Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tastings, Tastings, Tastings

We have a lot of tastings here at Windsor and you should come to them. Why? Well, they are a great way to learn about wine and they are FREE. The person pouring is an expert on the wines. It could be an importer, a sales rep who works with the wines on a daily basis, or even a winemaker. They are always a great source of knowledge and you can ask lots of questions.

Wine tastings are EVERY Friday night from 6-8 PM so please come and try the wines, we even offer a discount on the wines during the tasting. We also occasionally have tastings on other nights, often when there's a special guest, so please check the events page on our website:

Windsor Wine Events

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Food Pairings

I thought I'd mention a few thoughts on wine and food. One thing I've noticed many times is how similar flavors between wine and food can blend together, putting things in the background on your palate only to reveal other flavors in the wine. For example, I had a Valpolicella Ripasso the other day with some slices of chicken breast that were dusted in various spice rubs and, in essence, sauteed and blackened in a cast iron pan. I thought the heat of the spices, chiles, etc., would marry well with the richness and sweetness in the wine. Valpolicella Ripasso is raised in a barrel with the dried and concentrated skins of grapes used for Amarone and this gives extra body to the wine. It also adds a dimension of glyceral sweetness and I was thinking about the classic match of sweet with spicy flavors. I was wrong. I have to say the pairing was okay but not as integrated as I was hoping for, the fullness of the wine dominated the chicken a little too much for me. Fortunately, I had sauteed slices of red bell pepper to go with the chicken. They were nicely carmelized and sweet. This was fantastic with the vino. Sweet with sweet. The peppers and wine together melded in a nice little melange which then revealed a wonderful earthy bitterness in the Ripasso that I hadn't noticed previously. I really like when this happens and I've seen it a lot when similar flavors in wine and food mingle. Fresh summer tomatoes and riesling can be great together to the same effect. Other nice matches are Cotes Du Rhone with baba ganoush and gruner veltliner with earthy, creamy cheeses or mushrooms. A dialogue starts and flavors are revealed, great fun.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Where The Values Are

I was thinking about some of the wines we have which are downright deals in today's market. What makes a wine a deal? Well, a wine of good quality with some interest that sells for a reasonable price. So what is a wine with interest? Sometimes it's easier to define something by what it isn't. For example, we sell a lot of malbec to a lot of customers. The price is very good on malbec, mostly under $15 with a few better wines around $20 or perhaps a little over. Malbec is an easy wine to drink and enjoy, it's full and round and soft with plush fruit flavors. I have to confess that I don't take many bottles of malbec home to drink. For me it just doesn't have a lot of "interest". By that I mean that the flavors in the mix for malbec are about fruit and toasty, buttery, vanilla flavor aspects from an oak barrel. They don't generally have non-fruit flavors that are from the grapes and soil. Think, spicy, earthy, herbaceous and you know what I mean.

What I see with a lot of people is as they drink different wines, and drink wine more frequently they start to gravitate toward wines with more complexity and interest. That doesn't mean the wines are more expensive or that folks are getting snooty, it's just a move toward a different style. Cotes Du Rhone is a good example. We sell a lot of it and the wines are some of the best on the market for full-bodied, moderately priced wines with good complexity and interest. They also tend not to be over-oaked, which is a good thing. However, over the years prices have creeped up and it's been harder and harder to find good Cotes Du Rhone under $15.

The good news, however, is a place in France that uses many of the same grapes and has been a source of real value and quality improvement. I'm speaking of the Languedoc. It's west of the
Cotes Du Rhone, along the Mediterranean Sea, and it's become a place of real value for several reasons. Many skilled winemakers have bought land there because it's more affordable than say, Burgundy, Bordeaux, or the Rhone, and the soils and climate are very good for fine wine production, going back to Roman times. In fact, we have found many wines of real honesty, character, and interest at great prices. The grapes are similar to many that you would see in the Rhone, grenache, syrah, carignan, and mourvedre, but there are also many exceptions. Think of these wines as wilder, spicier, and more eccentric friends of other southern French wines you know. I have a photo of some of the wines here. The names unfamiliar to some. You may see a town name like Minervois, or a more regional name like Coteaux du Languedoc, or even a generic Vin de Pays d'Oc designation. Don't be shy, there are some real values here, as always ASK US! We love to sell wines we like and we want you to be really happy.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

French Chardonnay Under $20!!

I want to talk about 4 nice white wines from the Macon. Not the US State but that part of France just south of Burgundy where the whites are chardonnay. You don't like chardonnay, you say? Well there are more styles of chardonnay out there than anyone can keep track of and there are many great ones across all price points so that makes no sense to me. What's nice about the Macon is that you don't have to pay the higher prices for quality wines that you'd have to pay a little further north around Beaune. All of the wines in this post are $20 or less. Also, it seems that Spring is just around the corner, the days are longer and even a little warmer and it's making me think of some nice crisp white wines so let's go!

VRAC Macon 2008 ($10.99) has been a deal for years, no oak, it's a totally "drink me" wine with clean and crisp apple fruit. Typical style and a good value for a good basic chard from the Macon.

Domaine Fichet Macon-Villages "Terroir de Burgy" 2008 ($15.99) is also an oak-free wine, with telltale fresh apples but with a tad brighter acids, great freshness and a little more interest.

The next two wines have a few things in common. Although their styles are different, they both see some time in oak barrels, they're both organic, they're made from old vines, and they have great length and complexity.

Domaine Guillot-Broux Macon-Villages 2008 ($18.99) is harvested by hand from 40-year-old vines in Cruzille. Fermented on it's indigenous yeasts, the wine has a great deal of finesse, lemony and stony.

Dominique Cornin's Macon-Chanes "Serreudieres" 2006 ($19.99) is biodynamically raised from a 100-year-old single parcel of vines in Chanes. This is a fat wine, full with broad, round pears and a terrific underlying minerality.

These are really great wines to drink and they go with a lot of different foods. A favorite pairing for me is a ham sandwich on a baguette with either brie or gruyere and some spicy dijon mustard! Salads, roast chicken (especially leftovers) would be great as well. We love these Macons and I hope you have a chance to try them too.