• France!

    Those of you who keep an eye on the Events Calendar have probably seen that March’s Wine Class is called “France vs. United States” and will pit some fabulous French wines against their California counterparts.  As I was brainstorming ideas for the class, I started out with the question, “Why does France take itself so seriously?”  (No offense intended- I think it’s pretty evident that France has some of the strictest winemaking rules and their AOC system is one of the most intricate ones out there.)  As I pondered, I realized that France has some great reasons to consider itself the best of the best.    Not to give away the whole class, but they were the first to establish the AOC system to regulate quality.  The rest of the world has pretty much followed their lead.  France is also home to some of the most historic winemaking regions in the world like Champagne, Bordeaux, and Burgundy.

    When I was first getting into wine, I was totally intimidated by French wines.  I remember being in rooms where winemakers and suppliers would roll their eyes at me because I didn’t know the difference between Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet.  (They sound alike and are just over the hill from each other, OK???  That hardly warrants an eye roll.)  However, as I started encountering more French wines and actually had a mentor who was patient and took the time to explain them to me, I discovered that French wines are some of my favorites.  I particularly love white Burgundy.  Over time, my mentor started calling me an “expert in White Burgundy.”  (I suspect this was largely meant for motivational purposes.  While I learned a lot about it, no one can ever really be an expert in White Burgundy and I certainly have much to learn.)

    Unfortunately, my wallet does not love White Burgundy as much as my palate does.  Mersault, Puligny-Montrachet, and Chassagne-Montrachet start at about $60 per bottle and go all the way up.  Therefore, if I am an expert in some component of White Burgundy, it’s finding the best ones for a great value.  The Dampt Chablis that we carry here, for example, is an exceptional discovery.  At $26.99, it is quintessential Chablis for under $30 per bottle.

    I scout out wines from Burgundy’s Macon region as well.  Located in the South, it is considered a “value” region.  This is mostly based on history and reputation though; there are amazing producers making serious wines there.  I shared an awesome bottle 2015 Macon-Villages with my mom the other night.  I’m also working on getting a delicious Vire-Clesse for the store too which I am excited to share with you.

    France is home to some lesser-known wine regions that are gems as well.  We recently welcomed in two wines from Savoie, in the heart of the French Alps.  The white is completely comprised of a grape called Jacquere.  It’s hardly seen outside of this French region.  Mineral-driven, bright, and clean, it has flavors of stone fruit, green apple, and a dry finish.  The red is 100% Gamay.  Gamay is famously found in Beajolais.  This one has the body of a Pinot Noir while embracing darker fruit flavors and hints of spice.  You can buy these wines for $16.99/bottle or as a set for $30 total.

    There is still room in our France vs. United States class on March 21 and we’re considering offering a second night of it since interest seems to be high.  Hopefully I can help explain French wines in an approachable, straight-forward way like my mentor did for me and get you to fall in love with their wines as well!

  • New Year, New Wines!

    January is a strange time in the world of wine.  On the one hand, the hustle and bustle of the holidays has died down.  In terms of foot traffic and sales, things seem a little quiet.  On the other hand, it’s incredibly busy!  There’s much to plan, from events to new wines.  My current daily planner only goes until June, so I’ll need to buy a new one soon enough.

    Wine on Main has approximately 140 facings.  It’s not the smallest wine set, but it’s far from the largest.  As a result, every single wine that we sell has to be the best of the best.  It has to represent its region and check every box.  Additionally, the pressure’s on to keep things fun and fresh.  I’ll hang onto the wines that you love- I don’t need a mutiny to kick off 2023.  However, as much as I’m attached to a wine, it’s important that I rotate in new items that are equally as good to keep things new and interesting.

    I also like to re-evaluate wines based on your feedback.  If you mention a region or varietal that I don’t have in store, I do my best to find it.  For example, someone mentioned South African Chenin Blanc recently, so I’ve made it a point to track down a great one for our World section.

    To those ends, I’ve been busy tasting new wines to add to the selection… and I’ve found some real winners!  Today, I tasted 20 (!!!) wines with 2 wine brokers.  (This is why spitting is necessary, regardless of how unbecoming it may seem).  Of those, I discovered 5 that I really enjoy.  3 will be arriving tomorrow, or first thing next week at the latest.

    Here is a sneak peek:

    Kumusha Chenin Blanc, South Africa– Remember the Chenin Blanc I was talking about?  Well this is a fabulous one from South Africa.  Born and raised in Zimbabwe, winemaker Tinashe Nyumudoka moved to South Africa for better economic prospects. Without any prior experience, his journey took him from waiter to head sommelier of Africa’s most lauded restaurant, The Test Kitchen, and also respected wine judge on international competitions.  Kumusha translates to “your roots.”  Clean, crisp, and dry, this wine has flavors of pear, citrus, and melon with hints of minerality.

    Ravines Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes- As a Cornell grad, it’s no secret that I’m partial to the Finger Lakes.  Those were some of my very first wine tastings and helped usher me into wine.  I love Cabernet Franc in general, but especially from the Finger Lakes.  Cool climate Cabernet Franc is a light ruby red in the glass and elegant and restrained on the palate.

    Ruelas Vinho Tinto Reserve, Portugal- This is a bold blend of Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional- as well as a touch of Syrah for extra backbone!  The wine has dark fruit flavors like blackberry, plum, and a touch of black pepper.  It’s a great wine for winter when you want something powerful and flavorful.  It’s incredibly affordable too.

    I can’t wait for you to try these and more will be coming in soon!