Oct 10

plum oakland

Daniel Patterson’s newest, a sleek but comfortable space in Oakland, is a nice intro to his food.  While I still greatly prefer Coi in San Francisco, you can have a great meal for $100 and still feel you had a great experience.

We had 6 plates, 2 great, 2 good, and 2 we wouldn’t order again.  The great ones were the beef cheek and oxtail burger and the artichoke terrine, both outstanding.  The roasted pork dish was very good, mostly because I’m a sucker for vadouvan, as was the roasted new potatoes with lardo.  What was most surprising about the meal was how disappointing the snacks were.  The deviled eggs were runny and bland, the chickpea fritters not flavorful.

Wines were mostly by the glass and interesting…what I liked was how they studiously avoided heavy reds, and even those that sounded heavy (the nebbiolo and the red burgundy) were of a lighter style.  The gruner was either deeply flawed or we had a dirty glass.  The falanghina blend was a nice complement to the food.

All in all a great introduction to Chef Patterson’s cuisine.  When you are ready to spend 4 times more, go to Coi.


Oct 10

quince san francisco

[Writing my restaurant impressions now too because...I can.]

4th visit since they moved to the new location.  Did the tasting menu this time and wasn’t disappointed.  Started with a wonderful albacore and salad, moved into a surprisingly sweet cheese-filled pasta, then the highlight showed up.  A version of carbonara, with shaved white truffle and black truffle in the sauce.  Absolutely heavenly.  The main course was great, but almost a letdown from the carbonara pasta.

As usual, a tremendous wine list, with many affordable and obscene options.  We went with a Fiano (Terredora, Fiano di Avellino “Terre di Dora,” Campania) for the first two courses, quite reasonably priced and proving once again that Campania whites are the best food whites anywhere.  We went with a Barbaresco (Barbaresco “Martinenga,” Marchesi di Gresy) for the main course, which was very nice, again complementing the food nicely.


Oct 10

2004 truchard cabernet sauvignon carneros

An interesting wine, one of the few cabs from so far south in napa.  Had a very “grapey” character to it, one that softened over 45-60 minutes to what could only be describes as a Carneros-style cab.  Grape turned to more of a dried cherry character, tannins stayed moderate and unassuming, and ultimately it stayed a servicable wine throughout the bottle.  While it was never outstanding, it was enjoyable.  Probably would have benefitted from decanting.

Drink now through 2015.  Still can find it for under $40 at a few stores online.  Their 2007 is only $35 or 3 for $90.  A tremendous value.

And that’s what I love about Truchard…solid, enjoyable wines with some backbone for under $40.  Their Rhone white wines are stellar.  And the winery is a great place to visit, especially in summer when you can sit outside and taste.

Oct 10

1990 mayacamas cabernet sauvignon

The Iconic Mayacamas M

The Iconic Mayacamas M

A tasting of early 70′s mayacamas was my first truly mature red wine, back in the early 90′s.  So I have a special place for them.

This 1990 wine still had some interesting character, primarily a bit of raspberry and some classic pre-Parker extraction levels.  But it was at least a couple of years past its peak, possibly more.  I have  a magnum of the same wine which I will open soon and compare.

On opening, it had a short-lived flush of fruit, which faded quickly into a relatively thin wine.  Part of what I crave in older reds is the unctuous glycerine, but I’m starting to realize I only seem to find it in older Bordeaux.  Oh well.  The several hundred reds from the mid to late 90′s in my cellar will be a test over the next several years.

Drink now.  I have a 1984 somewhere too, and it looks like I really need to drink it soon.

Aug 10

2004 martinelli chardonnay “zio tony ranch”

Martinelli WineryInteresting to contrast this with the Martinelli Road I had last week.  Out of the bottle, much more balanced with less aggressive oak.  Still a monster, but with more restraint.  Nice notes of caramel and a hint of crisper fruit (pear and apple), coming together quickly in a wine very similar to the Martinelli Road but far better balanced and more food-appropriate. 

Only downside is its age.  Whereas the Martinelli Road still has the stuffing for a couple more years, this is at or just past its peak and should be drunk now.  After about 20 minutes, the initial fruit started fading, and the wine weakened throughout the midpalate and finish tapered off.

Bottles can still be found online, but only a few.

Drink now.

Aug 10

2004 martinelli chardonnay “martinelli road”

Still in great shape.  Oak/Toast is strong, but with some time the wine comes into a bit of balance.  But still in the big, oaky style that doesn’t pair well with anything other than rich, cream-based dishes.  Probably better as a stand-alone wine.  Likely will hold up through end of 2011.

Appears to be a fair amount still available - worth picking up if you like this style.


Jul 10

Aubert AND Sea Smoke!

Was excited to get my Aubert Pinot allocation yesterday, then, to my surprise, I finally got on the Sea Smoke list. Will post notes at the end of the year…

Sep 09

2005 robert sinskey pinot gris late harvest

Very apple and spice out of the bottle.  Not overtly sweet.  Has promise, but turns oddly bitter after a few minutes.  Started to smooth out a little at 30 minutes, but still very rough overall.  A difficult wine to enjoy, never coming together.  Some honey notes come in at 45-50 minutes, but not enough to pull it together.  Not sure when it will be any good, but since I have a few more bottles I’ll try it again in 6 months.

Overall Impression: Not very much fun to drink.

Peak Years: Maybe over?  Hard to tell.

Peak Time After Opening: None

Winery: http://www.robertsinskey.com/

Local Source:  I wouldn’t recommend it.

Aug 09

williams selyem release today

Another wave in the fall release season. Lots of single vineyard pinots – can’t wait to try them.  Never too late to get on the mailing list.

Aug 09

1999 michel schlumberger cabernet sauvignon

Michael Schlumberger label

Michael Schlumberger label

First 10 minutes were astringent and kind of tired.  But then green pepper and blackberry notes started coming through and it began to come into balance.  At 30-35 minutes, cocoa, graphite, and cherry joined the green pepper.  At 50, the fruit fades and the tannins and alcohol heat reassert themselves.  Finally settles into a classic mature cab at about 55 minutes.  The seems to fall apart again at 70 minutes.  A tough wine to pin down.  At times it tasted young, other it seemed over.  I’ll probably decant the bottles I have left.

Overall Impression: Nice at times, but uneven and finds balance for a short time.

Peak Years: Probably now, with maybe 3 more years at most

Peak Time After Opening: 55-70 min.

Winery: http://www.michelschlumberger.com/

Local Source:  You can buy the 2001 or 1998 reserve from the winery.  The 1999 can be found from a few sources on Winezap