Centini: great restaurant, absolutely horrible lighting for iPhone pictures. Note the difference between the old PSR label shown here and the way cooler one they use now...
I have awesome friends. Shortly after I posted my poll-winning wine review of the 2006 Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello a few weeks back in celebration of Pop & Pour’s 100th post, I got a message from Brian at The Ferocious Grape telling me that he had a great idea for another PnP article. He had in his massive collection of wine another Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello that was both older and higher-end than the one I had tried: the 1998 Rennina Brunello from PSR (“Rennina” is PSR’s proprietary name for the wine, which comes from three top vineyard sites on the estate), the current vintage of which is more than 3 times as expensive as the base PSR Brunello ($200ish as compared to $60). Did I have any interest in opening the ’98 Rennina with Brian, seeing how it fared against the ’06 basic Brunello and writing a post about it? Um, yes?
If you’ll recall, my main excitement about Pieve Santa Restituta was that it’s owned by Angelo Gaja, the Barbaresco wine icon from Piedmont in northwest Italy whose Tuscan venture into Brunellos is worth some attention (for much more about Gaja and PSR and Brunello, see my last post about the 2006). The 1998 vintage from PSR was of particular interest because Gaja only took full control over the winery in 1995, so Brian’s bottle was one of this landmark winemaker’s first efforts at making high-end Brunello. A bottle this special required some proper special-occasion ambience, and I owed Brian some payback for a gesture this generous, so we booked a dinner reservation at Centini on 1st Street and 8th Avenue SE in downtown Calgary to toast one of Tuscany’s finest Italian-style. Read the rest of this entry »
The name at the bottom of the label says it all: Gaja.
After a stellar trip to British Columbia that included visits to some excellent Okanagan wineries whose wares will be featured here soon, I am again at my computer in Calgary ready to bring PnP out of its brief hiatus. A HUGE thank you to everyone who made sure this site didn’t lose any of its momentum while I was away — much to my surprise (and sincere gratitude), Pop & Pour actually set a record for daily views a few days after I left town! Obviously I need to go on vacation more often.
The blog gets rebooted with a bang tonight, since my return post doubles as the 100th post I’ve written for PnP over the last six months. The fact that I’ve found 100 occasions since the start of March where the baby was sleeping and the house was quiet and I was able to be at the computer for a consecutive hour is clearly cause for celebration, and your poll voting determined that PnP’s centennial would be feted by way of the 2006 Gaja Brunello, more formally known as the Brunello di Montalcino from Pieve Santa Restituta. Even though I only got this wine three months ago, I’m very happy that it won the poll and that I get to open it, because it was my first ever Father’s Day present from my now-8-month-old son Felix (likely assisted in some substantial capacity by my lovely wife Heather). Nothing like a proud milestone gift to celebrate a joyous event. Read the rest of this entry »
This is the 92nd post that I’ve made on Pop & Pour. Being the milestone-sensitive person that I am, I’m already looking ahead to the triple digits and wondering how best to mark the momentous occasion of PnP’s 100th post, which should be coming up in a couple weeks or so. The obvious answer to this question is “with wine”, but which one? I’ve been drinking a lot of $20ish value wines recently, but when it comes to the 1-0-0, I’m reaching for the big guns. I have some options in mind, but need your help to choose a winner — cue the poll! Blurbs of the potential candidates to follow below.
Here’s what you’re voting for:
2004 Alion: Possibly the most famous and well-regarded producer in Spain is Vega Sicilia in Ribera del Duero. It focuses primarily on one wine, Unico, which is ludicrously expensive, can be aged for decades at the winery before release and is a historically great bottle. Needless to say, I can’t afford it. But in 1991 Vega Sicilia started Bodegas Alion, which makes the Alion wines from grapes either in or right beside Vega Sicilia’s vineyards. Basically, Alion is the closest I’m going to get to Unico for a long, long time. One of Spain’s classics.
2007 K Vintners Morrison Lane Syrah: K Syrah…get it? (That is actually how this winery was named.) From Charles Smith, the same guy who makes Kung Fu Girl Riesling, the K Vintners brand focuses exclusively on high-end Syrah from Washington State, otherwise known as my recent man-crush varietal and region. I had another K Syrah a couple weekends ago (the K Millbrandt Syrah) and it was huge, intense and fruity; this one is slightly higher up on the price/quality scale so I expect that it will be a little more layered and complex but still totally bombastic.
2006 Gaja Brunello: The proper name of the producer is Pieve Santa Restituta, but this Tuscan winery is primarily interesting because it is owned by the legendary Angelo Gaja, the iconic winemaker who helped put Piedmont, and especially Barbaresco, on the pedestal where sits today. Gaja’s focus is almost exclusively on northwest Italy, but he bought this winery in Brunello di Montalcino in the central part of the country a few years ago and has begun to put his stamp on its production line. I got this wine for my first ever Father’s Day this past June, so it has both personal and professional (OK, amateur) significance for me.
2008 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon: Caymus is one of the best-known producers of textbook Napa Valley Cabernet, and this bottle of Cab in particular is interesting because I got it (1) at the winery itself and (2) before the ’08 vintage of Caymus Cab was actually released to market! We went there for a tasting, and they were sold out of their ’07 Cabs, so they were pulling the ’08s out of their storage cellars so that people had something to buy. I don’t have many bottles purchased directly from producers, and I’ve already tried this wine on site, so I know it’s good.
So help me out — vote early and often, and leave me a comment if you have a particular reason behind your choice. Thanks!
I had an Important Business Dinner last night that took me to Alloy restaurant just off Macleod Trail on 42nd Ave. S.E…. my favourite restaurant in the city, and as it turns out, even better on somebody else’s tab. There was remarkable food (I had a short rib appetizer with a roasted pepper and fenugreek chutney that should be illegal) and witty conversation, but most importantly, there was wine. I was lazy and didn’t take contemporaneous notes, but this is the second time I’ve had the bottle we ordered, and it left enough of an impression that this review should still be fairly accurate.
The wine in question was the 2007 “Promis” from Gaja, made from grapes grown in the Ca’Marcanda vineyard in Tuscany. Both the producer and the style of wine are rife with history. Read the rest of this entry »