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Tasting wine in the dark.

Blind tasting of a Greek Chardonnay:

2016 Papargyriou Winery Ca, ç’est Correct.

Last year we were in Xylokastro, Greece visiting one of our favs – Yannis Papargyriou. You know him through his wines. His Roi des Montagnes Cuvée and Unfiltered are amazing wines and hopefully we will slip them in one of the club shipments soon. So, Yannis invites us for dinner at this hole in the wall joint not far from where we were staying. It was in Diminio (near Kiato), the place is called Malinovrakas (slang for “woolen underwear”).

The proprietor was a colorful Greek who apparently was twice deported from the US for not having his papers in order. The food was just delicious and I for one wouldn’t have minded if Immigration had looked the other way. We can use restaurants like that here!

The appetitezers make their way to the table which sort of indoors and outdoors. Yannis had carefully chilled a bottle of the freshly bottled Ca, c’est Correct in a bag with some ice. He takes out this beautiful etched bottle with a silver wax seal. Pops open the cork. Pours it in the glass. The power goes out! I mean, the whole place is bathed in darkness. A stunned silence permeated the Peloponesean summer air. It was brief and then a few people started laughing. Most of us reached for our cell phones and used the flashlight mode to orient ourselves. Now, my glass had the wine already poured. I gingerly reached for it. I can honestly say that this was a “blind tasting”. You can look up my descriptions of this Chardonnay somewhere else. But let me tell you, in the darkness, this wine was like some beautiful woman playing footsie with you. For some of you who haven’t done this, I recommend both the footsie in the darkness and this amazing Chardonnay!

Chiroubles – a gateway to Cru Beaujolais!

Every November, the shelves in our local wine stores get flooded with bottles with multicolored labels. The wines taste really young- almost grape juicy- and has this after taste of bubble gum. Yes, I am talking of Beaujolais Nouveau. The local papers will write about it and they will go as far as to say to pair it with your Thanksgiving meals! My advice. Ditch the Nouveau. Nouveau is for suckers! Instead get introduced to the world of Cru Beaujolais. Chiroubles, for example.

A narrow strip of land between Lyon and Burgundy, the area of Beaujolais expresses the same grape – Gamay – in 10 different ways. These 10 Crus are worth discovering. If this is daunting, we recommend starting with the most accessible of them all – Chiroubles. We like to call it the Gateway Beaujolais!

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Does Vradiano ring a bell?

Unless you are a die hard Greek oenophile, most likely you have never heard of Vradiano. Honestly, few years back this grape was unknown to my ears as well.

But you should seek this wine. This is a grape steeped in antiquity and history. When Hercules finished his labors (chores), he came to Northern Evia to chill out in the hot Springs near Gialtra. I want to believe that he sipped on this restorative wine while hanging out in the mineral rich waters. I bet he did, especially if it was anything like some of the styles coming out of Evia these days.

As it is fashion, man fails to recognize the gifts he is conferred. Like many other grapes in the Old World, Vradiano vineyards were either neglected or pulled out to make way for other crops or real estate. Phylloxera took it’s toll as well and this grape would very well have been lost to history if not for the efforts of the Vriniotis family. To understand Vradiano, you have to know about the place which is it’s natural home – Northern Evia.

 

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Our 2018 picks for Valentine’s Day wines

In the Robin William’s movie Dead Poet’s Society, Robin William’s character John Keating poses this question.

Keating: Language was developed for one endeavor, and that is – Mr. Anderson? Come on, are you a man or an amoeba? [pause] Mr. Perry?

Neil: To communicate.

Keating: No! To woo women!

I agree. That’s why we do most things. Getting a job, buying new clothes, cologne, working out etc. Wine serves the same purpose, probably more than the ones that I have listed and as much as the development of language.

In the movie Bowfinger, Steve Martin’s character pours a bottle of cheap Chianti into what looks like an empty bottle of Lafitte Rothschild and for good measure adds tap water!  All to impress his date played by Heather Graham. If you haven’t see that movie, let me say this that his evening evolved quite well!

With Valentine’s day just few days away, this is our topic of interest for this blog post. Without further ado, here are our favorite 5 for Valentine’s Day. Our suggestion is to serve them in the order as shown in this article.

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How to gift a Wine Club Membership.

Everybody loves wines. Everybody loves receiving wines. Let us show you how to properly gift wines. But first, some reasons why our wine club membership makes sense (not that you may need much persuasion)

  • It’s a gift that keeps reminding the recipient of your thoughtfulness every 3 months!
  • Affordable – Cost of our last shipments were $63.18 for Club Terra and $53.38 for Club Vigna, before Taxes and S&H.
  • They get the access to hard to find wines like Sociando Mallet or Papargyriou.
  • They get 20% OFF on all shipments including the club shipments AND 1 cent shipping on all orders of 6 bottles or more.
  • They get access to Magnums and other small lot offerings.
  • It is wine. They are going to love you.
Lets show you how easy it can be.
First go to the club sign up page.
You have 2 options:
Club Terra is all red wines and Club Vigna is a mix of red and white wines.

Example of a red wine in the Club Terra is the 2011 Chateau Magdeleine Bouhou Grand Vin from Bordeaux, France. Example of a white wine in the Club Vigna is the 2007 MasTinell Brut Nature Cava. Both these wines were included in previous club shipments.

 

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Of Terroirs and Wine.

Sometimes plans change and that can be a good thing. We missed a ferry from Agiokampos, Evia to Glyfa. We had to cancel a planned stop at a distillery – I am seeking good tsipouro. Anyone? We were also planning a visit to the village of Sotirio. We had plans to meet George Kitos. We had to cancel that too as we had some miles to cover that day. But as luck turned out we were able to manage some time on our way back from Naoussa.

Recognize this that Greece has many well defined appellations. These PGIs and PDOs are not perfect by any measure and I think understanding Greek terroir is still in it’s infancy – not just for the consumers or the connoisseurs but also for the winemakers themselves. The notion of what grapes can be grown in which region or should be grown, is challenged quite a bit. Assyrtiko has taken root outside of the Cyclades and finding new expressions in different places. Malagouzia is another example and we had some killer Malagouzias all over Greece. Xinomavro will be pushed out of it’s comfort zones. But nowhere, in our visit at least, was this anarchy more evident than in the vineyards of George Kitos.

 

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Beauty in unexpected places.

They say you find beauty and love in unexpected places. Here’s an unexpected place. A village called Adam. How do you get here? For the GPS challenged, if you were approaching from Sithonia, you drive towards Polygiros, then go past Prodromos and then climb into the mountains before the road drops you into small Greek villages like Sana and Doumpia. Careful now.  The road winds and snakes and through these sleepy villages. Keep going until you reach Adam.

 

Continue reading Beauty in unexpected places.

Véronique says that Grenache is king!

When talking to Véronique Cunty, one would be forgiven for thinking that she may be new to this wine thing. There is boundless energy and a disarming honesty that one sees more often in younger winemakers. There is also the fact that she looks ridiculously young and we ascribe that to living and working in one of the most beautiful villages of Southern France. As she expounds more about the wines and the land, it quickly dawns upon us that  Véronique has been doing this for decades starting as young as 5 years of age under the eye of her father.This remarkable winemaker is a pioneer in Gigondas. In 2012, the New York Times rated her Gigondas as one of the best examples from the region. There is not one year where the critics don’t  rave about her wines. Of course her wines are great. We will not waste time disputing that

It is not about points from critics although she has bucketfuls of those. There is a lot written about her. It is about passion.It is about honest wine.

Domaine de Font-Sane and her wines were the first we thought of when we decided to get into the wine import gig.  What we recognize is that when we taste a bottle of Gigondas from Domaine de Font-Sane, we are witnessing the skill and history behind one of France’s remarkable winemaker. We will also be terribly amiss if we fail to acknowledge the role played by Romain Cunty, her son in the development of this estate.

 

We decided to ask Véronique the following 5 questions:

1. At what age did you first make wine?

I first made wine when I was 24, just after finishing my studies of viticulture-oenology in Avignon.

2. What is the most important lesson you have learned as a winemaker?

When I was a kid, I helped my parents in the cellar and in the vineyard. They taught me a lot about wine. After studying, I had straightaway a lot of responsabilities and I gave rise to my first vintage in 1987.

3. What did you have for dinner last night and what wine did you drink with it?

I had red mullet filets with a Rosé wine from Domaines Ott in Bandol.

4.  Which was your most memorable vintage? And why?

2007 was one of the best vintages in the Rhône Valley, therefore it was unforgettable. But the vintage 1987 was indelible because it was my first one and we had a very hard year with weather. However, 1987 was a good vintage in the end, with great awards from wine reporters.

5.  Tell us the truth. Which one do you like more – Grenache or Syrah?

I like Grenache more because it gives full-bodied and well-rounded wines with fruit and spices. It is definitely the king of the Southern Rhône Valley.

To learn more about Domaine de Font-Sane, Véronique and why she thinks Grenache is the bomb, click below.