Tag Archives: Spain

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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Embracing the Funk: 2006 Francisco Alfonso Pedralonga DoUmia

19 Oct

While I’m not as dogmatic as Miles from Sideways, I do tend to stick to what I know when it comes to wine.  When I go to a restaurant and have to order among white wines I don’t know, I stick to Sauvignon Blanc or dry Riesling.  When I go to parties with tables covered by anonymous bottles, I choose Côtes du Rhône.  At home, I really like to drink my Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and White Burgundy (when I have the money!).  With wines costing what they do, it can be difficult to commit to a bottle of wine I know nothing about (which is why doing reconnaisance is so important whenever it is possible).

I should be willing to take chances more often.

I had a bottle of the 2006 Francisco Alfonso Pedralonga DoUmia ($24) squirreled away from the January 25th deal of the DC Wine Buyers Collective.  It had survived a lot longer than the other wines I acquired from that deal.  I don’t know why… maybe it’s because I simply didn’t know what to expect from this wine.  What if I opened it and it was undrinkable with the pot roast with which I was trying to pair it?

This wine is from the Rias Baixas region of Spain.  This is a coastal region that is famous for its seafood and for a wine that pairs exceptionally well with seafood: Albariño.  Such is the supremacy of Albariño that most people, myself included, don’t know that this region also produces red wine (apparently red wine only makes up 1% of the total wine production in Rias Baixas).  This particular wine is composed of 70% Mencía, 20% Caiño, and 10% Espadeiro.  I’ve never even heard of the Caiño or Espadeiro varietals!

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The Next Stage of My Vinous Adventure: or, How I Will Be Spending All My Money Upon Graduation

2 Mar

I’ve always wanted a wine fridge–you know, something in which I could store 16 or 32 bottles of ageworthy wine.  There are three reasons I never took the plunge and purchased one, however.  First, they obviously cost money.  Second, it seemed sort of pointless to me to collect rare and expensive wines while I was in DC, only to have to move them–at great cost and effort, and taking them from the protective cocoon for which I would have shelled out a few hundred dollars–across the country upon my graduation.  Third, many of the personal wine fridges do not control for humidity: they keep the bottles cool but at the risk of potentially drying out the corks.

Thus, my efforts to become a serious wine collector were put on hold for the past three years.  BUT NO LONGER!  “How?” I hear you, my one reader, asking.

I am back at home now (though I haven’t been able to have much fun… “Spring Break” for law school means “catch up with all the work you haven’t done / do all the work you’ve been assigned over Spring Break,” and I’m also busy with my very late moral character and fitness application for the state bar and with studying for the MPRE) and, as breaks from work, I have been cooking quite often.  For instance, on Monday evening I made choucroute garnie and on Tuesday I made roasted lemon chicken with roasted pine nut and lemon cous cous and sauteed broccolini.  One of the standout wines from this week?  The 2000 R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rosé Gran Reserva, an 11-freaking-year-old rosé!!!

Made from 30% Tempranillo, 60% Garnacho, and 10% Viura, this wine is an absolutely gorgeous copper/salmon color.  I am at a loss to describe this wine–there’s definitely oxidation from the long aging (four and a half years in barrel and five and a half in bottle before release!!!), something approaching savory and tangy, with metallic notes and just the suggestion of cantaloupe.  I don’t think anyone else in my family really liked this wine: this is not a bottle you’d take to a casual barbecue.  However, at $27.99, this is a fantastic wine to bring to a tasting of esoteric wines, and a terrific way to try a Gran Reserva at a very low price.

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South Pasadena, je t’aime!

11 May

After an unconscionably long hiatus (I blame finals and other end-of-the-year miseries) I am back!  “Back” applies in two ways: first, I am back to posting this blog, where I intend to write posts weekly over these 14 weeks of summer, and second, I am back in California.

I will be in California for five more weeks, after which I will be headed back to DC for a few days, and then eight weeks in beautiful Wilmington, Delaware, known in legal circles as one of the locations of the Court of Chancery (where I’ll be interning) and known in pop culture circles as the nameless setting of Fight Club.  Hopefully during this time there will be wine, wine, and more wine.  If this past week has been any indication, there will be plenty of that this summer!

I have to write a few posts, one of Deep Sea Wines (which was gracious enough to send me two bottles to review), another for a great product known as the Wine Diaper (it’s probably not what you think it is), and yet another for a book by Matthew Frank entitled Barolo.  And, I’ll have to write about a very wonderful evening at Founding Farmers in DC at which a bottle of Riesling figured prominently–that’ll be coming soon.  All of these will take place in good time, but before I do I wanted to “clear the palate,” so to speak, by writing about a few of the wines I’ve had at home.

One of my habits while at home is to buy a few bottles with which to tide over my mom until my next visit.  I had purchased a few bottles during Spring Break, and to my surprise (and pleasure) I found that one of the bottles had not yet been opened.

This bottle was the Candidus from Malm Cellars.  Malm Cellars is a one-person show, helmed by Brendan Malm.  He doesn’t have a winery or vineyard, but he sources fruit from select growers to make his wines.  One such wine, his 2007 Sonoma County Pinot Noir, garnered a great review from the LA Times.  The Candidus, which is made from a bunch of undisclosed white Rhône varietals (but also apparently includes Chardonnay concentrate according to Dave from Mission Wines), is about $16.  It’s intensely aromatic–I’m thinking Viognier or Muscat (though I’m not sure if Muscat is a Rhône varietal)–with an assertive nose of quince and honey.  It’s pear-colored and appears on the viscous side.  Excellent: full of dried apricot and citrus, full bodied yet light, good acidity, very pleasant.

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The Quiet After the Storm: Two More Wines With Which to Get Through Snowmageddon

7 Feb

I’ve been on a wine-drinking and -writing bender lately.  Counterintuitively, I found that there’s something liberating about being trapped indoors by the falling snow: the physical fact of being kept indoors turns the mind inward as well, so there’s been plenty of time for reflection and self-analysis.

And of course, eating and drinking.

Added to the bottles thus far consumed during Snowmageddon are the two below:

The one on the left is a Riesling, the 2008 Selbach Riesling Spätlese ($14.99 from MacArthur Beverages).  I opened this for a dinner of mahi-mahi, wild rice, and roasted asparagus.  The mahi-mahi was pre-marinated, courtesy of Trader Joe’s, in a sweet-salty sauce, so I figured that the semi-sweet Spätlese would be a decent match.

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Swine Make Good BBQ (but Bad Wine): Travels with James and Nick in Search of America’s Finest BBQ

27 Oct

There is something therapeutic about seeing trees and towns and wide blue sky passing by you at 80 miles per hour as you sit in a car, listening to good music, on your way to somewhere.  It is an added bonus when those trees are at that moment when they are still lush but where the leaves are no longer green but various hues of yellow, red, brown, and orange.

Such were the trees on the road on the way to Lexington, North Carolina, whose Barbecue Festival my friend James (of The Eaten Path fame), our friend Nick (of the US Patent and Trademark Office) and I attended this past weekend.

bbq26_hmpg

(Thank you to the Lexington BBQ Festival for this poster!)

For those of you who do not know of James by this point, he is one of my good friends from Berkeley who has for the last year called Brooklyn, New York home.  While his more regular contributions to the blogosphere can be seen on The Eaten Path, he also is a huge aficionado of all things barbecued, once spending a few weeks traveling through the Smoky Crescent and eating and observing the best the South had to offer.  It is one of his goals to publish a comprehensive and awesome book on barbecue–a noble goal, indeed.

Thus, when he said there was a barbecue festival in North Carolina I asked if I could go.  I figured I wouldn’t have very many more chances to have a purpose to go to North Carolina, and besides, any reason to get out of DC is reason enough.

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Tears of Morro, Tears of Joy

13 Jun

I’ve been back here in LA for a few weeks now and it’s great. We’ve been having a long spell of overcast, mild weather–perfect light sweater weather. That’s fine with me, especially since I escaped the heat and humidity of the East Coast so recently (as well as the steaming crucible of law school).

Thus, I’ve been able to go to Mission Wines, my favorite local wine spot here in little South Pasadena. I rounded up a crew of the usuals–William, his friend Sam, Chris M. and his gf, Sasha and his gf, and Jack M. from days yore–and we hit up the wine tasting this past Saturday. Manning the bar were the always dependable Dave and Matthew; Kirk from the Rose Bowl committee was there along with a spate of regulars.

The tasting started off with a 2008 Pierre-Marie Chermette “Les Griottes” Beaujolais rosé, made from gamay.  A Beaujolais rosé?  I mean, much Beaujolais is darn close to rosé, anyway.  Nonetheless, this was a nice wine with a vibrant pink color and an austere, slightly coppery taste.  It wasn’t sweet and not overtly fruity.  It was my first Beaujolais rosé, so I was delighted to have it be a positive experience.  

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Beautiful Berkeley

19 May

What a beautiful place, Berkeley.  I didn’t really enjoy the place until late in my college career–perhaps starting my fourth year, definitely my fifth year.  I have been back up numerous times, but through a number of reasons was unable to do so for nearly the past year and a half–far too long in my book.  Thus, I planned to visit the Bay Area for a spell of a few days after my exciting and rainy adventure in New York the previous week.

The concrete reason for my trip was to visit two of my former residents (and current friends), Semra and Kana, and their awesome apartment up in the hills on North Side.  There was a sentimental reason, too–namely, that all of my residents and thus the vast majority of the people I knew in Berkeley would be graduating and leaving for the big vast world after college.  

There was a oenological reason, too: I wanted to drink a lot of great wine!

Again, as in my New York post, I’m going to just write down phrases that will hopefully serve to jog my memory when I’m looking back after a few decades.  =)

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From the East Coast to the West: the “Tres Picos” Garnacha from Borsao

4 Mar

I am at home, taking a much-needed break from law school.  First semester was a breeze compared to the marathon of mock trial, briefs, classes, and journal competition!

Having lived in DC now since August, I feel like I have a sense of the city.  True, I haven’t really explored too much, but enough to realize a few things.  First, DC is a nice city–to visit.  Second, there are nice restaurants–in the $$$ range.  Third, there are some good cafes–if you’re willing to take the Metro and walk a while.  Fourth, there ARE some good wine shops, though the District of Columbia isn’t exactly the Bay Area.  I am pretty certain that I will be returning to California after law school.

I really do like certain aspects of DC.  I do like the cold weather, for instance, and the snow (although it can be a real pain when you’re trying to walk in slush and frozen ice).  I do like that you can generally get around using public transportation (traffic today in LA brought back some bad memories).  But, after all of this, and despite LA’s problems, LA is still home to me.

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All Grown Up: My First Hosted Wine Tastings

21 Nov

It’s strange being 25.  I remember being a kid in grade school and looking up to the new young teachers, those who were obviously younger than people like Mrs. Donaldson or Mr. Kinter–people who had been at the game for years and years.  They didn’t really know what they were doing yet, but they were bright and fun and energetic.

And now I might very well be older than they were at the time.

(My torts professor summed it up quite nicely when he quipped, “It’s a strange feeling when both the president-elect AND the chief justice are younger than you are.”)

Now that I’m a quarter century old, I feel as if I should be an adult.  I certainly feel adult-like at certain moments–for instance, when I cook dinner, or when I go to the Ritz-Carlton for drinks (that one time!)–but sometimes feel as if I’m a child playing grownup. I think many of my peers feel the same way.

All that aside, it IS nice to get together and do grownup stuff–like hold wine tastings.  My roommate and I decided to throw a wine tasting; I decided also to throw a wine tasting before that wine tasting to get the feel of things.

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