Mourvèdre envy (and more on Giacosa)

June 18, 2009

Mourvèdre envy in Freudian psychoanalysis refers to the theorized reaction of a wine lover during her or his oenological development to the realization that she or he does not have access to old Bandol. Freud considered this realization a defining moment in the development of palate and oenological identity. According to Freud, the parallel reaction in those who have access to old Mourvèdre is the realization that others have access to old Nebbiolo, a condition known as Nebbiolo anxiety.

Above: Tracie B and I drank the current vintage of Tempier Bandol Rosé — made from Mourvèdre — by the glass with our excellent housemade sausage tacos at the Linkery in San Diego. Jay Porter’s farm-to-table menu and his homemade cruvinet are hugely popular. The food is always fun and tasty. Jay was one of the first San Diego restaurateurs to use a blog to market his restaurant.

Tracie B and I have had our share of great Mourvèdre lately: we were blown away by the flight of old Terrebrune Bandol — rosé and red — we got to taste last month in San Francisco at the Kermit Lynch portfolio tasting. As the Italians might say, we’re “Mourvèdre addicted.”

Above: Jayne and Jon serve Terrebrune Bandol Rosé in half-bottles at Jaynes Gastropub in San Diego — a great summer aperitif wine and a fantastic pairing with Chef Daniel’s scallop ceviche. I was first hipped to Terrebrune by BrooklynGuy: it shows impressive character and structure and costs a lot less than Tempier.

So you can imagine how I began to salivate like Pavlov’s dog when I read BrooklynGuy’s recent post on a bottle of 1994 Tempier Rouge that he had been saving. Like Produttori del Barbaresco, Tempier represents a great value and the current release of the red is generally available at about $50 retail — the upper end of my price point ceiling. In other words, it’s a wine that even the modest wine collector can invest in with fantastic results. Despite the acute case of Mourvèdre envy that he gave me, I really liked BrooklynGuy’s profile of this “natural wine” producer and his tasting notes.

Nota bene: BrooklynGuy and I are both slated to appear in Saignée’s 31 Days of Natural Wine series. My post is schedule for June 20 and you might be surprised at what I had to say. Thanks again, Cory! I’m thrilled to get to participate with so many fantastic bloggers and writers.

In other news…

Above: That’s my lunch yesterday at Bryce’s Cafeteria in Texarkana on the Texas-Arkansas border. Chicken fried chicken steak and tomato aspic stuffed with mayonnaise. Tracie B is gonna kill me if that gravy doesn’t… They sure are proud of their tomatoes in Arkansas and tomato season has nearly arrived.

So many blogs and so little time… I’m on my way back to Austin from Arkansas (where I’ve been hawking wine) and I wish I had time to translate Franco’s post on Bruno Giacosa’s decision not to bottle his 2006 Barolo and Barbaresco, the infelicitous manner in which the news was announced by the winery, and how the news was subsequently disseminated. Upon reading Decanter’s sloppy cut-and-paste job, one prominent wine blogger tweeted “note to self, don’t buy 2006 Barbaresco.” My plea to all: please know that 2006 is a good if not great vintage in Langa and please, please, please, read betweet the lines…


The Fourth, San Diego style

July 1, 2008

Do they go… to some faraway archipelago?
Nah, they go to San Diego.

Mel Tormé
“California Suite” (1957)

Although an op-ed contributor in The New York Times pronounced the “American road trip dead” on Sunday, I know a lot of folks will still be hitting the highway this fourth of July weekend. In case you’re heading down San Diego way, here are some of the joints I’ve been hanging out at. (For details, click on the boldface for the website or if no website, I’ve included address and phone.)

Italian is spoken at Mamma Mia in Pacific Beach, where Francesco and Cinzia Mezzetti serve delicious handmade panzerotti and pizze (with perfectly seasoned, crispy crust). I love Cinzia’s flower power t-shirt.

The 2004 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco (classico) is very reasonably priced at Mamma Mia. I head to Mamma Mia whenever I wish to indulge in my number-one guilty pleasure: pizza and Nebbiolo.

Mamma Mia
1932 Balboa Ave (where Balboa and Grand intersect)
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 272-2702

Arturo offers me a traditional Spanish porron at Costa Brava in Pacific Beach. The porron — an expression of friendship and revelry — is used liberally at Costa Brava, where the Spanish food is authentic and tasty and the wine list (arguably the best Spanish list in San Diego) includes modern and traditional choices. Owner and Spanish wine fanatic Javier Gonzalez grows Tempranillo in a planter in the back (I’m not kidding). He also runs a great Spanish cheese and charcuterie next door. No place in San Diego is more friendly.

Dashing French Chef Olivier Bioteau at the Farmhouse in University Heights has one of San Diego’s deftest hands in the kitchen. The food is excellent and the francophile wine list, although not ambitious, has some interesting lots. I really like the farmhouse chic vibe but I’d love to see what Olivier could do in a four-star setting.

My friend Jon Erickson disgorges a bottle of 2000 Movia Puro Rosé at Jaynes Gastropub, my standby dining destination in Normal Heights (adjacent to University Heights) in San Diego. As Jon’s wine program continues to evolve, I can always find something I want to drink at Jaynes: most recently, Bertani Valpolicella and Caprari Lambrusco. Namesake Jayne Battle’s haute pub food always hits the spot.

Jay Porter’s Linkery in North Park, San Diego (a stone’s throw from Jaynes) recently moved around the corner and will reopen on July 10. Eat-locally and think-globally Jay is San Diego’s undisputed king of “organic,” “market fare,” “sustainable” cuisine and he’s also one of the city’s top food bloggers. If you’re looking for socially conscious and politically engaged fare, this is the place to go.

How to describe the Pearl? In self-described “vintage-modern” style, the owners of the Pearl took over a 1960s-era rundown motel near the U.S. Naval Base in Pt. Loma, San Diego, and turned it into a hipster, poolside hangout and restaurant and lounge. The food is a little affected at the Pearl (“Deconstructed Nachos” anyone?) and the wine list too modern for my palate but the scene can’t be beat. The night I was there, they were screening old episodes of Get Smart poolside.

The first time I walked into Wine Steals, also in Pt. Loma, I thought I’d been transported into a parallel universe: I found myself in classic San Diego down-and-dirty, get-your-drink-on bar where wine has usurped the supremacy of beer. Using a formula seemingly unique to San Diego, you purchase bottles at retail prices and then pay a small corkage (hence the name “Wine Steals”). The extensive wines-by-the-glass program features affordable, quaffing wine. Is wine the new beer? There’s another Wine Steals (the original) in Hilcrest and the Pt. Loma edition is located in the old (and now obsolete) second-world-war era Naval telephone hub.

In nearby Ocean Beach, The Third Corner Wine Shop and Bistro is my favorite San Diego “neighborhood” wine bar. Although it also caters to the Silver-Oak-guzzling wine-is-the-new-cocktail crowd, it offers real wine lovers like me a number of solid choices (like Joly, Produttori del Barbaresco, and Tempier, among others). The food is not great but the wine prices keep bringing me back: combining retail and on-premise sales (like Wine Steals), Third Corner lets you purchase bottles at retail prices and charges a small corkage to open them at your table. The owners just opened a new location in Encinitas, North County San Diego.

They still make a mean Mai Tai at Zenbu in La Jolla. Zenbu has lost some of its local charm as the owner, my high school buddy Matt Rimel has moved on to bigger projects, the prices are high, and the beach-bunny waitstaff could use a crash course in old-fashioned hospitality, but its raison d’être remains unchanged: locally sourced fresh fish prepared by “extreme sushi” chefs (live clams and prawns are often offered) with a California flair.


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