From Electrician to Judge: When Law School Optional

 

A Tale of Lawyer Wine

File Feb 21, 8 56 19 PMSince I started this blog, I’ve come across a few really awesome Lawyer Wines. One of them was definitely 19 Crimes. Printed on the corks are the nineteen crimes that the British Government punished with a one-way ticket to Australia during the Victorian Era[1]. Very lawyer appropriate. Another one, while not so much lawyer-specific as nerd-specific, was Cum Laude by Banfi, a lovely Tuscan red blend that made me happily reflect back on my college GPA.

But when I saw the Judge Palmer bottles floating around on Instagram, I knew I had gone to Lawyer Wine heaven. Their motto is “Truth, Justice & California Cabernet.” I think I may have to put that on my tombstone. And what’s even better, is the wine is divine.

File Feb 21, 9 01 32 PMBusiness partners Palmer Emmit and Michael Scorsone released their first wine offerings in December 2015; a 2012 Malbec, a 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and a 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon[2]. The wine is named after Palmer’s grandfather, James W. Palmer, an electrical contractor and pear farmer from Placerville, CA[3]. A tragic accident paralyzed Palmer from the waist down, and he was left needing a new purpose in life. The county supervisor knew Palmer was a good honest man, and when the county judge passed away during his term of office, he immediately thought of Palmer as a replacement. Only one problem. Palmer wasn’t a lawyer. They told him, “All you have to do is pass the bar.[4]” According to his grandson, he studied his ass off and they made him a judge. Judge Palmer was re-elected to the position four times and served for over 20 years before retiring[5]. If that doesn’t give you the warm and fuzzies, your heart is black.

Flash forward 35 years later, and his grandson is making wine in California, inspired by his grandfather’s legacy.  Palmer saw the poignant parallel to be drawn between the role of a judge in the courtroom and their winemaking philosophy. “Native yeast, minimal intervention, terroir driven with the goal to not impart the ‘bias’ of a particular style on the resulting wines.” Talk about full circle. Brilliant.

File Feb 21, 9 00 23 PMHusband and I sampled a bottle in the midst of an unannounced snow storm with some friends[6]. We decanted the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, made from grapes sourced from the Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard in Rutherford, Napa Valley. This wine was complex, but light and airy at the same time. Slightly sweet with a raspberry finish. Hints of cherry tobacco all over the place. I got cedar on the nose, maybe even some licorice. Not a typical Cabernet by any means, but, as it turns out, 2011 was not a typical year. Lots of rain and an unusually cool growing season left the grapes needing a bit more love and attention, and Palmer and Michael certainly made it work.

On their heartfelt website, Palmer and Michael urge you to “try a bottle with a jury of your peers,” and I heartily concur. For now you’ll have to head over to their website to buy a bottle while they work on expanding distribution. With wine this good though, they probably won’t need it! Until the next bottle of Judge Palmer, Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Where can I sign up for this punishment? And can I talk to the travel agent about switching the destination to Italy?
[2] Guess which one I tried first?
[3] Also known as Hangtown during the California Gold Rush. I’ll let you figure out why. #offwithhishead
[4] #NoBigDeal. Not.
[5] Goes to show you that law school really is pointless.
[6] Thanks for letting us use your snow blower! I still haven’t found our shovel…

Shameless Plug
And if you haven’t voted yet, head over to Facebook and vote for Wine Esquire in the Milessima Wine Blog Awards. Winning means I’d get to head across the pond for a wine adventure in Bordeaux. Read more here. Or just go vote. Cheers!

Another #Under25Challenge Winner

Last Saturday afternoon I found myself in the middle of New Jersey at some sort of mad fun house[1] for a birthday party with a gaggle of seven year olds. It was exhausting[2]. I’ve never been in a place with so much stimulation. Ever. When the madness was over, I got in my car and cranked the Beethoven, because while I love me some Disney music, three hours of The Bare Necessities and Kidz Bop, had me on edge. Since I found myself in a new and unknown world, I broke out Yelp to find me a nice little wine shop so I could pick out my #Under25Challenge selection. The reviews for Merit Fine Wines looked good, so I made my way over.

File Feb 20, 9 54 36 AMI walked in[3] and was greeted by what could only have been the owner. I went into my spiel. “I do this thing on Twitter[4]…I need you to recommend your best wine for $25 or under…” After looking at my quizzically for a second, he smiled and said, “Well ok, I think I can help.” He took me all around the store offering me different varietals. Did I want an Italian, a sparkling? Maybe a Cabernet, or a Burgundy? He had options. His only concern was what bottle to choose. The store was quaint, with rows and rows of riddling racks[5] holding quite a diverse selection of wine. I went with the Cabernet[6] over the Burgundy at the suggestion of my new wine friend. I also loved the label[7].

This week’s Twitter chat was a blast. Even more engagement than last month, and several participants ended up loving their new wine[8]. I didn’t get a chance to talk about my wine again because it was so fast paced, so I figured I’d get it out in a blog. If you missed out, put it on your calendar for next month, March 16 at 8 PM EST. Happy wine hunting!

Cheers!


To:                  Alleged Blog Readers
From:              WineEsquire
Date:               February 16, 2016
Wine:              2012 Fortnight Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley


File Feb 20, 9 55 01 AMGiven that we don’t have much time before we pass out and die from our day of healthy eating[9], the wine did not have much time for breathing. Straight out of the bottle, it was one of the deepest, darkly purple wines I’ve ever seen. The air bubbles were profound, even without an aerator. And they were gorgeously purple. On the nose I got a hint of sharpie and some fruit I couldn’t quite place. The first sip revealed a slight sour twist on the finish. A bit dry, almost chalky, but not in a way that’s unpleasant. A touch of raspberries and a leathery richness gave it a great mouth feel.

It was a great complement to the meal, though it could easily drink on its own too. If I was into buying bottles over again, I’d give this one another go. I bought it in New Jersey for $24.99, not the cheapest, but not overpriced either. Seems to be the going rate for the bottle even online. Give it a go and let me know what you think!

Wine Dossier
The website for Fortnight Winery is sparse; some great photos but not much information on the wine, the winemaker or anything really. I did a bit of digging and found that this wine is part of the Farm Collective, a portfolio of small Napa wineries run by a group of farmers that come together to make wine. Their motto is in Ex Agris Vita – In Agriculture Comes Life. Bertus Van Zyl, a South African native who, by the age of 15 knew he wanted to be a winemaker,[10] is the head winemaker for the collective.

File Feb 20, 10 03 31 AMThe 2012 vintage was a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Malbec and 9% Merlot[11] coming from four different Napa vineyards. Harvested between September 27 and October 31, 2012,[12] it was finally bottled on August 28, 2014 after spending twenty months in a mix of French, American and new oak barrels.

I liked this piece from the website:

A Fortnight is a unit of time equal to 14 days (2 weeks). And while every harvest season is the culmination of a full 12 months of rigorous preparation and strenuous effort to produce the best wines possible, there is a specific and almost magical moment during that period when we must decide our jumping off point and pick that very first cluster. From that point forward the journey has begun in transforming beautifully ripened fruit into exceptionally crafted wine.

It’s quite fascinating to think how much work goes into each bottle of wine that we so casually drink. Taking a second to step back and consider the number of people involved in the process is really necessary to appreciate how lucky we are to have infinite wines at our fingertips.

And on that deep note, I leave you to your wine!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] The website touts there’s over “100,000 square feet of fun!” More like 100,000 square feet of insanity. And germs. #handsanitizer
[2] Fun, but exhausting.
[3] After parallel parking like a boss. #citylife
[4] He clearly doesn’t do Twitter.
IMG_7704[5] You may recall that Madame Clicquot invented these racks back in the day. See Celebrating In Style, Wine Dossier.
[6] Surprise, surprise.
[7] And yes, it is ok to choose your wine based on the label, or at least have it be a contributing factor in the final decision. #PrettyThings
[8] Alas, it didn’t work so well for all, but hey, you win some, you lose some. Life’s all about adventures.
[9] The past week, Husband and I have been eating healthy. Green juice in the morning, yogurt at lunch, mint and lemon water throughout the day. By time we get home we’re STARVING. Our wine pairing feast that evening was broccoli cheddar soup followed by Cajun salmon with garlic spinach and spaghetti squash hash browns. Delicious, but most importantly, quick.
[10] Smart kid.
[11] Remember that legally, a wine needs only 75% of a single varietal in order to label it as that grape. Most bottles that are listed as single varietal wines are actually blends.
[12] It seems that vintners consistently harvest on Halloween; I knew it was my favorite holiday for a reason.

File Feb 20, 9 58 21 AMAnd if you haven’t voted yet, head over to Facebook and vote for WineEsquire in the Milessima Wine Blog Awards. Winning means I’d get to head across the pond for a wine adventure in Bordeaux. Read more here. Or just go vote. Cheers!

 

Of Wine and Food

File Jan 26, 10 09 38 AMAs we round out the last day of the first month of the new year[1], I think to myself, wow, I drank some pretty good wine so far. If that’s any indication of how 2016 is going to go, I’m a happy camper.

Last night we entertained a few friends, cooked some food and, of course, drank some wine[2]. While Husband does do the cooking in our house, someone has to get him the ingredients,[3] and that’s where I come in. Usually, my trips to the grocery store are calm if not enjoyable. My favorite store[4] is down the road, the employees know my name, and they always have what I need. Well apparently there was a run on rosemary and olives yesterday because I came up empty handed. I wouldn’t have been concerned, except that we had already planned the dinner menu, which consisted of lemon, rosemary and olive chicken. Drat. I figured I’d go to the next grocery store just a hop, skip and a jump down the road and pick up what I needed. Well, lemme just tell you, this was a whole different experience from what I’m used to. From the second I pulled into the parking lot[5], I couldn’t wait to leave. The store was full of people[6], the lines were long and there was STILL no rosemary! Thankfully an employee checked in the back and found some random rosemary kebab sticks, so after filling up on olives at the olive bar, I was able to continue on my journey[7].

File Jan 31, 9 59 35 AMUpon my reentry into the world of calm, I immediately declared that it was wine time. Our first bottle was the lovely 2013 Pomp + Power Syrah by Earthshaker Wines, a branch of 90+ Cellars. This was made from 100% California Syrah grapes grown in Knights Valley, the warmest of the AVAs within Sonoma County. Fairly light, a bit of deep fruit, with a good silky mouth feel. Perfect for de-stressing pre-appetizers. It drank well on its own without food, and at $15.99 a bottle, you can’t go wrong. I’m a sucker for pretty purple labels too.

File Jan 31, 9 58 48 AMAs we waited for our last dinner guest to arrive[8], we broke open the next bottle and tore into the loaf of bread[9]. There’s nothing better than Greek olive oil[10], fresh bread and cheddar cheese. The 2013 Cutruzzola Vineyards Pinot Noir we opened was a knockout. There was serious Wow Factor here[11]. Not what I was expecting at all. Surprisingly there was nothing on the nose. Literally nothing, but when I took the first sip I was taken aback. This was not a light and forgettable Pinot. It was smooth, luscious and full of raspberries, with a hint of sweetness on the edge. And when I say smooth, I mean it was super smooth. Like, velvety smooth. This hails from a small vineyard in Cambria[12], California, a seaside town mid-way between San Francisco and LA on the Central Coast. The winery produces just two varietals on seven acres of vines, Pinot Noir and Riesling. I just read on their website that they expect this bottle will improve with age[13], but it was stellar right now, so go ahead and place your order before it sells out!

File Jan 31, 10 03 36 AMAt long last, our final dinner guest arrived, so we moved to the dining room and settled in for the main course. We chose a recipe out of the At Blanchard’s Table, A Trip to the Beach cookbook in honor of our upcoming trip to Anguilla[14]. Pan Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Olives and Rosemary. Per usual, Husband outdid himself. This was to die for. No knives needed because the chicken, which had been simmering for hours, cut with a fork. The extra trip for the rosemary and olives was well worth it; the flavors melded together into a culinary masterpiece, which gently rested on a bed of simple yet rich mashed potatoes[15].

File Jan 31, 9 59 21 AMWe had decanted the 2013 Francesco Cirelli Montepulciano D’Abruzzo during our bread gorging, appetizer course, so it had a chance to open up. These grapes are grown by Francesco Cirelli on his organic farm in Abruzzo where he grows garlic and barley, makes olive oil, wine and pasta, and tops it off with free range geese. You can even stay at his bed and breakfast and enjoy the inner workings first hand[16]. Does life get better? The wine itself was full bodied and on the drier side, the tannins were definitely at work. A bit heartier than the Pinot, it paired perfectly with the Anguillan feast.

I had a Riesling chilling to pair with our dessert[17], but once I got the hiccups, I transitioned to Sleepy Time Tea, and our guests went home. Cheers to the end of a great dinner on a great day in a great month!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Say that three times fast.
File Jan 31, 10 05 14 AM[2] Obviously.
[3] And chop the garlic and wash the dishes. #souschef
[4] Three cheers for Price Chopper! Someone make me an ambassador!
[5] Where I was immediately cut off from a parking spot by a pair of geriatrics. Was that mean? I feel bad, but it’s true.
[6] Granted, it was Saturday afternoon, and apparently everyone needs to go to the grocery store on Saturday afternoon.
[7] Where, against my better judgment got into one of those self-check lines, behind a woman with way too many items for the self-check, and ended up having to go find a human line because the blinking light went on not even halfway through all of her items. I almost put my stuff down and left. #patienceisavirtue
[8] She runs on Wright Time, which is about 20-40 minutes after everyone else is already there.
[9] Sometimes I wonder if we waste our time cooking when there’s so much bread and cheese in the world. #keepitsimple
[10] Imported by our dear friend who claims he works for some global company, but in reality is really a CIA operative. #statesecrets
[11] No literally, I took my first sip and said, “Wow!
[12] Cambria is the Latin name for Wales, so basically this wine came from Wales, which means the Price of Wales has had it, so clearly Will and Kate love it. #SixDegreesofKevinBacon
File Jan 31, 10 02 08 AM[13] Oops.
[14] Countdown is on. 40 days until paradise.
[15] It looked much prettier while it was simmering then it did once it was on our plate, so I’ll spare you ugly food photos.
[16] Added to the bucket list.
[17] Which was homemade store-bought chocolate cheesecake.

 

EarthShaker Pomp and Power Syrah
Cutruzzola Vineyards Pinot Noir
Francesco Cirelli Montepulciano D’Abruzzo

#Under25Challenge Round 2

If you read my blog on the regular[1], then you should know about the #Under25Challenge. If not, please refer to your official Invitation to Participate. The concept, in a nutshell, is each month, we’ll all find a new wine store, make a new wine friend, and buy a new bottle of wine for under $25, then we’ll get on the Tweeter and talk about it for an hour. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the perfect thing to do on a #TipsyTuesday evening.

So last night was our first #Under25Challenge Twitter Chat. The procrastinator in me decided to wait until yesterday evening to get my bottle. I’m embarrassed to say it, but from my office window, the same office window I’ve had for almost seven years, I can see a wine shop. A fine wine shop. And I’ve never gone in. It’s the strangest thing, because I’ve been to most of the other wine shops in the vicinity of my office[2], but never stopped in to the one that’s closest to me. I guess it was meant to be that I ventured there last night.

File Jan 20, 5 38 26 PMI walked in and explained my crazy mission. My new wine friend definitely thought I was delusional[3]. But we got to talking and as it turns out, not only was he a wine guy, he is a wine loving lawyer[4]! What are the chances of that?

I went with my new wine friend’s first recommendation, an Argentinian Malbec. There was something about going with his gut instinct that was kinda fun, even though I’m not typically a huge Malbec fan. I figured this was the time to try something new and move away from my favorite go-to California reds.

File Jan 20, 5 37 27 PMThe chat itself was exhilarating. An hour goes super-fast when you’re trying to moderate and participate with a bunch of wine friends! I didn’t even discuss my buy, but I think those who participated had a good time. Everyone commented how fun it was to go explore a new store and give some new grapes a try. I’m looking forward to next month and seeing what new adventures we collectively experience. I’d love for you to join us! February 16, 8 PM EST, be there or be square!

To:                   Alleged Blog Readers
From:              WineEsquire
Date:               January 19, 2016
Wine:              Punto Final Reserva Malbec 2013

There’s definitely vegetables on the nose. Husband gets tomato, I get green pepper. When I sip, my immediate taste reaction is cigar smoke followed by chewy tannins. This has been open and breathing for about an hour. Some thick slow legs cascade down my beautiful Riedel glass and the color on this is beautiful – deep blood red, almost black, with just a hint of color around the edges of the glass. There’s a slight sweetness hiding behind the tannins which is very interesting. Medium bodied with an almost spicy after taste. I’m not sure I’m sold on the Malbec thing, though I was told this is an excellent specimen.

If you’re partial to Malbecs give it a try and let me know what you think. If you’re more of a Cab fan, stick to that and send me a photo. Cheers!

Wine Dossier
File Jan 20, 5 53 30 PM
The producer is Bodega Renacer, a fairly new winery established in 2004 in Perdriel, Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina. According to their one sheet, the name Punto Final, means “final period” or “full stop,” and symbolizes the point at which the Bodega Renacer winemaking team has accomplished their common goal: a truly outstanding wine.

They’re committed to sustainable practices, and the Recycle Queen in me gives them an extra thumbs up for this. Notably, they collect water from the Andes Mountains into natural ponds and use this to water the vines.

The grapes in this bottle were sourced from old vine vineyards, the average age of which is 80 years. After fermenting in stainless steel, the wine rested in French Oak Barrels for a year before bottling.

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] And since you’re reading this, I assume you do read my blog. If you don’t then you should read my blog. Sign up for updates at the top.
[2] Obviously.
[3] He also wasn’t quite sure how the Tweeter thing worked, but by the end of the night I had a new follower.
[4] Trying to get out of the #lawyerlife grind, hence, his Tuesday nights at the wine shop. #goodplan