Let’s get weird: Sattler St. Laurent, 2012 Austria

Let’s give the weirdos some love this week, y’all.

First of all, let’s have a round of applause for some of my favorite weird characters from various movies. If you don’t know who any of them are, I really pity you… Especially if you’ve never seen Wet Hot American Summer.

photo (21)So yes, this is a weird little grape. What’s weird about it? Well, definitely not the taste. Mostly the name. Yes, the St. Laurent is in fact the name of the grape! I can’t help but wonder, perhaps somewhat glibly, what they were thinking when they named the grape St. Laurent. From my not-terribly-extensive-Googling-okay-so-sue-me, the conclusion seems to be that it was named that after St. Lawrence Day, which is celebrated by Europeans (what a cheeky bunch they are!) on August 10th, which is when or around this grape usually ripens.

The cat finds this bottle highly suspect.

The cat finds this bottle highly suspect.

But maybe that’s just my American sensitivities that are confounded by the name of the grape. And I don’t dislike it, per say; I just think it’s odd. But, there’s a zillion grape names out there that are nothing if not odd: remember the Bukettraube? Vranec? Just to name a couple.

But onward we go to our weirdo celebration! And now that we’ve actually past the weird part, we can get to how fantastic this wine is! And that’s really the challenge with a weird grape name- encouraging people to not be scared of the unfamiliar! Sometimes that takes a while. *sigh*

I found some really colorful ways to describe St. Laurent on the good old interwebs: Terry Theise calls it “Pinot Noir with a touch of ‘sauvage'” in one of his catalogues. John Schreiner says, “it comes across as a Pinot Noir wearing hiking boots.” (source is a great article found here). The Pinot Noir comparisons are no coincidence, as it IS actually genetically related to Pinot Noir. Here’s what I think: yes to both of those quotes. Suffice to say, I would definitely recommend this wine to people that are fond of Pinot Noir. It drinks like a old-world style Pinot, but with a bit more flesh on its bones. The skin on St. Laurent is darker, and the wine definitely reflects that. A deep, pretty shade of eggplanty-purple, the nose is generous and forthcoming. Notes of creamy vanilla swirl about after some initial blue fruits, black cherry, blackberry, violets, cherry cough drops, and a touch of evergreen. The palate is richer than it’s 13% alcohol reflects and uber-smooth. It finishes with a tang of red plums and redcurrants. Really tasty.

photo (23)

St. Laurent is apparently one of the widest planted grapes in the Czech Republic and other parts of Eastern Europe. And there’s some in Canada and New Zealand, too. Are there any crazy wahoos in Oregon growing this grape? Inquiring minds want to know! It wouldn’t shock me, logistically, except that I don’t know much about what it takes to grow a new grape somewhere. Seems like that might be tricky.

So give this one a try if you’re looking for a cool new discovery this week! You’ll find it at the wine sale this Saturday, March 22nd from 12-2, if you remain unconvinced of it’s merit. If nothing else, you can commit some of this to memory and show off to a friend or two the next time you’re in a wine store or a wine bar. Like… Cellar on Greene. Since you definitely will not find this wine as a glass pour anywhere else in Columbia. Yep, we excel at the strange on our corner of Greene Street.

I should also mention that this wine sells for $17 a bottle! So try it! Get weird!

Berger Zweigelt, 2010 Austria

Heh?  Zwei-what??  ZweiGELT!  here’s the best phonetic pronunciation guide I could invent- “Tsvye-gelt.”  But I promise not to make fun of you if you say “Zwy-gelt”.  Or you could get straight to the point and just say “gimmee the weird red with the bottle top!”

So what the heck IS Zweigelt?  Well, it’s Austrian for one.  It is, as I like to call them, a wine baby-  It was created as a cross between Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent (HA!  like those are ANY easier to remember!  way to go, Austria!).  I kid Austria.  I love Austrian wine!  Anyway, Zweigelt is Austria’s most planted red varietal.  It was created in 1922 by Dr. Friedrich Zweigelt.  I swear it’s true- I couldn’t make this up if I tried.  That just seems like something you would say because you actually had no idea who made it- an Austrian grape called Zweigelt?  Sure!  A dude named Friedrich invented it!  And people would believe you, because they all saw The Sound of Music and there was a kid named Friedrich, and HE was Austrian.  Can’t you just picture these two drinking Zweigelt?

So rugged and sexy.  Kind of like this wine.  Overall, it is a light-bodied wine, but it’s very sturdy, which is what makes me say it’s rugged.  If you’re searching for a point of reference for this one (ie something familiar to compare it to), I’d liken it to a Pinot Noir, at least in body and appearance.  Visually, and on first whiff, it is deceptively big-seeming- dark colored, and with a spicy, peppery nose and additional aromas of dark fruits- blackberries, plums, and pomegranate.  But once you taste it, the 12.5% alcohol content is obvious- its light, buoyant, and tart mouthfeel and high acidity is just plain lip-smacking!

Now that Fall is officially here, there is no time like the present to try this wine!  It’s really a perfect match for fall foods- roasted root veggies will pick up it’s earthy tones.  Anything with mushrooms will be winning.  And I personally think it beckons for cheese- any kind of sharp, pungent cheese.  Which is also an ideal match if you happen to make this a 3:30 wine (more about that here)- which is a perfectly logical idea, considering that it’s low in alcohol.  So what if it’s a 1 liter bottle?

But back to Dr. Friedrich Zweigelt for a minute.  I’ve decided (after accidentally drinking a full glass of this wine while typing) that he is like a  WW1- era Colonel William Stryker-meets-wine:  “In creating this cultivar, Fritz Zweigelt was looking for prolific grape-bearing, good deep colour, and resistance to disease. And Zweigelt is indeed  resistant to frost, drought, and to various ailments of the vine, but by crossing Blauf with SL, Dr Z came up with a grape that tastes like neither” (source).

Granted, Fritz here doesn’t have a secret desire to destroy all grapes the way Stryker wanted to destroy all mutants.  But let’s still liken the Berger Zweigelt to Wolverine.  Just for fun.  Okay, just so I can google some pictures of him.

Amazing how we’ve gone from Captain Von Trapp to Colonel Stryker and Wolverine in the span of one blog entry that is supposed to be about wine.  And we have this quiet overcast day and a bottle of Berger Zweigelt to thank!  So thank you, Berger.  I applaud you.  I applaud your versatility, uniqueness and coolness.  Thank you for starting my Saturday so beautifully.

Okay, I had best shut up now or who knows where we will end up next.  Try the Berger by-the-glass at Cellar on Greene, or take a bottle home for $14!  Happy weekend everyone!

How to order a Mystery Case!

It’s Monday morning and CJ is at work with a serious case of the Mondays.

Bored and listless, she suffers.  All she can think about is the weekend that is so far away.  It’s going to be so hot this week.  She just wants to click her heels and not be in Kansas aka Monday anymore.

But wait.  She vageuly remembers getting an email from Cellar on Greene last week.  Something about a Mystery Case.  $90 for a case of wine?  At the time she blew it off because surely it was too good to be true, and she couldn’t think about wine last Thursday anyway, because she’d had a bit too much the night before and was feeling ill.  But today!  Today was the day.  Thoughts of wine would whisk her away to her happy place where it was Friday at 5pm instead of Monday at 10am.

So she opens her email and scrolls down.  Here is what she sees:

wow! some cool people must've written this!

Hallelujah!  This is awesome!

hercules! hercules!

She gets busy picking her five choices out of the 24 wines available for the Mystery Case.  She hasn’t heard of many of the wines, but there’s a Cava listed and she loves Sparkling wine so she’s pumped about that.  A Sangiovese sounds good too.  She knows the people at Cellar have a lot of good wine, so she trusts that the remaining bottles will be good.   Off goes her order…

She waits patiently.  What will happen next?  did they get her order?  what if they didn’t?  anxiety sets in.  She paces.  She gets a snack to distract herself.  After some deep breathing exercises, she feels better- and then bam!  Look what arrives in her inbox!!

god these people are good.

Relief washes over her.  She WILL be getting her wine today!  Her phone rings and it’s Kaitlin on the other end.  CJ excitedly reads off her credit card number, where it is safely stored in a fancy filing cabinet at Cellar on Greene.  The rest of her day she spends in a jittery haze, trying to get work done but really thinking about wine ALL. DAY.  Meanwhile, at Cellar, Kaitlin gets to work packing up her wine:

glamorous work, this is.

Kaitlin actually has a lot of fun packing Mystery Cases.  If she knows you well enough, she will likely pick wines that she knows you’ll especially like.  For example, if the last time you had dinner at Cellar you really enjoyed a Malbec- you will probably find an extra Malbec in your case.  She has a wierd memory for wines people like.

At long last, CJ escapes from her prison of employment and comes to pick up her wine.

She arrives breathless and estatic.  At last she will be united with her twelve bottles of wine.  Since she already paid for her wine, she doesn’t even need to bring her purse in!  She and Kaitlin have a meaningful exchange and CJ snatches her case away.

Giddily, she drives home.


Ahhhhh!  Loot!  She relaxes on the sofa and picks a random bottle to open.  Bonarda?  she’d never heard of it before, but she likes it!  And to think, all this transpired in the course of one day.  And for just $97.60, including tax.  It’s shocking to say the least.

Please note: no actual wine was consumed during this process.  That’s our story and we’re sticking to it. 

Don Tiburcio Malbec- a “God among insects!”

Alright, I’m giving myself away, once again, as a huge Dork with a capital D.  While sipping on this wine, I was reminded of the scene in X2, where Magneto tells Pyro he is a “God among insects.  Never let anyone tell you different.”  You might think I am overstating the case just a TAD, considering that we’re only talking about wine.  You would be wrong.  Although I am, at times, prone to exaggeration when it comes to a wine I really enjoy- not. this. time.  !!!

The reason the “insect” part came to mind is because there really are a lot of “insects” when it comes to this price range in South American Wines, in my opinion.  I am too frequently underwhelmed with your average $12- $14 Malbec or Cabernet from South America.  Stylistically, they may just not be my preference, which is fine- but in general I find them too “hot” as some would say.  They try too hard.  Not all of them- granted, I have had a TON of wonderful wine from South America… but for my money, I’d usually rather drink a $14 Spanish red.  Like the Atteca Grenache, for example.  So, whether you think I’m right or not, allow my aforementioned opinion to illustrate just how GOOD this wine is!!


The Wine Advocate gave Don Tiburcio (2005, Mendoza) a cool 90 points!  Need I say more?  This stuff is good, y’all.  It’s not all Malbec-  it has Cab Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cab in it as well.  Very cool blend.  It’s an extremely expressive wine- it has a lot going on right away, but I also noticed that it became even more expressive after it had been open for an hour or so.  I get a lot of clove and cinnamon on the nose, followed by a nice amount of licorice.  Took me a while to identify the licorice… I kept saying to myself, “It’s something I don’t really like in real life, but I like it right now…”  Licorice.  It has nice freshness, too- black cherries, blueberries, and also a little mocha.  You might think it sounds like a heavy wine, but once in the mouth it has a very pleasant touch of dryness that makes you smack your tounge against the roof of your mouth and say “Damn!”  Or maybe that’s just me… only time will tell. 

We’ll have this wine at the wine sale at Cellar on Greene this Saturday (Sept 12th) for $14.  I know there is a lot going on thie Saturday, especially in the Vista, but please stop in and try this before the Vista thing gets going at 2!  I will plan your perfect Saturday for you- go to the Farmer’s Market at 701 Whaley, then come to the Wine Sale from 12-2, stop in at the Gourmet Shop’s tasting that goes from 2-5, and then make your way to the Vista.  You don’t need to get there right at 2.  It will be a marathon of eating and drinking and fun!  Then you’ll probably need a nap, but I’ll leave that up to you.  Who knew there was SO MUCH fun to be had in Columbia that doesn’t involve FOOTBALL?!  That’s all I am going to say in regards to football this week… I can’t even go there.  See everyone on Saturday!