Dear Customer Part 12

Dear Customer,

No, I do not sell the wine you had on your cruise in Mexico/the Bahamas/the Mediterranean.  No, I can’t find it and order it for you.  Try one of the 6,000 that are distributed in the Midwest.

Also, if a wine you drank is the best memory you have of your $1500 vacation, you should probably just stay home next time.

Miscellaneous Tasting Notes

Luce della Vite Lucente 2007 ($24.99)
Owned by the Frescobaldi and Mondavi families.  If what you’ve read about the 96 point Ruffino Modus impressed you, this is a another must have from Tuscany.  I believe it’s about half sangiovese, with the remainder cab and merlot, which I think drives the wine at this stage of its life.  This wine consistently scores in the high 80’s or 90’s, got 91 from Spectator this vintage, and I loved it.  It’s definitely more modern and a little showy, like I said the merlot is showing nicely– very lush and supple fruit, but I thought it was impeccably balanced and will settle down and develop with even a little time in a cellar.
Penner Ash Pinot Noir 2008 ($35.99)
Lovely, elegant pinot from an terrific winemaker and pioneer in an exceptional vintage in Willamette Valley.  91 Spectator and Tanzer.
Torre del Falasco Valpolicella Ripsassa ($14.99)
Made with mostly the local corvina.  Ripe and juicy, mostly notes of spicy black cherry and licorice with a hint of raisiny sweetness just on the finish. Head and shoulders above the average entry level red from the Veneto, but not as extravagant as Amarone.  Really delicious and unpretentious.  My new favorite pasta wine.
Domaine d’Andezon La Granacha 2009 ($12.99)
One of the must-have values for ’09 Rhones.  100% grenache from 60+ year old vines.  Amazing value and very versatile with food.  90 points Spectator.
Chateau Senechaux Chateauneuf du Pape 2007 ($39.99)
A very nicely balanced CdP, especially considering its modest price.  Drinking really nicely now but certainly made well enough to hold up for at least 8-10 more years.  92 points from Spectator.
Clerico Barolo Ginestra 2005 ($69.99)
Not a wine for every day but an incredible powerhouse of a Barolo. Especially impressive for what’s considered an average year in Piedmont.  And still not ridiculously priced regardless of its noble vineyards.   Although I think I tasted it at least six years before it’s prime.  95+ points across the board.
Warwick Estates Three Cape Ladies ($23.99)
This is a Bordeaux style blend from Stellenbosch, South Africa, whose red wines I typically loathe.  Not this one.  Great structure, rich and chewy, with dark fruit and supple tannins.  Cab, syrah, merlot and the signature pinotage.  Really yummy and impressive for a lesser regarded wine region.  Spectator 90 pts.
Domaine de Janasse Cotes du Rhone ($14.99)
Another spectacular bargain from the Rhone Valley.  87 Wine Advocate, 89 Spectator.
Quartilho Tinto ($11.99)
Terrific table wine from Ribatejo, Portugal.  Indeginous grapes from 25-50 year old vines.  Medium bodied, a little jammy but surprisingly complex for an inexpensive wine.  Nothing truly intellectual but a great Monday Night Football sort of bottle.  Wine Advocate 88 pts.
Carodorum Issos ($16.99)
Terrific value from Toro in Spain.  100% tinta del toro (tempranillo.) Always a 89-90+ point value.
Faust Cabernet 2007 ($39.99)
One of the most popular choices at our recent California tasting, from the supurb 07 vintage in Napa.  Second label of Quintessa.  Very big, opulent, impressive wine although some of the flashy decadence is lost on me.  I prefer cab with more refinement, but I still liked it for fans of that style.
Osso Anna Merlot ($19.99)
Very solid return to form for the poor grape that has fallen out of favor in Cali.  A really nice, plush, velvety wine with a touch of Pomerol elegance.  Wonderful.
Bennet Lane Maximus ($29.99)
Driven by cab and syrah with some merlot and malbec.  This is a really supple, tasty wine from the newer Calistoga AVA in Napa.  A little smoky, with really lush fruit but also some earthy tobacco leaf and dusty tannins.  Hints of Bordeaux.  Really accessible and yummy and a great bottle for big steaks or chops.  Competes with most if not all the big name Napa meritage with bigger price tags.

Dear Customer Part 11

Dear Customer,

Do not send the cheapest, least knowledgeable person you know to shop for wine for your dinner or party.  If you do, I will assume you don’t give a shit what you’re drinking and send your friend off with shitty pinot grigio and cheap pinot noir.

If you want good wine, come shopping yourself.

The Spoils of Victory

Recently I hosted a California Wine Tasting.  It was a great success.  When I got home, full of pride and with a box full of leftovers, Jeff said “Are those the spoils of victory?”

Here are some of the highlights:

California Wine Tasting

Dear Distributor Part 1

Dear Distributor,

If you haven’t called on me in eight months, you are very bad at your job.  Do not be surprised when I don’t invite you to participate in an event I organized a month ago with reps who actually call on me regularly.  You clearly aren’t worth my time.  I don’t want to taste your wines, I don’t want to sell them, I don’t want to make you money.  Get out of my store.


In the early afternoon hours on Tuesday, February 1st, it started snowing.  And snowing.  And snowing.  Winds were gusting up to forty-five miles per hour.  Here’s what it looked like from my front door when it all started:


It finally stopped about ten the next morning, and somewhere along the line we accumulated around eighteen inches of snow.    There were drifts in my yard about four feet high.  My mailbox was almost completely buried.


Then, to top it off, the temperature dropped and we had a windchill of -5 degrees.  Roads were closed for hours.  Schools all over Chicagoland were closed for two days.  Even the store I work at shut down for a full day.  It was total insanity.

On the plus side, I didn’t have to leave my property for two and half wonderful, peaceful days.  I turned into a cooking and baking machine. There was potato soup and beef stew.  Ghirardelli hot chocolate.  Pasta Bolognese.  And cookies- chocolate chip and assorted kolackies which I shared with our awesome neighbors who helped us dig out.

Blizzard Wine

And, of course, there was wine.  The first evening I enjoyed a nice but unremarkable pinot.  During the afternoon of the second day, after the shoveling and hot chocolate, I drank a lovely moscato d’Asti, which gets a bad rap in my line of work, but can be quite a nice little treat.  But it was a fabulous little Spanish number that has truly stayed with me and will, for the rest of my life, be my 2011 Blizzard Wine.

Barbazul, by the tiny bodega Huerta de Albala, hails from Andalucia, the region in southwestern Spain known best for sherry.  It is a blend of cabernet, syrah, merlot and a varietal indigenous to the area called tintilla de rota.  It was light to medium bodied, with ripe but balanced berry flavors, notes of baking spices and a hint of sweet vanilla.  I found it deliciously spicy and zesty, especially considering its modest $13 price tag.  It was incredibly juicy and tasty, a very nice accompaniment to the pasta; but most importantly, just right for a shut-in in February.

Dear Customer Part 10

Dear Customer,

Get off the phone.  If you are even considering taking a call or texting while in the store, don’t bother seeking me out.  I will ignore you.  Seriously, I’m not going to waste my time with you if you can’t focus for three minutes.  I will actually go out of my way to avoid you if I see a cell phone in your possession, because that means I will get a wag of the finger and there’s a good chance you’ll only pay attention to half the things I say.  Plus, your conversation is annoying.  I really don’t care about your life, and neither do any of the other customers that are forced to listen to you.  Please.  You’re not that important.

FRV 100

In the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to taste many sparkling wines.  They came in all shapes and sizes, in different colors, from all over the world.  Some truly stood out, including Perrier Jouet Grand Brut, Egly Ouriet Vrigny and Taittinger Rose.

But honestly, only one was exceptionally unique.  FRV 100 is a sparkling rosé from Beaujolais made in the style of Cerdon de Bugey: Fruity, slightly sweet, effervescent and just fabulous.  Quite simply, this wine is delightful.  Fresh, bright cherries burst from the glass, with flavors of sweet strawberries and slight hints of candy and bubble gum.  I know it sounds silly but I absolutely LOVE this wine with crispy, salty fried chicken.

Think outside the box and enjoy!