From the department of “some how, some way, I get to drink funky-assed wines like every single day”…
Man, whatta wine! I haven’t tasted Valter’s 08s since Vinitaly a year ago (when it was still very young and closed) but his 07 — at least this one, which Tracie P and I opened this week — are drinking splendidly.
07 was the “year without winter” and the wines, in my experience, are already beginning to show wonderfully, with ripe berry and red fruit gently emerging. I don’t think it’s going to rival 08 in Langa, a more classic and balanced vintage. But I do think it’s a vintage that we can already begin to reach for with the expectation of vinous reward.
Valter’s Barolo is vinified à la “old school” (extended submerged-cap maceration) and aged in traditional large cask. His wines tend to fall on the cleaner and more focused side and in 07, the richness of the fruit he achieved in the vintage, combined with its electric acidity, sings in this wine. I thought it was stunning, a brilliant balance of earth and fruit.
I’m not sure how this nine-year-old Muscadet made it to the Texas market but I was geeked to see at a more than moderate price on the list at the chic Gemma in Dallas (opened in late 2013) where I had poured wine at a consumer tasting on Wednesday.
A lot of folks up there are talking about Gemma’s new and adventurous list and this wine delivered stunning and highly focused white fruit and stone fruit flavors offset by the winery’s signature saltiness, in this case so delicate it was as if someone had gingerly sprinkled Trapani sea salt over apple jelly. A truly remarkable bottle of wine (and such a great value if you can find it)…
Family matters took me Saturday to the town of Wharton, about an hour southwest of Houston. There, my cousins Ben, Marc, and Debbie unveiled the stone on the grave of their mother Marlene, my father’s first cousin.
Wharton is a really interesting town: in the 1850s, it became one of the early settlements for the so-called “Galveston Jews,” who were part of a wave of immigrants who landed not in New York but instead on the Gulf Coast.
It’s also home to one of the most famous smoke houses in the state, Hinzes, where I had brisket and sausage (above).
I’m glad I got to know Marlene before she passed and hear her stories from the “old days” and I was happy to share Hinzes with my cousins, who are rightfully proud of the joint (note the perfect, pink smoke ring on the beef).
In other bbq news, my good friend Chris Reid has begun authoring a weekly bbq column for the Houston Chronicle.
He’s written about bbq for the New York Times, among other mastheads, and I am so glad to see that he finally has the platform his work merits. Check it out here.
That’s all the news that’s fit to