Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vacation Gourmet, Part II

Course number two of our extra-special-beach-house-gourmet-dinner:

Steamed Clams in a Torrontes-Butter-Garlic sauce (are you detecting a theme here?)

These local little neck clams, so fresh, and cheap, and full of meaty briny ocean yumminess, went perfectly with a glass of Teirra Del Fuego Torrontes, the wonderful white varietal so pervasive in the Mendoza region of Argentina. The trick to eating a dish like this is, of course, in the DE-bay tradition, to use the clam shell to slurp up some of the buttery sauce with each piece of mollusk-meat.

This luscious (and affordable - $11) Torrontes has a perfect acidity balanced with notes of bright peachy-grapefruit. Crisp finish helps to clear the pallate for the next slurp of clam, and a grassy mineral aspect brings a sense of seaside pines and marsh grass - two common features of the local topography.

To prepare a dish like this for yourself, use a 2 quart sauce pot, and heat 1/4 cup of water and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. When the water begins to steam, add the clams (of course after thorough rinsing and purging, picking out any dead clams) and cover the pot with a lid. After a few minutes, check for any clams opening up, indicating they are done cooking. When the first 2 or 3 clams open, drop in a tablespoon of butter, 1/4 cup of wine, and a liberal pinch of garlic salt or garlic powder, with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the remaining clams to finish, removing them from the pot as they open. Continue to simmer the remaining sauce until it has reduced to appropriate concentration, and pour over the clams in a large bowl. Serve with a chunk of baguette to soak up the extra buttery clam sauce after all the bi-valves have been consumed.

Bon apetit!

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Vacation Gourmet Part One

We're on vacation at the DE shore this week, doing some much needed R&R, which typically includes considerable amount of culinary therapy.

Tonight, we've planned a 5-course meal to enjoy al fresca at la casa familia de la playa. First up:

Scallops sauteed in butter with a white wine and garlic sauce.

Wine pairing: Coteaux D'Ancenis Malvoisie

This fine French white - we believe from the muscadet varietal, pairs excellently with the seawater delicacy of these locally harvested scallops. Seared gently in butter, and finished with a pinch of garlic powder and 1/4 cup of the Malvoisie, the scallops just melt on the tongue, while a sip of the wine provides a subtle lemon edge. The overall effect is of plentiful citrus groves kissed by fresh ocean air, all on one tiny plate.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Upcoming Events, Memorial Day Weekend

What's up Virginia winos!  I've been pretty busy this month, so posting has been woefully light around here.  Giorgio, what's your excuse?

Thought I'd tell you all about some upcoming events in Virginia Wine.


ValleyFest 2009 Wine and Beer festival at Massanutten Ski Resort

This is one of the best festivals west of the blue ridge, with live music, a selection of domestic craft beers and microbrews, and a handful of Virginia wineries. The event is from 11-7, discounted tickets available in advance for $15.

Situated by the ski lodge, the festival spreads out over the lush green hillside at the base of the bunny slopes. Resort staff will probably crank up the ski lifts for a scenic ride to the top, where views extend beyond the city and out into the foothills of the blue ridge and nearby national park.

Sample Virginia wineries! Not sure who will be there, but last year I worked with Horton at the festival and there was a solid showing including First Colony, Prince Michel, Rockbridge, and others. In addition to the wineries, there's plenty of beer, festival food, dancing, arts and crafts, and entertainment for the whole family.

Our advice is to stay at the resort and make a weekend out of it. Fairways restaurant offers a very nice dining option either for dinner or brunch the next day. And nothing helps cure that post-festival hangover better than a round of golf or a trip to the sauna at the resort's first-class accommodations.

And the very next weekend:

Vintage Virginia Wine Festival at Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville

This is one of the biggest festivals in the northern/central VA region, produced by Across-the-Way Productions (who really know what they are doing when it comes to producing festivals). Here's the website with extensive details

Some of the wineries attending: Horton, Veritas, Cooper, Fox Meadow, Stone Mountain, Sweely, Barboursville, Prince Michel, and at least a dozen others.  All the typical festival fun included; games for the kids, food, crafts, etc....  Check it out - this is THE festival to attend for the spring.

See you on the wine trail, bitches!

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

That Georgia's Always On My M-M-M-M-M-Mind

Horton Rkatsiteli 2008 - Virginia

Rkatsiteli is probably the best thing to come out of the former soviet union since Anna Kornikova put on a skirt two sizes too small and picked up a tennis racket.

Rkats-a-what, you say?


It's a grape, a white one, originally from the Republic of Georgia. It's insanely acidic, spicy, and green tasting. And it makes this sensational citrusy wine with notes of green apple and an almost effervescent vibrance to the mouthfeel. There are less than 20 acres of it in the U.S. There are thousands of acres of it in Europe and Asia.

Horton is one of only two or three growers in the U.S. producing a Rkatsiteli wine. When people come to the winery and taste the Rkatz, they know that they are getting something unique and special.

The 2008 Rkatz reaches an exquisite balance of the fruity sweetness and the rich complexity possible with this grape. Back in 2003, they made this thing bone dry, and it was a bit harsh. Suddenly, in 2006, they realized that sweetening it up a little made it fly off the shelves. The RS that vintage was a little over 2%. Then, in 2007 they toned the sugar back down a little, and the spice and citrus really dominated. 2008, due to the exceptional quality of the fruit at harvest, permitted the winemaker to reach a more perfect union of the fruit, minimal residual sugar at around .5%, and the mineral spicy citric notes that really define this varietal.

It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing to try some of this delicious Rkatsiteli, and we savor it every chance we get.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Well, short of bombarding you with the Languedoc,

2006 Domaine du Trillol - Languedoc

New World, I have to see what the hell is going on in Corbieres, because according to our last two Languedoc posts, it's utter madness; "chocolately horses' asses, bouquets of barn and herb," and now this strangely delicious beast. It's 80% Roussanne and 20% Maccabeu.

Honey, apricot, and pear on the nose, but on the palette you add Flinstone vitamins, petroleum, and tar strewn beach with the stench of acres upon acres of sweaty fat kids. It's musky, weighty, and all mineral, nothing short of Salt of the Earth wine here. This wine could surprisingly stand up to a bone-in rib-eye pairing, though I think lemony Wiener Schnitzel might be this wines perfect mate. Perrrfect for cheese, I think Robiola Roccaverano or Ibores. Something bright and zesty.

If you're wanting a Pinot Grigio, you'll hate this. If you're wanting a Savignon Blanc, you'll hate this. You won't know what do with it: you'll think "am I drinking red? this is tannic." And my-oh-my, the color: it looks exactly like my pee the morning after I've been drinking Don Julio all night: a day-bright mineral-rich yellow. Long long long finish- seriously plan ahead, because you might not finish in time.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

The Northbound End of a Southbound Horse

2006 Laurent Miquel Syrah Granache - France

This vin de pays from the southern Languedoc is one of those revolutionary French wines where they actually advertise on the label what grapes they've put into the wine! Imagine that.

Using a 75/25 Syrah-Grenache blend, Laurent Miquel gets plenty of body while preserving a bold, bright fruitiness. The bouquet is of barn and herb, with just the slightest hint of horse's ass. This is in no way a knock against the wine - horsey flavors are one of my favorite bouquets.

Balancing the herb, barn, and hint of chocolate (Syrah's most signature quality), is a pleasantly rich, ripe, almost jammy note of dark fruit, like blackberry or blueberry, but hard to pin down.

For the 10-15$ price-point, Laurent Miquel puts together some very drinkable wines. But, they are by no means phenomenal. Another standout in their portfolio is the Viognier under the Nord Sud label.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Crushed Over Crush

Well, C-Ville Wine Blog lovers, our fears have been confirmed, the rumors were true, and CrushWine Shop is no more.  This from former owner Paul Coleman a few days ago:
As some of you may have heard, we are going through some changes at Crush.  After much deliberation over the past few months, Nan and I have decided to sell the wine shop to Michael Keaveny, who will be transforming it into an Italian trattoria/winebar.  It will still include a wine shop, carrying many of your favorite wines from around the world.  There will be a heavier influence of Italian varietals.  There will still be the same focus on great wine values on which Crush built its reputation.

Girlfriend and I stopped in last Friday and picked through the remains of last week's mega-sale. There wasn't much left. We grabbed a bottle of Virginia Chard and a Chenin Blanc that were a good deal after the discount. Girlfriend met the new owner, who told her his plans for a gallery-style kitchen area and the "rustic" Italian menu.

I can only hope he does it right. We will be sure to monitor progress and provide a review as soon as the new trattoria opens.

For Paul and his wife we wish you all the best. Running your own business is hard, not to mention running two. Thanks for making my beloved Belmont even better.

The Moral of the Story: pricing is everything. Crush Wine Shop had a fantastic selection, but everything was $5-$10 over-priced. I firmly believe they went after a per-bottle-profit margin and ended up sacrificing sales volume. I found myself limiting purchases, when, if the prices were better, I might have been spending more and shopping more often.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Uncle Maddy

So, I ask my sommelier to sell me something bloggable last night, and this is what he gives me:

Montus 2004 - Madiran

As with all French wine, you think "ok. well wtf is it?"

Madiran is in Gascony, and it's one of the last villages in south-west France before paella replaces baguette. This appellation only does red wine, and it has to be 40-60% Tannat. Montus is 80% tannat. If you haven't had tannat before, wuh-mai-gad, its huge. They use Cabernet Sauvignon to SOFTEN it. C-a-b-e-r-n-e-t. Uncle Cab, who's too fat to fit through the living-room door. Well if Uncle Cab can't get in the living room, Uncle Maddy comes to visit by crane and has to stay outside.

This one is like meatloaf: seemingly better as leftovers, so give it 5 mins. Using a decanter would not be foolish. If you're into the wine foreplay like I am, seriously, be careful. If you breathe too deep, you will burn your face, and the inside of your nose •will• catch on fire. There is some nice plum up front, but expecting this wine to be primarily about fruit is like going to Jean George's hoping to catch a ride on a double-saddled mechanical bull. T'ain't gonna happen. It's not a perfect metaphor, because in the mid-palate (and incidentally why I think you should drink it), it's really nicely balanced with that ripe plum, but make no mistake that this wine is massively tannic. So, I guess what I'm saying is: "ride em cowboy." If you have 2 over-poured glasses of this, everyone will certainly know because:

1. You will be drunk: at 16% alcohol, it's going to happen
2. Your teeth will be the color of beet soup.

Anything short of a roasted leg of lamb and a Honduran cigar for dessert might be foolish.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Crush Wine Shop Brings Bargains to Belmont: Super Spring Sale

Amidst some personnel changes in recent months and rumors of a potential closing still floating around [as with every business in C-Ville, don't believe 'em till you see the place boarded up], Crush Wine Shop in Belmont is offering a VERY awesome sale this week.

Their announcement indicates they are changing up the business model with plans to morph into a "rustic Italian" restaurant and wine bar.  [I am available for menu consulting!]

We really do hope this works out for Paul and his business.  So get down to the shop, buy some wine and pitch in on this attempt to clear out some inventory, make room for new vintages of the world-class wines they typically feature, and inject some liquid capital into the campaign to transform what has quickly become a Belmont neighborhood favorite.  If you don't, this really could become an "everything must go" fire sale before the shop gets shuttered.

Anyone from the shop who cares to make a statement and quash those rumors, email me: thom dot tc at gmail dot com.  

From the wine shop's press release/email newsletter;

Special Invitation
Crush Spring Clearance Inventory Sale
Spring and all that is new is upon us.  The tulips are blooming and the trees are budding.  Crush is changing as well.
Please join us this Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for our 4 day inventory clearance sale.  We are making changes for a bigger and better concept in Belmont and need your help to make way.  We invite you to shop early for the biggest selection, shop later for the biggest discount.  Shop often for the best of both!
Wednesday 3/11   Noon – 8 pm           10% discount
Thursday 3/12        Noon – 8 pm           20% discount
Friday 3/13              Noon – 8 pm           25% discount
Saturday 3/14         Noon – 8 pm           25% discount
Additional Specials
Buy 3 bottles and receive a free wicker gift basket ($6.00 value) – while supplies last.  Limit 1 free basket per customer.
Buy 6 or more bottles and receive a free keepsake “CRUSH” logo solid wood wine case.  ($15.00 value)  It’s perfect for storing wine. – while supplies last.  Limit 1 free case per customer.
We look forward to seeing you during our 4 day sale and again soon as we transform into a rustic Italian restaurant and wine bar.

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Monday, March 2, 2009


My default to date seems favor the celebration of the spectacular and the intriguing. So fair being fair, and as Rick Moranis clearly tells us in Spaceballs: "there's two sides to every Schwartz," I think it's only prudent to introduce this Pinot Noir.

Olivier Leflaive Cuvée Margot 2006 - Burgundy

This one's from Burgundy, which means pinot noir, and it's from the Cote de Beaune (which is cluster number 2/5 from north to south as you travel down the Saône River).

Let the drums of war sound, but I think this wine sucks balls (pardon my French, but I do choose my words very carefully here). Actually, maybe I haven't chosen my words carefully enough, because if at least it *smelled* like balls, we'd be closer to the character of north Burgundy that I love: that deft balance of tender and sedate fruit with the subtle musk of earth-driven truffle and barnyard animal petting-zoo funk. Ok, YES I was fooled by the cherry and wild strawberry on the nose, but when this wine hits your mouth, the fruit on this '06 is like the four-headed man-eating haddock fish-beast of Aberdeen: it doesn't exist.

What I'm left with is tannin, acid, and a long leathery finish. Someone left the tea bag in too long. At least it's not flabby pinot, I guess, but then what's worse- Donatella Versace when she's on the beach or after she's been all pinned up? You decide.

My advice on this is to cut up some fruit, throw some ice cubes into a carafe, and make Sangria. I'm sure Margot, Olivier's daughter, would certainly agree that this wine is about as useful as a pack of one-legged hunting tortoises.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Fridays in the Kitchen

Welcome to Fridays in the kitchen, where we'll share some of our favorite recipes for pairing with some of our favorite wines.

[right] Bacon-wrapped scallops and seafood pasta en brodo paired with a bottle of Barboursville Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc.

This week's edition: we were in the mood for seafood in the form of some kind of comfort food, and our Sauvignon Blanc kick continues with a fine offering from Barboursville, from nearby Orange County, Virginia.

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
We used bay scallops and some fancy organic bacon from Whole Foods - no additives or nitrates or anything nasty.

Marinate the scallops in some olive oil, lemon or lime juice, and some salt and pepper for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Turn the oven to broil while you prep the bacon, slicing strips in half lengthwise, and trimming the larger sections of fat. Don't cut the fat off entirely - BACON FAT ADDS FLAVOR - trim it conservatively.

Wrap each scallop with 1 half-piece of bacon and set in a roasting dish.

Cook 2-3 minutes, flip, and continue cooking until desired texture is achieved. You may need to use toothpicks, or just carefully lay them in the pan with the wrapped ends of bacon on the down side.

If you like your bacon extra-crispy, pre-cook the bacon to medium-done on a flat top before wrapping the scallops. [You don't want to cook over-long in the broiler as the scallops will get rubbery before your bacon gets crispy.]

Seafood Pasta en Brodo

Use whatever veggies you have on hand. This week we used green onion, garlic, and mushrooms.

Sautee veggies lightly in some butter and olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs as desired [oregano, thyme, basil - the stand-bys]. Add pasta to boiling water at this point as well and set the timer for al dente.

We peeled a dozen ginormous tiger shrimp and a few ounces of bay scallops for this recipe. Once the veggies are tender, add shrimp first as they are bigger and the scallops cook faster. When the shrimp are ready to be flipped, add scallops, about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of white wine (Barboursville Sauvignon Blanc), and half a bouillon cube. Cover to let the seafood finish.

The juices from the seafood, the wine, the oil and butter, the herbs and veggies - you got a wonderful broth goin'. Ladel the broth over a bowl of cooked pasta, serve with a fork and a spoon, and enjoy.

Pasta en brodo is one of our all-time favorite Italian comfort-food dishes. It's so warming and inviting on a cold February night - and it's perfect for that transition to the lighter flavors of spring so when March and April roll around, pasta en brodo is still an appropriate dish.

Our review of the Barboursville Sauvignon Blanc in a separate post.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Violet, You're Turning Violet, Violet

I'm shockingly making the switch here to white much earlier than I though I would, not because of New World's preceding post (which sounds like a delicious October Nicoise salad actually), but because this one needs to be shared immediately.

Clos de la Coulée de Serrant 2003 - Loire Valley

It's one of the first Domaines in on the river and 100% Chenin Blanc.

You know when Violet eats the Everlasting-Gobstopper in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Well after 30 seconds with this chenin, I know exactly what she was talking about (minus the swelling into a giant blueberry).  And for all of you turned off by the distinctly French lilt and the length of the producer's name, it's just French for "Thanksgiving Dinner, but backwards."

You get dessert up front: a gorgeous tart and baked granny smith apple and cinnamon pie, except Granny baked the pie for 17 minutes too long, because she went to take her pills, but got distracted by the cat who had lodged itself between the fire place and the wood-bin, which upon having resolved the matter, fell asleep, forgetting what she was doing (meanwhile, pie's on fire).  The pie is certainly burnt, but she got lucky, because the honey glazed crust is nicely caramelized.  Then a savory and minerality from the bird, and a citrus cranberry sauce.  Distinctly at the end, and very strangely I might add, is the walk up from the car to the front door: the taste of pineneedle and cone, as you smack into the branch mouth first.

This chenin blanc is you at the end of the day's feast: gutt-bustingly fat, full of alcohol, but knowing it was satisfyingly worth it.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Escape to the Cape

Indaba Sauvignon Blanc 2008 - South Africa

For a refreshing white wine from the southern hemisphere with a full range of character, Indaba sets the bar pretty high with their 2008 Sauvignon Blanc.  It's hard to imagine how they crammed so many contrasting and complimentary flavors into one bottle of wine. 

Since my co-blogger is so keen on anthropromorphizing his wine as a metaphor for women, let's go ahead and say that this Sauv Blanc is so reminiscent of Andrew Marvell's Coy Mistress that it gives me nightmares of my third year lit course - you know, those nightmares where it's the day of the final and you realize you haven't been to a single class all semester.  She's tempestuous and serene.  She's inviting and forbidding.  She'll grab you by the beltloop and then banish you to the living room.

Her moods are many and varied.  She has a complete garden full of flavors; minerals of rich black soil, the velvety mouthfeel of lavender and rosemary, the floral sweetness of young genevese basil and baby spinach, a mild pungence of asparagus and artichoke, and a nose of bergemot and lemon. 

She pushes and pulls against the palette, begging for some chicken picatta, a plate of green Spanish olives, some thinly sliced roasted fennel, and scallops wrapped in bacon. 

Her finish leaves a note of sea air on the tip of the tongue, and the mind wanders off to some fertile green place where the grapes grow plump and golden and the bottle is never empty. 

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Nice is Nice

This one's from just outside of Nice, in Provence:

Clos de Bernarde Tete de Cuvée 1997 - Provence

Mourvedre up front, and grenache and syrah close behind.

What's so deliciously striking about this one is that it most certainly IS a woman I met tonight at my bar. At first whiff, certainly sophisticated (and you know that's not going to go anywhere anytime soon), but still humbly elite. She's not Bordeaux (Greenwich, for these purposes: a more than slight sigh of relief there), but Darien, or even better: Westport. There is ample fruit right up front with luscious, and I mean luscious tart calvados-ed cherries. But strangely, and wonderfully right behind it and pervading is mushroom from a shit-strewn field, without any negative connotation. She is elegant and seductively graceful, but surreptitiously throws in the Waterbury for fun. It keeps her self-aware, and extremely well balanced. And at $25 or so retail, she's a steal. My guess is the metaphor will hold up to the point of the price.

I don't know, I'll find out Sunday. But I'll let you know.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On the Subject of Malbec

So, this is a beauty that I must admit I have had flirtations with on and off, but with whom I have never really sat down to have good and maybe even well-deserved heart to heart.

Chateau Lagrezette 2003-Cahors

100% malbec from Cahors, just east of Bordeaux.

Now before everyone gets all huffy about Mendoza where "Malbec is a Star," (New World, some few odd days ago), a sentiment to which I could certainly agree sometimes, lets not forget that Cahors birthed this sassy varietal (a 38 hour delivery to triplets, it was reported). Summer in Cahors is like spending a day on a reclined chair pool-side, a 12 minute drive from the Sun. It's under these conditions that Malbec delivers its juicy, sun-burst fruit and tannin.

Were this particular one a house, it would be a split level duplex: Upstairs on the nose and first sip is an American-Empire kitchen and living room of this slowly mulled and delicately spiced plum. "Lovely, I think I'll take it."

Downstairs is a wall to wall piss-up: a stereo blasting Nine-Inch Nails, rampant chair and bottle throwing, and at the center of which is an open fire roasting a cauldron of piquillo peppers, applewood bacon cut extra fat, and whole-roasted goat meat. "I'll definitely take it, especially with all the downstairs storage space."

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Monday, February 23, 2009

The Pink Pussycat

I'm now of the mindset that a good evening should always begin with bubbly. But just a brief preface here: If you had told me a few years ago that I would be caught dead drinking rosé champagne, I'd have said you were crazy. Let it then just be a testament to my conversion that I chose it for a first pick.

Paul Goerg Rosé, Premier Cru Non-Vintage

It's a Brut Champagne from Vertus, 85% chardonnay and 15% pinot noir.

If indeed it was a woman, it would certainly be Grand-Dutchess Inga Von Herrhausen: Draped in fine pink silk and dazzling diamonds, this tartine of a woman is elegance and grace at its finest, but she can still swat a top-spinned backhand with the best of her servants' tennis partners, and certainly has the body to prove it. Bright, bright strawberries and grapefruit that have been quite noticeably toasted in an applewood-chipped oven. Wonderful fruit, but remember she can still side-saddle, swing on vines, scale walls, etc. There is an affirming body that lets you drink it anytime; at the beginning, half-way through, or when all's said 'n done. And what a lasting finish of cream: if this strumpet had a soundtrack, song number one would be "Peaches and Cream," by Beck.

I could have 3/4 of a bottle and not even know it.

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A Word from Old World

I like wine,  and I'm now ready to say after 10 years, that I love wine.  I always have, and it's becoming increasingly clear that this is NOT a casual relationship.   We knew each other from childhood, maybe slept together much earlier than we should have, we dated seriously through college, and now on one knee, I profess that I could spend the rest of life without the taste or even thought of another spirit or beer, as long as she was there.

And there is no better place to stick your nose deep in a glass and enjoy some the most wonderful wines from all over the world than New York.  Old World, New World, Up World, Down World and though with its set of numerous faults, this place has brought into my glass some of the most delicious, strange, detestable, and sensual wines I could have possibly imagined.  

My words here are an account of wines I come across that are begging for comment, one way or the other.  But I must volunteer that sometimes I am a creature of habit.  When I find a tee shirt I like, not only do I go back to get the other two colors, but sometimes I vow to never wear long-sleeves again.  I might perhaps favor the French.   However, I certainly will not discriminate; anything that has found it's way into my glass is fair game.

Apologies for the O-centric title.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

MSWS Friday Night Tasting Review - 2/20/2009

It was Malbec night at Market Street Wine Shop's downtown location this past Friday, with a selection of 3 Argentine and 1 French producer's take on the noble, yet mournfully under-featured Beaurdeaux varietal. Typically blended with many of the other classic red French varietals like Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the lesser-known but often remarkable Petit Verdot, Malbec has gained popularity in recent years due to the success of growers in South America's developing markets. The selections for this week's tasting also included 2 white wines and a rosé.

Read our review for some tasting room tips, our notes on some great wines, and a hint of what's coming up on the C-Ville Wine Blog.

We arrived to the weekly Friday night tasting shortly after 5:00 to find an already crowded shop, so we negotiated the throng to taste as quickly as possible and get the hell out before it got really crowded. The size and configuration of the Market Street Wine Shop is unfortunately barely accommodating to the crowds their weekly tasting attracts. Apparently, no one is bothered by the cramped space enough to stay away, because everyone keeps coming every Friday, and they all are always getting in my way. Don't they know who I am? I mean, HELLO?

All this completely legitimate and not at all narcissistic griping about crowds leads me to our first of many trademark Tasting Room Courtesy Tips (patent pending).

Tasting Room Courtesy Tip #1
When you are at a crowded wine tasting, default procedure is the "grab and go" protocol. If you can't figure out what that means, just follow these simple steps, dummy:

  1. Send one person from your group to the bar with everyone's glass
  2. Place glasses on the bar and stand aside, leaving room for other patrons
  3. Indicate politely to the servers which wine you would like to taste
  4. When your glasses are full, take them and step back to your group, leaving room for other groups to get their next taste
If you follow these simple rules, you will have a successful tasting experience and you will play a significant part in the successful experience of those around you. Also, you will avoid being deemed a douchebag by curmudgeonly narcissists like me. Please remember, by no means should you bring your whole group to the front, or crowd the bar, or stand there leaning casually on the bar chatting, or otherwise being oblivious to the fact that OTHER PEOPLE are trying to taste wine, too.

This public service announcement has been made possible by funding from the trillion-dollar government-bailout pork spending bill recently passed by our new communist Obama regime.

On to the wines!

Silene Cococciola Terre di Chiete 2007
A refreshing white from the Terre di Chiete neighborhood of the mostly mountainous Abruzzi region of Southern Italy, which you already know from its biggest hit, the red varietal Montepulciano. This one, made from the ancient grape Cococciola, is cool, crisp, light, fresh, and fruity, with a good acidity and a lot of citrus flavors. For $5 a bottle through March 2, this is the perfect wine to stock up on for the coming spring, or drink it all right now. Make no mistakes, this wine is not inexpensive because it lacks quality. Try pairing it with shellfish and salty seafood dishes, like bacalla or calamari with plenty of herbs and olive oil. Or anchovies if you're brave.

Alamos Torrontes 2007
This varietal in general, and this bottle specifically, is fast becoming one of my favorite South American white wines. The Torrontes from Alamos has a distinctly bright flavor, with loads of peaches, honey, and buttery tartness on the finish. An almost medium body gives this wine enough structure to compliment more firm flavors like salmon or even some tuna dishes. I especially like it with shrimp.

Maipe Rosé 2008
This barely off-dry rosé, made from the malbec varietal, is not as cloyingly sweet as your momma's magnum of Sutter Home white zinfandel or the box of wine perpetually on the top shelf of her fridge. A very balanced wine, it features a delightful melon and strawberry profile, with tannins of cashew, and a coriander finish. Easily paired with casual foods and cheerful company. Take it to a picnic or an Oscar party.

Alamos Malbec 2007
This is a perfectly adequate yet unfortunately not very remarkable Malbec, presumably geared toward mass-market consumption. If it exposes more novice drinkers to the varietal, that's fine. But I won't be drinking this bottle myself. Woefully flabby and toned-down, this is a good starter wine for folks not really into the bigger, bolder flavors of the more superior malbecs in this tasting.

Yellow + Blue Malbec 2007
Yellow + Blue makes green with this environmentally friendly producer of fine Argentine wines. Sold in a full 1 liter box with a screw cap, this malbec has a wonderfully earthy forwardness. A jammy finish and nose like a port gives this wine a lot of character, with a middle both smokey and full of fruit. Pair it with grilled pork or steak and some kind of spicy sauce.

Familia Mayol Malbec NV
This complex take on malbec has all the qualities afficianados have come to expect from the varietal. Strong acidity, an intensely hot nose, and tons of coffee and cocoa tannins mix it up with cherries and blackberries. The long velvety finish will really make a bite of filet mignon just melt in your mouth.

Domaine Labrande Cahors 2005
When the French winemakers of Cahor, the other region where malbec is grown, saw their Argentine cohorts making bank off their varietal, they realized they should start including the grape name on their labels. This wine is extremely well-balanced, with grapey aromas and a smooth finish. Blending in some tannat boosts the dry, dusty tannins, and a dash of merlot brings out some sweet red pepper and a touch of spice.

That's all for this week's tasting. Join us next time for reviews of some of Virginia's premiere local wineries; Rappahannock, Gadino, Barboursville, and Sweely Estate.

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Tasting Room Courtesy Tip #1

Tasting Room Courtesy Tip #1

When you are at a crowded wine tasting, default procedure is the "grab and go" protocol. If you can't figure out what that means, just follow these simple steps, dummy:

  1. Send one person from your group to the bar with everyone's glass
  2. Place glasses on the bar and stand aside, leaving room for other patrons
  3. Indicate politely to the servers which wine you would like to taste
  4. When your glasses are full, take them and step back to your group, leaving room for other groups to get their next taste

If you follow these simple rules, you will have a successful tasting experience and you will play a significant part in the successful experience of those around you. Also, you will avoid being deemed a douchebag by curmudgeonly narcissists like me. Please remember, by no means should you bring your whole group to the front, or crowd the bar, or stand there leaning casually on the bar chatting, or otherwise being oblivious to the fact that OTHER PEOPLE are trying to taste wine, too.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Market Street Wines of the Week

Each week, Market Street Wine Shop of Charlottesville runs a special on some mid-range quality wines at deeply discounted prices. The wines are usually quit drinkable and quite a bargain. I'm reposting their announcement here because I am a frequent patron and usually love their picks for the Wines of the Week. C-Ville Wine Blog receives no compensation for publicizing the Market Street Wine Shop...yet ;-)

Wines of the Week (February 17-24)

Silene Cococciola Terre di Chieti 2007
...Tastes Like Co-Co-Ciola*
The port of Ortona lies due east of Rome on the Adriatic coast in the Terre di Chieti wine region of Abruzzi. There the local white wine is this ancient grape variety Cococciola. Pale in color, this simple white is delightfully fresh and clean with notes of apple and melon with a touch of white citrus and herbal notes. Enjoy as an aperitif or with all types of seafood dishes, shellfish, & white meats.

On Sale at $4.96
FOR TWO WEEKS, thru 3/02/09
regularly $5.99
Open for tasting all week

Alamos Malbec Mendoza 2007
Headed for the Gallos II
The Alamos label came from the world-class Catena winery of Mendoza, Argentina ... now sadly sold to Gallo. In France, Malbec is a minor Bordeaux grape variety; but in Argentina, Malbec is a star. With a nose of blackberry and black cherry, a lush body and ripe blackfruits on the palate, it cries out for Argentine asado, or barbecue. Buy now and our friends Alfredo and Alex Bartholomaus get the sale and not the Gallos.

On Sale at $7.96
FOR TWO WEEKS, thru 2/23/09
regularly $9.99
Open for tasting all week

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

The C-Ville Wine Blog Mission

Hi, I'm Thom, and this is one of my many blogs. I am a known web-nerd with a penchant for debauchery and epicurian indulgences. My goal here is to pass on as much information and entertainment as possible to you, dear reader.

This C-Ville Wine Blog started as a kernel of an idea more than a year ago, and I've decided to revive it as a result of one loquacious drunken rant on the merits of drinking fine wine while playing video games, posted by my pal Giorgio on his facebook page.

Stranger things have inspired greatness.

I've invited Giorgio, my best friend from college, to collaborate with me here, and he will be the blog's official comedic relief/New York City correspondent.

Together, we will chronicle our thoughts on the world of wine, one bottle at a time.

I hope to also include stories from my years of experience in the tasting room and wine festival circuit, as well as reviews and announcements on Virginia wine.

As always with this "blogging" thing, we invite comments, criticism, drunken tirades, and offers of lucrative publishing contracts.

Stay tuned for more! And remember, if you like it, drink it!

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