2011 Austrians & Germans, our first 2011 Rose and other good stuff.  
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Thursday, March 15:

Gruner Veltliner "Holzgasse", Buchegger (Niederosterreich) 2011- $15.99/btl ($12.80 by case or mixed case): Don't worry about the pronunciation or with figuring out any of the other terminology on the label (which looks like an eye chart, unless you speak the language). What goes into your glass is as pure an expression of Gruner as we've come across, with plenty of exotic lemon/lime notes and an underpinning of minerality that expresses itself as a crisp, acidic, peppery zing on the palate. If you've found yourself wishing that everyday Rieslings packed a bit more of a punch, this is the wine for you! There's more than enough heft here to handle a braised rabbit, chicken fricassee with the first morels of the season or even a nicely grilled veal chop.

Toscana Rosso "Montaperto", Carpineta Fontalpino 2008- $19.99/btl ($15.99 by case or mixed case): Gioia Cresti has made quite a name for herself as a consulting enologist to top Italian estates such as Sette Ponti and Villa Le Prata. However, it's not surprising that her best wines come from her own property, Carpineta Fontalpino, located in Berardenga. If you're a lover of old-fashioned, intense, unadulterated Tuscan reds, you must try one of her Chianti Classico Riservas, Super Tuscans, or the unusual and fantastic Montaperto...a gulpable blend of Sangiovese, Gamay and Alicante Bouschet. This may sound like a strange combo of grapes, but trust us: it works! This is deep, rich, spicy, sappy and exotic wine...at a price that shames more than a handful of Tuscan reds of more regal pedigree.

Friday, March 14:

Riesling Trocken QbA, Weingut Keller (Rheinhessen) 2011- $18.99/btl ($15.20 by case or mixed case): Today, we're back to flogging the meme of great dry Riesling, and there's no better place to start learning about it than with the acknowledged benchmark of the style, Keller's always-superb Trocken QbA, from the (relatively) warm, sunny German region of the Rheinhessen. You get all the slatey, floral, citric qualities of great Riesling from Keller's Trocken...and then, a core of super-acidity grabs your palate and leads to a long, dry, mineral finish. There's a depth and intensity here not unlike the best white Burgundy, and to us, there's no doubt that wines such as this are every bit Burgundy's equal when it comes to pairing with great food. We continue to be amazed at how much flavor and intensity the best growers of Germany can pack into wines of lower alcohol.

Syrah "Syrocco", Thalvin/Graillot (Morocco) 2009- $19.99/btl ($15.99 by case or mixed case): The story goes that the legendary Crozes-Hermitage vigneron, Alain Graillot, discovered this vineyard on a bike ride while on vacation in Morocco. He was so taken by the estate and its microclimate that he arranged to buy into the operation almost immediately. Now, with a few vintages under his belt, this estate's Syrocco is testament to his foresight. Naturally, this bottling bears the trademark fatty, plummy, cumin-scented unctousness Graillot seems to always wrestle from Syrah. The only thing this wine needs to make it complete is a big, steaming couscous or lamb tagine!

Saturday, March 15: 

Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence Rose, Chateau Calissanne 2011- $13.99/btl ($11.20 by case or mixed case): Be sure to join us today to sample the first (and certainly, not the last) of this year's Rose wines: a sea-salty, berry-scented dry version that is pure Provence in its easy-quaffing appeal. While you can match it with tapenade, grilled veggies, bourride, or a million other Provencal treats, it would be equally useful as your house wine for March Madness viewing.

Chianti Classico "La Misse", Candialle 2009- $19.99/btl ($15.99 by case or mixed case): Over the past few years, we've noticed a definite "creep" in the prices of many vintners' basic, first-release Chianti Classico. We've also noted- with dismay- that as many of these wines have shot well past the $20 mark, they have become more diffuse, soupy and diluted in character. At just the point we were about to throw in the towel on ever being able to find a well-priced, dense, concentrated Classico, we tasted the '09 La Misse di Candialle, a real throwback to vintages in which Chianti Classico exhibited saturated color, tons of thick sour cherry/saddle leather fruit and a pleasantly dusty finish that hinted at better things to come with a year or two more in the bottle. Of course, a nice Bistecca alla Fiorentina- heavy on the cracked pepper- should be just the thing to wrestle this wine into submission.

Beer Makes You Smart

...and smart beer drinkers know the newest, best American craft brews and great beers of the world can be found at JWS! Here's this week's short, but sweet lineup of new arrivals:

Founders Pale Ale- 6 pk
Terrapin Hopsecutioner- 6 pk
Troegs Javahead- 6 pk
Weyerbacher Slam Dunkel- 6 pk
Ballast Point Victory at Sea- 22 oz

Brenna's Wine Queue

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Jersey City, drink like Brenna. Here's this week's list of must-try libations:

Barbera d'Asti "La Crena", Vietti 2007- $39.99
Slatnik (80% Chard, 20% Tocai), Radikon 2009- $42.99
Freisa "La Villerina Secca", Brovia 2010- $24.99
Pinot Gris "Cuvee Joseph", Bechtold 2009- $17.99
Crozes-Hermitage Blanc, Combier 2010- $24.99
Valencia "Paradigma", Bodegas Enguera 2007- $23.99
Rioja "Cinco Denarios", Las Cepas 2010- $15.99

Weekend of Rioja, March 30-31

Be sure to plan on joining us on these two days to sample great Rioja wines with Aaron Gordon of Vibrant Rioja. You can also register to win a case of Rioja or a Rioja wine dinner for two in NYC!