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Friday, September 12, 2014


There was a confirmed conjunction of Big Reds at Vino's Italian Tapas and Wine Bar last night.  There were at least three in evidence:

  • Bruce Leibert
  • Red wines with substance and guts
  • Stanford alumni
This was an ancillary Chaine des Rotisseurs gathering featuring full flavored rustic reds from California.  Among the oenophiles were Big Red himself, Big John and a new couple from Santa Ynez, now relocated into Courtyards at Punahou next to Central Union Church, in that order:

I took more photos, but my iPhone appears to be malfunctioning.  But what can you expect from a 2.  Maybe I should get a 6 Plus.  For example, here is a fuzzy version of Don, Chuck and Bruce:

The three Big Reds featured were:
  • 2009 Freakshow Petite Sirah "Heretic":  a big, black, brooding, masculine beast from Paso Robles
  • 2006 R Wines "Amazed":  decadent, lavish, deeply flavored from 132 year old Carignane and Mourvedre vines from Napa Valley (right)
  • 2011 Saxum "Booker Vineyard":  an almost impossible to get wine today, it is mysterious and provocative, from Syrah and Mourvedre grapes grown in Paso Robles.
Note that two are from Paso Robles and there is no Cabernet Sauvignon involved.  It was not unlike a nightmare for me, as nothing made any sense.  It was only a little more than half a century ago that I drove through Paso Robles at least a dozen times and can mostly remember a dusty town on 101.  Today, amazingly enough, Paso Robles has 200 wineries and you can stay at the Hotel Cheval if you have $315 to spare for the night.  That's a Mourvedre to the right.  Mourvedre?  Where have I been?

I can also remember my time at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory four decades ago when I had a Petite Sirah with a Concannon of Concannon Vineyards in  his garage.  While they might not have invented this grape, they were the first to bottle it in California.  Note that Petite Sirah and Petite Syrah are two different grapes.  In any case, I thought this Petite Sirah was awful.  Today, it is a treasured varietal, depending on the terroir.  However, Chuck Furuya could not recommend Concannon.

My end of the table so much liked the Saxum, that Harry and Bruce chipped in to buy another bottle of the 2011 for $185.  In a way, that was a bargain, for you can get it from dealers in the range of $100 to $275.  The 2007 had a rating of 98 and was named Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator.  Keep in mind, though, that the 2007 Saxum James Berry was #1 (left) once $500/bottle, is not available anymore, while the 2007 Saxum Bone Rock, rated 96, is still being sold for $150.

I might add that Bobbette and Don brought two heavy reds, one from Paso Robles.  Both were excellent.  I asked Bobbette what she thought of Mr. Lee, and she quickly responded that the group only had one b.  Well, they do have 2.  In 1957 they were between 11 and 13.

Oh, of course, there was food aplenty, with a wide assortment of appetizers:  fancy concoctions of poke, prawns, gnocchi, foie gras, etc.  Here is a shot of my foie gras ravioli, okay, but the temperature could have been about a 100 F higher:

I don't know if it was because of the inordinate volume of wine I consumed, but when I awoke, my blood pressure was ten points higher for both the diastolic and systolic.

Tonight I got picked up by Donna, Elsie and David Ikegami, and they took me to Le Bistro:

I ordered three appetizers, starting with an excellent corn, greens and potato chip salad:

I would show you the escargot, Caesar salad and apple tart, all fabulous, but I forgot to take those photos.  A truly excellent meal with great company.


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