Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Good Ol' Texas

Here's the rundown of a typical two-week holiday in good ol' Texas. My little brother, Shawarma Leg Lover, currently obsessed with cross-fit, farro and whiskey Old Fashioneds, facetiously tells a gathered family that he's come across faith in strip clubs and that his new-found religion's missionaries are the Brazilian dolls in Michel Telo's video for "Ai Se Eu Te Pego." My mother, Mrs. Broken Record, this time around relatively content with her oldest son's body mass index, focuses her attention on him trimming his beard and growing his nails just a bit longer to have a chance at Best in Show. My father, Mr. Flog, home for the first time in months yet missing his bachelor pad in São Paulo, goes on long bike rides decked in loud lycra and a self-imposed "green" diet better suited for a guinea pig or New Age hippie. The Wife, Ph.D., scavenges through SALE racks and baskets for designer items, squealing like Justin Bieber's greatest fan whenever she unearths a 200 Euro pair of jeans on The Rock for $29.99 and an additional 30% off at the register. We all ooh and aah at my middle brother's Australian son's antics over Skype and try to egg him on to saying cookie or pretend to be a gorilla. We eat well. We drink well. We ridicule each other, also very well. Meanwhile, most of my hours are spent in search of new literary fiction, bottles of Oregon Pinot Noir and red skinny Levis jeans (now a proud owner) to keep that stubborn bastard of insanity at bay.

2009 McPherson Cellars "Tre Colore" 48% Carignan, 37% Mourverdre, 15% Viognier (Lubbock, Texas) - Burst of red fruit on the nose. Cherries and raspberries. Myrtle berries according to Mr. Flog. On the palate, cranberry, raspberry, papaya (?!?) through the middle. Short, light and fresh. 85/100.

2010 "Serenu" Vermentino di Gallura DOCG (Sardinia, Italy) - A nice nose of white pepper, cream and pears. Honey, baked apples, pears, vanilla to kick us off. Tangy citrus on the sides, a fatty middle. Served at room temperature. 87/100.

2009 Domaine Argyrides Maratheftiko - Dark fruit, mulch, chocolate, flowers and coffee on the nose. Sweet beginning with notes of blueberries. Short with smooth tannins. 87/100.

2009 Villa Maria Unoaked Chardonnay Hawkes Bay (New Zealand) - Aromas of white pears, flowers and pineapple. Medium bodied wine with flavors of peaches, pears, pineapple and a tangy citrus finish. Not my favorite, a bit empty. 82/100.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In Praise Of The Rock's Vino

My editor at Cyprus Gourmet, Matthew Stowell, recently penned a piece praising Cypriot wine. Among the article's many gems:
"Lately, Ayios Onoufrios, which I contend is far superior to most French, Spanish, Italian or Australian wine costing 6 Euros, has been selling in my local supermarket for 3.95 a bottle.  I have tried only two or three French wines at 8 Euros that are better in quality than Cypriot bottles in the same price range, and these were certainly not from supermarkets.  At the next level, at 10 or 11 Euros, Cyprus wines are infinitely better value-for-money than most other wines in the market.  Try a Vlassides or Kyperounda Shiraz, a Fikardos or Lambouri Maratheftiko, an Aes Ambelis Cabernet or Vasilikon Methi (Cabernet), a Zambartas Rose or Tsiakkas Chardonnay Barrique and tell me I’m wrong. "
This is a must-read for the "Neophyte Wine Snobs" who still doubt our vino. Click here to read in its entirety.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Burgundian Tongue Twister (or My Sweet Morphine)

Guys, bare with me. This one is gonna be a Burgundian tongue twister. I will be name-dropping more than an aspiring rapper backstage trying to get into one of Rihanna's dancer's panties.

A week before packing our bags for our annual Texan romp, we spent an electrifying evening at Vinocultura, unarguably Nicosia's best wine bar, sampling relatively pricy (for The Wife, Ph.D.'s tight standards) French wines. Involved were the usual suspects (The Wife, Ph.D., The Godmother and My Zolpidem Supplier) plus Mr. Mars, a UVA grad I ball with twice a week and who sometimes plays defense like a coked-up ferret, and four other random attendees who were also addicted passionate enough to cough up the 55 Euro tasting fee for an eight wine line-up. Andrew De Petro, Vinocultura's sommelier, and Andreas Kyprianou, mastermind behind the popular joint, were there to guide us through the tasting and provided us with an informative leaflet on Burgundy's history, terroir, main grape varieties and climate.

We gathered around a long table in the establishment's cellar, a modern and well-lit room lined with glass and a view into the chic bar and restaurant. Two color-coded maps of what is probably the most intricate and confusing wine region in the world—one in which terroir legitimately counts—stretched out before us. The pop of a bottle of Simmonet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé, a fruity (strawberry juice comes to mind) and off-dry sparkler from Chablis, kick-started the party and served as segue into the white portion of the event. The 2010 Louis Latour Pouilly-Fuissé AOC was fatty yet clean and full of stonefruit and minerality on the palate, while the 2006 Louis Latour Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru, a creamy and complex wine, showed touches of baked pears and apples, funk, smokiness, mustard seed and minerals, and warmly tickled my innards for minutes at a time. Almost exactly like the time I was forced to step outside of my marriage to alcohol and experience my sweet Morphine in all of her splendorous nudity while a Southern California surfer-cum-surgeon took a scalpel to my [insert body part you'd least want someone to come at with a sharp instrument.]

I adore Pinot Noir so I was giddy in anticipation of the reds. The outstanding 2009 Henry Fessy Fleurie Beaujolais Cru (Top 100 for 2011 by Wine Enthusiast) made of the Gamay varietal was reminiscent of baked raspberries, strawberries, and cherries, and included lovely floral and coffee notes. The Wife, Ph.D., waxed nostalgic and remarked that the wine tasted "like Thanksgiving," a celebration near and dear to her (Americanized) heart. Next up, the 2009 Louis Latour Mercurey AMC with hints of leather and game on the nose but cherry juice and a bit of balsamic vinegar that sang through the palate, and the 2007 Louis Latour Nuits St. Georges Premier Cru with its silky tannins and flavors of dark berries, pepper and tomatoes.

By now, already quite merry, the boldest of the random attendees asked for food. Out from the small kitchen came platters stacked with charcuterie, four different types of cheese and breads. Cooked items included foie gras wrapped in prosciutto, a sweet macaroon topped with pâte, cookie crumbs, dried cranberries and lime foam, and a lamb cutlet on a phyllo crostini that certainly was the culinary highlight of the evening thanks to its simplicity and tenderness. Kudos to chefs Petros Andrianou and Jorge Perez for the inventive and tasty dishes.

Bellies satiated and prepared to absorb more alcohol, we moved to the soiree's juggernauts. The 2008 Louis Latour "Domaine Latour" Aloxe-Corton had bigger tannins, a bitter finish and recalled leather, game, spice and menthol to the taste buds. The 1999 Louis Latour "Domaine Latour" Corton Grand Cru, the only Grand Cru of the night and supposed grand finale, was by far the smoothest and most interesting of the bunch, red fruit that matched nicely with funky gaminess, savoriness and herbal components.

Now in overdrive, the boldest of the attendees asked for one more bottle that subsequently became two more bottles, a final tab of 70 Euros per imbiber and a four-hour tasting session of predominantly 90+ wines. The 2004 Michel Picard Pommard "Les Clos Micot" Vineyard Premier Cru did not impress me as much as the previous wines; I found the transitions from start to finish a bit off and it lacked the depth of the Corton Grand Cru. Then came the 2001 Louis Jadot Pommard Rugiens Premier Cru, a very masculine wine with wonderful meatiness (smoked bacon and leather), red fruit and clove-like spice and a long vegetable, herbal finish.

Our wondrous time with our Burgundian seductresses was over. We had eaten and drank well in the company of fancy friends and intriguingly cooky strangers in an intimate and convivial setting. Later that night, the wine still buzzing through my body like electricity, a heartbroken Morphine appeared before me in a dream and resignedly told me it was over between us. Can't blame the gal.

Whine On The Rocks Rating: 5 out of 5 Sparkling Spatulas

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year's Rock-alution

I've decided that the new year calls for a reinvigorated, more consistent blog, one that will continue to deliver the chuckles but ultimately serve as some sort of bizarre educational hub for those readers interested in Cyprus and other island wines. Of course, many posts will be completely ludicrous and have the nutritional value of a deep-fried Double Whopper with a side of super-sized McDonalds fries smothered in hollandaise sauce and Starbucks' latest "empty calorie" Venti king as digestif. For those of you who prefer the laughs, here's a list of what I promise to deliver in 2012. If you will, refer to it as the blog's New Year's Rock-alution.

Z. Wedding crashing at Trikkis Palace, a wedding reception hall which I hear is a cross between a tacky Las Vegas strip club and a South Dakota county fair. Don't worry, I will bring an envelope stuffed with thirty Euros and my "Whine On The Rocks" business card to hand to the fortunate couple who unknowingly hosted me and my pimped-out entourage. By the way, I am still holding interviews for that remaining spot in my P.O.E. so holler if you're interested.

In the name of W., I promise to deliver.
Y. First episode of Mythbusters Kypros. Pyrsos, charcoal of choice of most Cypriots, claims in its adverts to cook souvla twice. T or F? Event spearheaded by Return On Investment (R.O.I.) and The Duke of Ducati and will include a horizontal tasting of 2011 Cyprus rosé.

X. Cow tipping in Aradippou with an earthy island Pinot Noir in tow. Helmets, cans of Red Bull and body soap not included.

W. A long overdue visit to the Agia Napa water park with a quick shortstop to sample The Rock's best fish and chips at Lambros in Dhekelia. White wine to delight.

V. A night at the Nicosia Bingo. Evening of guaranteed unadulterated excitement involving ping-pong balls, cheap Cypriot vino and yelling "Bingo!" while praying my dentures don't slip out and hit the rug.

U. Handing out (fingers crossed) poor grades to wines being made in Turkish-occupied Cyprus. That is if I find them without The Wife, Ph.D., forcing me to spend one too many lonely evenings on our red couch.

T. Taking a page from the Food Network's book and participating in the Cyprus Chopped Championship against My Zolpidem Supplier. I will make sure to go nucular molecular on her sorry ass.

S. Smuggling a couple of small bottles of red wine (Aes Ambelis comes to mind) into a Cypriot First Division football match so that I can finally write about soccer on The Rock. The Disney-Obsessed Man-Child vowed to pick the match and tag along, I think primarily to prevent me from being overtly ambitious and ending up in handcuffs for attempting to pelt the usually lousy local referee with an empty bottle at one of the more important matches.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Beef Ribs Done Right

Brazilian-Tex beef ribs with molho campanha, farofa and 2010 Don Gascon Malbec. Courtesy of Adriano, Minas Gerais's answer to Bobby Flay.

A little bit after...