Archive for April 2012

And a Good Time Was Had by All?   3 comments

Like the all-afternoon aftertaste of one of those dirty-water hot dogs you get back home on the streets of New York, my first wine experience on this trip to Bangkok kept repeating on me.  

Arriving by 20 minute cab ride at SIP Wine Bar last Sunday I discovered that they were, um, closed.  Not permanently, mind you, simply a delayed opening.  It’s a shame, I had been looking forward to going to this place since I read about it in the NY Times.  I could have sat outside waiting for the place to open.  But there didn’t seem to be much sense in that as there didn’t seem to be that much to do in the immediate vicinity.  And, seriously, I was not that desperate for a glass of wine.  Also, since I had made plans to meet up with a good friend and colleague who was flying in from Australia later that evening, I decided to simply return to the hotel.  “STRIKE ONE!”

Having now provided my cabbie with a chuckle at my expense, he attempted to be helpful.  On route, he tried to dump me off at one of those large tourist bars I hate.  Kind of like a charmed-starved Applebee’s, but without the charm.  (BTW, who the hell is Applebee and why would he do this to his family name?)

Um, no thanks, Mr. Cabbie.  Nearing the hotel we spotted another wine bar, with a promising name, Bacchus Wine Bar and Restaurant.  Ahhhhh, Bacchus.  Roman god of wine.  Inspiration for Bacchanalian Festivals.  What could be so bad?  OK, maybe that whole human sacrifice thing and getting torn to shreds by Roman chicks in a wine inspired frenzy may not be everyone’s idea of a good time.  But, I’m thinking of the pleasures of the heterosexual version of the Bacchanalia. 

So shall we give the place a whirl?  Grab a glass, perhaps two, some nibbles, make some conversation with whoever is there and get back to Home Base, to catch up with me mate.  Although Bacchus’ ample wine list contained some of my favorites, those had to be purchased by the bottle.  Now, drinking an entire bottle is something that I have, on occasion, been known to do.  However, that typically happens at home when there is food and company.  Or at least food…  And, frankly, there is something odd and vaguely creepy about ordering a bottle to drink by oneself in a deserted bar. 

So I thought I would at least try the wines by the glass which Bacchus offered– two reds, and only two reds.  And in a new twist on vin marketing, Bacchus offered a terrific deal on these two wines by the glass.  Wines that– how shall I say this?–


But what a deal, buy one sucky glass of wine and get another sucky one for… wait for it… FREE!  Suggestion to Bacchus– a  wine bar should offer decent wines by the glass.  And more than just two choices would have been a bonus.  All together now: “STRIKE TWO!”

Bottom of the ninth inning and I am down to my last strike.  You have to protect the plate in these circumstances. 

To cut to the quick, I ended up in the Exec Lounge at my hotel, The Conrad Bangkok.  It’s not looking so well, is it? 

The Conrad is a nice Hotel with well-trained staff.  And if you’re fortunate enough to be placed on an Exec floor, you gain access to the lounge.  It was there that I deboarded the Local Train to the Wine Underworld.  Perhaps anything would have tasted good to me at that point.  But, maybe, just maybe, I found a little gem worth exploring. 

Père Anselme La Reserve de l’Aube Vin de Pays d’Oc Syrah-Merlot 2010.  What a nice little surprise.   Opening with a promise of spice.  Done in a more international style, but still maintaining an identity of self, this is a self-assured wine that whispers, “I may have humble beginnings, but I am an overachiever.”  Rated **1/2

My petit wine pilgrimage had paid off and it turns out that Bacchus allowed me to have the delectable SIP I was looking for after all even though I found it in the last place I would have looked for it.  And so I give thanks to the god of wine, as they say in Thailand, “khob-kun-Krab.”

So it ended up being a good night– just not this good:

Posted April 28, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love, Wine Etiquette

NGW: Chateau Savariaud Bordeaux Supérieur 2009   7 comments

I dislike bullies.  It seems my dad likes them less than I do.

When I was younger he told the story of a bully he had to deal with in his days in the army while serving in Korea.  At 5 foot 6 inches and 140 lbs., tanned from the Puerto Rican sun and with a Spanish accent, he must have stood out as an easy mark to his rather tall, husky, fair-haired Irish-American nemesis.  The repeated indignities served up by this fair-skinned lad included the usual stupid guy stuff– tripping, practical jokes, etc.  This got my dad to his tipping point.  Having reached his limit, and in order to confront this idiot, he had to stand on a foot locker just to be able to get eyeball-to-eyeball with him. 

Before I go on, let me say that my dad, despite his love of boxing and the episode I am about to share, is not a violent guy.  He NEVER administered corporal punishment to me.  Not once.  I find that odd.  Especially, given the era in which I was born.  But in our house, discipline was left completely in my mom’s hands.  And she, born into a family of farmers, thought nothing of making us dance to the crack of a leather belt.  While she never hit me in the face (she always emphasised that point), on the few occasions that she did strike, she almost always managed to leave me with welts on my legs– even as I tried to lift both legs up in the air at the same time to avoid the blows destined for my calves and thighs!  “No, Mami!  No!”  Those were the days… I love that woman, and seeing how frail she is today, makes me long for a time when she was strong enough to make me dance.  Not that I want to dance again– the memories are enough.  And it seems, the leather belt was preferred by other families as well.  Ms. R tells me that in her house, her dad’s belt even had a name– Catalina.  “Catalina is gonna make you dance,” he would say.  These days, Catalina would get you a quick call to the Social Services department with charges of child abuse.  Back then, it was just good parenting.  I’m not so sure we weren’t better off back then.

But back to the David & Goliath moment: Things did not look so good for my dad.  If you were the sort to make wagers, the smart money was on O’What’s-His-Name.  I’m not sure of the dialogue exchanged between these two antagonists, though I can imagine that the Irish lad must have been thinking what a good time he was about to have cracking my old man’s noggin open like a walnut.  So my dad did the only thing he could do– he struck first– breaking the poor bastard’s nose.  What no one knew was that he had put his metal cigarette lighter in the palm of his right hand giving that first punch a little extra “Was-that-a-lead-pipe-he-just-hit-me-with?” oomph.  With nose bloodied and tumbling to the floor like a giant sequoia, the Celt looked up to see Dad (filled with rage and frustration) pouncing on him like a rabid dog.  He gave this poor fellow a few more pops till he was pulled off by some spectators.  Unsurprisingly, this fellow never messed with him again.  Grudging respect they call it.

But assault of a fellow soldier is a crime– even in the military– and subject to court-martial.  A few days later, my dad was summoned into his commanding officer’s office to explain his actions.  My dad is a big fan of General MacArthur’s– and modeled his military bearing after that gentleman.  As he tells it, he went to his CO’s office in full dress uniform– an interesting tactic– but one that sent a clear message:  That he was a soldier first and understood the gravity of the situation.  He entered the office, gave his crispest salute and stood erect, statuesque, granite-like at attention.  Dad knows how to make an impression.  After inquiring into what happened, the CO offered Dad the choice of court-martial (with potential jail time and dishonorable discharge) or just a quick 2-step straight to dishonorable discharge.  Dad opted for court-martial under military law.  Being dismissed from the meeting, he gave his CO another starched salute, turned heel and marched perfectly out of the office.  That was the last that Dad ever heard of the matter from his superiors.  I think the CO, considering the two participants and other factors, probably took a boys-will-be-boys approach and was perhaps also hoping that this was the last he would hear about this matter.  

Like I said, my dad is not a violent guy.  And like the most interesting man in the world– “He’s a lover, not fighter.  But he’s also a fighter, so don’t get any ideas.”

And, like my dad, today’s wine may look like a lightweight, but don’t let the looks fool you. 

Chateau Savariaud Bordeaux Supérieur 2009Chateau Savariaud Bordeaux Supérieur 2009 ($12).  59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Malbec.  So light-colored that I did not expect much in terms of the concentration of this wine.  At first, this had a touch of braised fennel on the nose; then a woodsy character emerged with hints of barnyard as it opened.  Whilst there was a fairly comprehensive restraint in the fruit, what emerged reminded me of black plum flesh mixed with almost bitter chocolate.  Finishing with grippy tannins and a medium length stoney quality.  I might have liked this even better had it shown just a tad more concentration and just slightly more ripe fruit.  Rated **

My boy in the photo at the top of this page doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  No-Guilt Wednesday (NGW) is not about compromising on quality.  It’s all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank ($15 or less), eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.

Posted April 24, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

Bangkok by Way of Argentina   Leave a comment

ThailandIt’s just another Saturday night– in Bangkok.

How did I end up here?  I am here on business.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun, eh?

Now, the worst part of business travel is that you travel alone.  Of course you meet up with your business contacts when you get there, but there is always down time when you are completely on your own and you wish you had someone to share certain experiences with.  The best part of business travel is that you travel alone because those moments of solitude that you have in a foreign land are a luxury of introspection– navel gazing.  Still, towards the end of my trips, I definitely look forward to returning home.   

Which brings me to the difficulties I experienced this past week, as I was preparing for this longish work trip to Asia, away from loved ones, home and cellar.  I am told that Jake, the wonder-dog, goes into a depression when I am away on these trips.  Usually, he knows that I am leaving because of all the unusual packing activity that goes on.  Having memorized my daily routine and, being a creature of habit, he knows that something is up when the big suitcase emerges from the closet.  This time, we thought to spare the poor S.O.B. the trauma and made sure that he was not present at home when packing commenced.  We’ll see if he catches on after I have been away for a few days.  He’s a smart boy– so I expect after a week or so, it will dawn on him… “Hey, where is Alpha Dog?”

While this voyage will take me to several countries, that’s not to say that I will do without wine.  Thailand has not traditionally been known for wine, but that seems to have changed in the past 3 years or so as more Thais have gained affluence and as the wine world shrinks as it becomes more globalised and as Asians, including Thais, have acquired a taste for the good stuff.  In fact, it seems that there are some vineyards here in Thailand, as reported in the Weekend FT, by Jancis R (“old hat” she calls them– hah!).  A number of wine bars have opened up in Thailand in the past few years and I have identified a few places that I know will ensure me of a refreshing libation or two.   Earlier in the week as I was preparing for this trip, in a bon voyage of sorts, we had a little gathering at the house.  I decided to serve a humble Malbec from a great producer.  We had some soft duck tacos that I served with a mixed berry pasilla chile sauce.  I’m a sucker for the hot and sweet flavors that I manage to draw out of this sauce and it paired gorgeously with the duck and the Malbec. 

The Malbec, from Achaval Ferrer, is not one of their more expensive single vineyard designates.  But no matter.  It spoke with a clear voice that night– “Come back soon!”. 

Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2010 ($16).  Very approachable Malbec from one of Mendoza Argentina’s premier producers.  Cherry essence on the palate wraps its legs around an herbal nose.  Balanced by satisfying tannins and discrete acidity on the ample finish.  Drink this now or wait 2-3 years– your choice– it’s all good.  Rated **1/2

Business travel is not like being on vacation.  There are objectives to be met.  Tasks to be started, accomplished, advanced and completed.  And the time is limited.  And there is the jet lag thing– which is why I’m here on Saturday.  We wouldn’t want to be dozing off during a meeting with the Regional Vice President of Operations on Monday morning, would we?  So having just arrived after an almost 20 hour trip, I am opting for a workout in the hotel gym followed by the refreshing calming, quiet of my hotel room. 

I will have Sunday to play.

Posted April 21, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

NGW: Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2009   2 comments

In life, we rarely get second chances. 

Unless your name is Chris Brown.  Hearing about his apparent reunion with Rihanna recently, I was a little taken aback. 

I mean, as talented as you are, and that talent is in my opinion, undeniable, there are just some things you don’t do to any woman, let alone the woman you “love”, Dude.  

Now I’m not gonna show you pictures of Rihanna with a busted face.  You can look those up yourself.  Girl, what were you thinking?!  Rhetorical question.

And despite the steamy sensuality of their current collaborative hit, Birthday Cake, these two just don’t give me that Happily Ever After good time feeling.  It’s a bit like watching an impending train wreck.   Your know it won’t end well, but you can’t avert your eyes, can you?  

They say you’re a new man, CB.  Like I said, we don’t get many second chances in life.  When you get one, you hold it as you might a precious crystal.  It’s that fragile.  So, Man Up!

Any-whoo… on that uplifting note, and in a bit of a non sequitur, here is today’s NGW from California’s Alexander Valley. 

Nestled between Dry Creek Valley and Knights Valley, Alexander Valley produces some interesting wines that are worth exploring from well-known producers such as Jordan, Francis Ford Coppola and Clos du Bois and some perhaps less well-known but worth exploring, such as Seghesio and the eponymous Alexander Valley Vineyards:

Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2009Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($15).   I was prepared to like this from the get go.  And on first tasting, I liked it.  But then, borrowing an ironic line from Chris Brown’s break-up song, Deuces, “Like Tina did to Ike in the back of the limo, it finally hit me.”  Black cherries on the nose carry to the palate and mix with herbs.  But the fruit seems a little underdeveloped.  With soft tannins and a short finish, the flavor seems to fall off a cliff.  Rated **

My boy in the photo at the top of this page doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  No-Guilt Wednesday (NGW) is not about compromising on quality.  It’s all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank ($15 or less), eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.

Posted April 17, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

2009 Bordeaux Tasting: Plutocrats vs. Troglodytes   2 comments

We are not plutocrats, my buddy Sam and I.  Though we would like to drink like as if we were.  But there are college tuition installments and mortgage payments to be made after all.   

Sam is a lover of all things Bordeaux and especially that little thing named Margaux.    

With premium Bordeaux prices going through the roof for the 2009 vintage, we will not be drinking Chateau Margaux any time soon.  At $900 to $1,400 for a singular bottle of the 2009 vintage from this legendary producer, the First Growth Masters of the Universe have effectively barred many people from ever being able to bring even a sip to their lips.  (The 2008 vintage, BTW, can be had for about $500 a bottle if you are so inclined– such a deal.)  Whether you go for 2009 or even the more relatively “humble” 2008, that’s still a lot of coin.  But humility is not in strong supply these days in Bordeaux.  Greed, avarice and the mechanics of Keynesian economic principles– those are different currencies that are carrying the day.

Still in a good vintage, as 2009 no doubt is, you can find some great values at the lower end of the spectrum.  I spent a Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago tasting through a some 2009 Bordeaux at a tasting sponsored by the boys at Suburban Wines in Yorktown, NY.  No, these were not Chateau Margaux.  And not all the wines we tasted were from the 2009 vintage– though that is the focus of the tasting notes below.  At any rate, while not exactly inexpensive, many of the wines were in the $25 range, I had change left over from my $100 after I left the store– all right, maybe change leftover from 3 Benjamins.  

Do I detect a whiff of irony in this posting?  Neither a Troglodyte nor Plutocrat be.  Just call me Citizen Sybarite.

Here are some of the 2009s we tasted and purchased.  A note on the prices: all of these wines were being offered at a 20% discount to the normal prices in the store and the prices are rounded to the nearest dollar.  Also, if my notes seem a little um, shorter than usual, blame it on the venue– it’s difficult to take detailed notes while standing with wine glass and pencil in one hand and tasting sheet in the other.

Chateau Picampeau Lussac-St Emilion 2009 ($16).  Although this had a good nose, it seemed to lack presence on the palate which fell short of the aromas I was getting.  Rated *1/2

Chateau Lanessan Haut-Medoc 2009 ($23).  Good fruit, but seemed a little too soft on the back-end, lacking structure.  But that’s just an initial impression.  Rated **

Chateau Lalande Listrac-Medoc 2009 ($14).   A good serviceable “everyday” Bordeaux.  Rated **

Chateau Moulin de la Lagune Haut-Medoc 2009 ($28).  Twenty-eight dollars, two stars, why didn’t I buy this?  See Petit Courret, below.  Rated **

Chateau Taillefer Pomerol 2009 ($26).   Impressive concentration and fruit at a very attractive price point.  And, hell, it’s a Pomerol.  Rated ***

Chateau de France Pessac-Leognan 2009 ($26).  Had this right after the Pomerol.  It went mano-a-mano with its predecessor, without blinking.  Rated ***

Chateau Petit Courret Bordeaux ($7) The day’s best buy and a subject to be further addressed in NGW.  Rated **

Chateau L’Argilius du Roi Saint-Estephe ($24).  This is my enigma wine.  Why?  Although it made a very favorable impression, somehow, I never purchased any.  My wallet, already screaming from my buying binges, gave a me a hearty “Thank You!” for that.  Rated ***

Chateau du Glana Saint-Julien ($30).  A bit of a disappointment here with a somewhat metallic finish.  Rated **

Chateau Siaurac Lalande-de-Pomerol ($22) This one will require some patience as the tannins are simply too strong at the moment.  However, the fruit and some pipe tobacco notes have shown through and once those tannins subside, this will be a lovely wine that I suspect, I will regret not having purchased more of.  Rated ***

Roc Castillon 2009 ($22) More a approachable but still a big wine.  **1/2

Chateau Saint-Andre Corbin St-Georges St-Emilion 2009 ($18).  A little bit heavy-handed with the oak treatment.  **

Chateau Picque Caillou 2009 ($26).  Decent, but better values in this tasting at that price point.  Rated **1/2

Chateau du Seuil Cerons 2009 (500 ml $20).  A dessert wine with ample acidity and beautiful and approachable fruit.  It did not have the viscosity of the Sauternes reviewed below, but it was much more to my liking.  Call me a troglodyte.  Rated ***

Chateau Roumieu-Lacoste 2009 (375 ml $20).  Perhaps, I’m just not a Sauternes guy.  All right, I can own that.  Too viscous and too sweet for me.  But there will be people out there who will love this.  Rated **

Posted April 15, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

NGW: Il Feuduccio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Feuduccio 2006   Leave a comment

Just because mornings are amongst my favorite time of day, does not mean that I don’t love the nights as well.  While the mornings are made for strong tea, solitude and introspection, the nights are made for good wine, consumed with good food and followed by some good old-fashioned tittering in the dark.   

Being the kind of person who craves balance if not moderation, this makes sense to me.  The morning routine–  and the unfurling of the mind– begins shortly after I wake.  After a quick stroll with Jake, the wonder-dog, we head home and there share breakfast together.  He has his doggie comestibles and I have a couple of robust cups of Punjana Irish Breakfast with whatever else captures my fancy.  Sometimes cereal, or buttered rye toast or, maybe just a glass of strawberry kefir.  The house is usually breathtakingly and comfortingly quiet.  Since the day is a blank slate, this is my most productive time to write.  It is the time when I read a bit as well. 

Unlike some folks, I can’t really read in bed at night.  Usually, I’m too tired during the week  and too, umm, “delicious” on the weekends to read so late.  And there are so many things to do when you are in a delicious state of mind–

Need ideas?  Well, take for example, Englishman Henry Purcell, one of the most renowned composers of his time, who wrote a few overtly suggestive tavern songs, including this uncensored little 17th century ditty that aptly illustrates how un-innocent those times were: 

Sir Walter enjoying his damsel one night,

He tickled and pleased her to so great a height,

That she could not contain, t’wards the end of the matter,

But in rapture cried out: “Oh sweet Sir Walter!”

The Montepulciano grape has become so associated with Abruzzo that it would be difficult imagining these wines being produced anywhere else.  It is one of the most exported wines in Italy.  But in my mind, so many of these wines are over-ripe and a tad too rustic– and as a result they feel a little bawdy to me.  But there is a time and a place for everything. 

And in keeping an open mind, today’s NGW may turn me around on my way of thinking.  Many a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is intended to be drunk young.  Not so with today’s choice.  This is from the 2006 vintage.  Price-wise. this wine is right at the cut line for NGW.  A release price of $29 per bottle and an average price on the internet, of $22 per bottle– though you should not pay that much for this.  Still, at $15, this needs to be considered and having said that, happily consumed.    

Il Feuduccio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Feuduccio 2006 ($15) .   There are some woodsy characteristics that emerge on my sniffer.  What is that?  Cigar box?  Wet ash?  A medium bodied, fruity red with ripe raspberry, low tannins and medium acidity.  This does not have the usual rusticity that I associate with Montepulciano wines.  Although from the 2006 vintage, the wine maintains its freshness so much so, that I thought it was younger than it was.  This is a fantastic pasta wine and at $15, this is a compelling buy.  Rated **1/2 

Eat this with a Spaghetti Puttanesca.  Put on some Henry Purcell tavern songs (click on the red links) and sing along: 

A health, a health to the nut-brown lass with hazel eyes

She that has good eyes has also good thighs

Let it pass, let it pass!

The little guy in the photo at the top of this page doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  No-Guilt Wednesday (NGW) is not about compromising on quality.  It’s all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank ($15 or less), eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.

Posted April 11, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

NGW: Blanc de Barat Bordeaux Blanc 2011   Leave a comment

I have my demons, don’t you? 

Hieronymous Bosch had them.  Henry Miller too.  Maybe that’s why their work continues to resonate with me.

I discovered both of these dudes many years ago when I came across Henry Miller’s autobiographical “Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch”. 

Miller Time: “Now, where is that girl with the two cherries?”

Just the title alone was enough of a draw for me.  Don’t ask why, perhaps, it just sounded so incongruous.  Perhaps it was because at the time I had no idea that a place called Big Sur even existed.  Maybe it was unfamiliarity with Hieronymous Bosch.  And perhaps it was just the way it sounded as I spoke it out loud. 

“What have you been reading lately?”  

“A cartoon fantasy, Scoobie and Shaggy Do Vegas…”


“Would you believe, Big Sur and…?”


Now if you know some of Miller’s more notorious work and you have been reading this blog, you will understand my attraction.  But there is more to Miller.  He is poetic, prophetic, honest, though capable of fibbing, he is misunderstood–sometimes by me.  But it is clear that he had extreme clarity in his view of the line between right and wrong even if he sometimes blurred, crossed or moved that line in his personal life.  And there was his colorful lifestyle– wives and lovers, including the erotic poet, Anais Nin, a collection of friends and people who were drawn to him– interesting, tortured, bizarre, dull people.   

Hieronymous Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights

And then we have Bosch.  A man who could be credited with the creation of information overload.  But it is not imagery for imagery’s sake.  There are all of these seemingly insignificant details that are pregnant with meaning.  He seemed to be very aware of the imperfections of human morality, frailty, ecstasy and agony.  Was Bosch a man who was haunted by his demons in his everyday existence?  A picture, in Bosch’s case, is truly worth at least a 1,000 words. 

Whatever the motivation or inspiration, he let it all flow from his paint brushes.  Miller’s writing is a bit like that as well– reading his books is a bit like being a being a river rock as he rushes over you with a torrential flow of words that erode and polish your surface at the same time.

One of Bosch’s more famous works, a moralistic triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights, depicts the fall from grace, the post-Eden world cast as orgy and the retribution exacted from the human race for those sins.  The fact that he devotes the largest part of the triptych to the party tells me that understood human weakness on personal terms.  How else to explain what appears to be two people getting it on inside a giant mussel shell and elsewhere in this painting.  Plato’s Retreat, that notorious 1970’s New York City sex club, had nothing on the stuff going on in Bosch’s head! 

Yet, despite their lascivious natures, his characters have hollowed out eyes and a bored detachment that is not particularly inviting.  It seems that some of his characters themselves are voyeurs looking out at us.  I suppose we can be both spectators of the freak show and perhaps we are the freak show as well. 

Where am I going with this?  To be able to channel some of the creativity that these two guys had, booze HAD to be involved.  Miller was a drinker.  While at Sig Sur, he certainly drank some very good California wines, and being a writer, he was piss-poor most of the time.  So the wines usually came courtesy of his generous friends.  And there were those years in Paris.  And Bosch must have had his share of mind-twisting elixirs, as well.  In Bosch’s case, it was probably good Belgian beer or perhaps some very young wine like today’s 2011 vintage offering.

Here’s where we pull it all together, kids.  First, a word about the 2011 vintage: Bosch’s message still rings true today.  Pundits and critics alike are strongly suggesting that 2011 Bordeaux wine prices will need to drop significantly from the levels for 2009 and 2010 vintages to reflect the relative drop in quality as compared to 2009 and 2010.   Greed is the demon that is gorging itself at the banquet fueled by these two stellar vintages– how else, can you explain U.S. $1,000++ prices for single bottles from top château?  Some would argue, there is a comeuppance on the horizon when the prices for the 2011 wines are set.  The most avaricious of these producers should face consequences akin to those depicted in the third panel of the triptych.  Facing an abundance of good wine from 2009-10, they may have to price their wines below prices for the decent 2008 vintage.  It’s a nice theory, and it would be great to see, but I don’t really believe that they will reduce prices by the 40-50% that some are calling for.    

Now, onto today’s NGW Wine.   A young wine, from a small producer in what is considered a lesser vintage, does not have to be bad wine.  From the 2011 vintage, this white Bordeaux is an absolute steal at the price I paid– yes, it is the first 2011 we are reviewing.  I thought that this was particularly good when I tasted it and brought some home from a wine tasting a couple of weeks ago.  This is a crowd pleaser of a wine– and at $7 even my financial advisor would be pleased.  

Blanc de Barat Bordeaux Blanc 2011 ($7).  It reminds me of spring rain.  Mostly Sauvignon Blanc with a little semillon thrown in, this is a light, refreshing and flavorful vino.  Guava like sweetness finishing with a well rounded acidity from the citrus flavors which are polished with a touch of lushness and well harnessed if understated minerality.  It has a softness that makes it truly appealing.  Rated **1/2 

While you could have this on its own, it is so much better with food.  Put some shrimp, I mean prawns, on the barbie and start your dinner off on the right foot.  Today’s recommended dish was truly inspired by the Blanc de Barat.  But it takes it name from one of our featured artists.


Grilled Hieronymous Orange Marinated Prawns

  • 2 lbs. of deveined and shelled prawns (leave tails on)
  • 1 tsp. of grated Orange Rind
  • 1 tsp. grated Lime Rind
  • Juice of 1 Valencia Orange
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 2 tbsp. Rice Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Roasted Peanut Oil
  • 4 Garlic cloves crushed and mashed into a paste with 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
  1. Whisk together all ingredients and taste the marinade.  Adjust to your taste.
  2. Pour over prawns and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour– every 15 minutes or so turn the prawns over to make sure the marinade seeps into all the crevices
  3. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking
  4. Preheat grill to highest setting. 
  5. Immediately before cooking oil the grill
  6. Cook for no more than 1-2 two minutes per side.  Do not overcook– nobody like rubbery prawns.  If you are not sure how long it will take, do a test run with 1 or two of the little bastards.

Suggested variations: Add a little soy sauce to the marinade.  And how about a little crushed red pepper for touch of lively spice!

Works great as an appetizer for a party or as a main course over a citrusy salad or even an aromatic jasmine rice.

 © Sybarite Sauvage

The Garden of Earthly Delights detail by Hieronymus Bosch

Dirty Birds

If you want to learn more about Bosch, here is a link to a great little review of this painting by a fellow blogger, Taylor Alexandra.

 My boy in the photo at the top of this page doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  No-Guilt Wednesday (NGW) is not about compromising on quality.  It’s all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank ($15 or less), eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.

Posted April 3, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

Bring me an Old WIne and a Young Wine   5 comments

“You really are Mephistopheles!”

Me?  Really? 

This, the playful accusation hurled at me last night by good friend, B the Elder, at a dinner party co-hosted with Mrs. B the Elder, at their home.    

His remark may have been playful, but I think Mrs. B really thinks me to be The Heathen Incarnate.   

We sometimes refer to B the Elder as the Demon Deacon, owing to his affiliation with the church combined with his wicked sense of humor and penchant for practical jokes.  So I am Mephistopheles?  Dude, I only place temptation in thine path!  Yours is to choose to drink the nectar I place before thee. 

I arrived, as I often do, with my wine luggage in tow– a small black leather clad box with a handle for ease of transport, that can hold up to 3 bottles.  I did what a good friend does when invited for a meal at another’s home– I bring a vino or, in this case, three suitable to the occasion.   Two Barolos– Younger and Older.  And since I was requested to bring dessert, a Moscato d’Asti and some fluffy lemon-blueberry cookies from Food Safari.  So easy to make.  So damningly delicious.  

Consider this your exorcism by wine.

An who knows, it may lead to good things– perhaps even a very satisfying Don Giovanni moment. 

But I digress (yet again!).  

Oddero Barolo 1998 ($40).  Coming out of an excellent vintage for Barolo, with its Old School approach this was redolent of sweet black licorice with fennel, scented flowers and refined tannins on the palate.  This just exhibited an elegance on the palate that is very memorable.  A gorgeous example of why the wait is worth it.  Rated ***

Cavallotto Barolo Bricco Boschis 2006

Cavallotto Barolo Bricco Boschis 2006 ($42).  Given it’s youth, we decanted this for a couple of hours.  With more of a New World approach, this released magnificent aromas of cherries and black licorice.   On the palate it exhibited a certain muscular power.  But it was an iron first in a velvet glove kind of thing.  Buy a few drink one now to satisfy your curiosity and lay the rest down for another 6 years.  Rated ***1/2  

 Elio Perrone Sourgal Moscato d’Asti 2010 ($14).  This is a time-honored favorite in our household.  A lively effervescence combed into the essence of lemon drop.  Young, lighthearted and sure leave you with a giggle in your throat.  With only 5% alcohol, this is the perfect beverage to finish off a Barolo dinner.  Rated ***

Conversation during dinner shifted among various topics– the most interesting being about religious beliefs and its place in our lives– past and present.  Perhaps not a good idea, since some of us have notions about organized religion that are at odds with the belief structures of our church-going dining companions. 

But being well into the second bottle of Barolo, we could not resist.  I won’t bore you with those details, but somethings really are more clear (at least to me) when wine is involved.  It reminds me of a quotation from Oscar Wilde, regarding absinthe (though I substitute a word here and there):

After the first [bottle], you see things as you wish they were.

After the second, you see things as they are not.

Finally, you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.

Posted April 1, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love