Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Wine Hussy: Finds of the Week

This morning an email arrived from Michael. “I have lost my wine-by-mail virginity,” it read. “I have been swept away by a tall, dark and handsome Pinot Noir.” To which I replied, “Welcome to the club of fallen men and women.” I am no stranger to the seductive ways of wine by mail; on the contrary, I have succumbed to those irresistibly low prices many times. But as it happened, Michael’s demise happened the very week I decided to repent and mend my ways. The reason for my renewed virtue is that this happens to have been the week I fell in love with wine the old fashioned way – by going to wine tastings. Call me staid, but this pleasure contrasted starkly to my tawdry experience with the stuff pimped out by Wines Til Sold Out and Groupon deals this past year. So, bye-bye to deep discounts, and hello to enjoying wine again. I hope Michael enjoys his romp in the oeniphile demi-monde more than I did.

Here are the wines I discovered this week:

Domaine du Bois de St. Jean Cotes du Rhone, Cuvee de Voulongue Reserve 2005

I discovered this delectable red at a tasting organized by wine blogger Joon Song of Vinicultured: A Wine Blog. Joon’s idea is to bring wine and food bloggers together at Weygandt Wines in Cleveland Park to share their favorite wines and learn from each other. I tasted many good wines that evening, but the Cuvee de Voulongue is a wonderful sipping wine that hit the sweet spot right away. I knew I would not look at another wine that evening. The cool thing about tasting this way is that you are not limited to wines selected by a promotional event, but instead get to sample wines that have been enjoyed by real people – with whom you also get to chat about foodie things. This is envisioned as a monthly event, so feel free to contact Joon to learn more about it.

Blenheim Farm Chardonnay 2009

While I was immediately smitten with the Cuvee de Voulongue, the blond Chardonnay took some time to get to know. The tasting room at Blenheim Vineyards – just outside of Charlottesville, VA -- has tables set up for people to bring their own food to accompany the wines they sample. As we laid out our selection of cheeses and I perused the wines on the tasting list, I remembered reading an article suggesting that white wines actually pair better with cheese than red. The Chardonnay was the first wine on the list to be poured. I tasted. Mweh; it was okay. Then I tasted it with my favorite stinky cheese: La Tur, an unpasteurized goat, cow and sheeps' milk cheese from the Piedmont region of Italy. And bam! The combination of the chardonnay and the La Tur lifted me high, like a pitchfork. This is the kind of foodie euphoria I dream about! After the tasting was over, we each purchased a full glass of chardonnay to enjoy out on Blenheim’s deck. A sip, a bite of cheese, and up into the heavens again. As I said, no more demi-monde for me.

Update: The following week, I went in search of the divine Cuvee de Voulongue. In the process, I discovered another impressive Cotes du Rhone from Domaine du Bois de St. Jean: L'Intrepide, 2009. At $13.99, this is the best value for money I have had in quite some time.

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