29 June 2009

FAVORITE WINE RELATED BOOKS

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.

2007 SITIOS DE BODEGA CONCLASS VERDEJO, RUEDA


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

NO I DID NOT GO TO SPAIN...




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!

GERMAN/AUSTRIAN TASTING


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

LA CROTTA DI VEGNERON


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

CLASS ACT

WINE SERVICE TIPS:
-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.

WINE SERVICE-GENERAL:
-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.

MONDOVINO!


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!
http://www.weingut-guenther-steinmetz.de/

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!!!!



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!

INTERNATIONAL PINOT NOIR CELEBRATION (IPNC) EVENT






As long as I have California on the brain, I thought it a good time to mention the IPNC event being held at Clyde Common on Thursday July 23, 2009. We could not be happier about the producers we are working with. We will be featuring the wines of both Cedric Bouchard (Champagne, FR) and Copain (Sonoma, CA). More information to follow. For reservations please contact me at lauren@clydecommon.com or call 503.228.3333

16 June 2009

/////CALIFORNIA DREAMIN/////2007 LIOCO "INDICA"


Please welcome our first ever California wine! I first tasted through the Lioco Chardonnays almost 2 years ago and was stunned. It was then that I began to formulate ideas for a friendly way to incorporate California wines onto our domestic-shy list. We are currently pouring this silky soft blend of Carignan, Grenache, and Mouvedre by the glass. Lioco works primarily with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but I love the fun and affordable usage of Rhone varietals-emulating the vibrant vin de table culture in Europe. This wine has tart cherry fruit, soft tannins, and a bright herbaceous disposition.
Not bad for our first foray into a new region, and maybe I'll pick up a similar blend from France BTG for some interesting comparison. I'll work on that.

the ever-evolving mission statement of the wine list at Clyde Common

At Clyde Common our wine program seeks to simultaneously compliment our food, intrigue our employees and guests, educate without overwhelm, and remain committed to sustainable and progressive practices while honoring the integrity of traditional methods.

We have a wide-ranging list that begins with house wine at $6 a glass, gracefully moves to more sophisticated and expressive glass pours, quickly turns to an array of mid-range bottles of excellence, value, and character, and ends with some beautiful grower champagne, German and Austrian riesling, red and white Burgundy, and noble Italian varietals.

To view our current offerings please visit:
http://www.clydecommon.com/menus.aspx?m=Wine