What do wine writers do for their birthday? They drink wine, of course. My daughter, son-in-law, and 16 month grandson, Carter, took grandpa to a birthday dinner at Palate, in Glendale, one of their favorite choices. I had only been once before,at the bar outside the restaurant proper, to order several wines, a few appetizers, pair them, and talk about them on my radio segments on the What’s Cooking Show.
This time, prompted by an email from Steve Goldun, Wine Director of the Palate Wine store (and a partner of the restaurant), I went early to dinner to visit the wine bar and store. Their 600 bottle collection specializes in Burgundies, Rhones, German and Piedmontese wines. Steve also makes his own wine — which I ended up tasting, thanks to his hospitality, and promptly bought a bottle to close out the coming dinner.
So, waiting for the dinner hour and my brood to arrive, I tasted. First was a Mas Torrontes 08, from Mendoza, Argentina. I had a nice 3.5 ounce pour, and enjoyed the great floral nose. The wine itself, of medium body, had20grapefruit on my palate (which observation surprised the crew), jasmine, melon, and minerality, ending with a medium finish.
We pushed on, to a Saint-Eugenie Corbieres05, from the Languedoc area of France.. I loved the chocolate on the nose, along with aromas of baking spices. The wine needed more aeration, but should be great with food.
Steve Goldun’s White Dog Syrah05, from Lerner Vineyards in Santa Barbara, was a treat for me. Retailing at $29.99, the wine had good, forward fruits, was smooth , medium weight and medium plus finish. I liked this local effort.
Next we went on to Essencia de Monte Yecla 2008,, from Spain, which had licorice along with a big earthy nose and also fairly earthy on the palate. I liked its meaty qualities, with more licorice. I mention this wine even though it may not be currently available.
To Portugal we went to taste the Muralnes de Moncao Vino Verde2008(available at $14.99 the bottle),demonstrating a most floral nose, along with very strong Albarino similarities. On my palate, I experienced tangerine, again grapefruit, and wet stone. This was a great taste, indeed a lovely wine.
Clutching Steve’s White Dog, I marched into the restaurant. By now I had seen Octavio Becerra. Chef-Partner, Marla Bowron, pouring generously for me at the wine bar, and General Manager Francois Renard.
It was time for serious eating, beginning with the Berkshire Potted Pork, pickled sweet onions and cucumbers which I really liked, and Scallops with manila clams and beans, which I thought excellent .I also tasted the pork belly with apricots and grits, a very good dish, and the skirt steak with spinach et/al. Something for everybody to taste.
And, oh, by the way — the White Dog fit in very nicely, indeed.