Archive for January, 2010

Holiday Cheer

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Click image to enlarge.

Here at Gang Central, we celebrate the year-end holidays mainly through the sharing of good food and wine with friends and family. We tend not to participate in the commercial rat race that so dominates Christmas, though we do indulge in gleefully viewing two opposite extremes in Yuletide movies; Polar Express (they still don’t have 3-D quite down for home viewing yet, but that’s a minor complaint), where a boy’s doubts about the existence of Santa Claus are happily resolved with a dazzling, sometimes harrowing train ride to the North Pole, and the very different Badder Santa, in which a vulgar, drunken, safe cracking department store Santa is ultimately redeemed, if not necessarily entirely reformed. (Remember, Gang of Pour has often been described as “irreverent,” and we do nothing to discourage that descriptor.)

Then, of course, there’s New Years Eve, when bubbly rules, and that’s where we’ll begin our rundown of the Gang’s 2009 holiday cheer. Please note that not all of the sparkling wines listed here were enjoyed on December 31st, but rather, are grouped together for a more cohesive report. All were enjoyed during the holidays, however, and I’m happy to report that Kim continues to show progress in becoming a true bubblehead. Read the rest of this entry »

A lovely “off-vintage” Burgundy

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“Off-vintage” wines can surprise you. Back when I was first exploring the wine world, I bought a lot of wines from good producers in vintages that were less than stellar, at least according to the vintage charts. Partly it was a matter of economics, as such vintages provided an opportunity to sample wines from producers that were simply too expensive in the more highly-regarded years. Plus the critics were always going on about how “there are no great wines, only great bottles”, and “vintage charts don’t matter”, etc. etc. So as I was exploring and buying wines from the great wine regions (mainly of France), I occasionally bought wines from vintages like Bordeaux 1979, 1980, 1981, even 1984; Rhone 1980 and 1981; red Burgundy 1979, 1980, 1982. Not all of these were really considered “off vintages” back in the day, but one look at today’s vintage charts would certainly make one think so.

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2004 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc

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Being a “glass is half full” kinda guy, I like to look at my “unsigned free agent” status as an opportunity, rather than a handicap. Why an opportunity? Because I am more or less obliged to focus on QPR wines to fit our budget, and there are always plenty of those available from a variety of sources.

I stopped by Western Market in Ferndale a few days ago and was intrigued by a stack of this wine at a price that was just too good to pass up. We’re fans of Bonny Doon Vineyard, and we very much liked the 2007 version, which was priced at $22. So why is the 2004 available for half the price? My buddy Jarred Gild, manager of Western’s wine department, wasn’t around to answer that question, but these are usually the result of distributor close-outs, sometimes in conjunction with the winery. Whatever the case, I had a good feeling about this one, so I grabbed a bottle, brought it home and liked what I found. Read the rest of this entry »

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