a mighty fine week for French!

Let’s talk about France, baby, let’s talk about you and me… let’s talk about all the gooood grapes that. come. from. France. Let’s talk abooouut FRANCE!  Let’s talk about France. (that was for you, Blythe)… 

Anyway, here’s the news from me this week- two things- 1.) I think Colombard is officially my favorite white grape of Spring 2013!  and 2.) Bordeaux is BACK!

frenchie frenchies.

frenchie frenchies.

Let us waste no breath in diving into this post- WINE NUMERO UN: Uby Colombard/Ugni Blanc, 2012 Cotes de Gascogne. This is the second Colombard I’ve written about this Spring. It will also serve as the second installment in what I will call my Summer Crack Juice Series (read first one here for definition).  We need those!  This is the time of year in Columbia where we are all bracing ourselves for Summer to really start.  Spring is bittersweet, as it doesn’t last long and in the back of our minds we’re trying to prepare for the upcoming heat.  So once it starts, we need to ease our pain with lots of refreshing Summer Whites to get us through until September.  Okay, October, really.

So, what’s this wine all about?  It is a blend of 80% Colombard and 20% Ugni Blanc.  Never heard of Ugni Blanc?  Not that shocking.  It is known as Trebbiano in Italy, where it is in plentiful supply.  Actually, Trebbiano is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world.  It makes simple yet refreshing whites, and I think in this case, serves to lighten up this wine overall- the Colombard is very zesty and citrusy, and so the 20% addition of Ugni just mellows it out a tiny bit.


As the label so aptly describes, this wine is fantastically crisp and light; nice tangy notes of tangerine and pink grapefruit are met with exciting flavors of passionfruit, guava, and prickly pineapple.  Maybe a touch of fresh flowers, too.  Clean, alive and vibrant.  Absolutely perfect for Spring, and packs the right amount of acidity to really refresh you once the 90+ degree weather sets in.  Definitely make a spot in your fridge for a permanent bottle of this to be open at all times.  Even better?  It retails for a fantastic $12!  

Next?  Wine NUMERO DEUX: St. Glinglin “Carte Verte”, 2010 Bordeaux.  

glinglin pig

So, because I am a spoiled, lucky little General Manager and wine nerd, a few weeks ago I was invited to have dinner with the fellow who makes this wine, Richard Betts, who is a way cool Master Somm.  Actually the first MS I’ve properly met, aside from the ones who proctored the Intro Class to the Court of Master Sommeliers back in 07 (I think?).  I only remember them as being white haired, wearing suits and not overly memorable.  But Mr. Betts was lots of fun and definitely got my attention with his philosophy and energy.  And the wine is awesome!

So St. Glinglin roughly translates to “when pigs fly”– hence the cute little piggy on the label.  The idea behind this name is that Bordeaux will be accessible and affordable “when pigs fly.”  So here we are, with a flying pig!  Cuz this wine is both of those things!  So accessible, affordable- two attention-grabbing facts about this wine (it retails for $21).  And let’s not forget drinkable.  Because that is crucial.  This wine really grabbed me because it is standing on a very delicate precipice- an old world wine that, while it is attractive to a typical American palate, is also true to it’s roots; it is definitely still a Bordeaux.

glinglin back

This wine is deeply colored and has nice concentration.  Initially, it has a solid amount of that French stank that I love so much.  Yes, I love a good stanky red wine.  A tiny bit funky, a tiny bit musty, a tiny bit dirty.  Those bits give way to some nice powerful notes of black cherries, sweet tobacco, very mellow vanilla bean, plums, some bitter chocolate and no shortage of minerality on the finish.  This wine spends 18 months in cement, which makes the fruit notes pop, and at the same time really enhances the mineral content.  So what is the blend?  Wellll, I am debating not telling you.  This is a great wine to taste without knowing what’s in it!  But, I am not feeling especially cruel today, so I will tell you: it is almost all Merlot with a smidge of Cabernet.  (“Smidge” being a technical term).  But listen here: ain’t nobody got time for anyone out there sipping on a giant glass of haterade and being all “I hate Merlot!”  That time has passed.  There’s no more Merlot hatred.  You need to get over it.

But in all seriousness, I do believe this wine is something of a trend-setter among a younger generation of wine-drinkers. If you want to really geek out, here’s a few articles that tie into this theme- here and here and here.  And here is a piece written by Mr. Betts that will be a fun read for you, too.  Also, it should be noted that this wine is currently being poured by the glass at Cellar, and so if you really need to taste to believe, come by at your convenience and do just that.

That’s all for today, cheers and happy French wine drinkin’!


New Years Resolution: drink more.

I’m really not one for New Years resolutions.  But I’m always happy to lend a hand for those of you who make them!  And I’ll offer my support in any area, really- but if you should happen to desire to DRINK MORE in 2011 (or even just learn more about wine), I can certainly offer my services!  So I’m starting 2011 off with one of my favorite wines of 2010.  I had fully intended to have this be a end-of-the-year post, but life gets a little too intense in the last two weeks of December, as I’m sure you know. 

But now we get to breathe and relax!  And take some time with a good bottle of wine again!  So allow me to reiterate:  I FREAKING LOVE THIS WINE.  I’d like to hail myself as having known the Craggy Range wines were something special when I first tasted them back in early summer.  As anyone who is in the restaurant business knows, we taste a lot of wines with different distributors over the course of any given week- and let’s be honest- not all of them are mind-blowing.  I am almost always polite when I taste wine, but a lot of times am forced to do the smile and nod.  Smile and nod. 

But every so often you have to do the “holy s@*!” and really mean it!  As in this case, with the Craggy Range Te Kahu, 2008 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand- a blend of 64% Merlot, 15% Cebernet Franc, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Malbec.

I have a clear memory of the first time I tasted you, Te Kahu: I of course, was only half-listening to the schpiel about what I was tasting (true confession, sometimes I only half-listen until I realize it’s worth listening TO) and I assumed you were a Pinot Noir at first- why?  because I don’t think I’d ever had a red wine from New Zealand that wasn’t Pinot Noir.  True story.  As soon as I smelled you, I knew I loved you.  But no, no.  You are definitely not Pinot Noir. 

Rich and intense on the nose, it offers deep blackberry, exotic notes of sandalwood and incense, bay leaves, black olive and cinnamon.  There’s a nice salinity to this wine as well, that make it a really nice match for food.  Red meat is kind of a given, as Te Kahu’s tannin really calls for something to match it’s intensity.  However, it manages to strike a nice balance between a big red that you can sip on solo AND a big red that you can eat with a steak.  Hints of chocolate, tobacco and an untamed, wild and savory sort of personality round this bad boy out. 

FYI- I would die to go to New Zealand...

I sold a case of this wine, bottle by bottle, BEFORE it’s cool little 92-point rating from Robert Parker came out!  AND before your sister wine, the 2008 Te Muna Road Pinot Noir, was named one of the Top 100 Wines of the Year by Wine Spectator!  AND before Wine Enthusiast gave Craggy Range a 2010 Wine Star award for New World Winery of the year!  I knew you were a winner, Te Kahu!  And the more exciting part was that everyone I sold it to loved it.  You might think, a case?  that’s not really that much.  Well, it is when you’re a small wine shop.  And it is when you consider that we sell mostly $15 and under bottles of wine, and Te Kahu’s price at the time was $28.  We have a little over a case left right now, and we’re selling it for $24!  And yes, it’s the same wine.  We didn’t take a glass out and then seal it back up.  It’s the SAME.  But like every other kind of store on earth, sometimes we’re offered more competative pricing, and we, in turn, like to pass it on to YOU! 

As if that weren’t enough, we’re also pouring the Craggy Range Kidnapper’s Vineyard Chardonnay, 2008 by the glass right now at Cellar- which is a pretty kick-ass little Chard- and she is no slouch compared to her big brother, as she earned herself a nice little 92-point rating from Wine Spectator!  Come  give her a taste next time you’re on Greene Street!  She is mostly stainless steel with a little oak- lean and elegant, yet flirty with notes of apricot, almond and pear.  YUM.  Craggy Range makes about a million other wines that I’m dying to get my hands on, too.  Be sure to check out their website.  Beautiful stuff. 

Hope your 2011’s off to a good start!  and don’t forget to drink more.

Niner Merlot, 2006 Paso Robles, Bootjack Ranch

This is for you, Merlot haters!!

Okay, I promise not to be overly antagonistic about this- but this really is for all the Merlot-haters out there.  I was reminded of how many of you there are last weekend when I had a delicious 2006 Swanson Merlot open and offered it to a table of regulars, who shall remain nameless!  “I hate Merlot,” said regular number one, “I think it’s wimpy and tastes like sticks and dirt.”  I gasped with overexaggerated surprise.  “Sounds like someone drank her hater-ade this morning!” I said to the rest of the table, who all quickly chimed in that they hated Merlot, too.  I told them fine, to each his own, but recommended that at some point in their wine-drinking career that they venture out and try a GOOD Merlot.

We all remember Miles from Sideways exclaiming “I am not drinking any F*#@&*! Merlot!” as one of the funniest parts of that movie.  I laughed, too.  At the time that I watched it, I had yet to be convinced that Merlot was worth a darn.  But I’m older and wiser now, and I have picked a lovely little Merlot to convince you to come back from the dark side and consider the possibility that Merlot is delicious.  And perhaps conjure up a little sympathy for Merlot who suffered something of a backlash post-Sideways, in the exact opposite way that Pinot Noir experienced a nice little surge.  Poor Merlot.

So!  On to talking about the actual wine.  Dark fruit definitely dominates the palate- blackberry, black cherry, black plums, chocolate and black pepper.  Followed up nicely by a surprising burst of red fruit to balance it out, and finish of coffee and herbs.  A tiny bit of Syrah and Cab add some finesse and boost.  Strong tannins could indicate that this one might age for a while, but if I were you I’d just drink up.  Why wait?  Fruit content is so pleasant right now, and for a whopping $15 a bottle, it makes a really nice “house wine!”  If I had to pick a food-pairing, I’d focus on that red fruit content- cherries in particular.  Some sort of a cherry-balsamic glaze, sauce, whatever you prefer- would really bring out that hint of red fruit in the wine.  Pork, steak, duck- anything goes with this one.  That’s why Merlot is so great- because of it’s versatility!

So go on- give this one a try- relieve yourself of your Merlot-hatred (or just adversity).  The next time you have people over for dinner,  serve them this Merlot.  You might feel the need to justify it a little, like- “No!  This is GOOD, I promise!”  while you an hear them making fun of you in their minds, or exchanging meaningful glances over the table- but they will be singing a different tune once they taste it!

Before I bow out for today, here’s a dose of sleeping kitty- aka my wine-blogging assistant: