Ah yes… it was a Harvest indeed…
As predicted the omniscient Weather Men from the Weather Channel to the Doppler Radar Team provided us with sufficiently confusing and contradictory information. At 2pm ET there was a 20% chance of rain, and in NYC 20% means “not at all,” typically. By 6pm (the start of our event) the chances were up around 40%. Right around 3pm ET torrential down-pours engulfed the five borrows. By 6pm it was sunny, however we had already made the call to switch location from an impeccable rooftop in DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) to a secret loft location in the heart of Williamsburg aka Moneysburg aka eclectic mix of cash-only and credit-accepting restaurants, bars, and coffee lolipooloozas.
From 6pm until close to midnight we, the mighty Noble Rot, indulged a crowd of 30 or so with a Harvest Celebration. For you see, good wine-reader, the Napa Valley is in the throes of Harvesting their cash-crops. In honor of their efforts we drank excellent examples of fabulous California wine from not-too-distant vintages. The lineup looked like this:
- 2005 Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc
- 2006 Calera Pinot Noir (Central Coast)
- 2005 Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2007 Robert Foley Charbono
- 2004 Girard Winery “Artistry” Bordeaux Blend
Grapes were strung about the loft and were to be harvested, however the good host, myself, Jonny Cigar, was indulging in the tasting with perhaps more gusto than was necessary and hence was in no shape to harvest the lot. Therescore, and unfortunately, my Dumbo Cuvee crop was lost and I’ll have to wait until next year to bottle. Good mannered Noble Rot counter-part Brian Quinn kept the evening in order, but also had his fill.
Playing fantastic blue-grassy inspired music throughout the eve were the Wylie Toms pictured below: Owen (Piano/Banjo/Vocals), Adam (Saxophone/Clarinet), Evan (Guitar/Singing) and Carly (Singing):
Being harvest time, and coincidentally the Korean Thanksgiving, we provided the most-ever-delectable sandwiches: Seasoned turkey betwixt baguettes from Blue Ribbon Bakery smothered in a butternut-and-orange-rind squash puree, replete with caramelized shallots reduced in a scrumptious red-wine reduction (by Danielle Florio of The Whisk & Ladle Supper Club – check out her blog: saucylittledish) and the tastiest mouth-watering Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownies, and Mexican Wedding Cookies by Amanda Wells of SweetWells. Amanda will be providing more sweets at future events, such as our future-chocolate-and-wine pairing event coming to a secret location possibly this fall.
So look, okay, the evening was great. I presented a Harvest Play, with Brian Quinn playing the role of President Nixon (relevant to the Schramsberg story) and I played myself. People ate turkey and brownies and cookies and drank some power-house California wines… so let’s talk about the wines.
The Schramsberg was my favorite and after Saturday’s event, it still is. I rate wines through my Connoisseur Rating System (CRS) from -350 to Infiinity. The 2005 vintage produces delicate bubbles prompting me to consider a new bubble-bath formula that effervesces and makes you feel tipsy after your bath. CRS Rating: 18,456,777,444,444,345,543,123,321,678,000.
The Calera was most everyone’s favorite. This pinot is a pinot to be reckoned with. Our good friend, Jesse Salazar, of Union Square Wines briefly consulted with me on the wines to present for an evening of red-stained teeth. By “brief” I mean I told him what I wanted to serve and he thought I was out of my mind, in a good way. He suggested I start with the Calera and told me that winemaker Josh Jensen had worked at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti among other impressive places in and around Burgundy and that he had found some limestone in the Central Coast – in short, the stuff is just about as good as … well… why don’t you try it out yourself. CRS Rating: A bunch of 9’s strung together for longer than you need to look at.
Mighty Rombauer was mighty tannic, and we all agreed this wine would be amazing in five more years. Lots of fruit like: Pumpkin and Rosemary, Shallots and Butternut Squash, Powdered sugar, and … oh… wait… that was my mouthful of turkey, brownie and cookie – my own version of “blending.” CRS Rating: Five 10 Millions.
Monsieur Foley – let me say that Foley’s wines are my favorite. This 2007 vintage is not as hot as the last Charbono vintage, however it holds up. His famous Chocolate and Cherry nonsense truly fills the mouth and one hopes it will never end. In fact, I’ve still got some in the back corner of my right cheek – talk about a finish, it’s still going!! CRS Rating: Honorary Infinity (Because I like the label so much).
And then… this little bottle of delightfulness:
This little 3-liter bottle, aka a Jeroboam (double-magnum) was the highlight. Very exciting pour action as I demanded everyone line up and come to me for a taste rather than my going to them as had been the case throughout the evening. When everyone in the room had the Girard elixir in their glass we practiced our final Kevin Zraly inspired “60 Second Wine Expert” experience: First, sip the wine, swallow to remove any other tastes. Then smell the wine three times. Then take a good mouthful and swirl around for 3-5 seconds, swallow and think about the wine for 60 seconds. “Shut up!” I exclaimed, “Think about what you’re experiencing.” ….. ……. …… And surely we were all experiencing a spicy, fruity, elegantly smooth Bordeaux blend that did indeed take us out with a bang. The wine changed in the glass after some time, opened up, showed more if its dark jammy fruit. I had visited Girard’s tasting room in Yountville back in early September and the wonderful Erin Luby, who runs ship at the tasting room worked with me on selecting a big bottle that would certainly make a show for this event. Luckily the day she shipped the wine, winemaker Marco DiGiulio was present and signed the bottle. (Of course when I heard I was getting a signed double-magnum, I thought: no way am I opening this puppy! But, I gave in, and am thrilled to have done so). Opening a bottle that size was a first for most everyone in the room. It’s the final bout of rapid-fire fireworks at the end of every skylit fireworks celebration, and helped end our Harvest Party with enough of its nectar to go around the room a couple times.
We at the Noble Rot wish we could be in Napa harvesting alongside the men and women who make this country grape. The evening can be summed up by resident Whisk & Ladle bartender, Nick Bennett, who said: “Dude, I’m telling my mom about this.” And I hope he does. I hope everyone tells their mom about the Noble Rot, because we don’t fool around. You like to fool around? Call us and we’ll tell you all about how we don’t fool around. In fact, we don’t fool around so much that we pretty much only fool around. The Noble Rot. It’s a secret. Don’t tell anyone about this, except for your moms and your friends and everyone you may or may not know.