One of the big perks of my job is being able to write the following in full confidence that the research was accomplished as a wholly necessary aspect of my livelihood: Last week was a great drinking week.
To be precise: Three times over the course of those five days, I tipped back my glass and found myself utterly charmed by the liquid I had just swallowed.
The first time was when I popped open the crown from a sample bottle I’d been sent of the new Yards Rye, a delicious brew that first hit the market on Jan. 1 and will be available until March 31. You can find it at Hawthornes, Monk’s, McGillin’s, the Yards Tasting Room, and elsewhere, and it is well worth the search. This gulpable ale, all amber-colored and attractive, starts off with a distinct nuttiness that eventually opens up to reveal flavors of spice, apricots, orange peel, butter-scotch and more. With nicely fatty foods or just on its own, it’s a winner.
Then, later in the week, at Zama, I was introduced to the miraculous Manabito Junmai Ginjo Kimoto, a sake whose complexity rivals that of any fine grape wine, and whose flavor profile runs in the direction of melons, mushrooms, a distinct yeasty note, and, as it warms up a bit, bananas. It’s not cheap ($100 for a bottle, $40 for a carafe, $13 for a glass), but it is more than worth it. General manager Bryon Phillips, who also heads up the beverage program here and at the forthcoming CoZara, has assembled a remarkable sake program, and this must be counted among the highlights.
Finally, I found myself swooning over the excellent new pinot noirs from Fulcrum, a producer that, if you’re a fan not just of pinot but of, you know, really good wine in general, you should be seeking out. Their 2011 Gap’s Crown Vineyard, for example, is stunning, with flavors that run the gamut from licorice, cherry and spice to chocolate and plum, traversing a huge range of deliciousness in between. It’s a balanced, wonderful bottle of wine that will pair equally well with sautéed salmon as it will with a burger. Or just enjoy it on its own: Sitting on the couch, with the Super Bowl on the TV, a bottle of Fulcrum will be pretty much spectacular.
I just hope I drink this well next week. But I’m not counting on it.
Dinner with Luke Palladino