Tuesday, June 30, 2009

boys' night out ~

so Lauber Imports wine guru Steve Miller found himself a temporary bachelor recently, wife and little one off for a couple weeks, and we found time to meet for dinner.

this happened at Cyril Renaud’s new eatery Bar Breton on Broadway.

Cyril’s Fleur de Sel was a favourite of mine for as many years as I’ve been around town, and I was quite sad to see it go... so I was eager to try the new place.

—less elegant, less detailed, less intricacy of preparation—same excellent standard.

emphasis on Galettes, ours was a deelish concoction of smoked salmon with leek and a horseradish sour-cream that was almost Bavarian. After which my pork belly was excellent, nicely rounded with wildish mushrooms and their broth—but which demanded that I abandon the mustard that I’d demanded to go with my frites which I’d requested instead of purée. Steve said that his roasted half-chicken could not have been done better, and the succesful execution of a simple concept was quite rewarding. A lemon and sugar crèpe shared for dessert was beautifully balanced and showed all the right moves.

the wine was astonishingly delicious, and cost less than $30 on the wine list.

2007 Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet.

just perfect, that’s all. Body, fruit, acid—a nice bit of mineral. Succulent and savoury.

a few nice things like that on Cyril’s list, along with some quirky negoce burgs...

Monday, June 29, 2009

*** Prussian Humour—Three-Star Style ***

No less an authority on military matters than
Generaloberst Heinz Guderian informs us—
in his operator’s manual to Dr Ferdinand Porsche’s
new heavy tank ‘Tiger,’

~ that the reason the Thirty Years War lasted for thirty years...

was that it took a soldier
27 distinct steps to load the
goddamned arquebus before he could shoot anybody...

~ as duties and ditties have permitted, I found an idle moment to translate and list the procedures involved:

1. hold the gun at an angle in front of you, barrel pointing up
2. with the butt in front of your left foot
3. take the cartridge out of the ammunition pouch
4. cartridge into the barrel
5. take out the ramrod
6. hold ramrod ready in front of you
7. ram cartridge home, 1-2-3
8. remove bullet-clip from ammunition pouch
9. hold clip in your mouth
10. bite one bullet off of the clip
11. bullet down the barrel
12. ramrod ready
13. tamp the bullet home, 1-2-3
14. take the feather from your hat
15. cradle the gun in front of you
16. wipe out the touchhole with the feather
17. put the feather back in your hat
18. take out your powderhorn
19. pour powder into the pan
20. replace the powderhorn
21. make a ferocious face
22. cock the serpentine
23. lay barrel upon gun-rest
24. aim well
25. ignite match in the doghead
26. Lord help!
27. FIRE!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

a few favourites from the Terry Theise tasting...

~ last week at the Tribeca Grill in Manhattan...

1. Although I work for a competing importer, Terry and I have been friends for twenty years now. Perhaps not the closest, but that's because we're two different types of frustrated guitarist. He's done more than any other single person to help the cause of first Germany and after that Austria in America—and then for an encore puts grower champagne on the map. Any questions?

2. Michael Skurnik has always been very generous about allowing me to visit his presentations. I stringently avoid doing any business—ie. chasing resto and retail buyers who've been ducking me—and just taste the wines, collect information, greet growers who are friends of mine and sometimes show a colleague around the room.

3. thanks to Jonathan Schwartz for the engraved invite.

4. I concentrated on Germany, having had a heaping helping of Austria at Prowein in Düsseldorf back in March

~ so, the wines that I liked particularly well:

Burrweiler Schlossgarten Muskateller Spätlese Trocken, Minges 08
a tensile brilliance to go with the piquant aromaticity.

Silvaner Halbtrocken Litre bottle, Gysler 08
since I sell litres, I like to taste litres. this one had terrific body, and even more pizzazz than their Scheurebe

Mandelring Scheurebe Spätlese, Müller Catoir 08
luxuriant without being too chewy, great balance and focus. I liked it better until I saw the price.

Nearly everything from Kruger Rumpf. especially the Grosses Gewächs Scharlachberg—as the name indicates, from a red-soil site. his litre Riesling was deelish.

Helmut Dönnhoff tells me once that he considers Spätlese to be the intrinsic express of German riesling. and he proves it repeatedly year after year. I usually like the Kupfergrube the best, but this year loved the Norheimer Kirschheck, and think that Oberhäuser Brücke is the one for the long haul.

Niersteiner Paterberg Spätlese, Strub 08
Not a glamour-site, but this wine is holyshitt delicious.

Kaseler Nies'chen Kabinett, Karlsmühle 08
blazingly brilliant, one of the best in show.

Everything from Spreitzer, from the litre trocken to the Spätlese 303, special mention for the Rosengarten Erstes Gewächs 08 and the Jesuitengarten Spätlese.

Selbach-Oster: I thought that the Spätlese Anrecht was particularly fine, though all the wines had a very pleasing density and persistent focus. Rotlay was also rather well detailed, no surprise, but certainly had no lack of flesh on the finely wrought frame. Is there any doubt that Johannes Selbach is one of the best and most consistent growers in Germany?

I very much liked the Roter Veltliner from Ecker—one Austrian I did visit and carefully taste.

Bert Salomon was more of a social call, his estate is a favourite, and there’s no finer gentleman to be found in my experience—but his GV Von Stein Reserve was quite a mouthfull of spiceful fruit and stone—fine, strong and rich all the way down the gullet.

short conversation with Bruce Sanderson later that evening in the kitchen of Die Blaue Gans—Kurt Gutenbrunner's party for the Austrian Trade Comission ran from the stove on one end and spilled onto the sidewalk on the other— confirming my suspicions that 08 in Germany is
Exactly What the Doktor Ordered.
or as Goldtröpchen—er, Goldilocks—said, "just right"

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

a new turn on an old tune ~

occurs to me the other day, thinking about life and love, legend and lethargy—

I was an ugly duckling

who grew up

into a really ugly duck ~