What We Have Been Drinking (Birthday Edition)

My birthday was yesterday, and it was unlike any birthday I have had in my many, many years on this planet (or any other planet for that matter). Normally, I do not like to make a big deal about my birthday since that would likely involve a lot of people and inevitably they would all want to talk to me. It is not that I am anti-social–far from it but, believe it or not, I really do not like talking to other people about me. I realize that the fact that I have a blog and just about every post that I write contains at least a modicum of personal information, but I guess I approach social interactions as I would conducting research: I already know a bunch about me–tell me about you.

No, my birthday usually consists of a quiet meal at home (if I had my way, I would cook my own birthday dinner since I love to cook–but my wife, who is a fantastic cook, would refuse to allow me to do so) with my wonderful family, followed by cake (which at this point is more for my boys than for me), and then a present or two that I would have told my wife not to buy.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, this year’s birthday was going to be different. This year, the annual Wine Blogger’s Conference started essentially yesterday, on my birthday. Yes, the actual conference starts later today (August 13th), but the “Pre-Conference Excursion” hosted by the Seneca Lake Wine Trail started yesterday in Corning New York, promptly at 1:00 p.m.

That meant that on the morning of my birthday, I was up at 6:00 a.m. packing (I hate packing the night before–I guess I lack the necessary organizational skills), and then loading up the car for the four-hour drive up to Corning.

As chance would have it, a couple of bloggers, instead of flying into Elmira-Corning airport, opted to fly into Philadelphia and drive up to Corning.  The first is the lovely and eloquent Melanie Ofenloch, the Dallas Wine Chick, and the other was Thea Dwelle of Luscious Lushes. I sat here for a while, trying to think of an adjective or even a host of words that could describe Thea. For those of you that know her, you realize what a fruitless exercise that was, so I will just leave it at that.

Thea (left) and Melanie in our kitchen.

Thus, on my birthday eve, I invited the two of them over to our humble abode for a little pre-Pre-Conference Excursion dinner. My wife had to work late, so I got to cook, but being a little short on time, I kept it simple: marinated tri-tip, roasted Brussels sprouts, and mini-potatoes and leeks.

Considering that there were two widely popular wine bloggers coming over for dinner, I could not pull “just anything” from the cellar.

I debated for a while on the champagne, but in the end opted with the Tête de Cuvée form perhaps my favorite “large” producer:

1998 Gosset Celebris Champagne: Retail $100. A classic older champagne with a bit of effervescence and a caramel nose. On the palate, caramel and lemon, with a hint of funk–this is why I love old champagne. Gets a whoa and an Outstanding. 92-94 Points.

Next, given my recent bad luck with older white Burgundies, I pulled out a bottle that I had bought in France about a decade ago. I figured if there was any premature oxidation (premox) I would get some sympathy from this group:

2004 Girardin Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru: Retail $85. Lemon creamsicle on the nose with a slightly golden color. But no premox! Yea! On the palate an elegant wine. I have a few more bottles but worried about waiting. Whoa x2 (since I really feared the worst here). Outstanding. 92-94 Points.

For the next wine, we actually did head down into the disaster that is my cellar–there are wine bottles everywhere (and where there is no wine, there are bikes or bike gear). Thea immediately was drawn to this bottle, which I have to say, was a great match for the beef:

IMG_42941988 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve: Retail $125? Red berry and a bit stewed but I could tell this was going to get a whoa. I was wrong. This gets multiple whoas. Maybe three. Not drinking too soon (as the tannins are completely integrated) but man this is good. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.

Later in the evening (after the birthday cake that my wife bought–the main reason she was late), Thea mentioned that she was craving Pinot, so I brought up three from which she could choose. She opted for this (great choice):

IMG_42972005 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir: Retail $50. Whoa. Cherry cola and raspberry on the nose. Great Sta Rita fruit with eucalyptus and bing cherry. I love Clos Pepe and this is why. Wes Fagen, the winemaker, told me on Facebook that this might have been their best vintage ever. Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.

The fact that I really did not celebrate my birthday on the actual day (nothing says “Happy Birthday” more than taking 45 minutes to move 2 miles on the Schuykill expressway in Philadelphia as I did on the morning of my actual birthday), spending the night before with my family and a couple of friends was pretty darned special.


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Champagne, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Wine and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to What We Have Been Drinking (Birthday Edition)

  1. Great way to celebrate your birthday! I don’t know Thea personally but adore Melanie! Sorry i had to cancel the conference but family takes precedent. See you next year for sure!!!


  2. Beth says:

    Happy Birthday! See you soon!


  3. barnraised says:

    Well, happy birthday!


  4. Happy Birthday! Sorry we won’t be at the conference to officially meet. It heading to Paso to bottle enjoy th conference and the post bday fun


  5. Happy Birthday – you share yours with my brother who will no doubt be swallowing Rioja as I type 🙂


  6. A good friend of mine had a birthday yesterday as well. (I made lasagna for her.) Happy birthday! 🙂


  7. Alors, un très joyeux Anniversaire, avec un peu de retard…


  8. Fiona says:

    Veels geluk op jou verjaarsdag, gister! Those impromptu celebrations are the best! Seems we’re all our & about! 35th school reunion accompanied by lots of wine of (sometimes indeterminate and) varied quality, but that was secondary! More of that anon. Have fun and happy celebrations at your conference!


  9. chef mimi says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Jeff!


  10. I’ve been gone on vacation with no internet or cell, but wanted to wish you a happy belated birthday! OK here, goes: Happy Birthday to The Drunken Cyclist! 🙂


  11. manuchettan says:

    It’s a little too late. Yet, I would like to wish you many many happy returns of the day!


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