It’s Raining La Tâche: Five Vintages of DRC La Tache (i.e., Wine Porn Par Excellence)

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Last week in sunny Palo Alto, it was cloudy with a chance of rain. And rain it did, in the form of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tache, with five vintages of impeccable provenance from a collector whose proclivity to sharing is unmatched. Let’s get to the report (cue 70’s porn music):

1990 La Tache: The nose was a heady mélange of ripe, sweet red fruit permeated with notes of mushrooms, truffles, and La Tache’s unmistakable perfume of Asian spices. The rich-but-not-heavy taste penetrated every pore and lingered forever on the kaleidoscopic finish; you don’t need wine expertise to sense how sexy and astonishingly intense this wine is. Having been fortunate to canoodle with the 1990 several times over the years, I found this to be its best, most expressive showing.

1996 La Tache: If the 1990 was a buxom Burgundy-born pin-up, then the 1996 was Tippi Hedren — elegance and mystery, with a smoldering sex appeal that shows itself only when it decides it is ready. After about a half hour in the glass, it opened up to reveal layers of red fruit, soy sauce, and mint joined by seductive, powdery tannins which coat the tongue like the finest velvet.

1999 La Tache: Although Burgundy specialists regard the 1999 as near “perfect”, this bottle was a bit more reserved than expected and its muscular tannins and tart acidity were a bit too insistent. But the makings are there for future greatness, with its foundation of ripe plum, spice, and that know-it-when-you-smell-it earthiness the French call sous bois (“under brush” or “forest floor”).

2001 La Tache: The great surprise of the night: undeniably gorgeous, with a perfume of rose petals and minerals, with every structural element — acidity, tannin, fruit concentration, and alcohol — in balletic equipoise. The 2001 demonstrates how a top winery can make a masterpiece even in a relatively disappointing vintage year.

2002 La Tache: Started with an odd, flowers-and-cedar scent and sharp acidity, a woody dissonance that suggested spoilage. It was even more disjointed after an hour. Oxidized bottle.

2005 La Tache: A rare specimen of beauty, its dense black fruit showing hints of exotic spice coupled with a pleasing whiff of earth and beef bouillon. Its finish lingers like long, high clouds across a summer sky. But it is still young and tightly wound, with noticeable tannins. All signs point to a legend in the making that will get more nuanced and silky in the years and decades to come.

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Valentine’s Day Wines Under $25 (for Self-Seduction)

Valentine’s Day Wines Under $25 (for Self-Seduction)

Valentine’s Day is here, and whether you will be with your loved one or plan to seduce yourself, you’ve got to have appropriate juice on hand. Your local wine store is sure to have these moderately-priced picks.
valentine's day wines
A visit to Williams-Sonoma’s San Francisco headquarters the other week involved the perfect exercise in finding moderately priced yet maximally alluring V-Day-ready bottles. In preparation for a presentation I was giving to WS staff, Williams Sonoma’s Director of Culinary Amanda Haas asked me to join her at local supermarket and select seven Valentines Day-worthy wines – all under $25 – in under 20 minutes. We were all pleased with how these Valentine’s Day wines turned out, and here they are for you:

Roederer Estate Brut NV ($19-$22) – A perennial overachiever, owned by the same parent company that makes Cristal.

St. Supéry Oak-Free Chardonnay 2015 ($20-$25) – A stunner with oysters, which are of course known to be a potent aphrodisiac. Medium bodied and lemony bright.

Landmark Vineyards Overlook Pinot Noir 2014 ($20-$25) –  I call Pinot the Juicy Berry Kiss and this version is no exception, with its strawberry-and-flowers perfume, medium body, and crisp acidity.

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier White Blend 2015 ($11-$15) – A sexy duality: smells sweet, tastes dry. A secret love of wine pros. Viognier puts you in the mood for romance.

Minuty M Rosé Cotes de Provence 2015 ($10-$15) – Gorgeous raspberry fruit with a lemony lift. And its bottle is curved like Sophia Lauren.

Campo Viejo Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 ($20-$25) – If a smooth, plummy Spanish red weren’t sexy enough, the gold fishnet adorning the bottle creates glamour and intrigue.

Prieuré d’ Arche Sauternes 2008 ($15-$20) – For drizzling on your pancakes, then on your lover.

For more on affordable wine alternatives and the best wines to bring to a date or party, check out my latest book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire.  Leave an Amazon review in the month of February (and notify alf@markoldman.com) and we will send you some Oldman schwag!

Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen is the Perfect Place to Teach Champagne Sabering

For a Facebook Live event with Williams-Sonoma last week, Mark Oldman teaches Amanda Haas, Williams-Sonoma’s Director of Culinary, how to saber a bottle of champagne like a total pro. Located at the Williams-Sonoma test kitchen in Northern California, the beautiful space offered the perfect setting for a little saber-training session.  You’ve got to see the video to believe it – Amanda is a natural!

Missed the Live video? You can still get your wine questions answered by leaving a comment!

Williams-Sonoma sabering wine mark oldman

An Homage to (and the Perfect Wine Pairing for) Joe’s Stone Crab

As a late birthday present this week, I received a box of stone crabs from Joe’s, the legendary Miami restaurant which has its own fleet of boats to source the world’s best sweet, meaty crustaceans.

What wine was grand enough for this epic and luxurious crab feast?  I splurged on a similarly decadent 2002 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, a white Burgundy of creamy texture and intense concentration, with notes of apples and peaches and a stony tang.

One need not resort to a wine of this dizzying specialness to flatter the butter-and-saline magic of stone crabs.  Equally compelling would have been a high-quality California Chardonnay, an Albariño from Spain, or richer-style Champagne or sparkling wine.

The meal: Joe’s stone crab claws, clarified butter, Joe’s mustard sauce, creamed spinach, hash browns, and key lime pie.

wine pairing stone crabs

Hungry for your own? You can order in from Joe’s here on their website.

For more on wine pairing, check out my latest book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire!

Christmas Eve Wine Pairings That Everyone Will Love

Whether Christmas Eve to you means Santa-tracking and traditional holiday puddings or the latest Woody Allen flick and some quality lo mein, there is no holiday season complete without the perfect wine pairing.

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If you’re having a Thanksgiving-caliber feast, you might be searching for wines to complement the crispy skin of a roast turkey or chicken, in which case you’d be pleased by brawny, fruit-forward Zinfandel.

For those indulging in honey-baked ham, pair it with a crisp and dry (or slightly off-dry) Chenin Blanc. If you’re planning on enjoying some potato latkes with homemade apple sauce, American sparkling wine will promote joy with its fruit-forward, effervescent personality. Hearty and peppery brisket has a deep friendship with Bordeaux – a sultry combo for a winter evening.

My friends who traditionally skip the Christmas festivities in favor of cinematic bliss always manage to smuggle a bottle of Gewürztraminer into the theatre with their General Tso’s chicken or Hunan shrimp, as its lychee-and-ginger character has an affinity to spicy Asian foods.

As for the dessert course, a house of gingerbread must eventually crumble, and when it does – assumedly at your own hands  –  pair the spicy treat with succulent, delicate Moscato d’Asti.

Minty and ubiquitous candy-canes are great for savoring along with Prosecco, which complements the peppermint rush with a fresh, citrusy, sometimes slightly sweet sparkle. Dense, flaky rugelach, with its cinnamon flair and dried-fruitiness, is perfect with ice wine’s unabashed sweetness and zingy acidity.

For more about excellent wine and food pairings and suggestions, check out my latest book, How to Drink Like A Billionaire. Drink richly!