June 2005
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Month June 2005

I’m Back…

OK, it’s been awhile but I really do have an excuse…I just got back from Cabo San Lucas, where some good friends got married. My brother and I rented the Villa Mira Flores, on the Pedregal slope above CSL, snorkeled most mornings, and enjoyed the sunny weather. Until, that is, we got massively, spectacularly, violently ill after an ill-advised eating adventure. We’re not quite sure where, but the incubation period seems to point to a local joint with “Zapata” in the name. Caveat emptor. The upshot was a couple of days of enforced “downtime,” and I lost 10 pounds (no kidding).

Prior to this, however, the wedding was a terrific success (Flickr photos here). Scott and I took Beth and Ian to Trotter’s place down at the Palmilla, which was a spectacular evening (no pictures, but the food was phenomenal, and they had a terrific 1999 1er cru Chablis that was perfect for the occasion – a producer I wasn’t familiar with in the US).

I’m back, I’ve gotten a bit of writing stored up to polish off and post, and I read a fair number of books while on the trip (4 or so). Stay tuned, both here and at Progressive Commons, where I’m going to stage a comeback and contribute a couple of pieces fairly soon. And listen to the inaugural podcast at Progressive Commons, it’s really terrific stuff!

Tempier Rose 2004 is here!

Well, the new vintage of Tempier rose (from 2004) is here, and it’s unbelievably tasty! The wine is deep salmon pink, much darker in color than the pale 2003, and powerful like the 2001. In fact, the latter vintage is probably the best comparison at the moment: savory, powerful, good acid, and a delicate finish with a bit of citrus. I have a feeling this will age as well as the 2001 or better, so I’m going to try to stock up a bit on the 2004. If you don’t have a wine store nearby that stocks the Tempier, I’d recommend ordering a few bottles directly from Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants in Berkeley…you won’t be sorry.

Books #32 and #33: Eileen Gunn and Steven Levitt

I’ve read a fair amount lately, but not a lot of it in books – mostly reading journal articles.  But I did have the pleasure of finishing Eileen Gunn’s collection of short stories, Stable Strategies and Others, which deserves to be much better known than it is.   The collection ends with a brilliantly done group story, Green Fire, co-written with three others, and chronicling the adventures of Issac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and future Admiral Grace Hopper as they perform secret Tesla experiments in WWII.  If that’s not enough of a teaser, the "title story" is the most hilarious mix of corporate strategy and biotechnology I’ve ever read.

Steven Levitt’s book Freakonomics is a different kettle of fish altogether.   It’s interesting how much press this book is getting, and I hope people are reading it.  The message overall is the power of setting aside "common sense" or "received wisdom" and doing actual data analysis on everyday phenomena, in hopes of really understanding how our social world really works.  This shouldn’t be exceptional stuff to long-time practitioners in the social sciences, but somehow it is, most disciplines being trapped in formal theory on the one hand and anecdotal but non-rigorous empirical study on the other.  Levitt has the potential to open a lot of eyes with his counter-intuitive but analytically rigorous work, and I recommend this book highly.

Probably another gap in book posting coming up; I’m finishing Schwarz’s book Freedom Regained (see book links on the left for the ref), and a couple of other hefty tome-like things which will take awhile.  Oh, and I’m thoroughly enjoying Banville’s The Untouchable, but I’m not yet ready to write about it.

Annual Tempier Rose Tasting


Last night, I hosted what is becoming an annual tradition: a late spring rose tasting, accompanied by a vertical selection of the rose from Domaine Tempier in Bandol. 

The tasting incorporated rose wines from the United States, France, and Spain, many of which (like the Syncline Grenache Rose or the Toad Hollow) were quite good.  Others, made in too "American" a style (i.e., either with new oak or juicy over-extracted fruit), didn’t thrill me but had their fans among the group.

Early on, we tasted a mini-vertical of Chinook’s Cabernet Franc rose, with wines from 1998 (fabulous, and gaining real maturity much like a red wine), the 2002 (good), and the new 2004 (nice, needs time to overcome the first blast of juiciness and gain deeper character). 

For the Tempier vertical, I served 1999-2003 (pictured here).  The 2004, sadly, hadn’t hit the market yet, at least anywhere I could easily snag a bottle in time.  The 1999 and 2000 are definitely showing signs of losing their  herbaceous edginess and sliding into a smooth maturity.  Both were nice wines, but are lacking the tangy saltiness that accompanies these wines in youth and middle age.  The 2001 was unambiguously the star of the show, as it has been since release.  I believe it’s the best vintage of rose since the 1998 (of which I have no more in the cellar).  The 2002 continues to be very nice but "lesser" in all respects.  By itself it’s a terrific glass of wine with olives, but in comparison it doesn’t stack up.  Finally, the 2003 continues to be the "pale cousin" of the other vintages, but what it lacks in color it makes up for in tangy crispness. 
We followed these wines with a blueberry cheesecake, made by Wayland (our dessert virtuoso) and served with a Chapoutier Muscat Rivesaltes 1998, brought by Bill and Laura. 

The evening finished with a comparison of young Madeira with "vintage" Madeira, brought on by a question within the group.  The young Madeira was Barbeito’s 10 year Christopher Columbus, and the vintage was the D’Oliveras 1903 Bual. Night and day, naturally, the 1903 is an amazing lemony nutty acid bomb.  Phenomenal.  Paling in comparison was the L’Ecole 41 1983 Faux Pax sherry, which I always try to get people to taste, just for a unique Washington wine experience.  A terrific evening overall.