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.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Riviera Maya

Carol and I enjoy good Mexican food.  However finding such a place in NJ is not an easy task, so when friends Lynn and David suggested we join them for dinner recently at Riviera Maya in Bogota, NJ we quickly accepted.  This quaint little BYOB lived up to the accolades our friends
handed out about all aspects of the restaurant.  We found the food to be authentic and delicious, the service courteous and professional and the price very, very reasonable.  We will return.

We began the evening with Guacomole prepared fresh at our table side and served with home made chips.  The Guacamole was miles better than the ersatz dip one usually finds in other so-called authentic Mexican restaurants.

David and I followed this with homemade soups, Chicken Noodle & Vegetable Soup for me and Black Bean Soup for him.  They were fresh and delicious.  With these dishes we drank a superb German Riesling from the Mosel-Sarr that David brought along, 2011 Selbach-Oster - Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett.  Kabinett designated wines usually contain the least amount of sugar and therefore are preferred by those, like myself, who prefer a drier wine as opposed to a sweeter one.  This bottle drank with finesse and elegance and had a monster finish. It is available for $22 (ridiculous bargain) at 56º Wine, Bernardsville, NJ.

The other was 2008 Olivier Horiot Rosé Des Riceys “En Valingrain” a superb Rosé wine from the town of Les Riceys, in the southern-most part of the Champagne region of France, the Côte des Bar in the Aube department.  This is an incredible single-vineyard (Valingrain) Rosé made from 100% Pinot Noir that possessed terrific acidity, balance and complexity on the palate.  A bit pricey for a Rosé at $42 a bottle, it is well worth it.  Crush Wine & Spirits, NYC.

For entrées our wives both ordered one of the evening's specials, Camarones (Shrimp) with Mangoes and Plantains. Both nodded in agreement that the dish was a beautifully prepared and a wonderful combination of ingredients and flavors.

David and I opted for Chile Rellenos.  Mine was the more traditional type, a Polbano Pepper stuffed with Ground Beef, and served with rice, beans, lettuce and guacamole.  It was simply delicious.  The pepper was perfectly cooked and the filling was moist and full of flavor.

David selected the Chili Relleno Special, Chile Relleno Ne Nogada, which on this night was a Poblano pepper, stuffed with pork, nuts and fruits and topped with pomegranate seeds and served with black beans and rice.  He was as enthusiastic with his dish as I was with mine.

I thought that a traditionally made Spanish Rioja wine would complement our meal so I brought along a 2001 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904. According to Chris Cree, owner of 56º Wine, "the wine was bottled in June of 2006 and has been quietly maturing in the bodega's cellars for the last six and a half years before being released."  It paired beautifully with our food.  Here was a Classic Rioja that showed off a fabulous bouquet and a deep red hue.  This was pure elegance and finesse in the glass, and very reminiscent of Lopez de Heredia. A wine with soul!  $55 at 56º Wine.

A delicious Flan (not pictured) finished a thoroughly enjoyable meal.  Thanks David and Lynn for introducing us to Riviera Maya.


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