Wine

Glory Be to the Blind Taster

I think this was taken around wine #20...

I think this was taken around wine #20…

The other night, one of my accounts spontaneously invited me to a blind tasting party at her house. It was a flattering gesture. I guess once people start inviting you to parties you really are part of the “industry.” Honor aside, I always jump at the chance to blind taste some wine. There’s a certain thrill in being able to determine more or less what’s in your glass based on nothing more than the sight, smell and taste of what’s been poured, especially if there are other people in the room and you’re determining it better than them.

Of course, like any test of wits, you can hedge the bets in your favor if your clever. Continue reading

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Food, Reviews, Wine

My Dinner with Haggis

My friend invited me over for an honest to goodness Burns Supper the other night, and naturally my first thought was “What would be a good wine to pair with haggis?” I texted one of my wine friends asking for advice. Her response: “Don’t.”

It’s certainly an odd, maybe even blasphemous, thing to consider. The Scots aren’t known for their wine consumption, and their food certainly wasn’t developed with wine in mind (only someone drunk on Scotch could have ever thought haggis was a reasonable thing to invent). However, wine is a versatile thing and I figured if I was up to the challenge of eating haggis, there must be a wine out there up to the challenge of pairing with it.

Nothing says "appetizing" like ground organs bursting out of another organ.

Nothing says “appetizing” like ground organs bursting out of another organ.

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Uncategorized

Savoie: The Anomalous Hold Out of Eastern France

SavoieWinesStGermain

One of the joys of being a sales rep for a Euro-centric distribution company (read: the greatest joy) is having access to all kinds of wine that ordinary people wouldn’t give two buns about. In my particular case, I get to choose a selection of wines to take out as samples each week, and this week I decided to throw in a couple wines from the Savoie region of France. Because seriously, when do you ever get to drink wines from the Savoie?

When I say so, that’s when!

In all seriousness though, I know absolutely nothing about the Savoie. Most people don’t, in spite of their reluctance to admit it. Most of those self-styled Sommeliers love to boast about the Cotes d’Or but rarely dare to venture any further South into France. With the Savoie, you’re not just venturing South, you’re venturing EAST! The most exotic of all cardinal directions!

Savoie Truffle

The Savoie (pronounced sa-vwah) is an oft overlooked region in the relative-far-east of France, butting right up against the French alps, more or less bordering Italy and Switzerland. The region is, as one should expect of a place near the alps, MOUNTAINOUS, and the wines produced there reflect these alpine conditions in a fairly direct way: dry, mineral rich, with unusual character and limited fruit. Classically, we’re talking about wines (primarily white) that exhibit lighter bodies, lots of acidity, and curious notes of pepper and herbs. To further complexify the situation (the word complicate wasn’t complex enough to convey this concept), the region almost exclusively employs varietals that you’ve never even heard of, that you never really see anywhere else in the world. Chasselas, Jacquère, Altesse for whites and Mondeuse for reds? I mean, that last one sounds like an exhuberent French exclamation, not a sub-species of Vitis Vinifera. Sure, you’ve got some Chardonnay, Marssanne, and Gamay to keep things a little familiar, but on the whole the Savoie isn’t interested in playing your familiarity game. They do wines their way and it’s worked out fine for them for the last couple centuries. So stand down!

What all of this basically translates to is: for the majority of wine drinkers, the Savoie is not a wine region you really need to concern yourself with. For us wine nerds, however, what could be more enticing? “A wine region that NORMAL drinkers don’t need to concern themselves with?” Sign me up!

Because you don’t walk into a De Beers outlet when you’re looking for diamonds in the rough!

So anyway, for samples this week I took out the two wines I thought would be most interesting/enticing to my customers: a white and a red that come in around $18-$22 retail each, respectively.

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Reviews, Wine Reviews

BevMo 2 For 1 Roundup Review Part 1: White Wine

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It really pains me to advertise for Beverages & More (especially when I’m not getting paid to do it), but alas, being an employee for them means I end up tasting a lot of their wine. That said, there’s some decent stuff on the 2-for-1 Sale (or the 5 Cent Sale, if you live in California or Arizona) if you know what to look for, and with the sale wrapping up in less than a week on July 8, I figured I’d save you all the trouble of trying to figure out whether or not Wilfred Wong’s gratuitous 90+ point ratings are on the level and lend you a copy of my BevMo Cliff’s Notes, which I’ve been compiling over the last few years.

I’m breaking this thing up into two parts, so congratulations white wine drinkers: I’m starting with you.

Shrimp reviews upcoming.

Shrimp reviews upcoming.

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Commentary

Wine: Eternal In Our Minds, Not On Our Shelves

old-crusty-wine-bottle

I had a customer come in the other day looking for a bottle of Ridge Monte Bello. The thing is, he didn’t just want any old bottle. He was specifically looking for the 1995 vintage.

“1995?” I sputtered. “Yeah, you won’t find anything that old in our store. You’d be hard pressed to find it anywhere.”

The customer seemed confused. “A wine from 1995 is old?”

In the end, the whole endeavor was pointless, as we didn’t even have a current vintage of the Monte Bello available, but it illustrates a curious and commonly held misconception: that wine lasts forever. Much like the concept of “love at first sight” and astrology, these notions are deeply ingrained in culture, and difficult to root out.

I can tell you definitively, though: wine is not eternal.

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Chardonnay, Reviews, Varietal, Wine Reviews

Wine Review: Quimay Chardonnay 2012

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Get down with the Southern Hemisphere.

Naturally, right after writing an article about how oak is not to blame for the butteriness of Chardonnay, I end up running a tasting with a buttery Chardonnay that is not oaky. Full disclosure: the wine is only available at BevMo, and I happen to work for BevMo (part time, retail wine specialist). Implied conflict of interests aside, I promise to be fair in my assessment of the wine.

The Quimay Chardonnay is full of both varietal rhyme and locational Q’s, hailing from the exotic-sounding and deceptively-easy-to-pronounce Argentine region of Neuquen (Wikipedia has directed me to pronounce it as “new ken”). This is the first wine I’ve had from the region, which is evidently arid yet cool–or at least cooler than its confederate Argentine regions–giving the wines produced there characteristics unique from your typical Mendoza wine.

And the Quimay Chardonnay is certainly unique. Right off the bat, you get a lot of earthiness and minerality off the nose, with wet hay and limestone coming up strong, along with a good dose of green apple, nectarine, and a decided yeastiness, which–according to the tasting notes–comes from the natural yeast fermentation used in the production of the wine.  Take a sip, and right away you notice how heavy and creamy the texture of the wine is, though in spite of that creaminess the wine still retains a medium-high acidity and is quite dry, with crisp green apple and grapefruit peel coming in hard and fast, along with a hint of lemon custard and pineapple. The finish is fairly long and mouth coating, echoing with hints of toasty meyer lemons. Visually, the wine sits rich yellow in the glass with a slight green tinge to it.

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