Friday, March 21, 2008

Red Lips, Stained Teeth - The Skurnick Marathon

1:30 pm-
When I arrived, five minutes late, Robin was standing at the front door with a wine glass in hand, ready to get things started. "Well happy Birthday Madeline," he said with a cordial grin, "I hope you don't mind spending the day of your birth tasting wine with your boss." To be honest I was thrilled and simultaneously overwhelmed. It was my first wine tasting, and the Michael Skurnik portfolio tasting was more of a marathon than it was a tasting; over 700 wines from Australia to Austria, from South Africa to the South of France, all housed in a two room spread in The Puck Building - a humbling sight for a novice such as myself. Nevertheless, I gallantly clutched my glass and dove right in, beginning, quit appropriately due to the occasion, with the sparkling wines from Spain, New Mexico, and Champagne.

The first hour slipped by as we drank our way through Australia, South Africa, Argentina, and Chile with nothing too memorable other than a wonderfully rustic and attractively priced Bonarda from Huarpe/Lancatay, and a fairly interesting Chenin Blanc from Rudera Wines in South Africa.

2:30 pm-
It was not until I approached Italy that I realized how many tannin drenched miles lay ahead of us. There were nearly twenty-five Italy tables, each holding 4-20 bottles a table. Gangs of Chianti assaulted tasters, as fragrant flocks of Valpolicello romanced them, and the poised armies of Barolo rolled elegantly across their taste buds. By the time we reached Napa I felt as though I was breathing out mixed berries, violets, and hot tar. Ah, anyone have a breath mint?

California, and Oregon were massive, and Robin and I speed threw making a few stops along the way to taste a Zinfandel here, a Cabernet there, and a few Chardonnays for good measure. The Dashe Cellars "Todd Brothers Ranch" Zinfandel stood out in my fledgling mind. It had presence with nicely balanced oak, and a long peppery finish. Minutes later the cherry and spice still lingered on my palette.

Before I had time to contemplate all that I had encountered, I found myself on the precipice of of a new and distinct Land, the grand matriarch, France. A few highlights,
  • The Domaine Mardon, 'Tres Vielles Vignes' Quincy had a powerfully flirtatious nose, crisp acidity, and more than a hint of mineral, and grapefruit.
  • The Chateau Pibarnon, Bandol Rose had a nose that reached out of the glass and smacked you, really hard! A lovely and complex rose. I can still feel the sting.
  • The Marc Portaz, 'Tete de cuvee' Vin de Savoie Apremont, was fruity, crisp, and 'easy like sunday morning...'
  • and Domaine Cauhape, 'Symphonie de Novembre' Jurancon Moelleux had the undeniable flavor of candied bacon. Trust me I know my candied Bacon.
Of course there were many more wines accompanied by many more adjectives, some more flattering than others - I'm still trying to decide weather cat pee is something I want in the nose of a red wine from Provence. I'll get back to you on that one.

Four hours after the initial sip of Champagne, it was time to buckle seat belts, and put trays in their upright position, we were coming in for a landing. My feet were soar, my cheeks a little rosy after the cognac tasting, my left index finger was dyed red from the little dribbles of wine the splashed on the outside of my glass, and I was dying for something to eat, other than cheese of coarse.
What they must have thought, the innocent pedestrians who were there to witness the hoards of winos, with their stained teeth and lips, pouring from the front doors of the Puck building, and flooding Lafayette ave. It certainly was a sight to behold.

" So what did you think of your first Skurnick tasting?" Robin asked me. My stomach growled adamantly and I stretched a crick in my back, " It was fun but man, this is hard work!"I exclaimed. "Well at last someone understands," he replied with the unmistakable air of an aristocrat.

La vida es dura.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Happy Birthday to me!

Last night, after a slow drawn-out night at work, I did the books, indulged in a cab ride home to find a bottle of Gewurztraminer and a mini Brooklyn Blackout Cake from my favorite Bakery, Lady Bird (formerly known as Two Little Red Hens). Today I will start my day off with a bit of cake then rush to a wine tasting with my boss, followed by champagne and oysters at Pearl Oyster Bar with a dear friend and a colleague, two people I don't see nearly enough of.
It is gray and raining outside and accu-weather has predicted Thunder storms all day long, but as I sit here, chipping away at my chocolate cake, I have nothing but sunshine in my heart - as cheesy as it may sound.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Food, Wine, Coffee, and Robotics

There now exists a Robot that has the sensory capability to pinpoint the region of any tasted wine, as well as to detect the subtle differences in terrior within subregions of that wine(sometimes a matter of a few miles.)
There also exists a Health and Food Advice Robot that can distinguish between thirty different kinds of wine, cheeses, and breads in order to give advice that reinforces healthy choices. And finally, there exists the prototype of a Robot that will cook you dinner.
Now, I have no qualms about letting one Robot offer me wine suggestions while another gives me health advice, and another cooks dinner. Nevertheless, I must ask the question, if scientists can do all of these things, why the hell have they yet to invent a Coffee Robot? I just don't understand!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

What Hulk Hogan Has in Common With California Chardonnay

Here it is, Friday March 7th, more than a week since my last blog entry, and still I have nothing interesting to report back. Basically I have been working like a dog in order to pay for my upcoming WSET course. Because I work nights, I haven't had many opportunities for dining out, or staying in to cook for that matter. Sad, I know. Hopefully tonight my kitchen and I will be sharing a romantic evening together, after I give it a good scrub that is.
In the meantime I thought I would share my latest Internet find, Wine Library TV ,a video wine blog hosted by the wine guzzling, cork flinging, Jets loving Gary Vaynerchuck. Gary's playful and down to earth wine descriptions - he compared the hue of a California Chardonnay to the gold locks of WWF wrestler Hulk Hogan - are elaborate, witty, and extremely accessible. He records five shows a week, and has cover such topics such as training your palette, vintage Bordeaux, Kosher wines, and many many more.

The episode below is his 416th, and is a showdown - his words - between an Oregon Pinot Gris and an Italian Pinot Grigio. Will you walk away from his blog having learned more about wine or football, wrestling, and boxing, its hard to say. What is certain is that you are gonna laugh more about wine then you ever thought was possible, and your gonna want to drink more wine, but hell, we already knew that was possible.