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Archive for July, 2010

[Photo via If Charlie Parker Was A Gunslinger…]

It’s almost August?  Where did 2010 go all of a sudden?  I can’t stomach the thought of Autumn being just around the corner, but here’s something to ease my mind.  If you are one of those people who like Minneapolis and like consuming food, then you’re in luck.  Next week is MSP Mag’s Restaurant Week.  Good deals all over the place.  Book your reservations and check out these links:

  • City Pages commemorates Ernest Hemingway’s birth week with a variation on his legendary daiquiri, the Papa Doble [read it here].  Their version is a bit tart for my tastes, with all citrus and no sweetner, though that’s the way the Old Man would have preferred it due to his legendary aversion to sugar.  They include the original recipe, as recounted by AE Hotchner, which is very good and can easily take on some sugar or simple syrup for those who like it sweeter.  Be sure to properly blend it to Hemingway’s specifications: until it looks “like the sea where the wave falls away from the bow of a ship when she is doing thirty knots.”
  • Surdyk’s opens Flights Wine Market & Bar at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport [via TC Business Journal].  I don’t have any flights scheduled until October, so I’ll have a three-month-late review for you then.
  • Jay McInerney runs into Paul McCartney at a restaurant in Easthampton [via WSJ: On Wine].  I find McInerney’s WSJ Blog a little pretentious, but then again, he’s writing to his audience so I can’t fault him for that.
  • A cocktail based on the BP Oil Spill [via Liquor Snob], though I like their suggestion that a better representation might be to pour Jagermeister in your mouth and not stop for three months.
  • PBR that costs $44 in China? [via Time Newsfeed] Well it’s not the exact same PBR, but given the Chinese market’s penchant for buying top-shelf Bordeaux for no other reason than because it’s expensive, this isn’t too shocking.
  • Haskell’s Summer Sale is going on at all locations now through Sept. 6th.  I’ll definitely be stopping in.

Have a great weekend!

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I have a love/hate relationship with Pinot Noir.  Other than Cabernet Sauvignon, there’s probably no tougher grape to find reliable versions of under $20.  It’s so finicky in the vineyard that expert cultivation requires more attention to detail than a library full of Where’s Waldo.  Burgundy in this price range?  Forget it.  Oregon Pinot at $15?  Not happening.  There are some good California ones to be had – Mark West is the most reliable cheap Pinot.  But I find myself going back to New Zealand to find super-underrated gems.  I humbly submit the 2007 Saint Clair Vicar’s Choice Pinot Noir from Marlborough as the most complex and interesting one i’ve had all year.  It’s not a timid rose-water Burgundian Pinot, nor is it a super smooth raspberry California Pinot.  It almost has a flavor profile more akin to Cabernet Franc.  It’s one worth pondering [and definitely worth gifting].  Pick it up at Surdyk’s for $17.99.

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I’m not sure there’s a more bucolic setting in the Twin Cities to enjoy a glass of wine than Sea Salt – the sun shining in the middle of Minnehaha Park, the falls rushing in the distance, the smell of Frank’s Red Hot and Old Bay Seasoning wetting your appetite, and a $6 Sauvignon Blanc in a plastic cup to ready you for your grilled Marlin tacos?  Heaven.  It was hot today – I’m not surprised they were short on bubbly.

I’d go with either Sauvignon Blanc on that list, though the Pinot Grigio and the Marche would be very good as well.  There are nicer bottles available, I believe there was a Pouilly-Fume [an iconic, minerally French Sauvignon Blanc] on special.  Any white would hit the spot though [especially the Riesling if they had been serving their great Crawfish etouffee, alas it was not on].  Just go, grab a glass, grab a chair, and relax.

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[photo via Terry Richardson]

This is really Two Weeks On The Wall as I was on vacation all last weekend.  So, here’s an extra long set of links for your consideration;

  • 200 Year-Old [and still drinkable!] Champagne found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea [read Dr. Vino’s take].  It’s thought to be Veuve Cliquot from the 1780s.
  • Three excellent Sangria recipes (one of each color) with a great tutorial [Sangria 101, via Serious Eats]
  • Is the rise in screw-capped bottles contributing to the destruction of Portuguese wildlife? [via Telegraph.co.uk]
  • A $12 Million grant for development of ‘new’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc flavors is worrying many industry spectators [via Cork’d]
  • 15% off coupon for Sorella Wine & Spirits [print it out]
  • Nice pair of Top 5’s from CP’s Hot Dish Blog – the 5 most jinxed restaurant spaces in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.  I work pretty close to Caribe and just noticed it changed over from Jay’s.  Suppose I’ll have to stop in.
  • W. Blake Gray writes a break-up letter to Pinot Noir [via The Gray Market Report].  “You’re sleeping with Syrah. Don’t try to deny it. I smell it on your breath.”
  • The T-Wolves’ Corey Brewer has a PET GOAT? [via North of MPLS]
  • And finally, whenever I’m too lazy or tipsy to write an actual wine tasting note, I’ll probably just be using this automatic tasting note generator.  Fave so far: “Somewhat but equally closed Rhone. Resembles melted crayon, overcooked smokey liverwurst and lingering doritos. Drink now through 2007.”

Have a great weekend!

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I’ve written here before about my love for Insolia – the native Sicilian grape also called Ansonica in Tuscany [Also often spelled in both cases with a s/z swap, Inzolia and Anzonica].  Good Insolias can have a deep golden color, often with lemon, orange and almond notes, and nicely perfumed.  They are dry wines, perfect for seafood, flaky white fish and cheeses.  Widely available Insolias I like a lot are from Cusumano [usually around $10] or Feudo Principi Di Butera [around $12-13].  Today’s wine is very comparable to the Donnafugata Anthilia I wrote about a while back, but with a little more focused flavors, I feel.

2008 Case Ibidini Insolia [$14.99 at Sorella, though you can save %15 there with this print-out coupon] is 100% Insolia, aged for a few months in stainless steel and a few more in the bottle before release.  Case Ibidini is the second label of the well established Valle dell’Acate winery, who also grow Sicily’s famed blood oranges on their 100 hectare estate on the SE end of the island.  The wine is a straw color with a very pretty nose of minerals, some light citrus and dry hay.  Minerals stay put on the sip with some under-ripe pineapple and wet stones to a dry, salty-tang finish.  This wine tastes like the Sicilian sunshine beating down on a rocky lemon grove.  Well defined flavors, nice and dry, very refreshing.

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Every so often, I come across historical anecdotes that cast historical figures in a light not seen in your standard 7th grade history text, because of their associations to Wine.  It’s well known that our Founding Fathers were, by modern measures, pretty serious drinkers.  John Adams was known to drink hard Cider every day at breakfast, Thomas Jefferson died with massive amounts of debt thanks to his penchant for top shelf Bordeaux.  The following is taken from John Hailman’s terrific text, Thomas Jefferson On Wine. This exchange comes not long after the victory at Yorktown in 1781.  The Marquis de Chastellux was a major-general of the French Army who spent three years as the personal interpreter for, and drinking buddy to, George Washington.  Knowing Washington’s prohibition against accepting gifts of any kind, he had to cajole Washington into taking a cask of Claret [the English term for Bordeaux].

“Dear General – Your excellency knows very well that it is an old precept to offer tithes of all earthly goods to the ministers of God.  I think in my opinion that the true ministers of God are those who at the risk of their life employ their virtues and abilities to promote the happiness of mankind, which consists for the greatest part of freedom and liberty.  Accordingly, I believe I am bound in duty to present your excellency with one of ten barrels of claret that I have just been received.  If you was, dear general, unkind enough not to accept of it, I should be apt to think…that you are an enemy to French produce and have a little of the tory in your composition.  Whatsoever be the high opinion that I entertain of your exellency, I which to judge by that criterion and to gues by it your dispositions for the French troops and myself.”

Washington’s response shows a different side of the man, one who more than enjoyed a little imbibing.

“You have taken a most effectual method of obliging me to accept your Cask of Claret, as I find by your ingenious manner of stating the case that I shall, by a refusal, bring my patriotism into question, and incur a suspicion of want of attachment to the French Nation, and of regard to you.  In short, my dear sir, my only scruple arises from a fear of depriving you an Article that you cannot conveniently replace in this Country.  You can only relieve me by promising to partake very often of that hilarity which a Glass of good Claret seldom fails to produce.  G. Washington.”

In other words, I’ll take your wine but you’d best get hammered on what’s left over.

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Thanks to my good friend @alspur for alerting me to this brilliant piece of wine novelty.And the official G Sheaves FTW award goes to this snarky Amazon.com customer review.

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