by Sandra Crittenden

by Sandra Crittenden

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Brasserie 19

      For my birthday, my husband and I went with some friends to Brasserie 19, a relatively new restaurant on West Gray in River Oaks. From the moment that we stepped out of the car at the valet stand, we received fantastic service, starting with enthusiastic greetings from the staff working the patio to the instantaneous seating at our reserved time and continued care at the table throughout dinner. The entire restaurant remained full during our time there.
     Having eaten many times at the Tony Mandola restaurant that was at this location prior to this restaurant opening, I was pleased to see a new brightness in the decor. A glass window looked into the room where the cold seafood platters were prepared and it all looked delicious. There had been a chef change since we had made our reservation. Chef Michael Gaspard, who we love from the Pappas Wine Dinners had designed the menu but Chef Antoine Ware, formerly of Catalan, was now running the kitchen. The wine list arrived in the form of an iPad; there was much to choose from and information on all the offerings. We started with Champagne.
      We ordered the chilled platter of seafood to begin our meal; it came with a mix of oysters, clams, shrimp, lobster, tuna tar tare and snapper ceviche. It all tasted very fresh. Everyone at the table followed that with soup. I had the lobster bisque which was a creamy white style and I also had a taste of the Texas Sweet Onion soup. I would probably pick the onion soup next time, although both were good.
      We switched to red wine next, a bottle of 2007 Oakville Nickel & Nickel, to go with our filet mignon. Both were fantastic. We tend to keep our selections simple when trying a new restaurant, once satisfied with that we get more creative on future outings. I am looking forward to trying the Gulf Coast Bouillabaise, the Ricotta Crepes and the Pan Roasted Duck.
      We were having dessert/after dinner drinks at our friends' home so when we declined dessert at the restaurant, I was treated to a martini glass filled with fresh cotton candy for my birthday. It was a festive bit of sweetness to end our meal.
      Brasserie 19-Highly recommended for diversity and quality of both the wine list and menu and for exceptional service, as well.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Napa Angel and Star Angel by Montes

      TGIC Importers hosted a tasting of some of their best wines at The Tasting Room-Uptown on Wednesday evening. On hand were some of the winemakers and winery representatives to answer questions about the various selections. With a line up of over twenty wines, the stand outs for me were the offerings from Montes USA. Winemaker Jorge Gutierrez was pouring tastes of four new wines being produced in Napa Valley and Paso Robles. Originally from Chile, Jorge is now enjoying living in California and was quite passionate about Montes' new wines. 
     The 2006 Napa Angel Reserve is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with some Syrah. The grapes were sourced from various vineyards in Yountville, Coombsville and Oak Knoll. The higher end, Napa Angel "Aurelio's Selection" is 100% Cabernet sourced from premium vineyards in Oak Knoll and Yountville.
     The two wines from Paso Robles were the 2007 Star Angel which is 100% Syrah and the higher end 2007 Star Angel "Aurelio's Selection" Red Wine (my favorite of the evening) which is 94% Syrah with 4% Grenache and 2% Mourvedre. 
     Due to the number of wines being tasted and the amount of time allotted, I did not make complete tasting notes. The common factors that these four wines shared were that they were each well-balanced with rich fruit flavors, soft tannins and long finishes.
     Welcome to America, Montes, I am delighted to have you here!

Related posting:
2006 Purple Angel Carmenere
2008 Montes Cabernet/Carmenere Limited Selection

Monday, May 23, 2011

2007 Opus One

     Another fantastic wine from our dinner party line-up! The 2007 Opus One Napa Valley Red Wine is a blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec.
     In the glass, the wine was a deep, dark ruby. It had pronounced aromas of mixed blackberries and raspberries, earthy forest floor and a bit of smokiness. It was well-structured with a full body, high acidity and sweet, ripe tannins with flavors of the same mixed berries, licorice and espresso in the long finish. 
     Another wine that is not on my everyday drinking list at approximately $180 a bottle. However, when you are looking to splurge on a complex drinker, it is an absolutely outstanding wine!

2007 Joseph Phelps Insignia

     Over the weekend, I was fortunate enough to enjoy some special Napa Valley wines. I will be posting my tasting notes for each one separately. My absolute favorite was the 2007 Joseph Phelps Insignia Napa Valley Estate Grown Red Wine. This was brought by one of our guests for a dinner party my husband and I hosted. This wine is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot.
     It was a deep purple in the glass and it had pronounced black fruit aromas with violet floral notes and a slight bit of dried herbs. Smooth was my first thought upon tasting it. It was full bodied with high acidity and silky tannins which were  perfectly balanced by the rich flavors of blackberry, creme de cassis and dark chocolate. It had a long, dark fruit finish.
     Absolutely outstanding++! At approximately $180 a bottle, it is not your everyday drinker but it is definitely a truly fantastic wine.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2007 Nickel & Nickel Harris Vineyard Merlot

     This 2007 Nickel & Nickel 100% Merlot is sourced from the Harris Vineyard which is located in the western Oakville area of Napa Valley.
Appearance: Clear, deep, dark ruby
Nose: Pronounced aromas of red fruit-raspberries, strawberries and cherries with smokey cedar.
Palate: Full body, medium acidity and medium+ sweet, ripe tannins. Concentrated dark berry flavor with vanilla and a bit of nutmeg.
Finish: Long
Quality: Very Good+
Price: $45

related post:
2006 Nickel & Nickel Kelham Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Monday, May 9, 2011

2002 Dom Perignon Champagne

My husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary this weekend with a bottle of 2002 Moet & Chandon "Dom Perignon" Champagne. It was spectacular as expected.
Appearance: Clear, pale gold with long-lasting pin-point bubbles.
Nose: Pronounced floral aromas of jasmine with juicy nectarine and pineapple with a bit of flint.
Palate: Dry, full-bodied, crisp acidity with flavors of brioche, peach and honey.
Length: Long
Quality: Outstanding            Price: $135