Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thanksgiving Week of Wine

Now that my Dad is retired, I thought it would be nice to fly my parents out for Thanksgiving week to the California desert. Funny they had no idea what to expect - every time they heard me talk about it - they imagined a shack in the middle of the desert with a few cactus trees around. Little did they know how beautiful La Quinta is - with country clubs and golf courses on every block. And even the landscaping on the medians are well maintained.

Of course you have to get up and play golf every day - isn't that the law here? So my golf buddy Gary came down from Northern California to play too.
We had great rounds of golf at Silver Rock Resort (and did I mention breaking 90 in the round with the birdies on #10 and #18? Gary still beat me by a stroke!) Rancho LaQuinta Country Club and ended the week with an early round on the La Quinta Resort - Dunes course.

But of course Thanksgiving week was a good week of wine. Finally sampled some Beaujolais
with the old standby Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau Special Select didn't seem to be as special as last year.

The first night sat around the kitchen table and shared a 2001 Patz & Hall Pinot Noir - nice way to start the vacation.

With the 90 degree temperatures Chardonnays fit the bill - here's the consensus on the taste in order of their appeal; 2004 ZD Winery Chardonnay California, 2005 Sonoma Cutrer Winery Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, 2003 Flora Springs Wine Co. Chardonnay Select Cuvee Napa Valley and the winner 2005 Rombauer Vineyards Chardonnay Carneros.

With pizza one night opened 2001 Conn Creek Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley and when the decanter was almost empty thought I was opening a second bottle but it turned out to be 2002 Conn Creek Winery Cabernet Franc - so we made a little blend - it was fantastic.

For an early Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday had brought a magnum of the 1991 Franciscan Magnificat it was even autographed by winemaker Larry Levin - a Bordeaux Blend of 4 noble grapes was only missing Petit Verdot. That went fast so the back up was a few bottle of 2002 Franciscan Merlot.

With friends and family departing on Thanksgiving day I took my parents over to Arnold Palmer's Restaurant, we had a wonderful table outside next to the putting green. We ordered a few Bloody Marys to start as we took a look at the menu. They had a wonderful 4 course dinner for a reasonable $60 per person. Each course had 4 options - starters Risotto for Dad, Shrimp Cocktail for Mom and Tuna Sashimi for me - hey we had turkey yesterday. On to the second course - pear salad, iceberg wedge, lobster bisque. For the main course - we all opted for Prime Rib - the cut was so generous non of us could finish it. And by desert time we were all stuffed and ordered desert to go - some pecan pie. The nice touch was the bottomless glass of Gloria Ferrer Carneros Cuvee Brut, of course when you're not counting how many glasses you've had in the sun - we all ended up with an extended nap after dinner. But what a nice day with my parents. I'm so proud of them and my Dad is making a difference after Katrina as president of Habitat for Humanity in Picayune, MS (this is the 1st high ground outside of New Orleans 100 ft about sea level) - they hope to have 40 more houses built shortly. You can sponsor a house for a donation of $1500

While playing golf on the last day a few ambulances went by, guess to prepare me for the sounds of NY as I take the red-eye back to Manhattan all tan and somewhat relaxed. At least its supposed to be warm this week there. It was a very special vacation with my parents.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Roadhouse 747 in Central PA

We have a family cottage on the Juniata River in Central PA, so during the summers we used to go into town to a redneck bar called The Hill Valley Hotel.

And if you've ever heard the phrase "The Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time" it applies to this bar.

Well that bar has been remodeled and just opened as the Roadhouse 747 Near Mt. Union PA - where? about 30 minutes west of Harrisburg off route 22 to route 747 - its not too far from Raystown Lake.
And they have LIVE music every Friday and big screen TV's for football too the Steelers are having a rough year so excepte more excitement for Nascar or WWE wrestling...some of the local favorites.

Last week I stopped by for lunch and the food was excellent and I was surprised that 1) they actually had a wine list and 2) the wine list was respectable with bottles of Chateau St. Michelle for $16 and drafts $1.25.

So if you find yourself lost in Central PA the Roadhouse 747 is one of the only bars around.
And yes the Girls Do Get Prettier At Closing Time...its been a long tradition for the local guys to not show up until midnight.

Should be fun next summer when we're at the cottage.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé in NYC - Where?

Every year it's a tradition to celebrate the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau from France.

It happens on the third Thursday of November when parties are thrown in France, the USA, and throughout the world! Wine enthusiasts like me will go out at midnight to be one of the first to sample this year's wine. So why not join the fun this year with a gathering chez vous?

The arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau is a great excuse to get together with friends and have some fun. In Lyon, most people get together and walk from bouchon to bouchon, sampling the different wines. You can bring the party to your house with these easy ideas. Choose your day: Thursday after work appetizer party; Friday Fondue Party; or linger a bit on Saturday with a special supper of Boeuf Bourguignon. Ã votre sante'!

This year being in New York, I'll get to partake 3 hours earlier, but I'm still looking for places to get that midnight taste? I will update my blog with locations as I find them.

Of course in NY if you really enjoy this year's Beaujolais - you could celebrate in each time zone, do a Central Time Zone tasting at 1am, Mountain at 2am and Pacific at 3am...and so on...if you're still there on Hawaii time its time to go work Bob!

Here's my recap from last year: (ven though Dave sold Seattle Cellars they will still have a party this year)

12:01 AM I was at Seattle Cellars in Belltown they're proclaiming "Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrive!" However you pronounce it en Francais - tranlation "the new Beaujolais has arrived!"

People are on hand for the first Beaujolais wine tasting of 2005!

As has been the tradition at Seattle Cellars, Pajamas are acceptable attire. Is this how they do it in France? Non!

They had 6 Beaujolais on hand for tasting starting with a George Duboeuf. Another great thing about the wine is the prices are reasonable from $8.99 - $12.00.

And if you missed the midnight tasting join them for another Beaujolais Nouveau tasting at the regular Thursday tasting from 5-7 PM at Seattle Cellars - 2nd/Wall Belltown.

Little history on the tradition - which I first discovered in New Orleans.

Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape and was harvested the 1st week of September.
Beaujolais is sold every year beginning the third Thursday in November. Not always as popular as it is now Beaujolais itself comes from the Beaujolais region of southern Burgundy (that's in France - not New Orleans where they say Bur Gun Dee).

Recently, Beaujolais has come into fashion, and the hype is you want to be one of the 1st people from all over the world to taste it.

You can credit the hype and endless self promotion to one Georges Duboeuf. You'll instantly recognize his Beaujolais Nouveau from its colorful artwork on the label.

Why all the hype - Beaujolais Nouveau is an easy to drink fruity wine. (Can you say Kool-Aid or grape juice?) Serve slightly chilled and its as close to white wine as a red wine can get.

Drink it now and enjoy - also a great wine to share on Thanksgiving!

details courtesy of