Tag Archives: beaujolais

Champagne Day at Weygandt Wines (and a Whole Lot More)

7 Nov

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.

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Two Sips of the Beaujolais “Vintage of a Lifetime”

21 Mar

There are dichotomies in the world of wine and partisans for both.  For instance, Old World versus New World, Burgundy versus Bordeaux, oaked versus unoaked.  Another one that I haven’t read about online but have experienced frequently first-hand deals with Beaujolais: specifically, people tend to either love or hate Beaujolais.  (Assuming they’ve had any Beaujolais to begin with.)

This is understandable.  My first experience with Beaujolais was in 2005, when I was still an RA at Berkeley.  I purchased a bottle of basic Beaujolais from Kermit Lynch.  I chilled it, just as the KLWM staff recommended, and served it to a few guests.  None of my guests liked it.  It was too thin, too acidic, a washed-out excuse of a wine.  I agreed with them to an extent, but there was something about it that I liked.

A few years (and a whole helluva lotta bottles of Beaujolais) later I’ve managed to articulate what I like about Beaujolais.  It’s not just one thing; there are many great things that make Beaujolais one of my favorite appellations.  For starters, it is inexpensive.  You can buy some serious bottles for less than $25.00, and you can buy most for under $20.00.  It is a joyful wine, one that you chill and gulp down, especially because Beaujolais is low alcohol (anywhere between 11-13% ABV).  It goes well with a wide variety of foods, from roast chicken to fish, and even to red meats.  Finally, it’s just tasty, full of fresh fruit but with some of the better examples featuring dark earth, minerality, and significant structure.

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Preparing for Snowmageddon: Buy a LOT of Wine

6 Feb

As you  might have noticed by now, I am a native Californian, so it’s easy to surmise how crazy “Snowmageddon” is for me.  Snow itself is still sort of a foreign concept, so 30 INCHES of it is strange, indeed.  This is the view from my fifth-floor window in DC:

That being said, I went to Trader Joe’s on Thursday to stock up on foodstuffs.  Unfortunately, everyone and their mothers (literally) had the same idea, and the line wrapped all the way around the inside of the store and down the oils/pastas/nuts/dried fruits aisle.  Yikes!

What was more pleasant for me was going to MacArthur Beverages (as chronicled in a recent post) and then to Ansonia Wines to pick up some wine.  I’ve had the opportunity to have a friend or two over with whom to brave the cold, and we’ve gone through a few bottles of wine.

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The Heritage of a Friendship

22 Jul

The second part of this post can be read here.

The author of Vinicultured has been my friend for six years. In counting all of the intersections of our lives, I’d have to say that this cross-post is the culmination of those years. If you think that’s insulting, then you either underestimate the power of food as a social anchor or overestimate my ability to maintain a decent friendship. In any case, one late night trip to Berkeley’s most infamously mediocre taqueria in 2003 has already proven you wrong.

Back then, I was abstinent, and Joon was drunk. I was turning my 20th year on planet Earth and doing a terrible job of it. Joon was trying hard not to start a fight with the neighboring fraternity and doing just as badly. We decided to settle our scores with burritos. That night ended with me playing the guitar and him rambling about life’s unsung battles in the tiniest bedroom on the most unforgiving slope Berkeley has to offer. After that year, I never set foot in a fraternity house again.

Wikipedia reveals the true colors of wine tasting!

Wikipedia reveals the true colors of wine tasting!

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Wine and Dine at Lou on Vine!

6 Jul

It’s funny how seemingly different things are related. For instance, it’s been well-documented on this blog that I love Intelligentsia Coffee. I was reading more about this specialty coffee roaster online when I came across this New York Times article on the interior design of Intelligentisa:

I really like the blue and white tile. (Thanks to the Times for the picture!)

At any rate, Intelligentsia’s space was designed by a woman named Barbara Bestor. I found that she had also designed the interior of a quirky wine bar / restaurant called Lou, which happens to be in a seedy strip mall–sandwiched between a Thai massage parlor and a 24-hour laundromat–off of Melrose and Vine in Hollywood.

I did some more reading on Lou and liked what I read: a fair-sized and eclectic wine selection? Check. Hip interior? Check. Good food? Check. All I needed was to actually go.

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Reds, Whites… and Greens???

14 Apr

I moseyed into Mission Wines yesterday, seeking respite both from the 95 degree-plus weather and the drudgery of life.

But with what wine could I seek respite?

I am a big lover of reds–during warmer weather I am apt to go for lighter reds, such as beaujolais, or, lacking anything suitable, to mix one- or two-day-old red wine with good Korean cider (such as Chilsung Cider, which is cleaner and lighter than, say, Sprite, with a pleasant touch of strawberry). This 60-40 blend of red wine and cider, served over ice, is delicious and a great way to beat the heat and dispose of wine that is past its prime.

I didn’t have any old red wine on hand: I was fresh out, in fact, and looking for something quick, cheap, and refreshing. A long, tapered green bottle caught my eye: the 2007 vinho verde branco adamado from the Adega Cooperativa de Ponte de Lima (whew!).

This vinho verde is a mix of different white varietals, including the obscure loureiro, trajadura, and pederna grapes. This vinho verde is great: very light body with high acidity, mouth-puckering tartness approximating green apples and citrus, low to medium sweetness, and a pleasant effervescence caused by the addition of carbon dioxide before bottling. (Thanks to tvinoronquillo at http://www.cellertracker.com for this picture!)

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Spring in a Glass: 2006 Ampelos Rosé of Syrah

9 Feb

I am not the biggest fan of white wines. Anything lighter than, say, a pinot noir is subject to my intense scrutiny and occasional disdain. Even pinot noirs are not on safe ground: it’s the rare pinot that I like. Beaujolais and beaujolais nouveau are lighter than pinot noir but I like them for some reason–they’re whimsical, easygoing wines.

My first exposure to rosés was when I worked at Adagia Restaurant in Berkeley–specifically, we had Brander Vineyard’s Chateau Neuf de Pink and Domaine Tempier’s Bandol rosé. From what little I remember of those two wines, I liked Tempier–it had an austere quality, bone-dry. All I remember of Brander’s selection is chef Brian Beach poking fun at the name.

All in all, however, I was unimpressed. Reds–especially the brooding malbec and the sensual shiraz–were still my willing mistresses.

That changed when I tasted the Ampelos Rosé of Syrah last year. It was the late summer, hot as heck. “Teeth-staining” and “tannic” were not the qualities I was looking for in my wines, let alone any beverage. At a tasting they poured the Ampelos rosé and it was love at first taste.

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Al Wazir, Zankou, and Wine

26 Dec

This post originally had nothing to do at all with wine. It has to do with the debate in my office about which is better: Al Wazir Chicken or Zankou Chicken. It also has to do with the fact that I’m eating Al Wazir as I type, which makes for good eatin’ and terrible typin’.

Zankou is a Pasadena institution, made famous by Beck in his brilliant song “Debra” (I met her… at J.C. Penny…). EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER loves Zankou chicken. And you can’t beat their kitschy shirts:

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But I’ve found that their chicken is lacking (gasp!). Their portions are small, the chicken is greasy, and the skin–the most important part!–is rubbery. It’s like eating a rubber chicken–a delicious one, but still, a rubber chicken.

People love Zankou’s garlic sauce. I agree. It’s damned good. But even with their combination plates you don’t get rice pilaf! You only get pita and hummus and tomato and pickled turnips. And their standard 1/2 chicken plate is $7.98.

Al Wazir is on the corner of Hollywood and Gower. They roast their chickens using the 2000-year-old “Al Wazir” method. A standard 1/2 chicken plate is $6.45 and includes hummus, salad, pickled turnips, AND rice pilaf. It’s enough for two people.

But the most important part is the chicken itself. The skin is superb, crisp and crackling. The flesh is moist and tender. It’s obviously superior to Zankou, though most of the people at my office don’t agree.

Now the connection with wine: Al Wazir, and maybe Zankou, is great with beaujolais nouveau–specifically, the Louis Tête mentioned in a previous post. Beaujolais nouveau is perhaps the lightest, most white-like red wine. It’s fruity, juicy, and meant to be gulped joyously. It’s refreshing and, the best thing, it gets you drunk.

If you hurry, you might be able to find bottles of nouveau in stores–it’s a bit late for beaujolais nouveau, but I suspect that there are thousands of bottles sitting around, waiting for their moment in the sun.

Beaujolais (Nouveau)?

23 Dec

I love beaujolais, which is a type of wine made from the gamay grape. I even get excited about beaujolais nouveau, the grapey, fruit juice-like concoction that comes out the third Thursday of every November.

A lot of people hate beaujolais nouveau, and as a result completely dismiss beaujolais.

First, if your only experience with beaujolais nouveau has been Georges Dubeof (zhohrzh(uh) dew-buhf) you should consider trying a better version! Critics say that Dubeof’s nouveau is worse than Kool-Aid–my experience generally seems to corroborate this. However, I have had very good nouveau:

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Louis Tête produces a delicious nouveau that is thirst-quenching, balanced, and easy on the budget ($11 – $12).

I have to admit that beaujolais nouveau is strange: it’s as close a red will get to a white wine. There is zero tannin versus a fair bit of acidity, a bit of sweetness and fruitiness. It’s meant to be served chilled, and meant to be gulped. Nouveau itself has a production time of two months or less, and unlike many reds it is NOT supposed to be aged.

And that’s just “new” beaujolais. Beaujolais itself is another matter that will be discussed in another post.