Friday, September 14, 2007

"Wineless in New York City"

I completed my task yesterday with considerable ease in large part because I brought along my friend Kellie, who needed to make her own wine purchase, and so I was able to live vicariously through her. We went to Astor Wine and Spirits for their Tasting Event with "Australian Phenom Grant Burge." I described this wine store in an earlier post, but I have had more thoughts on it since that original visit.

Upon my second visit to Astor Wine and Spirits I had a flash from the movie You've Got Mail. In the movie. Meg Ryan plays the owner of a small children's book store while her rival, Tom Hanks, is the owner of the big bad chain store, Fox Books. Suddenly I felt like I was in the Fox Books of New York Wine stores. It's big and bustling, and they even offer those discount cards that you can attach to your key chain like the Duane Reade or CVS cards. I have to wonder how this store has impacted the other smaller shops around the area. I for one appreciate some of the "chain-like" qualities, namely the affordability, selection and free tastings. On the other hand I really appreciate the intimacy of the "Mom and Pop" shop.

Anyway, let's get to the Phenom, Grant Burge and his wines. First of all the tasting was widely attended and the store provided REAL wine glasses. I was thoroughly impressed by this touch (though people like Gary - see yesterday's post, who wash out their glasses between pours with the wine itself (!) may not have been as impressed). Kellie and I got our glasses and approached the bar. We ended up getting to talk to several people including Mr. Phenom himself. He was actually quite approachable and I managed to come up with what I hoped was an appropriate question:
What is the life span of a vine and how does the grape/wine change as the grape ages? (Since his vines are very old)
His response: If the wines are tended to properly they can live for a very long time - over 100 years. The wine changes within the first 50 years of the vine's life, but not much after that. When the vine gets old, just like people, it loses a lot of its foliage and produces fewer grapes. The grapes are therefore exposed to the sun more and become more concentrated which give the wine blackish characteristics and intense flavor.

Old Man _Old Vine _____

Tasting Notes:
2005 Grant Burge "Barossa Vines" Shiraz, $11.99
My notes will be brief since I only had two small sips in a crowded store in which to evaluate the wine. Caramel/toffee nose, with smooth soft tannins. It was rich with a long finish and as Kellie said, good for winter time. It was not as spicy as other Shiraz that I've had. I would have bought it (it was on sale for $10) but then I would have failed my own test.

**Thanks for everyone who participated in my poll - a rather obvious question (4 out of 5 got it right and the 5th, I'm convinced was my mother trying to use reverse psychology). I wanted to get the Poll function up and running. Check out the new question!

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