As I look back on an amazing first 5 months and a great 2009, I have a real sense of excitement for 2010. City Wine Merchant is still a new business, and there are so many things I'd like to do in the new year! It is our goal to make wine fun for our customers, and to continue to impact the way our customers buy and enjoy wine. I promise that will continue, and we will do our part to bring exciting wines to you at great prices. It has been incredible to meet so many great people over the past few months, and I look forward to seeing all of you in 2010!
Here are a few other suggestions for the new year to help us all continue our wine journey and hopefully discover something new in 2010:
1. Drink Local! Discover or continue to enjoy the fantastic wines produced in the Niagara Escarpment (USA). I will be the first to admit that local wines were barely on my radar screen when I opened CWM. Sure, I've had a great Finger Lakes Riesling here and there, but little did I know that a wine renaissance was happening right in our backyard. The Niagara Escarpment is home to numerous innovative winemakers, producing top quality wines (red and white) at great prices. Don't believe us? Take home Arrowhead Spring's full lineup of Red Meritage, Chardonnay, Semi-Dry Riesling, Port-style dessert wine, and Icewine -- and I challenge you to find a weak-link in the group!
2. Discover Oregon and Washington. These two states are producing some of the most exciting wines in the country, plain and simple. If you haven't fully explored Oregon's Pinot Noir and Washington's Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends, then you are truly missing out on something historic. These wines are some of the best in the world, and they may change the way you think about these varietals. While some of you may ultimately prefer generally bigger and more-modern-styled wines from California, you may just find that Washington Cabernet and Oregon Pinot Noir are more to your liking. Some of our favorite producers from Oregon are Patricia Green, Penner-Ash, Bergstrom, Panther Creek, and A to Z. From Washington, try something from L'Ecole 41, Pepperbridge, Charles Smith, and Januik.
3. Drink wine with food. We at City Wine Merchant believe that wine is meant to compliment a great meal (and vice-versa). While wine continues to enjoy unprecedented growth in the United States, it has been our experience that many people still overlook the benefit of pairing wine with food. That's a shame. There is a saying that "drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life's most civilized pleasures." Make it a point to experience that in 2010 by putting a little thought into how you can heighten your enjoyment of wine by pairing it with food. You just may find that it also heightens your enjoyment of food! Organize or attend wine dinner, or perhaps try picking a wine first and then try to find a good recipe to match it with! A suggestion or two? Try seafood with Vermentino from Sardinia, Italy or Lamb with Malbec from Cahors, France.
4. Put that bottle away. While it is impossible to drink aged-wine every day or every week, there is something magical about a wine that has the benefit of time in a bottle. Flavors and aromas come together and layers are revealed. In a world where high alcohol content and big fruit-bombs are a-plenty, we often enjoy wines that hit us over the head like a hammer with flavor. But we also, more often than not, drink wines too young. When reading about wines, pay attention to suggested drinking windows, and put a bottle or two down in the cellar to see how it changes and evolves over a couple years or more. Don't have the patience for that? Good wine shops always stock past-vintages of wines that are cellar-worthy. Instead of buying that highly-rated 2007 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, ask your wine merchant for something with a little age on it (2003-2006 were all excellent vintages - try Beaurenard CDP 2004 or Ferrand's 2006 CDP). You may find a better experience and a better value. Some of our other suggestions for great values and wines that are becoming ready to drink: 2004 Bordeaux and Burgundy, and 2001 and 2003 vintages from Tuscany and Piedmont, Italy.
5. Open that bottle! Didn't I just say that we should put more bottles away to enjoy them down the road? Yes, but even more important is to not forget that wine is meant to be enjoyed and shared. Don't let great bottles sit for years or decades because you can't seem to find the right occasion to open them. Have a 1986 Lafite still sitting around? Invite a few great friends over, put some steaks on the grill and pop that cork! Sometimes organizing a fun night around a special wine is the perfect reason to open that bottle. Better yet, encourage everyone to do the same, and have everyone say a few words about why that wine is special to them. This is exactly what Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher of the Wall Street Journal had in mind when they started touting an "Open That Bottle Night" on the last Saturday in February every year. I have been celebrating OTBN for a few years, and some of the most memorable wines I've ever had were opened on this night. Why the arbitrary date? That's the point. The wine you open doesn't have to be the most expensive or the highest rated. Rather, pick that bottle that was special enough, for whatever reason, to make you hold onto while trying to find that perfect night to finally pop the cork. Now you've found that night!
If you have talked to us or stopped in to browse our store, you hopefully know a few things about us -- that we take a lot of pride in our wine selection, that we taste every wine we bring in, and that we choose all our wines based on a combination of quality and value. All of that remains as true as ever, and visitors to our store this week will notice something new, in the form of sleek, black 3-liter boxes of German Riesling!
There are a lot of exciting things happening in the wine world, and many of the changes are making high quality wine more accessible and affordable to greater numbers of people. In short, the wine world is becoming a lot less intimidating and a lot more fun. Consistent with this trend is premium bag-in-box wine, which is growing in both popularity and production around the world. Italy now allows some wines that receive the government’s quality assurance label to be sold in boxes; there is wine in a stylish cardboard tube made by a top winemaker in Burgundy; there’s a good, old-vine Grenache from the Pyrenees sold in a box; and there is fantastic unoaked Malbec from organically grown grapes in Argentina now available in the United States thanks to the 1-liter TetraPak. This is not to advocate or argue that the traditional popping of the corks is a thing of the past (I hope not!). But premium bag-in-box wine has many positives, and I look forward to seeing more great wine boxed up.
Enter Würtz Riesling Trocken 2008 (3L) (Rheinhessen, Germany). This is a nearly bone-dry Riesling, with a nose of green apple, quince, and flint. The green apple comes through in the front and mid-palate with a nice more-middle Mosel-than-Rheinhessen white floral accent, finishing with flinty mineral, subtle tartness and very tightly wound sliced lemon citrus. The acid is mouthwatering. The color is pale and pure, much like a clean Chablis, and fans of crisp white Bordeaux and Viognier will love this. This is a very good wine at a very good price. At just over $20, the four regular bottles you get in this box come to less than $6 a bottle! Plus, you are getting high quality wine that you can keep "open" for weeks, and it will remain as fresh as the day you poured your first glass.
Dirk Würtz is an enigmatic young wine producer in Germany. Known as a fanatic for quality, Würtz gave up his job of over 6 years as winemaker at the acclaimed Robert Weil winery to begin his own project. He focused on quality and price, and sustainable, ecological agriculture. All the vineyards are farmed naturally, and his yields are significantly lower than many of his neighbors. The winemaking philosophy is one of minimal intervention by means of fermentation with natural yeasts and limited pumping, fining, or filtration.
For me, wine is always about discovery -- finding new exciting wines that often change they way you think about a particular region, varietal, or even the packaging. If you look for quality wine at a great price, as we always do, then this is a must-try. Leave a comment below and let us know what your think of the idea of premium bag-in-box wine.