Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Owen Roe 2007 Abbot's Table

This Owen Roe wine from the Columbia Valley AVA (mostly in Washington and part of Northern Oregon) is truly a field blend - check out the mix: 22% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot, 20% Zinfandel, 15% Cabernet Franc, 7% Grenache, 6% Syrah, 3% Petite Sirah, 3% Cinsault, 3% Malbec, 1% Pinot Noir. Seems like everything is thrown in there, huh?

This light quencher will certainly have mass appeal. On the nose, I found fruity, earthy scents with a dark chocolate component. In the mouth, this wine, which clocked in at 14.6 percent alcohol tasted like strawberries, currants, and other red and black fruits that were difficult to distinguish.

From the winery's web site: "The year was marked with great heat during the summer that was abruptly ended by an unseasonably long and cool fall, leaving us with ripe wines with great acidity. The 2007 Yakima Valley [ed note - Yakima is within the Columbia Valley AVA] wines have big flavors that will cellar well. It has vibrant fruit aromas and delicious flavors, expressing the fruitiness and weight of Sangiovese and Zinfandel- it is such a rich, yet easy drinking wine that it can be paired with the broadest range of foods and also tastes great by itself."

I paid $19.99 for this wine at the Wine Mine in Oakland, pretty good price considering it's more typically priced between $20-$30 at other wine shops. Overall I liked this wine but didn't think it was anything spectacular. Owen Roe, and Abbot's Table has received a lot of praise (check out Good Wines Under $20 review of the 2004 bottle, here). It's certainly an easy drinker, but for $20, I want a little more from my wine.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Picking up beans at Ritual....

My supply of Kenya Kiandu from Ritual ran out this weekend, and I needed to re-up my fix, so I took Bart over to their cafe on Valencia to peruse the goods (I had actually studied what they were selling online first so I didn't feel rushed into making a purchase at the cafe itself because of its typically long lines).

The Brazilian Chapadão de Ferro caught my eye - I thought I read it was a natural processed coffee - meaning the coffee cherry, with the bean inside, is dried in the sun, instead of being washed off. I asked a barista to be sure, but she didn't know, finding someone else instead. She said they didn't have any naturals for sale, except for the Fazenda Esperança Yellow Icatu (also from Brazil), a coffee that is a semi-washed - meaning the cherry is removed but some of the mucus around the bean remains for drying. However, Ritual's website says both are full naturals, and the Brazilian Fazenda do Sertão is a semi-washed.

I'm guessing the website descriptions are correct, and the barista was misinformed, but we'll see if I can tell for sure when I make my first cup. The beans have been sitting in my work bag for the past few hours emanating mouth-watering aromas, so I'm certainly looking forward to pulling, pressing and pouring over this coffee!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chateau de Campuget "1753"

I purchased this beautiful bottle of Syrah at the Wine Mine in Oakland for $12.99, and boy what a bargain it is!

The wine was a pretty ruby color with a silver shimmer on the surface. On the nose I found fresh earthy aromas, sweet blackberry jam and black currants. In the mouth this light (ie - not syrupy like some American Syrahs) wine had bright acidity, fragrant lilacs and was and reminded me of a Cabernet Franc by Catherine Breton that I tasted at Terroir Wine Merchant a few months ago (review of bar and wines here).

The winery labeled it "1753" because a document found on the property from that year mentions its vineyards (for a four page pdf about the winery, click here). From the Costières de Nîmes, Languedoc Roussillon AOC, this is another example of great, cheap wine produced out of Europe that offers a lot of bang - and by bang I mean complexity and intrigue - for the buck. I plan on picking up at least one more bottle for later.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ritual Roasters' Kenya Kiandu

Went to Ritual Roasters a week or two ago to refresh my supply, since the beans I've been buying from Whole Foods haven't been that great to me lately (I typically buy Ritual or Barefoot at the Whole Foods in Oakland). I decided to go to the source directly, since that's where the rarer offerings would be.

I purchased a pound of their Kenya Kiandu, for $15.95 IIRC. In a French press the coffee has a medium body, with flavors of pink grapefruit and chocolate coco powder. Acidity is a bit bigger than the body but overall the cup is balanced. Touch of hazelnut lingers on the tongue in the finish. In a pour over I had today, I got some grassy notes in the finish.

Nice coffee, certainly better than others I've had recently.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Coffee Dinner

Just got word that the Dissident Chef in San Francisco will be having a coffee pairing dinner later this month, with each course paired with a cup of Ritual Roasters coffee. He was inspired by a cupping at Ritual (watch a mildly humorous (at least to me) video of the cupping here).

Tickets are about $100. You can sign up here.

I have never heard of a coffee-pairing dinner. You can get a wine-pairing dinner at any nice restaurant (I still dream of being able to splurge one day for the "Grand Tasting of Fine and Rare Wines," for the eight course chef's tasting menu at Cyrus in Healdsburg that costs $185 in additionto the food).

Less costly, but probably more fun, would be a beer-pairing course at Magnolia Pub & Brewery on Haight street. They have some interesting things brewing over there, including their Oysterhead Stout I tried at one point (Tomales Bay oysters are actually thrown into the tank when they make it, or so I was told).

But a coffee pairing dinner? That's crazy talk! I wonder how long until we see more of this happening in other foodie-centric places with a third wave coffee scene like Seattle, Portland, Chicago (Intelligentsia is a force to be reckoned with) and now New York (check out ManSeekingCoffee's recent round up of the growing specialty coffee movement in Manhattan - it's quite extensive and heartening to hear).

Plus, in these difficult economic times, coffee pairings is an interesting, different thing chefs can do to entice diners to come out for something new without breaking the bank.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blue Bottle Ferry Building Update

Got a cappuccino at Blue Bottle's Ferry Building farmer's market stand today, and asked the barista for an update on when their new cafe would be opening (the sign, posted last year, outside the shuttered shop said it was going to open "this winter"). She said April 4th, or April 9th, or 10th. So sometime early next month. She also said they'd have manual lever machines there pulling espressos, though she blanked on the manufacturer. Blue bottle has a Bosco Napoli two-head manual lever machine at their Mint Plaza location, which pulls quite a nice shot.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

2006 Rosenblum Abba Vineyards Syrah, Lodi

Picked this 2006 Rosenblum Abba Vineyards Syrah from Lodi up last weekend as part of a club shipment (club price: $20, retail:$25).

I picked up wild blackberries and some woody notes on the nose of this thick, dense Syrah. In the mouth I was hit with black cherries, plums, a touch of heat on the finish along with bubblegum sweetness and black pepper spice.

Only 2,550 cases were made. The wine was aged in French (90%) and American (10%) oak from grapes grown by Phil Abba.

Nicely crafted wine, and for $20 not too bad quality price ratio (QPR).

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cafe Grumpy

After my return visit to Gimme! Coffee, I decided to branch out and see one of the other major third wave cafes in New York City, Cafe Grumpy in Chelsea.

I ordered a double espresso of their house blend, called Heartbreaker. It had a strong nose dominated by red berries. In the cup it was very jammy - like reduced blackberry sauce, and thick as oil. It had a long finish.

I also had a cup of Nimac Kapeh, Atitlan, Guatemala Roasted by Barismo. This was one I've tried and reviewed before (see it here.) This time around, with the coffee prepared in a Clover, I found lots of cinnamon and baking chocolate in the cup, a lot different from last time I tried it.

I really liked this cafe. From a coffee geek's perspective, I love the fact that they offer several different coffees from various roasters, prepared in the Clover. They also have a couple of espresso choices as well, including a single origin option (when I went it was a decaf, which is why I didn't try it).

The cafe itself is one of those neighborhood places you can imagine hanging out in for hours reading or writing and just observing the world go. I'm definitely going to make a trip here the next time I'm in NYC.