Wine lists in Memphis are getting better but as a whole they can be a bit dismal. I can take one glance at a restaurant's list & can immediately tell if it was an afterthought or not. However, there are some shining examples of good, well thought out unique lists. Restaurant Iris, Majestic Grille, Bari, Beauty Shop & of course Napa Cafe. Napa's list is so interesting to me not only because they don't stick to their namesake but they truly go out on a limb. Glenda & Rusty really love wine & food & it's evident by the choices they make. They are not satisfied with just what is available to them. They routinely make trips to different wine regions & larger cities & source wines from those trips. It's obvious that they have good relationships with their distributors because said distributors go the extra mile to bring in what they want. Of course my being a certified Pacific Northwest addict I'm in love with the fact that they have some good ones to offer. I love the different stuff & the smaller producers (not only from Oregon & Washington but even California...sometimes). Case in point, Novy Winery Grenache from Judge Family Vineyards in Bennet Valley. I'm a sucker for the Rhone varietys. Seriously addicted. This lovely bottle was smooth & round with a supple body & nice spiciness. The fruit was evident but more of a background note which I appreciated. I haven't seen this bottle anywhere else & I can't order it at Joe's so I'm assuming that Napa Cafe has it all. Go & get it now.
Has anyone ever drank a negrette? Ever heard of it? Neither had I. I'm so glad that there are still surprises out there for me because I sometimes think I'm a little jaded when it comes to wine. A wine list is set down in front of me & more than likely I'm bored with it. However, I digress.
At Joe's we recently tasted Chateau La Colombiere Coste Rouge 2006 made from 100% negrette. It's from a small family producer that farms biodynamically in the Southwest of France near Toulouse. When I stuck my nose in the glass I immediately was hit with wild herb, earth, dried red fruits & a bit of gaminess. The palate is medium bodied, gripping & sensually textured. This wine is definitely something that I felt rather than thought about. I did, however, quickly start thinking about what I wanted to eat with it. Roasted game birds, sausages, olives, grilled eggplant spread....
There is very little left of this wine & once its gone I'm not sure if it will return given that the importer will not be bringing it in anymore. Check it out at Joe's while you can.
First off, I don't go to the suburbs. For anything except the Apple Store. But this event will be lots of fun! Wine, theatre, a very talented troop of actors..what else could you ask for?
Germantown Community Theatre presents A TASTE OF THE SEASON A wine-tasting and entertainment friendraiser event Date: Time: Location:Germantown Community Theatre Street: 3037 Forest Hill Irene Rd. City/Town:Germantown, TN SAVE THE DATE! We invite you to attend a TASTE of the SEASON on Saturday, March 27, from 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm at Germantown Community Theatre located at 3037 Forest Hill-Irene Rd, Germantown, TN 38138. A cast of characters will join our wine sommelier as you sample wines themed to our shows in the 2010/2011 season. Join us for an evening of wine-tasting (provided by Southwestern Beverage Distributing, www.swdist.com), hors d'oeuvres (provided by The Esplanade of Memphis, www.esplanadememphis.com), coffee bar (provided by Panini Catering by Java Coast, www.actioncateringmemphis.com), palate enhancing breads from Panera Bread of Memphis, www.panerabread.com) a silent auction, and preview performances from shows in next year's season. Rate the wines and take a guess at the play titles and win prizes. This is a special limited engagement with only 100 tickets available. Contact Executive Director, Brent Davis or the GCT Box Office, for ticket details at 901.754.2680 and RSVP by March 22. Ticket prices are $50/person in advance or $75 at the door. All proceeds benefit Germantown Community Theatre. Come play! Come play! Brent Davis Executive Director Saturday, March 27, 2010 6:00pm - 8:30pm 3037 Forest Hill-Irene Rd., Germantown, TN 38138 | Ph. 901.754.2680 | www.germantowncommunitytheatre.org
I know I'm going to get called out for being a snob but I really don't give a damn. There is a new wine in town that I just cannot accept. It's called Bear's Lair. Cute, right? Another cutesy name with a cutesy label. Gag. However that isn't my main problem with this wine. Oh & by the way I haven't even tasted it nor do I ever plan on tasting it. Call me out for not even giving it a chance. I don't care. So this wine is $5.99 per bottle...what a deal right? A Cali cab or merlot for $5.99? Could this be Memphis' answer to Two Buck Chuck? Well it is from the same individual who brings that crap to the rest of the country.
My main problem with this wine is that at this price point somewhere, someone is getting screwed. I mean really screwed. Maybe it's the grapegrower who is strong armed into selling off his fruit at below cost. Perhaps its the consumer who is conned into thinking "hell, if this is even halfway tolerable than I'm getting my money's worth!" People are de-valuing themselves with this mindset. Everyone deserves a good bottle of wine. And no I don't think only expensive wine is good wine. There is plenty of good wine out there...& it doesn't have to screw you over or anyone else.
When getting together with friends one of the most memorable & most enjoyable isn't always the wine. Well of course its a huge part but sometimes what I take away from the experience isn't flavor profiles, aromas or textures...its the conversations.
Recently a few of my friends & I met at my house to pop some bottles & share some food. I went to the store the night before in search of beef short ribs. Unfortunately, they were out but I spied some grass fed, free range beef shanks. I thought "what the hell?" I've never cooked them before & they looked so good with a huge bone in the center & lots of marrow. By the looks of them they indicated to me that they should be treated like shortribs or lamb shank perhaps. I seared them off hard & fast in a screaming hot dutch oven. Then I threw onions, garlic & carrots in as well as some fresh thyme. The shanks went back in along with some fresh vegetable stock, red wine, pesto & chicken stock. That bubbled away in the oven for about...oh.. 7 hours.
Lance, Fiona, Richie & Meagan arrived with their goodies & wines & we settled in for the duration. As we tasted through our bottles & snacked on our dishes a topic came up about changing tastes.
Richie commented on how his tastes have transformed in the past two years. He said he used to be into these big, rich super concentrated wines & now he's moving more towards more nuanced & elegant wines. Lance said that he's noticed himself going that route as well. Fiona remarked that when she is home alone (if Lance has a gig or practice) she will dine on something simple & accompany that with a big wine. So I got to thinking. Isn't there room for all different styles? It doesn't necessarily have to be one or the other right? It should be about balance.
As well as that wine's place at the table. I don't want a big, overly rich concentrated red with ceviche. Nor do I want a lithe, taut, brightly acidic white with my beef cheeks. Every wine has its place & every place needs a wine. That being said I think my palate has transformed somewhat over my years as a wine lover. I used to love the bold, steroidal pinot noirs of Brian Loring's early days but now I have an aversion to syrah-like pinots. I want my wine to taste the way its supposed to. To taste of place. To make my armhairs stand on end. To electrify me.
I wish I could remember the first aged Rhone that I ever had that sent me over the edge. That memory escapes me but I know its there because I still salivate over even a CDR-villages with 10 years on it.
The same goes for dusty bottles of wines from Piedmont. They haunt me. Allure me. Seduce me. And leave a permanent mark on me.