Lemnos & Ribera del Duero

2010 Lemnos ‘Phelenoe’
Lemnos is a Greek island and also a red varietal, one of the oldest in the world. This is a dry white wine with no varietal indication (unless ‘Phelenoe’ is a varietal?). It cost thirteen bucks in a geeky deli in Brunswick, Maine.
Medium straw color. Beautiful subtle aromas with a only a hint of grapefruit, a touch of cactus flower, a note of quince. Light to medium bodied on the palate, it is dry, piquant, vivid, subtle, with appley notes and again a hint of quince, maybe the ghost of a Ranier cherry. Beautiful wine, ridiculous value. If I was a schoolteacher, I’d give it a B+ to A-, or about 90.

2009 Embocadero Ribera del Duero
‘Embocadero’ sounds like some sleazy, made-up name. The Embarcadero is the famous bayfront street of San Francisco (means ‘the place to embark’). ‘Boca’ means mouth. OK, maybe it’s wordplay and not sleazy. Note to self: Be tolerant of wordplay, you’re the guiltiest person on the planet.
The wine ain’t sleazy, that’s for sure. Pure Tempranillo, it’s very dark crimson with aristocratic aromas of black cherry and black plum, with just enough of a mineral component to keep it from cloying. Rich on the palate, but slightly simple with obstreperous black cherries dominating the hint of minerality. There is very good density and nice balance, but some of the aromatic complexity would be welcome on the palate. Still, this is a good wine from a great vintage in northern Spain and it’s still a baby. Teacher sez B to B+, with the potential of an A- a few years down the road. A major wine publication has rated it 90 or better, but no matter what your score still a bargain at $15 in a Brunswick supermarket.

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Beef with Burgundy

Beef with Burgundy?

No… well, maybe sometimes. For sure with Boeuf Bourguignon (Boof Boorg-win-yone, or thereabouts).

The romantic mantra is that the foods and wines developed together in the same places and that they go together like death and taxes. The reality is much more complicated.

Red Burgundy (made with almost no exceptions from 100% Pinot Noir) may have great purity of fruit, but it is traditionally an earthy wine. Boeuf Bourguignon (aka beef stew) is an earthy dish, simmered long, low and slow, incorporating root vegetables like onions, potatos and carrots, and usually mushrooms, the ultimate in earthy foods.

But beef is more than tough chuck, slow-cooked to tenderness. Especially in America we are talking Prime Rib, Rib steak, Sirloin, Porterhouse, T-Bone. Go into any steak house in the U.S. and see what wines are featured. That would be Cabernet Sauvignon, with Syrah coming on, Merlot the Lady in Waiting and Pinot Noir the red-headed stepchild.

This is as it should be. With the exception of stewed beef, I think that Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect, ideal match for any rich, tender, hearty cut of beef such as those mentioned. Please save your Burgundy for lamb (¡heresy! – ¡burn him at the steak!).

Yes, the Bordelais eat the lamb of Pauillac with… ¡gasp! Pauillac wine. I’ve had it. It’s pretty good (especially if it’s Lafite or Latour), and a fair match. And when in Bordeaux, you don’t have the option of asking for a bottle of Burgundy anyway.

That doesn’t mean it’s right.

Dan Kravitz

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Hand Picked Reflections

Hand Picked Reflections – I Think Therefore I Blog

Hello, and thanks for visiting. I’m Dan Kravitz. My company is Hand Picked Selections and we sell wine in 46 states, as well as a dozen other countries. I’ve been drinking wine for 50 years, tasting it for 49 and selling it for 32. I started with Louis Martini Mountain Red in high school (at parties, not during classes). My freshman year in college the Monday night poker game tipple was Gallo Burgundy. One evening the winner of a big pot handed a dollar to the guy old enough to buy and said “Next week, get the gallon of Gallo Zinfandel. It’s a buck more and it’s worth it.” I paid attention to my next sip of Burgundy and to my first sip of the Gallo Zin a week later. That was the epiphany. In those days it was probably 100% old vine Sonoma juice.

Then there were 10 years in restaurant kitchens, where I was also always involved with wine programs. I’ve been a foodie and a locavore since before the words were coined. My experiences with wine and food (and the cultures that spawn them) are extensive and always growing. I will use this blog to share those experiences.

I am known to be incredibly and inevitably verbose. A newspaper column is traditionally 500 words. I’m going to stay below that. In a world drowning in content, shorter will be better.

Topics will be determined by the course of my days, but I will try for an equal division between notes on wine in general, notes on my wines, notes on OPW (other people’s wines), and notes on food, culture, history, politics, the planet and the universe. Overlap is inevitable, we won’t worry about it or keep count.

Your comments are more than welcome, they are invaluable. Eagerly sought, they will be of interest to the other readers and will stimulate us all.

Dan Kravitz

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