It’s nice to be back on an actual college campus.
I am typing this from Small World Coffee on Witherspoon Street in Princeton Township, NJ, where I am visiting my former roommate Alex who is now making a name for himself at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. All around me are people who are younger than me and much older than me: young students with nary a care in the world and gray-haired professor types. They’re nursing coffees and perhaps hangovers caused from Princeton football’s drubbing at the hands of the Yale Bulldogs yesterday. As I’m a Cal alumnus, this is a feeling I know all too well, but unlike the people keeping me company I at least am not suffering from a hangover despite sharing two excellent bottles of wine with Alex.
Those few of you who have kept up with my blog know I love Ridge Vineyards to an absurd degree. To me Ridge represents the best of California winemaking, and its wines are never disappointing. I might disagree with a few of them, but much more often I love them.
Ridge is well-known for its Zinfandel, but it made its mark on the wine world by making the legendary “Monte Bello” Cabernet. Monte Bello was selected as one of the California Cabs to go head-to-head with Bordeaux in the now-legendary Judgment of Paris of 1976. Their 1971 Monte Bello came in fifth and was the second-highest rated California Cabernet in the tasting, not bad for a wine made only nine years after the start of the winery. More tellingly, however, a re-enactment of the tasting was conducted in 2006, and the 1971 Monte Bello came in first, beating out all other California and French wines!
I had the opportunity to go to a media night at Weygandt Wines last Friday, on the occasion of International Champagne Day. This was Weygandt’s first effort to reach out specifically to DC food and wine bloggers, and from what I can tell it was a great success.
Weygandt Wines, located in Cleveland Park, reminds me a lot of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. That venerable Berkeley institution is one of my can’t miss shops whenever I visit my alma mater, and for good reason: the wines I buy from the store are perhaps the freshest, most vibrant wines I’ve ever found. KLWM is sort of like a farmers’ market for wine. If that is the case, then Weygandt Wines is sort of like the Eastern Market of wines.
The namesake of the shop, Peter Weygandt, and his wife Maria (née Metzler) have been importing boutique French wines since 1987. He has recently expanded his portfolio to include wines from Italy, Germany, Austria, Australia, and Spain. He imports some killer Beaujolais and Burgundy, and has an excellent Rhône selection. In all, they import around 70,000 cases of wine from over 100 producers.
The Weygandts were not at the media event, but the event was run by the store’s general manager, Tim O’Rourke. Tim has an interesting history, having started out as a chef. He graduated from L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland in 2000, did tours at Café Atlántico, Ristorante Tosca, and Citronelle, and has cooked with such celebrity chefs as Daniel Boulud and Michel Richard. Being the general manager of a wine store probably has its own set of stresses, but I can imagine that it might also be very relaxed in comparison to working in some high-profile kitchens!
I had been to Weygandt only once before, and recently: I picked up a bottle of Cabernet France for an ongoing dinner with friends at Dino (which is right across the street). The store was technically closed but I sneaked in and asked who I found out later to be Tim whether he could recommend a good Cab Franc, which he did. Unfortunately, I don’t remember which bottle he selected, but it was good, and I appreciated being able to pick up a bottle after closing time (and at a substantial discount to boot!).
The event started out with a flight of six sparkling wines–one Crémant de Bourgogne and five Champagnes.