keep yields low to extract maximum flavor from this delicate variety, while retaining freshness and sheer pleasure-giving gulpability.

I say: Probably doing it a disservice by pairing it with my Tour viewing popcorn. Alas, after that 4:30 wake up call I'm not up for cooking dinner. Fruit on the nose with nice acid balance. Crisp and refreshing refreshing means that I could drink quite a bit of this. If we had summer this time of year it would be a perfect summer wine. Maybe for September?

Zucchini Cornichons

Time for a confession: I was not very inspired by the Can Jam selection this month. Given the bounty of summer here in the Bay Area, the choices did not thrill me. I had been hoping for stone fruit. But, no such luck. Thus, our experiment with zucchini cornichons.

almost 1 quart very small zucchini
3 T pickling salt
2 small hot peppers
2 cups vinegar (we mixed white and balsamic)
4 shallots peeled
1 Bay Leaf
10 whole black peppercorns

Mix zucchini with salt, stand at room temperature 12 to 24 hours.
Combine vinegar and and spices in a sauce pan, bring to a boil.
Drain, rinse in cool water, and pat dry. Put zucchini in a sterilized quart jar. Add spices. Fill with vinegar to cover, seal and process for 10 minutes.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Stage 7- Jura

Tournus > Station des Rousses

Finally, mountains. Not, as they like to say, a day to win the tour, and honestly not really a day to lose it either. But a day for our first grupetto, the group of sprinters that cycle together in hopes of making the time cut. I always imagine them singing and drinking beer, either though that is not likely as they must get in before the official time cut. Today, they may or may not have made it, but were allowed to continue.

Stage winner: Sylvain Chavanel
Yellow: Chavanel
Green: Thor Hushovd

And to drink: 2007 Domaine de la Tournelle "Trousseau des Corvées" Arbois

They say:

Another of the Jura’s unique red varietals, the Trousseau grape makes a slightly darker and more structured wine than does Ploussard while still maintaining a bright personality, intriguing aromas of freshly crushed wild berries and more subtle but no less intriguing nuances of a walk in the autumn forest, peony flowers and the suggestion of damp earth. It all adds up to something which is delicate, unique, and once one sits with it and surrenders, rather captivating.

Because of its bright complexion and delicate palate, it’s a delightful wine to pair with charcuterie, lighter meats and cheeses.

We say: not the perfect pairing for our bacon and broccoli pizza. But some days you need pizza. Earthy, structured yet still light in body. Lots of acid as well as spice both on the nose and in the mouth. Friend reports that it is not like anything she has had before. Be curious to see how it ages.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Stage 6--Chablis

And then came Stage 6: Montargis — Gueugnon The longest stage of the Tour. Mostly flat with occasional climby bits. In the words of David McDuff: The longest day of this year's Tour passes midway between the Pouilly-sur-Loire/Sancerre and the Yonne Department (Chablis, etc.)
Still here at the beach house, still waking up a bit after 5 to watch the live broadcast in hd, set on mute. Would be a bit happier to have closed captioning but all efforts have failed. At least I have Podiumcafe and Cyclingnews updates to keep me going.

Stage winner: (again and I am happy about it) Mark Cavendish
Yellow: Fabian Cancellara
Green Thor Hushovd (and it looks like we may have a fight after all)

To drink? Chablis. Actually had a hard time resisting taking a glass down to the beach with me. If I had brought along additional reserves, I may have.
Jean-Marc Brocard 08 Chablis. Refreshing, crisp, yet with enough weight behind it to almost stand up to the roast chicken.
Their website tells me:
Grapes are certified organically grown. We use medicinal plants against insects ans diseases.
It results a wine based on the elegance.
Wine-making : Pneumatic pressing. Alcoholic fermentation with temperature control and indigenous yeasts. Ageing on lees in stainless steel vat. Malolactic fermentation completed.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stage 5 More Champagne

And then all was right with the Tour.
Woke up this morning at 5:27. Apparently even on vacation the internal Tour de France alarm clock is in fine working order. Tempted as always when it is clearly a sprint stage to fall back asleep, but as I have said before, I can sleep in August.

Stage winner: Mark Cavendish (at last and kudos to Mark Renshaw for a perfect lead out in difficult circumstances)
Yellow: Fabian Cancellara

To drink: De Meric Cuvee 1999 Sous Brut
I liked this one a lot. Was tempted to fight my friend for the last glass but as she is the one renting the beach house I controlled myself. Lesson learned, when vacationing with Amy bring more champagne. Also, concede that no notes will be taken and write up will be spotty at best.

From K&L
We have been working with Champagne De Meric since the beginning of their renaissance, and now their first vintage Sous Bois has been released. It is composed of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from the villages of Ay, Avize, Cramant, Oger, Mareuil-sur-Ay and Mutigny. It has a fantastic nose of fresh cream and bread dough and the palate has great black cherry Ay Pinot Noir power. There are subtle hints of orange peel and vanilla underneath, almost certainly coming from the all-wood fermentation.

Stage 4 To Champagne!

A sprinting stage! To champagne. And I am off to Morro Bay. Little time to blog but a few thoughts:
Cavendish did not win! Fewer people fell down.

But tonight, because they finished in Reims, I have champagne. To be specific Franck Pascal Extra Brut Cuvee de Reserve. Another Alice Feiring recommendation. Here's what K & L has to say:
This is one of the most exciting Champagnes we carry! Franck Pascal has a tiny property in the western valley of the Marne- only eight and three quarter's acres, which he farms completely organically. This wine is a blend of 90% Meunier, 5% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Noir and composed of 70% 2004 with the balance coming from 2003 and 2002. The Champagne has an attractive straw color and a very nice, compact bead. On the nose it has an exotic, flowery personality anchored by savory croissant butter. It is exceptionally clean on the palate, with subtle pineapple fruit and just a hint of doughy richness. It finishes quite dry, as it should at only 5.6 grams per liter of dosage.

To me, very dry, very clean, apple, citrus, perfect after a long day at the beach.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Stage 3 Rodenbach Grand Cru

Today was the day we expected everyone to all fall down. Because--cobbles! If you are a fan of the cycling classics you understand why. If not, imagine large groups of cyclists riding on narrow, rock covered road. In spring, this is often accompanied by rain. Given the injury situation thus far in the Tour, it was best they had sun.
Today's winner: Thor Hushovd, making up for his "stole" victory yesterday.
In yellow: Fabian Cancellara, who towed a group up to the line with his indomitable style.

To drink: Rodenbach Grand Cru
So when I emailed to ask for beer suggestions, Jon Bonné suggested: get some Dupont Saison. better yet, get some Rodenbach Grand Cru, weird but awesome. Those who know are not surprised that not only did I buy both, but that I was most excited to try weird but awesome. I admit, weird is an appealing word for me. And is it? In a word, yes. Keeping in mind that I am far from a beer expert, it is not like anything I have had before. It is is carbonated, reddish brown in color, with a smooth body and some acid or vinegar on the finish.

Internet research tells me that Rodenbach Grand Cru (Alc. 6% Vol.) is a blend of “young” beer (33%) and an older beer (67%) that has matured in oak vats. It is the high percentage of the older ripened-in-oak beer that gives it the complex and intense bouquet with a very long aftertaste like a Grand Cru wine. This is a complex beer with lots of wood and fruity esters, wine-like and with a balsamic vinegar aroma. A sharp taste, fruity, refreshing and with a balanced Madeira-like sweetness.The late Michael Jackson bestowed upon this beer the titles of “World Classic” and “the Burgundy of Belgium.”

I'd love to hear from anyone who knows more.

Tomorrow: champagne!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

And then they all fell down, Stage 1

Today the Tour journeyed from Rotterdam to Brussels. And then they all fell down.
Which pretty much tells you everything you needed to know about Stage 1 of 2010 Tour de France. After a relatively quiet day, dog aside, the stage will be remembered for the crashes coming into the final stretch. The first crash took out the odds on favorite to win the stage, Mark Cavendish. The second crash essentially shut down the road. The third crash was just in front of the line. A strange day indeed, with the stage win going to Alessandro Petacchi. Because the crashes happened so close to the finish, all riders involved were awarded the same time and Cancellara held onto yellow. It appears at this point that there were no serious injuries.

For the next few days I will be drinking Belgian beer as tomorrow's stage stays in Belgium as well. In the fridge: Dupont Saison and Rodenbach Grand Cru.
The next decision will be what to do with Tuesday's stage that ends in Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, France. I expect that I will stay with beer as Internet research suggests that the region is renowned for its beer and jenever. Suggestions welcome.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

And So It Begins TdF 2010

As I've mentioned more than a few times on twitter, I've been planning to drink the wines of the Tour de France. Periodically I would scan my wine racks and vaguely give some thought to the regions I needed to fill in. But somehow, in a fit of stress and distraction, I put off detailed stage planning until the last minute. Luckily, Jason at Solano Cellars was more than happy to grab a few bottles for me, despite the lure of Uruguay-Ghana on the computer. We did however pause to watch the penalty kicks. How could we not?

This weekend presented a bit of a challenge. This morning's prologue was in Rotterdam. I'm almost certain there must be a wine made somewhere in that area, though David McDuff at suggests otherwise But, see above for poor planning on my part. I have acquired Belgian beer for Sunday and Monday's trip through Belgium (thanks Jon Bonné), but what to do for Rotterdam?

After consulting with my frequent Tour de France viewing partner, L, otherwise known as one of the few people willing to be in the room with me when I babble about echelons and domestiques, I decided on champagne. The prologue after all is a day to celebrate. As to which champagne, after looking through my stock the answer was easy, something pink. In this case: Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne, suggested several months back by Alice Feiring as a possible New Year's drink. I'm looking forward to popping the cork upon L's arrival.

Now a few words on the race itself. I am not one of those casual cycling fans who follows only the tour. I am instead one of those get up really early in the morning many weekends in the Spring to watch streaming video, usually in a language I do not speak, of what are called the classics. I have favorite races, favorite cyclists, and favorite teams. I have been known to cheer or boo out loud. I'm also not, to the surprise of many casual fans a particular Lance fan. I'll root for him in certain situations, but I became a fan of the sport before I had ever heard his name.

I was coincidentally in Paris for the last day of the Tour years ago, pre-Lance's victories. I knew nothing more of the sport besides what I had seen on Wide World of Sports (yes, the agony of defeat show). But, watching from the windows of the Louvre, I became intrigued. And then Lance started winning and winning and winning some more and the sport, or at least the Tour, became accessible in the US. The internet helped as well, as it allowed me to follow the sport in a way that would be impossible in the mainstream press.

As for my loyalties, well, as I mentioned before, I will root for Lance under certain circumstances, but I have always been a George Hincapie girl. Not that I expect him to win of course. These days, I also have a soft spot for:
Thor Hushovd because he smiled so nicely at the Tour of California
Fabian Cancellara and Mark Cavendish because they are both brilliant at what they do best
I admit that this most recent Giro had me cheering for Ivan Basso (I can't believe that one myself) and Cadel Evans because, well, he is now George's team leader.

L is a Saxo Bank fan so I end up following their whole team quite a bit as well, but have only embraced Fabian and of course, Jens!

Who will win this year? The smart money is on Alberto Contador. But we shall see on the 25th.

Prologue wine: Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne
Prologue winner: (as expected) Fabian Cancellara