I can’t recommend enough Mark Kurlansky’s books. A Basque History of the World is fascinating. Salt is great. Cod is required reading. The story of cod fishing is the story of mankind’s past, present and future. If you read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel and were transfixed, these books don’t have the power and depth but have the research and are far easier reads.
In the middle of the film is an astounding portrayal of tuna fishing eighty years ago. The men stand alongside the boat, knee deep in the ocean, and pull the tuna out off handpoles. They’ve thrown out sardines to bait the tuna and they’re pulling out tuna at about three to the minute. And these are the kind of tuna you only catch in nets anymore, two hundred pounders.
The world of fishing hasn’t gone high tech because people were greedy. The world of fishing has gone high tech because there are far fewer fish today. It’s not that the fishermen got greedy. Okay, sure, some countries got greedy. But the problem is there are too many fishermen out there. Fish like the tuna are part of the mass species extinction that humans are creating.
The celluloid shark tale probably began with 1932’s Tiger Shark starring Edgar G. Robinson. The tough guy gangster is now a salty old Portuguese bachelor fisherman pining for a girl; any girl will do. Meanwhile he fights off the sharks; seemingly every fishing trip is a battle against sharks.
My friend Damon Ornowski gives me a bottle of Lungarotti Rubesco Torgiano Riserva Vigna Monticchio 1995. I’m pretty excited so I open it that night. At first, it’s plump and youthful. Then some cinnamon starts showing up, like the wet cinnamon note of New World Sangiovese.
Then the TCA shows up. It’s corked. The fruit recedes like a turtle’s head in harsh light. I hate corks.
Last night I drove back to SF and headed straight to Tommy’s. Okay, we had dinner first. Nice Venezuelan place and then we drank everything Julio put in front of us because we are smart about tequila and he is smarter.
Courtesy of Fred Dame MS and Jay Fletcher MS, a few remarkable wines to report: Claude Dugat Charmes Chambertin 1995 was all earth and muscle, but showed red plum and sarsaparilla as well as hints of Bretty leather.
The Domaine de la Romanee Conti Grands Echezeaux 1995 was dull in comparison. H2S aromas pervaded the thing. Aargh.
There were some gems, as there should be when people like Randall Grahm are involved. My favourite quote of his? “I think that to some degree all wines are corked,” he said during the panel considering alternative corks and packaging. It was dubbed, “Seeking Closure”, of course.
The Monterey Wine Festival ate my homework. Strike that, it ate my brain. That is the primary reason why this blog fell so miserably behind, though typical human sloth played a role as well. The preparation for it was bad enough, but the execution of the event was mind-bending. Things will change that’s for sure; the program will probably see different ownership next year and I may not play a role, for better or worse.
For the attendees, though, I hope it was good. I certainly believe that we executed well and that only those of us in the background saw the chaos.
A visit to a new spot at the Bellagio in Vegas: 55 Degrees. A fun selection, a very fun display and all wines served in the new Riedel stemless wine glasses. I’m a big fan of everything Riedel does. Until now. These glasses don’t keep the temperature of the white wines (and even the reds) and the wines lose their balance. And why? Just for design’s sakes?
The 2002’s seem similar to the 1990’s at this age, as I understood the 1990’s to be at the time. They are very, very exciting wines with very, very long lives ahead. Just to prove it, I opened a Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Spatlese 2002 ten days ago, poured out a glass (the notes were good, believe me) and now I’m trying it again. Ten days in the frig – try that with your Marcassin Chardonnay.