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Sunday, November 20, 2016


It must have been in the early '80's when I first subscribed to the Stanford Alumni Wine Collection.  This program had then been two years old.  I might have missed another year or two, and I don't know how old my most vintage bottle is in my wine refrigerator, but the 2016 version arrives next week.  I think I have just enough space to fit 54 bottles.  Typically they offer three reds and two whites, with sometimes one of these being sparkling.  The most expensive red wine usually costs $75/bottle so it comes in a 6-pack.  The others are for 12 bottles.  With shipping and handling, the cost is always less than $2,000.  

You might comment, wow, that's a lot of wine.  If I only bring a bottle a week to my 15 Craigside dinner tables I would just about use up my annual Stanford allotment.  While we also consume sake, sochu, beer and just about any kind of alcoholic beverage, for the year I must average at least 2 bottles of wine/week, if not three when you count what I drink in my apartment.

Another way to look at this is that I many times pay $500/night in a Tokyo hotel.  Just four nights in these hotels are equivalent to a year of Stanford wines.

I store these bottles in a "new" wine cellar, which cost only around two nights of hotel stays.  My previous Craigside featured a reliable vintage which I had for more than 30 years, but seemed to promote mold growth.  Now white wines are kept at 50 F, with the reds at 60 F in a clean environment.  This recent fridge is a lot safer with drawers that are substantive and pull out. The reflection on the door shows my apartment.

What inspired me to focus on this subject is that I today had a typical brunch on my lanai where I payed $1.50 to order take-out of clams linguini and a large salad.  The cuisine here is okay, but almost always lacking in character, excellence, temperature and umaminess.  Of course, by now, some of you long with this blog site are well-versed in this fifth taste, a combination of richness, complexity and depth.  So here is how I enhanced the clams linguini.  I:
  • had marrow for my special dinner last night (scroll down to the next posting for the details) so stored chunks of beef from the shank, and fried them in three tablespoons of butter
  • chopped up 10 cloves of garlic and added them to the pan
  • borrowed three pieces of tomato from the salad and tossed them into the frying mix
  • then placed the the clams linguini into the pan, after first separating the flesh from the shells
  • topped off the dish with basil and white onions

The balsamic came from Modena and the oil was of white truffles.

I had garlic bread, beer (I get thirsty and the sparkle adds to the physical enjoyment) and a bottle of Stanford wine.

This was a 2012 Nadia Cabernet Sauvignon from Santa Barbara.  See that photo of Old Chem?  I took all my chemical engineering courses in that building.  It was built in 1902:

Four years later the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 toppled all those chimneys, but the structure was fixed up and continued to operate until the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.  After almost a quarter century of disuse, a decision was finally made in 2013, mostly because Shari and Rick Sapp came up with a chunk of the $67 million transformation cost to establish a corner of Bio-X and provide state-of-the-art teaching laboratories, a library for the sciences, 300-seat auditorium and outdoor plaza for graduations and celebrations.  Opening is planned for early next year.

The $75 wine this year is a Collector's Reserve 2013 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  The wine has a titratable acid of 6.5 G/L, pH 3.61, alcohol 13.9% and bottling date of August 2016.  Interestingly enough, it was only two years ago that this very same  Ridge bottled in August of 2013 was the Collector's Reserve.  

The owners, working at the Stanford Research Institute, bought the mountain land (2000 foot elevation) when I was a junior at Stanford.  The winemaker, Paul Draper (right, class of '58) has been with Ridge for 47 years and, at the age of 80, just announced his retirement. 
Every year since 1980 25 or so wine experts, gather to taste-test 35-40 West Coast wines.  The 20-point Davis scale is used, and, after only two hours of sipping and swirling, rankings are submitted and tabulated.  A well-known personality regularly involved is Peter Mondavi the Younger (class of '80, left).   The top five are offered to alumni.

To end, here are two of my lanai herb/citrus garden plants, calamansi and shiso:


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