Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Out of the Office

Sorry for the hiatus but I have been (and still am)out frolicking in south east asia the past month. I am currently using the free WiFi at KFC in malaysia! Btw, the food courts in kuala lumpur are insane, you got at least three malls worth of restaurants and with giant food courts on multiple levels!

Be back in a few weeks with tons of pictures!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Road Trip To Napa Pt 3 (Realm Cellars, Alpha Omega Winery, Bistro Jeanty)

Geez, I am so absent minded.. I forgot to put nice pretty borders around the last two posts! This new blogger post creator is throwing me off like snow in Los Angeles. Aside from that, we're now on Part 3 of my Napa Road trip, as always winery visits up top, food at the bottom. Feel free to skim to the bottom if you have zero interest in wines or wines from Napa... fortunately if you do have an interest.. I do not think you'll be disappointed. 
After a grueling 2 hour drive, with a pee-stop/lunch break at Emeryville Shopping Center we arrived at our first stop in St. Helena.. Realm Cellars. Realm is a joint operation with Juan Mercardo and Wendell Laidley with Mike Herby as their winemaker. They've been getting major buzz for their Dr. Crane and To-Kalon bottling of Cabernet. It's been over a year since I visited with Juan and I figured I'd share Cris and Dan in on the experience.
Realm is located in the beautiful Chateau Boswell facility (where Josh is making some very nice wines as well) and have a really great entrance to the cave facility where the barrels split from the center.. it also looks like a reflection. 
 We tasted through a few of the bottled 2007s... Farella, Bard, Tempest and some of the 06's as well as 08/07 barrels. Their 07 Tempest is one of my favorite California red wine blends at the moment as well as their best effort for the Tempest so far.
  • 2007 Realm Cellars The Tempest - USA, California, Napa Valley (7/8/2009)
    Popped and poured out of a 375, just bottled.
    a really powerful muscular wine with a dense fruit core of dark berries that hits your palate on the first sip and coats it with that structure. The black fruit peels away to expose raspberries, forest floor, cedar with a dirt like tannin at the end. The finish goes on for awhile with the secondary characteristics really holding court. I love that petite verdot character it really shows on the finish to give it that great structure in the mouth. This is a greatly put together wine, the wine couldn't have been in bottle for more than a week or two and its potential is exploding out of the bottle. Hold it, drink it now, whatevers.. it'll be great! (93 pts.)
Unlike the other 07's we had that I felt were drinking well right now, the majority of the Realm 07's need time in bottle. Pretty typical for the Realm wines ... they benefit greatly from 3-4 years in bottle.


  

After tasting at Realm, we headed to Alpha Omega along Highway 29. I received a message from Jean Hoefliger the Winemaker and General Manger of Alpha Omega a few weeks before I was leaving for Napa.. inviting me to a tasting at their winery. Jean is a swiss born winemaker that is quite possibly the most physically intimidating winemaker I have yet to meet. Super nice but built like a NFL Linebacker :p. He previously worked as an assistant WM at Chateau Lynch Bages of Bordeaux fame as well as Newton in Napa.  He took over the wine making responsibility at Alpha Omega in 2006. With the help of blending advice from Michael Rolland their 2006 is a great success in my book. I found all wines, (chard + red blends) to be complex and full of intrigue.
To top it off, they have gorgeous winery grounds with a beautiful patio with plus sofas that you can sip wine and look out into the vineyards and the extravagant fountain system

 
But why sit in the sun when you can sit around a table and talk wine and life with the winemakers?

  
  
They had just built a new private tasting room to entertain guests there 3 days before we arrived. So it was a lot of fun ... and filled with echos to sit in one corner of a room meant to entertain 12+ people. Their 2006 Eros is probably the best Napa red wine I've tried in the 2006 vintage.

2006 Alpha Omega Era (USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford)  9/2/2009clayfu94
A very rich and expressive wine with spiced currant and alluring ripe raspberry on the nose. Incredibly soft palate with rich dark fruit and a spiced woodsey note. Expressive floral notes on the finish lead to a really "pretty" wine that comes along with beautiful long acidity and soft tannins. Pretty awesome wine. One of my favorite wines on my Napa trip and probably one of the best 2006 wines I've had from Napa. (35% Cab, 28% Merlot, 20% Cab Franc, 17% Petit Verdot)

We sat there for two hours just talking and discussing wine making. Both Jean and Henrick were open with their wine making philosophies and were "straight talk express". This was probably one of my favorite wine tasting experiences in a long time. The wines were great, the company was great, and I learned a lot from the two winemakers.

After parting ways with Jean and Henrick and before a night of poker, we stopped by for happy hour at Bistro Jeanty to wait for my buddy Powell to get off work.

  
$1 oysters, sardines, and lamb sausage from 5:00PM to 6:30PM. Relatively busy for a Thursday afternoon, we sat at the large communal table which.. ended up just being two of us at a table for 15 (interesting trend today).

Since we're cheap like that... we ordered pretty much only the $1 items. The problem is, when you order too many multiples of $1 items.. it still ends up not being all that cheap ;P.

The lamb sausage was chopped up in bite size form.. bold gamey flavors mixed with fennel and spice and all things nice. (or so I'm told)

  
I LOVED these sardines. I ended up having four of them for myself. They are sliced down the middle and stuffed with small slices of lemon and garlic then pan fried. The fish just falls apart when the fork touches it. The flavors were refreshing and the fish was nice and oily.

  
We also ordered some nice Blue Point oysters.

  
Meaty with a touch of brine = yummy in my tummy

Finally we each ordered a bowl of their "famous" Tomato Soup
 
  
The soup is baked with puff pastry on top. You really need some sort of bread with this soup cause it's really creamy. It was delicious, but the creme matches so well with a doughy piece of bread. (Check out there recipe for the soup here... please note the 4 cups of heavy creme O_O). Rich and powerful, the soup has a delicious aroma that burst through the moment you break the pastry.

 
We ended up eating so much during happy hour we didn't eat again till lunch the next day (atrocity I know!). This was a welcome stop and I highly suggest everyone to stop by for a "snack".

Bistro Jeanty
6510 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599