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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