Friday, February 28, 2014

Who am I?

It's an age-old query that philosophers, poets, priests, and even common people have posed, but few have found satisfactory answers.  Well, thanks to the Genographic Project of the National Geographic Society, we may be getting closer to an idea of who we are and where we came from.  Using state of the art genetic and computational technologies, they can analyze a person's DNA to give a historical picture of the migrations and interactions of one's ancestors with other peoples in different parts of the world. My sister bought the Genographic Project kit and had me use two mouth swabs to collect DNA that we sent off for analysis.  Two months later...voila!

This is a one page summary of the multi-page findings.  Highlights include learning  that I have Neanderthal DNA and that my paternal and maternal ancestors had very different migrations once they left Africa.  My maternal ancestors migrated to the Middle East and then to Europe, implying perhaps a  agricultural orientation to this side of my family.  On the other hand, the paternal side of the family seems to have included nomadic hunters as they moved out of Africa to Central, Southern, and even Northern Asia before heading to Europe.   The Northern Asia findings were of particular interest since family lore claims that we may have a Native American ancestor.  

As more people participate in the Genographic project, there is the promise af more detailed analysis of our DNA.   While the analysis may not be able to tell you if you are related to the British royal family, it can give a broad picture of "who you are or might be.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Burgundy Comes to Lauzerte

When I first began to drink wine in my university years, I gravitated toward big varietals such as oaky chardonnay, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, and shiraz.  But with time and experience, I learned to appreciate the refinement and eventually prefer other wines like chenin blanc, riesling, barolo, and of course pinot noir. In fact, I still recall one of the greatest bottles of wine I ever enjoyed was a spectacular Grand Echezeaux from Burgundy over a decade ago.  So I looked forward to last Thursday's blind tasting of Burgundy wines at our wine club dinner at the Hotel Quercy.  Each member brought a masked bottle from his collection that would be tasted at random through the course of the meal.

Since all the wines were made from the pinot noir grape, we tried to determine how old they were and what area of Burgundy they come from.  Many of us were not proficient enough to determine if a wine was from the Cote de Beaunes or the Cote de Nuits but we had our favorites among them which showed a nice balance of fruit and acidity and a long finish.

The Meal
Chef Bacou dazzled us with a series of dishes that married well with the best of our wines.



A trio of desserts

The Reveal

The standouts were the following wines which were relatively young vintages, including my 2003 Pommard that was a hit with the club members.   But the Volnay, Santenay, Savigny les Beaunes, and even a 1998 Grand Echezeaux did not measure up to our expectations.

The evening proved yet again the mercurial nature of burgundies: when they are good, they are wonderful but when they are not, they can be disappointing.