About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Carol's Birthday

Last week we celebrated my lovely wife’s xxth birthday with friends and family.

Sunday, June 8: Da Benito Ristorante, Union, NJ.  This is actually the day before her birthday, but it was the perfect time to gather the family and two of our best friends and go to one of our favorite NJ restaurants and celebrate the day with her.  In addition to great food and a good wine list, they have a large private room that is perfect for smaller parties, especially with small children.


Osso Buco
Veal Chop
Orrechiette with Arugula & Tomato
Wild Salmon
Veal Scallopine 
Tomato Papparadelle w/ fava & shrimp

2006 Huet Le Mont Sec Vouvray.  In my opinion Huet makes some of the most compelling white wines in the world, under the direction of winemaker Noel Piguet.  Made from 100% Chenin Blanc the wine had a viscous and stony palate with vibrant fruit and an embracing acidity that will enable this to last for a couple of decades.  Current vintages will cost under $30 a bottle and are widely available. Unfortunately Piguet quit the domain in 2012 after disagreements with new estate owners, the Hwang family.  Time will tell if this has any negative effects on the wine.

1999 Isole e Olena Cepparello from magnum.  As I wrote in my previous post, Tuscany in The City, Paolo De Marchi is credited with elevating the status of the wines in the Chianti Classico region.  Crafted from 100% Sangiovese grapes the wine simply soared from the glass filling the nose with a compelling earthy bouquet.  It danced on the palate like a marvelous choreographed ballet and finished with a soft elegance that lingered for almost a minute.  A magnificent wine with tons of soul.  This vintage will be hard to find, but the 2010 vintage is widely available at $60 per 750ml bottle.

Monday, June 9: Ocha, Caldwell, NJ.  Carol’s actual birthday.  We dined and celebrated quietly at this excellent Japanese-Asian restaurant.

Tempura fried Rock Shrimp with raspberry sauce

Pan Fried Pork Gyoza; Yellowtail with Jalepeno and Wasabi Ponzu Sauce; Tuna and Eel Sushi; Miso Black Cod with sautéed mixed vegetables.

2012 Pascal Cotat Sancerre Chavignol La Grande Cote. Made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc this Sancerre had a gorgeous yellow hue, wonderful acidity and a vibrant stony minerality that danced on the palate and finished with considerable length.  $44.  NY Wine Warehouse.

We completed her birthday on Wednesday, June 11 going to the matinee of the fantastic Broadway musical, Beautiful about the legendary Carole King.  This is a must see musical that is on a par with Jersey Boys.  Fantastic music (especially the 50’s music) and spectacular performances by the cast, especially Jessie Mueller who’s performance as Carole King won her this years best performance by a leading actress in a musical.

We dined that evening at Barchetta, the new Italian Seafood restaurant recently opened by David Pasternack of Esca fame.  The menu is similar to that at Esca, focusing on pristinely fresh seafood and homemade pastas.  Carol passed on an appetizer, while I jumped in with both feet for the evening’s selection of six Crudo (raw fish).  David’s Crudo will make you forget Sushi as each piece is impeccably fresh and dressed differently.  A spectacular combination of taste and textures on the palate.  The first three selections consisted of (left to right),  Halibut belly – smoldered bamboo salt; Montauk cod – Muscat grape; Copper River Sockeye salmon – wildflowers.

The second three selections consisted of (left to right), Spanish Mackerel - Riesling poached raisin;   Amberjack - Gaeta Olive aioli; Seatrout – crushed pistachios.  

For main courses we both opted for pasta with lobster.  Carol had the homemade Fettucine tossed with local lobster, English peas, spring onions and sorrel.  A tour de force of perfectly cooked pasta and lobster.

I choose homemade Bucatini with scallops, lobster and house cured bacon in a light and sweet tomato sauce.  Scrupmtous.  Unfortunately photo blurred so I omitted it.

The wine list here is terrific and features a number of wines from lesser known artisan producers.  I consulted with wine director George Hock on a selection for our meal.  He recommended a bottle of 2008 Chateau Simone Palette Blanc from the Provence region of France.  It was a great choice and my first experince with the wine. The wine is based primarily on Clairette and is supplemented with Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Ugni Blanc and a touch of Muscat Blanc.  I loved the stony minerality and complexity of the wine.  It reminded me of a Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Blanco Riserva with its enticing bouquet, vibrant fruit and luscious finish.  It complemented the meal beautifully.  

After dinner George treated us to a glass of 1988 Chateau d’Arche Sauternes that drank beautifully.  It had a rich lush palate and long finish.

Happy birthday Carol!


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