Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blast From The Past

On vacation in Maine and stumbled across a TIME magazine from July 7, 1961. Back then you could get an entire year of TIME for $7, bet that doesn't cover the shipping anymore. But before you assume I'm going to start talking about the good old days (and this was published years before I was born), allow me to share an advertisement found inside this edition.

In the background a somewhat serious Steve McQueen-type holds a smiling blonde while she leans back to have the light catch a glass of red wine and her ample bosom. Focus closer and you'll find badly drawn (now it would be digitally normalized) male hands, one holds a glass of red wine and the other a grilling fork. The chef wears, what else, a chef's hat, which looks like an ambitious muffin, while leering at the middle of another woman's back.

I can only surmise they were not all in the studio together, hence the somewhat misplaced gaze. There is no background of any kind.

Observer's eyes follow his toward another glass of red wine, being held up to the lips of an attractive woman. She exudes all-American girl right down to a checked shirt a la Mary-Ann on Gilligan's Island (not on TV yet) and bowl-cut-with-panache so typical of the time. The chef appears genuinely enamored of his luck to be cooking for her and if they are anything other than employer/employee, I echo the feeling. His face displays beginnings of doughy sections expected from those further along in age, especially in the chin which might once have jutted and been called chiseled. The chef's extravagant nose protrudes beautifully for this ad since it catches more light and helps guide the viewer's eye to the true focus of the full page spread.

The Mary-Ann character arches her brows somewhat expectantly and perfectly shows an anticipatory smile as she prepares to have some Taylor Burgundy with her hamburger.
[Note: The hamburger appears to be naked except for the bun. Further note: Why the chef has a fork while cooking burgers is completely beyond me].

The copy reads as follows:
"It's a Taylor wine and you'll love it! Vineyard-rich, ruby-red Taylor New York State Burgundy adds glamour and glory to the moment...and to the menu, whether you're supping out under the sycamores...or by soft candlelight. For family meals, entertaining, or when you dine out, choose from Taylor's famous array of wines. Ask your wine merchant for helpful Taylor booklets."

I have no idea what vineyard-rich means but it reminds me more of manure than something I want in my glass. Please notice also that no mention of taste appears. I applaud their restraint in waxing poetic and their honesty in not trying to make this wine something it could never even aspire to be but the audacity of boldly labeling the wine "New York State Burgundy" baffles, amazes and frightens all at once. It's no wonder we get so confused about wine.

Coming soon: Some stories of blatant fraud involving Champagne...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Les Traverses de Fontanes 2009

A  relatively new production from the winemaker at Chateau La Roque, in Pic-St-Loup, Cyriaque Rozier has produced a lovely summer red.  Despite it being Cabernet Sauvignon from 40 year old vines, the wine retains a freshness and happy mouth fell more reminiscent of other varieties.  In fact, if a Cabernet drinker wants a glass the offering may fall short. 

Deep berry jam, fresh though, not the sugary, grocery-store stuff, with some fresh herbs and lots of cherry on the nose.  There is a bit a whiff of earth past that, but as fresh as can be on a sunny day without rain for two weeks.  A hint of nuttiness implying old oak, but Kermit's site, and my memory, say it is all stainless steel.  Fine, fresh tannins and acid make this a perfect red wine for chilling and cocktails.  Feel free to try this with cheese and crackers on the deck (firmer cheeses would be better) and simple grilled foods as well, including some richer fish and vegetables.  Excellent burger wine!  $12-$15.  Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Three Great Summer Rieslings

Merkelbach Kinheimer Rosen Riesling Kabinett 2009 - I mean this in the nicest way possible, the wines always remind me of water. By this I mean, crystalline mountain stream water that fells good on the feet on a hot summer day and tastes even better, soothing and shocking your palate at the same time. The soothe cools a hot head on tasty days and the shock comes from the double take you will make on the finish. How can a wine so seemingly light, quaffable and innocuous last so long? I challenge you to not tip this bottle straight to your lips after yard work. The ultimate in elegant Mosel wines. Think unctuous but racy, ethereal yet persistent, simple wine to slosh back but it will subtly wine you over. Plenty of acid balances out the remaining sugar. Not bone dry by any means but delicious and a perfect substitute for beer or an aperitif on the patio. $14-$17

Leitz Ein Zwei Dry '3' Riesling 2009 - From the Rheingau, this is a newish wine from a stellar producer. Let me admit that I do not, as a rule, enjoy dry German rieslings. That does not mean I only like the dessert wines only that I find the truly dry versions to offer hints of the juicy fruits I enjoy but they fade too fast for me. The finishes feel clipped instead of broad and expansive. There have been more enjoyable versions of late and this is one of them. I find guava here, sorry for the geeky reference, but it screamed guava to me. The wine is noticeably tactile, even approaching thickness on the palate. As it finishes, it becomes zippy and more expressive that on the mid-palate. Well done, and would pair wonderfully with myriad vegetables and gently spicy shellfish. $13-$15

Christoffel Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett 2009 - This Mosel producer makes expressive wines with more oomph and pizazz than many neighbors without sacrificing the delicious slurpability that marks the appellation. They receive a premium for the effort. While I complain under my breath I freely acknowledge it's money well spent. This bottling offers hints of tropicality and spring blossoms and the somewhat linear feel on the palate blooms on the finish. the most striking aspect of the wine for me is it's near crunchy feel on the palate. Almost like unpasteurized honey or homemade preserves the wine feels special and the taste follows. Lovely. $22-$25

Note: All wines are Terry Theise selection imported through Michael Skurnik. Also, they are all 2009 vintage, some labels pictured here do not correspond.