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Eric Genau
 
November 25, 2013 | Eric Genau

Wine Legends at Tocqueville

When in New York City, I often organize wine dinners at Tocqueville. A fixture in Union Square, Tocqueville remains one of New York's most acclaimed restaurants, along with its Michelin-starred sister, 15 East, just a few doors down. I can't say enought about the hospitality here, led by master Sommelier Roger Dagorn, who assists me with all of our wine pairings and often helps to create a tasting menu around the special wines we are opening. My last visit was a night of wine legends with friends and colleagues. Here are some of the highlights.

I was blown away by the 1990 Comte de Vogüe Musigny, which may have been the biggest powerhouse red Burgundy I have ever tasted. Explosive doesn't do this justice, yet the wine also possessed an elegance that is difficult to describe. Musigny is often described as an iron fist in a velvet glove, and that is on target with this bottle. Comte de Vogüe produces some of the most iconic wines in Burgundy, with history tracing back to 1450. Today the estate is led by its 20th generation. The Musigny vineyard, planted on iron and limestone soils, within the village of Chambolle-Musigny, is among the finest Pinot Noir sites in the world, and it showed here. Tocqueville's duck sausage with foie gras was ethereal, presenting the perfect complement to both the power and grace of this wine. Roger hit a home run with this pairing!

The most fun we had at the table was comparing 1989 La Mission Haut-Brion with Pétrus from the same year. Both wines received strong praise and 100 point ratings from RP, and both wines threw me for a loop. I was expecting power and fruit from La Mission, and didn't really get much of either. Instead, it was Pétrus that took over from the start, showing more fruit and body than La Mission, the latter coming acorss as surprisingly under-ripe. As for the Pétrus, who says Merlot is all about finesse? At 100% Merlot, this proves otherwise. 

The menu at the right shows us starting with a bottle of Ramonet C-M from 2010, but we made a last minute swap in favor of Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet 2010. As much as I enjoy Ramonet, we traded up here. This is a masterpiece that I would like to revisit in five years. It has so much going on, but the aromas and nuances aren't really developed yet. Still, it comes across as so elegant and long even today. The dish, sea urchin and angel hair carbonara, was another home run. Roger chose the fish for its briny texture, and that really helped to bring out different textures in the wine. 

This was a pretty special evening, and all I could do the next morning was stay put at the Andaz Fifth Avenue, which I often call home while in New York. The lobby lounge serves coffee and is a great place to get some work done. I wasn't up for much more than that after a long night at Tocqueville. 

We fly for wine! Travel around the world with us on flickr.com

 

Time Posted: Nov 25, 2013 at 1:13 PM Permalink to Wine Legends at Tocqueville Permalink
Eric Genau
 
September 21, 2013 | Eric Genau

Saturday Lunch with 2001 La Forra and 1967 Cos d'Estournel

Matt Cole has been a fixture at City Wine Merchant for almost three years, and this Saturday marked his last day working with us. Matt's first day was a Saturday in 2011, and it was a memorable Saturday afternoon because, as Matt reminded me, we opened a bottle of 1942 Lopez Heredia Tondonia Reserva Rioja. Hopefully Matt got over the disappointment of realizing that we didn't do that every Saturday. We've had some pretty good Saturdays though. Matt has been "Mr. Everything" at City Wine Merchant (wine guy, carpenter, chef) and he proved to be a pretty decent bowler. We'll miss having him around every day.

Along with a good friend, Matt and I shared a casual lunch of Italian coppa, along with Tomme Chebris, Brillat-Savarin and crusty baguette from Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile. We first popped open a bottle of La Forra Chianti Classico Riserva 2001. While the wine didn't have much life left in it, it was outstanding. The essence of great Chianti Classico was definitely present. I have always loved Chianti Classico because it is one of those wines that nearly always transports me to its place of origin. This comes from a 14-acre vineyard on the Nozzole estate. The vineyard has been producing Chianti since the 13th century and it is a reliable wine from vintage to vintage. This isn't as traditionally styled as some of my other favorite producers from the region (Ama, Castell'in Villa), but it is nonetheless a great wine. Matt liked it, so that's good. It was especially tasty with the Tomme Chebris (50% goat’s milk and 50% ewe’s milk).

What can I say about Cos? It is one of the world's greatest wine estates for good reason. Even in this "off" vintage, and even after so many critics leave a wine like this for dead, the 1967 Cos d'Estournel Saint Estephe continues to deliver some joy. It still shows a lot red fruit, and just enough acidity to hold it all together. While it is somewhat dis-jointed, it is an interesting snapshot . With history dating to the 1700s, Cos continues to hold its own with the great first growths of Bordeaux (Cos literally "looks down" on it's neighbor Lafite). The '67 is a fun wine, but if you still have this one in your cellar, don't wait any longer to open it! 

Vintage Wine Score Maturity
1967 Chateau Cos d'Estournel Saint-Estephe 80-84 Good Drink Now
2001 Tenuta di Nozzole La Forra Chianti Classico Riserva 2001 90-94 Outstanding Drink Now

Note: Wine Record posts are Eric Genau's reflections and tasting notes on food, wine and conversation enjoyed with friends and family. This is the only place you will see Eric formally "score" a wine. As with all scores, they are meant only as a guide to help readers discover new wines. Readers may find they have a similar palate to Eric's, or not at all, but hopefully these notes and scores provide some valuable guidance in any event. Likewise, drinking windows are provided only as a guide, and based solely (unless otherwise indicated) on a single bottle and singular experience. Eric generally only scores wines in ranges, with the following as a guide:

100 Flawless: a wine without any flaws that can be articulated
95-99 Classic: a great wine that displays the best attributes of its varietal(s) and region
90-94 Outstanding: an outstanding wine displaying most of the best attributes of its varietal(s) and region
85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
80-84 Good: drinkable and shows some positive characteristics
<80 Not recommended

Time Posted: Sep 21, 2013 at 12:00 AM Permalink to Saturday Lunch with 2001 La Forra and 1967 Cos d'Estournel Permalink
Matt Cole
 
February 4, 2013 | Matt Cole

Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken

paired with Hardin Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Ingredients:

-Serves 4-

1 Whole De-boned chicken, wing tips removed
1 Stalk of Celery diced
2 Minced Shallots
8oz. of Chopped Mushrooms
3 Strips of thick Bacon cut into lardons
11/2 Cups Chopped and Pealed Chestnuts
Butchers twine

Directions

1. You can either de-bone the chicken yourself or have your butcher prepare it for you. 
2. Preheat your oven to 425°F
3. Add the bacon lardons to a cold pan and turn to a med/high heat and render out the fat
4. Remove lardons from pan
5. Add the shallots and celery, and cook until translucent
6. Add the chopped mushrooms, and sauté until softened
7. Add the chestnuts, and toss with the ingredients
8. Allow the stuffing to cool to room temperature
9. Place the deboned chicken skin side down
10. Pool the stuffing in the center of the cavity
11. Fold the skin over tucking in all the flaps
12. Tie with butchers across the length of the roast and then every inch widthwise down.
13. Place in a shallow pan and season well with salt and pepper
14. Roast in the oven until internal temperature reaches 165oF, it will continue to cook outside the oven
15. Allow to rest.  Remove the lengthwise string and slice at the remaining ties
16. You can deglaze the pan with some white wine for an instant sauce
17. Enjoy!

Time Posted: Feb 4, 2013 at 1:03 PM Permalink to Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Permalink
Eric Genau
 
June 29, 2012 | Eric Genau

Tasting Your Way Through the Tour de France

Happy July! It's time to gear up for Independence Day and the Tour de France...and it's one of the best times of the year to drink good wine. If you don't know already, I love wine and I love cycling. As always, the Tour's 2,200 mile, three week race, gives us an easy excuse to feature some of our favorite French wines. I've written before about how much I love this time of year:

I love this time of year.  The sun is out, flowers are in bloom, the new vintage of rosé is here for all to enjoy -- and the Tour de France rolls out on what also happens to be the birthday of our Country and my only son.  Pro Cycling is a pretty cool sport if you're a wine enthusiast.  Its three "Grand Tours" run through some of the world's greatest wine regions every year -- the Giro d'Italia (Italy), Vuelta a España (Spain) and the Tour de France.  Whether you ride or not, Le Tour is thrilling to watch.  The race itself is perhaps the most demanding athletic competition in the world, and the scenery is breathtaking.  There are few things more visually stunning than seeing a Peloton of color gliding through miles of vineyard roads.  It is inspiring in every respect, and it always makes me want to drink wine.

Peloton entering MaconKeeping with tradition, we will be following the Tour closely with a series of tastings to explore France's unique regions. As always, the race itself rolls through some of France's most well-known wine appellations. The early days will see the riders glide through Épernay in the heart of Champagne (although they will probably wait until the ride into Paris to actually drink Champagne on the saddle), and through the Vosges Mountains just west of Alsace. Stage 10 brings the Peloton back to Maçon, the southernmost city in Burgundy, just north of the hills of Beaujolais. Maçon will be a stage town for the fifth time, and has hosted important time-trials in the past. Look for some excitement here! If only because we're going to use this opportunity to open some awesome wine. And don't forget to plan your Bastille Day festivities around the Stage 13 ride out of the Rhone Valley and into the Languedoc-Roussillon -- this is one the French riders really push hard to win. 

For every appellation you've heard of in France, there are probably ten you didn't know existed (there are over 300 recognized appellations)! And so this is also a great opportunity to open some of our most oddball wines from France so you can get in touch with your inner wine-geek. This is going to be a fun few weeks! We kick it all off with some wines from Champagne and Alsace on June 29th between 5-7pm. Check out our Events Calendar as we update all of our Tour-themed tastings. 

If you really want to go crazy, come up with some sort of Tour de France Wine Game. Here's a creative one we sort of borrowed from (randomly) the Phoenix New Times:

•    Each time Phil Liggett says a rider is "reaching into his suitcase of courage", take a drink.
•    Each time Paul Sherwen says "The elastic has snapped!", open a new bottle, fill everyone's glass and take a drink.
•    Each time Liggett or Sherwen corrects the other on some incorrect fact or observation, take a drink.
•    Each time Bob Roll says "Tour-Day-France", feel ashamed to be an American and take a drink.
•    Each time Liggett or Sherwen remark on the riders taking a "nature break", go ahead and take one yourself.

Time Posted: Jun 29, 2012 at 7:57 AM Permalink to Tasting Your Way Through the Tour de France Permalink
Traci Lee
 
February 21, 2012 | Traci Lee

Recap: Winter Wine Dinner

Last night we partnered with O'Connells American Bistro for an outstanding seasonal Winter Wine Dinner, featuring five very creative courses, paired with hand-selected wines.  Chef O'Connell's knock-out menu had a Southern, low-country theme and the wine pairings worked well with each dish.

The evening began with Montsarra Cava, a sparkling wine, produced from a careful blend of native grapes in Penedes, Spain, along with passed hors d'oeuvres, including Outerbanks Crab with spicy slaw and aioli, Braised Pork Shoulder with creamed corn, crispy onions and Crispy Fried Chicken, arugula, cowboy caviar (a tasty bed of beans).  The bright, small-bubbled cava did a good job of refreshing the palate for the wide variety of flavors.

The atmosphere of O'Connells Bistro is warm and inviting, as well as stylish and sophisticated, which is also a great description for Chef O'Connell's menu - familiar foods with a twist.  As we found our seats, the second course was served - "The Buffalo Fish Fry", paired with Chateau Musar Musar Jeune Blanc 2009.  Let's start with the wine.  This incredibly aromatic white wine from Lebanon is made of 40% Viognier, 30% Chardonnay, and 30% Vermentino.  Musar is legendary,  one of the most written and talked about wine producers in the world today.  The wine is greenish-yellow in color and has an intriguing nose of peach, apricot and pineapple.  The palate is dry, but has a subtle hint of sweetness from the stone and tropical fruit flavor.  Musar Jeune is a food wine, and its medium-body worked well with the Fish Fry - a tempura dipped wild salmon, over a butter poached lobster hash with smoked nova salmon tartar sauce.  As I was eating this dish, I had a hard time deciding which I enjoyed better, the salmon or the lobster hash, because a new favorite flavor came out in every bite! 

The third course, Southern Style Grilled Duck paired with Castell'In Villa Chianti Classico  2008arrived on the table and Eric Genau, our Wine Director, described his recent visit to this estate in Tuscany.  It is a village, not a winery, at the southern edge of the Chianti Classico zone, owned by Princess Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa.  The estate has been in existence since the 13th century and much of her land is used primarily for hunting game and the region's famously delicious wild boar, which they serve in the village restaurant.  The vines here are incredibly low yielding and Princess Coralia releases wines only when ready to drink, which is not common in the wine world today.  The Chianti is big, with earthy flavors, which is a perfect match for Southern Style Grilled Duck, a sausage and roasted mushroom "stuffing", house sausage gravy & duck rinds.  This dish is awesome.  The seasoning and salt in the stuffing surround the duck, while bits of sausage jump out like flavor diamonds.  The rustic, primative qualities of Castell'in Villa shine through this pairing, and I am magically transported back to Italy, tasting the local environment where this wine comes from. 

Next up, Grilled Beef Tenderloin paired with White Rock Vineyards Napa Valley Claret 2007.  Certified grass fed, hormone free, Montana range beef, bacon, green chili, dry cheddar grits, creamed greens and aioli, paired with a highly-rated wine from a small family estate located in the southern foothills of the Stag's Leap Range rising above the Napa Valley.  Wow.  White Rock's Claret has a distinct Bordeaux-like personality, which is not surprising since this is a classic left-bank Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.  The wine is smooth, sophisticated and approachable.  It is a big, powerhouse wine, but it is really well-made and balanced. The well-intergrated tannins melt into the Beef Tenderloin and the earthy flavor marries the bacon, cheddar grits and greens elegantly.  

Just when I thought I reached my limit, the All American Cupcake changed my mind - double sweetgrass valley chocolate and bacon cupcakes, with a peanut butter and maple mousse filling, and creamed peanut butter frosting. I expected the cupcake to be very dense and extremely rich, but it was actually quite light, with just the right amount of sweetness.  We paired this decadent treat with Ferreira Tawny Porto, from the largest (and most popular) producer in Portugal.   This tawny Port resembles a Ruby more than Tawny, offering a nice balance of fruit, oak and spice.  Absolutely delicious.  

If you joined us at the dinner, please comment on your favorite dish, wine or pairing!  And if you missed this event, we hope to see you at another soon.  For the most up to date schedule, check out our Monthly Events Calendar.  

Time Posted: Feb 21, 2012 at 12:47 PM Permalink to Recap: Winter Wine Dinner Permalink Comments for Recap: Winter Wine Dinner Comments (1)
Traci Lee
 
August 10, 2011 | Traci Lee

Small, Biodynamic Les Baux-de-Provence is a Hidden Gem

Last night I opened a bottle of Mas de Gourgonnier 2009 from Les Baux-de-Provence, a small village within Provence, in the south of France.  As I tasted this delicious wine, I wondered about its home and decided to do a little research.  First, I learned the village got its name from the aluminium ore Bauxite, which was first discovered there in 1821 by geologist Pierre Berthier.

But before I get too far into the region, let me tell you about this wine...
Mas de Gourgonnier 2009 offers sweet plum on the nose, with a hint of juniper and is a beautiful shade of raspberry red. Blackberry jumps out on the first sip, and lavender (typical of Provence wines) is introduced as the wine opens up.  It is really well balanced, with a fresh acidity, a medium bodied structure, and a long finish.

This wine is a blend of 48% Grenache, 21% Cinsault, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Mourvèdre, and you can really taste each of the varietal components. The winemakers, Luc and Lucienne Cartier, have been farming in this picturesque countryside for years, and in addition to grapes, they produce olives, fruits and vegetables.  It would pair wonderfully with a French goat cheese, such as Valencay, smoky cured meats and a variety of dishes, including the peppered grilled chicken that I prepared for dinner. The pepper flavor brought out a more herbaceous quality in the wine, that made this pairing very desirable.  Eric (our Wine Director) has always said that this is one of his all-time favorite under-$20 wines.  I understand why.  This is the kind of everyday table wine that keeps you reaching for the next sip.  Even better, Mas de Gourgonnier 2009 is only $13.59 with our mix-and-match discount!

About the Region
Located in the heart of Provence, in southeast of France, Les Baux-de-Provence gained AOC status in 1995 and is located within the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence AOC. This area has become a popular tourist destination, near the well-known cities of Arles, Avignon and Nimes. The village is home to many gourmet restaurants and charming hotels.

The climate is very hot, but thankfully the vineyards are centered on the village hilltop, providing perfect exposure to the cooling and drying mistral winds. Les Baux-de-Provence is the first French AOC to require all vineyards to farm biodynamically, which has become part of the terrior’s identity. Red wine accounts for 80% of the regions wine production and the most popular grapes include: Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon often used, but can only account for 20% of a blend.

The Baux Valley is also olive-growing land and is considered the most beautiful in all of Provence. Three olive products are entitled to AOC designation – olive oil, cracked oils and black olives.

Wine Producers of Les Baux de Provence
Château d’Estoublon
Domaine Olivier d’Auge
Mas de la Dame
Mas Sainte Berthe
Château Dalmeran
Domaine du Pas de l’Aigle
Domaine de Lauzières
L’Affectif
Mas de Gourgonnier
Domaine de la Vallongue
Domaine de Terres Blanches
Château Romanin
Domaine Hauvette
Domaine Guilbert
Mas Carlin

Time Posted: Aug 10, 2011 at 4:00 AM Permalink to Small, Biodynamic Les Baux-de-Provence is a Hidden Gem Permalink Comments for Small, Biodynamic Les Baux-de-Provence is a Hidden Gem Comments (2)
Traci Lee
 
August 1, 2011 | Traci Lee

What is Cheddar?

Over the years, I have been asked an uncountable number of quesions about Cheddar.   Unfortunately, the question is rarely about the country of origin, milk type or even a wine that pairs best.  The most asked question is usually presented in a soft voice that suggests I’m-embarrassed-to-ask, but... “Is cheddar cool?” The answer is always the same, YES! Cheddar is super cool, but it is widely misunderstood. 

The concept of Cheddar is often based on the yellow/orange, grocery store stuff we were introduced to as kids, but true English Cheddar has been produced since at least the 12th century. The name “Cheddar Cheese” does not have a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in the European Union, however Cheddar produced from local milk within four counties of South West England may use the PDO name "West Country Farmhouse Cheddar.”  Basically, this means the cheese was never legally defined, resulting in an unbearable number of undeserving cheeses using the name on their label. This has created confusion for genuine and delicious British Farmhouse Cheddar, and often an un-cool personality in the minds cheese shoppers.

The Real Stuff
This cheese originates from the village named Cheddar, located in Somerset, in South West England and is produced from local raw milk, using the cheese making method of “cheddaring,” which is cutting the curds into blocks and strategically stacking, by-hand, to eliminate whey. After large format wheels are created, the slabs are bandaged in a cloth wrap, and then aged for at least 11 months (often much longer) in high temperatures and humidity.  This creates a firm texture, that literally melts in your mouth and typically yields a hint of sharpness, as well as a mild and elegant flavor.  Cheddar is often crumbly, and may have a slight crunch on the tongue due to large crystals of calcium lactate formed during the aging process.  Personally, I call the crystals cheese diamonds, as they are found in perfectly aged cheeses!


Below are two of my favoite Cheddars, and a few pairing wines. Email me when you try the wines, the cheeses or the pairings, I would love to hear your feedback! traci@citywinemerchant.com

Keen’s Cheddar – The Moorhayes family have been producing this award winning Cheddar in Somerset, England since 1899 using raw milk and the same recipe for generations. This cheese is distributed in the US through Neal’s Dairy Yard, I point this out, as this name is often listed on menus! Keen’s Cheddar has a slight sweetness, along with a complex nutty flavor.

Wine Pairing: Sherman & Hookers Shebang Red North Coast, from California’s North Coast. Sherman & Hooker is a project by Morgan Twain-Peterson, the son of Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson. He also produces wine under the cult-ish Bedrock Cellars label. It is a blend of 80% Syrah, 10% Sangiovese, 5% Zinfandel, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Marsanne/ Roussanne/Grenache Blanc. This wine is full of red fruit flavors, that pair incredibly well with Cheddar, and it's a great value!


Quicke's Cheddar – Mrs. Mary Quicke manages a farm of 340 grass-fed cows in Devon, England and produces raw milk wheels of firm, creamy, yet sharp cheddar.  Order this cheese online at Murray's Cheese!

Wine Pairing: Chateau Helene Corbieres Penelope Rouge Tradition 2009 is a fresh, aromatic red blend of 40% Syrah 30% Grenache, and 30% Carignan from the Languedoc Roussillon in France. This wine is organically produced and aged in concrete vats, and offers dried fruit and earth on the nose, while the palate is full and ripe with plum, raspberry, spice and smoke. The acidity is a perfect balance to the creamy texture of Quicke’s Cheddar.  With our mix-and-match discount, this wine is a steal at $11.89!

Time Posted: Aug 1, 2011 at 1:02 PM Permalink to What is Cheddar? Permalink
Traci Lee
 
January 18, 2011 | Traci Lee

A Balanced Pair

I opened a bottle of Conn Valley Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Prologue to enjoy with a wedge of Spring Brook Tarentaise, both medium-to-full bodied, with fruit-forward notes and a long finish. I made the assumption this would be a balanced pair based on the weight and flavor characteristics shared by both the wine and the cheese and it worked. In terms of pairing, I always seek balance, meaning all the attributes are in harmony, with none either too prominent or deficient.

This Cab is bold enough to stand up to the swissy, Alpine-style cheese without overbearing its flavor, creating the desired balance. I love the wine, and I love the cheese, but they are actually better together, rather than on their own. Hands down the best pairing of the week!

Founded in 1983, Conn Valley Vineyard is located where Conn Creek flows out of Howell Mountain. This wine, hailing from California's North Coast, sees 18 months in 60-gallon French oak barrels before bottling. The oak is only a minor influence, which supports bright blackberry and currant fruit, cedar, and a touch of chocolate on the long finish.

Produced in Vermont, Tarentaise has a gruyere-like taste and an inspiring story: 

Spring Brook Farm learned the Tarentaise recipe from friends John and Janine Putnam, of nearby Thistle Hill Farm in Pomfret, VT and created a similar, yet distinctly different version to support a hands-on educational farm, enabling city kids to have a glimpse of country living. The organization, 'Farms for City Kids' offers hands-on learning, team and character building skills to the kids that work between the dairy barn‚ small animal barn‚ greenhouse‚ garden and dormitory. Their efforts result in traditional, well maintained dairy farm, which produces over 600,000 lbs. of milk each year, which is made into the tasty Tarentaise Cheese.  
 

Time Posted: Jan 18, 2011 at 2:00 PM Permalink to A Balanced Pair Permalink
Eric Genau
 
December 31, 2009 | Eric Genau

Wine Resolutions for the New Year

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!

Time Posted: Dec 31, 2009 at 9:00 AM Permalink to Wine Resolutions for the New Year Permalink Comments for Wine Resolutions for the New Year Comments (3)