14 November 2009


This is a cool wine, an anomaly in Priorat---100% grenache blanc made from 100 year vines that were planted by religious missionaries.
Very friendly and precious wine. Uncomplicated if you want, but layered and seriously interesting if you take the time to broach the subject.
Fermented in stainless steel-fresh minerality. The brawn of a Rhone white, but an underlying elegance and fruit character. Fleshy tone in the glass.
brash enough to stand up to meat.
Delightfully random for those who like orphans and weirdos.

12 November 2009


I have been meaning to write about Lopez de Heredia for quite sometime now, and thought it an appropriate time as we approach the opening of Olympic Provisions. The reason, in part; being that the Heredia label was inspiration for the anticipated house brand chorizo label. The connection between Lopez de Heredia and Clyde Common is a tiny thread that has run through my experience at the restaurant from day one. During my interview, we took a tour of the basement and wine cellar where I commented on the Tondonia. Amalie Roberts (manager and wine director at the time) immediately launched into a story of her experience visiting the winery. Nate was not far behind her touting his love of the wines as well. Matt; the other owner of the Clyde initially put the wine on our opening list, and drinks it frequently when he visits.

I've been thinking about the term "benchmark" in regard to wine recently, and how it is a strong word for such a subjective notion. Being that everyone's benchmark, or point of reference is fluid and personal; I think it is safe to call this a benchmark wine, not only where Rioja is concerned but at Clyde Common.

The universal warmth that each person mentioned holds in regard to this producer is the feeling that wine, in my opinion, is made to evoke.

Amalie's story if my memory serves was about a conversation in the dark cob-webbed cellar in which she asked why they did not import their wine for so many years past; to which the sisters responded 'this wine is not made for donkeys'.

Anyway, on to the winery...completely family owned and hand-harvested bodega in Alta Rioja. Literally making wine from 3 single vineyards from a family blueprint with little disruption or change in the last 125 years. They keep their red wines for about 10 years before release, and little variance in blending occurs from vintage to vintage or vineyard to vineyard; keeping each vintage a reflection of the place and a pure study in terroir. The Tondonia vineyard bottling is comprised of 75% Tempranillo 15%garnacha and 10% Manzuela and Graciano.

Elegant fruit, cherry and tobacco, spice, minerality from the vineyard's limestone soils and totally grounded acid and tannin.

Check out this Rioja article featuring Lopez de Heredia for more information.


19 October 2009


Chenincheninchenin blanc, how i love you chenin blanc!

with your ripe and softy fruits, elegant, shifty, silky smooth.

Sometimes you have bubbles and sometimes you're sec.

I love you most from Loire of course, you're limey tart and sassy.

chenincheninchenin blanc; let us drink you petillant.

Jacky Blot is either completely obsessive or totally chilled out and mellow depending upon which angle he takes in this wine. It is a pure and unadorned expression of Chenin Blanc---he adds no sugar in the process of making this sparkling wine, so it really is a completely natural wine. He is a able to skip chaptalization, tirage, and dosage (all the points in sparkling wine making where sugar is added, hence the name Triple Zero) because he works exclusively with perfectly ripe fruit from 50 year old vines.
So, my point being; either he spends all his energy sorting and focusing narrowly on making this unique wine, or he relaxes and lets the wine take shape based on the quality of the fruit he is working with, and my real speculation is obviously that it is just the right amount of both. Then, he slaps a black velvet label on it, and gives it a name like "Triple Zero"-- (only a frenchman can swing this), and this is why Jacky Blot is my Don Juan of Mont Louis.
$40/bottle---$20/bottle on BUBBLY SUNDAY.

29 September 2009


I'm kind of obsessed with Gary Vaynerchuk...and you should be too.

19 September 2009


Eric Bordelet is making serious french ciders with a focus on technique and process that is akin to winemaking; thus yielding ciders with incredible acid, minerality, structure, balance, and elegance. Bordelet started his career as a sommelier in Paris, but eventually found his way back to his home in Normandy where he began making both apple and pear ciders from heirloom varietals. The Poire Authentique is a no-nonsense, elevated way to start a meal; and is a natural match with goat cheese or fall fruit desserts. It is an off-dry cider with just 4% alcohol. It's effervescence is somewhat light---and slips away swiftly, so lets be careful to make sure that it stays intact by keeping it cool and under pressure every time a bottle is opened.
This cider always takes me to a special place in the fall when I just couldn't get away from it. If it wasn't so compelling you may have called it a rut. I was just coming around to truly thinking about wine as anything more than a treat after a long night at work, and I would say that drinking Poire Authentique as my shift drink for the better part of a season very lovingly began to creep past my palate and was instrumental in creating the place in my spirit and brain where wine touches me, filling me with questions and fantasies of the people and plants so far away that produce this perfectly packaged time capsule that finds it's place in so many different circumstances. Some of these trees are over 300 years old!!!!! This is serious shit!!!! And yet it still feels good to relax, listen to the rain, and watch the ember burning in the wood oven as another busy night comes to an end. Sell it sell it sell it! $10/glass

07 September 2009


This organic and biodynamic Macon is not to be missed. It is a delicate introduction to the extremely interesting nuances that Chardonnay is capable of. What compelled me to write about this wine was that it was the first wine we tasted at the tasting last weekend. I, as usual; was running late. I brushed my teeth seconds before scurrying out the front door, and not ten minutes later; this wine was in my mouth. I had been so impressed when I tasted it with aaron a few weeks before, so I looked around the room smiling proudly and expecting jaws to drop, but it looked as if we all had mouths full of chalky mint gel refusing to allow anything to pass through it's steriline grip. I knew that some Cab Franc and Chateauneuf could permeate this hygienic fog. And about an hour later I was back where I had started, the Guillot-Broux Macon Cruzille; and it was clear that this is precisely where I wanted to be.
The vineyard has been farmed organically since the 1950's, but was previously fallow since the time of phylloxera---but first cultivated by monks over 1,000 years ago!!!!
Cruzille is north of the town of Macon, and produces some of the best priced white burgundies.
With clay and limestone soils, this wine is a delicate balance of citrus and earth with notes of peach and white tea, slight peony flower, and a long but totally clean finish.

29 August 2009


I've heard that there is some nice-drinking Beaujolais Nouveau to anticipate this year; and to be honest, I'm unconcerned with how good or bad Beaujolais Nouveau may be on one day of the year, and one day only---release date! Beaujolais Nouveau is simple wine to be consumed fresh and for fun. It is annually released the 3rd Thursday in November, this year being November 19th. It is traditionally a day of celebration in France to mark the end of harvest. In the 1980's and early 90's Beaujolais Nouveau flooded the U.S. market through negociant producers like Georges DuBoeuf who made a bad name for Beaujolais among those who care about wine and it's subtleties. When all is said and done, the story of the 3 AOCs of Beaujolais is interesting and complex. My personal interest in Beaujolais Nouveau begins and ends with the idea of conviviality, unpretentious drinking, and a chance for the French to be silly where wine is concerned. Although I will not be drinking the infamous flower labeled Beaujolais Nouveau, I am looking forward to tasting Jean Paul Brun's Nouveau this year. And, you see I have included images of my personal favorite part of Beaujolais Nouveau---the mixture of cheesy labels that look like posters in my childhood dentist's office, and quintessential rustic French signage.

28 August 2009


Bon Vivant is a local importer of super right on natural and mostly biodynamic French wines. Aaron and his wife Lynn run this small company, and at the moment it is just Aaron handling the day to day operations. They started about 5 years ago, and Aaron didn't know a lot about wine. He was a stone mason by trade, so the wine business is fairly new to him. He is an amazing person and really passionate about these wines; which more than speak for themselves---but on SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 5th AT 2PM we will have the pleasure of hearing him speak and taste through ALL of their wines that we sell as well as a few that may come onto the list.

Please take the time to learn about these fantastic French wines and learn more about a high-functioning very small local business!

24 August 2009


Claus Preisinger is part of the Pannobile crew; a group of 9 Austrian winemakers out of Gols, Austria who have formed a group that has been dedicated for over 10 years to making wine that honors indigenous varietals through making wines with integrity that speak specifically to the expression captured on the slopes of Wagram in Gols. Apart from the Pannobile wines, each producer is independent; but the wines labeled Pannobile undergo rigorous criticism from the small organization. In working cooperatively, these farmers/winemakers attempt to preserve and perpetuate the individuality of wines from their region and incite productivity and the spirit of friendly competition. To learn more about this project click here.
Although we are not working with the Pannobile right now, we are pouring Preisinger's BASIC. One of the raddest wines of my year so far! It starts with the label; pure low-tech simpicity reflecting the raw and sleek spirit of the wine.
A little earth, spice, and generously bright fruit. Light and soft, it is the best choice for those who would like a glass of red with either the trout or halibut. Structured enough for any pasta, chicken, quail, and even lamb.
(photo by Nialls Fallon)

21 August 2009


Although Elena Walch is a favorite producer of mine I refrained from keeping her wines on the list for a while. As if someone would recognize my affinity and call me out for being entirely too OBVIOUS. And for me that is just what her wines are, the indisputable right choice. Carefully crafted with precision that only an architect could execute, they are some of the finest representation of regional varitals in Alto Adige. They are correct, classic, old world wines that are somehow acutely touched with her independent, renaissance woman modernism.
Walch married into the winery, two vineyard sites located in Tramin; Trentino Alto Adige. She left her profession of architect to make wine, transforming the vineyards to high density plotted vines with lower yields. She works with single varietals and all wines are vineyard designated.
Located on the southern slope of the Alps; the wines have German sensibilities and aesthetic, and the pure, erratic soul of an Italian.
Fresh citrus and stone fruit on the nose. Rich and gripping on the palate with bright acid and a crisp finish. Well crafted and complex, but so easy to drink with just about anything this time of year.
$8/glass makes this wine again; the obvious choice.


19 August 2009

17 August 2009


Beaujolais is a mess. A royally beautiful bloody mess; like a punker in a rail car traveling through barren countryside, acquiring tattoos and enemies, friends and liquor bottles along the way--and unfortunately at times not long for this world. Unpredictable and subtly likable at it's best.
We begin with Beaujolais AOC and Beaujolais-Villages AOC, which for the purpose of this post I will disregard.

We're talking about Cru baby!!!! The 10 Cru are labeled only with their Cru status, which is how the AOC has chosen to express the higher quality of their wine from the sordid past of Beaujolais-Noveau. Traditionally (in Burgundy and Alsace) "Cru" refers to the vineyard sites that wines hail from; in Beaujolais it is a more general term encompassing both villages and vineyards. If you are drinking Beaujolais Rouge you are most certainly drinking of the Gamay grape; regarded as a less sophisticated sibling of Pinot Noir. Although Beaujolais is not highly regarded for aging purposes, the Cru wines are often prepared for cellaring. They are slightly more full bodied and serious; but also coy, youthful and delicious with a slight chill like the wines of Villages level.

10 CRUS (North to South)- and some very generalized characteristics of each cru...

1. Saint-Amour- spicy, peach aromatics

2. Juliénas- Village named after Julius Caesar; rich, spicy, floral

3. Chénas- smallest cru, wild roses on the nose

4. Moulin-à-Vent- long lasting, known for tannic structure and more oak

5. Fleurie- soft elegant fruit, floral component, ageability

6. Chiroubles- high altitude, often floral; specifically violet and dark berry fruit.

7. Morgon- Powerful, deep, earthy. Can develop apricot and peachy sweetness on the nose, Burgundian qualities with age

8. Régnié- Most recent addition to cru, red currant and raspberry, full body

9. Brouilly- Largest cru, blueberries and cherries on the nose. Along with Cote de Brouilly, the only crus to allow grapes other than gamay to be grown in the area (melon de bourgogne, chardonnay, aligote)

10. Côte de Brouilly-concentrated, less earthy than Brouilly, grown on volcanic slopes

Please welcome to the list....

2007 Domaine Cheysson Chiroubles
Plenty of earth, with a sweet candy nose. Tasty and bright without leaning too serious. Great with all things grilled. Steep vineyards on Chiroubles' south end graced with exposure to sunlight; making for ripe, round fruit; Jean-Pierre Large is regarded as one of Beaujolais' greatest within France and abroad.

16 August 2009


"Sparkling Muscatel. One of the finest wines of Idaho".
-Waiter (Steve Martin), The Muppet Movie; 1979

click here to watch the clip.

14 August 2009


In inspecting the lives of passionate and successful people there will often be a naysayer, a bully who pokes at the individual either from the sidelines; or head-on.
As I was reading about guitar legend Les Paul's passing yesterday and it was mentioned that at one point his piano teacher had told his mother that her son would never learn music, I lamented that no one had ever told me I couldn't do something. Probably because with most things I put my energy toward, informing me of my inability would be classified as something along the lines of rubbing salt in my wounds.
And then it came to me... someone had berated me! And it was pertaining to wine! Maybe there is hope for me yet!
The attack came amidst one of the innumerable tirades that the wine director I worked under at the time was known for. He told me that I would never understand wine because I didn't eat meat, so I should just quit trying.
Funny thing is, I now know/believe him to be correct; I eat some meat, and I understand.
But at the time, I was furious. And it might sound from the way I tell the story that this dude was old, wise, and learned. Well that's the worst part! He was a slightly effeminate 30 year old shlep, always listening to 90's emo music and wearing rumpled tight button up Theory shirts that his girlfriend bought him at sample sales and such.
Any wine on the list, any wine; if you asked him to describe it quickly on your way to a table he had one answer: "pretty" and it drove me bananas! And now I see clearly and truthfully, every wine on that list was pretty, his palate loves pretty wines.
And I respect him totally for what he taught me about wine; and for chiding me just enough to give me what every aspiring anybody needs from their critic... reason to keep drinking!

12 August 2009


This is the Gramona family coat of arms. Vine, wine, life, and a certain idea of Cava.
Gramona is my favorite favorite cava. I don't generally think of cava as an experience in wine. I would drink a glass if I were a damsel in distress meeting my homegirl to break down some serious shit talk, or to bring light to an awkward date.
But Gramona's line of terroir-driven cavas turned my world upside down.
They boast subtle differences, but I favor the integrity and price of the GRAN CUVEE.
They are a family owned and operated estate in the Penedes region of Spain (Eastern Spain, Catalunya). Known for beautifully aged wines made in the Champenois method; Gramona grows all the grapes that go into their product and maintains tradition and consistency.

A blend of Xarel.lo, Chardonnay, and Macabeo. Light an fragrant. Deep walnut and slight, elegant citrus and toffee. Airy pastries, bread dough and a bit of round fruit on the finish. Recommended as aperitif, great with organ meat, poultry, smoked fish; and suitable for dessert pairing as well.

10 August 2009


For those of you who attended the Antica Terrra tasting and may be curious about the boutique winery Maggie worked at in Ventura which she briefly spoke of; click below and...


09 August 2009


Bandol is an appellation within Provence; known for it's limestone soils and rich, brooding red wines. Although white wine is not the region's primary strength, this wine has a rare and delicate beauty.

It is a blend of the local Ugni Blanc and Clairette. The vineyard is located about 5 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea.

Winemaker Alain Pascal has been making wine for production about 12 vintages now, but his father was previously a grower who sold his fruit; and Alain has been making wine for his own consumption for years. his first profession was as a professional boxer!

When I saw the excerpt below in July's newsletter I decided to include it because Pascale Parodi of Gros 'Nore told this story as she presented the wine at a recent lunch at Alu.

Here we are—July—and it matters because this dry white has the sun and sea in

it. A vacation in a wine glass!

At Gros ’Noré, at first I thought the wine had an intense citronelle smell to

it. Then I realized it was the winemaker’s aftershave. In fact, he caught me sniff-

ing at him, so I asked him why he smelled so . . . strong. He giggled like a

schoolboy. “If you knew where I’m headed,” he said, “you’d be jealous.”

“Well, where?” I asked.

“She’s blonde,” he said, beaming and making weird shapes in the air with his

gnarly, wine-stained hands.

I brought the bottle home, far from the odor of horny vignerons. This white

smells as inviting as a slice of cold honeydew melon on a hot day, and there is

indeed a twist of lemon to it—but subtle, thank goodness—not at all like after-


Summertime, summertime. I will never have enough summertimes.

-Kermit Lynch


Lyle Railsback pouring 1998 Gros 'Nore Bandol Rouge; a back-vintage treat!

08 August 2009


Blogging and massive culinary interest all in one movie...

You gotta see it!


photo by Stephanie Del Toro

02 August 2009


At last Saturday's tasting, Maggie Harrison touched briefly on a subject and process that I had been meaning to write about; the 3 distinct methods in which rosé wine is produced.

The method she discussed using initially, which did not work for her here like it did in California is the most common and traditional method; Saignée, which literally translates to "bleeding".


The way it works is that rosé is produced as a by-product of red wine. Early in vinification of the desired red wine, some of the juice from the freshly crushed grapes is removed, further concentrating the juice used for the red wine, imparting greater tannin and depth; and leaving a lovely light rosey juice behind. Most winemakers like to vinify this pastel pink dream separately for a seasonal, and often limited release of rosé.

Skin Contact (or Direct Press):

This is the method Maggie has used for this year's rosé. Red skinned grapes are crushed whole and sit in contact with the juice for a few days. The grapes are pressed and skins are discarded before fermentation begins. The longer the contact, the more intensely colored the wine will be. Using direct press means that the rosé is the only wine that will be made from those grapes; which is why the cost of Antica Terra's rosé is significantly higher.


This is an uncommon and simple, sensicle method in which previously vinified red and white wines are mixed to make rosé. The only regulated wine region in the world that allows this method is Champagne, and even there saignée is more common. There was recently a tussle in France regarding a proposal made by the E.U. to loosen the very tight restrictions on rosé production throughout Europe. Please read more about the withdrawn proposal by clicking here.

As long as we're on the subject; please check out our new rosé by the glass...


A light and fresh saignée method rosé from the mountainous alpine region of Savoie. Jongieux is a tiny appelation nestled on a plateau between peaks near where Lake Bourget flows into the Rhone River. Eugene Carrel and his son Olivier, and son in law Sebastien manage the 14th century estate and make real, traditional Savoie wines.

The rosé is 65% Gamay and 35% Mondeuse (principal local varietal). Fresh and lively, dry spice and plummy fruit. Drink with pork rillettes, chicken wings, and quail!


27 July 2009


Ronco Malo is produced by the same winery as the Arcese white that we worked with last fall. They hold it back, so the current vintage comes with a little bottle aging. It is a single vineyard wine made on a mountain vineyard in Piedmont where one side is all Barbera plantings and the other is Dolcetto, and the winemaker lives on top of the mountain between the two. It ages in cement and is unfiltered. Rich and smoky, juicy and elegant. It has the leaner structure that Asti is known for (in contrast to Alba), dry with a dark ruby color, soft on the palate. Great for chicken, lamb, rich pastas, and even steak. I love the label; two hearts coming out of a goblet...come on, why do those damn Italians have to be so sexy?


What is good taste?
It is the talent, acquired through experience,
to recognize the true or the good,
the circumstances that caused it,
and the ability to be promptly and highly touched by it.



This wine is 45% Trouseau, 45% Poulsard, and 10% Pinot Noir. It is from the Cotes du Jura appellation, and although the focus in this region is primarily on Vin Jaune (made from the Savagnin grape) in Chateau-Chalon, Trousseau and Poulsard vines are quietly making focused and incredibly light bodied red wines---in my opinion, truly perfect wines to accompany late summer meals at the time of night when the temperature has dropped just enough to consider eating a substancial meal, the air is still warm but a breeze cools your sunburn enough to crave a glass of red wine for the first time in days. (I know this sounds cheesy; but it really happened to me a few weeks back at Castagna!)

Anyway, incredible balance of tannin, acid, earth and fruit. Perfect with cured meats, pork, and sausages. Impeccably made wine by a husband and wife team at their estate which dates back to the 16th century and is surrounded by caves. She was a professor of agriculture prior to owning the winery, and they harvest primarily by hand.

For a lot more information please visit http://www.berthet-bondet.net/indexanglais.htm


I figured as long as we're talking Jura I'd cover this wine as well. Currently being served on the dessert board, this fortified wine is interesting and intense, powerful and also playful. It is a great alternative to a sweeter dessert wine, and is actually refreshing enough to act as an aperitif. We serve it chilled, and it is a blend of chardonnay and Savagnin finished with a bit of brandy to stop the fermentation process. It smells of fresh bailed wet hay on the nose, with nuts, raisins, and fig on the palate. It is aged 3 years in cask before bottling.

25 July 2009


I had dinner with Jon David Headrick at Navarre (http://navarreportland.blogspot.com/) last week. Jon David is a whip smart; stand up guy from Nashville, Tennessee who happens to know, love, and import French wine. He is just reserved enough to allow the wines to speak for themselves; as he knows they can- and I quickly picked up on his slight and muted Southern drawl; which seemed to emerge along with an aire of excitement surrounding some particular wines. This Muscadet was one of the first wines of the evening, and Jon sat back with a prideful smirk as he asked the table our thoughts on the wine. We sat still and baffled for a moment in the heat of the early evening as commuters flew by our outdoor post. Navarre was super busy after their recent Restaurant of the Year award, so it was just us, the heat, the water, and the wine. After swimming all day and saving my appetite for dinner time, the rough saline and fresh lemon zest punch of the wine was a perfect beginning; I couldn't wait for fish fish fish!

This is the first time that Michel Delhommeau's wines have been in the US market, and he and his wife Nathalie are ecstatic. They farm just 28 hectares of Melon de Bourgogne near the end of the Loire river where it meets the ocean outside of Nantes. The soil is a blend of granite, chalk, and a stony lava-like soil called gabbro; which is specific to the region and plays a huge role in the expression of the wines.

Delhommeau farms naturally, ages in tank, and separates bottlings by soil type in the Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie (one of 3 Muscadet appellations), which implies extended time on the lees--ensuring a complex and yeasty wine, a perfect accompaniment to local seafood and shellfish.

The Cuvee St Vincent is salty and fresh with lemon and lime character, and an incredible finish-strangely round and soft on the palate.

>>>>you can't afford not to sell this wine at $7/glass, that's class yo<<<<

13 July 2009


The first time I ever heard of Muller-Catoir was when my very strange new co-worker Michael Lacy was walking me through the wine list at the restaurant where we met in New York. He told me that this particular Riesling tasted "like mama bird chewed up a grapefruit and spit it in baby bird's mouth"; so I began to describe the wine as such to my tables, and needless to say; they ate it up! I also ate dinner just once at that restaurant in the year that I worked there, and I ordered that wine; and I have been a beleiver ever since.

Muller-Catoir is one of the most amazing and historically important estates in the Pfalz. They were instrumental in pioneering wine of quality and character from the region beginning in the 1960's.

These wines are often described as evocative, aristocratic, and supernatural.

The current winemaker; Martin Franzen has taken over for Hans-Gunter Schwartz who was the cellar master for 42 years, and although there are some changes in the wines; the importer beleives that the progression is natural and the wines are consistent with the beloved fruit, spritz, and near psychadelic experience Muller-Catoir is known for.

The 40 year old Scheurebe vines account for only 9% of total production. Scheurebe was created in 1916 by a German viticulturist when he crossed Riesling with an unknown wild varietal.

Ripe, round, grapefruit, elderflower, earth, light pepper spice---obviously, very layered and rich, with sugar, acid, and minerality. Alien wine.

11 July 2009

<<< TWO WORLDS >>>

There are 7 seats still available! Please let your friends and your tables know. It's going to be a great combination of New/Old World wine, and Jason's menu looks perfect for the occasion.

06 July 2009


Please mark your calendars for tasting with Maggie Harrison (winemaker) of Antica Terra at Clyde Common, on Saturday August 1st, 2pm.

Maggie will be speaking about winemaking in the Willamette Valley, and of course we will taste through her current releases.

This should be both interesting and informative and help us even better represent Maggie's beautiful wines.

29 June 2009


If you want to invest in books where wine is concerned, I will tell you very briefly where I have been and what I feel is essential:

-The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil: I poured over this book for days in my Chelsea coffee shop; at the suggestion of my boss who breathed down my neck every night about what a helpless idiot I was where wine was concerned. It meant nothing to me and frustrated me for a long time, and now I realize that I AM a helpless idiot, but I've learned how this book can help me a little bit.

-Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine: Just complete and accessible

-Burgundy Stars by William Echikson: A tragic and interesting story about a chef who was dying for Michelin stars.

-What to Drink With What You Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page: Well archived explanations of food and wine pairings.

-Inspiring Thirst by Kermit Lynch: A compilation of wine descriptions from almost 30 years of the Kermit Lynch monthly brochure, well written and fun to read.

-2000 Champagnes by Richard Juhlin: 2000 Champagnes!

-Vino Italiano by Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch: Everything you need to know about Italian Wine.

-Oldman's Guide To Outsmarting Wine: Really simple and easy to navigate. Very basic. A great place to start.


Sitios de Bodega is a family winery in northwestern Spain, and Con Class is the label under which Ricardo Sanz and his siblings have ventured off to make wine independent of their father. What's cool about this wine; other than that it is inexpensive and rather compelling is that it is made by 3 siblings who care deeply about Rueda as a winemaking region, and not only Rueda; they want to make wines that speak to the individuality of each vineyard site. This wine is mostly Verdejo, with a small percentage of Sauvignon Blanc. They are a team, and a family; and it shows through the work that they do. The two older brothers make the wine and their baby sis manages marketing and sales, their father proudly grumbles.

My friend who visited described the marked difference in Rueda, and specifically with this family; to the traditional and buttoned up approach of many old-school wineries across Spain. After enjoying a 5 course lunch of lamb leg and opulent Rioja in front of a hearth at the Muga estate in Rioja, her day with the Sanz's felt worlds away. She marveled at their genuine, fun, and reckless nature as they flew from one vineyard site to the next in Ricardo's tiny car, all of them smoking and yelling; music blasting.

My point is, Rueda was fallow for centuries until the Verdejo grape reclaimed the region and was only brought back into major production in the 1970's. These are the children of that revolution. This is why I am interested in wine. This re-birth of a region has propelled people to move forward and make progressive and interesting wines, and essentially produce hyper-traditional wines in the process. This is happening many places; the 3 that I have been paying attention to are California, Languedoc, and Rueda.

The wine is organic. It has slight hint of peach, grass, and tropicality. Lean minerality compliments of the vineyard's chalky soils and bright acid courtesy of the sauvignon blanc.

We are pouring it $8/glass.

27 June 2009


But my favorite Spanish wine enthusiast did, and here are two of my favorite photos from her trip. The sheep are in Ribera del Duero, the vineyard is in Galicia and I beleive the vines are Godello. God how beautiful!


Tuesday, June 30 there is a portfolio tasting of Terry Theise's extraordinary German and Austrian selections at the Cleaner's from 2-5pm. This is an industry only tasting, and if any Clyde employee would like to join me you are welcome; just send me an e-mail and we will meet up. These are the type of tastings that I both look forward to and dread all week! Truly some of my favorite wines, quite a few of which have been or are currently on our list (Donnhoff, Schaefer, Spreitzer, Josef Leitz Carl Loewen, Nikolaihof, Nigl...you get the picture). There is a lot of wine and a lot of information, which I find goes down a lot easier if tasting is followed up by a quick espresso to bring me back. Not only has Terry Theise been importing exclusively from Germany, Austria, and Champagne for over 25 years; he has also been writing both odes and prose of love and devotion to these wines and their makers. If you are interested in experiencing a very visceral, elemental, and ethereal (yes all combined) portraiture of these wines written by the astute surrogate father to all of his wines, please let me know and I will hook it up.

24 June 2009


The other day I went to an Italian tasting at Cafe Umbria (303 NW 12th). I was really excited to taste more Marotti Campi wines, which were beautiful; however I was really impressed with the extremely cute and personable team representing La Crotta.

La Crotta is a cooperative winery in the Valle d'Aosta; northern Italy, just north of Piedmont in the Swiss Alps.

We are currently working with their Pinot Noir, which is a deceptively light red wine with some tannin, but the color and spirit of rose. After speaking with them I feel like moving it to the rose category of the list. They drink it as an aperitif, with cured meats and cheeses; or with fish.

There are 120 members of the cooperative; all of them do everything, from harvesting to winemaking to bottling. Therefore, none of the wines can be linked to a specific winemaker or vineyard site. They have been producing since 1980 and are naturally farmed and use indigenous grapes. Elio, the president of the cooperative was very informative as I spoke with him through his assistant, she was a young and spunky one with a very prominent and charming accent. We both smiled a lot, and I took what I could from the conversation.

All the wines were lovely, the Fumin and Muscat were really standout!

*Fumin is a local grape varietal that was nearly extinct which is characterized by meaty, brambly, soft tannins.

22 June 2009


-Always bring glassware to the table first, followed by the bottle. This is for safety when walking through the dining room.
-All glass pours must be served in our everyday Riesling/Sangiovese glasses, aside from dessert wines and bubbles; which should be served in the appropriate glassware (flutes and small desert stemware). All red wine by the bottle should be served in large bowls. Please ask if you are unclear, but use your judgement; as long as the glass allows the wine to express its character I am not too concerned with “proper” glassware.
-Most white wines by the bottle are served in the Riesling/Sangio glasses. The exception that jumps out-all White Burgundy should be served in large bowls (Burgundy glasses).

-BUBBLES! For safety and suave professionalism, tableside and server station:
*Drop glassware, select bottle from fridge, and grab a clean folded servillette.
*Unwrap wine cage, but do not remove from bottle.
*Continue to apply pressure to top of cage as if you are holding the cork in the bottle; which you possibly are.
*Wrap servillette over the top of the bottle and gently jostle the cork side to side; allowing air to escape.
*The cork should not pop or fly, you should be in complete control and the wine should not bubble over excessively.
*If you are opening the bottle properly, it should sound like a sigh; not a pop or fizz.
*Put the cork on the table, cage intact. Pour slowly and steadily, so as not to aggravate the bubbles.
*Always offer an ice bucket, but do not automatically bring one over unless it is a wine best at an extremely cool temperature. Most sparkling wines benefit from warming up a bit, and our cooler is extremely cold-cooler than suggested for most white wine. You can tell your table that too, as long as it feels comfortable and respectful.

-When presenting wine, clearly state the vintage, producer’s name, and any other identifying information on the bottle (name of cuvee, grape if applicable). Wait for acknowledgement (acceptance of the bottle) from the host before beginning.
-Always pour a small taste for the host (person who selected the bottle), and wait for them to accept the wine.
-When someone brings in their own bottle always charge corkage unless it is a friend of the house, in which case please ring in the “no corkage” button. Ask the customer how they would like the bottled treated as appropriate (chilled, decanted, opened now or later on). Bring appropriate glassware to the table. Upon opening the bottle, have the host taste as usual-I’m sure they do not want to serve corked wine to their guests!
-Pour the wine for the rest of the table first; finish pouring with the host. Don’t adhere to ladies first, it gets to difficult with full communal tables. Pour clock-wise from the host to the best of your ability.
-After serving a wine, especially white or sparkling; please check inventory and note on white board if necessary.
-If a table is drinking the last or second to last bottle of wine we have in stock please let them know in case they plan to continue with another bottle.
-If table is moving on to a second and different bottle of wine please offer fresh glassware.
-If they are continuing with another of the same bottle please bring a fresh glass to the host for tasting purposes.
-If you have questions or concerns about a bottle, please see a manager before opening.
-whenever possible/applicable please defer wine service and questions to Lauren.


Just because I'm making our wine updates public domain does not mean I will stop providing unnecessary movie tips! Although this one is dangerously relevant...a very good film highlighting Languedoc producers, and outlining some domestic wine practices as well. Essential for anyone pursuing interest in wine/production/history/future.

Check it out.

2007 Steinmetz Riesling Spatlese "Devon"

*Weingut Gunther Steinmetz (Stefan's Father) pictured at right*
I decided to write about this wine since it is coming off the glass pour list soon, and slated to be by the bottle only. I have reached a point with this wine where i am blinded. I no longer have the ability to judge it's beauty because I love it too much.
Stefan Steinmetz is a young dude; 30 years old making these rustic, expressive, seemingly wise wines in the Mosel.
His wines are like big babies; or maybe more like grumpy old men, depends on how you look at it. Rough around the edges with hearts of gold.
When Daniel Melia of Mosel Wine Merchants (see link) showed me this wine he said something so compelling--
" “...You're aiming to pour the Spätlese Devon from Stefan Steinmetz -- a beautiful choice. If my instincts prove correct, in a few years time you'll be able to say that you were ahead of the curve on the Mosel's next star producer. He's just thirty years old but has been making the wines on his own since 2000. I think it's fair to say that he's more proud of the 07 Devon than any wine he's ever made. It's equipped with a real playful balance between sweetness and acidity and has a fine, delicate minerality, but the wine is somehow powerful, almost muscular, at the same time. It's like one of those 300-lb. athletes who runs and jumps and moves his feet with the kind of grace usually reserved for much smaller men. As you can tell: I love this wine.”
Get to know this wine, it's worth it!

18 June 2009

my 2 favorite managers doing what we do best...

eating pizza at Ken's and drinking 2004 Mayr-Nusser Lagrein Riserva!

2006 Ca de Noci "Sottobosco"

This frizzante dry lambrusco is a wine of character, stamina, and stature. It is a refined, if not a bit weathered and mature example of the rugged potential of the lambrusco grapes. "Sottobosco" is a blend of malbo gentile, lambrusco maestri, and lambrusco grasparossa from Emilia-Romagna. Ca de Noci is a naturally farmed winery run by two brothers, with a walnut orchard that has been growing on the property for over 30 years. I get the walnut skins and earthy tones more from the malvasia they make, but the dry; at times almost throat tickling sensation is definitely present in this wine. This is a layered wine, very minerally with a chalky finish. Really badass without being too serious. Serve in riesling/sangio glassware. The Dressner website suggests serving at cellar temp, I've been keeping it cooler than that-better a little cool than a little warm, especially for summer. Think tagliatelle, cured meats, hard cheeses (parmigiano reggiano), pork, lamb, and Italian grains for pairing.  It's also considered a table wine because the grapes are grown outside of Lambrusco DOC, it is outrageously fun and interesting at just $36/btl.

17 June 2009


Bubbly Sunday includes all bottles of sparkling wine on our list. it is a great opportunity for staff to learn about our Champagne and other sparkling, and just become familiar with pulling and selling these bottles. Champagne is one of my personal favorites; it is one of the most versatile wines in the world, and is elegant and celebratory no matter how you drink it. I think one of the all-star orders I've ever heard was 2 bacon cheeseburgers with a bottle of de Sousa & Fils Blanc de Blancs. Now that's style. The prices range from $11/btl. for our exceptional house cava (Gran Moments) to $55 for 2002 Pierre Gimmonet "Fleuron", and we have had magnums on the list in the past. The price range is impressive and really speaks to the format of the menu as well; you may have a couple sharing a bottle of cava over burgers and fries, and on the other side of the table a large group sharing a vintage champagne and a 3 course meal. If you work Sundays it is a chance to study the wines, and if you don't work, get together a crew and get silly and educated all at the same time!