Monday, January 31, 2011

Wendy N. reports in from France

In my previous post, my friends and I were toasting my friend, Wendy N., who was on her way to a 6 month sabbatical in Europe. She recently sent some notes on her latest tastings, which is good because I seem to have forgotten how to write my own content.

Wendy and her husband, Gabe, are currently in the Aude/Languedoc-Roussillon region in France. The French have been making wine in this region for hundreds of years yet only recently has it emerged as a hot "new" wine region. But I think Wendy says it best:

"So we've been enjoying all the good, cheap wine in France. We're staying in Couiza in the Aude/Languedoc-Roussillon region. To the northeast of us a small region called Minervois, and they blend some good reds. We went to this fabulous one-star restaurant (1 Michelin star/20 Euro prix fixe) and they gave us a half bottle of a Minervois red (we didn't get the full winery name -- Jean something might be the guy who runs it) for all of 5 Euros ($7). So we bought the bottle in the pic at the local grocery store for under 3E, and it was pretty good table wine. It's a mix of grapes -- very mild. They have great descriptions on the back of bottles here (I'll take a pic next time)."

I looked up the wine on and unfortunately I could not find it anywhere in the U.S. based on the name I took off the label. In some ways, though, that's one of the beautiful things about enjoying wine in the country where it comes from. You're likely to come across something you can't get in your home country which makes the experience even more special.

Why didn't I try to pack myself in Wendy N.'s suitcase?!?

Before I sign off, please take a moment to vote for my blog at I'd love to have it move up the list! And for my retired friends, you know you have the time to vote often - very often.

Until Wendy N.'s next sniff, sip or quaff (she's on sabbatical and I've been super busy at work so she'll definitely be sipping sooner than me!),


Alli M.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A (slightly overpriced) toast to a friend

This past weekend I went out with a bunch of friends to Jane, a restaurant in New York City. The wine list was overpriced - bottles were generally 3x more than retail, which is, sadly, becoming more common.

Typically in this case I'd go for something in the mid to higher price ranges because the higher up the list you go, the lower the mark-up. However, even Jane's mid-priced wines weren't that amazing (A to Z pinot noir, a solid $20 bottle, for $64?!?). So I figured why not go lower down the list.

My friend, Rachel, had a half finished glass of Les Chamins de Bassac 2008, the least expensive Pinot Noir on the menu. She offered a taste. It was light bodied, yet juicy with some nice cherry notes. It was far from complex and didn't have a whole lot going on, but, it went down easy and I knew we would all enjoy it.

Ultimately, though, this was not a meal about wine (though we did go through 2 bottles), but a celebration of our friend, Wendy N. And it was nice to find that there are well crafted lists with a variety of price points (even if they were a bit overpriced). So maybe next time I encounter an inflated list, I'll look to the "value" end again.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wall Street Journal write up on Amanti Vino

As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of Amanti Vino, my local (Montclair, NJ) wine shop. In several past articles I've mentioned its proprietor, Sharon, and/or manager, Will. The Wall Street Journal recently wrote them up and I feel it's my civic duty to share. Plus, this article may give you a little insight into why I love them.

Oh, and for my friends who never seem to want to leave Manhattan, please note that Sharon may be opening a store on your little island in the coming year. Obviously there will be details to come.
Until the next sniff, sip, quaff or write up of another favorite wine store,


Alli M.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Go Oregon! Or Better Yet, Try Oregon (Wines).

As an avid Pinot Noir fan, Oregon's Willamette Valley is one of my favorite places in the U.S. and as an avid football fan I find myself naturally rooting for Oregon in tonight's college football championship. I also find myself thinking about some of my favorite wines from Willamette.

If I were an actual graduate of Oregon and my team were in the championship, I might celebrate with Evening Land Seven Springs Pinot Noir or Beaux Freres The Vineyard Pinot Noir. They are classic examples of elegant, yet accessible Burgundian style pinot noirs - slight minerality, a little bit of earth and great black currant and berry notes.

However, my college team is currently without a coach and my pro team just got knocked out of the playoffs so I don't foresee uncorking a celebratory wine any time soon! To that end, I'd go for something in the "Value" range of $20 - $25: an A to Z Pinot Noir , a Four Graces Pinot Noir or a Lange Pinot Noir.

Whatever I choose to drink, I know I'll be able to find one of these at a local wine store because Oregon wines are readily available across the U.S. and usually at a variety of price points. So, if you haven't tried an Oregon Pinot, what are you waiting for? I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Oh and if Oregon ends up as the champion and you'd like to toast them, check out an Argyle Brut.

Until the next sniff, sip, quaff or inspiring football game,


Alli M.