November 29, 2012

The Little Wine Shop and an Funky, Old-Vine Gamay

This post isn't just about the wine pictured above, though, the wine did provide some of the impetus. This post is as much a plug for the place where I bought the wine, The Little Wine Shop in Avondale Estates. For years, I drove past LWS, never stopping in to see what was going because, frankly, when the shop first opened in 2009, I didn't think their inventory was very interesting. Truth is, I buy a lot of wine online where one can find aged Burgundy and other gems, so when I shop around town I look for interesting new wines to try. However, a few months ago, I stopped by LWS and found they had recently changed owners who brought substantial change to the inventory. There appears to be a focus on small producers, natural wines, and very interesting wines in the sub $25 category.

The 2009 Jean Francois Merieau Le Bois Jacou is an old vine Gamay from the Touraine area of the Loire Valley. It's an old school, farmer wine that is full of personality. It's earthy, dirty in a good way, and loaded with edgy red fruit. It is a rather austere wine at first and needs some air to open up a bit. There are a good many wines like this one at LWS; I'll be posting on some of those bottles in the coming weeks. If you live in the area and haven't stopped by LWS, it's a great place to sock up on wines for holiday parties.

November 23, 2012


Not sure there's a way to make this not seem like an obligatory Thanksgiving post about being thankful. As I said last year at this time, I do have a lot for which to be thankful: healthy and talented wife and kids, good friends, and things that inspire me daily. Here then, are some food and wine-related things I'm also thankful for:
Low and slow pork butt on the Big Green Egg that my lovely wife bought for me a couple of years ago.
Good charcuterie from Rusty and the folks at Pine Street Market. The boar salumi on the left above is pretty damn good.
Relatively inexpensive (ha!) Burgundy that rocks my world on a random Friday night, like this 1999 Francois Gaunoux Pommard 1er Les Grands Epenots did a couple of Fridays ago.
However, the thing to be most thankful for is good friends with which to eat, drink, and just generally carry-on with as evidenced in the pics above and below from recent gatherings.
The 2008 Thierry Allemand Cornas from a gathering a few weeks ago. A wine that will redefine the the way you think about Syrah. Thinking back on cooking, eating, and gathering, I'm thankful again just to have good times with friends and family and hope your holiday season is filled with inspiration and appreciation.

November 15, 2012

Vouvray Tasting, Vol. 2

I recently participated in a second online Vouvray tasting (vol. 1 here) with a number of wine bloggers that was conducted by Tastelive. The tasting was in conjunction with the Loire Valley Wine trade organization. The thing that has drawn me to Vouvray, and Loire Valley wines in general, is that they often represent very good value for wines that are mostly produced naturally, with bio dynamic and non-interventionist methods. They also have the ability to age for a very long time. One of the oldest Vouvrays I've tasted was the 1990 Prince Poniatowski Vouvray, which was still delicious at nearly 20 years of age.
We had a pretty strong lineup for the second tasting, including the 2011 from Domaine Huet, a ridiculously good wine. Problem is, drinking it now is a bit of a shame as Huet has a reputation for producing some of the longest-lived Chenin Blancs on the planet. Often, the sweeter Vouvrays become sublime wines with 20 and 30 years of age in bottles, with many bottles still awe-inspiring at 65 and 70 years of age. This 2011 has all the making of special Chenin Blanc, there's a lot of sweet, young fruit here, but a core of minerality and earth that will appear more with age.
We also tasted the 2009 Clos Naudin Foureau Demi Sec. The demi-sec notation on the label refers to the level of sweetness from residual sugars in the wine. Demi-sec is "off-dry," a step up from a truly dry wine, which means there is some residual sweetness to the wine. However, there is not nearly the sugar levels of Moelluex, which produces truly sweet, botrytisized wines. Clos Naudin is another of the legendary producers in Vouvray. Again, this 2009 is a wine that probably needs 10 years in bottle to really develop, but it was pretty tasty now, just showing more of its youthful sweetness and glycerin.

November 11, 2012

Recent Eats and Drinks

A recent Lunch at Empire State South. The bologna dog on house made bun, and fried chicken salad sandwich were stand outs. As was the heart attack and vine cocktail (bourbon, Cocchi Barolo Chinato, pur-Likor blood orange, Buster's bitters) pictured above.
Though, everything was pretty damn good, per usual. ESS is a restaurant at the top of its game.
A favorite new beer...the Fascist Pig Ale from Finch's Beer Company.
As the weather cools I get back to cooking some cold-weather faves like the braised short ribs ala Les Halles above.
Left overs used to make the short rib chili above. Nothing fancy here, just your basic chili made even more tasty by the addition of rib bones to flavor the stock and shredded short rib meat folded in.
A very nice bottle from the somewhat unheralded village of Santenay. 1996 Joseph Drouhin Santenay-Beaurepaire. Confirmed again that there's no substitute for well-aged wine; especially Burgundy. A simple wine, really, but 16 years old and showing grace and sophistication.
This bottle lacked the grace and sophistication of the Drouhin as this 2001 Meursault from Louis Jadot was prematurely oxidized. Again. White Burgundy wine is a minefield, there's even an active Wiki to tell you all about the problem. Buy at your own risk, or..just set some $100 bills on fire.

November 5, 2012

Tasting A Few Single Malts

 I've been dabbling recently with single-malt scotch. Having cut my teeth a good bit on bourbon the last few years, it was time to pay some attention to scotch. Why single malt scotch you may ask? Well, unlike blended scotch whiskeys which are blends from multiple distilleries, single malts distilled at a single distillery. You can find good blended scotch, for sure, and many entry-level, cheaper scotches are made in this manner. However, when you want to taste all that scotch whiskey can offer, you need to go single malt.

I've been fortunate to have tasted some stunningly good scotch over the years from the kindness of friends, but many of these I can't really afford on a regular basis. With this in mind, the single malts that I focused on in this post are some of the more affordable single malts, each priced in the $40-$50 range in the Atlanta market.
The Balvenie 12 yr. Doublewood, from the Speyside region in Scotland, is my favorite of the three I tasted for this post. This scotch is a doublewood as it spends time in the traditional oak cask before spending additional time in a Spanish oak sherry cask. The addition of the sherry wood brings a softened, refined body to the scotch which contributes to its very smooth finish. An easy scotch to like, and one that a new scotch drinker could warm up to easily. Around $50 locally.
The Laphroaig 10 yr. is a peaty scotch from Islay, the southernmost Scottish island. Scotland is covered in peat, which is just partially decayed vegetation, and peat use by distilleries ranges from a little touch to quite a bit. Many on Islay distill over peat fires that imbues the whiskey with what can be a very present peat smoke. Peatiness can seem aggressive when you are new to scotch, the smokiness it brings is an acquired taste. However, if you like a peaty scotch, as, I do, this Laphroaig 10 year is a damn good scotch for $45.
The Aberlour 12 yr. is a double cask scotch also from the Speyside.Most of Aberlour's range is aged in American ex-bourbon casks, this 12 year old sees ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks.The Aberlour comes in at $40 locally, and while I would happily drink it any day, it does not possess the finesse and complexity of either the Laphroaig or Balvenie. If you haven't dipped your toes in the pool of single malt scotch, any of the three tasted here would give you a good representation of what these can offer. As the cold weather approaches, there really is nothing like a dram of good scotch on a cold night. Give scotch a shot, you won't be sorry.