Not much exciting in the way of wine this last few days. Thursday we went with friends to a local Thai place. Green mango salad, whole fried snapper w/tamarind sauce, beef penang, Japanese eggplant w/basil and ginger. All pretty good (I avoided the pad thai, as this place serves it awfully sweet). I ordered a glass of Alsace Pinot Blanc. The 2003 Adam Pinot Blanc was pretty awful, offdry and flabby with canned peach and rotten flower aromas. C-
Betsy's Hook& Ladder Gewurztraminer (missed vintage) was a bit better, good acidity for a CA geuwrz, floral typicity,not exciting but a standout next to the PB. B, from a couple sips (she wisely wouldn't trade).
The next day I wasn't feeling 100%, but after long day at work we drove into city to meet my brother and his family, who had flown in for weekend's shopping. They picked Bobby Van's Grill, a steakhouse in midtown with plenty of stuff to keep kids happy (calamari, etc). As my stomach wasn't great I didn't order a steak (maybe1st time ever in a steakhouse), but a pasta with tomato/basil/ricotta. I asked waiter if they had a wine by glas list, he said no, red or white. I said red, he said "CA cab, CA pinot noir, CA red zin, French merlot." Um. So I said what CA pinot, he said he's check. He came back and said "I was wrong, it's French, Barton and Guestier." I ordered the Zin, which he said was "Redwood." I know there's a Redwood Valley, don't know if this was producer or geography, but doesn't matter because in any case it rivalled the Adam for sucking. Sweet, empty, short. C. Steaks were good (I had some of Betsy's leftovers next day), but that kind of combo of bad btg list and bad server knowledge is inexcusable imho at a reasonably expensive steakhouse. Only Luger's has steaks good enough for that.
I was feeling better Saturday, and Betsy made the duck with quince compote recipe from Wed's NYT, designed to be served with WA Merlot. Which I didn't have any of, of substituted the 1999 Albini Family Merlot (Russian River Valley). Rich dark fruit, some chocolately oak notes without being confectionary, some earth. This is clearly Californian, big ripe fruit, but good balancing tannins and acidity. Nice. B+
Recipe was good and ok as a match, but I'm not sure I can see the affinity for Merlot (and don't think it was because I didn't have a WA one). I think a simpler meat or poultry dish would have been better for Merlot, and this dish could use something more acid-driven to counter the compote's sweetness.
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.