Biodinamica Statistica (Seconda Parte)

Luca Risso 2013-08-21T08:55:35+00:000000003531201308 Vino @it

Seguito di Biodinamica Statistica.

Distribuzioni di Gauss

La distribuzione di Gauss è fantastica. E infatti Gauss è stato uno dei geni assoluti nella storia della scienza, uno del livello di Galileo, Newton o Einstein, per dire. Nella sua forma normalizzata l’area che sottende vale esattamente uno ed è descritta completamente da solo due parametri: un valore medio (cioè il valore dell’ascissa nel punto più alto della curva) e una “varianza” che descrive la larghezza della curva ovvero quanto è più o meno “allargata” rispetto al valore medio, e come si capisce è ampiamente usata quando si affronta un problema in modo probabilistico. (more…)

Buying Grange – Little Change

Martin Field 2013-05-13T02:05:05+00:000000000531201305 Wine

Scene: Two politicians are dining in a flash restaurant.

Waiter: “And a red with main course sir?”

Host: “Yes. We’d like two glasses of the new Penfolds Grange 2008 please.”

Waiter: “I should warn sir that this is a very expensive wine.”

Host: “Like how much?”

Waiter: “Well, lemme see. A bottle would cost you one thousand five hundred and seventy dollars.”

Host: “Two teaspoons then.”

Waiter: “Umm. Take away one, carry the two. Yes that’ll cost you twenty two dollars.”

Host smiles and winks: “Don’t worry about the cost! Government credit card doncha know. In fact, make that two tablespoons.”

Waiter thinks: “Mmm, eighty four bucks!” Thinks again, “Hope they tip generously.” Exits via kitchen door, stage left.

Preposterous? No. The recently released Grange has a recommended retail price of $784.99*. Very few restaurants add less than a 100% mark-up to the retail price of wines so our pollies’ bottle will cost at least $1570, i.e. close enough to $2.10 per millilitre. (*Why do they use used car pricing techniques for prestige wine? Would it really deter any buyers if the price were rounded up to $785?) (more…)

Good drinking

Martin Field 2013-05-12T04:31:04+00:000000000431201305 Wine Tasting

Rosalina Vinho Verde – under $6 – 86/100 – Portugal. A non-vintage white in a traditional rounded Mateus Rose shaped bottle. The “verde” means young rather than green – so you can have a red vinho verde. This white is a fresh, crisp and fruity style, medium dry with refreshing spritzig and mild acid. Lowish alcohol of 9% makes it ideal for light lunches or as an aperitif. A steal at the price. I bought a dozen.

Yarrabank Cuvée 2009 – $38 – 92/100 – Chardonnay and pinot noir, four years on lees. Light golden tints; persistent tiny bubbles. The bouquet shows notes of green apple and brioche. A full-bodied bubbly on the palate with generous fruit and a finely balanced dryish finish.

Delatite Deadman’s Hill Gewürtztraminer 2012 – $25 – 90/100 – Mansfield, Victoria. Pale straw hues. On the nose there is that typical Gewürtz rose petal spiciness and in the background the faintest hint of oak. The palate is rich with a pleasant illusion of sweetness which adds a liqueurish mouth feel that gradually transforms into a medium dry finish. Try with a platter of sharpish cheeses.

The Lane Block 1A Chardonnay 2012 – $20 – 89/100 – Hahndorf, South Australia. Pale straw in colour. Ripe and fruity nose. Stone fruits and melon continue through the palate with just enough oak to balance. The finish is medium dry and flavours linger agreeably. (more…)

Eking in

Martin Field 2013-05-12T03:18:40+00:000000004031201305 Food and Wine

I love Blue Stilton. It’s so expensive though that I rarely buy it – like $70-ish a kilo at the local supermarket. Then I found some at Aldi for approximately $26 the kilo so I bought a few wedges.

But how to make it last? Ever thrifty, I hit on the technique of cutting it with butter. Here’s how.

Take a piece of room temperature Stilton (rind and all) and mash it gently with half its weight in room temperature unsalted butter. Gently now, try to preserve a few blue crumbs of identifiable cheese in the mix, you don’t want a paste. (Keeps well in fridge.) (more…)

In Praise of Older Wine

Martin Field 2013-04-14T02:09:57+00:000000005730201304 Wine Tasting

Long-time wine drinking friend Prof K writes from Melbourne.

I was doing a re boxing of some of the oldies in the cellar earlier this afternoon and found a slight leak in one of the old Chateau Tahbilk boxes. This lead me to a 1965 Chateau Tahbilk* commercial [as distinct from their Reserve Bin labels] Shiraz. I figured that with an inch of ullage I couldn’t sell it, so off to find the muslin, funnel and carafe and corkscrew.

Well. Hugh Johnson’s comments in his pocket wine guide in the mid 1960s echoed true. ”Chateau Tahbilk has some of the finest commercial reds, and the reserve bins are outstanding and great value….”

Was this ‘once upon a time’, quote still valid? Well for the humble ’65 Shiraz (deserving of a reserve status) Hugh’s words were an understatement.

The wine threw little crust and surprisingly passed the 100 watt globe test. (Viz, you couldn’t see through the wine to see the 100W globe). The nose was a little dumb, perhaps allowing for the ullage, but still with some perfume.

The colour was a balance between red and chocolate, with the red just winning out, but the fruit was unexpectedly MASSIVE. Not at all a limp, tannic dull wine, but potentially pickable as a declining 12 or 15 year old heavy fruited  commercial red. This wine is now 48 years of age. (1965 was my last year of primary school). The palate saw the fruit very much overpower the tannins, producing a full, across the palate dry finish of big fruit and solid underlying tannins.

An unbelievable red for its mere commercial nature. But again, the range of 1962, 64, 65, 66.68 and 69 Tahbilks are a legend to the Aussie cognoscenti but not to the world at large. Tsk Tsk, a shame!!!

For the unquestioning believers of the trite wine authors that suggest few wines can peak past 20 years I would suggest that several icons can certainly last the 40 year mark, this being one of them.

*The brand name Chateau Tahbilk later changed to Tahbilk.

 

BYO Wedding Wine?

Martin Field 2013-04-06T05:25:59+00:000000005930201304 Food and Wine

Wine Etiquette.

Frangi from Melbourne writes, “My circle of friends are of an age where we are often asked to attend weddings and engagements. We don’t expect these functions to provide top class restaurant food and wine but the wine we’re served is usually awful. We call it “reception wine” and it is often of a quality that would strip the enamel off a hippo’s tusks. As a result, a friend has taken to sneaking in his own wine and surreptitiously drinks it instead of the provided stuff. Do you think this is proper behaviour for invited guests?”

Hi Frangi, yes of course! I know that weddings etc. are not fine wine tasting events but the food and wine should be of a certain standard whatever the budget. And as the Bible tells us, did not Jesus, in his first miracle as a guest at a wedding in Cana of Galilee, turn the contents of six pots, each holding two or three firkins of water, into wine?

In my younger days the wines were also dodgy and the food was probably worse. Believe it or not, for years (still?) there was a hideous convention where men were served beef and the women fish or chicken – while the bridal party sneered from a dais helping themselves to top shelf tucker and booze.

Your friend has the right idea, though he might draw the line at taking a picnic hamper to some of the more infamous reception houses. And I can recommend a hip flask of Cognac and an emergency stash of Tabasco when you are entering unknown territory (including some restaurants, which shall remain nameless). It has worked for me.

I have only one thing to say to wedding planners: even if the bride has to wear a second-hand frock and the groom a pair of old Levis, make sure you look after the guests.

El Celler de Can Roca, a marvel of understated food perfection.

Mike Tommasi 2013-03-25T19:03:45+00:000000004531201303 Restaurant Reviews

Six of us decided to take off for the weekend and have lunch on Friday Nov. 23rd 2012 at this most exquisite place, certainly the best restaurant in my experience. The room is airy and calm, built around a central triangular glass atrium of birch trees, with the tables set far apart from each other, and additional privacy being provided by the movable furniture used to store things like menus, plates and glasses but acting like discrete room dividers, without cutting up the space. One feels comfortable at El Celler, there is no rush and everyone who works there is tuned into making your stay pleasant. The service is perfect, available when you want it to be and always ready to explain in detail what you are eating. Davide was our waiter, as he had been for our last visit in 2008, when El Celler strangely had only two stars. We all opted for the 165 Euro Menu Festival.

Unlike eating at El Bulli, with all the basic flaws that I listed in a blog review back then (basically: monotonous mushiness of all dishes, complete lack of consideration for wine, fundamental errors in the balance of tastes, manifest desire to mask out any taste associated with the ingredients), eating at El Celler is a precision affair. The techniques pioneered by Adrià are used here not to make the ingredient’s taste disappear, on the contrary, tastes are exalted and therefore Joan Roca uses prime local seasonal produce. Instead of making mushy or explosive or simply acrid morsels to shock a jaded decadent bourgeoisie like the master of Cala Montjoi, Roca keeps everything under control and always perfectly delicious and varied. In addition he develops a kind of narrative about an imaginary world tour, exploring the intricate relations between the local Mediterranean traditions and the many exchanges that happened throughout history between the Mare Nostrum and many faraway places. He is aided by his brothers, Josep, a brilliant sommelier with an interest in all wine (and not just Spanish), and Jordi, a pastry chef of incredible talent.

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L’altro Sangiovese

Luca Risso 2013-02-28T12:39:49+00:000000004928201302 Degustazioni di vino, Vino @it

Courtesy by cucchiaio d'argento - link http://www.cucchiaio.it

Ci sono percorsi che sembrano già scritti, o che forse semplicemente si vorrebbe fossero scritti in un certo modo. Quando produttori nuovi aggiungono le loro gocce al mare del vino italiano, bisogna che siano gocce significative, altrimenti non si riesce nemmeno a farsi bere dai parenti.

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Top shelf drinking

Martin Field 2012-12-19T05:31:46+00:000000004631201212 Wine Tasting

Champagne Duperrey Brut Rosé NV – up to $45 – 89/100. Pinkish onion skin hues and fine bubbles in the glass. Berries and yeasty baked bread aromas are evident in the bouquet. The palate exhibits hints of strawberries and stone fruits and is unexpectedly off-dry. Though not a sweet style, this will appeal to those who dislike bone dry bubbly.

Knappstein Clare Valley Hand Picked Riesling 2012 – $20 – 92/100. A nose of citrus blossoms and lime zest. Light and elegant in the mouth, well structured with citrus fruitiness which at first seems sweet but then progresses into a lingering dry finish.

Forester Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – $25 – 89/100. Margaret River, Western Australia. Ripe kiwi fruit scented nose with subtle notes of barrel fermentation. A fuller flavoured style of SB with underlying oak toastiness and good length. Would go well as an entrée wine.

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2008 – $33 – 95/100. Perfumey nose reminiscent of cumquat marmalade. The palate expands with essence of nobly rotted semillon and if this were a dessert you would have to liken it to a superior lemon meringue pie. A superb after dinner drink. (more…)

Review – Bold Palates

Martin Field 2012-12-19T05:08:38+00:000000003831201212 Food and Wine

Bold Palates – Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage

By Barbara Santich. Illustrated hardback. Wakefield Press 2012. $50.

This excellent book traces the post European settlement history of Australian food and cuisine. Bush tucker, pumpkin scones, picnic races, the Aussie BBQ, mutton chops, pies ‘n’sauce – it’s all there, and more. The test is peppered with excerpts from old books and newspapers and larded with photographs and retro illustrations.

Most fascinating to me is the chapter on our national cuisine. Way back then and to this day it seems no-one can agree on whether we have one or not. Judging by local Queensland menus “Modern Australian” is a cross between Surf ‘n’Turf or possibly Mooloolaba prawns followed by slow-cooked pork belly.

If you’re looking for a gift for a foodie you can’t go past this. In fact it is just the book that I would unwrap with delight.