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Archive for the ‘MSP Wine Lists’ Category

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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A while back, a friend texted for wine list assistance.  He was taking his girlfriend to Bar La Grassa for her birthday and needed a good white.  A few weeks prior I instructed him to buy a Cusumano Insolia for a trip to the gf’s – it ended up going very well with sushi.  Insolia [or Inzolia] is the paragon of the collection of grapes that make me crazy for Sicilian whites.  Insolia is bright, fresh, lemony, often with luscious, tangy acidity.  Much the same can be said of the other Sicilian whites, like Fiano and Grecanico.  Grillo and Catarratto are, along with Insolia, major grapes in Marsala, but make a simple and lively still wine on their own [try Ajello’s blend]. I also like Feudo Principi di Butera for a good Insolia at around $12-13.

I scanned La Grassa’s wines online, figuring you have to drink Italian wine at the best Italian restaurant in town [except Broders, that is]. Based on the successful feedback from the Insolia pick, I recommended the 2008 Donnafugata Anthilia Bianco, Sicily [87/WE].  The wine is an 80% blend of Ansonica and Catarratto, with 20% mystery grapes ‘according to the vintage’.  I found it recently at France 44 [$15.99] and I believe it was on La Grassa’s list for about $23, so that’s not bad at all.  It sports a light gold color, a salty and slightly herbal nose, a bright lemon/green melon flavor that quickly fades to a mineral-dominated sip.  It’s medium bodied with not a huge amount of acidity, but the minerally tang you get on the finish makes up for it.  It’s a fine example of the region and, as you might suspect, it absolutely begs to accompany seafood.  Try it with this summery calamari preparation.  My friend and his gf called it a great selection, and if your tastes tend towards Sauvignon Blanc over Chardonnay, I think you’ll like it too.

It’s gotten hot in MSP – it’s 90 and humid as I write this.  Good thing I still have half this bottle left.

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I recently ate at the lauded cathedral hill outpost La Grolla with the family after seeing the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit at the Science Museum.  Their wine list is a decent mix of recognizable big brands and many of the usual Italian suspects (Il Poggione, Banfi etc.)  We were seated in the corner under two large paintings of Venetian canal-scapes, and I can’t think of that cloudy sinking lagoon without craving Valpolicella.  For the uninitiated, Valpolicella is a red blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes from the Veneto region [east of Lake Garda] in NE Italy.  In his [widely panned] Venice-set novel ‘Across The River and Into The Trees’, Hemingway describes Valpolicella as ‘light, dry, red and cordial, like the home of a brother whom you get along with’. Regular Valpolicella is usually lightish-medium bodied with fruit-forward style, but for my money [in this case, my dad’s money] Ripasso [lit. “repassed”] Valpolicella is worth the extra few bucks.  It’s made by taking the grape pommace left over from making Amarone and steeping it in a fresh batch making the wine more tannic and concentrated. La Grolla’s list included the 2007 Villalta Ripasso Valpolicella for $36 [I believe it retails for about $20].  It had a very nice inky purple hue, medium body with a delightful core of plum-prune fruit.  It was not as thick and concentrated as many Ripassos I’ve had.  It did begin to deliver that Amarone-like raisinated flavor as it sat in the glass, while remaining rather light on the palette.  It’s not mind-blowing, but it’s very satisfying.  My only real gripe was La Grolla’s IKEA-looking stemware that rendered the wine almost aroma-less.  Most of their list is between $26-40 – i’d say the Villalta had fair QPR in that range.  [And my Linguine alle Vongole was very good, if a little garlic-laden for my tastes//#moltoaglio]

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