• Thinking of Spring

    I can’t believe it’s March!  And I can’t believe there’s snow on the ground… and more on the way?!

    If you haven’t already seen it, we decided to postpone this Saturday’s free wine tasting with Crush Distributors and Runner’s Alley to next Saturday, March 11 due to the weather.  All of the details are the same, but we’re hoping for nicer weather both for drinking wine and for the runners.

    My craving for warmer weather is definitely evident here at the shop.  Many of the new bottles I’ve brought in look like they came from your favorite florist.  The Huber Sparkling White with the snowflake on the label has been replaced by its Rose counterpart.  The label has pretty pink flowers that were painted by Markus Huber’s wife.  I’m also looking forward to you tasting the Carbonic Carignan from SANS Wine Company; it’s part of the line-up for Saturday’s tasting.  It’s an effervescent red wine (we love those!) with flowers on the label.

    We still have two bottles of Vaiven White Tempranillo here.  In addition to being a fun and unique find, it’s got pink and blue florals.  And don’t forget about the Leptir Orange Wine from Slovenia adorned with monarch butterflies!

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  • 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!

  • Merlot Musings

    I love Merlot.  It’s smooth, soft, and supple.  It’s a staple in Bordeaux, one of the most popular wine regions in the entire world.  Across the globe, winemakers use it to complement the aggressive tannins in varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon.  But for some reason, the mass market seems to eschew bottles that specifically say “Merlot” on the label.

    At this point, I’m sure many of you have heard of the movie Sideways, which many blame for Merlot’s downfall.  In the movie, the character Miles famously exclaims, “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am not drinking any [expletive] Merlot!”  Entire studies and articles have been written about the implications of this single line in the film.  Conclusion: not good.  I’m not exactly sure why anyone took Miles’s advice as fact.  He was specifically designed to be flawed; a character unhappy in his own skin trying to find meaning in wine country.  I’m also not exactly sure why we’re still treating a movie that’s almost 20 years old as gospel.  Sideways debuted in 2004.

    Why am I bringing this all up now?  First, I just brought one of my favorite Merlots back to Wine on Main.  Margarett’s Merlot is made in California by the McNab family, the same people who make the McNab Cabernet Sauvignon that many of you know and love.  The whole operation is family-run and pretty small.  They make about 2,000 cases of Margarett’s Merlot, which is on the smaller side when it comes to wine production.  The wine has aromas and flavors of ripe black cherries, plums, and soft mocha followed by toasty oak and undertones of baking spices.  Did I mention it’s only $16.99?  It’s moving reasonably well, but for how good it is I would expect it to fly out of here by the case!  I really hope that people put their Merlot bias to the side and try it.  Justice for Merlot!

    Second, I tried a really awesome Merlot the other day from Schild Estate.  If that sounds familiar, it’s because we carry their Shiraz.  They are another family-owned vineyard passed down through generations located in Australia’s Barossa Valley.  It had bold flavors of cherry and raspberry as well as vanilla bean and clove spice.  The body was lush and full.  As much as I enjoyed it and wanted it (or want it? Still pondering….) to sell at Wine on Main, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Will customers really go for an Australian Merlot?  Is the Sideways curse real?”  Let me know your thoughts!