Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Back Label: Each Day Is Valentine's Day

Fonseca Bin No. 27: It's the chocolate, cupid!

Few wines go as well with chocolate as Fonseca Bin No. 27, especially if the chocolate comes from New York City's Jacques Torres (www.mrchocolate.com) and if Torres has sweetened his choc pot with a little of the Bin. I've never been a great believer of cooking with the same wine that is being served with the meal - I don't think so! - as that means you're either wasting classic wine in a reduction sauce or else you're drinking crappy wine. An exception is chocolate wine truffles, and many wineries now sell in their tasting rooms truffles made from their primo reds.

What works so well with Bin No. 27 (about$20) is that is tastes a bit like a chocolate truffle - a dollop of red and black berry essence wrapped in a cocoa powder-like coating. Take a bite of a chewy Torres sweetie and a sip of Fonseca together, and it's difficult to see where the taste of one leaves off and the other begins.

Wild Oak Shows Its Staying Power

Most California Chardonnay have lousy longevity - no Viagra is those drip systems - but I pulled this bottle of 2005 St. Francis Wild Oak Sonoma County Chardonnay out of my cellar, where it had been put away by mistake, and I was pleased with how much better it is that when I first tasted it. It's almost six years old now, and the bottle age has developed and made richer its tropical fruits, and those stray oxygen molecules have baked a nice little loaf of brioche flavors.

It makes me want to go back underground and see what else I might have mislaid.

King George's Pinot Noir: Speech! Speech!

OK, so George Bursick isn't a king, though he wouldn't mind being the king of California Pinot Noir. It's been interesting to see the improvement of J Vineyards' Pinots since Bursick has taken over, and the 2008 J Russian River Pinot Noir ($35) is a case in point. It's J's basic Pinot, and it's particularly appealing because it's one of those wines that excite the gastric juices and makes the brain in the stomach start checking the refrigerator.

It also tastes good - tight black cherry flavors, a fair amount of minerality, touches of cola, anda dusting of dried herbs. In fact, it speaks for itself.

Until next time....

Roger Morris

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