Our last days in Laguna we were cooking at Betsy's home. Eve doesn't drink (though she's happy to do the blessing of the wine), so I picked up a cheap Pinot to have with the Shabbos chicken. I got the 2005 Castle Rock Mendocino Pinot Noir based on some past vintages of Castle Rock that were good qpr if unexciting. This was frank;y a poor wine, unidentifiable as Pinot, sweet yet with a bitter underlay. Short, boring. Tasted like a first time home winemaker's attempt at Shiraz. C-
We perservered through rest of bottle for next two nights, it was better on night 2, but not much. Night three- yuck.
Ah, back home. But it's HOT outside. Betsy thawed some lamb chops for Tuesday dinner, I braved the heat to grill them. Wine was the 1990 La Louviere (Pessac-Leognan). Ah, to be home both physically and oenologically! Bordeaux was my first vinuous love, and the 1990 La Louviere is a great example of what a non-trophy Bordeaux can be at maturity. Clear rich cassis and blackberry fruit, layers of earth (at once loamy, gravelly, and showing hints of a decaying forest floor), a little smoky note. Rich finish with good length. I'm sure my happiness to be home bumped up my score a little, but I'm giving it an A-/A and sticking to it!
Wednesday was still hot, but Betsy braved the oven to bake some duck legs with juniper, cumin, and other spices. While I usually am strictly a duck with pinot man, in the past I've found this spice combo to do better with things like Rhones or Rioja. I decided to broaden my list this time, with the 2004 Catherine et Pierre Breton "Trinch!" Bourgueil (partly because I was looking to serve something a little cool). Pretty wine with clear red fruit, a nice herbal note, and strong finish. Good acidity and surprising tannins, nice now but structured enough it could age (though I don't think it's intended to). B+
My turn to cook on Thursday - luckily a brief storm cooled things down before grilling time. I had briefly marinated some shrimp in some white Macon with old bay and red pepper flakes, they were grilled on kebabs with our garden's cherry tomatoes and some bacon wrapped scallops. The wine was the 2005 Jean-Claude Thevenet Macon-Pierreclos (by the way, is this the same family as the Beaujolais?). No apparent wood, clean crisp rich Chardonnay fruit. This isn't especially deep or complex, but a really nice medium-bodied clean white. B+/B.
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.