Hippo Manchester
September 29, 2005

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TV worth drinking

Prime-time equals good television plus wine

By Tim Protzman 

Sometimes wine has a way of mirroring life. You have this bottle youíre saving for a special occasion and when you open it, it seems, well, not really worth the wait. But sometimes you pull a cork on a little inauspicious vintage and its charm and complexity overwhelm you. Youíre bathed in the light of the totally unexpected. Thatís how I felt this week about the new television season.

Most people think my life is a gay whirlwind of tastings and parties. Itís not. More than not itís an evening sitting in my little garret sampling and taking notes. Most of the time the TV is on to drown out the ponderous silence. Thatís how Iíve discovered Veronica Mars, high school private eye. Last season she solved the lurid murder of her slightly promiscuous best friend, which leaves us with the question, ďHowís she gonna top that?Ē

Which is the same question I had after sampling a 1994 Charles Krug Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon. ($55)  The 1994 was so good, that the 1995 seemed cursed never to achieve that level of perfection. So with the same sense one has at the harvest following an extraordinary vintage hereís my 2005 Fall Preview TV & Wine Diary. Letís see how those network executives top last yearís groundbreaking season.

Monday, Sept. 19, 2005

Hot and muggy with some clouds, cooler after dark. Didnít watch much TV, had writersí group. Saw a PBS rerun of a show about  the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Had a Beaulieu Vineyards Coastal Estates Private Cellar 2003 Pinot Noir, $8.99. Nice, but like the rerun it had trouble holding my attention. Fruit and subdued flavors that lacked tannin but werenít all that exciting and vibrant.

Tuesday Sept. 20, 2005

Less humid with a slight breeze. Caught part of the season premiere of The Gilmore Girls and thought that this oneís a little past its prime. Drinkable, but with fading favor and watery tannins. Hung around on the WB Network to see Rory Gilmoreís old boy-friend in his new show, Supernatural. Thought it slow and shallow like a bad Chianti. Zapped to NBC where Jason Lee (hate him) was starring as Earl, in a show about a loser trying to work off his karmic debt. Loved the show. Sampled a 2001 Villa Antorini from Tuscany, $16.99. Not a traditional Italian blend (although the Indicazione Geografica Tipica on the label means typical indication of the wines produced in the geographic region), this wine is 60 percent Sangiovese, 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 15 percent Merlot and 5 percent Syrah with a delicious structure and faint fruit that lends itself to cheeses and pasta. A wonderful accompaniment to the B-list TV shows, even though My Name is Earl made me thirsty for a beer.

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2005

Like a fabulous Napa vineyard whose winemaker moves to Oregon to make Pinot Noir, Lost got a little sidetracked with its season premiere. Hopefully it will pick up steam. Wanted more mysterious island adventures, less backstory. During the numerous commercials I switched to Barely Legal, a show whose label has all the appeal of a jug of Carlo Rossi Paisano. But the pace, the writing and the acting made it a sleeper hit with me and the slightly overweight Don Johnson playing a burnt-out lawyer who takes on an 18-year-old genius as his partner added the extra spice. Both shows paired well with a delicious 2003 Vincent Domaine des Morats Saint-Veran, $13.99. This exceptional white Burgundy is lively and fresh without the oak and pretense of most Chardonnays. Good easy sipping and a universal food pair-ability. Like sauterne and foie gras, Lost and Invasion seem a good pairing, but alas, the latter didnít catch my attention. Maybe too many real-life hurricanes or the slow soap opera pace didnít quite click with me. But the wine I chose, a 2000 Beaulieu Vineyards Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, softened the blow. The wine was rich and deep, with minimal tannins and a bit of structure and muscle that will develop in the next four years. At $20.49 itís possible to buy a few to drink and to cellar.

Thursday, Sept. 22, 2005

More fall like in the evening with a southern breeze. Having been fired many times in many ways, I enjoyed watching Martha Stewartís take on The Apprentice. Sheís less animated than the Donald, but I loved the scene just after the firing where she writes a personal thank-you note to the castoff. Flipped through Survivor and ER and while I liked the kickoff, came away with a sense that Thursday night is no longer the home of the great big, gigantic Line-up. Unfortunately the wine I sampled, a 2001 Louis Jadot Pernand-Vergelesses Clos de la Croix Pierre, $27.49, confirmed my suspicions. Big price, great producer (negociant) so-so vintage. Understated, good with spicy food, but nothing big going on in this bottle.

Friday, Sept. 23, 2005

Friday night is the loneliest night of the week. Unless itís clear and chilly and people come over to play poker. No TV tonight but served a nice 2003 William Hill Reserve Chardonnay, $17.89. Paired well with homemade calzones. Melony fruit and some citrus hints at the finish. Not your everyday wine, but good for an informal get-together.

Saturday, Sept, 24, 2005

Cold. Went to bed at 7:45p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 25, 2005

Juicy! Thatís what Desperate Housewives promises us this year. So with a couple a friends we shared two juicy wines:

A 2000 Chateau Pontac Monplaisir from Pessac-Leognan, $17.99. Tough and lean like Mike the Plumber but with a sassy walk like Edie. This 60 percent Merlot, 40 percent Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux blend presents a cinnamon, motor oil and plum fragrance with a structured flavor of currants, blueberry and watercress.

And a 1996 Louis Jadot Beaune Les Avaux, $32.44 With the grace and elegance of an old ocean liner this wine made its debut just as Lynette (Felicity Huffman) was preparing for an interview. Everyone chose this one as the clear favorite. The tannins had been sanded by time into these wonderfully smooth panels. The fruit was clear but faint and each flavor got its time to shine. The Wine Rookies thought it was the best theyíve tasted in a while. Grape, plum, elderberry fruit with a tannic edginess of an old-fashioned rock cherry tea.

However fine the wine was we were left a little anxious about Housewives. While it was juicy, we long for that quirky tannic edge that it became so famous for. Perhaps next week when itís breathed a little, we can serve it with a spicy Zinfandel or Pinotage.