Monday, April 30, 2012

A Lot of Wine.

On an earlier post, I wrote that I was going to have a little soiree to celebrate my 50th birthday.  One of the festivities was to pop the corks on some older wines that I have been cellaring.  For those of you who care, I took notes.  Not so much of you, but so I would remember the next day!!!  One thing that is good about tasting with a group is that you get a lot of descriptors that you may not have thought about on your own
   or with a few people, so these are combined notes.

The reds.

                                                                               The whites.

 1975 Dom Perignon.  I don't know if it is old Doms or old champagne in general, but it frightens me when I open them and there isn't a lot of pop.  This occurred again making me nervously reminiscent of a 1970 Dom Perignon, R.D. I had opened a few years ago.  Anyway, a golden wine with tiny bubbles.  Warm citrus, vanilla, toasted hazelnuts.  Richly flavored.

1994 Verget Batard Montrachet.  I had a warning that this may be past its prime and it was.  Always have wanted to try a killer Chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France and this wasn't it, unfortunately...think it was my disappointment of the night.  Citrus, toasted almonds, creamy, but pretty nondescript.  By now, one would think I would have learned not to let wines get too old....some just don't make it.

1995 Millbrook (Hudson Valley, NY) Proprietor's Special Reserve Chardonnay.  I remember this when it was young and thought it had the stuffings to age.  Maybe not this long, but who knows.  It made a very good impression and just not because it was a Chardonnay from New York State.  Good depth of lemon, underripe mango, green apple, nuts and hints of oak.  I gotta think this could have had a 20th birthday.

1994 Ridge Geyerville.  Have had a few of these over the years and this is the last one.  Mostly Zinfandel with Carignane, Petit Sirah and Mataro.  It did have that prune-like aspect that older Zins get, but not overly so, with plum, black currants, smoke and what someone mentioned: root beer barrel candies!

1998 Torbeck "The Steading".  This still had a bit of unforgiveness to it.  It has always been a bit chewy and thought time would tame it.  An Aussie blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mouvedre.  Black fruits, smoke, earth, black licorice with some alcohol and good acid.

2000 Trentadue La Stoira.  A meritage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  There was almost a hint of sweetness to this wine the fruit still tasted bright.  Blackberries, plums, bacon, smoke, cola and a fair dose of toasted oak.  This could of sat awhile longer in the cellar, but was on the edge of saying "I could be drank tonight".

1991 Beaulieu Vineyards (probably better known as B.V.) Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon.  WOW!!  I was expecting good things but not this!!  I've read where this NEEDED to be drank from more than one source.  Um, no.  Blueberries, blackberries, chocolate, black licorice all wrapped up in an appropriate amount of oak.  Little browning at the rim.  Smooooooth.

1986 Chateau Leoville Barton.  OK, this definitely could have sat in the cellar awhile.  Black fruits, herbs, cedar, coffee, tobacco/tar and a fair dose of tannin.  Didn't see any bricking and I didn't taste anything that would make me think that this was getting into a prime drinking window.  Even though opened, but not decanted, for 3 hours, this needed more air or more time.

1982 Chateau Pichon Lalande.  The bottle I've been waiting for since I started a serious collection.  I could copy and paste pages of tasting notes from the "pros" on how this wine was near/at perfection upon release in the mid '80's and 30 years later, still is.  While I know this could probably have went to my 70th birthday......Well, they weren't wrong.  Silky, rich blackberries, black cherries, black currants, smoked meats, pencil lead and a bit of chocolate that still had great acid and medium tannins.  Damn!  Saving my pennies...I'm going to buy another.  Fabulous.

1974 Chateau Lafite Rothschild.  '74 wasn't a good year for Bordeaux, but I think I got this cheap in a mixed case at an auction.  However, it is Lafite and regardless of the year, they seem to do better than OK.  Beyond its prime, yet far from dead, it still was trademark Lafite.  Dusty black and red currants, leather, kinda fig-ish and the trademark pencil lead.  The first, but not the biggest surprise of the evening.

1962 Chateau Lynch Bages  I wanted a birthday year wine.  Lafite and Mouton were my first choices as they should have stood the test of time from a darn good 1962 vintage.  They also would have cost me 3 house payments.  I stumbled across a recently acquired stash of the L-B at a online consignment shop for less than a house payment.  A sweet nose of an array of black fruits, some leathery smoke and a great mouth feel.  The color didn't look 50 years old.  It was better condition than the '62 Lafite I had at 45.  To me, this really pushed the '82 Lalande as the wine of the night.

Now for some rieslings and dessert wines :)

1991 Willsbacher Dieblesberg Riesling.  This is a wine from our distant family member's vineyard in Germany.  It has been sitting in my cellar for a long time.  Just the capsule.  The cork was REALLY loose and I was expecting bad things.  Wrong.  Those darned German rieslings with bracing acidity and good sugar levels acted as a preservative, I guess.  I haven't commented much on how the wines smelled, but I swear I picked up blood orange.  It had an "I just bit into a soft mushy apple" flavor and flat citrus with toasted almonds, mineral, honey and caramel .  Like the '74 Lafite, past its prime but not dead.

1990 J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese  Like sucking on a zippy peach candy!!  Lord..a 21 year old riesling with this much acid is, well, WOW!  Sweet peach, apricot, orange, vanilla and hints of honeysuckle.  This is why I like to age rieslings.

1959 Pfarrgut-St. Michael Graacher Himmelsreich Feinste Auslese.  That's right...1959.  I bought this ages ago and it has just sat.  I don't why I never opened it.  The fill was about an inch from the cork which pushed right in when I applied corkscrew pressure.  As with the Willsbacher and Lafite, this was past its prime, but not dead...didn't have the "Gag, I taste like vinegar, dump me!" trait.  But what a flavor profile from a white wine!  Figs, roasted nuts, sherry, creme brulee.  On one hand it didn't taste like wine, more like a slightly sweet, but rich sherry.  And the color was golden brown. OH, and get still had a slight kick of acid/alcohol at the end.  No wonder it survived:  An Feine Auslese with 11% Alcohol!!!  One can't drink too much of this...its too much.   BIG HUGE SURPRISE of the evening!!!!

2001 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Auslese Gold Cap.  I'm going to save my last one for my death bed for it will probably age like the wine above.  From the glorious 2001 vintage, this wine tasted like it was bottled yesterday.  All the classic descriptors fit:  Apricots, honey, peach, honeysuckle, mango and hints of minerals all wrapped up in a slightly viscous and acidic wrapper.

1986 Chateau Y'Quem.  Arguably, Y'Quem is the greatest white wine on the planet.  While a sticky sweet dessert wine, I was expecting the body of the Gunderloch.  Nope.  The body was amazingly light, yet so richly steeped with orange peel, dried apricot, candied citrus, honey and flower blossoms.  Unpretentious decadence.  Too bad it was a 1/2 bottle we split between 9 people.

I think that was it for the wine.  You're saying "HOLY COW, wasn't that enough?"  Well, there was one bottle of each of the above divided by 9 people which translates into a bottle and 3/4 per person over 6 hours plus a lot of food.

After the '82 Lalande and the '62 Lynch Bages, it was hard to pick my next favorite wines.  The B.V. Cabernet, The La Storia, the Gunderloch and Y'Quem easily round out the next four but not in any particular order.  Then the Ridge Zin or the Prum Spatlese.  the Torbeck and Leoville came next as they were just stubborn and probably could have aged longer.

Even though I still have a few, random great bottles, I doubt I do a tasting with this pedigree again.  Now if someone wants to pitch in on another '82 Lalande I'm gonna be eyeballin'....

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Anybody Have A Weedwacker?

Not too long ago in Peoria's recent past, it was determined by various organizations and government that the former Kellar Branch from approximately downtown, through the North Valley and Peoria Heights, working its way past Junction City and Knoxville Avenue on its way to meet up with the Rock Island Trail in Alta was better served as a biking/walking trail than a railroad.

While various tactics were used to get this rail line vacated, its upkeep by Pioneer Railcorp and Central Illinois Railway was brought into question, including weeds growing in the lines.  OH, MY!!!  My first thought was to search well researched blog of C.J. Summers in attempt to find who the weed complainants were. However, I don't have all day (no offense to Mr. Summers; it would probably be an easy search) I'm going to guess it was (and my sincere apologies if I'm wrong) either the City of Peoria, Village of Peoria Heights or some faction of the Rails to Trails people or someones associated with aforementioned groups.

Fast forward to today.

A little photo session, if you will:

The first photo is taken from NE Madison, across a tiny park area and Abington Street.  The tracks/future trail seem well maintained.  City, Park District, Neighborhood Association?  But picture two taken from Abington.  OHH, MYYY.  Hmmm....what are those?  WEEDS! That's right, don't be afraid, just shout 'em right out when you know 'em. And what is being hidden by those weeds?  The railway.  And what appears to be between this weed infested ex-rail line and the trees?  A TRAIL!  HOLY!  A trail besides a rail line?  Genius!!  Why didn't anyone think of THAT?  OK, not the trail PROMISED us (I don't think) by various groups of pro-trail advocates, nor probably legal.  However, I did have to wait several minutes to take this picture as there were people using the unsanctioned North Valley section of the trail as I didn't want to have them sign waiver forms. The bird is just going to have to sue me. 

So, it wasn't OK for Central Illinois Rail or Pioneer Rail to have weeds growing in the tracks, but it is OK for the current owners.  I wonder how long it will take for this section to look like the section north of Glen Avenue?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Year 50 In Preview

Well, this year marks my 50th birthday. I don't know where all the years have gone. I know a few of them I just felt lost after closing my restaurant; things just didn't make sense in life. But besides that, I've done, seen and been to some pretty cool things in my life. So, for this next year starting this month, I want to do at least one thing that I really enjoy doing, haven't done before or haven't been before. At the moment, the list is small, but I'm always searching.

This month finds me finally cracking open (among other bottles) my single, fabled bottle of 1982 Chateau Pichon Lalande...the wine most "experts" rated 97-100 points upon release and still rated that today. The thing is; most agree the wine hasn't changed that much in its 30 years existence which is kind of unheard of.

May finds me at a Chickenfoot concert. Have been a Hagar fan since about the time he released the Red album (which I have on vinyl). Hagar, along with equally booted from Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, uberguitarist Joe Satriani and Kenny Arnoff (replacing Chad Smith who is on tour with his "real" band the Red Hot Chile Peppers) on drums round out the group.

No plans for June. Lots going on at work that month, so it may be tough.

July. My concert bucket list was completed last year by seeing rock legend Bob Seger. While there are musicians I would really like to see, I won't have regrets about not seeing them. One of those is blues guitarist Ana Popovic who will be a small drive to go see. While I'm sure there are a lot of guy guitarists who could put her to shame, she plays a slide and wah pedal together as well or better than anyone and she definitely LOOKS better than the guys....

August: see June, but definitely would like to spend some time with mom and dad around their 53rd wedding anniversary. Even though with their health and vitality, I'm sure they have a great shot at seeing 60, every year, unfortunately, time gets shorter that this yearly event will re-occur.

September. Sometime during the week, I want to head to Hermann, MO. I've been there a zillion times, but I love that little town and all the wineries. Hate going down during the Oktoberfest madhouse that occurs the next month.

October:, not banking insurance. Acronyms for a Hagar era Van Halen tune.

November: Yet another concert of someone who I'd like to see, but wasn't on the CBL: Joe Bonamassa

December: June & August repeat

For 2013, just too far away to plan, but....

Things I'd like to do that I think I'll slip in somewhere: I have a new passion for good bourbon and currently it is Eagle Rare 10 year old Single barrel. I'm sensing a roadtrip to Kentucky for a distillery tour.

When the leaves start changing, I think it would be cool to take 5 days to run from Mississippi Palasides State Park/Savana, IL to Grafton, IL along various roads along the Mississippi River Bluffs and come back on Route 100 along the Illinois River Bluffs.

 I doubt the big remaining 5 on my "places I'd like to see/see again" bucket list will occur, but one never knows. Don't see the available time factor for New Orleans/Avery Island, Germany (relatives, family vineyard and get to the Matterhorn in Switzerland), Seattle/Washington Wine Region, Grand Canyon/Hoover Dam and St. Lucia (which is weird that I want to go to one of the few tropical islands in the northern hemisphere when I'm not a fan of heat).

Well, that is it. Got to make the next 50 as cool as the first......