Saturday, July 24, 2010

Le Jolie Fleuri(e)

Earlier today I stopped by my favorite wine store/classroom, Amanti Vino, for their weekly free tasting. I'm supposedly on a "wine buying break" due to overcrowding in my wine fridge, but after trying Wes' terrific lineup from this week, I couldn't help but leave the store with a few bottles. Guess I'll just have to try to drink something tonight or tomorrow to make space....

The tasting featured an excellent Rose (Mas Champart St Chinian 2009), a fruit forward and juicy red from Campania in Italy (Cantina del Taburno Torlicosco 2007), a classicly light and off-dry Gewurztraminer (unfortunately forgot to note the winery) and my favorite, a spicy, peppery, berry-filled Gamay from Beaujolais. Gamays from Beaujolais tend to be juicy and simple to me - perfectly nice to drink, but nothing to write about. But this Beaujolais was excellent. Lots of fruit, but with enough acid and tannins to be age-worthy. Moreover, it's a wine I'd actually enjoy during the summer because it's not heavy.

And then Wes went on to recommend the Haut Bourg Muscadet Cote de Grand Lieu from 2000. Though I didn't get the chance to try a fresh sample, I trust Wes' tastes and I love Muscadet so I also took home a bottle of this. I'm sure I'll post something on this in the not too distant future.
So, to all my local friends, let me know when you can get together for a meal at a local BYO because I have plenty of wine for us to try.
Until the next sniff, sip, quaff,
Alli M.
p.s. Unlike overcrowding in the California jail system, the overcrowding in my wine fridge does not entail the most famous of my bottles an early release - even if the words "f*** you" were to magically appear in nail polish on the side of the bottle.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Les Pins, boss, Les Pins (if you pronounce it like you're French, you can kind of sound like Herve Villechaize)

A few weeks ago I wrote about a wine called Les Pins that I had enjoyed at Tria in Philadelphia. It's a lovely white dessert wine with notes of honey and apricot made like a classic Sautneres from Bordeaux (to refresh, Sauternes is famous for having some of the best dessert wines in the world).

Shortly after writing my blog entry, I looked for Les Pins in New Jersey on I never found a store nearby that carried the wine and I forgot about it. Lo and behold, this past weekend while dragging my friend, Stacy, into various wine stores on the Upper West Side "just to see" what they carried, I was elated to find a bottle of Les Pins at the Whole Foods on Columbus at 97th. I immediately picked it up and while checking out, the cashier commented, "not enough people buy this wine." Nothing like being validated by, and then sharing a giddy moment with, the woman who works the register frequented by those who think they know a lot more about wine than they do! In all seriousness, it was fun to share the love for an overlooked dessert wine.

It makes sense that I found a bottle of Les Pins now since my past few entries have been about some of the more unique whites available. As always, I urge you to get outside your "I don't drink dessert wine" or "I don't like white wine" comfort zone and try something completely different every once in awhile. You'll either get to tell me, "I told you so," or you'll find something new that you like. Either way you win.
Until the next sniff, sip, quaff or new discovery,
Alli M.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A white that is not Chenin Blanc!

Earlier tonight my friend, Stacey, had me over for dinner. On the way over, I ran to a local wine store and decided to take a flyer on an Italian Falanghina (white varietal) that I'd never heard of.
My theory is that when it comes to varietals like Falanghina, they're not well known and thus not overplanted and overproduced. I believe there is a much better chance that a random Falanghina is going to have more character and taste better than many of the Chardonnays or Sauvignon Blancs that a typical wine store would have. Plus, the few times I had tried Falanghina, I'd really enjoyed it.

Falanghina is a dry, acidic, white Italian varietal that can be very aromatic with notes ranging from apple to citrus to pineapple. Usually I don't do well with acidic whites, but there's enough fruit in Falanghina that the acid is muted which is one of the reason I think it's such a great summer white!

The bottle I picked up was the Terredora Dipaolo 2009 Falaghina. It wasn't complex and it didn't have a lot going on, BUT for $14, I didn't expect it to. Plus, it was light and crisp with some lovely pear and pineapple notes. It paired almost perfectly with the hot, humid weather as well as Stacey's awesome homemade pesto sauce! It went down almost too easy. For $14, you'd be hard pressed to find a good Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc that delivered half as much.

As always, I urge you to look beyond the obvious because there's so many wonderful varietals to choose from and wine stores are taking a lot more chances now. Next time you're looking for a an alternative to the overdone "value" Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs, look no further than Falanghina. I doubt you'll be disappointed.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Another year, another 8 bottles

Last night several of my friends and I went to dinner at SD26 in New York for my "official" birthday dinner. I had picked this place because it not only came highly recommended but because they also had a handheld wine list with supposedly almost 1,000 labels on it.

They definitely came through on the food and the service (the human service, that is - the air conditioning situation could have used a little help). However, I was disappointed by the wine list. For starters, I went through almost every varietal and I do not see how they could have close to 1,000 labels on the list. Secondly, their price points tended to the expensive and very expensive and they didn't offer enough in the value or mid price ranges. Moreover, for an Italian restaurant to only have one Prosecco option?!? Seriously. And though this is an Italian restaurant, they could have done a lot more with their French and American offerings - especially if they're offering 1,000 labels.

Despite the list letdown, I worked with the sommelier to put together a nice selection for the table and as far as I could tell, every wine delivered. Unfortunately, I didn't write down the names of the Prosecco, Rose, Primitivo or Moscato D'Asti. However, we had another red, Colle Picchioni, that I made note of because it is an Italian wine made in the Bordeaux style (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Syrah). It had a nose and palate of earth and black fruit, but it had a light body and went down very easy at our 75+ degree table! Our bottle was a 2007, not the 2002 label pictured above, but if you can find any year of this, I recommend it.

After dinner, a few of us made our way to 11 Madison Park restaurant around the corner for one final bottle of wine. The moment I opened their wine list, a part of me wished I had chosen them for my birthday dinner. I'm pretty sure their sommelier was tapping into my subconscious when she designed the list. Moreover, when she came by to help me decide between two Chenin Blancs (my wine of the moment), she listened to me and then directed me to a great choice that wasn't on the list but was within my price range. That is the definition of a good sommelier. We had the Joguet Clos de la Plante 2007. It was excellent - light golden color with notes of honey and pear. For those who find whites too citrus-y or chalky or minerally, step away from the Sauvignon Blanc and step up to Chenin Blanc and Muscadet from the Eastern Region of the Loire.

Thanks to Wendy G., Kelly, Laura, Joshua, Liz, Nick and the Girls of the 'Boken, for coming out and celebrating with me. It was a memorable night - sweat and all.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chiller, chiller, near the wall, whose the most age-worthy of them all?

Another year older, another excuse to have multiple birthday meals and enjoy several bottles of wine over the next few weeks. Tannins aren't the only thing that makes ageing worthwhile!

Last night a few of my "oldest" friends and I went to DBGB for a good meal and of course a nice bottle of wine. With the 100 degree heat and dense humidity, it was clear that we would be going with a white wine. Lately I've been on a Chenin Blanc kick so I picked out a 2007 Chenin Blanc from Savennieres (a classic Loire region known for good, acidic, sometimes off dry Chenin Blancs, though the one I picked was dry). Unfortunately I did not write down the vineyard, which is unfortunate because it was a lovely wine. Crisp and dry with a nose and palate of citrus with notes of honey. It went down very easy and was very refreshing on such a ridiculously hot day.

As nice as the wine was, the company was even better. Thank you, Anne and Kelly for putting up with me for all of these years. And thank you, Pam, for sneakily picking up the wine.

The next dinner is this Saturday at SD26 where they have a handheld computerized wine list with almost 1,000 bottles in it. Check back on Sunday to see what we enjoyed.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

p.s. I can't write something about Chenin Blanc without sharing one of my favorite things about this grape. Within a bunch, the grapes can ripen at different times so you can have a bunch of grapes where some are practically shriveled and some are completely ripe and juicy. You can get a sense of this in the picture above.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Reemeraged Again

One again I disappeared for a few weeks, but it was for a very good reason. I've been hitting the books -hard. Last night I took my exam for my Advanced Certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. I'll find out in 6-8 weeks if I passed. I'm feeling good about it, but it may also just be the post-test relief!
If I do pass, I'm not sure it really qualifies me to be anything more than an even bigger wine snob. Though my new favorite hobby is messing with faux wine snobs when they start giving the wrong information because they don't know half as much as they think they know. Then again, I used to be one of them.

And as for any wine notes, well, we did have a blind tasting during the test. It was a Muscadet Sur Lie from the Loire region in France, but I guessed New Zealand Chardonnay. That's because there were no real discernible notes of yeast (which is what "lie" means) and it seemed to have some tropical notes along with citrus notes which is why I picked a warm weather Chardonnay. The worst part is that the picking of the wine was multiple choice. Guess I'm not that good of a wine snob after all!

Well, until the next snif, sip, or quaff when I think I'm drinking Pino Noir and it turns out to be a Nebbiolo,


Alli M.