A grab-bag of fun midsummer wines, new artisanal mixers and the return of Lagunitas.
Thursday, June 28:
Vinho Verde, AV 2011- $9.99/btl ($7.99 by case or mixed case): There are few other wines that scream "summer" in the way Vinho Verde does. It seems as though that gently fizzy, wet stone-scented thing works equally well with hot dogs, raw clams, corn on the cob or any of the other classic foods of the season. And, you can always rely on JWS to sweat the details when it comes to selecting the best in breed...even when it comes to fun, frivolous, lightweight wines such as this. There is an admirable concentration and cleanliness here which places it well above the cascade of insipid, lifeless Vinho Verde that makes it to our shores. Enjoy this at your Fourth of July barbecue, and consider it for summer picnics, shore outings and other alfresco events all the way through Labor Day.
Nomade Malbec, Mendoza 2009- $14.99/btl ($11.99 by case or mixed case):Tomas Achaval, former president of Moet & Chandon Argentina, scours the entirety of his country- from Salta, in the north to Patagonia, in the south- for pristine, low-yielding, old-vine fruit for his Nomade project. His 2009 Mendoza cuvee issues from a high altitude plot of 75 year-old vines in the Uco Valley and is remarkable in its ability to both express Malbec's natural intensity and to hold that intensity in check. Our longtime clients know that we are not fans of the big, overblown, jammy school of Malbec, and this wine stands in fine contrast to those big, boozy monsters. In fact, there's more than a little hint of Cahors (the "home office" for Malbec) in this wine that will both intrigue and satisfy the most discriminating Francophile.
Friday, June 29:
Johnson Family Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast 2009- $17.99/btl ($14.40 by case or mixed case): Hopefully, our clients know by now that it's a clear "buy" signal when we get excited enough about a California Chardonnay to put it in the weekly e-mail. Accordingly, many of you have loaded up recently on old favorites Alondra and Clos Julien, and now we're thrilled to bring you the 2009 Sonoma Coast cuvee from Johnson Family. There is a restraint and minerality to this that is admirable (and terribly rare in California Chardonnay), yet it's far from the lean-and-mean category. We found it very similar to a top Cote Chalonnaise white Burgundy- think Montagny or Rully- and at well under $20, this represents extreme value...no matter the location of the vineyard.
Johanneshof Reinisch Pinot Noir, Thermenregion, Austria 2009- $19.99/btl ($15.99 by case or mixed case): What's a Pinot Noir lover to do when the urge strikes, and it's 97 degrees in the shade? Burgundy probably won't fit the bill, and forget anything New World, as all the rich, exotic qualities so welcome in cooler weather will just come off as thick and tiresome in the heat of summer. What's needed in this case is a Pinot that is light (but not diluted), lifted by a refreshing minerality, lower in alcohol and explosively aromatic. Well, that sounds suspiciously like Austria to us, and, not surprisingly, Austria is home to a handful of masterful growers of this notoriously fickle grape. Reinisch's 2009 Thermenregion features loads of beetroot/rhubarb/spicebox Pinot fruit, an intense, satisfying, limestone-inflected "cut" to its flavors and a direct appeal that seems to beg for a dunk into an ice bucket or 15 minutes in the fridge before serving.
Saturday, June 30:
Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Moretto NV- $17.99/btl ($14.40 by case or mixed case): Here's another great choice for when the red wine urge strikes, and it's blazing hot outdoors: you don't want just any red wine; you want fizzy, cool red wine! And, the world's acknowledged home office for fizzy, cool red wine is Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, where the best growers of the Grasparossa district fashion the Lambrusco grape into the sexiest, most stylish way to beat the heat while keeping it red. There's an explosive aroma of fraises and bitter almond, good concentration on the palate, and only the barest suggestion of sweetness here, so you can pair this with a surprising range of main course-type dishes. We also suspect that this will work incredibly well with anything at Thirty Acres featuring bacony, hammy or chicken-livery goodness.
Three Wine Company, Old Vine Field Blend, Contra Costa 2009- $16.99/btl ($13.60 by case or mixed case): Matt Cline is, in our book, the original, best and most authentic of California's Rhone Rangers. He was the first to recognize and exploit the potential of the scrubby, ancient-vines plots of Rhone varietals scattered along the Contra Costa stretch of the Sacramento River, and he moved from success to success with these varieties at both Cline and Trinitas. In fact, he had so much success that he was able to profitably sell both wineries! Recently, he embarked on yet another project, Three Wine Company, where he's back to his old stomping grounds and performing at the top of his game. His 2009 Field Blend is just that: it's anchored and informed by Zinfandel, but there's Petite Sirah, Alicante, Mourvedre and Black Malvoisie, as the sourced vineyards are randomly planted to all these varieties. What you get in the bottle is typical Cline: a wine that is hauntingly Rhone-like, but with an easy drinkability and direct fruit quality that- to our taste- is the best of what New World reds should be. Pair this with anything Mediterranean, and you'll be very, very happy.
Beer, Beer, Beer!
This week's list is self-explanatory, as it features the return of incredibly limited amounts of Lagunitas, as well as some world-class efforts from Troegs, Green Flash, Southern Tier and Avery:
Southern Tier Creme Brulee Imperial Milk Stout- 22 oz
Our perpetual search for the best in wholesome, handmade, limited-quantity wines, beers and spirits has now led us into the world of high-quality soft drinks, mixers and syrups. If you've ever had a soda made with cane sugar- instead of the vile HFCS- or a cocktail made with an artisanal syrup or mixer, you know there's a massive difference in taste. Stop by this weekend, and take home one or two of these delectable items for some fun experimentation:
McClure's Bloody Mary Mix
Tres Agave Margarita Mix (you will never touch Skinnygirl again!)
Barkeep Swedish Herb Bitters
Tomrs Tonic Syrup
Cheerwine (otherwise known as breakfast in North Carolina)
Blenheim's Red Cap HOT Ginger Ale
Johnnie Ryan's Birch Beer and Root Beer
Absent Lawyer's Wine Queue
We will not mention her name while she is gone. We instructed her to plead out her crooks and get back here to work, but she seems to think the accused deserve some sort of defense and a day in court. Whatever.
Eyrie Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, OR 2009- $35.99
Eyrie Pinot Gris, Dundee Hills, OR 2010- $16.99
Muscadet de Sevre et Maine "Gneiss", Bossard 2010- $19.99
Soave Classico, Filippi Castelcerino 2010- $14.99
"Alsace", Kuentz-Bas 2010- $14.99
Barbera d'Alba, Teobaldo Cappellano 2007- $32.99
VDP du Gard "Cuvee Counoise", Domaine Monpertuis 2010- $13.99