Lucien Albrecht’s Jérôme Keller surveys the Oysterhouse Philly bounty
Not too long ago – ok, well, actually, several months ago, but I’m just getting back around to the topic now because I’ve been busy being all self-employed and day-drinking and what-not – I was invited to lunch with the dry-humored Jérôme Keller, Technical Director/Oenologist for Alsace stalwart produce Lucien Albrecht. Now, it hasn’t been all that long (especially by my warped standards) since I devoted quite a bit of the virtual page space here on 1WD to Alsace, but when you’re a wine-geek-turned-critic-type you don’t turn down an opportunity to a) get reacquainted with one of the first three Alsatian firms to have helped launched the Crémant d’Alsace AOC (which, like me, dates back to the early 1970s), which now comprises about 70% of their total production; and b) eat at Phlly’s Oyster House restaurant.
So, yeah, I did those. And while it’s taken me a few months to get around to writing it up, if you consider that we’re talking about a producer whose Alsatian roots can be traced back to 1698 (when Balthazar Albrecht settled in Orschwihr) and whose winemaking roots date back to 1425 (when the impossibly-impressively-named Romanus Albrecht started the winery), then I think I can be forgiven for some tardiness, especially from that timeline perspective.
Anyway, Keller has done some work in the USofA, having participated in harvest at Sonoma Cutrer, so he understands (or at least is adept at faking to understand) what passes for American humor, so we got along swimmingly, popping shellfish and tasting through some of the more recent Albrecht wares (and yes, the food/wine match went as lovably, gluttonously well as you’d expect)…
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!
2016 Jermann Pinot Grigio (Venezia Giulia): Behold the thinking wine-lover’s Pinot Grigio, replete with, well, almost everything that’s lacking in most domestic US PGs… $25 B+
2015 Inama Carmenere Piu (Veneto Rosso): For when only something different – and something with accessible sophistication – will do. $20 B+
“When minds are dripping color, And there’s liquid on the brain
They laugh to one another, And politely go insane”
– Primus, The Dream
Last month, I had the pleasure of (once again) checking out the funky, entertaining, and technically dazzling band Primus, as they rolled through Philly on their Ambushing the Storm tour. Primus are currently playing with fellow prog-influenced band Mastodon in support of The Desaturating Seven, an at turns raucous, pretty, trippy, and virtuosic concept album based on Ul de Rico’s also trippy, gorgeous, and all-too-allegorically-topical-and-relevant-today (hey, one of the goblins is Orange… just sayin’…) children’s book The Rainbow Goblins. The album is played in its entirety during the show, with vibrant and also trippily-fantastic visual accompaniment that, I can tell you from personal experience, goes down even better with a wine-altered state of consciousness.
As was the case last year, I got to tag along with the VIP Package ticket-holders as a guest of Chaney Claypool, wife of Primus front-man Les Claypool and (along with Les), proprietor of Sonoma-based Claypool Cellars, who have been mentioned on these virtual pages for over eight years (holy crap!) at this point. The current tour VIP package offers a Q&A session with the band, and a tasting of some of the more recent Claypool Cellars releases; given my penchant for awesome prog-y type tunes, and my pinch-me wine-thing day job, and my music-thing side-gig, you can probably guess that I was pretty pumped to spend an early-summer-ish evening watching my various worlds collide…
I recently received the kind of media invite that one doesn’t turn down, unless one doesn’t have a choice: join a bunch of wine peeps in NYC to taste through a preview of the new 2016 Port vintage, led by representatives from several of the major Port houses. Uhm… yeah, we are definitely going to that. We also tasted some quite older vintages of Port, about which I plan to tell you later, in the hopes that – like all good Port lovers – you can learnt o exercise a wee bit of patience. Also, I’m kind of a dick sometimes.
Regarding the 2016 vintage in Porto: after a seemingly endless string of vintage Port declarations in the 2000s, 2016 marks the first time in a handful of years (since 2011) that a vintage there was deemed worthy enough for a vintage to be declared. The theme, as you will see from my tasting notes of about fifteen (!) of the upcoming releases, is a sense of balance, in which both power and finesse are on display. The vintage was marked by a wet Spring, which was actually needed due to drought conditions from 2015, followed by a hot Summer. The result was a year marked by low yields; in other words, allocations are gonna be tight.
To get a deeper sense of the 2016 vintage, I also include for your listening enjoyment a brief interview that I did with Rupert Symington (part of the family that makes/owns revered Port brands Graham’s, Cockburn’s, Dow’s, Warre’s, and Quinta do Vesúvio), who gave me his thoughts on the first Port vintage in five-or-so years, why we mere mortals need to be both patient and maybe even a little selfless when it comes to buying a wine that takes decades to fully develop, and what he imbibes when he’s not drinking Port.
It’ll make for decent listening as you peruse the (rather longish) list of my foray into 2016 Port land…
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