Monday, April 29, 2013

Austria and Riedel

This Thursday, April 2nd from 5 to 7pm, Gail Avera presents a wine tasting here that will include three Austrian wines.  Zull Gruner Veltliner is a dry white from the Weinviertel area in the northeastern corner of the country.  Trie Red and White Blends come from Burgenland which is south of Vienna and hugs the eastermost side of the country.  Weinvertel is the largest geographical wine district in Austria; Burgenland, one of the smallest.

The Austrian wine country lies entirely in the eastern quarter of the country like a north-south band wrapping that side of Austria.  Three-fifths of all wine production, most being white, is located in Weinvertel which is bordered by the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  A third of all Austrian wine production is accomplished in Burgenland which borders Hungary.  Together these two districts are called Weinland Osterreich.

So why this part of the country for wine production?  Austria as a whole has a continental climate meaning the contrasting temperatures between summer and winter are dramatic and allow for a long growing season.  In the east though, the Danube River and Neuseidler See (Lake Neuseidl) are water features that moderate the ambient temperatures and the Pannonian Plain of Hungary channels warm winds from the east into Austria.  The geology is right also because of the ancient contributions of volcanos and the Aeolian wind processes that together have provided the region with ample volcanic rock and loess soils.

Archeological discoveries of wine flagons and vessels containing grape seeds date Austria's wine industry to the 5th century BC which makes the wine culture of the Austrian people deep indeed.  Depending on the government of the times Austria has either been a leader in this industry or like during our own Prohibition Era, a laggard.  In the 19th century new world plant diseases like powdery mildew, downy mildew and, of course, phylloxera (blog 6/11/11) devastated Austria just like it did in all of Europe yet after World War I Austria ranked as high as third in the world in wine production.

The best white wine of Austria is Gruner Veltliner (blog 8/10/12) which accounts for 36% of all wine production and owes its success ironically to the great diethylene glycol scandal of 1985 (blog 8/13/12 ).  The great red grape of Austria is Blaufrankisch (blog 3/9/12), sometimes called Lemberger and it accounts for 5.5 % of production.  Other red grapes of note include: Zweigelt, St. Laurent, and Pinot Noir, all of which in their elite bottlings are trending upward in world critical approval.

Reidel (REE-del) is the great handblown glassware company located in Kafstein, Austria.  Twelve generations of Reidels have toiled in the family business over the last 250 years.  While they have made decanters and other fine wine-related creations, the Reidel name has become synomymous with high end stemware.  Sommelieres Series Red Bordeaux Wine Stems sell for $159 each at the Reidel website.  Attend the Thursday tasting and receive a Reidel Degustazione red wine stem for a mere $5.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Amarone Della Valpolicella

On the sixth of June last year we blogged about Ripasso Valpolicella and then on the third of this month we did regular Valpolicella, so you may want to peruse those blogposts before we tackle Amarone here.  Valpolicella is like the Beaujolais of Italy but Amarone is the great reserve wine of the region and it is something wholly other than a great Cru Beaujolais.  Amarone is actually a creation wholly different than any other wine anywhere.

Amarone was created by accident, by the way.  The supposed great wine of the Veneto region was Recioto Della Valpolicella, a sweet and slightly frizzante dessert wine.  Recioto, however, differs from the many similarly charming sweet Italian reds on store shelves today because of the way it is made.  Historically the Valpolicella grapes were harvested and then spread out on straw mats in the sun to shrivel and dry (appassimento).  That process, now modernized in temperature and humidity controlled drying chambers, concentrated the sugars, tannins, and other flavors into ripe raisiny berries which were then crushed and fermented.  That fermentation was stopped early to create the sweet Recioto.  Occasionally the fermentation went on too long resulting in a drier wine that came to be known in time as Amarone (The Great Bitter One).

Amarone is truly one of the great wines of the world and here are three reasons why.  One is that the process just set out above greatly changes the finished product.  The drying of the grapes metabolizes acids in the grapes and accomplishes a polymerization of the tannins in the grapeskins.  Grapeskins are responsible for color and the intensity of the flavors along with the tannins.  The drying process lasts 120 days+- and reduces the weight of the berries by 30-40%.  The juice is then fermented at a low temperature for another 30-50 days.  Obviously the grape flavors would have to become concentrated in this process and the resulting wine would end up being highly extracted.

The second reason for Amarone's greatness lies in its ageing potential.  Amarone, like regular Valpolicella, can be made from grapes grown anywhere in the viticultural zone but the great ones come from the hillside vineyards in the classico area.  The great historic producers there age their wines for two to five years before releasing them to a public who will hopefully then hold them another five to ten years.  Not cellaring the great Amarones means not enjoying the full potential of the wine.

The third reason for Amarone's greatness relies in its historic blend.  Corvino is the primary grape of Valpolicella and in Amarone it provides backbone, body, acidity, and necessary structure for the long haul.  Rondinella, Molinara, and two optional minor grapes flesh out the blend which in combination with the winemaking process and ample ageing over time yields a rich, dry, full-bodied, and low acid red dinner wine. 

What to eat with your Amarone is a common issue for wine lovers.  My suggestion is to allow your Amarone to tear into any rich and hearty roast like venison or perhaps let it brew with any busy multiple component stew.  Actually cold weather might help also, so why didn't I think of this blog four month ago?

This Thursday from 5 to 7pm Gail Avera of Atlanta Beverage joins us for a tasting of Austrians, Germans, and Italian Proseccos.   Please join us for that one and please become a "follower" of this blog.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Last week we tasted two Chardonnays here at the store.  Ridge Crest from Claar Cellars of Washington State was an exceptional $12.99 offering and reminded me of the Jardin Del Sol Chilean from a week earlier in that they were both unoaked and very fresh tasting.  The other Chardonnay from last week was one I didn't even know was Chardonnay until my piddling research today prompted this blogpost.  That one was Podere del Giuggiolo, a Tuscan white that is in fact 100% unoaked Chardonnay also.  Like most Europeans, that one needs food.

So rather than get too academic on the Chardonnay subject, lets stay current.  I just surveyed the store and the inventory seems to include forty to fifty Chardonnays from here, there, and everywhere around the globe.  They range in price from $5 to $35.  They also range in style from unoaked to heavily oaked.  They also range from the friendly off-dry cocktail variety like Jardin Del Sol to wines like Podere that really need a plate of chicken alfredo to show their best.

Of the unoaked style, Lincourt from California and Nicholas Potel Pouilly Fuisse are our best.  Food affinities would be vegetables and lighter meat dishes with seafood being most ideal.  Both are in the $20 range.

We have two labels in the store that offer both oaked and unoaked Chardonnays: Acacia and Talbott.  Acacia has the higher public profile of the two and I have no doubts about its quality but it's Talbott that I have tasted recently and they really impress.  They retail around $20 also.

Cocktail Chardonnays abound here too with Cartlidge & Browne, Handcraft, and Glory Days covering that turf, all priced in the $12 range.  They are all a little less dry than your average bottle.

Tropical fruit flavors dominate in Peirano Estate ($12) and Cambria Katherine's Vineyard ($22) and in wines from the southern Central Coast area in general.  We also have two from Mt. Eden Vineyards, one of the best producers from Edna Valley.

Of the oaky style we have many in the everyday price range and Rombauer at $35.  Here are a few other options: Robin K ($18), Castoro ($15), Gordon Brothers ($12), and 446 ($10). 

So what is the best Chardonnay for you tonight?  Maybe it's one that is lightly oaked.  A few weeks ago we tasted Reata Carneros ($22) and for my tastes, it was ideal.  The old standby, Schug Sonoma always works too, at ($20).

On Friday April 26th from 5 to 7pm Henry Leung of Hemispheres Fine Wines joins us with a tasting  of Bordeaux, Cotes du Rhone, Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc and Rose, and Bedrock Shebang Red and White Blends from California's North Coast.  Henry is a true wine educator.  Please join us.

On Thursday of next week, May 2nd, Gail Avera of Atlanta Beverage graces our confines with a tasting of Austrians, Germans, and a little Italian Prosecco.  Please join us that evening from 5 to7pm.

Hey be a "follower" here.  It'll do you no harm.   

Monday, April 22, 2013


Feta is sheep cheese in brine from Greece.  We all know that.  We also all know our favorite dish that really works because of the feta cheese that is in it.  Feta has become ubiquitous in our modern American food culture and, short attention spans and all, we think it has always been here.  While it is one of the oldest cheeses on earth, feta has actually only accrued worldwide popularity in the last thirty years.  It now accounts for 70% of all Greek cheese sales.

Feta means "slice" in Greek.  In 2002 the European Community protected the feta name legally, assuring that the cheese would be made from 70%+ sheep's milk and up to 30% goat's milk, all of which is sourced from animals grazing in pastures within a half dozen communes in Greece.  Outside of those EU limitations, knockoffs may be called Greek-style cheese, salad cheese, or most commonly, white cheese.  Some of these alternatives are made from cow's milk.  In America our domestic feta comes in several styles with no apparent regard for EU proprietary edicts.

Feta is a brined curd cheese which means the curds, scooped up and pressed into molds, are then immersed into a brine which is 7% salt by volume.  All Greek communes producing the cheese display individual styles range from soft and mild to harder, crumblier, and stronger. Along with being salty feta is tangy and mildly sour.   Feta must have a maximum moisture of 56% and a minimum fat content of 43%.  The cheese is aged for two to three months before going to market.  Feta should always be purchased and stored in the brine.  It should be consumed within three months of purchasing and it should never be frozen.

For the health conscious, feta offers protein, riboflavin, vitamin B12, calcium, and phosphorus.  On the downside, it's high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and, of course, sodium.  Washing the cheese in water or milk can reduce the sodium level.  Because feta is not always pasteurized it is on a list of foods pregnant women should not consume.

So we all know the feta dish that we love the most.  Like all cheeses Feta benefits from being offered at room temperature so one simple way to serve it is with olive oil and aromatic herbs.  Feta may also be grilled.  Feta was originally a goat cheese and may be substituted in goat cheese recipes. At, a July 2, 2012 posting by Greek-Americans offers many other options for the cheese.  The most popular feta cheese dish is Spanakopita, a spinach pastry appetiser.  The following Spanakopita recipe comes from

Set oven to 400 degrees.  Makes thirty servings.

30 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
8oz crumbled feta
2 large eggs for the spinach mixture     
1 large egg to brush over the dough
2 green onions chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 sheets of puff pastry dough

1.  Combine spinach, feta, eggs, green onions, salt and pepper.
2.  Roll each puff pastry sheet into a 15"x10" rectangle; place one in the pan.  Top with spinach mixture, leaving border.
3.  Top with second sheet; press to seal.  Brush with one beaten egg.  Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool.  Cut into three inch squares, then triangles.

Henry Leung of Hemispheres Fine Wine joins us this Friday with his usual array of superior reds and whites.  Henry has a following here and Hemispheres is arguably the best wine distributor in the Atlanta market.  Please join us here between 5 and 7pm on Friday and please become a follower of this blog.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Crash and Burn

I guess we're getting creative with our blog titles.  The preceding blogpost from Saturday referred to the explosion of business Friday night during our weekly tasting.  Today I'm referring to Saturday's lack of business.  I think it was the slowest Saturday ever.  Such is business in America circa 2013.

Here is just a little bit more about the wines from Friday night:

The Del Sol Chileans come from the Maule Valley which we blogged about back on September 11th of last year.  On February 27th of 2010, the Maule Valley was the site of the sixth largest earthquake in recorded history (8.8 Richter).  Five hundred twenty five people lost their lives in the quake and because industry has to be protective of business losses, I believe much remained out of print concerning winery losses.  The fine Del Sol 2011-12 wines we tasted on Friday may be representative of a comeback from those losses.  I am convinced that historic properties were cobbling together vintages following the quake in an effort to keep their labels going until the facilities were once again up to speed.

Artisan Vines is the distributor for the wines we tasted Friday night.  They bought the business from Gary Carner who gave it up during the ugly 2008-09 period.  Gary sold to me weekly while he was here and presided over a few of our in-store tastings before David Rimmer came along.  I just went to the Stangeland Winery website and Gary is prominently mentioned on the homepage.  Gary's passion is jazz.  He has written books on the subject, one of which is signed by him and in the store at this time.  When he left here he was working on a Pepper Adams work.  Apparently he is doing a presentation and book signing on Pepper Adams at Stangeland in Oregon.  Small world.

The 2010 24.5 degrees Brix Pinot Noir was the mystery "bomb" from Friday night.  There is no real information anywhere about this wine except that we now know it is very very good.  File this under FYI:  Degrees brix is the measurement of the dissolved sugar-to-water ratio of a liquid.  24.5 degrees brix = 24.5% sugar to water or 24.5 grams of sugar per 100 grams of water.  This wine was made from fruit harvested at 24.5 degrees brix.

Convento Cappuccini is a 62 acre property with a convent and surrounding vineyards established in the 17th century.  The Botto family has owned the thirty two acre vineyard around the convent for three hundred years.  In the 1960's they bought the convent, itself, which is now the on-site winery.

Montferrato is the DOC (1964) for Convento Cappuccini and it comprises the provinces of Alexandria and Asti.  The climate is continental, having hot dry summers and cold winters.  The indigenous grapes of Montferrato include: Barbera, Freisa, Grignolino, Nebbiolo, and Dolcetto and while international grapes are now allowed in blends, the wines we tasted on Friday seemed to be strictly old world. 

On Friday April 19th from 5 to 7pm Tommy Basham of Continental Brands joins us to present Dance Del Mar Spanish Tempranillo/Merlot, Le Seianti Chianti, Ridge Crest Washingto State Merlot and Chardonnay, Coto de Hayas Spanish Centenaria Garnacha, and Ulmen Argentine Malbec Dulce.  Please join us.

I know your parents admonished you not to do what others around you did in school, but if you become a "follower" of this blog I know they would have approved.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Come a Storm

The tasting last night was simply boffo!  Friday, being my reliably busy day, was just that until 5pm when David Rimmer our guest wine presenter arrived for the two hour event.  Then it died.  At a little before 6pm all hell broke loose.  We ended up doubling our day's receipts in the last hour of the day!  That's retail, now go figure.  Thank God, David was here to help.

You know how when you're going into a tasting, how you just know that the three Italian reds are going to be special and how you hope the Chilean whites and rose are going to be okay?  That is called prejudice.  Were the Italians up to it?  Most assuredly and the Chileans over-performed just like they usually do.  In total, we had eight wines open here last night.  David added two, the Stangeland Pinot Gris from Oregon and Brix 24.5 Degrees Pinot Noir from Sonoma's Russian River Valley.  They were exceptional also but let's start at the beginning...

The first two on the table were the Chilean Del Sol Sauvignon Blanc and Unoaked Chardonnay.  Both were crisp and fruity with the first being more citrusy and astringent like you would expect and the second being fuller and rounder as it should be.

The next two were the Russian River Pinot and the Del Sol Pinot Noir Rose.  The Brix was "the bomb".  At close to a thirty dollar retail, it was surprisingly the first wine to sell out which left the remaining tasters asking for a phone call when we got re-stocked.  The Rose was good but overshadowed by Brix.  It was a bad lineup placement choice on my part.

The next two were the Convento Cappucini Barbera and L'Albarossa, two dry Piedmont reds that had as much in common as they did in difference.  The '07 Barbera d'Asti was accessible and easy drinking for what was clearly intended to be a food wine.  Both of these were decanted at 11:00am and unfortunately not early enough for the L'Albarossa.  It remained closed and dumb (not showing up to its potential) throughout the evening.

There were two noticeably sweeter wines in the lineup: Stangeland, a white, and Brachetto d'Acqui, a light red also from the convent in Italy.  Stangeland is a great property in Oregon that really excels in Pinot Noir.  The Brachetto is a historically sweet frizzante red that fits the profile for such light, charming Italian reds, seducing the uninitiated taster in the process.

So, the Italians were expected to be as good as they turned out to be.  The Chileans, priced the way Chileans are always priced, tasted way better than should have been expected.  Am I creating a controversy?  Is a storm brewing or am I creating a tempest in a teapot?  Try the Chileans and you be the judge.  Are they way better than they should be?

Next Friday from 5 to 7pm Tommy Basham of Continental Beverage joins us here and presents: Dance Del Mar Spanish Tempranillo/Merlot, Le Seianti Chianti, Ridge Crest Washington State Merlot and Chardonnay, Coto de Hayas Centennaria (100 year old vines!) Garnacha, and Ulmen Argentine Malbec Dulce.  Please join us for this one.

If you like the blog, become a "follower" and please join us here next week.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Just a Grillin'

Yesterday my wife, Lu, surprised me with a new smoker grill.  Now, Lu loves me.  She really does.  But she's no fool either.  She loves her grilled meats too.  I'm not saying she pulled a fast one on me but I think she was marinading the pork chops before we went on our surprise grill shopping trip.  But it's irrelevent anyway because I got doubly psyched as soon as we got home.  I snapped that thing together in record time...and I'm a mechanical incompetent!  It had been way too long since I had smoked anything on a grill and when I set that box of woodchips in there, man, I was in heaven!  Did I mention it's red?

So the instructions said to crank the heat up to the maximum for a while when you turn it on for the first time before lowering it to the correct temperature.  I did that and had that box of chips in there and I was in euphoria.  Man, I felt high.  Eventually I got the chops and shittake mushrooms and laid them out cozily on the grill and they cooked nicely in too short of a time considering my state and we sat down to enjoy. 

I opened one of those Spanish reds that is way better than it should be.  This time it was the Circles Syrah/Grenache ($9.99) which has it's own roasted, smoky flavor wrapped around a lighter styled body.  The wine has the earthy dimension, for sure, but it also has that ample fruitiness that balances it all out and it was perfect for my grilled chops and mushroom dinner.  Man, life is good.

Rounding out our little beggar's banquet were pasta salad, lima beans, and a tossed salad, none of which has anything to do with the grill but was essential to my experience anyway.  In case you can't tell, I like my grill.  I'm already planning future meals and smelling that sweet smoke as I imagine the food.

 I guess we could get tired of the thing.  Nah...

Maybe I could rent it out and me too.  Start a new cottage industry, "Have Grill Will Travel".

This Friday from 5 to 7pm, David "I'm just a Georgia country boy" Rimmer joins us again as he tastes us on Chilean whites and roses and Italian reds.  David has thirty years in the biz just like me so he can teach us this and that as we taste.  Please join us.

If you like my silly blog become a "follower", not that I'm a "leader" or anything.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Small > Large

I've had thirty+ years in the wine business and I have seen changes that I would never have anticipated, although in hindsight, I should have.  Thirty years ago it was an accepted fact that the finest wines come from France.  Now that statement is an anachronism...although opinions being what they are, the statement is as valid today as it was back then.  Thirty years ago we all knew that we lived in the most mass market capitalist society on the planet and we relied on market research to nail down exactly what the public wanted, that is, what we wanted to sell them.  So how could anyone in this industry not have anticipated the development of huge wine companies and the diminishment of small ones?

Earlier this week I sold a case of a very popular and expensive California Chardonnay to a customer and I remarked to the vendor how incredible sales of that one were.  He agreed with a wry aside which I will share with you if you come into the store.  Today I took an order for a case of the elite pricy Italian Pinot Grigio on the market (elite Pinot Grigio?).  What can I say?  I will most graciously facilitate that purchase also.  In both cases those wines profiled as the go-to label for the category.  Capitalism is great.

So the irony is that this week we had a tasting of Italian wines from Small Vineyards Imports (, a concern that only sells wines from small family-owned properties which guarantee they will not increase production to meet increased demand which would likely diminish the wine quality in the process.  We also tasted four European estate whites which another vendor unexpectedly offered for the Friday night event.  We also have tasted California Cabernets and Argentine Malbecs in recent weeks that come from small producers.

In all honesty we have also tasted wines in recent weeks that come from some of the largest producers in the world, although you wouldn't know it by just examining the labels. Many of those companies go out of their way to make themselves appear to be smaller than they are which, when you consider all of the chain store accounts that are contracted for those labels, it stretches credulity to say the least.  Should you want to see a veritable who's who of chain store wine labels read our January 15th blog about the thirty largest wine companies.

Now here's the conundrum.  Most of the large players do a real good job.  Again going back thirty years, the overall quality of wine in the marketplace is higher now than it was then.  So those huge players have done well within the definition of what mass marketed wine is and it is a commodity first and foremost.  A fifteen dollar California Cabernet should fit the profile for what that wine should taste like and should be worth that dollar amount to the consumer.  So huge players from California and every other wine producing country are successfully satisfying the worldwide thirst for this wonderful product.

The problem for us oldtimers in this trade is that thirty years ago wine reflected place and if you were a good taster you could discern where a wine came from by tasting it.  Now it just has to fit a profile.  But there's more, in all honesty.  There have always been the huge players who rule the roost in this business and the ruse about their small bucolic country vineyards has always been there too.  The change is that the the big players in the wine industry have now marginalized the small producers to the point that they only have small independent retailers and restaurants as venues to sell their wines which are still better than the giants and that's the shame of it all.

This Friday from 5 to 7pm David Rimmer of Artisan Vines joins us for a tasting of Del Sol Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir from Chile, Brix Russian River Pinot Noir, and three reds from Convento Cappuccini of Italy.  Please join us for that one and become a "follower" of this blog also.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


On Thursday of this week we will host Carolee Williams of Eagle Rock Distributing as she presents six wines from the inspirational Small Vineyards Imports.  Small Vineyards represents small family owned estates in the Mediterranean region of Italy and Spain.  Their mission statement on the homepage of conveys a hope to preserve an industry that is endangered by the modern era. One of our wines that evening will be the Giusseppi Lonardi Ripasso Valpolicella.  On June 6th of last year we blogged about Ripasso Valpolicella so rather than redoubling those efforts here we will take a step back and learn now about Valpolicella in general.

Valpolicella is actually a family of several different versions of the same wine.  The basic version was created in 1968 when Valpolicella received its DOC, the legal delimited geographical definition for the specific historical wine that is made there.  I say this type of wine originates at that time because it was in 1968 that the Valpolicella region was greatly expanded for commercial reasons and the basic version became that which was made in the newly annexed Po River fertile plain.  That region was predominantly planted in Molinara grapes which is only the third best grape in Valpolicella.  It is that version of the wine that predominated in chain stores at low prices for about twenty years.

Prior to 1968 Valpolicella was created from grapes that were largely farmed on hillside vineyards in the Veneto province of northern Italy.  That wine actually has very deep roots with written records of Valpolicella going back to the twelfth century.  The earliest wine records for the region extend back to the sixth century AD but they don't specify exactly what that wine was.  It is believed, though, that winemaking in the area originated with the ancient Greeks and some records of Greek winemaking depict the process of adding the fresh wine to older dried grape skins to add more depth to the young juice which is how Ripasso and Amarone are made today.  The name "Valpolicella" also, while somewhat etymologically uncertain, could have Latin and Greek roots meaning "valley of the cellars".

Basic Valpolicella is comparable to Beaujolais.  It is light and fragrant, fruit-driven, and released to the market just weeks after harvest, like Nouveau Beaujolais.  Also like Beaujolais, this wine may properly be served chilled (55 degrees).  The predominant flavor is sour cherry with a little licorice in the background and a finish that is slightly bitter. 

Valpolicella Classico is one step up in quality from the basic version.  The three historic grapes of Valpolicella include: Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara.  The standard blend is 40-70% Corvina, 20-40% Rondinella, and 5-20% Molinara.  In modern times four other grapes including Barbera and Sangiovese have been added and they may make up to 15% of the blend.  Valpolicella Classico sports a stronger bouquet and flavor than the lesser version but still is entirely made in steel tanks.

The 1980s proved to be a cathartic turning point in modern Valpolicella history when market prices for grapes were so low the Classico version almost disappeared.  The better producers decided, in order to save the product, they would market their brand name in larger letters on the label with the Valpolicella wine name placed below and in small print.  It was also at that time that Masi, one of the better producers, created the Ripasso style of Valpolicella and the great Amarones of Valpolicella were re-marketed worldwide with a stature appropriate for the product.  Sales of Amarone tripled and the label change has continued to this day with the Masi Bonacosta Valpolicella Classico presently in the store as an example.  40% of all Valpolicella sales are now Classico.

Valpolicella Classico Superiore is one step above Classico and it is aged in oak for one year and may be somewhat ripasso in style so as not to let the oak mask the dominance of the fruit.  That wine is more structured and slightly higher in alcohol.

We will stop here and leave Amarone for another day.  If you like Italian wine please join us Thursday for our Small Vineyards tasting and if you like this blog please become a "follower" so I will get something back for my efforts.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Best Wine Tasting Ever

Last Thursday we tasted six wines from Gail Avera and Atlanta Beverage and I remember thinking at the time that this lineup may be our best ever in our in-store tasting program.  Here they are:

1.  2011 Pindar Marlborough New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  The back label says "aromas and flavors of gooseberry, passionfruit, and nectarine".  I would contribute "balance and elegance".  This one exercises restraint, not opting for the extreme citrus bomb style so many New Zealanders do.

2.  2010 Reata Carneros Chardonnay.  The back label: "Bright tropical fruit aromas complement rich, vibrant green apple and crisp citrus flavors".  I'll buy that.  The attendant tasters thought so too as they gushed over this one.

3.  2010 Lavau Cotes du Rhone.  In my thirty+ years in this business I don't think I have ever tasted a better one.  This estate-produced wine has a back label that is educational and directed towards wine lovers who want substantive information.

4.  2011 Mureda Spanish Syrah.  Mureda has no information on the label and their website doesn't list the Syrah so this is probably sourced in bulk with an American destination in mind.  That said, it was a masculine steak wine that was way better than its price point.

5.  2009 Reata Whiplash Redemption Red Blend.  We tasted four wines from Reata and selected the higher tier Chardonnay above and this lower tier red for our store inventory.  The blend here is 65% Syrah, 25% Barbera, and 10% Zinfandel.  This was the best seller of the evening.

6.  2006 Proemio Argentine Mendoza Reserve Malbec.  Back label: "round,velvety, and full with raspberry and blackberry flavors and a lengthy finish of coffee and chocolate".  Uh, yeah.  The bottle age also helps this one stand out from other incredible Malbecs.

Then on Friday night we tasted six more that were exemplary but now I'm sounding hyperbolic and that's not my intention or my nature.  The wines last week were just plain good!  The prices of the wines over both tastings ranged from $10 to $35.

Stop in the store this week before Friday, that is, from Monday to Thursday, and mix up a case of any twelve and get a 20% discount if you pay in cash or write a check.  No cards for this offering since the banks claim so much of a percentage in this narrow profit margin business.

On Thursday evening, April 4th from 5 to 7pm, Carolee Williams of Eagle Rock Distributing joins us with a half dozen from Small Vineyards Imports.  This exemplary company only imports wines from small family-owned estates in the Mediterranean region.  Their noble mission statement may be read on their homepage at  Please join us Thursday for that one.

Also if you enjoy this blog, be a "follower" so I won't feel so alone.