BORDEAUX, WOO,WOO

BORDEAUX, WOO, WOO

The nattily attired businessman in London and New York had the same feeling in the 1980’s about the great vintages of the wines of Bordeaux that the Aztec emperor Ahuitzotl felt while drinking sacred cocoa in 1487 while standing atop the Great Temple Pyramid of Tenochtitlan. Pure elation. Nothing for the bespoke business moguls quite beats pouring and genuflecting over bottles of famed chateaus like La Mission Haut Brion ( 1982 at $1,259 or the 1955 at $2,495 per bottle), while the crowd below bursts into applause.

By the year 2000 the New York somms had pretty much replaced Bordeaux (nick named Bore-dough) with sexy newly discovered, barely pronounceable, new grapes like treixudura , nero mascalese and trousseau, to name but a few. Somewhere in the middle of this tale lies the true reality.

Bordeaux in South West France is comprised of over 200,000 acres of vineyard, mostly cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc grapes. Their claim to fame are red wines from over 7,000 chateau- some grand, many not so much. Eighty percent of Bordeaux ranges from $10.00-$35.00 per bottle. Vintages are a reality based on climate at harvest and the juggling of three grapes at different ripening times. And…Bordeaux is, and always has been, even back to 1487, a commercial place that sells wine. The words “vintage of the century” spill from the mouths of the locals as you empty your wallet.

“The cycle goes something like this. A reasonable harvest follows a poor year in Bordeaux. One or two not disinterested parties tell a few gullible journalists that it is the vintage of the decade. Excitement mounts. The next year becomes the vintage of the century and demand goes mad. Prices double.” Simon Loftus. Always be wary if you are prepared to spend the big bucks and decide to become a collector. Hint: the 2010 and 2015 vintages are the view from the temple.

Then there is food:  Burgers and fries, tacos with some fresh made chips and high quality ground beef, don’t forget the salsa . Or, if you are a vegetarian, you can grill up some veggies like kale or zucchini and the wine will be just fine. The basic Bordeaux is a great place to start. Beginners Bordeaux: Chateau de Seguin, Bordeaux Superieur, 2015, $12.00-$15.00. Wines with higher tannin in the grape skins (think tea) equals pondering and aging. In this case there is that famous hint of cedar. Open it, pour it, enjoy it. A bit less fruity than a California red, but that is what Bordeaux is. It should taste like a place.

Ch. Roudier, Montagne St. Emilion, 2012, $15.00. We move to Bordeaux merlot land with this wine. It is delicious. Merlot based wines are perfect with Asian dishes and sauces. These wines always need a little air to open up. No pretension here, just pour it into a pitcher and serve at cool room temperature. No  special glasses needed. Buy two bottles.

There are 23,000 acres of these delicious wines from this part of Bordeaux, many are priced at below $20.00.

Chateau Tayac, Margaux, 2015 $25.00. We are moving up a zip code in quality. Like buying a house Bordeaux is location, location, location and you get to pay for it. This is bold and tannic. Buy a decanter, or aerator if you are going to get into these wines. Also, a cellar. Go out and buy a cellar right now. No, wait, there are these wine fridges that do all of that for you. You will see with the Chateau Tayac why people do all of these crazy wine gyrations, and you are only out $25.00 bucks. This is bold rib eye material, as well as lamb, pheasant and duck. Open for an hour.

Just down the street is this awesome house that has a better view, address, bedrooms and more square feet. This is Chateau Brane Cantenac, Margaux, 2014, $50.00. Want to see why things are priced the way they are- put them side by side. No, wait. This one needs to be opened for from 2 to 3 hours to strut it’s stuff. This is why you spent the extra money on the new house. For all that cedar and graphite covering the walls (of your mouth). The new house simply has more elegance and character. The more flavor that you buy in the glass, the better quality of the food. Quality food, quality wine. You can rest this one for from 10-15 years.

Take the plunge, Bordeaux is experiencing an exciting time of its life on all levels. Global competition is peeking into their window, looking at how they do things, their tech. and plantings. They are getting better. This is not your grandmother’s wine- it is getting closer to that view from the top of the Great Temple Pyramid of Tenochtitlan- woo woo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BIRTHDAY BOY

BIRTHDAY BOY

This year, Birthday Boy decided to stay close to home, in the comfort of his zip code, and do a 3 day Birthday Boy Wine and Food Romp.

FRIDAY EVENING: Limbering up the taste buds with some wonderful charcuterie washed down with glasses of happy hour grillo at Lazzari (618 Congress St., Portland, Me.). Poor grillo was the grape singled out to make Marsala in Sicily. Not much of a fate. Today it is a pale, light, refreshingly crisp, $5.00  glass  for happy hour. Yeah, grillo.

SATURDAY EVENING: After the limbering exercise, it is time to get down to business. Birthday Boy chose sushi at home due to avoiding the madness of St.Patty’s day .A wise choice. So many sushi platters, so little time. Birthday Boy is ready to dig in. Two great French wines will accompany the sushi.

Chablis, Premier Cru, Domaine Gautheron, 2015, $30.00. Chablis is a tiny bit of a town in Northern France whose winemaking dates to the 1100’s. They have a unique granite and schist soil and a problem- the name Chablis is easy to pronounce and spell and stick onto an inferior wine from far, far away.

Birthday Boy remembers a tour from a famous grower that ended in his tasting room filled with empty bottles of all the phonies- think pink or ruby Chablis. “This wasn’t my fault” Birthday Boy kept saying. To no avail. The real stuff can be had for from $15.00 to over $100.00 a bottle. The flavor is like the world’s finest lemon squeezed to it’s essence. What guided Birthday Boy was the ever present slice of lemon on a sushi platter. Is this for real or for show? The wine followed each sushi bite along through it’s path of varied and exciting fish and lemon flavors.

Meursault “Les Chavalieres”, 2015, Thierry Matrot, $67.00.  Both of these wines are made from chardonnay grapes, but they write in their own language. While we were merrily throwing down the grillo on Friday night , and next evening drinking the Chablis, Birthday Boy was savoring and thinking about the Meursault and sushi. “If gold were a flavor it would taste like Meursault”( Matt Kramer). Actually, it is more like the greatest toasted hazelnut in the world wrapped in gold. It changes in the glass, revealing tautness and tension; with the salmon and eel it knocks you off your feet. Great wines were never meant to be “tasted”- a 2oz. pour shows you nothing. You need to follow their ebbs and flows in a glass or two.

SUNDAY BRUNCH: Central Provisions (414 Fore Street, Portland, Maine). Birthday Boy chose this place not just because it is celebrated and famous but because it was the day after St Patty’s Day and the hipsters would be slow out of the gate to show up for their 2 hour wait at the door. Actually, Birthday Boy had an ulterior motive- a wine listed on their website. Sources of wine info. are tricky nowadays with an overabundance of wannaby experts in training . Who do you believe? I believe, among a small handful of others, the New York Times. Mostly, they get it.

New York Times, August 10, 2017 “White Rioja Bends the Summer Standard”.  This is an article you put in the box “save for later”.  To be a diligent Birthday Boy you must occasionally wait. They reviewed white wines from the Rioja region of Spain, but one thing stood out- there was a FOUR STAR rating given to one wine. I have NEVER seen them give a four star rating. Viura Vina Gravona, Lopez de Heredia, 2006, white Rioja, $70.00.

Birthday Boy digs in. First dish Tuna Crudo (radish, mustard, sesame, shallot) A very light and elegant raw tuna dish . The first ounce pour out of the bottle is totally oxidized like a Sherry stored too long in the barrel. Slosh the glass around and do a little Birthday Boy prayer. The second course of Bone Marrow toast is good for opening up the senses.  The second pour of 2 ounces is weighty, not light but the oxidation is now blown off. Whew. The third pour opens up a tanginess and delectable quality . The third course of Sri Lanka coconut pancake with egg, cilantro and spices adds a complexity of flavors and a little heat from the spices . By now the food and wine are dancing and the place is filled to overflowing. The forth course of Seared Foie Gras (raspberry, granola, Buddha’s Hand, Whey) is the essence of extremely rich and buttery  . The wine has completely opened up and is “pulsing with energy with a coiled core of minerals.” N.Y.Times. By this time, Birthday Boy knows he is in the presence of greatness. Birthday Boy is very happy.

 

 

 

TURNING GREEN

TURNING GREEN

Wines for St.Patrick’s Day was a piece that I published in the Portland Phoenix on March 17, 2006. It is fun for two reasons: finding it in a box of assorted papers, and that it has held up for lo these years. Several wines have fallen off the planet from the original article.  Here goes.

We are usually forced to endure either beer-specific or wine-specific holidays, with no opportunity for change. But now, for one day only, St. Patty’s Day will be a wine feast.

First, boil up some cabbage. The accompanying wine is the little known and rarely seen Vinho Verde, Casal Garcia $7-8.00. ( NOTE: tastes have changed, and it is wildly popular today). This Portuguese white is actually known as “the green wine”. It is not quite as green as the propylparaben in the food coloring you have been pouring to make your green beer. Vinho Verde tastes like mouth puckering nettles, but when chilled, really chilled, it takes on this cool, edgy, spritzy character. A softer form of nettles.

When you remove the cabbage, throw on a little butter, make that quite a bit. Then marvel at the unlikely flavor combination: the iced and acidic wine with the meltingly hot cabbage are true undiscovered soul mates of St. Patty’s Day. The starter course for a corned beef and cabbage extravaganza.

Corned beef is one of my favorite dishes although I have a difficult time getting past the phosphorescent diesel spill on water look that coats the exterior. And what, after all, is any new wine event without merlot? Or, as Milo, the Paul Giamatti character in the movie Sideways loudly exclaimed “If anyone orders any merlot, I’m leaving. I am not drinking any **** merlot. “(NOTE: merlot, too has changed,  gotten better, and isn’t dissed quite as much. The following wine has not changed in price in 12 years ).

For our little event, we have just the wine. There is no better pedigree than the Concannon Central Coast Merlot, 2015, $10.00. James Concannon, the clan’s paterfamilias, moved the family from Ireland to the Livermore Valley in California in 1883. He was a century early for everything, so he made wine. His claims to fame were the petite syrah grape (which we will cover someday), the making of altar wine during prohibition to keep the winery going, sending a barrel of wine to the pope every five years. Now, that is Irish.

The single best word to describe this wine is fleshy. You could put on weight just by looking at this stuff. The corned beef and the wine wash down, each inviting a bite or sip of the other. This is a good benchmark for a $10.00 merlot.

If we are doing wine on a beer holiday, maybe we can think healthy for a moment. Our find is Bourgogne Cote Chalonnaise ,pinot noir,  by Guy Chauvent 2003, $13.00. I feel healthier just reading the label. It is organic, biodynamic, and Ecocert certified. It should counteract the diesel phosphorescence and give the holiday that fresh health-club workout feeling. (NOTE: I couldn’t find a listing of this winemaker from the original article. I included it because of the rise of the cult of biodynamic- they aren’t $13.00 anymore!).

This dinner is shaping up better than my usual glass of green PBR. But something is missing. When your lower lip begins to uncontrollably quiver, it’s Guinness deprivation syndrome. We need to find a Guinness wine look alike and taste alike. There is this guy in Walla Walla, Washington who puts out a very bold and primitive label with thick black bold words that say “House Wine” together with a simple little house drawing. The Magnificent Wine Company’s gift to St. Patrick’s Day is a mouth filling, ultra-dark yet velvety beast of a wine that can make the uncontrollable quiver stop.

At $10.00 a bottle, filled with 70% Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon, winery founder Charles Smith has created something even the world’s cheapest wine snob will be hovering over in disbelief.

NOTE & NOTE: I have done some editing. One wine from the original article, Fish Eye Cabernet from Australia took a downward spiral from a 750ml bottle on the shelf to a bag in the box. I am not sure what it is like today, or even if it is still around. Charles Smith, my little find from 12 years ago just sold his company for two hundred million dollars, and his prices haven’t changed…yet.

Happy St. Patty’s Day

 

 

RESTAURANT WEEK

Maine Restaurant week is in their 10th year.  For us, every week is restaurant week, not just the anointed time during that first bit of March. My little leather notebook contains the list of 25 (no, make that 26, after last night) restaurants in Portland that we regularly attend and pay homage to. This piece, as they all are, is about wine as a co-equal partner with the food- a lifelong habit. After reviewing every menu from every restaurant we reached the same conclusion: almost all are repackaged menus. Their stated goal is to attract an offseason crowd, as witnessed by the prominent hotel ad placement atop each restaurant listing in the Restaurant Week website. I believe the audience of today is us -the locals. We know this stuff. Changing it up is a necessity we hope they will work on for next year. Ten years ago we couldn’t have imagined a flock of people eagerly settling here from places like San Francisco, Brooklyn and Boston. Hell, they couldn’t either, as many were only 13 at the time this event was conceived. These new transplants know their stuff.

TWO PLACES NOT ON THE LIST OF RESTAURANT WEEK:

LOLITA Vinoteca + Asador  90 Congress Portland

Just breeze in for little bites of their fabulous steak tartare, smoked eggplant, and almonds with sea salt. The wine by the glass selection is good. Too good. You wind up craving a full bottle as their bottle prices are ridiculously reasonably based on today’s usual painful markups in restaurants. You can pleasurably wash down the little nibbles with a bottle of Damilano Barbara d’Asti, 2014, Piedmont, $36.00 bottle. This young, fresh, silky smooth wine is a mere $7.50 a glass, as you do the math.

If you want to pay your respects to a recently departed (too soon) great American winemaker order a bottle of Patricia Green Cellars Reserve Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 2015, $50.00. She was a dear friend, great soul, and a great grower and wine crafter. This is what wine is all about, no games or pretention, just sheer love combined with talent.

CONG TU BOT- Washington Ave., Portland. A James Beard nominee for 2018. While not appearing on the Maine Restaurant Week list, you will be lucky to get into this place until the “Beard Mania” settles down. Sit at the bar and observe the precision of the chef’s assembling your dish. This should be an Olympic event. The curry noodle, mushrooms and sauce are a total sensual experience. Their two offered house wines, Morphos, a “pet nat” American hybrid white from Oyster River Winery in Maine, and an Italian Rosso are both perfect wines to have while lounging on your deck and watering the plants, as they don’t lend a whole lot more than refreshment to the food. I will order this sublime dish “to go” and pair it at home with an Alsatian gewürztraminer, a full bodied , oily, lychee scented wine that is ideal with peanuts and curry sauce,  and create the culinary energy that the dish deserves.

LOCAL 188-  685 Congress St., Portland. The true star of creativity and imagination for the week. A Night in Peru ($55.00). 5 courses with accompanying beverages.

Grilled Beef Heart served with a glass of Chicha Morada, a nonalcoholic drink made from purple corn, pineapple, cinnamon, clove and sugar.

Ceviche served with Pisco Punch. The dish is the classic raw Peruvian fish dish, the sushi of Peru. Pisco Punch is powerful, delicious and the lime juice addition perfectly accompanies the ceviche. Rudyard Kipling summed up the drink as “compounded of the shavings of cherubs wings, the glory of a tropical dawn, the red clouds of sunset and the fragments of lost epics by dead masters.” You can’t improve on that.

Empanada de Pollo served with a Peruvian Ginger Sour. The doughy little chicken filled dish is “hot” right now. Everyone wants to try their hand at making one. The Peruvian Ginger sour amps up in flavor from the Pisco punch with an addition of key lime and bitters. I have always admired the bartenders at local 188 from the early days of their award winning Golden Lotus cocktail.

Bistec Especial with Biutiful Malbec (Argentina).  You can see the rare steak from 20 feet away. Beautiful. And, speaking of beautiful, the Biutiful Malbec blows away my preconceived notions of malbec as a third rate, crappy wine by the glass grape . This one is fruity, nonoaked and dances alongside the rare cut of beef in a delirious sauce. Go out and find a bottle of this wine to try at home.

Dessert is a little sandwich cookie accompanied by a shot of espresso (with or without sambuca).

Do go out and participate in Restaurant Week, but it pays to do your homework first.

CHARDONNAY

Chardonnay: Love it, Hate it

Chardonnay is a wine that is difficult to avoid. It appears on most every wine list, wine store and even where you stop to fill up your car with gas. Chardonnay is there as either the major snack accompaniment, the star of a great meal or just making a guest appearance. The night that you are going to a party and have only enough time to gas up your car, and have forgotten a bottle of wine to bring, is the night that you are grateful for chardonnay. In your local gas station, located in the aisle between the chips and frozen burritos is the tiny wine rack. There it is:

Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay, California, 2016, $15.99 bottle. This is the wine that saves your butt. The bestselling chardonnay in America with the flavors of a gooey, fresh cut papaya with peach and pineapple as a backdrop. K.J. has always worshipped at the high altar of oak flavors.  And, the hosts at the party will be grateful for your considerate thoughts, to accompany the munchies and that will also save you face.  Why is it everywhere where wine is available? The K.J. people bought large swatches of California’s Central Coast when the land was cheap in the 1980’s and concocted the quintessential all American fruit bomb. Big oak flavors were and are their hallmark. They started their “march to the sea” in restaurants with a glass of chardonnay that enticed your taste buds to have two glasses. A no brainer.

The future of chardonnay? Butter Chardonnay, JaM Cellars, California, 2016, $16.99 bottle. This is the new thing. It is industrial in design and marketing. Is that enough? It tastes like, well, a pat of melting butter. Is that good? If you like a pat of melting butter, it is very good. Here’s what we think . It may be a combo of toasted oak chips, and a designer yeast, CY 3079. What powers it are ideas like “the Butter Bus”, and “Moms like butter”, and last, but not least people like Sarah Montague, their Chief Marketing Officer who has led accounts as powerful as Kraft Foods , Nike, Quaker and E-Bay. And you thought it was just about wine?

The other end of the chardonnay spectrum usually doesn’t even say chardonnay on the label. Matrot Bourgogne, 2016, Burgundy, France, $25.00 bottle. This little 30 mile strip of land is in the words of the esteemed wine writer Matt Kramer “a terrestrial crossroads, a place where man and plant and planet meet”.  Whew. No wonder they can get so pricey. Each vineyard is renowned, named, and rated for quality, going up to over $1,000 a bottle. The Matrot family has owned slivers of great irreplaceable Burgundy vineyards for generations.  Their Bourgogne is powered by the zing and freshness of natural acidity, co-mingled with the character of minerals from the soil. In their own words “it is an enormous error to identify new wood (flavor) with quality- it’s face paint”. Matrot is a traditionalist in a changing world. The good news is that their wines are sought after, and not outrageously expensive. This is restaurant wine to have with fish, minerally oysters, to contemplate over, and sip by the glass.

From time immortal the French have laid claim to the God given right to produce the world’s greatest wines. It all came crashing down on May 24, 1976 at a wine tasting event called “The Judgment of Paris” The story has been rhapsodized over in mags, books, DVD’s and movies. To sum it all up: two American wines whipped up on the French in a blind tasting with their own experts on their own turf. Recently, while in a wine shop, I saw the latest incarnation of the white that triumphed- Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, 2014, Napa Valley, $50.00. I bought it and gave it a test run alongside some lobster.

How is it? Utterly delicious, with integrated oak, a finish that goes on forever, and the same winemaking philosophy that won them the big one in 1976. The winemaker, Miljenko ( Mike) Grgich in a 1977 interview discussed his techniques of late harvesting grapes, picking by hand, using Pasteur developed French yeast, the finest French oak barrels, and a chateau approach to limiting production. In today’s era of the big buyout of companies, it is a pure luxury to taste a masterpiece that doesn’t need any improvement.

The beauty of chardonnay is that it is both convenient to buy, exists in a wide variety of both styles and prices, encompasses everything from the cheap everyday industrial to the worshipful “natural and biodynamic”, to true chateau quality wines. Also, it is there in time for you to make it to the party.

 

 

 

Outtakes :Bordeaux and Port

OUTTAKES: Bordeaux and Port

Being a native of Los Angeles, I was raised on a steady diet of Pink’s Chili Dogs, freeways, smog and movies. To me, the best part of the movie was the outtake- that outrageous, unscripted moment when the cast let’s down their hair for a brief instant, then returns to the rehearsed scene.

Bordeaux: My love affair with Bordeaux began in the 1960’s with Mouton Cadet in copious amounts as the vehicle for washing down my beloved chili dogs. As these things happen, I graduated up the ladder to eventually wind up selling copious amounts of great Bordeaux as a distributor of fine wines. Eventually, I did visit Chateau Mouton Rothschild, complete with the obligatory barrel/winemaker tasting.

Outtake: While visiting my son several years ago, he produced a small box forgotten in the basement. There it was- my outtake. Part of the tour to Mouton was conducted by Mr. Phillipe Cottin, the president and brother of a close friend. In the box was a small pillbox filled with soil ,hand labeled, “Bordeaux Soil/ Mouton/Lafite”. The outtake all comes back. We both crawled around the vineyard to collect a little earth from both competing vineyards and joke about the “maginot line”- that invisible barrier that the two Rothschilds in their familial jealousy could easily cross, but wouldn’t.

I carry that little bottle as a reminder not just of the president of one of the world’s great wine estates, and myself, crawling around on the ground and laughing, but as a symbol of authenticity. Want to see some terroir, and minerality? Here it is. This is the glory of French wine.

The rebirth of port:

The actual port movie in today’s world is antiquated and confusing. All you have to do is memorize the flavors of the styles of ruby, tawny, 10,20,30 and 40 year versions, vintage, colheita, LBV, vintage character, single quinta vintage and last, but not least, crusted. By this time, after imbibing loads of 20% alcohol sweet wine, and ingesting a ton of perfect room temperature stilton cheese, you will no doubt be crusted. I was struck by an article in The Telegraph, U.K. from 2015 “Symington opens its vineyards to attract hipster port drinkers”. What? Wineries are becoming equally archaic as well. The port people should figure out by now that they need to transcend the “sit down and take a good set of notes” winetasting mentality to survive and thrive in this new world. Down the street from my home in Portland, Maine, housed in a funky 1920’s garage, is the Bunker Brewing Co., complete with picnic tables inside, a Korean/Burrito food truck outside, and a ping pong table beside the brewing equipment, where you may play a game or two while munching on a little kim chee infused snack, “that” is hipster. That is new and exciting.

Outtake: The model for the “new” world of Port is another place down the street from where I live . The Bearded Lady’s Jewel Box, a famed local craft cocktail speakeasy without a sign, but a beacon for the craft cocktail set. The interior is mismatched with a movie back projector showing bits of films on the entire wall of the bar, accompanied by a totally different sound tract. This place is an outtake, but it is a space where creativity begins and you come up with an entirely new set of ideas . Everything can be stood on its head here, such is the power of this new era of food and drink. Why not pair and compare a port based craft cocktail alongside of a port, and make it fun?

Port has, as it’s problem, being relegated to last place, the tag end of the meal. It can begin the evening if done right. The food: dried fruit, dates, nuts and fois gras can be accompanied by a tasting of two ports- one to stimulate excitement and the other to stimulate your taste buds. The excitement is a 19th century portbased craft cocktail called the “sangaree”, containing brandy, sugar, port, with optional orange juice, and a splash of champagne for a more modern touch. Shake well and top with grated nutmeg. The 12 bold rattles from the shaker always announce excitement at the end of the bar. Alongside the antique crystal glass of the cocktail is the second glass of the port by itself. It can be a youthful ruby or an aged tawny. Taste both, and graze a little while watching the human experience- the outtake on the big screen of those people in shorts wading thigh deep in the stone vats crushing grapes. Welcome back port. This is the kind of place that will make port famous again.

In the case of Bordeaux and port the outtakes can be as interesting as the movie itself.

 

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day

VALENTINE’S DAY

This column is a week early for a reason. Valentine’s is an invented holiday, and one that sneaks up on you. You can wait until the very last moment and buy the sole remaining card, with a picture, that reads “Happy Valentine’s Day from me and my dog”, unfortunately, it isn’t your dog. A very bad move.

Valentine’s at home: the millennial couple celebrates: There are large range of fine millennial suggestions.

Meiomi Rose, 2016, $25.00 bottle. Harvested from a variety of places in California. It has to be good because a mega company spent over $300 million to capture the new generational lifestyle with the brand. Not included in their purchase for the evening is the flannel gift bag, canapes of avocado toast, and the musical refrain of Erykah Badu’s soon to be classic song “ I’ll call you back, but you can’t use my phone”. You must admit, it does have a great beat. The millennial couple really don’t need to purchase cards, they can just text one another from across the table. Your ultimate millennial experience is to just have an algorithm select the entire Valentine’s event.

The wine to follow the Meiomi and avocado toast is the wine rebirth of a hidden masterpiece: Lambrusco. After a 33 year absence from wine world consciousness, it is making a roaring comeback in a different form.  This fizzy, slightly sweet, cranberry tart No. Italian classic has become millennial in flavor and nature (the word here is artisanal). Original Lambrusco was plunky and dull, but they had great T.V. ads. Aldo Cella with the white suit, and white fedora surrounded by his flock of admirers crying out” Aldo, Aldo” kind of made up for the subpar wine.   Albone, Podera Il Saliceto, n.v. Italy, $20.00 bottle (retail) . This is the classic Lambrusco that tastes like what you drink when you are there. It has made it to several local wine lists ($40.00 bottle.)  and can be had by calling around to your favorite wine stores. In keeping with authenticity, slices of high quality ham or rabbit,  salumi and Ricotta or any heavily sauced dishes are perfect with quality Lambrusco.

Now, it is time for a dessert of locally made, cocoa dusted truffles and either a glass of Blueshine or Blueberry Smash. Blueshine is a 45% alcohol Blueberry Moonshine produced by Maine Craft Distillery in Portland, Me. Barley, wild Maine blue berry’s and Maine maple syrup distilled and hand crafted. $30.00 bottle. A blue powerhouse number, blueberry awe inspiring.

Blueberry Smash (Maine Wild Blueberry Dessert Wine), Sweetgrass Distillery, Union, Maine, 375 ml bottle, 18% alc.  $17.00. A blueberry style port.

By this time Erykah’s song “ I Want You” will pretty much set the table on fire. Watch out for the burning flannel. Millennial Valentine’s, like their lives, are an adventure.

The boomers Valentine’s at home: Not to be too harsh on our hipster friends, let’s go back a few decades and look at the boomers Valentine’s. In the 1970’s , a card was always important, but of more importance was the fancy box of overly gooey chocolate with lots of ribbons. The dinner of choice was all Julia Child, all the time. They were out there trying to master “The Art of French Cooking”. Crème fraiche was the avocado toast of the boomers, a miraculous invention of soured cream and bacteria spoken of in reverential tone.

The thing that can be said about the millennials, is that they drink vastly better and more adventuresome wine for Valentine’s. The boomers wine of choice was, of course, Mateus. Housed in a squat flagon of a green bottle with double wing castle label (announcing importance). It was light, sweet, effervescent ,romantic, and you could put a candle in it when you finished the bottle. The height of boomer sophistication. The tunes, of course, are from Bob Dylan “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” and “Baby, Let Me Follow you down”, all on vinyl.

For the millennial the operative words are “curated” and “algorithm”. I guess that kind of translates to having luck but with a good eye for things as well. For the boomer it really translated to being in the right place at the right time. The ultimate discovery boomer wine in 1975 was the 1970 Beaulieu Georges de Latour Private Reserve Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. A mouthful, rumored to be one of the iconic treasures hiding in a small number of San Francisco Bay Area wine shops. The last vintage by the famed immigrant Russian winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff.  The California wine writer E. Frank Henriques said “ It has all the earmarks of greatness”. Yes, it did. There were two people additionally who adopted this wine, and in their own separate ways were iconic. The ’70 was the favorite wine of Gov. Ronald Reagan and famed rocker Jerry Garcia. That’s discovery.

Happy Valentine’s