Wino Photos are Fun

I’ve finally got a decent camera in my phone. Not that I’m abandoning my Nikon or anything, but this does mean more spontaneous pics to share. To wit:

Check out those tartrates!

fingernail in a wine bottle

Is it me, or is that a fingernail floating in the neck of this wine? The label *did* say that this wine was bottled unfiltered. Maybe that means the grapes were trod by foot, in which case, well, I’ll let you speculate about that…

Ever wonder what’s in a wino’s recycling bin?

A weekend’s consumption: canellini beans (tossed with tuna and sauteed dandelion greens), Ridge 2001 Buchignani Ranch Zinfandel (with 15% carignan, from 80 year old vines), Movia 2006 Pinot Grigio (natural wine from Slovenia), several cans of Modelo Especiale (class).

Recalibrating My Palate

…Etc.

Maybe it’s because I had an excellent yoga class earlier tonight, but I’m suddenly in a mood to recalibrate a few things in my life. Starting with my palate. Although that’s more of a work excuse than anything else. After a long break from tasting wine at Wine & Spirits, I’m about to start regular panel tastings again tomorrow. And here in San Francisco, that means all North American wine, all the time.

For various reasons, I’ve had a long break in what is normally a long and intense tasting stretch (the most recent tasting cycle pushed 1,000 by my most recent count, if not more). Thank god that number is spread out over several weeks and not, as shown by Jamie Goode over at his blog, concentrated into the two grueling weeks of the International Wine Challenge in London. (Jamie, btw, I’m available to judge next year.)

As part of that long break, I’ve been drinking mostly European wine (and of that, mostly Italian), and without going into the details, it’s been quite lovely. Tonight though, I wanted something from California, and taking that theme further, I wanted zinfandel. Not my usual choice, I know, but I think I might be a closet zin lover, a log cabin member of ZAP, as it were (kidding).

But what I pulled out of the cellar wasn’t entirely zin, and damned if it doesn’t taste downright Mediterranean. Once upon a time I was a member of Ridge’s ATP (ATP=Advance Tasting Program) and I have a delicious collection of Ridge wines as a result. I opened one of these–a 2000 Mazzoni Home Ranch–this evening. According to a history on Ridge’s site, one Giuseppe Mazzoni and his brother-in-law Abramo Trusendi (who was apparently all of 14) arrived in California from Italy in 1898 and began working at the Italian Swiss Colony in Asti, Sonoma County. Long story short, they eventually bought land in Alexander Valley and planted a vineyard of ‘mixed blacks’ there: zinfandel, carignane, petite sirah and a slew of other such grapes. Ridge has made wine from this vineyard since 1996. This bottle of 2000–which is almost done, sadly–is tasting great, all fresh red berry and red plum fruit, with snappy acidity. Delicious, and perfect with tonight’s impromptu pasta tossed with roast purple cauliflower, pine nuts and capers. And a little pancetta for kicks.

So there, palate recalibrated.

Another Year…

Not much blogging going on here ’cause it’s my birthday today and I’ve had plenty of distractions, including a down home dinner at The Front Porch we had last night with friends. I brought along a bottle of Ridge’s 2000 Lytton Springs, which is about 80% zinfandel and 20% petite sirah, all from the Lytton Estate in Dry Creek Valley. Some of the vines here are over 110 years old; others are younger. I’ve always loved this wine for its elegance and this bottle didn’t disappoint. And it’s aging beautifully, the fruit bright and red, the wine’s structure built around its acidity more than anything else.

Tonight’s house party will be a little more raucous, complete with a negroni bar, wine, beer and cupcakes (mmm, birthday cupcakes).

A couple of the wine selections I’m excited about drinking while celebrating my birthday: Domaine de la Pepière 2006 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie (one of my all time favorite party wines); Peillot’s 2004 Altesse Rousette du Bugey; and Domaine de Sablonnettes 2004 Anjou “Les Genêts”.

A few others might appear from my stash, which was recently brought home from the bunker.

*Last year my dear friend Gil found a bottle of 1977 Chateau Picon Lalande which she gave me for my birthday and which we promptly drank. Yum! While 1977 is a Port year, this wine was delicious and still quite lively. I’m a big fan of drinking wine from one’s birth year (or at least trying to)–call me new agey, but it’s a lovely way to connect with another product of this Earth’s that’s been around as long as you have.