February 2005
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Day February 28, 2005

Recent and Interesting Wines

I’ve had several interesting wines lately, at several events. My friend Bryan was in town last week, so a group of us went to Cafe Campagne, pretty much my home-away-from-home and the scene of many a wine dinner. Starting with a 96 Brocard Les Clos Chablis from my cellar (good, creamy, less crisp and minerally on the palate than I like), we followed with a superb 1985 Verset Cornas (wine of the night), a 1988 Tempier Bandol Migoua, and a 1983 Beaucastel (in fine shape). The Tempier was excellent but understated, and really should have been drunk by itself instead of in the brash company of the Cornas and Chateauneuf. Dsc00273_1 The wine is in no danger of being too mature, and can be held awhile longer in good storage. The 1983 Beaucastel, on the other hand, seems to be getting fairly mature and will need to be drunk at some point — the incredible 1981 is already fading and is no longer at its heights. If you have 1983, make sure you drink them before they begin to fade.

Saturday night, with a long-standing group of friends, we tried a number of wines, but the highlights were a Cristom 1996 Pinot Marjorie Vineyard, a Barnard-Griffin Syrah port, and oddly enough, a fascinating Cognac made by expatriate Norwegians that was slightly spicier and sweeter than Hennessy. 

Yesterday, a couple of us kicked back for a Sunday afternoon tasting. Just the highlights. The Zilliken Saarburger Rausch 2003 Spatlese is super tasty, sweet and spritzy, but also flabby and lacking in acidity and definition. A beautiful Fevre 2002 Chablis Clos was a tad oaky on the palate but otherwise incredibly crisp with good minerality. Normally I don’t buy the more expensive Fevre Chablis because he uses new oak, but I do buy the basic AOC Chablis for everyday wine and it’s a terrific bargain. In the reds category, I brought the Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 2002, which was good basic Burgundy for $35 retail, but lacking in the substance you’d want to let it age. My friend Vinny brought an absolutely terrific bottle of Joguet Chinon 2002 Cuvee de la Cure. Along with the Chave (see below) this was my wine of the day. The Texier 2000 Hermitage smelled a bit like Chave, which made sense given that Chave apparently sold Texier some juice or grapes that year. This was followed by a spectacular 1980 Chave Hermitage from Marc, who’d never tried the vintage. The wine was definitely mature but had a delicate, spicy nose with a hint of coffee but still plenty of character. A wonderful way to end the tasting. A few more wines were lurking in the interstices, but these are my personal highlights.

(yes, the picture is the 1988 Tempier La Louffe, but I didn’t have a picture of the Migoua bottle.  Bonus points if you know La Louffe or have any you’d like to sell)

Road to Reality

Roadtoreality I just received Sir Roger Penrose’s new book, The Road to Reality from Amazon. This long-awaited book purports to be, as the subtitle says, "A complete guide to the laws of the universe." That’s a bit of an exaggeration, since it’s really about physics and the associated math needed to represent it, but I guess we’ll forgive Penrose a bit of reductionism. And including chemistry or biology would have been a bit much anyhow — the tome weighs in at 1100 pages just with physics and math.

The first 16 chapters (!) cover the mathematical background of modern physics, from Euclid through symmetry groups and calculus on manifolds.  The remainder of the book starts at space-time and moves through modern physics, hitting cosmology on the way and ending up at string and twistor theory. 

I can’t wait to start reading.  I have a feeling that when I do, my progress on the 50 Book Challenge will slow down a bit, so I think I’ll finish several of the current "in progress" stack before cracking it again.