26 December 2011

26dec- be wary around the vinturi...
So there’s a thing out there and that has been out there for a while: the vinturi.
I’d like to share my opinions and experiences with this thing.
This device is presented as a wonder; a cure-all and panacea the likes of which snake-oil would be proud but it is not always the wisest recourse when pouring your wine.
Yes, I know that because of its reputation and perhaps some positive experiences there are people who will, taste untasted, pour their poor wine through this funnel like a frightened child through a waterpark slide and presume that a corpse won’t tumble lifelessly out the other side.
The vinturi forces air through the wine that is poured through it. The idea is that this sudden oxygenation will expedite the the subtle oxygenation for which time is usually responsible. This modern, impatient viewpoint can be beneficial in some walks of life but can also be detrimental in others.
Look at wine as (yes, it’s cliché) a flower. When bottled a wine could be thought of as rather like a flower bud. Within this bottle there exists a great deal of potential but it is wrapped up tight and safe. Only upon opening does this bottle have the opportunity to show itself for the flower it can be. (if it blossoms in the bottle it will surely be tired and faded by time it is opened.)
If one opens a simple young cab or young shiraz, wines that need time to relax (to blossom) then something as aggressive as a vinturi might surely pry open the petals of this flower and, given the simplicity (of let’s say a six-petalled daisy or a 3-petal trillium) one might very well be rewarded with a smoother, tamed wine. I have certainly experienced the rough-edged, simple offerings of a $10 California cabernet polished to palatability by the vinturi.
It is here that the doohickey shines.
However, I have sadly experienced the nuance and grace of a $mumble-mumble red Bordeaux ground under the heel of the vinturi. You see, the subtleties of delicate cedar spice can be stripped away by sudden and aggressive oxygenation. The delicate song of a truffled pinot noir can be obliterated by the over-eager dance of the vinturi. One cannot pry open all the layered petals of a carnation and not destroy the flower in the process. It may look like a flower when you’re done but it won’t have any of the natural beauty if would’ve had if you’d simply allowed it to blossom at its own pace.
It pains me to see the review page on the vinturi site. So many accolades that could be entirely accurate but that ignore that fact that this powerful device can be used for evil and this risk shouldn’t be ignored.
I have cautioned against the use of this machine in baan sawan. I have one, yes. Its use is novelty to me but I’m not ashamed to have one perched in the wings. Delicate wines don’t need this gadget.
Somebody suggested this weekend “but what about a nice, aged wine.”, as though a superior wine would surely improve by coursing it through this thing. I told him it would be like punching an old man. He countered that a mutual acquanitance regularly ran very expensive bottles through it.
I am not going to tell anybody how to enjoy their wines. That is by no means my place and if someone gets more enjoyment from running it through a vinturi or drinking it while playing nina simone (a personal favorite) or serving it from $80 glasses or from the high heels of a sex symbol then it’s not my place to say that isn’t more enjoyable for them. But I can say that, given my tastes, experiences, and given the physical structure of some wines, the vinturi can do more harm than good.
Nothing is a cure-all. Nothing works under the promise of “perfectly blah blah.” It’s like a menu that says their steak is ‘grilled to perfection’. I hate to say it but those words mean nothing. Value judgments of good and bad work most efficiently in your own tasting notes but mean little when discussing how other people are likely to enjoy something.
“Is this wine good? Is this wine bad? Is this wine better through a vinturi” I honestly couldn’t tell you how you will feel about it. But I can tell you if I like it or if I don’t or if I feel as though the vinturi has throttled the life out of a potentially nuance driven red vaucluse. And if I’ve known you for a little while and supplied you with enough wine I might be able to extrapolate from what I know of you enough to tell you if you might or might not like something.
But don’t let a generality or a review define how you approach your enjoyment of something. Decide for yourself.
If nothing else, always test what goes through your vinturi with a small pour.

23 December 2011

holiday hours: closed 24thdec-3rdjan
so...bah! humbug...
having said that, we'll be closed from christmas eve, dec24, all through the following week and we'll re-open on january 3rd.

during this time it's our wish that you have a relatively tolerable and stress-free week whether it be with family, friends, or, as i'd have it, with your loved one, pet(s), a bottle of lovely wine, some quiet music, a book, and the a/c cranked to simulate winter weather.

we hope that you don't have to drive too much and that if you do that the streets are safe and free of people driving and texting "gotta go. driving. going into next lane. lol."

we hope that no drunk friends or relations do or say anything embarrassing or if you are, yourself, the drunk friend or relation, that nobody brings up later the embarrassing thing you said or did.

we hope that if you have a lovely and special bottle of something delicious that, upon opening it, it is everything that you'd hoped for and more.

we hope that the food eaten by you is wonderful and to your liking and that you don't eat too much, unless that's what you want.

and if presents are given we hope that they are received well and if presents are received by you we hope that you enjoy/could use them.


we'll see you maybe tonight and, if not, when we get back on january the 3rd.

09 December 2011

09Dec- friday stuff

friday's my busiest day here. i generally get here around 9 and it's pretty much work work until 11:30 or so. not the worst hours out there but not the best. my favorite productive hour (not counting the hour i get to spend with my girlfriend for lunch) is between 3 and 4. by this time all of my deliveries should have arrived so the stress of that is over. it's the last full hour i get before i see anybody else, really, so it's just the beer, wine, restocking, finishing the menu writing, menu printing and listening to music. usually accompanied by a glass of wine.
it feels productive and busyish but at my pace.
it's fun for me to line up the new bottles and to see where they might fit on the menu. it's not fun having to leave some off, however, and there are always up to a dozen different wines for which there isn't room on the menu.
but i don't want to overwhelm anybody, myself included, so the list generally hovers around 55 items. certainly enough to have fun with and, with no room to grow, i'm not tempted to get too self-indulgent with it.
the list must be carefully pruned every week so that it's as healthy as it can be.

(if you'll notice, that north coast syrah is 11.9% alcohol. i'm excited to try this...)

02 December 2011

these are our new bottles with various kinds of booze in them.
02Dec- oh my, yes

and with these two new wines to the arsenal i feel a pleasant, glowing happiness to have drunk of them. to have had them bolster my mood and to have reminded me about the simple pleasures to be found in wine. the beaujolais nouveau is an exercise in gouleyant and simple joy. how i'd love to have a slightly chilled bottle while sitting and reading in a sunny field.
and the riesling, pleasantly a full twenty years older than the gamay, is a happy and sly pear and lime dry riesling with a hint of petrol.

these are wines.
these are currently my wines, though they could be your wines, too...

...while supplies last...

01 December 2011

30 November 2011

30Nov- nytimes article i enjoyed

Among Great Wines, Plenty of Choice

Matias Costa for The New York Times

With top Burgundies and Bordeaux too costly for most people, wines like those from Rioja in Spain, pictured, and from the Santa Cruz Mountains of California are getting more attention and commanding more respect.

I HAVE never been one of those people who feel they live in the wrong era. I am eternally grateful, for example, to draw breath in the age of anesthesia. But I have occasionally lamented that I was born just a few years too late.

Noah Berger for The New York Times

Sampling a California syrah.

If I’d learned about wine in the 1960s rather than the ’80s, perhaps I, too, could regale you with annoying stories of buying cases of ’59 Lafite and ’61 Latour for $8 a bottle. Maybe my cellar, such as it is, would be bulging with grand cru Burgundy that I got for a song because, after all, who back then cared about Burgundy?

By the time I had some money and the inclination to splurge on wine, these historic benchmark wines had become absurdly, ridiculously overpriced.

Consider that back in 1975, Kermit Lynch, the importer and shop owner in Berkeley, Calif., was retailing a case of Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet 1972 for $125, not cheap then by any means, but doable for the determined. Adjusted for inflation, this excellent white Burgundy from a decent vintage would be the equivalent of $500 today. How quaint. Now, at Sherry-Lehmann in New York, a case from the 2008 vintage runs about $4,800.

Generations of wine lovers learned firsthand of the gorgeous polychromatic potential of wine by drinking those bottles that are almost universally believed to represent the heights of achievement: the first-growth Bordeaux and grand cru Burgundies. Yet an entire younger generation of wine lovers, say those 40-ish and younger, may grow old never having savored a great Musigny or a classic Château Latour, unless they are extremely wealthy or very lucky.

Sad, yes. Yet just as certain, we live in the greatest time ever to be wine lovers, with access to more high-quality wine in more different styles from a greater diversity of places than ever before. Just possibly, this wealth of wonderful choices is due partly to the soaring cost of those reference points for greatness.

Years ago, a great wine list was essentially a great Bordeaux list, or a great Burgundy list. Sometimes it was both, with a few more selections, of course. In the early 20th century, you would find Champagne, sherry and, if the obstacle of world wars could be skirted, some German riesling and possibly something from Alsace. Later on you’d also find some wines from Napa Valley and Tuscany, depending on the restaurant’s cuisine.

Nowadays, the possibilities seem endless. One reason, I submit, is that with little access to the classically great wines, yet with a public thirst for greatness that far exceeds that of 30 years ago, importers, distributors, sommeliers and consumers themselves have been compelled to seek out wines that nobody paid attention to 25 years ago, if they even existed.

Mr. Lynch, in a telephone conversation, argued against including Burgundy in this equation, saying that barely a thimbleful of grand cru is made each year compared with the rivers of top-flight Bordeaux. But he agreed that the attention diverted from Bordeaux had moved to many formerly esoteric regions, and that this new attention was critical to maintaining diversity in the future.

“In the old days, nobody wanted to hear a word about cabernet francs from the Loire,” he said. “Today, it’s a big market for me.”

Who, back in 1991, was buying 20-year-old Rioja gran reservas? Not a lot of Americans. Nowadays, we prize a ’91 gran reserva from a producer like R. López de Heredia for its aromatic nuances, grace and gentle power.

Sure, back then, the Mosel had its secret admiration society, in which a select few indulged its fascination with the incremental variations in slate-based terroir, as revealed in profound detail by these German rieslings. Nowadays, rieslings have gotten a lot more popular, partly because of the proselytizing of importers and sommeliers. Would they all have been so enthusiastic if these wines had not been so relatively reasonably priced?

What about the Jura? Nobody in this country drank wines from this oddball backwater 25 years ago, beyond the occasional novelty of a vin jaune. But the wonderful savagnins, trousseaus and poulsards now lend vinous street cred to the hippest sommeliers.

The story repeats itself all over the Old World. Priorat, Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra in Spain. The Valle d’Aoste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valtellina in northern Italy. Campania, Basilicata and Sicily in the south. If we could buy the best of Burgundy and Bordeaux, would we still be fascinated by the potential of Mount Etna, where vineyards of nerello mascalese, in the hands of risk takers like Salvo Foti and Ciro Biondi, give expression to the terroir of a living volcano?

Would we also care about the assyrtikos of Santorini, and the dry furmints of Hungary, and rejoice when we find them on a wine list? Would we be as curious about the tannats of Uruguay? The malbecs of the Loire — I mean the côts, as they are called there?

In the New World, the transition hasn’t been as smooth. Driven by the extravagant pricing of cult cabernets and a desire to keep up with Bordeaux, even mediocre Napa Valley cabernet sauvignons can cost more than $100. Many consumers take refuge in Argentina or Chile, not indefensible choices, or cheap imitation Napa cabs, no excuses for that. But there are some genuinely distinctive alternatives.

Mount Eden Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains is better known for chardonnays, but it makes superb cabernets that are relative steals for under $50, especially if you value grace and restraint as well as intensity. Arnot-Roberts is known for syrahs, but I love its fresh, tobacco-scented Santa Cruz cabernet from Fellom Ranch. Napa may be the benchmark, but I’ll settle for the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I’ve got plenty of wonderful wines to drink. So you old-timers can keep your memories of great cheap Burgundy, Bordeaux and Napa Valley. I don’t need them. Well, not really, but you know what I mean.

23 November 2011

23Nov-holiday hours
so you know, we'll be closed this thursday, friday, and saturday and then back to biz as usual on tuesday.

so you'll have to go elsewhere for your beaujolais gamay, dry french roses, red blends from lirac, oregon sauvignon blancs, and so on and so forth...

18 November 2011

18nov- new stuff for the weekend

there's a lot going on here and i'm starting to push some non-alcoholic stuff because of how much i enjoy them. i like seeking out complexity of flavor and balance and to find them in something that i can drink a lot of without feeling woozy and overly-witty is great.
i'm particularly excited about the dublin dr pepper and the traquair scottish ale. two great products that i suspect i'll be sitting on for a while because they're a little 'spensive. but, since i know the product, i'm still pricing them below industry standard mark-up and at a price that i would feel comfortable paying if i were to encounter them out there in the world which, in columbia, i can't.
speaking of which, yes, i know that the soter sparkling rose from oregon is pricey but damn it's delicious. it's the kind of sparkling wine that makes you want to find a reason to celebrate and then suddenly realize that opening the bottle is reason to celebrate in and of itself.

15 November 2011

15nov - a quick comment on by-the-glass pricing
this began as a response to a local writer asking my opinion on it for an article but it never got used.


Mark-ups are always going to be a touchy subject with consumers, certainly, but here’s how I see it. The consumer isn’t simply paying for the wine but they’re also paying for an aura of work that surrounds it.
Most tangibly, the glassware involved is crucial. I understand that people are paying for wine and I want that wine to perform as well as it can for the customer’s sake (read: enjoyment), the vineyard’s sake (read: credibility) and for my sake (read: trust). Improper glassware runs the risk of muting aromas, flavors, and potential evolution in the glass so I want customers to have as ideal a glass as I can afford to offer while breaking as many as possible. Which is another point. While, certainly, one could easily -and cheaply- pick up cases of nearly indestructible Libby goblets that would give a chatan a tough time under the chuppah I think these glasses are disrespectful to the customer and the wine. So I spend a little more on more fragile glasses so the wine has a chance to shine and the customer’s pleasure is heightened. And during service, washing, or hand-polishing the glasses tend to break from time to time (not to mention the occasional destructive customer involvement) so glasses are a frequent purchase. And, as a tumbling aside, the purchase of racks to wash glasses, the water and gas to heat the water to wash the glasses, and the time involved in hand-polishing are all components. Most customers have thrown a party at some point and know the work involved in getting ready for it as well as cleaning up from it.
We also have to contend with waste. Rarely does every bottle get exhausted and it’s just part of the game when I’m faced with finding the goldfish in the bowl. So I’ve got to throw away unpalatable wine. If it’s just a day off, that is to say, if it’s still palatable but not the same wine as the day before (and therefore not what a returning customer would expect upon ordering it) then the wine either goes to cooking or to my drinking it. Either way, no money is coming in for that wine.
But the work, the real work comes from building the wine list. The way I do it, at least, I feel helps to justify my mark-ups. Building a wine list shouldn’t be easy. The list is my baby and it requires the work of raising something potentially destructive like a baby. I meet with wine reps almost daily (which takes up time and glassware, too) and analytically taste with them. Each wine on my by-the-glass must do a lot but in particular, they have to help communicate our philosophy of balance and enjoyment. They mustn’t allow the customer to choose unwisely where food pairing is concerned. So everything on the list shouldn’t pair poorly with anything else. Also, I’ve taken a break from many traditional wine list decisions but I do still try to offer wines that satisfy a desire for light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied or dry or off-dry. And in this decision-making process I consider our food and, though some customers may, for instance, come in wanting a big, tannic cabernet I know that the food will not play well with a wine-bully like that. So in that case I need to find full-bodied reds that balance fruit, acid, alcohol, and tannin well while not only offering lasting power once opened (to offset the waste issue earlier stated) but also doesn’t change too much once opened. I love that wines evolve once Lady Oxygen gets involved but if it tastes completely different the next day (even if its flavors and aromas have blossomed beautifully) it’s not the same wine as when it was opened. If a customer enjoys a glass of wine that’s been opened for two days and is drinking great then decides to buy a bottle of the same wine to go with dinner then I want that bottle to taste as close to that glass as possible. This is not an easy task to find these wines.
And can I mention how tasting wines all day may sound like fun but falls solidly in the realm of work? It would be fun if every distributor carried nothing but wines I like but such is not the case. When it’s a rep I know well showing wine then they’ll usually arrive with product I’m likely to enjoy but many times somebody representing a winery will have a long line up to try and, sometimes, by the end of it I feel like wringing the residual wine out of my tongue. Add to that the stress I put on myself for trying to be diplomatic and polite so as not to challenge any relationships involved.
My list is also what I would like to think of as educational. I want to offer interesting wines that most customers don’t have the opportunity to try. So I ignore the big names and dig deep into distributor’s portfolios to find the neglected gems. Many times these aren’t available for reps to sample out so I must purchase them just to try them with many of them not having been worth the effort. This expense gets rolled into mark-ups in general. And, because of the uniqueness of my list the staff training requires that they try the wines to make them more informed for the customer; another expense. Fortunately, given how many of the items on my list aren’t available locally then we don’t have as much of a problem of customers complaining about being able to buy it for less elsewhere.
Customers at Baan Sawan also have the option of trying a by-the-glass list item before they commit to a glass. So at a given table one might see three tasting glasses, often two they’re curious about and one we’ve thrown in that we think they’d enjoy. This expense gets rolled into mark-ups in general. But the service is designed to maximize customer enjoyment. If somebody says they like pinot noir and sees that we don’t have one on the menu I want them to be able to try the gamay instead. And if they don’t like the gamay since they’re used to big California pinots then we take their notes on what they didn’t like about the gamay and apply it towards another taste of something that might be more appealing to them. We want the customer experience to be as enjoyable as we can make it and we don’t want them forcing down a glass of wine that they don’t like.
And then there are things like the time and energy writing and formatting the list, the paper expense, the ink expense, the printer purchasing since we print a new menu at least once a week blah blah blah.

And I’m sure I’m forgetting some things.
But here’s the point. For Baan Sawan, at least, each glass of wine that a customer drinks represents a good deal of time and effort to get it there in the first place. But we take our wine list seriously. We take wine seriously and food and how they interact. (These are all also reasons why we’re so cautious about people bringing in their own wine. We lose the control over the experience and we’ve seen people ruin our food with something like a grocery store bottle of big ol’ honkin’ Dynamite cab. They’re only hurting themselves.)
So for us we wouldn’t have the wine list that we do without there being a mark-up. And, frankly, I’m yelled at in almost every board meeting for not charging more than I do considering what I spend. So… I’m going to treat myself to a glass of four day old wine that’s still good but not what it tasted like out of the bottle.

11 November 2011

11nov- so excited!!

11nov- et comme ca

je suis amoureux

07 November 2011

07nov- anxious
i just got my results from my certified specialist of wine test and, having passed, now it occurs to me to wonder how else i could use this.
and, yes, i know how many in the industry scoff at certifications but i don't care; i got a good deal on the program. and, yes, perhaps the csw exam is only a 100 question fill-in-the-blank test of your memory with very little wine comprehension but i prefer to see it as an exam to test your willingness to memorize minutia in order to apply it to wine comprehension.
regardless, i've got this fun post-nominal (which i could use in conjunction with my 'pastor' with the universal life minister but i don't think there'll be room on my card) and i started thinking about how useful it could be if i wanted to explore employment with a winery or other wine-related venture.
my dream, of course, would be to settle down in verdant oregon. perhaps cleaning crush equipment at the eyrie vineyards i love so much and be a part of the magic that constantly blows my mind. or cleaning that awesome, weird little kitchen at brick house's "tasting room", which was really more of a living room sort of area that was all warm colors and sleepy irish setter.

more reasonably, i suppose, i should look into something local that i can do on weekends here and there. the winery in newberry, sc, for instance. i'm sure i could learn a great deal there. maybe graduate to a winery in dahlonega, ga or something in the yadkin.

or i could stay here and continue trying to improve the wine offerings in columbia's restaurants.

04 November 2011

04nov- just some new stuff

i'm really curious about the white santenay. never tried one before; didn't know santenay produced white wine, much less latour putting one out. so...we'll see.
and i'm particularly jazzed about the drier, classically styled riesling by brandborg from out in umpqua, oregon. i keep forgetting about drier style rieslings, quite likely because every time i put one on the menu i almost always end up drinking it myself.
still. we've got it.

28 October 2011

28Oct- hm. i wonder.
i think people have been very patient with me and my wine list so far and i wonder how far i can push it. i've taken away a number of standard varietals and replaced them with what i think are fun alternatives. we have no cabernet sauvignon by the glass (i think so many of them are more tannin-fueled than our cuisine can handle) and instead i have a surprisingly food friendly merlot/malbec blend from new zealand that achieves weight, fruit, and spice without sacrificing acid or balance. i'm beginning the process of weaning everybody off of pinot noir (though oregon pinots have been so important to me i feel as though i'm still supporting the region with my eyrie pinot gris by the glass and my st christopher sauvignon blanc, both beautiful examples of the grapes and the sense of oregon) and edging towards replacing the grape with a gamay, currently a serious and minerally morgon from beaujolais.
i'd replace chardonnay entirely if it weren't for being super charmed by jim kopp's visit to the restaurant and his crisp and clean unoaked chardonnay that goes quite well with our food. i've frankly been expecting more of an uproar with my not offering an oaked chardonnay by the glass so i'm gratified, albeit perplexed, by the smoothness of the transition.
so i'm almost wondering what i could get away with now.
i'm currently at home enjoying green curry over udon noodles (not something we offer at baan sawan but something i wish we would) and it's pairing extraordinarily well with a grenache gris/carignan blanc catalan white wine from david shiverick called "cuthbert". could we push such a pairing on to every customer? absolutely not; what about free will? but can there be free will when the menu is structured to guide forcefully the hand of the customer? should i also offer a big cab or an over-oaked chardonnay, a veritable sin, so that the choices made are more meaningful?
that went in a weird direction.
at the end of the day my desire isn't to manipulate the choices being made for no reason or for hubristic jollies but to maintain the integrity, as much as possible, of the spirit of both food and wine.
so if you come to the restaurant and see that there's no pinot grigio it's because our fuller bodied, spicier-finished pinot gris is an expression of the same grape that's more consistent with our food's anima.
if there's no shiraz it's because they tend to plod over our delicate balances and the more structured but at times equally powerful lirac, a blend of grenache, syrah, cinsault, mourvedre, and carignan , simply plays nicer while achieving a similar effect.
and when there's no pinot noir by the glass we invite you to try the gamay.
we think you'll be pleased.
28Oct- some for you; some for me. maybe some for us.

21 October 2011

21Oct - fun stuff for this weekend

20 October 2011

14 October 2011

14oct - new things for this week

i love gamay. it is my belief that you, too, should love gamay.
to that end i have taken away the pinot noir from the by the glass menu and replaced it with a touraine gamay and a morgon from beaujolais.
this is a temporary change and we'll resume our normal pinot noir activity next week but i want to see how it goes over this week. perhaps i am a fool. or perhaps i'm a visionary; a beacon of hope to the gamay producers of the world who fight the stigma that duboeuf has wrought upon them. perhaps i'm both. perhaps i'm neither. perhaps i should stop thinking about it.

anyway. all the stuff in the above picture is currently available for your lusty consumption.

also, i would submit that the quinta de la rosa lote no. 601 ruby port is the most extraordinary port i've tasted. more like a fine red wine in its complexity, aromas, easy drinking quality and food-friendly acid but with an almost dangerous 20% alcohol. it is definitely port but one that cradles and caresses you rather than covers your head with a sack soaked in brandy and grapejuice.

10 October 2011

10oct- silly little aside
since i am poor but my palate doesn't realize this and therefore demands delicious wine and food, i have started playing with the mturk thing. mturk give you assignments for which it pays you a pittance but they tend not to be terribly complicated and if you've got twenty minutes to spare while waiting for a meeting or delivery, you can slam out a survey or article. I like to write so i generally go for articles.
this little beauty earned me $2.00. the assignment was "write a 1000 word article on camping in comfort." there actually is some good advice buried in there.

Camping in comfort is as attractive an idea as it is difficult to achieve. I might first suggest redefining either your idea of comfort or your idea of camping. If you persist in wanting both try camping in your backyard. Depending on the size of your backyard you should have a fairly easy hike into and out of your camping area with the benefit all your posessions (and bathrooms) nearby. This is going to be as comfortable as it’s going to get, short of making a fort out of couch cushions which is only arguably camping and makes campfire cooking considerably unwise. For those of you unaccustomed to camping I would stress that this is the most simple and effective way to whet your appetite. If you are an experienced camper and are taking your new significant other out for their first camping experience then the closer to home you are the better. You will want to avoid a fight over food quality, sleeping conditions, labor division, or the more raw sights, sounds, and smells a person makes while camping and if you cannot avoid the fight you must have a nearby lodging alternative into which to retreat and nurse your wounds, either physical or emotional.
If you decide that you need to leave the safety of your property to camp and insist on striving for comfort I would then suggest camping out of your car. Driving up to your campsite and building a tent next to your automobile gives you the benefit of having more resources at your disposal, especially heavier items that may be too weighty to carry yourself or to ask your significant other to carry. In a pinch the car can become your sleeping bag, your sanctuary from your camping companions, or protection from bears, rabid raccoons, or neighboring campers. Should rain suddenly spoil your fire you can always cook your aluminum foil-wrapped food over your engine block as you huddle in the car either feeling sorry for yourself, raging at whomever brought you, or being raged at by whomever you asked to accompany you or all three. In addition to this you have some degree of electrical power should you decide to plug in cell phones, computers, small refrigerators, et al. This method is not always recommended as it will either drain your car battery or blanket your campsite with exhaust fumes. Though fumes may make campfire stories more entertaining some doctors say that prolonged exposure may be a health hazard.
But perhaps you aren’t satisfied with the rusticity of car camping and won’t be happy until you’re hiking with a bag on your back. Perhaps you’ve just read a book about Lewis and Clark or are on the run from the law. Regardless, you must now dedicate more time to establishing your priorities. The planning stages are just as important as the execution and you should, after filling your pack and pockets with your essentials and precious few luxuries, take the time to check and re-check your supplies so that you are not caught short and smacking your forehead when encountering a coyote while remembering the pepperspray is by the refrigerator. Your key points of comfort will be ease of hiking and a safe and comfortable sleeping area. You should be dressing in layers so that you can shed or add to your clothing as the weather demands. An undershirt, a lightweight shirt and a lightweight jacket should get you through most spring and autumn camping. For those of you who want to camp in the winter or summer I would suggest camping in the more clement climes of spring and autumn. Besides, I’m sure you’ll just ignore any advice I might have for you anyway.
Having plenty of absorbent socks will soak sweat and impact as you stubbornly march about the forest. As you hike you must hydrate. Dehydration in the wild is a dangerous and all too easy situation in which to find yourself. It is therefore not advisable to drink alcohol as you hike to your campsite. If you have brought along a high-alcohol liquor you would be wise to save it for when you’ve settled down and have sufficient shade and ample opportunity for rest. Though, if it is particular hot and sunny, spritzing yourself with your high-alcohol liquor can offer some relief as alcohol evaporates faster than water. It will, however, make you smell like a drunkard.
The importance of a walking stick can’t be emphasized enough. This one tool can bring you comfort in its preventative properties. Knowing that you are in posession of a solid and reliable walking stick can ease the mind of any hiker. With this stick you can climb steep hills faster as you dig into the earth with it and push against it in your ascent. You can investigate suspicious plots of land by gingerly poking to ensure solidity and safety. You can wave it about in front of you like a wizard when walking through narrow tunnels created by trees. Tunnels of trees are prime areas for spiders to set up shop and a stick waved about in front of you will collect spider webs and prevent you from the panic of walking through one, especially when you think of all the huge spiders sitting in webs you’ve no doubt seen as you walked. A stick be can used to prod a campfire to your satisfaction and a stick can sometimes even help you scratch your back.
Shelter of some kind is a must, whether it be a waterproof tarp to suspend over a rope in as simple a tent you may find or a four-person, two-room tent that takes an afternoon and a degree in engineering to assemble. But more important to your comfort is your sleeping pad and sleeping bag. These two items will help to define your comfort level. One may spend all day fighting the dehydration and the coyotes and blisters on your heels and the stress of not being sure that a spider isn’t hidden in the folds of your clothes and still have an acceptable experience if one gets a good night’s sleep. It does not do to toss and turn fitfully and angrily so do not skimp on the sleeping pad and sleeping bag. Buy the best that you can afford and they will reward you for years to come.
Or they will reward the person to whom you sell them after you realize that you don’t care for camping.

05 October 2011

05Oct- Ah, quail...

...so like us.

23 September 2011

23sept- cider and samichlaus!

look! look! (are you looking?)
the j.k.'s scrumpy is that great, classic, soft, and oh so appley pure expression of apple cider that we like to get every autumn. organic and out of michigan.
and the samichlaus helles.
like the darker version it's almost liqueur-like. sweet malt. apples. honey. and that 14% alc/vol warms me like a hug.
if i liked hugs.

16 September 2011

16sept- whoa, whoa. wait.

whoa, whoa. wait. i know there's a slight chill in the air but don't forget about these roses. remember all the good times we had? how refreshing they are and how versatile they are with our food? remember how good you looked and felt with a glass of rose in your hand? they're not a pair of white slacks that need to go in the closet after labor day; they're wines. delicious wines.

except that annibals. you can forget about that one. that one is mine to drink.

03 September 2011

03Sept- oddish weekend

I'm rewarding myself (for doing very little on this very slow evening) with a split of duval leroy champagne.
for as slow a weekend as it was we sold a 375ml bottle of cahors, 2 and a 3/4 bottles of lirac, a bottle and a half of our new gewurztraminer, a 375ml bottleof dry vouvray, a glass of dry apple cider, and several hitachino xh's.
these among a litany of the other items on our menu aren't as difficult sells but i like to keep track of my pet bottles that find homes.

(the aroma of something lightly peanutty and delicious smelling just wafted over. pad thai, it smells like.)

poking at the new '09 vintage of the chandon pinot meunier right now. it's lovely in a different way than the '08 (a bit richer, kind of a brighter finish, though, despite the increase in alcohol. )

02 September 2011

02sept- baan sawan and the 1/2 bottle crusade

gonna do it. gonna inundate the menu with half-bottles.
this is something i tried a number of years ago and it was met with indifference.
but a fair amount of time has passed and i'm getting away with some more daring wine options so i thought it might be about that time to invigorate the 1/2 bottle program.
i did.
and i'll try not to drink them when i get bored but it's difficult because the format is so damn convenient for knocking one back by yourself. which is one of the main reasons i want to bring these in. that and so many of our customers really enjoy tasting a variety of wines during their visits with us so this should facilitate that desire pretty well.

19 August 2011

19 Aug- ooh, what a pretty, classic looking bottle

will this lirac from the rhone valley be our new structured, meaty red?
or will it disappoint me and make me project my disappointment in myself for choosing it onto the bottle and irrationally blame it for all of my own failures?

only time and drinking it will tell...

08 August 2011

08aug- last saturday's baan-in



good times had by all

02 August 2011

02Aug- wine similies
this came up the other night in conversation that was peripherally about wine. the simile occurred to me,i liked the sound of it, and i've been thinking about it since then.
Wine as kisses. the similarities. the nuance. how there's room for a broad array of either, depending on what you're looking for. how the memory of them can instantly conjure a time and a place and an emotion.

the delicate, butterfly-in-your-stomach inducing light brush of the lips from somebody you love might be like aged burgundy: complex, layered, delicate, and life-changing.
the disappointing clumsy, wet kisses of a cheap jug pinot grigio.
the rough, aggressive, harsh kiss of the high alcohol, over-oaked chardonnay.
the teeth-clicking against each other's, keep your back on the door so no-one comes in, guilty pleasure of an assertive, juicy, one-note zinfandel that you might not normally go for but all of a sudden really hits the spot.
maybe i'll write a menu with each wine having a kiss descriptor.

‘10 Pierre Boniface “Apremont” JACQUÈRE Savoie, France (loving peck on the lips by your spouse who's just finished drinking a cold glass of water)...... (6oz) 9.5(b) 40

30 July 2011

30july- baan bombs at baan-in

with scott hall, morihiko nakahara, alex suaudom, marshall white, and sam
with filming and commmentary by ali borchardt and caroline quillen

...ah, saturday baan-ins...

29 July 2011

29july- we've also got a little bit of older bordeaux

if you're into that sort of thing
29July: new stuff by the glass tonight:

super dry, delicate, refreshing (slightly 'spensive) hard apple cider crafted in virginia's blue ridge mountains.
strawberryish, watermelonish, nicely acidic and dry pinot noir rose from oregon.
slightly spicy and rich (but still restrained) merlot/malbec from hawkes bay in the north island of new zealand
all food-friendly.
all fun.
all mine if you don't drink it so... everybody wins.

26 July 2011

what is marshall doing?
he's doing our new baan bomb: a victory storm king with a shot of dutch chocolais chocolate wine dunked in it.
it is.... well... we think it's delicious.
and we'll have it at this saturday's baan/bone-in brunch


22 July 2011

22july - baan/bone-in brunch beer exclusive:

konig pilsner tallboys. yes, 500ml of clean, crisp german pilsner stuffed into a can you can crush triumphantly when you finish.
22july- ahh, the sacrifices i make

there's nothing quite like well-made bordeaux and cornas with a bit of age to them. there are some flavors that only time, patience, and care can coax out of a wine. will these two wines offer the lean, focused minerality that would play well with our cuisine? I will drink them and find out.... yes, i'll throw myself on these 10+yr old grenades for you in an effort to enrich your dining experience.

18 July 2011

so things went well.

11 July 2011

11july- back from hiatus with big news
so, as i hope you know, we've been collaborating with the brilliant Scott Hall and his Bone-in Artisan Barbecue on Wheels on saturdays between 11.30 and 2.
in one of those fantastic and gratifying moments of seeing somebody work hard and be recognized for it, his truck will be featured on tv's eat st this saturday the 16th!
this is a wonderfully big deal that scott has certainly earned.
and good for us since he wants the feature to include our collaboration.

so, business as usual (though more exciting) this saturday brunch with misting hoses to help cool you for the cameras.
our mimosas will be there as well as our spicy, thai/sake bloody mary, beer float, and one to two interesting and thirst quenching wine cocktails.

30 June 2011

30June- our holiday break
i guess i can't keep this from you any more; it's not fair to either one of us.
and it's not you. seriously! you're great!
it's just that we need a little time to ourselves.
you know, a break.
a little bit of breathing room.
and i'm sure that, after a little while, we'll work just that much better when we do come back! i'm sure of it!
starting tuesday, july the 5th we'll be closed a week and we'll re-open tuesday the 12th.
i don't know...maybe do a little work on ourselves during that time....
(and, you know, we don't mind if you see other restaurants next week. really! it's cool. we encourage you to!)

27 June 2011

27June- some beer poems
some time ago my beer list was a more involved affair. in an effort to educate i would add mildly in- depth descriptions of each beer but discovered many customers who would ask questions whose answers were clearly stated within the text of the menu.
so, figuring that few people would notice, and wanting to amuse myself, i began writing quick little stories and poems that would express something about the beer. maybe not a descriptor but a feeling or a vibe that i got from that specific selection. this format then got noticed and lauded so, for a couple of years, i pursued how to take advantage of that.
every 6 months or so there would be a new menu with another method of presenting the beers and then it got to a point where i was having difficulty topping myself. i kept having to get more elaborate which was, admittedly, a fun challenge but it also locked me into a steady list and i got more fun out of changing the list weekly.
so i abandoned the project.
it pleases me that every so often a customer will still come up to the bar and ask for an old menu to show their friends.
anyway. i was poking through some old files looking for something when i found this beginning of a different menu. i'd always wanted to do a narrative that would encompass all of the selections and i happened to be reading nabokov's "pale fire" at the time so... i began to borrow the structure.
as you can see, i didn't really get far but here's the beginning.

24 June 2011

24June- hmmm...
here's something that's been bothering me for a little while.
for many years i've had a tendency to suck the fun out of some things by over-intellectualizing them or trying to glean a lesson or by trying too hard to get the edges to align. (only some, not all, of the ways i might ruin something.)

this has been a risk, especially, for wine when i'm trying to train servers or, i suppose to a certain degree, customers. i forget that most people simply don't want to know as much about a wine as i want to know and so i go ahead and disgorge a fount of dry information which then dessicates all the juicy fun.
So we recently found this wine that we all found incredibly refreshing. the grape, jacquere, is from the rhone alpes in france and is not what anybody would call a well-known grape but in the equivalent of four days we went through roughly nine bottles. these were primarily hand sells (as most of our wines sales must be, really, given how little-known so many of the wines are) which consist usually of a combination of enthusiasm and dispensation of little tastes of wine.
and we flew through it! and it wasn't the cheapest thing on the menu, either.
naturally, i was jazzed about this because i love it when we can introduce something new to columbia and watch it be embraced but the fact that so many people got it because of a visceral response got me thinking.
they didn't get it because they knew what the grape was or what kind of soil it grew in or what kind of training the winemaker had or how long the winery had been making wine and whether their style has changed over the years. they got it because it's a refreshing, easy drinking wine that, presumably, made them feel good.
it reminded me of a time when a rep blind tasted me on a wine on which i spent a good while dissecting in an attempt to figure out the grapes. it had some plump, juicy redness so maybe this grape and it had some earthy notes so it could be this or that. there's something on the finish i'm not understanding (i'll take the third part last) and the color would suggest this but the acid suggests that. i spent so long deciphering two out of three grapes and marveling over the unexpected third grape and then going back to try to taste or smell what the third grape had to offer that, when the rep asked me how i liked it, i didn't have an answer. i'd thought all the feeling out of it and i had to taste it again to taste for enjoyment.
this seems like a shame.
now i'm going to over-think this situation.
maybe you have some similar approaches to life, maybe you don't.
maybe the lesson is to balance the comfort experiences and the intellectual? because we need to exercise the mind by challenging it or we'll get rusty at the thinkin'. you know. enjoy the totino's as much as the prime rib. enjoy the three amigos as much as ladri di biciclette.
now i don't know how to finish this post without getting heavy handed. (see? suckin' out the energy.)

been pretty hot out lately, huh?

...er... they say it might rain later...

i feel like this guy's got it all figured out...

23 June 2011

23june- morning anthem
what i should play every morning while i'm getting ready for work.

10 June 2011

10June- this is exactly what it looks like
assuming, to you, it looks like baan sawan is making bloody marys for saturday's bone-in bbq truck's afternoon with us.
our own mix has sambal, oyster sauce, garlic, and basil to give you that thai vibe and, since we don't have a liquor license, we're using a junmai ginjo sake as the alcohol.
also, for tomorrow, we'll have another permutation of our mimosa, this time with watermelon in a sparkly rose and san pelligrino orange-ade.
also we'll be playing with sparkling wine and mango/lime popsicles which are really groovy.
(wait. do kids still say groovy?)

anyway, that, plus scott hall's always incredible bbq, will be here in our parking lot from 11.30 to 2. and remember, ya gotta drink to sit inside.

07 June 2011

06June- Saturday! Saturday! Saturday!

at about 6:30 in the p.m. representatives from that beer we love so much, Moa, will be here in the restaurant pouring out tastes of their awesome products! for free, no less!

06 June 2011

06june. lunch at jive turkey!
the baked turkey wing was tender with a flavorful skin. the meatloaf, though a touch dry in some places, was pleasantly beefy with a nice tomato-base sauce on it. collards, jive rice, black-eyed peas, and green beans were all solid. and the hotdogs were nicely done, i thought. the bun and the hotdogs were grilled, adding some pleasant caramelization to them. and the chili was nice and beany.
they have posted in several places: "let us know about any dietary issues: diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol. we season with no added salt!"
given the richness of flavors i'm frankly surprised that it was healthy.
next time i think i'll try their turkey burger.

5100 two notch road. closed on sundays. open 8-5 on sat and 8-7 mon through friday. and apparently they deliver but i don't know how far.

03 June 2011

03june- new beer! and new wine!
and more exclamation marks!!

the de koninck belgian ale.
malty and crisp (i use that word a lot but i like to surround myself with beverages that are crisp) with a touch of fruitiness at the end (light pear and apple. nothing sweet, really, just hints.)
nice and smooth and easy, easy drinking. and at only 5.2% alcohol one can drink more than one should. like eating 3 times as many low-fat cookies thereby mitigating their low-fattiness.

and the wines. there are a lot of new ones but we've got a couple of bordeaux, both red and white. a cheverny. a muscadet by the glass. a gamay. a beaujolais blanc. and more.
just having fun. check the by updated wine lists for details.

31 May 2011

Wine Notes: The dirt on Willamette Valley soil types

Published: Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 9:39 AM Updated: Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 9:54 AM
Willamette-Valley-vinters.JPGView full sizeVintners Jim Anderson (from left) of Patricia Green Cellars, and Jessica Monzeico-Blair and her father, Howard Mozeico, of Et Fille, say the Willamette Valley's main soil types -- Jory, sedimentary and loess -- help define a wine's flavor profile.
t the open houses hosted by so many local wineries this coming holiday weekend, there will be no shortage of information.

Just about every wine in Oregon these days comes with its own "tech sheet" -- that is, a summary of detailed information that may or may not have any resonance for the consumer.

Unless you're a geeky wine insider, it's difficult to see why knowing the harvest date, clonal selection or cooperage should make any difference in your appreciation of the wine. (And if you're not sure what a clone or a cooper is, don't worry; you're not alone.)

That said, there are a few areas where a bit of knowledge can benefit us in our appreciation of wine. And one of those might well be the nerdiest bit of info on that tech sheet: soil type.

I recently met with some folks who spend a lot of time thinking about soil. Jim Anderson is co-owner of Patricia Green Cellars; father-and-daughter team Howard Mozeico and Jessica Mozeico-Blair run Et Fille; both wineries are near Newberg.

At Patricia Green Cellars, the quest to capture a sense of place in each bottle of pinot noir borders on the obsessive: The winery releases between 18 and 20 pinots each year in an effort to express the distinct characteristics of various sites. At a Patricia Green Cellars open house, you'll find wines arranged on tables according to the location of the vineyard they're derived from.

For its part, Et Fille produces between five and six single-vineyard pinot noirs annually, with an emphasis on representing as diverse a range of soil types as possible. Attend an event where Mozeico-Blair is pouring, and she'll set up a row of glass urns filled with soils so that you can smell, touch (and taste, if you like) the dirt while you sample the wines.

Just three to know

Although Oregon wine country encompasses a wide variety of soil types, the most attention and deliberation over soil in this state happens in the Willamette Valley.

Here, the delicate pinot noir grape -- arguably the red best-suited to expressing the differences between sites -- has a cultish following among collectors who buy multiple single-vineyard releases from their favorite producers and taste "horizontals" (a variety of site-specific bottlings from the same producer in the same year) to compare and contrast the effect that vineyard location has on a wine's aroma and flavor.

But you don't have to blow the rent on a catalog of limited-edition single-vineyard releases to discover the difference soil type can make in pinot noir.

"It's very common for people to walk into one of our tastings saying, 'I don't know anything about soil types,' then walk out having tasted the differences very clearly," Mozeico says. For him, just two or three bottles -- representing the three major soil types outlined below -- can relay the diverse range of overarching characteristics found in Willamette Valley pinots.

Why we should care
Why is it important to familiarize yourself with the valley's various soil types?

First, it goes a long way toward explaining why so many wineries bottle single-vineyard pinot noirs. Winemakers believe that the differences between wines grown on different soils are so stark that they often don't blend them.

Conversely, another reason many local wineries source from so many different vineyards is that having such a diverse array of wines to choose from can be a helpful tool in creating a harmonious blend.

So there's no shame in preferring the basic "Willamette Valley" pinot noir when you visit a tasting room; it's simply a representation of multiple soil types.

But do taste single-vineyard bottlings, and ask about soil types while you do. Because, if you maintain an awareness of this issue, you might find you prefer the pinots of one soil type over another.

Mozeico-Blair says that when she conducts tastings and explains the differences the soils make in the aromas and flavors in the resulting wines, her customers come away equally divided as to which type they prefer: Of the three main types, each appeals to about a third of her customers.

So, here's a challenge: If you are visiting your favorite winery this weekend, try to taste a bottle of juice derived from each of the following soil types. If the winemaking method was the same for all three, you may discover that you prefer one soil type over another.


The Willamette Valley's flagship dirt is Jory, the basalt-based volcanic soil found in most vineyard sites in the Dundee Hills (the most prominent sub-appellation in the valley).

High in clay content and iron, Jory is reddish in color and nutrient-rich. "You could grow anything in volcanic soil," Anderson says. "It is lush." It holds water well; smash it between your fingers and it will stick together.

"I can pick out a Dundee Hills wine pretty consistently in a blind tasting," Mozeico says. "There is a minerality to it, especially on the finish, with a bright cherry and red-fruit flavor profile." Mozeico-Blair says she always finds that this silty clay-loam imparts a "dusty earthiness" to pinot noir.

Name to remember: Jory is the Willamette Valley's most prominent volcanic soil.
A taste of geology: Many millions of years ago, fissures near what is now the Washington-Idaho border released unimaginably massive lava eruptions that blanketed huge portions of Washington and Oregon with basalt. Between approximately 15 million and 6 million years ago, these flows spread through the northern Willamette Valley, leaving basalt that would later be exposed on hillsides.


Rub a sedimentary soil between your fingers, and it feels "like talcum powder," Anderson says. "It's really super-dry." That makes more work for the vine-tender, who must enrich the brittle dirt with plenty of compost and cover crops.

The payoff: That difficult soil yields "powerful, more structured wines," according to Anderson, especially if the vines are older.

After a couple of decades, these vines "have these incredible roots systems because they've gone down deep in search of water and minerals," Anderson says.

Mozeico describes typical sedimentary-soil characteristics in pinot noir as dark color, black fruit, cola, coffee and chocolate.

(Fans of the Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton District and McMinnville appellations of the Willamette Valley will be nodding their heads here, as these regions are primarily composed of sedimentary soils.)

Winemakers might wait longer to bottle pinot noirs from sedimentary soils because they tend to be less approachable when young; by the same token, these wines benefit from cellar age.

"They are slow-developing, a little more austere," Anderson says. "It might take people a little longer to wrap their heads around these wines."

Name to remember: The mustard-tinted Willakenzie is the best-known sedimentary soil in the Willamette Valley.

A taste of geology: Western Oregon was once the floor of an 8,000-foot-deep sea. Starting -- as with the aforementioned lava flows -- about 15 million years ago, the Pacific and North American tectonic plates collided, lifting up this ocean floor and creating the Coast Range and the Cascade Mountains.

Willakenzie soil is composed of the marine sediment of that former seafloor. As the collisions continued, the hills of the Willamette Valley were formed, with the top layer of volcanic soil exposed in some places and the lower layer of sedimentary soil revealed in others.


Loess, or windblown silty loam, is the shallowest of our three main soil types.

"There is always something underlying," Mozeico says. Brown and ashy, its texture is somewhere in between sticky volcanic and dusty sedimentary. It tends to be fertile, but it drains well and erodes easily, which requires careful vineyard management.

The pinot noirs that come from this soil "tend to have brighter red fruit, with an earthiness to them, and sometimes a little bit of white pepper on the finish," Mozeico says; the soil also may contribute to a brighter acidity in the wine. Loess sites are relatively rare in the Willamette Valley but can be found in the Chehalem Mountains.

Name to remember: Brown and fertile LaurelWood is the region's key loess-type soil.

A taste of geology: The youngest of our three main soil types, loess is composed of silt, left by the retreat of Ice Age glaciers, that was blown onto the valley's hillsides between 1 million and 50,000 years ago.

Follow Oregon's wine scene with Katherine Cole on Twitter at twitter.com/kcoleuncorked and on YouTube at youtube.com/kcoleuncorked. E-mail her at