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November 19, 2012 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Thanksgiving Scenarios and Wines That Will Make You Shine

This, from First We Feast:

For Turkey Day wine suggestions that get to the heart of the matter, we called up our favorite wine pro, Jonathan Cristaldi, and asked him to make a pick for each of the potential scenarios one might encounter over the holiday. From his slightly insane mind—and always on-point palate—straight to you, here are the wines that will have family, in-laws, friends, and strangers crowning you king next Thursday.

And you are invited to read my scandalous scenario-recommends… read here.

September 5, 2012 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Winetology Wednesdays on UndergroundEats.com

Holy Smokes! Holy Corks! Is it true?! My most recent post was June 15th? Faithful Winetologists hear me out:

I moved to Los Angeles mere days after the post below. I’ve just returned from a short trip to NYC to participate in #CabernetDay and that event was chronicled quite well by the lovely and talented Michelle Young of Untapped Cities – here.

About a month ago I began writing a  bi-weekly column on The Bloggery at UndergroundEats.com. My inaugural post is here and the second post, about #CabernetDay is here.

I hope you enjoy and you may begin once more to check here regularly for writings on all things wine, wine likely on wine. I’ll also begin writing about wine and will occasionally touch upon wine and wine culture and wine drinking and tasting and rating and likely will showcase winemakers who make wine. For now, enjoy this short video on how NOT to saber delicious bubbly:

July 26, 2011 4 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

San Francisco: The “Anti” Bastille Day Party

"Anti" Bastille Day Party. Photo credit: Patricia Chang Photography.

And so it was… the “Anti” Bastille Day Party.

On the 14th of July, after celebrating the birth of America America’s independence for 10 straight days of pure unadulterated red, white and blue joy, the official “period” of this week(+) binge found itself at the end of an evening celebrating the French more America.

In collaboration with San Francisco supper club, the Stag Dining Group the Noble Rot hosted the “Anti” Bastille Party. Why? Because last year we hosted a “Pro” Bastille Day Party, and frankly, it was much more fun to drink California wines this time around. Not that I don’t love the French, because I’ve spent my share of breezy summer afternoons strolling along the Seine, but because I love the French so much I couldn’t bare the thought of acting like them on their high holy day. Instead… the Stags and I devised a hell of an evening that caught the attention of the San Francisco Chronicle (<article).

Girard "Artistry" Bordeaux Blend. Photo Credit: Patricia Chang Photography

“Anti” was mean to be taken lightly – in jest – and the real theme was in no way against the French, it was simply a reinterpretation of them. And so we served “Bordeaux” blends and “Meritage” blends from two delectably notable California-Americano wineries: Girard Winery and Cosentino Winery. The lovely French-sounding, assistant winemaker from Girard, Jacqueline Bahue (no relation to the French), joined us for the evening to impart a sense of vino-nationalistic pride and legitimacy. Sporting a fashionable dress she was the most charming assistant winemaker a Self-Appointed Master Sommelier could ask for. She worked the crowd like a pro and was full of wonderful bits of Girard and Cosentino history.

Jacqueline Bahue, Assistant Winemaker, Girard. Photo courtesy of Girard and Cosentino Winery.

A cocktail hour curated by The Cocktail Lab (Timothy Zohn and Anne Sauer) went ahead and impressed the hell out of everyone. The spirit at hand was an American-craft distilled whiskey dubbed “Double & Twisted Moonlight Whiskey” made from … already bottled IPA. You should’ve been there to experience this fine, fine, fine clear whiskey from Master Distiller Marko Karakasevi from Domain Charbay. There was nothing to be said; the sighs of pleasure permeated as the cocktail hour made way for socialist activity and dissenters, some singing Francophilic songs, reveling in the glory and honor of the after-feeling of one of the best cocktails they ever tasted.

Le Rêve Américain (The American Dream)
by Anne Sauer and Timothy Zohn of Cocktail Lab

1 1/4 oz Charbay Doubled and Twisted Moon Light Whiskey
3/4 oz Sutton Cellars Brown Label Vermouth
1/2 oz homemade peach gastrique*
Dash St. George Absinthe
5 fresh mint leaves
Pinch salt

Combine all ingredients with ice and shake vigorously. Double-strain into an ice-filled glass and garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.

The courses, all traditional French cuisine with “American Flare” and the wine pairings looked like this:

Liberty Bites (Horss D’ouvres)
Fried Anchovy Stuffed Olives
Brie Whiz ‘n’ Crackers

Main

Freedom Frog & Snail Corndogs w/ Herb-Garlic Mustard |
Cosentino “The Novelist” White Meritage 2008

Pulled “BBQ” Duck Confit, Macaroni Salad, Cornbread
Cosentino “The Poet” Red Meritage 2005

UN-French Onion Soup Dumplings, Gruyere, Chervil |
Cosentino “The Poet” Red Meritage 2006

Yankee Goose Liver (Foie Gras) Cheesesteak, Pickled Shishito Peppers, Blue Box Chips
Girard “Artistry” Bordeaux Blend 2007

Patriot Doughnuts (Beignets), Peanut Butter, Banana, Bacon
Girard “Artistry” Bordeaux Blend 2008

At the sound of a gong, the next wine was introduced followed by a food course to pair. The evening’s guests were ravaged with patriotic delight and in true American-fashion resisted the threat of education! Sadly for them, they still fell prey to factual information and in the end knowledge was indeed imparted. We learned how to pronounce “Meritage” (Merit-IH-dge) and how to taste wine in the proper fashion (pinky out). Debates broke out concerning which American cigarettes paired best with the selected wines and Americano-inspired dishes.

True excitement was had by all in that we experienced a “vertical” tasting (winespeak for: same wine, different vintages). The taste profiles of the ’05 and 06 “The Poet” was palpable! The ’06 seemed a distant cousin to the ’05, showing brighter fruit and silkier tannins. The Girard ’07 was rounder with a succulent mouth-feel counterpart to the tougher, younger tannins of the ’08. What a great experience. And as a little surprise in the end, we uncorked this incredible wine.

The Noble Rot + Stag Dining Group = America2.0 (Left to right: Jordan Grosser, Jonny Cigar (Noble Rot), Emory Al-Imam, Matthew Homyak, Ted Fleury, Anil Margsahayam) Photo Credit: Patricia Chang Photography.

And Look: in the end, everyone threw a Bastille Day party, okay? Everyone. For crying out loud. But. But? But! No one did what we did (and I’m referring of course to the after-party, the details of which, I canna’ discl’se).

I have to extend a supremely sturdy and gruff handshake, round of applause, the raising of many glasses to Stag Dining Group. These Stags run a tight ship and the experience is truly memorable. Chef Jordan Grosser and Ted Fleury are superbly talented cuisinists. Matthew Homyak, Anil Margsahayam and Emry Al-Imam are the best front-of-house friends a wino could have. Truly Stag. I salute you – thanks a million Stags over! Let us all pick up our American rifles and rifle the belly of the whale.

Wine, I say! More wine.

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May 17, 2010 1 comment Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Noble Rot (event): Rioja

Sierra Cantabria — Photo by Marcin JM

The sweltering humid evening of this, the past Friday, in the year of the Tiger, we of The Noble Rot, did but host and did but bring to a parlor-room full of Noble Guests an event that was: RIOJA. It was in Park Slope that a little bit of Spain infiltrated the palates of our guests and here’s how the evening played out:

The Winos: Eduardo Eguren, winemaker extraordinaire of Sierra Cantabria // Ramon Del Monte of Tempranillo Inc. // Damian Gutierrez of Cabriniwines.com // Aprille Goodman and her band: Tony Melone, Justin Hosek // Brian Quinn, a State-Certified Absolute Gentleman, Jonny Cigar a Self-Appointed Master Sommelier // and Josh Greenfield of Y-I-EAT-N

The Wines: Protocolo Blanco, Sierra Cantabria Joven, S.C. Crianza, S.C. Reserva, San Vicente, Muga Sparkling

In short, good reader, we were quite fortunate to have Eduardo grace us with the Spanish dirt upon his boots. Eduardo’s family has been making wine, generation after generation, since 1870. They live in a castle. When one thinks of Rioja, Eguren should come to mind. When Rioja thinks of Rioja, Eguren comes to mind assuredly. The beautiful parlor room of the Brownstone in the P.Slope was quite conducive to a kind of discussion-in-the-round. As guests arrived they sipped on Eguren’s Protocolo, a nice crisp refreshing white that brings to mind images of Don Quixote fighting wind-mills. Ready for battle, we launched into a string of reds, all of the Tempranillo grape, a grape that characteristically produces full-bodied wines of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather and herb, or should I say, wild untamed red fruit, Nat Sherman cigarillos, Ben & Jerry’s, (fruit) leather and Herb, a farmer who used to work my Uncle Vinny’s hay farm. We finished with a sparkling Muga, not made by Eguren, but certainly enjoyed by all, given the heat.

Eduardo enlightened us throughout the eve with details about each wine with respect to the grape, the terroir, the climate of the year, the age of the vines (some 50+ years), and told us the life-story of each vineyard worker (the entire event lasted 4 solid days).

Damian, our friend and honorary Noble Rot partner at this point, was pouring like a wild Spaniard and had a handful of “okay” things to say.

Josh Greenfield and his brother Michael prepared an array of superbly tasty foods: there was seared Ahi, veggie tacos, BBQ pulled pork, risotto stuffed mushrooms, and a caramel-apple tart that drizzled us into serenity. Aprille and her band tore the place up with a robust and tannic sound that would likely age well in New French Oak.

Event photos by the incomparable Marcin JM:

Seared Ahi Tun on a Jicama “cracker” — Photo my Marcin JM

Risotto Stuffed Shrooms — Photo my Marcin JM

Michael and Josh dans la cucina — Photo my Marcin JM

A Noble Rotten Crowd — Photo my Marcin JM

From Left to Right: Jonny Cigar, Brian Quinn, Damian G, Ramon, Eduardo Eguren — Photo my Marcin JM

Again: Jonny, Brian, Ramon, Eduardo -- Photo my Marcin JM

Again: Jonny, Brian, Ramon, Eduardo — Photo my Marcin JM

Aprille, Tom -- Photo my Marcin JM

Aprille Goodman and her band: Justin Hosek (left), Tony Melone (right) — photo by Marcin JM

What a shot! — photo by Marcin JM

Damian pours delicious Crianza like a Spanish-Pro — photo by Marcin JM

Lovely Rotters Listening as Jonny and Eduardo Talk Rioja — photo by Marcin JM

Not a bad evening… — photo by Marcin JM

 

April 20, 2010 4 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Noble Rot (event): Saké

UPDATE: Keith Wagstaff of the Village Voice wrote up one fancy, noble, delectable article on said Sake event. Read it here.

Brian Quinn & Jonny Cigar drink their way through Sake. Photo by Steph Goralnick.

Hello Good n’ Faithful Winos:

This Saturday of last The Noble Rot hosted an affair focused on the truly dynamic drink known in the modern and ancient world as Sake (酒) and known in Japan as Nihonshu (日本酒). Well, then, here’s the goods:

Our aim: dispel the myths of sake and explore sake as an approachable and understandable beverage as opposed to an innacroachable one (Gertrude Stein’s word, not mine) and to discover the many varieties and grades of sake while pairing them with mouth-watering delicious food that befits deep friers and more tuna than is likely necessary.

The sakes presented ran the gambit of an array of flavor profiles, colors (an aged sake called Miyagi was deep amber in color), one was reminiscent of Amaretto without the harshness, one golden like a wine from Sauternes and one like an old mule, tired after years of plowing potato fields in upstate New York.

Who was involved? Only the most renowned sake expert this side of the Shinano River, Monica Samuels, Sake Ambassador to the world! (of Southern Wines & Spirits). Also in house was Mike Lee of Studiofeast butchering up an incredible menu, which is listed below the photos. And to add injury to insult we had a surprise musical guest, the remarkably talented Michael Daves, who performed two sets of bluegrassy spectacularness.

Before you are indulged, good Winetology reader, with photographs of the event, please enjoy a bit of sake education:

Look for the word “Ginjo” on the bottle, whether it is alone or bunched together as in “Daiginjo” or “Junmai Ginjo” or “Junmai Daiginjo” because “Ginjo” refers to super premium sake (as in the top 7 percent of all sake produced). And:

  • Sake is best served chilled.
  • Drink sake out of a wine glass lest you care not for the aromas, the color, the clarity, the cloudiness, the full experience that sake has to offer. Drinking in the Masu boxes is not ideal if you are hoping to truly taste and experience the sake. Drinking in tiny glasses most-often served in Japanese restaurants will do nothing other than encourage shooting your sake or pouring for your friends every 30 seconds.
  • If you’d really like to know more about the acidity, the sweetness, the impact, the color, the many grades of sake, the rice sake is made from, different yeast strains affecting taste and flavor, please visit www.sake-world.com and read what John Gauntner has to say (Monica studied under him and he’s essentially the most revered sake expert on both sides of the Mississippi).

Below are tasty photos from the event.

Jonny Cigar’s bow-tie. Photo by Steph Goralnick www.flickr.com/sgoralnick

Danny Zlobinsky, Brian Quinn, Mike Lee, Jonny Cigar, Derrick Yuen. Photo by Steph Goralnick

Monica Samuels talks Sake, Jonny listens, Joseph (white glasses) admires the scene of his apartment. Photo by Steph Goralnick.

Some new Noble guests take in the food, the sake, the delectable evening. Photo by Steph Goralnick.

Michael Daves destroyed the scene with his sound. (http://www.michaeldaves.com) We were thrilled to have him. Photo by Steph Goralnick.

Make em laugh…. make em laugh… Look at how the famed Nick Bennett, bartender extraordinaire du Whisk&Ladle raises an eyebrow while his award-winning mustache remains in its award-winning pose. Photo by Laura Huben.

For the cocktails we mixed a sake called TY KU that came in a rather Vegas-inspired-bottle. Check ’em out: www.trytyku.com

TY KU – used for our Noble Rot cocktail hour. We used their blue bottle “Soju” which is made from 100% premium barley and pure spring water. And their Sake in the black bottle, a refined, smooth sake with peach on the nose and spice in the pan. (The green bottle lights up!)

The Menu by Mike Lee, paired by Monica and us Noble Rottens for your salivating pleasure:

Assorted Japanese Pickles

 

Tuna, Avocado, Onion Salad
Raw, soy marinated tuna, lightly vinagared onion

 

paired with
Toyo Bijin Ohkarakuchi Junmai Ginjo, Yamaguchi
‘ohkarakuchi’ is a category of sakes that are extremely dry.  Sakes in this style often tend to be a little one dimensional; Toyo Bijin, on the other hand, has an extremely complex aroma laced with ripe fruit yet has a

Daikon, Pork, Miso
Dashi braised daikon, minced pork, miso, scallion, ginger

paired with
Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo, Shizuoka
Isojiman has definitely achieved cult status in Japan, well known for their unique style of fermentation to achieve aromas of juicy tropical fruit, still maintaining great balance and versatility.  Long finish, very lively mouthfeel.

Soy Sauce Chicken Chicken, braised in Soy, Brown sugar, cinnamon, star anise, scallions

 

paired with
Hojyun Biden Yamahai Junmai, Fukuoka
Very smoky, earthy style of sake with aromas of cocoa and mushroom.  This sake is excellent chilled or at room temperature, which enhances the savory sweet qualities of the sake.  Yamahai refers to a yeast starter that has no lactic acid added, instead relying on changing the temperature of the water to create natural lactic acid.

Corn Kakiage, Hot Pepper
Deep fried corn fritter, Fried serrano pepper

 

paired with
Murai Family Nigori Genshu, Aomori
Highly concentrated, intense cloudy sake.  Vanilla and confectionary aromas give way to a rich, slightly earthy finish.  This sake is undiluted and approaches 21% alcohol, creating structure and cutting through the initial sweetness.  Great with spicy foods, cheese, and chocolate.

Beef Tendon, Yuba, Turnip
Beef tendon stew, yuba (tofu skin), turnips, rice

 

paired with
Katsuyama Genroku Aged Junmai, Miyagi
Deliberately aged to achieve a rich brown color and a flavor reminiscent of cognac.  Higher concentration of sake rice and koji to enable faster aging.  Aromas of coffee and roasted nuts, sweet and salty butterscotch finish.

Mochi Ice Cream

paired with
Kakurei Junmai Ginjo Ume-Shu, Niigata
Junmai Ginjo sake that has been soaked with locally grown plums for three months.  Aromas of apricot and almond, slightly sweet with mouthwatering acidity on the finish.

Menu written by Mike Lee of Studiofeast (www.studiofeast.com)

Sake paring by Monica Samuels (Southern Wine & Spirits)

Auction? Who knows. Photo by Steph Goralnick.

Cocktails

水揚げ

“Mizuage”
TY KU Sake Black

Rye Whiskey
Orange Curacao
Bitters

襟替え

“Erikae”

TY KU Soju
Applejack Brandy
Blackberries
Simple

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