Monday, August 2, 2010

A NIGHT OUT ON MELROSE AVENUE


Piccini Chianti

The Los Angeles restaurant, Bulan Thai Vegetarian Kitchen, was the starting point for quite an enjoyable night of friends, food and wine.  Tricia and Rob met us at Bulan, where we ate fantastic appetizers until we were stuffed – and until it got so loud that we were literally shouting at each other to be heard over the racket!  The ladies strolled down the street to Frankie's to stake out some spots at the bar, while Rob and I took care of the food bill.  At Frankie's, we laughed and enjoyed the company of our bartender, Adam, who contributed wine facts, baseball stats and music to our evening.  Some guy named Craig drifted in and out of the scene fairly quickly, and that was probably for the best.  He didn't realize the ladies were spoken for.

At Bulan, we brought our own – a rosé and a sparkler which are both French – and at Frankie's I sampled a few reds from their by-the-glass list to finish the evening.

The rosé is La Vieille Ferme, Recolte 2008.  I had previously enjoyed their white wine.  This pink - from Côtes du Ventoux - is produced by Jean Pierre Perrin – of Chateau de Beaucastel fame - and stands at 13% abv.  The wine is a blend of 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache and 10% Syrah.  It shows a good strawberry red color in the glass which is quite reminiscent of a Spanish rosado.  Strawberries on the nose lead to a full mouth which is also dominated by strawberry, raspberry and some great earthy notes.  It's a dry rose – not bone dry, but it pairs very well with Thai food.

We also had Parigot Cremant de Bourgogne at the table.  The 100% Pinot Noir bubbly has a lovely, earthy nose and notes of toast and berries.  It's very bubbly and lightly hued in a soft pink.  The fruity taste and effervescence make it quite refreshing and palate-cleansing.

At Frankie's, Adam the bartender provided me with a memorable Chianti and a few samples of some less-than-memorable reds.  He also got an assist for taking part in a time-honored bar tradition: the sports dispute.  Rob and I were wondering who was the first baseball player to earn $100,000.  Adam hit the cell phone and informed us it was Joe DiMaggio.  That's only partially correct.  Joltin' Joe was the first American Leaguer to get a six-figure salary, in 1950.  Hank Greenberg hit that mark in 1947, though, with the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League.  The wines Adam had to offer were a mixed bag, too.

The Piccini Tuscany Chianti 2008 was a delight, showing a nose of violets and minerals.  It's extremely smooth with good tannins and strong finish.  The blend is 95% Sangiovese and 5% Ciliegiolo.  Big cherry notes and a nice smokiness that lingers on the finish really make this wine stand out.  They call this DOCG wine “Chianti Orange,” and it is a considerable source of pride for Tenute Piccini.  Winemaker Antonella Conti gets a big thumbs up from me for producing this fantastic wine.

The Kenwood Vineyard wines Adam poured were not as impressive.  Their Zinfandel – blended with 8% Petite Sirah – has a black cherry streak a mile wide and a ton of spice flavors.  I found it be a bit fake tasting and overdone, though.  The Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon has small amounts of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec in the blend.  Pencil shavings on the nose with currants and plums on the palate were nice to find, but they couldn't lift the wine up above average.