Random thoughts about corkscews, gardening and mussels

Tim's Wine Market

There has been a lot buzz about Eric Asimov’s NYTimes article about a new $410 corkscrew, Code-38 Stealth.  At first I was shocked that someone would charge so much for simply redesigning the tried-and-true technology.  Then I started thinking about the cost of designer shoes, handbags, the latest golf club and a custom made dress shirt and it sort of, in a crazy sort of justification, makes sense.   Since I have not used this corkscrew myself I will reserve judgment on it’s usefulness.Wednesday, April 20th, I had lunch at the Ravenous Pig with a representative from Billecart-Salmon Champagne, their Florida distributor and a few key account restaurants from around Orlando.  The meal was delicious, as always and the wines were certainly stunning.  To me the most amazing was the 1999 Blanc de Blanc, which sports an eye-popping $189 price tag.   Impressive with my mussels cooked with orange juice, wheat beer and roasted garlic  (see my TWM-Orlando Facebook post), so far it may be the food/wine pairing of the year.I have been on an “old school” kick with my drinking habits lately, and that means French wines, specifically selections from importer Kermit Lynch.  My two most recent favorites are the 2009 Domaine de Prebende Beaujolais ($19) which was absolutely delicious with a maple/mustard grilled pork tenderloin.  It needs a half hour in the decanter and a light chill to show best, but there is nothing like the wild strawberry and raspberry flavor of Gamay.  This bottling is simple but delicious, would probably have worked great with roast chicken too.My other favorite is the 2009 Petite Chablis from Roland Lavantureux ($25).  Real Chablis used to be the benchmark for Chardonnay in the late 1800’s.  Then two world wars, California impostors, overproduction and a general lack of attention by the producers of Chablis led to four decades of consumer malaise regarding the wines of the area.  Now we are seeing all sorts of good examples, this particular version showing stunning notes of magnolia blossom, kumquat, lemon drops and oyster shells in the nose and a precise, balanced sense of fruit into the finish.  I served this with cod baked en papillote with zucchini, fresh thyme and lemon zest.  OK, it may be the best food/wine pairing of the year.If you garden, or not, take note that magnolias and Confederate jasmine are blooming right now and they give you a chance to expand your wine description vocabulary.  You have to put your nose down into a magnolia blossom but when you do the aroma is delicately citrus (lemons and Buddha’s hand) with a hint of green apple.  Cut the blossoms and put them in water, you can smell them around the dinner table.  Confederate jasmine is one of my wife’s favorites, a more dramatic scent that fills our back yard every April.  This is a richer, sweet, slightly musky aroma that is hard to describe any other way than “jasmine.”   I mention both of these because their scents are often used to describe wines; magnolia appearing in Italian whites and some Sauvignon Blanc.  Confederate jasmine is a note I often find in Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley of California and Santa Lucia Highlands.