28 December 2007

We'll re-open on Wednesday, January 2.

I hope everyone has had a satisfying and not too stressful a holiday so far and I hope your New Years are happy and safe.
If anyone has any suggestions for anything new or changed you'd like to see down at the restaurant for the new year please feel free to share.
Best,
S

07 December 2007

07Dec- Breaking News. We'll be closed Wed 12th.

We will be doing a private party on Wednesday the 12th and we will therefore be closed.
We hope this doesn't inconvenience anybody. And while I'm at it, we're certain to be closed December 25 and 26. There is the possibility of expanding that time off but we're not certain yet.
thanks,
S

14 November 2007

14NOV: HolidayClosing (22,23,24), Beaujolais Nouveau (not Duboeuf) and more
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Well. There's some news that might interest some of you.
Most importantly, everybody should be aware of our holiday closing dates: Thursday 22, Friday 23 and Saturday 24. During this time we will most likely have a meeting of the board of directors to address the restaurant in general so if anybody has any suggestions or (constructive) criticisms now is the time to get them in so we can discuss them. If you'd rather respond anonymously we do still have the hotmail account you can use: customerincognito@hotmail.com which uses the password: baansawan.

We feel like we're doing a good job but we're of a mind that there's always room for improvement. Handy attitude, I think, for everybody. Particularly those people at the supermarket who abandon their carts in the parking lot or at random places in the lobby. The other day two people removed their bags from their carts and walked away, leaving them right in front of the entrance to block anybody coming in. (I didn't just observe, by the way, I collected the disregarded buggies and filed them away.) Though that wasn't as bad as the woman a few months ago who put her bags in her car and then just got in, leaving her cart right outside her door. When she began to pull out she realized that she couldn't because her cart got in the way. She actually looked through her window at the poor, shopper-forsaken thing with irritation, as though it were about to wash her windshield and ask for change. How self-involved (and short-sighted) does one have to be to do that? and of what am I obliviously guilty, i suppose i should ask?
But I digress. (for more things that irritate me at the supermarket, write to baansawan@hotmail.com or send a SASE to blah blah blah)

This Thursday, as many of you know, is the day that the Beaujolais Nouveau arrives. It's been years since I've had this wine but I thought it was time to explore it again. No disrespect to the tireless Duboeuf (I have no "beef" with them. heh.) but I'll be offering Le Chateau de Pizay's vin de l'annee come Thursday night, unless something goes wrong. I've enjoyed this chateau's Beaujolais before (their Morgon, specifically) and was very impressed so I expect their nouveau won't disappoint.

Lately I've been tossing in some new beers and wines as the mood strikes me. I'll buy a case of a beer or a half-case of a wine and offer it on the specials board. I'll be more vigilant about keeping people up to date on that because I've had some quite interesting things come in and sell-out in a week's time. For the moment we've got a fascinating Scottish Ale from the Orkney Islands that's big and malty and quite unlike anything I've had before. 8.5% alc/vol. And we still have some farmhouse ale from Michigan that's a lot of fun. When we sell out of the latter I'll be revisiting the Kwak, the invigorating and malty Belgian dubbel with the cute glass.

here are some links relevant to the contents of this post.
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some information on Beaujolais Nouveau
http://www.intowine.com/beaujolais2.html
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the Kwak. Beware; while informative and charming, the website plays music.
http://www.bestbelgianspecialbeers.be/main_eng.html
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grocery carts

http://www.rsrevision.com/Alevel/ethics/virtue_ethics/
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I think that'll do it for this entry.
I hope everyone is doing well and I hope to see you all soon,
S

10 November 2007

10Nov. How to...be happy. advice
From
September 6, 2007

How to... be happy

The pursuit of happiness in the workplace is as much of a holy grail as it is in life, but there are ways to make that pursuit a happier experience

Finding a job that you like is clearly important to your workplace happiness, but it isn’t always easy – and even when you do there will still be times that you’re not happy. Obviously the best way to cheer yourself up is to turn Super Trouper up to 11 and dance around the room for five minutes, but if you don't have an Abba-friendly workplace you might like to try these suggestions instead.

1. Keep things in perspective. “Your work experience is a very big part of your life, but it’s not your whole life,” says Michael Chambers, the managing director of Bacs, the payment processing house. Remind yourself of the positive things in other parts of your life.

2. Recognise the possibility of happiness. “We very often fail to recognise the rich sources of pleasure and meaning that are right in front of us at work,” writes Tal Ben-Shahar in Happier (McGraw-Hill, £12.99). “To turn a possibility [for happiness] into a reality, we first need to realise that the possibility exists.”

3. Change your focus. If the daily grind is getting you down, look at the big picture and remind yourself why you took the job – for example, that you share your organisation’s goal of reducing poverty or that gaining experience at this firm will help you to land your dream job. On the flip side, if it’s the big picture that is getting you down – say, you feel that helping your company to get richer isn’t your goal in life – try concentrating on individual tasks that you can do well. Don’t underestimate the satisfaction that can be gained from getting little things done, whether that is finally clearing out your inbox or resolving an irritating administrative problem.

4. Surround yourself with happy people... even if that means making other people happy to do it, says Marc Woods, a motivational speaker. “People react well to you helping them, and being around happy people does rub off.” He also suggests finding a mentor who enjoys his or her job and can offer support dealing with your emotional state as well as with technical issues. And steer clear of moaners: just as positive people will help to keep your mood up, colleagues who spend their days complaining will inevitably bring you down.

5. Accept reality. Look for the opportunities that change will create rather than focusing entirely on the immediate negatives. “I had bone cancer and had a leg amputated at 17,” Woods says. “I could have said ‘woe is me’, but instead I sat down and thought ‘right, this how it is now, what can I do with it?’ (In his case that turned out to include winning four Paralympic gold medals).

6. Do the best you can. “If you know that you have done your job as well as you can, it can give you a sense of wellbeing even if things don’t work out quite as you’d hoped,” Woods says. “Take pride in doing your job well.”

7. Balance. Overwork and stress frequently lead to anxiety and unhappiness. Make sure that you have enough time to yourself for exercise, a social and family life and relaxation, Chambers says. Keeping a balance will also help out in those inevitable times when you are required to work longer or harder than usual.

8. Take a break. If everything is getting too much, get away from the environment that is making you unhappy, Chambers suggests. “Take a moment on your own to go for a walk or ask a colleague to come for a coffee. It will help you to calm down and get a sense of perspective.”

9. Take control. If something at work is making you unhappy, don’t wait for someone else to solve the problem – fix it yourself. “Take personal responsibility for things that don’t quite work or could be done better,” Woods says. “Managers like proactive people, so you could get a promotion, but at the very least it will improve your own job and help you to be happy.”

10. Be honest with yourself. Are you unhappy because you are in the wrong job? “Listen to your unhappiness,” Chambers says. “Can you resolve it in the current environment or is it a signal that it’s time to move on?” If you’ve done all you can to improve your mood and you’re still unhappy at work, it’s probably time to find something new. “Many [people]... are enslaved by their jobs, not because they have no choice, but because they have made a choice that made them unhappy,” Dr Ben-Shahar writes.

10Nov. A rambling text on expensive wine, the nature of generosity and so on.

"The price is, of course, quite out there but the more expensive wine I'm lucky enough to taste the more warranted these prices seem. I've never heard a bad thing about this wine and I've never had the pleasure. If it were my money I'd be inclined to spend it on Bordeaux but if I were to receive it I would definitely be incredibly excited. I've enjoyed some (much cheaper) wines from the Northern Rhone that inspired this (Hermitage. All syrah) and have been very impressed with how much is going on in there. So yes, I agree that a wine-lover (one who enjoys great wines for their greatness, not necessarily for their regions or styles) would be crazy about it.

But if you're dealing with somebody who is just starting out with wines I'd be afraid that the nuances might go over their head. I believe in leading up to great wine by learning on good wine. The more experience the greater the articulation which I think leads to a greater appreciation. Or, to put it another way, all the little things that make great sex great sex would be lost on a virgin. It may be fantastic, but without the experience to appreciate the effort...well...
that's my take on it. "

Such was how I responded to a friend of mine who'd sent me an article in the WSJ about Penfold's mighty Grange and how it was the ultimate gift for the wine lover, wine devotee or those interested in wine this season.

but I've rethought it a bit and now I'm not sure whether it's as clear as I vaguely described. Before I put the effort into my wine education I'd been exposed to several very nice wines. That is to say, before I would consider myself ready. Was that a waste of wine? I certainly don't think so but I do sort of regret that I wasn't able to enjoy them for what that were. I certainly hope that the people who shared these wines with me don't regret having done so if I couldn't eke out all that I could. I mean, to some degree I still don't think I was fully qualified to go to Pinot Camp but the thing that I do have is a genuine passion to learn more. Which, in part, was fueled by tasting outstanding wine and wanting to experience that again. So, in a way, all those who have brought in a stellar bottle of wine to share with me have directly influenced the quality of the current, and future, wine selections at Baan Sawan and future projects.
So. Is it a good idea to buy somebody who knows little about wine a remarkable, and expensive, bottle? If I say "no" with the reasoning that they won't fully appreciate it then I turn my back on the possibility that experiencing that wine might be epiphanic and drive the recipient to explore and learn and, ultimately, pass on their knowledge and wines to others to continue the cycle. Which is good. Or they might wait until they're drunk to chug it and waste it entirely. Which is bad.
At the end of the day, I suppose, we are talking about a gift. And what they do with it or how they appreciate it shouldn't concern us too much. A favorite Sartre quote of mine is "...all which I give, I enjoy in a higher manner through the fact that I give it away. To give is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives." He seemed to say this almost dismissively, as though it diminished the generosity itself. I don't think that's necessarily true. While it may not be "cool" to admit it, I revel in my petite bourgeoisie materialism. I don't have a lot but I enjoy what I do have and part of having is sharing, which illustrates that I have that which I'm sharing. This doesn't have to be bad. I'm not an ass about it but I do like to be able to give. And it helps that I'm constantly humbled by my meager income. And I do so love to educate and be educated.
Anyway. I've digressed, to some degree.
I suppose what I'm saying is that I now think that a gift of Grange, if you can afford it, would be a wonderful gift for anybody with a genuine interest in wine, experience notwithstanding.

23 July 2007

23mon - some changes to the menu
hello all,

So we're back from vacation (as a good deal of you seemed to notice over this last week) and with our return there are a couple of new things to mention.
First, we've done some much needed remodelling of the floor. It was a bit of work that cut into our vacation time so feel free to gush admiringly at our efforts.
Second, beginning Tuesday 24, there will have been some changes to the menu, among which is the addition of a few new items. There are a couple of new variants on satay and we've added slow-cooked pork as an option for the curries. The menu at the baansawan.blogspot.com dine-in link has been changed accordingly.

I'm going to be changing the featured wines list soon so if anyone has any recommendations or suggestions of a kind of wine they'd like to see you can write in and it'll be taken under consideration.

Similarly, and generally, if anyone has any sort of suggestions or comments or criticisms we'd be happy to hear them. If you'd like to work under the cloak of anonymity I've set up a hotmail account. customerincognito@hotmail.com with the password of "baansawan".
I'm sure it'll eventually be abused somehow but let's see if it yields anything constructive.

All right,
I hope everyone is doing well,
S

08 July 2007

































25Mon - Oregon Pinot Camp- 4th in a series of incredibly self-indulgent entries

(sadly, I'm no longer there so these and following accounts come largely from the journal I kept)

seminar 3
Our second day began at Penner-Ash. The bus trip there was with a different bus driver than the day before. The driver from the day before was named Marguerite ("Like margarita without the 'a'." she said. I can't decide if she said that to non-restaurant people or not. We'd all sort of taken to her and to shouting out "Fire it up, Marguerite!", though it seemed that some people on the bus would still shout that regardless of who was driving. Anyway, the bus driver today was the type of nice, well-meaning person who'd corner you at a party (or in this case, a bus) and talk your ear off about this, that and the other. Today he discussed the history of several things we passed and a number of things we would eventually pass. The thing is, I don't think anybody was really listening to him and the only reason I could hear him over the din of the bus was because I was sitting towards the front. I'd imagine he'd know this but on and on he went regardless in such a way that I suspect at night, when he's returning the bus and he's all alone, he still goes through the same spiel. (I heard somebody refer to him as "Cliff Clavin.") So we reach Penner-Ash, another in a series of astonishingly beautiful properties, and we had our class on white wines. We tasted Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, and a Gewurtraminer, which was a welcome change from all the pinot noir we tasted yesterday. The chardonnays went from light and unoaked to full and kind of oaky and they were all excellent. The one I like most, I think, was the Domaine Drouhin Oregon Arthur 2006. It had a firm body and nice, fresh fruit to it. The second flight was Pinot Gris, all of which I thought were nice but none were, I thought, particularly amazing. It was here that I learned that Pinot Gris is a very easy grape to grow though not always a best seller. One winemaker told us that almost any vineyard growing and selling pinot gris is most likely losing money on it. The next flight was 3 rieslings, 2 pinot blancs and the gewurz. The pinots I found just mildly interesting, the rieslings -from dry to sweet- I thought were very well done and the gewurz was sort of wildly fruity and sweet with a nose redololent with lychee nut. This lesson illustrated the various varietals Oregon is working on as well as a reiteration of terroir, particularly in the Chardonnay.
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Seminar 4
After that we went to Adelsheim for what I thought was the most educational and relevant (a distinction I make because, while the agricultural aspect is interesting and educational I'll use very little of it when I'm back home.) seminar of the trip. The first flight of pinot was separated into two: the first two we were asked to decide which was more fresh tasting and which more jammy and the second two we decided which had more modest fruit and which more intense. Flight two was six wines: 2 illustrated acidity; 2 tannin and 2 richness. Flight three was stylistic goals and we decided what each of five wines tried to do: be opulent or elegant, forward or ageworthy. Each of these 15 wines were selected from 150 different wines because they exemplified what was being taught. This is the sort of exercise that appeals to me, perhaps because the differences were more clear to my tongue than the previous day's pinot tasting. I could tell that one was more acidic than the other and I wasn't asked an open-ended question that resulted in people all around me offering things like, well this has some notes of cassis and spice while this has notes of blackberry and pepper. (Jeez; I've got a lot to learn.) So there was a lot of conversation about winemaker intent and perception and such like. Good stuff.
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Seminar 5
The last one. Here already. This was a lesson on sustainability and organics and viticultural practices consistent with these beliefs. It took place on the vineyards of WillaKenzie Estate, a beautiful and sustainable vineyard with weeds and tall grasses growing among the grapevines which was illustrative of their philosophy. If I understand correctly, the purpose of their approach is to prolong the viability of the land rather than exhausting the soil with chemicals. So they utilize nature's own solutions to pest control and suchlike. They mentioned how they once had a field mouse problem because the style of compost they were using made for comfy mouse nests. Rather than blanketing the vines with something that would kill the mice they adjusted the compost and allowed for nature to take its course, which it did by way of a disease that controlled the population (I can only presume the disease wasn't zoonotic.) There was also some discussion of pruning and awareness of where sunlight falls vis-a-vis where on the vines the grapes grow. And there was also a talk on biodynamics. Now this is peculiar. It revolves around ideas of the spirituality and energy inherent in nature. It does have a certain mysticism to it that might roll a few eyes but the philosophy is growing in popularity. It's fascinating.Then there was a panel discussion on organic farming and the various levels of intensity that exist.
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Dinner at Stoller Vineyards
I'd seen the sign for Stoller as I drove around and sort of looked in that direction. The view from the road couldn't prepare me for how gorgeous the grounds would be. We hit it later in the day when the sun was going down (very slowly) behind the hills so that the lighting silhouetted the trees in a very striking way. Once again there was the crowd and the tents where one could taste from what seemed like countless wineries, which I partook of only slightly, preferring instead to take advantage of the local cheeses, salami and crispy breads. And sardines or anchovies, I don't know which but they were light and fresh tasting with a nice lemony quality. Really quite delicious. I called Leigh and we chatted as I walked around until dinner was approaching readiness. I walked down to the dinner tent as was amazed to see how the salmon was being prepared. They'd split alder stakes and pinched huge pieces of salmon in between the pieces then drove the stakes into the ground surrounded a bonfire. Also cooking in this fashion were whole legs of pork (hooves on!). So, as I'd done almost everytime I'd encountered a table, I sat alone and waited what seemed like forever until somebody else sat at the same table. This seemed like the social equivelant of being picked last for a game. "I guess I'll sit next to that guy, whom I don't know but can only presume won't be interesting." I was eventually joined by some people who informed me that nothing was to be brought to me and that I had to pick up my food at the other end of the tent. So off I went and stacked my plate with curried beets, some sort of delicious salady thing with hazelnuts, bread and pork and salmon. The salmon in particular was amazing. I'd never experienced the range of flavors in a piece of salmon before. So I sat back down and chatted with Tahmiene Momtazi, daughter of and most-likely future winemaker for Moe Momtazi, founder/owner of Maysara Winery. It was here that I tried what was to be the wine I'd walk away loving the most: Eyrie Vineyards 2002. It was a gorgeous rust color with an elegant mouthfeel and full flavor. Of course, there's no Eyrie representation in SC. Also, Tahmiene convinced me to get some of the little chocolate eclairs at the desert table which was an equally amazing experience. So the night continued and then sort of broke up as night fell. Some went to the bonfire, some stayed at the tents chatting. I finished the bottle of Eyrie. I chatted a bit here and there and then it was time to go back to the hotel. In the bus I tried to get a song going but (somehow- perhaps allegedly) nobody around me knew the words to "the flintstones".

26 June 2007










24sun - Oregon Pinot Camp. 3rd in a series of incredibly self-indulgent entries
first seminar
We were assigned to buses based on which hotel where we were staying. My hotel was to be serviced by the Gold Bus. The Gold Bus would soon become synonymous with the drinking crowd. Within moments of our departure our camp counselors listed the various beverages available to us that morning. Beer. Wine. Sparkling wine. Oregon gin and Oregon Vodka. Tonic. This bus was better equipped than a number of parties I'd been to.
The bus took us to downtown Carlton where I was to find an exciting exercise in not only Oregon Pinot Noir terroir but also how incredibly inexperienced my taste is. It began with a blind tasting of several pinot noirs in the effort to try to isolate common factors among them. What made Oregon Pinot Oregon Pinot, in other words. As luck would have it I sat next to someone who seemed to have an enthusiastic opinion on everything. I nodded at his comments but I later learned that this man, whom I'd thought to be simply a little loud and conspicuous was someone of note. This man turned out to be a master sommelier; the first American to have served as President of the Court of master sommeliers; and the current president of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. So shut my mouth; I was sitting next to a celebrity. So I tasted and discovered that I generally found the Pinots to taste like Pinots and that I had little else to contribute than that observation. They were filled with nuances, sure, but to my lagging tongue describing the nuances would've been like describing the differences between the more contemplative pieces of Liszt and Chopin. I'm just too dense to tell the differences. So listening to all of the intelligent questions and observations was very helpful. We had lunch where this tasting took place: at the winery of Scott Paul next to a building right out of a Charles Sheeler painting. It was here that I noticed that a lot of the women who are involved in Oregon winemaking are unusually cute.
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second seminar

Our next workshop took us to the vineyards of Elk Cove, where we experienced the mercurial and chilly winds of Oregon as we trekked up 45degree incline hills to learn about viticulture. We learned about spacing of plants, what should be considered when choosing a planting site and the rudimentary ideas of pruning vines. There was then a discussion on organic/sustainable vineyards. Somewhere during all of this I realized that I was back in high school, it seemed. People seemed to know each other left and right and I'm simply not the personality to leap into a conversation. I suddenly found myself adhering to a "Don't speak unless spoken to" attitude that made me quite the wallflower.
Anyway, after this we went back to hotel for a nap and then we were off to dinner at Domaine Serene.
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This hilltop estate boasts gorgeous views, exemplary lawns that begged to be lied down on (I was too self-conscious to) and a dedicated crew to keep it all up. At one point I sat on a hill watching the swallows dip and swoop in the gusts of wind that fluttered the grapevines. The view was, it goes without saying, spectacular. I spoke with Michelle Groshell, property manager, for most of the evening. It was a satisfying conversation that ranged from the sartorial quality of the golden age of travel to archicture to opera and 80s fashion and art, specifically Patrick Nagel, of whose reference I haven't heard in some time. It was refreshing not to talk about business or wine.
Day two and I've managed not to return to the hotel drunk.
It's remarkable the wine to which we're all exposed. It seems like the average bottle prices are in the 30 to 40 dollar neighborhood so it's almost surreal to me (to whom a 20 dollar bottle is a bit of a splurge) to have $50 bottles of wine rolling around the floor of the bus as we're headed back to our hotel.
It's also an amazing experience to be somewhere where every single wine I've tasted I've liked on some level or another. There just doesn't seem to be a poor wine here and I think that's because for every tasting the panels have carefully chosen the wines from many to illustrate their lessons.
The bus sang "You've lost that loving feeling" on the way back to our hotel.

25 June 2007






I bolted awake at about 5.30 this morning with the feeling that I was late, then returned to sleep on and off until the real 8.30 rolled around and I got ready to find the Pacific. On one of the times I got lost I stopped to browse through an antique store's parking lot sale, where I saw a lot of rusted farm equipment and a man sitting on a trailer surrounded by his rustic wares. One item was labelled "Varmint Trap." He wore black cowboy boots, black jeans, a black leather, embroidered jacket and a black cowboy hat. The most peculiar part of his ensemble was the cigar he was smoking, or rather how he was smoking it. He'd nestled it in the bowl of a pipe, which he'd then set to smoking contentedly. The rest of the trip was a remarkable sampler of Oregon countryside as I drove through lush fields, farmland, wind-rippled tall grass then douglas-firred mountains. Serpentine roads cut through cliffs covered in huge, prehistoric looking ferns and there cropped up, from time to time, on the side of the road little bunches of what looked like tiny pine tree clusters in a bright, vivid green. There were tight turns that became nerve-wracking one-lane bridges where it was trusted that oncoming cars would yield to whomever was on the bridge first. And the quality of ubiquitous green was simply breathtaking. My first view of the coast was from a highway vista point and I gradually worked my way down to the beach where I was pleased to find no more than 5 people at any given time. It was rather cold, though, for the introduction of Pacific to feet but it was a nice moment. I called Leigh and Alex and walked up the beach picking up little smooth black rocks here and there. I came across some cliffy rock things that were impressive in their size. It occurred to me that I had said little more than 10 words to anybody for almost 24 hours and I found that somehow satisfying.
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On the way back from the beach I stopped at one of those half-moon shaped shoulders on the side of a mountain and, as luck would have it, as soon as I got out of the car I heard the crashing of a waterfall. I took a peek over an embankment and there was a gorgeous creek, part of the Yamhill River I later learned, and I clambered down the hill to reach the water. There I found a wonderfully peaceful scene that inspired me to lean down and fill the cup of my palm with river water and drink of it. It was clear and sweet and good to drink. I enjoyed this communion with nature for a moment then, upon turning around, I noticed that I'd also stumbled across a couch cemetery. Evidently this spot was where people liked to stop and toss out their old couches.
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The Reception.
So the reception was fun. I registered and received a tote bag, a water bottle (not to be lost) and a windbreaker. Then the wineries involved were situated in a big circle and I visited a few that I thought seemed interesting. This was my first exposure to the crowd and I found it to be predictably peculiar. A quick glance at the manifest showed that I was the only person from Columbia, though a number of people from Charleston, Greenville and Hilton Head were present. So I poked around and tasted around 15 or so wines, the only one of which that I really enjoyed but didn't have South Carolina representation was Eyrie Vineyards. Then I broke away and headed towards the dinner I'd chosen. Several of the wineries had made invitations for campers to join them after the reception for a dinner and I'd chosen to go to Adelsheim (pronounced Adels-heim, not Adel-sheim, like I first thought) vineyards. I was the first one there and I met Eugenia Keegan and David Adelsheim. I was so charmed that my introduction to David Adelsheim (founder and president, mind you, of the whole thing) included his coming out in an apron and holding a bowl of cherry and pinot noir vinagraitte that he'd made. This wonderfully intimate quality set the tone for the evening as the entire affair had the flavor of joining friends for a meal at their house. There were a few people there, including, coincidentally, a young woman from Charleston with impressive restaurant experience. The current winemaker, David Paige, sat at the table where I was and I was able to ask a few questions about consideration of Burgundian appellation archetypes (little consideration) that I'm sure made me seem more concerned with France than I should be, considering where I am. The dinner was a fantastic rosemary grilled pork, green beans, some sort of bulgar thing and a salad with that cherry/pinot dressing I'd seen being finished up. The wines were a delightfully refreshing Auxerrois and several different vintages of their Elizabeth's reserve. Desert consisted of local cheeses, the gorgonzola-type of which I loved. This was a great way to begin everything with a nice dinner, interesting conversation and a tranquil view of vineyards as the setting sun cast its different shadows.

23 June 2007








22Fri - on my way to Oregon. 1st of a series of self-indulgent blog entries

Well, this is very exciting. the plane is striving for its cruising altitude and I'm well and truly on my way to Oregon. It's roughly at this point when I begin to have doubts and wonder if, when I get to the reception, I will have forgotten something key and I'll be cast out into (this being the Pacific Northwest) the rain. Then I'll have several days to do with as I will, I suppose.
Thoughts run rampant as the plane banks and shimmies. I look out the window and see the countryside as a pleasing patchwork of shapes and shades of browns and greens. It calls to mind the complexity and variations of an Andreas Gursky photograph. And as we turn so that the sun is more or less in my eyes I'm reminded of the other day when I saw a young-tough wannabe walking up Roswood with the sun shining in his eyes. He held his hand up to shade his eyes, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he wore what appeared to be a perfectly serviceable baseball cap with the bill facing backwards. Does he know that, properly angled, that bill could do just as good a job, if not better, as his palm? But as I consider how many clothes I'm taking with me, I realize I have no business making fun of someone else's preference for fashion over logic.
I'm astonished and gratified at how quickly the mother in 9B (to my 10A) has quieted her child who suddenly began shrieking in such a way that threatened to awake the timpanist in my head. While on a different day I might have been more wary of its abrupt silence, today I'm just glad of it. And besides, it appears to be moving again.
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After the plane's descent, and the sudden and totally unexpected sensation of the upper left side of my face both imploding and expanding at the same time, I purchased some sinus pressure medication at Leigh's suggestion. At my own suggestion I purchased a pair of socks at a Brooks Brothers I was surprised to find in the Houston airport. While the purchase didn't immediately soothe my still sore sinus I suspect that, in the long run, I'll feel better about the whole thing.
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I got to hear someone speak of Columbia from the point of view a visitor. The person two seats down from me had just been taking classes at the National Advocacy Center and was discussing how he kind of liked Columbia. Quite likely not knowing what he was getting into, the man on my right asked something I vaguely remember as innocuous which seemed to pull and break the string on the Chatty Cathy that guy turned out to be. It amused me to watch the reluctant audience of this soliloquy and how his body language changed from accepting to facing straight ahead to playing and tugging at the hair on his forearm while occassionally sighing. Whether the message was received or he'd grown dizzy from his efforts, talky guy quieted down and pretty much stayed that way.
Meanwhile, and I don't remember when it started, the view outside grew more and more fascinating. Cloud formations always entertain me at this height with their variations and their resemblance to terran topography. I like imagining that I'm flying low over Antarctic terrain. Then, suddenly, we passed mountains and there were these magnificent, rocky plains with what must've been gargantuan canals gouged out of them. More mountains with rivulets flowing down them that may or may not have been roads. More craggy plains and a peculiar expanse of what seemed like silt left over from a flood. Its smoothness confused and, out of nowhere it seemed, a mighty highway erupted from these flats and charged off towards the horizon in an impressively straight line. Clouds, sedate mountain ranges, scarred valleys.Then suddenly a sharp, snow-dappled peak that punctured and split a tumultuous carpet of clouds with an almost Japanese grace.

_______________

I'd reserved an economy car from Alamo (a Chevy Aveo) and was told to go out to the lot and choose which one I wanted from spaces C10 and C11. Oddly, the spaces seemed to go from C9 to D and when a man who worked there parked a Prius I asked him where C10 and 11 were. He looked at me flatly and gestured towards the Prius he'd just exited. "You laihk? You tehk it." I said that I was supposed to get an economy, not a compact. By this time another Alamo employee had joined him and leaned against a pearl Dodge Magnum. "You choosss phdum deez." he said, gesturing to two Priuses and something else kind of wagon-ny and the first guy repeated "You laihk? You tehk it." I warily put my bags in the back of a silver Prius and watched their expressions carefully as I pulled out, waiting for an explosion of laughter but saw only their heads swivel to follow my departure. The man who took my ticket and lifted the gate seemed to have no problem with my being in that particular car, even after he checked something on his computer, so off I went. Thank god for my experience with Leigh's Prius since it's just different enough to confound someone unfamiliar with its layout.
______________

Changed my mind about driving to the coast tonight. By the time I'd get back to the hotel my body would think it's 4 in the morning and I should get my rest. Drove straight to McMinnville while listening to the Magnetic Fields CD that Matt made me. Called Leigh when I walked in the room, then let her go back to sleep. Put up all my clothes. Found a number of love notes that Leigh had hidden among my things (read a few, saved a few) and now I'm off to bed.

16 June 2007

16June -Four Poems for our new Beers

Sonnet for the J.K. Scrumpy's Hard Cider
6% alc/vol - 22oz
Michigan, USA
$12

What makes this cider charm this drinker's heart?
What qualities could this one beer possess
that make it shine- that set this one apart?
Just what could make its memory caress?

Is it the fact that just two things go in?
Just yeast and apple fill this bottle's chest
so when I taste the fresh delight within
it pains me that my joy goes unexpressed.

Oh, sparkling farmhouse cider that is hard;
to drink you takes me to a different place.
To crisp, autumnal evenings so be-starred
and lips on necks and passionate embrace.

I enjoy this beverage to its appley core.
To drink another cider now would be a bore.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Sonnet for the Delirium Tremens
8.5% alc/vol
Belgium
(served in an aroma concentrating glass)
$8

What Belgian delectation have we here?
This brew - so full, but can it fill my heart?
Perhaps it's foolish now to hope this beer
can mend that which your absence tears apart.

Just what are those aromas that I sniffed?
Mm. Yes, I know I've smelled those notes before.
Banana yeasty undertones uplift
my soul that dragged and scraped upon the floor.

This satisfying finish: oh, how smooth.
Good things that end should always end like this.
This beer that thrills- it, too, knows how to soothe;
a feeling missing from your parting kiss.

If life insists our love must be no more
at least I have this beer that I can pour.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Rondeau for the Samichlaus
14% alc/vol
Austria
(served in an aroma concentrating glass)
$10

The Samichlaus is quite a brew.
It was, 'til now, a sales taboo.
Fourteen percent is alcohol,
(the fact, alone, has me in thrall)
and beers this strength are overdue.

It's strong and malty, very true
but this exceeds all beers I knew
for almost brandy-like I'd call
The Samichlaus.

It's gently warming. Creamy, too.
Sweet's a term I might pursue
but nothing cloying, not at all.
And years from now you will recall
the beer that few are equal to:
The Samichlaus.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Villanelle for the Mackeson Triple Stout
US (British recipe and brewed under British supervision)
$3.75


The world can change in just a blink.
It did for me when I first tried
the Mackeson I love to drink.

So easily my coins do clink
now that I spend my dough in stride
for that rich stout that pours like ink.

How all its flavors work in sync.
Such malt and cocoa thrive inside
the Mackeson I love to drink.

From civilized to missing link
this beer appeals both far and wide.
It is our armor's dreaded chink.

Should I nod off and catch a wink
and dream that no-one could provide
the Mackeson I love to drink

I'd dream I'd put up quite a stink.
I know should sense and want collide
that in my tummy I would sink
the Mackeson I love to drink.
16June - update on our time off and new beers

I've been terrible about keeping everybody up-to-date with what's going on but it's been pretty busy lately. An explanation, but not an excuse.
Anyway, the highlights are these:
New beer list.
With the advent of high-alcohol beers in the state we've taken on some new items. We've got a delicious and refreshing hard cider; a lean and taut Belgian blond ale; a (normal alcohol) British-style porter; and a tremendous Austrian 14% after-dinner beer that becomes less a beer and more a liquor.

closed for vacation.
We'll be taking some time off in a few weeks. The first and second week of July we'll be closed. Our first day closed will be July 3rd and we'll re-open on Tuesday the 17th. So mark your calendars. Re-arrange important dates. Pick up our newspapers so it looks like we're there.

Misc.
And, while this doesn't concern you in any real way, I'm very excited because I'll be gone this upcoming Friday until Thursday because I'll be in Oregon. I'll be taking part in a Pinot camp, during which I'll be learning a lot about Pinots Noir and Blanc, Pacific Northwest terroir, winemaking in general, and whether I'll have the self-control not to get blotto during the tastings. In Oregon! Verdant, lush Oregon.(See how excited I am? I used an exclamation point.) I'm sure I'll inundate the website and MySpace pages with photos of my trip. So Alex will be taking my place behind the bar and I'm sure he'll do a great job.

So that's what's happening.
I hope this message finds everyone well,
S

29 April 2007

29April - New things going on

Well, I've been extraordinarily lazy about keeping everyone updated about the goings-on that are going on here.
So this is what's happening.
First, we've got a new featured wines list.
The red wine this time is a fun Argentinian wine that's a blend of pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon. It's pretty full and rich, as one would expect of a southern hemisphere cab but the pinot noir adds an elegance that I find very satisfying. The white wine is another unusual blend of mostly chardonnay with gewurztraminer and semillon. The chardonnay is very evident in this, though not in a bothersome way. Full and fairly dry. And then the rose is back. This is the same Provencal rose as last year so you can expect that nice, slightly spicy kind of citrus-y and very dry quality that one expects from a good southern French rose.

Then we've added some outside seating. Only two tables tables of two, but still, they're outside and pleasantly near the new fountain we've put in that replaced the pond. That little corner is still in progress but we foresee a pleasant little area there provided you don't order too much for the tables to hold. I, in my infinite lack of wisdom, failed to measure anything and so the 24" tabletops don't quite comfortably fit two of our round dinner plates, which are about 26" across. But we're working on it and it's still nice out there. When I have time I'll post some pictures on the website.

We've also been dealing with friends who've begun a seafood business. They offer local clams and crawfish and soft-shell crab so we'll be trying to take advantage of that resource. We offered clams last week in a garlicky, basil white wine broth which was received very positively so we'll likely do that again. They deliver their live wares on Thursdays so when we receive them they'll be available from then through Saturday. If you're interested in what we'll be offering we suggest you give us a call.

It would appear that we'll be allowed to sell high-alcohol beers pretty soon, which I find very exciting. I had lunch the other day with a distributor who's bringing in some very interesting, very potent beers that would work wonderfully with our food. So if all goes well the next version of the beer menu will be lots of fun.

And, lastly, pretty soon we'll be losing two of our servers to the call of their future. (These kids with their future and their potential. What about our needs?) So if anybody knows anybody who'd be interested in working with us, we are taking applications. Available hours would be Tues-Sat, though more urgently we need a Tuesday and Thursday person since we're down to only Ben on those days, which means I come out from behind my safe,safe bar to take tables.

That should be all for a little while.
I hope everyone is doing well.

S

17 April 2007

17Apr - These are a few things I've found that I've really enjoyed. However, none of these items can be found for sale at the restaurant.

1: Borsao Campo de Borja. This is a Spanish blend of Grenache/Tempranillo from near the Rioja region. I found it for 6.99 at Green's on Assembly, 7.99 at World Market and 8.99 at Earth Fare. It's a steal at any of those prices though, naturally, the Green's price pleases me most. It's in a squattish Burgundian bottle with a label that looks kind of like a MirĂ³ in earth tones. I find it to be a pretty rich, slightly earthy and spicy wine that's reminiscent of Southern Rhone wines. Red and black fruit flavors and even, to me, a touch of countryside. For the buck I think it's fantastic and I'd carry it myself but I don't work with its distributor.
2: Coffee Masters - Su Casa Blend. The description on the bag sums it up nicely. "A Cuban style dark roast. An earthy, full body with a rich dark chocolate note." We got it whole bean but they might have it ground, as well. The "they" is Cloud Nine on Gervais. Before tasting it I was mildly afraid the "chocolate note" implied it was flavored but we found that it was more in the coffee's deep finish that suggested chocolate. $12.99: 12oz bag - whole bean.
3: Dolfin Chocolat - Noir 88% de Cacao. Also at Cloud Nine but they might have run out of the 88% by now. There should be plenty of the 70% left. I'm sure it's similarly delicious. This Belgian chocolate (wrapped in a very cool plastic envelope, by the way) is intense and rich and maybe not for everybody but the most enthusiastic about dark chocolate. $3.29: 2.47oz bar.
4: My watch. This is irrelevant but I was very excited and relieved to find it. It had fallen behind the bookcase.

So I thought I'd share that with everybody in case anybody's interested.
3 new featured wines are in the wings and should come out later this week.
New beer list in maybe a month.
Best to all,
S

21 March 2007

20Mar -There's a new by-the-bottle list
____________________________

I have introduced a new by-the-bottle winelist. It is the culmination of months and months of promises (to you as well as to myself) to update it and finish it.
While the old menu was a fully-illustrated, comment-wielding, time-consuming-to-read(and produce) tract on wines I really like, this new one is slightly easier to maintain while retaining all those other qualities. I've devised a structure that will allow for it to be updated at a moment's notice by modifying 5 small photo albums to accept business card pages which I have then filled with business card-sized slips of paper with wine descriptions and label sketches. So when something is sold out that wine's card can be removed from the list and when I find something I want to put on the menu I can just slip in a new card. While the downside to this is that there's no table of contents (though there is some country of origin organization), what I consider an upside is that this allows me to bring in new wines all the time without having to print out new lists all the time. However, this does mean that not everyone gets one tucked in their menus. If you'd like to see the list you will have to ask (or get up and grab one. They're next to the other menus on that little table.)
So while it's difficult to say at any given moment what's on the list, right now I've got things like a fantastic Australian shiraz with relatively restrained fruit (none of that Australian fruit-bomb jamminess we've come to expect) and a fatty, sausage-y nose; a great, interesting and full-bodied southern French white with layers of flavor and a fairly dry finish; a 14 year old Morey-Saint-Denis with that great Burgundy funk on the nose and a suprisingly perky acidity; and a beautiful Brunello di Montalcino with a rich, full body and a tannic finish that's firm yet delicate.
And a gloriously robust and lusty Bandol and a heart-warming and comforting red from Provence and a fun and different white Bordeaux and even an affordable Gaja nebbiolo/merlot/cab sauv blend that, needless to say, is amazing. I mean, it's Gaja.
By the way, if you'd prefer your white wine warmer than the 45degrees F where they are now, just tell us and we can take it out and allow it to warm up before serving it.

You know, the other day I was looking in the wine cave-thing because I was in the mood to open something later that night and each bottle I looked at reminded me of the pleasure I experienced when I first drank it. The joy of its inherent deliciousness as well as the warm camaraderie of identifying and breaking down flavor profiles with friends. The satisfaction of observation and patience as the wine develops in the glass. In our daily lives how often is it that we can delight both the corporal and cerebral like that? Ideally, at least three times a day for every meal but we so frequently consume without thinking.
The wines on this list deserve your attention and it is my belief that if you offer it to them, they will reward you greatly.

-S

14 March 2007

We're going to be closed Saturday the 17th for St. Patrick's Day.
that is all.
S

07 March 2007

moment of silence for Ernest Gallo's passing


I may be one of the first people to walk casually by the Gallo section when looking for a bottle of wine but I acknowledge the tremendous impact the Gallos have had on the wine industry at large. Lucky are those, I suppose, whose exposure to wine began with 1st growth Bordeaux and 20 year old Brunello but I suspect the bulk of us were guided through our seminal years by the accessible and broad strokes provided by the likes of Gallo.

S

(reprinted from Wine Spectator online)
Ernest Gallo Dead at 97

Industry titan teamed with brother Julio to build world's largest winery

Posted: Tuesday, March 06, 2007

By James Laube

Ernest Gallo, who built a small winery into a global empire in a career that spanned eight decades, died today at his home in Modesto, the city where it all began. He was 97.

Gallo was one of the undisputed titans of the California wine industry. Many of his peers considered him the father of the modern California wine industry, helping lead its recovery from Prohibition. The company he built became the world’s largest wine producer and marketer in the 1980s.

"Ernest Gallo was an extraordinary man of vision who left an indelible imprint on the history of California wine," said Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator.

Robert Mondavi, who knew Gallo since the 1930s, recalled their efforts to develop a wine business as America struggled through the Depression and two world wars.

"I remember the earliest days, when Ernest and I traveled up and down the country trying to sell California wine," Mondavi said. "He was a little more successful than I, but we both worked our legs off."

"The truth is we both had different visions and were able to realize those different dreams."

Ernest Gallo and his brother Julio, younger by a year, were the E. & J. initials on the Gallo label, and they were the driving force behind this family-owned winery. Both men were shy and reclusive, but they had a deep knowledge of their industry and were responsible for many innovations in winemaking and marketing.

Julio died in 1993 in a freak off-road vehicle accident at age 83. Julio’s death came just as he had made Gallo’s finest wines from a new vineyard planted in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. Those vineyards and a winery in Dry Creek became the base for their fine wine operations under the name Gallo of Sonoma. The brothers were given Wine Spectator's Distinguished Service Award in 1983.

The sons of Italian immigrants, the Gallos came from humble origins. Ernest was born in Jackson, Calif., on March 18, 1909, and he and Julio grew up making homemade wine with their father, stomping grapes with their feet. During Prohibition--which outlawed the commercial production of wine--they sold grapes to home winemakers in the Midwest and East Coast. Those contacts would become useful in later years as Ernest traveled the country to sell wines.

They opened their winery in Modesto, Calif., in 1933 after the repeal of Prohibition legalized winemaking. But the Gallos knew little about the chemistry of winemaking, so they borrowed pamphlets on winemaking from the Modesto City Library.

"This was the beginning of our knowledge about making commercial wine, such as how to have a sound, clean fermentation and how to clarify the wine,” Ernest said in interviews with Wine Spectator. "These old pamphlets probably saved us from going out of business our very first year--as did those new wineries that produced undrinkable wine."

Then, with $900 in savings and a loan for $5,000, they rented for $60 a month a small cement warehouse in their hometown where they made their first wines. They later built a giant winery that spanned more than 400 acres in size, with the capacity to make 1 million gallons of wine. From the air, the sprawling facility, with its scores of stainless steel tanks, looked like an oil refinery.

Early on, the Gallo winery was little more than Ernest and Julio and their wives, Amelia and Aileen, respectively, but their confidence was "unbounded," Ernest said. As their business grew, they divided the responsibilities. Julio, who liked farming, oversaw winemaking, while Ernest focused on the business of sales and marketing. The two brothers were close and worked side by side until Julio’s death. One axiom held that Julio tried to make more wine than Ernest could sell, and that Ernest tried to sell more wine than Julio could make.

Through hard work and sheer determination, the winery grew and prospered, selling wide variety of wines, ranging from sweet, fortified wines, to generic table wines to brandies, vermouth, ports, sherries and wine coolers. Many of their brands were household names, including Thunderbird, Ripple, Spanada, Gypsy Rose, Andre, Carlo Rossi, Boone’s Farm and Bartles & Jaymes, and mirrored American’s changing tastes for wine.

Despite their popularity, wines such as Ripple and Thunderbird, contributed to the Gallo’s image of purveyors of ordinary jug wines, an impression they sought to overcome in later years.

As early as the 1930s and 1940s, the Gallos were not only major grape buyers in the Central Valley, but they purchased a large portion of the grapes, and some wines, grown in Napa and Sonoma counties, which they used in their table wines, such as the famous Gallo Hearty Burgundy and Chablis Blanc. In 1937, Ernest recalled in an interview with Wine Spectator, he and Julio bought 400,000 gallons of wine, most of the inventory, from Beaulieu Vineyard in Napa Valley, for eight cents gallon.

Ernest had a keen sense of marketing and was known for his detailed, hands-on research. He routinely visited cities and retail outlets where his wines were sold to make sure they were given the best possible placement.

Though stern and demanding, he also had a dry, witty sense of humor, which came through in an interview where he described his education and success.

"My first-grade teacher told me I was the dumbest student she ever had," he said, adding, "She did me a favor. If she had told me I was very smart, I wouldn't have tried to improve. Anyway, I'd rather be lucky than smart." While he rarely gave interviews, he had a knack for simple, one or two word answers. And he routinely tried to pry information out of the interviewer, rather than divulge anything about his company or its plans.

A stickler by nature, Ernest was never satisfied with his wines and was always looking for ways to improve them. "We got where we did, wherever it is, because we always sought perfection," he said. "We never achieve it, but we keep trying."

By the 1970s, the Gallos had become the dominant wine company in the U.S., and in 1978 Julio made their first Sonoma County Cabernet, laying the groundwork for what would be a major push by the Gallos into the fine wine market in the 1990s. "It's the last mountain to climb," Ernest said of Gallo of Sonoma and its line of varietal wines.

The Gallos could have owned land wherever they wanted. But they had strong ties with old-time Italian growers and maintained that Sonoma County, with is diverse appellations, had the best land and climate for the kinds of wines they wanted to make. They purchased large tracts of land that were developed into vineyard. Along with Gallo of Sonoma, they produce Sonoma-grown wine under the Frei Bros., McMurray Ranch and Rancho Zabaco labels, as well as Turning Leaf.

The company also began an import business, focusing on affordable wines from Italy, under the Ecco Domani label, and from southern France, under the Red Bicylette brand. Gallo also introduced a Napa Valley Cabernet under the Marcelina label. It further expanded its interests in Napa with the acquisition of Louis M. Martini Winery.

With Gallo of Sonoma established, Ernest considered most of his work completed and was confident that the next generation--including family members in key decision-making jobs--would fulfill his dream.

But in true Ernest Gallo fashion, he was still not satisfied. "What bothers me is that our industry has not achieved the status that it really deserves."

Ernest was predeceased by his wife of 62 years, Amelia, along with a son, David, and brother Julio. He is survived by his son Joseph, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be private. In lieu of flowers, the Gallo family has requested that contributions be made to the Ernest and Julio Gallo Scholarship Fund at Modesto Junior College.

01 March 2007

Help wanted!

We're in need of a server to work Tuesday and Thursday nights with the possiblity of Saturdays nights, maybe on a rotating basis. But Tuesday and Thursday for sure. We'd need them to begin immediately.

So if anybody knows anybody who is interested or has any questions, please give us a call at 252.8992.

Thanks,
S

16 February 2007

If you'd like to be added to the email list then send a request to baansawan@hotmail.com

Most of the emails end up here anyway, but there are some that go out to just the list.
Out with some old wines, in with some new

All right. For a variety of reasons, I've done quite a bit with the by-the-glass wine menu. Some items I removed because they were becoming too widely available (and therefore the path more travelled) and others because their sales were poor. So, ever the inquisitive soul, I took it upon myself to explore the nooks and crannies of my distributor's catalogues and taste what there was to taste. After a number of months of, frankly, drinking I've dropped a number of our old wines and took on many new ones. And, still, I don't feel quite satsified so things may change mildly in the coming months but here's what's happened:

Gone are the:

-Gnarly Head Zinfandel - It's everywhere now. I like the new one better anyway. Perhaps because it has a touch of petite syrah to it.

-L de Lyeth Merlot and Domaine de Gournier Merlot
- I had two on the menu in the hopes to appeal to old world and new world fans. As it happens, there appear to be far more of the latter than the former but rather than stick to just California style I found a French merlot that has a French-like tendency for layers but also has a mildly California-like enthusiasm for full-fruit flavors.

-Henri Miquel Syrah & Big Five Shiraz
- Like the merlots, I wanted to appeal to both and, interestingly, found that tastes went for the old in this case. But, again, I'm going in a completely different direction and I've found a South American Shiraz that's got a deep, rich character that maintains a sense of syrah while being different in interesting ways.

-Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon-
This one is everywhere, too. I found a cab (the same people who make the above shiraz, actually. Normally I'd refrain from having two wines from the same vineyard on the menu but I genuinely liked these two enough.) that is just as big but has a tad more tannin and bit more oak.

-Fourplay and Menage a Trois
- I got the laugh so it's time to move on. I'm going to miss the former in particular - it may end up on the by the bottle list- but it got ordered so rarely that it had become a waste of money. One glass would get sold and then the open bottle would sit there until it went bad. Pity, but such is the nature of by-the-glass. And the latter is leaving because, again, it's popping up too widely. And I think it's gotten sweeter over the years and less to my taste than when I started.

-Kim Crawford Chardonnay
- This I'm almost on the fence about. Good name recognition without it inundating the market and it does sell fairly well but I found an unoaked chardonnay that I like much better. I think the new one is more lush and fruity with a more defined finish. Works really well with spicy foods and is actually less expensive, so rather than 8.50 a glass for the Kim Crawford I can now charge 7.95 a glass. Everybody wins. Except Kim Crawford, I guess.

-Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc & Domaine de Gournier
- De Gournier never sold. That one is as simple as that. And I've always felt a little odd carrying the Rodney Strong despite it being a genuinely good product. Nothing against Rodney Strong but it felt a bit like an unimaginative choice, going with a stand-by like that. Like I didn't want to put in the work to find a less well-known Sauvignon Blanc. So it's gone and I'm putting in a Chilean one that I think is great. In fact, I had it on the menu a while ago - it being one of the first white wines to grab my red-wine oriented attention - but it never sold. I felt like it was on account of the Spanish, perhaps difficult to pronounce, name but I'm not going to worry about that anymore so on it goes.

- Chateau St. Yves and Baumard Chenin Blanc
- Letting these go hurts me almost as much as seeing Arrested Development getting cancelled. And for the same reason: sparse audiences despite great product. These were solid wines that warmed my heart with their presence on my menu. A dry, hand-picked Chenin Blanc like that. What body. What grace. And I'm still on the same case as when I put it on the menu probably six, seven months ago. In fact, I've still got four or so bottles left that are going home with me.


And the future holds a different Pinot Blanc and a different Riesling, but I still have so many of the present ones I'm going to wait a little bit to switch them out.



Plus I've added two new reds. One's a fantastic, brawny Australian blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It's been received quite well. The other is a character-filled, southern France all-over-it Cotes du Rhone that I like so much because it's not as light as many I've tried. Like most Cotes du Rhone, this one works very well with food but unlike many this one is almost hardy.Almost. It comes from various villages, among them those wonderful regions like Vacqueryas, Gigondas and Rasteau. You can taste and smell that style in this Cotes Du Rhone enough that it reminds me of a baby Gigondas or Chateauneuf du Pape. I think it's a lot of fun and people better buy it because it's getting tougher to be stubborn about what goes on the menu.


So that's happening. I thought everybody should know.
I hope everyone is doing well,
S