Friday, April 25, 2008

Wine Lit Crit

Last night, enjoying a relatively nice bottle of dry Pfalz riesling, I decided to watch some of the movies I got from the Chicago Public Library. Well, just one. Sitting in one of my grandparents' orange chairs, which may be my prized possessions, slightly dissappointed by the 2006 vintage in lots of German wines I've tasted lately (Damn global warming.), I watched the recent film version of The History Boys. I read the play and read all of the glowing press about the London and New York runs, and was fantastically excited that the original cast would be starring in a film version. Although they cut some of the soliloquys/monologues, the film was one of the most moving pieces I've seen in years. I'm sure it I would have been bawling if I'd seen it on stage. Immaculately written, perfectly acted, I wish plays/films like this would come around more often. The concept of the play/film is heavily intellectual--knowledge and its uses are at the center of the conflict. Yet emotional and sexual tension keeps the play/film afloat. I could go on and on and on about this, but I'll stop. I just wanted to touch on the wonderful combination of intellectual pleasure and sensual pleasure in wine.

I am one of those people that needs both. Yes, I can totally get into sensual wines--they are pleasing to drink! Some wines are entirely intellectual, esoteric, site specific, but not yummy. The immaculate combination of both sends me to my good place. Great riesling--austere, mineral, and dry, was what I was craving. I was looking for a great dry Mosel, but couldn't find any at a reasonable price, and the Pfalz I bough was nice, really balanced, but not what I wanted. It didn't quite deliver on the intellectual level. But the movie did. That's funny, because usually my wine delivers and my movies don't. That's why I drink lots of wine and watch very few movies.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Vouvray & Beaujolais

If I were trapped on a desert island, I would take Vouvray and Beaujolais.
No. Let me rephrase that. If I had a little cafe, I'd have only five wines on the list: Champagne, Vouvray, Beaujolais, and a sticky--either a muscat-based light, fresh wine, or a fortified banyul-style sort of wine. But the Vouvray and Beaujolais are the core of the wine list. I wouldn't just stick with one of each, I'd switch it up every so often. But I'd try to keep it lively, fresh, yet still complex and absolutely food friendly focused. Here are a few of the wines that inspired me:

Francois Pinon Vouvray Tradition 2006
Something about this producer is like a hug. It's not over the top in it's components, the sweetness of a vin tendre, just to balance the acidity. Not too much richness or too much minerality, but the touch of minerals gives the wine some verve, nerve, and grounding. Golden raisins, apricots, meyer lemon, minerals, and a kiss of spiced pear. Subltle, happy, and something I could drink any day of the week.

Others that constantly inspire me and would make it to my list:
Francois Chidaine "Les Argiles" 2005 (Really, any of his wines.)
Domaine des Aubuisières 2006 "Cuvée de Silex"
Francois Pinon Vouvray Petillant Brut (Bubbles in my Vouvray? Anytime, anywhere.)
(I could mention Foreau or Huet on here, but, duh, they kick some Chenin ass and I love them.)

Pierre Chermette/Domaine du Vissoux 2005 Beaujolais
I adore Chermette's Vieilles Vignes Beaujolais, and Moulin-a-Vent that I have tasted, but the super-basic Beaujolais is amazing. Deep glossy, almost opaque purple, with the perfect balance of full-fledged fruit and smooth acidity make this little bugger one of the most simply satisfying wines I have tasted in recent memory. Blackberries, black cherries, a touch of minerals and a seamless integration of pure flavors. Chermette only uses indigenous yeasts and minimal handling, and is based in Saint Verand, on the very northern edge of the Beaujolais, which is an ideal spot for superb values.

I swoon for Beaujolais--here are a few other reasons:
Marcel Lapierre Morgon 2006
Jean-Paul Thevenet Morgon 2006
Jean Foillard Morgon 2006 (If you've never tasted any of these three, stop reading this now, and find some.)
Chateau Thivin Cote du Brouilly 2005 & 2006
Domaine Dichon Moulin-a-Vent 2005
La Madone Beaujolais "Le Perreon" 2005
Chignard Fleurie "Les Moriers" 2002 (Yes, beautifully aged Beaujolais.)
Chatelard Beaujolais-Villages 2006

I just feel that at this moment, or maybe a year or two ago, wines from these two regions represent values--and are both underappreciated and...yummy.

Monday, April 07, 2008


I dedicate this post to the passing of a lovely New Orleans wine shop.

On Saturday I experienced a bit of food nirvana...more on that later, it will take some time to accurately describe how people and pig got me closer to perfection.

I have to mention Saturday quickly, because the first serendipitous encounter happened right before the pig dinner. Out of all of the apartments in Chicago, this dinner was taking place in teh exact same building on Eastlake in Rogers Park that my friends Julie & Zane reside. Upon exiting the cab with my coworkers, I say "Hey, my friends live in this building. Look! There's one now!" Zane was arriving home from work as we walked up to the building.

Sunday, yesterday, was a sunny spring day. Jason, Kate and I headed up to Andersonville, quite possibly one of the best places to stroll on a weekend, with every other restaurant advertising SUNDAY BRUNCH. We had a bottle of Schramsberg's NV Brut "Mirabelle" in tow and headed up to m. henry for brunch. Upon leaving we crossed paths with my friend Theresa, on her bike on the way to church, who lives in a Stone Soup co-op right on Ashland, a block from my place. m. henry, which shares its name with myself, after a much-too-long wait did deliver a fantastic brunch at great prices.

The first two serendipitous meetings didn't even come close to the final one. We were just jaunting down Clark stopping in places like the Brown Elephant and window shopping at Urbanest, when we hopped into In Fine Spirits. (A very nice little wine shop, but a store I would like to see with more a interesting, off-the-beaten-path, and old-world selection. I think it's a touch too new-world for me.) Upon entering Jason exclaimed "It's you!" to this woman working at the store. I was like, oh, she looks oddly familiar, but whatever. She smiled and exclaimed some and then Jason said "Sip, right!?" Oh. My. God. Yes! Jennifer was the proprietress of a kick-ass little wine shop right on Magazine Street in New Orleans. Jason and I went there all the time when he lived on Constance. We went to their weekly sip-n-spin tastings and always grabbed a bottle for dinner.

Sip, even though they had a mention in the NYTimes a while back, had, unfortunately, closed its doors. Jennifer told us that she had "cut her teeth" in the wine biz here in ChiChi (just like me!), and she came back here because Sip was just too much work and didn't pan out the way she planned. Luckily she seems to be doing well here in 'Cago, especially because she gets to hang in A-Ville and work at a fab little shop.

We tasted a few wines with her and looked around, and I was just awestruck that life had come full-circle in two places I love so much and all connected by wine!

It's a sign of some sort.