Archive for January, 2011

It’s pretty sad to see Town Talk Diner close up shop. Every meal and drink I ever had there was extremely satisfying. It’s especially sad that one of the best cocktail lists in the Cities [for my money, in the top 3 with Bradstreet and The Inn] bites the dust. Here’s hoping that its mixological creations find a way of manifesting themselves somewhere new in the very near future.

As a final salute, I figured I’d mix up my all time favorite drink from TTD: The Jackson Pollock. The Nick Kosevich-crafted masterpiece is a short, tangy French 75 with a few drops of Basil Oil. Here’s a good crack at the recipe for both the oil and the drink from the very good local cocktail blog Summit Sips.

Build in a mixing glass: 1 1/2 oz GIN, 3/4 oz GRAPEFRUIT JUICE, 1/2 oz LIME JUICE, 1 oz SIMPLE SYRUP, 1 oz SPARKLING WINE – Ice, stir.  Drop a scant 1/4 teaspoon of basil oil in a cocktail glass, strain mixture over the oil.

I would add: If you’re batching this cocktail, shake 2 to 3 times all the components except the sparkling wine in a cocktail shaker with ice, then lightly incorporate the same amount of sparkling wine with a spoon before straining.  I could see lining up multiple glasses and drizzling in sequence, watching the oil circles blossom in tandem.

Not having the exact proportions from Nick himself, I’d say it bears a pretty good likeness. It’s built on the classic sour formula; though you can bump up the sugar to equal or surpass the citrus, I like this ratio. I’d rather my sours be a little more sour. I used a 1:1 simple syrup for the sweetener and Prosecco for the sparkling wine. It’s a stunning concoction: tart and fizzy, textured and nuanced. Aesthetically, though, I find the drink more closely resembles Wassily Kandinsky than Jackson Pollack.  Cheers, Town Talk, you will be missed.

Other Things:

  • Cork Dork Wine Co is having a “Dead Of Winter Sale“, through January 29th, 20% off all purchases. Russell pretty much never has sales over there, since his prices are already pretty good. Stock up on his great selection of Rhones to ride out this snowy January.
  • In case you missed it, check out my article on La Crescent over at Heavy Table – it’s a seriously delicious grape if you like off-dry white wines like Riesling.

Thanks for reading! [photo, nga.gov]

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[2 Live Crus…(Beaujolais)]

Did you know that 2009 is being hailed as one of the finest vintages for Beaujolais ever? Robert Parker, Janice Robinson, Tyler Coleman and pretty much everyone else in the know are raving about it. I probably drink less Beaujolais than any other major wine region out there. And I absolutely despise Beaujolais Nouveau. It’s probably the one style of wine I can unequivocally say I have never enjoyed. What can you say about a wine whose common flavors include banana peel and bubble gum? Regular Beaujolais, for me, is just too thin. But because it’s devoid of tannin and made in a fruitier style, it’s probably the red wine I’d give to a staunch white wine drinker to introduce them to the dark side.

But here’s the secret for the serious red drinker: CRU Beaujolais. There’s a spine of  hills that runs through the center of Beaujolais, with soils of sandy clay over granite. 10 villages/areas in the very center are allowed to label their wines by their place names. These wines are the fullest, most concentrated Beaujolais. They still have that uber-fruity profile, but with more tannin and heft, making them much better balanced and more interesting. They don’t make Nouveau in the Cru villages, and their wines may not even say Beaujolais on the bottle. Other great thing about Cru Beaujolais, it’s usually under $20, and often closer to $15. Cru Beaujolais delivers that great restrained, Burgundian style at a discount.  Go to the Burgundy aisle of your wine store and look for the following ten place names, in very rough order from lightest to heaviest in style:

Chiroubles – Brouilly – Fleurie – RégniéSaint-Amour – Côte de Brouilly – Juliénas – Chénas – Morgon – Moulin-à-Vent

I personally seek out Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent most often.  Those places have soils richer in iron and manganese, producing darker, richer red wines. Those are also the least likely to taste like regular Beaujolais.  If you manage to snag a 2009 from Julienas, Chenas, Morgon or Moulin-à-Vent, you might want to wait a year or two before opening. These are the richest wines from the best vintage this region has seen in decades – they should be given a little time to find themselves.

But the ’07s are ready to rock, so I picked up the 2007 DuBoeuf ‘Jean Descombes’ Morgon [$14.99 at Surdyks].  It’s a very drinkable wine – the French would call it gouleyant. It’s a dark ruby/purple, with a musky and fruity nose, with a nice soft attack of bright red berry fruit with a moderate amount of acid through the sip. The flavors build to an sharp finish. It’s light and smooth, but expressive with berry flavor. If you can find any of DuBoeuf’s ’09 Cru Beaujolais – you can not go wrong.  Also, any ’09 Beaujolais-Villages is a good bet as well.  That’s the name given to wines grown outside of the Cru villages, but still closer in to the center of the region.

With all the hype, I couldn’t help but try one of the lighter ’09s.  I found the 2009 Paul Cinquin ‘Domaine Des Braves’ Régnié [$17.99 at France 44] to be a very serious wine that probably could have used even another year in the bottle, but was great with Mussels Marinara and a Seahawks victory last week.  It sported a dark magenta color with a funky Burgundy nose, lots of wood smells. A smooth sip follows, with strawberries and asphalt – very much like a Burgundy Pinot. Medium body, dry finish.  Based on my first experience with ’09 Beaujolias, I say chapeau bas.

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I must say, 2010 was a banner year for G. Sheaves.  2008 was pretty awful, 2009 was a year of stasis, but 2010 has been onward and upward – lots of new experiences and people made for a year truly worth remembering.  For those of you who have read On The Wall since it began this summer, I hope you’ve learned a little and had as good of a wine drinking year as I have.  I pledge to make a greater effort in 2011 to bring you more on the best wine in the Twin Cities.

I decided to look back through my 2010 wine journal and crunch the numbers a bit.  I wanted to get a better sense of what I was drinking, what I liked, and how I should plan my 2011 wine purchases accordingly.  I totally agree with Leslee Miller’s new year’s wine resolutions – let’s see if I can make a few of my own.

This surprised me.  I thought Italy would far and away top every other country in 2010.  But as it turned out, I drank alot of California wines this year.  Resolution #1) drink more wine from that list of “Others” that made up 28.1%.  This is especially true about Portugal, Spain and Australia, where there are alot of good values to be had.  The USA’s 32.7% of my consumption this year is probably due to my efforts to drink more local wine. I drank alot of MN wine this year and was pleasantly surprised with its level of quality – and I think you will be as well, provided you know which ones to buy (more on this in the months to come).  This diagram also shows that I have trouble drawing France.

(The size of the grape name is generally proportional to how many I drank.)  Holy cow, I drank A LOT of Riesling this year!  I’m talking more than twice the amount of the runner up grape, Sauvignon Blanc, and almost three times the amount of the most frequent red, Sangiovese.  It’s interesting that, even still, Germany was only my 4th most frequented country.  I drank Rieslings from California, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Canada, France, Austria, Australia, and yes, a bunch from Germany.  The top three grapes are pretty similar: light, acidic whites.  Resolution #2 – there are alot of great grapes I shyed too far away from this year (Tempranillo, Torrontes, Nebbiolo, Chenin Blanc).  Try to even things out in 2011.    

Well, I drank alot of 2007s this year.  Not much I can resolve to do there, since I don’t have the luxury to be a cellar-dweller.  So, I spent a little more than 4% of my pay on wine (though this doesn’t count bottles as gifts and with dinner in restaurants, so it’s probably closer to 5%).  I suppose that’s reasonable.  I’d like to see a Spanish region crack that top 10 list for 2011 – and Bordeaux didn’t make the cut?  Strange.

Mainly, my wine resolution for 2011 is to share it with friends more often.  2010 was a tough year for a lot of my friends, and some of them aren’t quite out of the weeds yet.  My horrible 2008 was made tolerable with the support of friends, and I resolve to be ready with an ear and a glass for anyone who needs it in 2011.  Cheers to a great new year and thanks for reading!

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