This is the perfect time of year to pair your favorite wine with fresh produce from the farmer’s market. This week, Nat has a suggestion for a vegetarian-friendly dish that will play very nicely with the Calcu Rose Reserva:
“Because this is a refined and elegant Chilean Rose with wild berries and lemon blossoms on the nose followed by crisp, vibrant, fresh notes on the palate, it works very well when paired with vegetable dishes such as risotto or rice.
Primarily Malbec with 35% Syrah and just 10% Petit Verdot (this last grape being the one that gives the wine its crisp dryness), this Rose would also be delightful with a potato salad made of tiny fingerling potatoes (very Chilean!), along with cilantro, onions, garlic, celery, and chopped hard-boiled eggs. You can also further integrate the Calcu by dressing the salad with a simple homemade mayo made of whipped olive oil, a bit of egg, salt, pepper, and a few drops of Rose!”
Rose and farmers' market fresh salad make for a light dinner that pleases your palate AND your budget!
Vina Maquis Calcu Rose, Colchagua Valley, Chile
If you have a wine or a dish that you want to try (or if you just want to learn more about pairing), please let us know in the comments — we would love to help you out!
We are thrilled to announce that we have set a date and a location for Whiskey Fest 2013 — this year’s festivities will be held on the evening of Saturday, September 14, 2013 at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
If you attended Whiskey Fest 2012, then you may remember that our focus was centered on local favorites; this year’s list of featured whiskeys will include Japanese, Canadian, Scotch, and Irish whisk(e)ys in addition to our American standbys.
The festival was a smashing success last year, but we want to make everything bigger and better for 2013, so we will be packing our schedule with a larger variety of classes, seminars, and special events in the days leading up to September 14th. You can also expect to see – and hear a lot more from us on the web and in the store about our favorite whiskeys and bourbons as Whiskey Fest draws near.
In the meantime, we will be making a point of keeping you up to date on the enormous selection of local and imported whiskeys on our shelves. We just received new shipments of Corsair Triple Smoke and W. L. Weller 7 Year, and we are also proud to be one of only a handful of spirits stores in the area offering a limited stock of Hakushu 12 Year Japanese Malted Whiskey. We are also expecting several shipments of hand-selected single barrel whiskeys any day now so you can look forward to brand new batches of some of our most-requested spirits including Blanton’s, Four Roses and Buffalo Trace Single Barrels, Elijah Craig 12 year, and that good old Tennessee standby: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, so please stop by and pick up a bottle of whatever tickles your fancy!
For now, we will continue to post updates about Whiskey Fest 2013 and related activities on Twitter, Facebook, and right here on the Midtown blog, so don’t forget to check back in with us frequently and be sure to let us know if you have any ideas or requests about spirits or seminars that you would love to see at Whiskey Fest 2013.
There has been a recent renaissance of Merlot wine -making after the few years of demise brought forth by a certain Hollywood blockbuster’s quote demeaning the noble Bordeax varietal. In the years following that movie’s release, there was an obvious decline in Merlot purchasing which in turn affected production. But if you’re out there and still frightened by or just dont like those big California Merlots, give some of these a chance.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Merlot 2010 – 88 points Wine Spectator
Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington – $19.99
I personally am not a huge fan of many reds from Washington state, but when I find myself buying something from the Northwest, its typically either a Washington Merlot or Syrah. Comprised of 80% Merlot and the rest Syrah, this is the best of both worlds. With big fruit up front from the Merlot and a strong, bold, yet subtly tannic finish from the Syrah, Ch. Ste. Michelle did some nice work on this wine that pairs extremely well with Pasta as well as Roasted Pork Tenderloin.
And next up, from the Southern Hemisphere and around the globe…
Craggy Range Winery Te Kahu Gimblett Gravels 2010 – 91 Points Wine & Spirits Magazine
Bordeaux Varietal Blend (80% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 4 % Malbec) — $19.99
This winery located on the Eastern coast of the north island of New Zealand. Its close proximity to the coast and the South Pole keeps the coastal breezes light and cool thus giving the winery cooler days even in the heat of the southern hemisphere’s summers. Unlike the Napa Valley Merlots that are hated in the Hollywood wine flick everyone knows too well, this is a Merlot dominated blend that stays lighter than most but the depth of flavor is dense. The bright fruit up on the front of the palate strikes you from the get go, and the light structure makes this a great wine to have as an everyday drinker. This pairs extremely well with herbal and vegetarian pizzas and bigger steak or tuna topped salads with a not too acidic vinaigrette.
One of the perks of working as the “beer guy” at Midtown is the opportunity to attend industry events such as Yazoo and Embrace the Funk’s recent Funk Fest. I couldn’t pass up the chance to go to this tasting of “sour, funky and wild” beers.
This was not your average beer festival. Yahoo was celebrating the release of “Rufus,” a sour beer collaboration with New Belgium. In addition, they had a few dedicated taps for sours plus a rotating, scavenger hunt-like “opening of various unique beers. These scavenger hunts were fun as the strategy was to “follow the lines” whether you knew what was being pour or not. Most of the time, it led to a tasting of some good stuff. In addition, there were various cheese stations, sponsored by the The Bloomy Rind (Loved the Victory washed cheese!)
Now, onto the beer..
First, the Yazoo:
I enjoyed tasting the range of experimental sour beers that Yazoo and Embrace the Funk blogger/brewer Brandon Jones are working on.
Rufus was a nice, drinkable sour. It was mild in sourness compared to some of the beers that day, but had a nice tart finish. The fruit was mild towards the mid-palette (with a little mildness from the “Brett” yeast strain). The beer is a wild sour deep red ale consisting of a Blackberry and Black Currant Wheat beer base from Yazoo 100% fermented with 2 strains of Brettanomyces. Blended with oak aged sour brown ale from New Belgium. Overall, a winner, and I would happily order it again with a cleaner palate.
Other Yazoo/Embrace the Funk brews that I tried:
100% Brett Custersianus(maybe?):
Mild, It was good to taste these base beer for some other brews
100% Brett Custersianus Amarillo Double Hopped Ale (Washed over hops in Randall?):
Interesting mix of hoppiness plus the Brett beer, not my favorite but not bad
Lichtenhainer Style Ale: Missed out
100% Brett Fermented Hibiscus Ale: Light, tart with just a hint of hibiscus.
Wild Child : Sadly, I missed this one (for the second time)
Wow, was this sour. Others described it as a “sour patch kid” beer. I did get a nice amount of cherry flavor in addition to the sour, but sour was still overpowering. I’d love to have it blended in
Drie Day – 100% Brett Fermented Ale aged Grand Marnier Oak: Towards the end, no notes except that was good.
Brett Horyezons – 100% Brett Fermented Ale aged Rye Whisky Barrel: I believe I missed this one as well
Now, onto my favorite bottles:
Rich, Creamy, Vanilla & Carmel-y, Alcohol-y=Delicious. One of the best beers I have tasted in a long time. Aging really brings out the richness (assuming, as I haven’t tried an unaged version. A little, sweet glass of beer heaven.
Strubbe’s Grand Cru (Flemish Red Ale)*
After talking with a guy in line, I was excited to try Strubbe’s. He mentioned how the red ale was one of his all time favorites. The sign (handwritten on a pole!) for the beer being poured only said Grand Cru. I had no idea that these two were the same beer (I should look at the label closer). It is an interesting beer: Rich and creamy yet tart and sour. Well balanced for a sour ale as the creaminess and tartness are evenly matched.
Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura*
This beer provided the biggest surprise in a beer that I’ve had in a long time. I had heard how good Jolly Pumpkin’s ales are, especially Madrugada, so I was pumped to try this. This provided a multitude of flavors on my palate. First, the tartness of brew came through, followed by a nice, rich and roasty flavor. I got a bit of chocolate as well. Lots going on, but lots going on very well.
Other great beer I tried:
Rodenbach: Good, well balanced sour*
Orval: Meh, I like my belgian’s with more spice*
Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere: Light, tart,
Boon Oude Kriek Marriage Parfait: Fantastic. Tart yet great tasting*
Tillamin’s Strawberry: Decent, sweett and tart
Geuze Tulib: Not bad, mostly just tart
Leifmans Goudenband: No notes except tasty
The Lost Abbey Saints Devotion with “Brett“: Mild & drinable
Cantillon Geuze: Good, tart, carbonated and light
*Available at Midtown, year may vary
Overall, a fun little festival with some GREAT beers. If you missed any, come in to midtown and give them a shot!
-Matt, Midtown’s Beer Guy
Hey there whiskey drinkers and bourbon enthusiasts!
We are hard at work on this fall’s Whiskey Fest and we are eager to share as much information as possible with all of you, so watch this space for updates and announcements pertaining to the upcoming festival.
We’ve been getting some questions about where and when this year’s Whiskey Fest festivities will be held and, unfortunately, we don’t have all the answers just yet — we’re hoping to lock down a venue in the next few days and once that happens, you’ll be the first ones to know all the details!
Additionally, if you have any ideas about guests you’d love to see or distilleries that you’d like to learn more about, please feel free to let us know.
In the meantime, feel free to come on in to Midtown Wine and Spirits and browse our enormous collection of whiskeys, bourbons, and regional spirits. Our Single Barrel collection is growing by the day — we’ve just chosen new barrels of Buffalo Trace, Four Roses and Elijah Craig, and we’re expecting some very exciting shipments of Blanton’s and Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel any day now!
Tired Of The Same Old Cab… ?
If you’re tired of trying the same old Cabernet, perhaps its time to dive into the original…Cabernet Franc! Shown by DNA evidence, the Cabernet Sauvignon grape is a product of vine grafting of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Cabernet Franc, or Cab Franc as it is usually called shows many similar characteristics of the Cab Sauv. Its deep blackish color and bold flavors show just where the Cab Sauv came from, but with its typically milder tannic structure and earthier vegetal notes make wines made from this grape fantastic for grilling season. The lighter Chinons from France pair extremely well with Pork dishes and grilled Ahi Tuna, where as the heartier domestic and South American Cab Francs can stand toe-to-toe with rich grilled flank steak or Portobello mushrooms. Here are a few options of Cab Franc available at Midtown wine & Spirits to get you into the grilling season
Bernard Baudry Les Grezeaux Chinon 2010
91 Points Wine and Spirits Magazine
$21.99, normally $24.99
This gravelly, 7.5-acre block sustains some of Baudry’s oldest vines, producing a tannic franc with black earthiness in the end. The gamey fruit has a blueberry tone, juicy enough to fill out the dry tannins and soften the finish. Age it to bring out the old-vine complexity. – Wine & Spirits
Lamadrid Single Vineyard Reserva Cabernet Franc 2009
91 points Robert Parker
The 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserva was sourced from the estate’s younger vines and aged for 14 months in 50% new and 50% second-use French oak. Herbs and spices (clove, cinnamon, potpourri) intermingle with enticing black fruit aromas to compose the bouquet of this tasty Cabernet Franc. Incipiently complex and lengthy, it has the structure to evolve for 2-3 years but can be approached now. It is an outstanding value. – RP
Vinum Cellars “The Scrapper” Cab Franc 2009
Special pricing, $19.99
This is a wine made for the open-minded, the adventurous and those who root for the underdog. It’s Cabernet Franc from El Dorado California aged in used French Oak for 22 months; truly a Scrapper. This concentrated pomegranate colored Cabernet Franc is rich with intense cassis notes and exotic spices like clove and sandalwood. On the palate, the concentration carries through with a sappy and juicy core of ripe black cherry fruit, dark chocolate and dark roast coffee notes. The wine finishes with round tannins which are approachable but well structured and will provide the foundation for ample aging. Enjoy now or cellar until 2022. This wine pairs well with nearly any grilled meat, but it is show cased well with marinated Flat Iron steak served with fresh summer vegetables or a salad served with an olive oil and tomato relish tossed in extra virgin olive oil, citrus and oregano with sea salt. – Winemakers Notes
Try these recipes for grilling season to pair with a Cab Franc:
Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Tango Sauce
Mango-Black Pepper Glazed Grilled Pork Chops
This light, crisp and refreshing Portuguese white, which literally means “green wine”, is meant to be consumed young. It pairs extremely well with light fare including fresh herbal salads, shellfish, fish and pastas in a light olive oil sauces. Vinho Verde also makes a great choice for a light, affordable white that is easy to introduce to non-wine drinking friends and colleagues. It’s bright citrus notes and frizzante effervescence make vinho verde an ideal candidate for sipping on the back porch and relaxing in late summer or fall. Try pouring on the rocks with a splash of St. Germain Elderflower liqueur and a lime wedge.
Famega Vinho Verde – $9.99
Love Pinot? Try Dão Wines…
The Dão region on Portugal’s western coast has been producing wines for centuries, but as of recently (the 1970s), their wines, outside of Port production, have been simply known as declassified red wines. Since Portugal’s admittance into the European Union, new regulations have increased the care given to grapes and determination from winemakers to have these Portuguese wines compete in the world marketplace. One such wine is the Callabriga Dåo Red. With its density and body similar to that of an Oregon Pinot Noir, spice and tannic structure in the same vein of a Spanish Tempranillo and the finish of a hearty California Merlot, this wine is surely one to try going into the cooler months of this year. If you’re a Pinot or tempranillo fan, this is definitely one for you. Slate soils, cool Atlantic winds, French & Portuguese oak, along with old world production methods make the Callabriga Dão, a wine in a world of its own.
Callabriga Dão Red – $16.99
Although Portugal is known for its Port wines, there are a few hot commodities coming out of the country that could rival Spanish Reservas or Southern Italian relics like the Aglianico. The Quinta Do Crasto Reserva Old Wine Red is a stunning example of what the Douro Valley has to offer. Stretching through western Spain across the Northeast region of Portugal, the Douro river and valley offer temperate climates, long days and cool Mediterranean nights. These attributes along with steep valley slopes and slate in the soil offer depths of flavor to this unique wine not found anywhere else in the world. The Quinta Do Crasto Reserva is a field blend, from an average of 70 year old vines, comprised of a large array of grape varietals exhibiting a strong tannic structure that can stand up to a variety of different food accompaniments. Receiving a 94-point rating from Wine Enthusiast, this wine can be enjoyed now or cellared til 2023.
Quinta Do Crasto Old Vine Red Reserva 2009 – $49.99
Wines from Spain are a personal love for me. I think everyone has had that one great taste of vino that makes them take a step back and go, ” Whoa! “.
For me, it was when I first sipped Petit Verdot. Petit Verdot, you say? For those of you not acclimated with this wonderful varietal, let me shed some light. Petit Verdot is one of the five “classic” Bordeaux grapes. When grown in perfect conditions, it gives off a beautiful bouquet of fresh blueberries, lavender and violet. It’s only problem is that it ripens very late, even more so than Cabernet Sauvignon, so it’s a particularly difficult character to master. This is not the case in Spain. With their extended growing seasons, light rainfall and dry, arid climate, it’s a match made in heaven. Some research has even shown that it is actually native to the regions of Tarragona, Aragon, Navarra and Rioja, and was brought to France by the Romans thousands of years ago. Other parts of the globe with similar conditions such as Argentina, Chile and Australia have seen an influx of Petit Verdot plantings in the past 20 years. But Spain in my opinion has shown just how amazing this grape can become when given proper care and attention.
Take Chapillon’s Cuvée Harmonie, rated 90 points by The Wine Advocate, for instance. Blended with 10 percent Tannat, this wine shows off scents of bright, dark berries, spicy floral components, and leaves you with a finish that seemingly lasts forever. For 15 bucks. For those of you interested in pairing ideas, all things pork are perfection, with cured meats such as Jamón ibérico being even better. Hard, nutty cheeses, preferably sheep’s milk, are fantastic as well. So do yourself a favor, put on some Spanish guitar and check out Petit Verdot. You will be more than happy you did.
That’s right folks, this is a big deal! On September 22, the 1st Annual Nashville Whiskey Festival, sponsored by your favorite wine and spirits store, will take place at the War Memorial Auditorium. It will be one of the biggest events to hit Nashville and will be packed full of stars and gems of the whiskey world. With Tennessee being not only one of the largest whiskey consuming states in the world, it is also one of the largest whiskey producing. It’s only proper to throw a festival in celebration of one of America’s favorite spirits. What happens at a whiskey festival, you say? Here’s just a few things we have in store for you:
- -Special tastings through the week leading to the event
- -30+ distilleries & breweries participating
- -Educational seminars put on by master distillers
- -Special VIP hour w/ rare whiskey tasting
- -Cigar kiosk
- -Barrel aged beer
- -Special whiskey cocktail seminar featuring Tim Laird America’s C.E.O.
There’s all this and so much more to come. Follow us on Twitter (@Nashwhiskeyfest & @midtownwine), Facebook and make sure you’re on our email list to get the latest information as it comes out!
With the warm weather approaching — though it never really left — we’re getting closer to bringing out the bottles of gin and other lively spirits. Some like to call them “rays of light”, “sunshine in a glass”, or “liquid pine trees”, I just like to call them good.
Gin has not always been at the top of my list of spirits to rave about. It honestly stayed at the bottom for a long time. Then the creativity set in and I fell in love with the “Old Tom” style of gin that was soon to become my favorite.
The best things about liking gin are the trinkets, mixers and liqueurs that have been solely designed to complement the beautiful botanicals that are found in the gin itself. I was unaware of these until I found myself at a bartenders’ competition where the base spirit was Bombay Sapphire Gin. Never would I have thought that hickory smoked lemons, strawberries, figs, eggs and lavender would be some of my new favorite pairings with gin. This may have been the start of my love affair with gin — OK, this definitely was the start of my love affair.
To describe my palate/taste when it comes to gin, I prefer ones that have slightly subdued juniper notes and more of the prominent citrus tones up front. I tend to go with an “Old Tom” style gin more often than a London dry or the funky gin spirits such as Bols Genevere or Junipero.
Gin is not really a spirit that can shy away from its heritage and main flavor profile, such as other ubiquitous spirits like vodka, rum or tequila that one can mix with just about anything and mask its true flavor. It can mesh and hold the solid flavors of so many different items.
For instance, an italian blood orange soda that can be found at whole Foods or Trader Joes is one of the best mixers for Bombay Sapphire. It makes the gin cocktail taste like you have mixed in 3 or 4 different components. The sparkle of the bubbles break up the piney punch that sometimes dominates your palate upon first sip. The brightness and sweetness of the fruit intermingled with the botanicals of the gin bring out these crazy flavors that range from lemon sorbet and sparkling grapefruit to sweet eucalyptus and toasted honey. If you happen to come across some sparkling blood orange soda or something like it, don’t pass it up!
Now if you want to channel your inner mixologist and experiment, using egg whites takes gin cocktails to an entirely new level. For sweeter style drinks, just add any baking spice and/or small bits of fruit – hazelnuts sprinkled with a dusting of cinammon, nutmeg, brown sugar and cardamom or figs and plums. Thinking outside the box like this leads to discovering new ideas, crazy ingredients never before considered and a way to offer new sensations to your palate.
For the last pairings, these are definitely my favorite additions to any gin cocktail I have ever held to my lips.
Hickory smoked lemon rounds ranks #1. The faint smoke you get after the initial lemon zest rounds off the acids of the lemon, and the smoke seems to give the lemon a rounder, caramelized taste. Instead of it butting heads with the bright botanicals of the gin, it brings out the above-referenced notes of figs and hazelnut that one would not expect.
Ranking second are the “juniperized” pickles — pickles soaked in juniper berries and lemons. I can’t tell you everything the pickles were brined in, but I am sure that I ate more than I probably should have. I tore into the sweet, zesty bits of goodness and found that there was a lingering flavor that came across as, believe it or not, slightly blueberry-ish.
All in all, there’s always a way to get around the basic and up-front taste of the gin spirit. As I said before, it’s never going to get too far away from the initial base flavor but can pretty much set its style in the modern contemporary feel. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new in life; cocktails being one of the easiest way to accomplish that. If you don’t like it, you can always make it into an Alabama Slammer!