I really like writing the Vine most of the time. I enjoy cooking and discovering new pairings. I get truly excited when a new magazine wants to publish what I'm putting out there. I know that a fair number of folks out there stumble across my reviews. As much as I enjoy corresponding in cyberspace with people, life in the virtual wine world leaves me feeling a little detached from time to time.
In "reality," watching the face of a man who said that he "never drinks white wine" buy two bottles of a Gewürztraminer I suggested is validating. Having clearly wine-savvy folk say, "Seven bucks? Really?" gives me a sense of accomplishment. I readily admit basking in this sort of thing is selfish, but that's why getting to talk about wine at Liquor Direct with in-the-flesh folk this weekend gave me a charge. These tastings were good for my soul.
For those of you who weren't able to swing by, below is a rundown of what I was pouring, in the order I had them:
Domaine Menard 2007 Cotes du Gascogne Columbard/Sauvignon -- This wine tastes like summer sunshine. A wonderful 50/50 blend of Columbard and Sauvignon Blanc, the Menard just invites you to step out of the heat, hop on a swing, and sip an afternoon away. Wonderfully fragrant with a nose of pineapple and flowers, there are flavors of melon, pear, and apple to go along with a great mineral undertone and a very bright, slightly tangy finish. At $9-10, one of the most pleasant, friendliest white wines I've tasted recently. It also would go wonderfully with roasted fish and vegetables.
Vinum Cellars 2007 "CNW" Chenin Blanc -- I first wrote about the "Chard-No-Way" Chenin Blanc a couple of years ago. I was a big fan of the 2005 vintage, and I remain so with the 2007. The nose is citrusy -- lots of lemons and limes, which mirrors the tangy taste of the wine. There's a lively acidity to this wine. The finish is very crisp and clean. Another great summertime porch choice or to pair wonderfully with chicken, pork, or light cream sauced pastas. $11-12.
Hogue 2007 Gewürztraminer -- Another return to the whites of Hogue. I wrote about their 2006 Gewürztraminer in one of my last Thanksgiving columns. Their 2007 is also very solid. I warned people when I poured this after the first two wines, "This is going to have all your taste buds making a hard right turn." The contrast was very stark. This wine has a peachy, spicy nose. The body is very full with flavors of pears, apples, and cinnamon. The finish is long and a bit sweet. The best comment of the tasting was from Shannon at the Fort Thomas store when she first gave this wine a go. "I could wear this," she declared.
Campos Reales 2006 Tempranillo -- The night before the tasting, the SPinC and I grilled up some steaks (along with a salad and some polenta cakes) to use as a delivery system for getting a handle on the two red wines I was planning to pour. Of the two, with the grilled meat, the Spanish red unsurprisingly stood out the best. This light-styled tempranillo from La Mancha had a surprisingly strong backbone. The nose was full of berries and pepper. The body was a little fruity and somewhat smoky, with a rock-solid balance of tannins. The finish was smoky and dry. Nuzzled up to a well-grilled steak (or anything else you might want to drag across fire, for that matter), the fruit flavors lasted for ages. If I were to choose, this was the best bang for the buck of all of my picks. At $8-10, this is an incredibly good wine.
Michael David 2006 "Petite Petit" Petit Sirah -- This wine's bottle got almost as many comments as the wine itself. The bottle is fat and tapered with a colorful label featuring two circus elephants -- one with a fleur-de-lies tattoo on his bicep. The wine is a blend of petit sirah and petit verdot. The former makes massively fruity, smoky wines. The latter is best known as the least-used of the five Bordeaux grapes, usually comprising only 1-3% of those wines. The petit verdot adds a little tannin and some structure to the normal fruit-bombiness of the petit sirah, leaving a big, honking, well-balanced monster. The wine is thick and inky, with a big nose of plums and blueberries. The body is stout, blueberry-filled, and strong. The finish is jammy and lasting. While this one wasn't quite as good with the steak as the tempranillo, I preferred this one to drink on its own. With the chocolate we had for dessert -- absolutely off the chain. This one nudged right against my $15 limit, but shell out a couple of extra bucks if you have to. It's worth it.
So, many thanks to K2, Shannon, Matt, Mike, Alfonse, and the rest of the Liquor Direct gang for the needed jolt of positive blogging energy. Especially, thanks to all of you who stopped by the table to chat with me -- I hope all of you found something you liked...