Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thanksgiving Part 3

Part three of my west coast swing brought me down to LA to have Thanksgiving with my oldest friend and his fiancé. She is Croatian and this was her first stab at a Thanksgiving meal. She did a pretty good job too.

This was an interesting couple of days because the folks I saw are not wine geeks at all (unlike in SF), but folks who like wine but don’t pay the obsessive amount of attention to it that I do. It’s always interesting to see what they like and don’t.

2004 Luberri Rioja Seis
I’ve liked the 2005 better than this vintage. It just seems a bit diffuse and ripe, but is a decent enough drop I suppose. No one really complained about it.

2004 Ferrando Carema
This was easily the class of the evening and the universal favorite. It’s funny, but I have long insisted that at the table folks will recognize real wine even in the company of wines that are more mainstream, for lack of a better word. This was a case in point. It showed a level of gentleness I wouldn’t have expected of young Ferrando white label. What is so interesting about this wine is that it gives the red fruits of nebbiolo, but then veers somewhere different from its Barolo cousins, more towards a sprinkling of herbs and flowers with a light and airy nature that makes me think of its Alpine home without loosing drive and maintaining clout. A neat trick.

2005 Seavey Napa Valley cabernet Caravina
This was awful. Couldn’t even finish the bottle even though we only had 3 bottles for 5 people.

The next night a good friend from graduate school and his wife joined us for dinner at restaurant 2117 in Santa Monica. A couple things about this meal. First, it was throwback food from the early 90s. Asian fusion and with that sort of presentation, the décor was on the dim side too. However, the food was top notch in it’s idiom, and I really appreciated the lightness of touch on the dishes. They were all extraordinarily wine friendly, even to subtle wines and priced very fairly. Thanks to Dan Fredman for taking me here the first time.

2000 Blain-Gagnard Chassagne 1er La Boudriotte
I thought this could go either way and was pretty happy that it went very much in the positive direction. A nice dollop of oak spice over the top to crown some nice, racy, Chassagne fruit that seemed to be mid-way through it’s first phase of life. It’s a place I like my white Burgundy, still with some youthful fruit, vigor and cut, but old enough to have developed some complexity.

2006 Albert Boxler Sommerberg Riesling
This started out seeming a bit sweet and clunky, but breed always shows, and such breed it is. I’ve said before that I think that Boxler’s Sommerberg may be the best wine made in Alsace, and for me, it is hard to think of a wine that I find more stimulating. Seems silly to laundry list the complexity of this wine so if you like wine of depth, character, balance and precision, then this is a wine for you.

2006 Gonon St.-Joseph
This sort of got lost in the shuffle with so many other wines showing so strongly and being surprises. Very clean and defined syrah nose. Not all smoked bacon but a nice blend of an umami meatiness that was mineral inflected and had good lift. I can see why folks like it so much. Something I’ll be seeking out in the future.

1987 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Bosché Vineyard
Another gamble and another great showing. Old-school Napa cabernet in the best sense in that it only carried 12.8% alcohol and maintained a lovely balance throughout the evening between ripe fruit, tannin and just a hint of snap. It wasn’t the least bit ashamed of showing some herbaceousness, and we were grateful for how that complimented the food. This really scratched an itch for me as I really don’t hate California cabernet sauvignon, it’s just that I don’t recognize it anymore. I guess I’m a Goldwater Republican, I didn’t leave the party, the party left me. It was at its apex now but should hold well for 5 years or more.


slaton said...

I had a wonderful bottle '04 Ferrando Carema a few weeks ago. Savored it over a few days and it scarcely budged, development wise. Was yours out of magnum? I have this somewhat besotted memory of you leaving Terroir with a magnum of it in your hand, but that might have been Kraft.

Have you tasted '01 Sella Lessona recently? I like how that wine has developed over the last year.

Cépage said...

What the hell? You left Reno out of your west coast swing?

the vlm said...


That was Kraft with the mag. I think the Lessona is a drink soon-ish sort of wine. I don't think I've had it since the summer, but that has been my impression.

Was in Seattle for work then down to Cali to visit Dani and to LA to T-Day. Besides, how many times have I been to Reno? You need to get your ass to Cackalak!

tin said...

Croatian Thanksgiving? Whatever next...Anyway, glad you liked Gonon 06, which I think is pretty amazing. If you want a monster of a St. Joseph try their 03 - which is teeth staining, almost port like beast of a wine. Or their 04 for really nice ballance of fruit and minerals (almost Cornas like).

tin said...

Typo not 04, 05 instead. Sorry.

the vlm said...


Good to hear from you. Well, it was a Croatian cooking an American Thanksgiving.

I don't think I gave the Gonon as much attention as I would have liked, but my impression was very solidly positive. This seems to be the St. Joseph of the moment.