Chef Ted Habiger approaches wine tasting a bit differently from most. For him, it's about getting the picture of the wine before it was bottled.
"My wife and I joke about it all the time. I understand earthy, but I don't necessarily understand chocolate or vanilla flavors. Instead of flavor, I try and think about the winemaker's planting decisions, the taste of the grape, and the underlying flavors of what's in the soil," Habiger says.
Today, he gives his own take on a few of his favorites from the wine list at Room 39. On Wednesday, he discussed his career in and out of Kansas City, and yesterday, he explained why fish presents the greatest challenge to him as a chef.
I'd recommend the Rene Leclerc Bourgogne, a Pinot Noir. I fell in love with the 2005 vintage. Right now, we're pouring the 2009. I bought six cases after trying it. I've had different experiences with it. At the restaurant, I taste it and think about food. When I'm having dinner with friends or my parents, it's a completely different wine. With my parents, I was really disappointed with it. I'm not sure what that means; I'll have to ask them. It's something you can probably get at Gomer's for $18.
The Craggy Range "Te Muna Road" Sauvignon Blanc '09. I want to visit this winery [Craggy Range]. It's in New Zealand with this beautiful red clay and lush countryside. The wine is very balanced. It doesn't have too much of a citrus or grassy note. It's right there in the middle. Not super thin or too thick or too much like overripe fruit. Wine shouldn't make you thirsty. I want it to feel like my thirst is being quenched. I can enjoy it with fish and scallops or on my back porch.
Siduri Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir. This is my favorite American Pinot Noir of all time. Gary Pisoni is a real firecracker. He claims that there have been two babies conceived in his vineyard and one death. Up in the Santa Lucia Highlands, the wine has a slightly different characteristic. I can recognize it a mile away, like umami. It's a feeling, I just can't exactly describe it. It's not bitter. It's not sweet. It's almost yeasty with good cherry flavors.
The Rene Leclerc, Pisoni and Craggy Range are all currently on the wine list at Room 39.