Deep breath….. We have all been subject to the wine “experts” telling us when we should drink our wine, “Drink this in five years, that in one, and that wine over there– in twenty five years!!! Listen, i get why they do this, but it’s only a guess and rarely do they actually turn out to be right. Nobody knows for sure how a wine will develop in the bottle over time–not even the winemakers; and the humble ones will admit that. So the next time your favorite wine gets blasted for being under the cloak of an “off vintage”–don’t listen to the “experts”. Many of the most compelling wine drinking adventures in my life have come from dismissed vintages. What exactly does off vintage even mean!?!? For starters, I think the term is way overused and does an incredible injustice to the essence and beauty of wine– in my opinion. I say, if all you want is “classic vintages” in your cellar, then you are not a wine lover, but a wine snob and also a status seeker. Anyway, most of the vintages crowned classic often produce very ripe, lush, loud wines which are qualities favored by most influential wine critics as being superior and of utmost importance. We all know its not that simple. The pleasure which I derive from cellaring my particular favorites in every vintage, is to witness the mysterious and beautiful evolution of mother nature’s honest imprint on wine. Exhale.
Great example. Recently, I landed a huge victory by purchasing the last few bottles of the 2000 Alain Michaud Brouilly Prestige de Vielles Vignes(Becky Wasserman) from a nyc retailer. This wine has it all. Charm combined with power and confidence. Very rare. And if I would have listened to all the commercial journals and American wine pundits…… then this wine would have been drunk up and gone many years back. Brouilly leads the Bojo appellation under vine, and in production. Most Brouilly is fragrant, delicate and made in a drink me up now style. However, the Prestige de Vielles Vignes bottling comes from vineyards planted back in 1910!!!! You do the math. This is true “Old Vines”. The wine showed astounding muscle and grace; aromatically brilliant and full throttle earthiness on the palate. A true vin de garde that I would not hesitate keeping in the cellar for another twenty years. But that’s just a guess, and never to be taken for the truth.
“And those people who would always drink the Musigny over a Monthelie no matter what they have on their plate are not wine lovers. They are status seekers.”-Kermit Lynch
For the fifth or sixth time, I am reading Lynch’s book Adventures on the Wine Route. I learn something new each time I pick it up. A mark of a classic, right? And as my perspectives on life and wine have altered in the past five years(obvious), Adventures on the Wine Route has grown exponentially with meaning and symbolism. When I revisit in 5 years, I will chuckle at the youthful, idealistic scribble I have jotted next to passages like the one above. The book is poetic, humble, and full of character–much like the wines Kermit has been importing for the last three decades.
(photo via nytimes)
When pairing wine and food, I am always thinking regionally; and so should you. There is a reason why Crottin de Chavignol and Sauvignon from the left bank are wedded for eternity. So, two days back when I bought a whole brook trout, garlic,anchovies/pine nuts(whole foods market) and spinach from the Union Square Greenmarket–I knew exactly which wine would be served. Actually, I had no choice in the matter because fresh fish+garlic+olive oil+pine nuts+greens= southern French red. You could do a white as well, like a herbal Cotes du Rhone Blanc; but the damp nyc weather requires a savory red.
I chose a charming bottle of the 2006 Chateau Coupe Roses Minervois ‘la bastide‘($12-$17Vintage 59 Imports). Several years ago, I worked almost an entire harvest with Coupe Roses–something like three and a half weeks. The work was demanding, both physically and mentally. Nevertheless, an amazing experience which has shaped my attitudes towards the supremacy of artisan wine making. Their vineyards are some of the highest in the appellation and the wines are marked with better balance and perfume than most– the main reason why they compliment food so well. The “la bastide” is an approachable blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan. Savory and feminine. Dark, yet bright. Drink cool to the touch, like I used to after a long day of work under the Mediterranean sun.
After spending several months in hibernation, I am back! Obviously, many of you have abandoned Jaime Brockway and I cannot blame you for this. A blog without updates is like industrial wine–dead and depressing. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if my readership in the future consists of just my jewish grandmother. Though, she would be happier if I were a lawyer in Brooklyn.
The other night I met a dear friend of mine at Ten Bells wine bar in the Lower East Side(Broome Street btwn Ludlow and Orchard). It was my first time and I was delighted with the entire experience. The restaurant is dark, inviting, and warm. It was a perfect choice for a sub-zero evening in nyc. The crowd is mixed, but the chatter of the french language is noticeable and pleasant. The entire menu(including wine) is posted on a rustic chalkboard against the wall. I like the look and idea, but practically it’s very inconvenient in a wine bar with no overhead lights and a few sporadic candles. Nevertheless, the wine list includes many of my favorites like Thierry Puzelat and Alice and Oliver Demoor(Louis/Dressner). I had one glass of the nutty, old vine Sauvignon Blanc from Claude Courtois(Jenny and Francois $8. by the glass) I beleive the vintage was 2004. And two lively glasses of Non-Vintage bubbly Melon de Bourgogne from Marc Pesnot(Jenny and Francois $8. by the glass) Both wines paired nicely with the homemade duck rillette. Ten Bells is the type of approachable, innovative wine bar which could inspire a lot of flowery praise. Thankfully, it’s only about a 15 minute subway ride from my flat.
Eating well can be cheap. It’s a cinch. Pan-fried fish, garnished with fresh herbs, takes no more than 10 minutes. We all have ten minutes to prepare a home cooked meal. No excuses.The below recipe was, as usual, inspired by Alice Waters and her marvelous book titled The Art of Simple Food.
First, pour yourself a cool, herby glass of the 2006 Gerard Villet Arbois Chardonnay(Savio SoaresSelections $22). The round texture of the wine is a nicejuxtaposition to the cut and precision of this dish. Serve this wine cool, but not cold. The warmth of the room will reveal its subtle secrets.
Heat a heavy bottomed pot with olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is sizzling, toss in a fillet of stripedbass, skin side down, for 6 minutes. Then flip and cook for another minute or until done. On the side, whisk in a bowl 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 1/4 cup olive oil, and two teaspoons of fresh lime juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Once the fish is done, drizzle the lemon vinaigrette over a plate and position fish directly on top, skin side up. Chop up 1/4 cup of mixed fresh herbs like chervil,cilantro, or basil. Sprinkle over fish.
Simple. Rustic. Translucent. Flavorful. Fulfilling. Affordable.
When I start writing about Cassis Blanc, you can be pretty certain the temperatures in the city have climbed well above 32 degrees; and in a few weeks, a pot of Mediterranean fish stew will be doing its shimmy on my stove top.Friends, isn’t there something magical about a kitchen flooded with aromas of fennel, garlic, and the sea?! Kermit Lynch would probably say that such things inspire thirst–and I could not agree more.Nevertheless, this week I had an inspiring sip of the 2006 Clos Ste. Magdeleine Cassis Blanc( $30-$32,Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant). The vineyards of Clos Ste.
Magdeleine abut the salty Mediterranean and provide a wonderful amphitheater for ripening the Marsanne, Ugni Blanc, and Clairette varieties found in the final blend. My tasting notes are replete with flowery adjectives and high praise. Savory and briny are two which come to mind. I suggest you pop a bottle in your ice bucket, close your eyes, and get ready to be transported to the bright vineyards of southern France. I wish I were there now. This wine will sing next to a cool plate of something raw and from the sea.
(photo via Mediterranean food recipes dot com)
Hey all, you have probably noticed my lack of creative inspiration on Jaime Brockway. Certainly, I am still imbibing, cooking, and reflecting–but I have been in no mood to express through words these events and share with others on the net. Sometimes I guess, in a selfish way, I want to keep these special moments just for me and those I directly share them with. So, for an indefinite period of time I will step away from Jaime Brockway. Alternatively, you can view my other blog which highlights my life in new york city through pictures,poetry, and other bizarre ramblings. It has nothing to do with wine. Click on this to be linked to my other blog, In my head.
The 2007 Clos Roche Blanche Touraine Cabernet(Louis/Dressner $17.00) is a sexy, luscious effort by Catherine and Didier.
The wine offers up oodles of slutty fruit, licorice, tar, smoke, chocolate, caramel, kirsch, ripe cherries, caramel, scorched earth, sweet candied fruit pie and underbrush. Note inspired by Robert Parker.
Oh….. my…… goodness. This wine is so–so beautiful. Do you love a generous, feminine perfume? A buoyant, lively palate? Licking rocks? Connecting with the beauty of nature and man through wine? Supporting wine growers on a family scale? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you must try this wine. Let it breath. Drink cool.