Friday, August 31, 2007

Please accept my apology... oh, the perils of over-zealous blogging

Dear Blog Readers (who, up until this point I thought there were only 4 of),

I am writing to apologize for writing some misinformation in my "What does sexy taste like?" entry. The sparkling Touraine wine is actually made by Jean-Francois Merieau not Jon-David Headrick, as I previously stated. This mistake was brought to my attention by Jon-David, the importer. See the comment posted on the entry for his kind response and information regarding the wine.

I have learned many lessons from this mistake:
  • First and foremost, I ought to be more aware of what I write in this blog. I quickly got caught up in the "blogging frenzy" and forgot that what I was writing went into a very public and google accessible domain.
  • I was far too hasty in my own google "research" and should remember to fact-check before posting. Same goes for copyrighting of images and the tendency to provide TMI.
  • I think I need to be more aware of something that I talked about in my last posting, "My Wine, Your Dog." There is no one great wine... we all have our own tastes. I want to continue to write about wine in a personal way, but I don't need to be an authority on what to buy or not to buy - you may love what I dislike and vice versa. That's all part of the great fun about opening any bottle.
  • And to elaborate further on my statement above - wine blogging is a completely subjective sport. So much of what I think about wine comes from the context in which I am consuming it. If I were to go back in time and open the Touraine again, knowing both the story of the wine maker and the process that went into making the wine, I probably would have said very different things. I'm okay with that - to me, the story and history behind the wine add just as much as the grape varietal, soil, barrel and everything else that goes into the wine.
  • Lastly, I need to learn how to read a wine label! As a California girl, I'm used to having it all spelled out for me on the bottle - flowery description and all!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

My Wine, Your Dog

Yesterday was my last official day of vacation (if you don't count the upcoming Labor day weekend). Today I officially kicked off my new life as a graduate student with a day long orientation at Teachers College. So to celebrate the end of summer I decided to take a walk to Astor Wine and Spirits. Surprisingly I had not been to this nearby store since it moved from its old location over a year ago.
The store is immaculate and has all the bells and whistles of a new-age wine shop: a tasting counter (with built-in sink), a research office, a chilled glass walled cellar, and rows upon rows of carefully stacked bottles. I had no problem spending an hour walking around and I left with 6 bottles (all $7.99 or less).
With the great feeling of buyer's-high, and eager to take my bottles home where I could study them more closely, I decided to cut diagonally through Washington Square Park. At 4pm the park was filled with loungers, musicians, skaters and dog walkers. Crossing my path in the center of the park was a woman and her dog. This dog, in my opinion was the antithesis of cute.. it was hideous. It looked like it was assembled on one of those virtual make-over websites where you get click on different features - red hair, puffy Angelina lips, green eyes... whatever your heart's desire. Only in the case of this dog, it looked as if the features had been chosen at random. It had those three inch stumpy legs, an impossibly elongated body, over-sized head and splotchy fur. People who know dogs probably could tell you the breed (Corgi-Gone-Wrong?), but I am not a dog person. Let me say that again - I am NOT a dog person.
So what does this horrible looking dog have to do with wine? Well in the moment that the woman leaned down to gingerly scoop her dog's poop into a plastic grocery bag, I was suddenly reminded that she actually loved and probably adored this dog. In fact she probably thought this dog was one of the better dogs in the entire park. Dog lovers, like wine lovers have specific and sometimes quirky taste. The Miniature Poodle owner would probably not be so thrilled with a Pit Bull, just as the White Zinfandel drinker might pass on a glass of Shiraz. I don't care for the sour tannic flavors in certain red wines that my friend refers fondly to as the "winey" taste.
Many people who write about wine acknowledge that it is hard to define "great" wine. Our taste buds and flavor preferences are as wide ranging as our partiality toward German Shepherds or Shitsus

Somebody loves her as much as I love Viognier

Right now I'm really into Viogniers. I don't go around the city petting other peoples dogs and discussing breed types. But I do hunt down every affordable Viognier I can find. Each Viognier has a different flavor profile. Some are rich and buttery like Chardonnay. Others have luscious floral bouquets like some Rieslings. Last night I had a glass of Pie De Palo, 2007 Viognier from Mendoza, Argentina.

Tasting Notes
This is one of the first 2007 wines that I've had. It instantly reminded me of the Honey Moon Viognier. Which was the first Viognier I tried (from Trader Joes). It is sweet with flavors of white nectarines (I say white because i think they have more of a floral bouquet than regular nectarines), pineapples, white grape juice. It has a slight taste of pepper at the end. There is a scent of honeysuckle. I liked it, but just as with the Honey Moon, think that it's better on its own than with food. I would like to try them both side by side to compare them. For 5.99 I would get it again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What does sexy taste like?

When I recently asked a wine salesman for an "interesting and different sparkling wine" he gave me a bottle with colorful and whimsical polka dots on its label. As attractive as the label was, I actually had some difficulty in locating the name of this wine - but here is my best shot: Merieu Touraine Brut, Jon-David Headrick. In describing this wine to me he said, "this wine is sexy." Now perhaps he was just doing his job as a saleman and in assessing that I was a young woman, thought that the word "sexy" would appeal to me. Well, he was right, I did buy the wine. But here's the thing, what does sexy taste like? I tried thinking about other "sexy" food - strawberries... chocolate dipped strawberries, or better yet... a fondue fountain where you can dip your own strawberry thereby engaging all the senses at once. Champagne I suppose also falls into the "sexy" category, or at least it conjures up images of romance, love and celebration. Yet, all this brainstorming still did not help me understand what I was going to taste in this wine. So, what better way to find out than to open the bottle.

Tasting Notes
Whenever I drink sparkling wine the first sensations are always the bubbles and the cold (duh). These two elements are delighful, but they make it hard for me to taste the flavors. On the first few sips I thought this wine was well balanced - neither too sweet nor too dry. But I also got a bitter note. Perhaps something like roasted coffee beans. Maybe a little green tea. There is a yeasty flavor, but no fruit flavors jump out. I went to google in search of some help - maybe I could some other reviews of this obscure wine. I couldn't find anything but I did find the above photo.
This is a not-so-sexy photo of the winemaker, Jon-David Headrick.
This wine is probably not readily available, but you're not really missing out for 12.99

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Gavi paired with blue Ikea tupperware and an orange full moon

Fletcher and I decided to take our dinner out to the piers on the Hudson tonight. I have been anxiously waiting for a good night to make dinner so that I would have a reason to open a bottle of 2006 Broglia La Meirana Gavi di Gavi. I made poached salmon and served it with a greek style orzo salad (with feta, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and a basil lemon dressing). This wine was recommended to me because it was supposed to stand up to the meaty and hearty flavor of salmon. I have never had a Gavi before, but I did read about it in one of Dottie and John's summer columns - so again, I was anxiously awaiting the uncorking.

I find that whenever I veer off of my regular nyc routes I am hit with a sense of awe and appreciation for the city. Since I rarely make it to the river's edge at sunset, I was feeling especially strong, positive nyc-vibes. When we reached the end of the pier we unpacked our food - 2 large blue plastic Ikea containers for our pasta and fish, 2 small containers for the basil aioli and lemon wedges and 2 plasic wine cups. I opened the wine (with much apprehension for fear of getting caught with an open container of alcohol) and we ate. As we ate a large full moon rose above the Manhattan buildings. The gavi was perfect, plastic ware and all.

Tasting Notes:
Gavi is made from Cortese grapes. Gavi is in the Piedmont region of Italy. Wine that says Gavi di Gavi, it means that it was produced in the actual village of Gavi. It is supposed to be refreshing, grapey and have good acidity, but can at times be bland.
This wine was anything but bland. There was an immediate and strong flavor of apricot and lemon. It had good crisp citrus notes with a balance of sweetness. This wine had a surprisingly long finish. At first I thought that the finish was vanilla and oak. This was rather astonishing because I am usually hit with oak right away (California Chardonnay), and have never tasted a wine where the oak came out after I swallowed the wine. However, I did a little research and found out that this wine (named after the estate's farm and said to be the most classic representation of the grape from the winery) is fermented in steel barrels - so no oak is involved. I read a few other reviews and many mentioned almonds. This is the finish - an amaretto flavor comes out at the end. I'm not a huge amaretto fan, but in this case it is delicious.
I highly recommend this wine, but it's 18.99 - well above my usual price bracket.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Zweigelt, "I'm not ordinary; give me a job" wine

Yesterday I mentioned that I went to a wine shop in an attempt to get a job. I came away from the experience $50 dollars poorer and without a job. However, I'm not a quitter and I consider the $50 an investment in my future. I bought three wines (I set a $20 dollar cap instead of my usual $10 because there were no under $10 bottles for sale). I asked one of the sales people to give me an unusual wine - something that I've never had before. He handed me a bottle of 2006 Berger, Blauer Zweigelt wine from Austria. The important thing about this wine for me is not its uniqueness -which i will talk about in a minute. The important thing about this wine was that it gave me an opportunity to send a follow up email to the owner to say thank you and to also show him that I'm not just some ordinary girl looking for some ordinary old job. We'll see if it works.
Tasting notes:
Zweigelt (Zv-eye-gelt)
is a cross between Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent. It is common in Austria and is a lighter red variety.
This particular wine comes in a stout 1 liter bottle. So for 14.99 you get 250 ml more. When I showed Fletcher he said it reminded him of a 40 (malt liquor) bottle. And sure enough underneath the outer foil was a beer bottle cap. The first taste was sharp, salty and vinegary. Not a good start. However, there were some cherry notes and other dried fruit flavors that came through. We each had a small glass and then put a rubber cork in it to save for the next night. Apparently the wine gets better after its been opened for a while.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

ALAIA - "don't give up on me yet wine"

I'm back. I have delayed adding anything to this blog because I couldn't figure out how to format the page to my exact liking. But now I realize that's not the point. And in these past two months I've missed out in adding great wines, not so great wines and experiences to this memory-tracker.
I am having a glass of Dehesa de Rubiales, Alaia wine from Spain. It is my latest addition to my $10 and under list of favorites. I opened it a week ago, and today it is serving as my "don't give up on me yet wine." It's old and doesn't taste like it did on the day I opened it. Today it tastes like raisins and if I'm really trying to make a connection, I could say it kind of tastes like an Amarone della Valpolicella. But again, that would be stretching it.

I'm sipping my glass slowly because it is the middle of the afternoon and I'm not usually a day drinker. And I'm having it with a pesto pasta, not because they do anything for each other, but because it is also a leftover that I found in my fridge. But I'm hoping that my Alaia is going to soak into my core soon and remind me that I do love wine, and that I can in fact become a wine expert if I want to become one. I should explain that I just went to get a job at a wine shop and I was told that they are really looking for someone with wine experience. Well, how does one get experience with wine if everyone is looking for someone who already has experience? I know that I'm not the only one thinking this - it's not a new problem, but it is new for me because I rarely put myself out there; I'm too afraid of rejection.
So I'm giving my Alaia, seven days old and a mere 6.99 a chance, I'm hoping someone will give me a chance too.