Archive for 2000 Phelps Insignia


Posted in Favorite Wines, Food and Wine Lists, Info on Wine, Tasting Notes, Wine Lists with tags , , , , , , , on July 27, 2010 by ballymote

When it comes to choosing my Top Five wines of the past year a couple come quickly to mind. A few others take some thought. After giving it that needed amount of thought I have reduced a year of joyous wine consumption down to a quintet of memorable elixirs. The first three I mention were all extremely enjoyable and helped make either a dinner or get together a special event.

Coming in at #5 of my best wines was the 2007 AUTEUR, Sonoma, Pinot Noir. I had this during a great meal at Blackbird in Collingswood, NJ back in March. Here is what I wrote in my post at that time “2007 Auteur, Sonoma, Pinot Noir. Everything I had heard about Auteur wines said they needed lots of time open to reflect their true flavors. I uncorked this bottle on Friday morning and left it in the fridge until it was time to go to dinner. The wine was a dark ruby color, much darker than most Pinots and actually drank more like a cabernet. Great, intense flavors that gave a rich mouthfeel and a lingering finish. It’s the kind of wine that you wish you had a case of in reserve.”

Checking in at #4 on my best wines list was the 2005 Larkmead, Oakville Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon. This one was enjoyed up in New York at the Marriott Hotel with Jerry and JoAnne B. prior to dinner at Tribeca Grill back in November. This is what I posted at that time “The Larkmead showed much better and although Parker gave it a 92, I think all of us thought it deserved higher. I’d give this one a 94. It’s not quite as full-bodied as the O’Shaughnessy but it felt more balanced and the flavors were crisp and precise with undertones of rich spices and blackberries. 

Numero 3 was another classic that helped make dinner at Gilmore’s in West Chester a Top 5 Dining Experience. The 2000 Phelps INSIGNIA was a first glass drinking treat that evening and prompted these words in that late March post “The  Insignia seemed to me to be underrated by the experts (94 WS, 91 Parker). It displayed class and strength and loads of smooth plum and blackberry flavors that could stand up to any steak or lamb dish. I’d compare this to any other Cabernet blend in the $100 price range.”

It was a tough decision on these next two wines because both of them were true highlights. After much soul-searching, my number 2 wine was the 2006 Mollydooker, VELVET GLOVE. This wine was so special I devoted an entire post to singing it’s praises. Here is what I wrote at that time. 

The Wine Advocate scored the 2006 Mollydooker Velvet Glove 99 points and Wine Spectator bestowed it with 97. Yesterday afternoon, with my wife Kathy and our friends Jerry B. and his wife, Joann,  we popped and poured this Aussie powerhouse. They had often teased me that I had a phobia about opening my “good stuff” and that one day, when I was gone, they would be toasting me with all of the bottles that I had never opened through the years. Well, the Velvet Glove will no longer be one of those wines.

Much too intense for even the heartiest of red meats we sipped this delicious wine with some cheese and crackers prior to going to dinner. There may not be another wine anywhere that is so appropriately named. The nose virtually filled the room with a sweet bouquet of berries and lavender before it even hit the glass. The first sip grabs you like, like…ok, I’ll say it, like a velvet glove!.  We all thought it reminded us of those 2001 and 2002 Shirvingtons which were also the handiwork of Sarah and Sparky Marquis. It should be mentioned this blockbuster wine checks in at 16.5% alcohol so be prepared.

Sweet, dark berries of all types, coated in vanilla cream and spice, fill the palate  with a liquid smorgasbord of flavors. The inky purple juice entices with a rich, smooth texture that is totally in balance and devoid of tannins. The finish lingers while you swirl and again breathe in the garden of intense scents that echo from the glass.  All  too soon the last of the magic elixir flows from the bottle and a special moment comes to an end. Mollydooker makes a great variety of wines but the Velvet Glove is their crowning jewel.

It was a great start to a wonderful evening of food and wine and very fitting that when I finally did open some of my “good stuff” that it was in the company of good friends who appreciate good wine.”

My number #1 wine of the past year, edging out the Velvet Glove only because I did not have the lofty expectations on this one, and at $75.00 a bottle it is only one-third the cost of the Velvet Glove is the 2005 Lillian, White Hawk Vineyard, Syrah. Created by winemaker, Maggie Harrison, former assistant to the legendary Manfred Krankl of cult wine SINE QUE NON, this was to me the ultimate in drinkability for the past year. Purchased from the wine list at Tribeca Grill in lower Manhattan, this wine made not only the dinner but the weekend. Here is what I posted at that time. ”  I had always wanted to try this wine having read so many rave reviews on the various wine boards. The fact that winemaker, Maggie Harrison, was the former assistant winemaker at Sine Que Non, which I have also never experienced, added to my excitement. The first taste was magical. Very seldom to you get a wine that delivers everything you are looking for in the beverage you are so passionate about. The Lillian Syrah delivers on so many different levels. It’s dark and brooding and packs so much flavor that you grasp for the right words. If Sarah and Sparky Marquis didn’t already capture the name “Velvet Glove” for their ultra-premium Mollydooker Wine, it would be perfect for the Lillian. It’s like getting hit with a velvet glove. The wine has smoothness down to a science and drinking it with my duck breast entree was like a meal designed in heaven. I’d give this one a 98 and place it #2 on my all-time list of wines. It was, as the sommelier mentioned when pouring at our table, “like drinking Sine Qua Non for one-third the price”.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to finding five more gems like these in the coming year and when I do, all of you will be the first to know.


Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Gilmores Restaurant, Philly BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2010 by ballymote

Ask the people who search out BYOB’s in the Delaware Valley to name their three favorite and there is an excellent chance Gilmores, in West Chester, PA will me mentioned. Prior to last night I had never been there. My wife, Kathy and I joined our friends Gerry and JoAnn B. for an 8:30 reservation at this highly regarded French bistro on Gay Street in West Chester. Gilmores has two seatings each evening at 6:00P.M. and 8:30P.M. and when we arrived the early diners were leaving and we joined about 20 other hungry folks in a very crowded entryway where the walls were decorated with a mix of Philadelphia Magazine Best of Philly Articles and some interesting modern art.

After 10 minutes or so the tables were bussed and re-set and we gained admittance to the intimate dining room. Gilmores seats about 40, and although the room is small, it doesn’t feel crowded. Our waitress, Stephanie, was knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and as she opened our wine she told us about the evening specials.

Earlier in the afternoon, we had enjoyed a bottle of the 2006 Mollydooker Velvet Glove. The wines for our meal were only slightly less formidable. Gerry had brought two excellent choices, the 2000 Phelps Insignia and the 2005 Pahlmeyer Red Blend. The  Insignia seemed to me to be underrated by the experts (94 WS, 91 Parker). It displayed class and strength and loads of smooth plum and blackberry flavors that could stand up to any steak or lamb dish. I’d compare this to any other Cabernet blend in the $100 price range. The Pahlmeyer, too was singing beautifully and certainly deserved it’s 96 Parker rating.  I brought with me the 2007 Hug Cellars, Cedar Lane Vineyard, Arroyo Seco, Pinot Noir. The bright black cherry and raspberry fruit with hints of cedar and spices was perfect with my scallop appetizer.

Then there was the food. So many taste-tempting items on the menu that it was hard to make a single selection. I finally settled on the Coquilles St. Jacques a la Proven, scallops, gratin with wine, garlic and herbs. This dish was simply heaven on a plate. The scallops were sliced thin, cooked perfectly and topped with a wonderful cheese layer and the sauce was just fantastic. Kathy ordered the same thing while Gerry, predictable as ever when he spots fois gras on the menu, ordered the Fois Gras Sautu Navers (from humanely raised ducks), seared fois gras with port braised turnip and celeri mousse. On its arrival he turned silent for the next few minutes and slowly devoured the liver of those poor ducks who gave their life and liver so that he could enjoy this culinary treat. JoAnn was a little adventurous in her selection as she chose the Cappaccino de Homard.

Lobster Soup flavored with Scotch and topped with Anisette foam. It looked like a cup of light-colored coffee and tasted like liquid lobster. She was very pleased with her appetizer.

Each of our entries came with a house salad which consisted of fresh field greens with walnuts in a very tasty dressing that I could not identify. It was really very nice and helped lead into our entrees.

This was the hard part. Some of the evening specials sounded terrific and Gerry was quick to jump on a particular one when Stephanie informed him there were only 5 of these left as the 6:30 crowd had made a run on them. That Item was described as a one and a quarter pound Maine Lobster, removed from the shell and poached in lobster butter served over an ink squid dyed cous cous in a lobster butter sauce. It looked and tasted wonderful and had everyone else not been totally ecstatic over their own choices we might all have opted for the lobster.

I ordered from the menu and had “The Butcher’s Tenderlon”, pan-seared hangar steak with Bernaise Sauce and truffled french fries. The steak was done perfectly, tender, flavorful, the Bernaise Sauce served on the side in an egg cup and the french fries were amazing. I honestly would not have thought you could do french fries in such a way that would make them so uniquely different from so many others. The texture and taste were amazing. Kathy also ordered one of the evening specials.

She chose the Roast Pork in a slivered Truffle Sauce served with fresh green beans and a potato puree. As with all of the entrees, this one was perfectly prepared, the pork bursting with rich flavor and the sauce providing a perfect basting for the meat. This was JoAnn’s third visit to Gilmores and she had the same entree on her first two visits.

She decided to make it three in a row and ordered what she felt was the best item on the entire menu. Poulet Wellington, breast of chicken with truffled mushroom duxelle (think of a mushroom pate) wrapped in puff pastry and served with a Perigourdine sauce. She gave me a taste of it and although I am an avowed mushroom abstainer, I think I could have eaten and thoroughly enjoyed this dish. Maybe they just have to not look like mushrooms!

The wine, the food, the company, it was a great setting and a great meal and it deserved appropriate desserts to top off the evening. Jerry and I chose something cold and creamy.

He chose the Raspberry Sorbet while I selected two different ice creams, the Tahitian Vanilla and the Orange Davilla. As far as I was concerned this was the perfect ending to a wonderful meal. Kathy and Joann split the 2000 calorie Pofiteroles bathed in gooey chocolate, dusted with powdered sugar and surrounding a lone strawberry. There were five Profiteroles and I think the one who only got two was therefore entitled to the strawberry. Somehow, they worked out the division peacefully. On the way out I looked again at the Best of Philly framed articles on the wall and now I understood why they won so many of them. Chef/Owner Peter Gilmore knows how to create great food in a great setting.