It has been a busy first week back. I'm still getting my apartment organized as I have mounds of paperwork to sift through and many notes from the winery visits of the past few months.
I've focused the bulk of this week to organizing, tasting, and studying. Lynn, my MW candidate colleague, is taking the exam this June in Napa, and I thought this might be a perfect time to coordinate a team effort to organize the vast amounts of data needed. We spent a day reviewing white wine production techniques that we could taste in the glass.
I've tasted a lot of wine this week. I went to two exclusive tastings by Sherry Lehman. The first focused on Bordeaux from two third-growth Medoc producers in St Estephe, Margaux, and St Emilion(right bank) with vintages such as 1996, 2000, 2001, 2005, and 2006. The second tasting was moderated by winemaker Jacques Lardiere, with a focus on the heralded 2005 vintage with a range of Burgundy from Pouilly Fuisse, Puligny Village, Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, Pommard Village, Beaune 1er Cru, Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru, and Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru -- although very good, I was not as impressed with the opulent-style of the 2005 vintage as I expected to be. On Friday, I tasted with Mollie's tasting group. Mollie is nearly finished with her MW(we hope) and has become a friend and very helpful in the MW sorting process. She, along with five other professionals ranging from sommeliers to distributor/importers, brought two classic wines that one might often confuse. Blind and roundtable-style, each person verbally described each wine for four minutes each, analyzing the qualities in the glass. It was an useful exercise to listen to each others "markers" and sensory evaluations.
Friday was a bit of a sad day as the doctors reconfirmed that my polyps had reappeared. Not only do they restrict my breathing, it is dulling my ability to smell. I'm scheduled for surgery in two Fridays and I'm a bit scared. Friday night was better, as I went to 11 Madison for a Wine Collector's dinner featuring riesling. Suzanne, who I met a Vega Sicilia vertical, invited me. Suzanne and I have participated in many verticals together, Rayas and Trimbach's Clos St Hune most recently. The man seated to my right didn't know much about wine so I lost interest quickly. To my left, sat a woman named Kristina, who works at Momofuko Ssam, with whom, after chatting all night, I discovered that we shared many things in common. The dinner was terrific, especially the plump Bouchon mussels, the best that I've ever had. I spoke with the terrific wine director, John Ragan, who takes service to the next level.
On Saturday, I restarted my Equinox membership and had a good hour of cardio. Spring training has begun. I'm looking forward to getting back in shape as yikes, some of my spring clothes are not fitting like they should. Later that night, I met Lauryn for dinner. Scott, a foodie that I briefly dated and an investor in Corton, recommended it; he always knows the latest spots. Thus, I chose a place that he recommended, a spot in the West Village called Keste, for Neapolitan pizza. The oven, crafted by artisans who flew in from Naples, heats to 1,000 degrees and flash cooks the pizza in 70 seconds. We ordered both the Keste and Sausage pizza. The pizza was very good but lacked any crispy element, that crunch would have taken it to the excellent level. Also, I'd like a tangier tomato sauce, preferably San Marzano. We drank an '01 La Spinetta Barbera d'Asti Superiore and an '05 Llopart Rose Cava. The La Spinetta with 14.5% alcohol was a bit clunky and mono-dimensional dominated still with oak and extract. In search of Bernie's wine, called 3 Sommeliers, we headed to City Winery. I almost regret not working there as the space as a music venue is terrific and their wine programming looks very good. Bernie's wine was not available by the glass so I opted instead for a '08 Lopez Rioja rose, a very elegant style. Bernie, the wine director for all the Jean Georges restaurants, later texted us that he was drinking '00 Latour at JG but we were already fast asleep.
Today, Sunday, was hectic. Gym for one hour in the morning followed by studying. I met Dirk Niepoort for lunch at Momofuko Ssam and introduced him to the beauty of the pork bun and kimchee, plus a plethora of other dishes, all with a bottle of MV Krug. Dinner was at Lynn's with Keith Tulloch, of Hunter Valley, to review vinification specific to the Hunter Valley. Janine was also present.
I have a 9am tasting tomorrow so off to bed!