Monday, November 12, 2012

Perfect Thanksgiving Wines

Choosing the right Thanksgiving wines can be a challenge. A wide range of side dishes and a diverse collection of family and friends--each with their own tastes and preference--can make the task even more daunting. To help make your planning a little easier, proprietor Justin Abad rounded up four recommendations that are sure to please any crowd. All of these selections are 15% off when you purchase three or more!

Champagne Thierry Triolet, Brut NV
Côtes de Sezanne
65% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir

Refreshing to enjoy on its own, but well suited for the type of antipasti that often set the stage for the main event. Crack this textured, elegant Champagne while you begin preparations in the morning and enjoy it throughout the day. You won't be disappointed.

Hermann Wiemer, Dry Riesling, 2011
Finger Lakes, New York
100% Riesling

Refreshing acidity and crisp minerality help balance hints of citrus and a touch of spice in this prized American riesling. It's a perfect complement to the warm spice notes that fill the kitchen this time of year.

Viette, Dolcetto d'Alba, "Tre Vigne"
Piedmont
100% Dolcetto d'Alba

What makes this wine work well with the Turkey Day Feast is it's freshness.  Because it sees no oak the fruit is expressed without distraction, making it work sublimely with delicate nature of turkey.  Likewise, the herbal notes often associated with this fall tradition (rosemary, thyme, oregano) are highlighted with the dark aromas, herbal undertones, and soft earth notes found in this wine and Alba's terrior.

Dom. Paul Garaudet, Monthelie
Cote d'Or, Burgundy
100% Pinot Noir

This burgundy is from the heart of Monthelie in Cote de Beaune.  It's a classic with notes of limestone and ash and driven with energy. The light body and engaging acidity make it a must-have at the table and keep the palate fresh and ready for the next (and next, and next) bite.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Meredith's September Wine Club Selections

Members of A.M. Wine Club enjoy three carefully selected wines from around the world each month. Each wine is hand-selected by our staff to create a unique tasting experience and showcase some of our favorite wineries. The club will give you a chance to try new varietals and taste some of our personal favorites--not to mention, enjoy the convenience of letting us put everything together for you. Read more or sign up here.

September's Featured Wines



Champalou Vouvray, NV
(100% Chenin blanc)

Although not formally organic or biodynamic, the Champalous tend their vines along sustainable lines, minimizing the use of chemicals and reducing carbon emissions where possible. Their approach has been certified as sustainable by Terra Vitis, an association which promulgates the virtues of environmentally sensitive viticulture throughout France. The harvest is manual and the decision to pick made on the basis of tasting the fruit in the vineyard.

Brut Vouvray is made from fruit fermented in stainless steel and allowed to rest on its lees before bottling for the second fermentation. The wine then typically rests for 20 months sur lattes before disgorgement.

Floral on the nose, dry and clean on the palate, this sparkler is less austere and less effervescent than Champagne, but every bit as fun to drink and versatile with food. It has peach and pear on the nose, along with a hint of honey. Juicy flavors are given a bitter edge by a touch of lemon zest, which adds grip.


Domaine Bernard Defaix Petit Chablis, 2011
(100% Chardonnay)

From a small family-run vineyard in operation since 1953, this wine is certified organic. The 2011 vintage is the result of the three years of transition. The wines are more than ever marked with their terroir. Produced on the flatter grounds of Chablis, the Petit Chablis is characterized by its freshness. Its pale robe and its vivacity redolent of mineral hints convey the subtlety of the Chardonnay grape grown in this stony Portlandian soil. The wine is then bottled eight months after the harvest in order to preserve all of its brightness.

Before the malolactic fermentation, the wines already had a great aromatic presence. After, they become more refined and gain a very good persistency. This wine is only produced in small quantities and is perfectly suitable for an appetizer or to accompany a platter of cold meats.

2011 is a very pleasant and seducing vintage, with an aromatic complexity and a fantastic delicacy on the finish.


Jaqk Cellars Bone Dance, Napa, 2007
(100% Merlot)

The northern section of Napa Carneros is comprised of small valleys that are protected from the cool winds blowing off San Pablo bay. These pockets are warm air create excellent ripening conditions for merlot. The structure in the 2007 Bone Dance is contributed by the grapes grown in the Stag's Leap appellation, which is moderately warm, and the Atlas Peak appellation, which is moderately cool.

The earthy nose has notes of black fruit, licorice, and olives. This bottling is round and balanced. The chewy, mouth-coating tannins create a long finish that is refreshing without showing over-extraction.

The light, balanced and medium-bodied wine is perfectly suited for moderately intense flavors, such as Morrocan lamb with dates, coq au vin, light tomato sauce pasta, sweet Italian sausage, mild cheeses, cheese stuffed figs, or chocolate with raspberries.



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Sunday, June 3, 2012

A.M. Wine Club June Selections

Members of A.M. Wine Club enjoy three carefully selected wines from around the world each month. Each wine is hand-selected by proprietor Justin Abad to create a unique tasting experience and showcase some of our favorite wineries. The club will give you a chance to try new varietals and taste some of our personal favorites--not to mention, enjoy the convenience of letting us put everything together for you. Read more or sign up here.

June's Featured Wines



Domaine de la Garrelière, Cendrillon, 2010
(80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Chardonnay)

In founding Domaine de la Garrelière in the 1970s, Pascale and François Plouzeau resurrected a tradition of viticulture that dates back to the early 17th century, when the region's vineyards regularly supplied Cardinal Richelieu's court with wine. Today, thanks to François's passion and careful attention to detial, Domaine de la Garrelière has become one of Touraine’s leading biodynamically-farmed domaines.

François picks his grapes later in the season to ensure excellent ripeness. That, combined with naturally-occurring full-malolactic fermentation creates wine that is rich, textured, and complex. The Cendrillon is a perfect example of this style. The domaine's best sauvignon blanc from stainless steel tanks is combined with a small amount of chardonnay from barrel, creating a gorgeous, medium-bodied wine with soft acidity, a round, luscious mouthfeel, and a long, subtle finish.



Verbena, Brunello di Montalcino, '06
(100% Sangiovesse Grosso; Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy - half bottle )

Someone once said that great wine is best enjoyed in great company, and I agree entirely. However, every once in a while I find no company as satisfying as solitude. For nights like those I sometimes feel guilty opening (and usually finishing) an entire bottle of wine by myself. Enter the half bottle of Verbena's brunello di Montalcino.

The wine itself demonstrates what I expect in a well-made brunello (the noble "prince" of Italian wine): medium, silky body with crushed violet and rose petals on the nose and round, lasting tannins. Some brunello can come across as "green" or too light in body and structure, but the Verbena is no such brunello. Plus, the smaller format allows the wine to open and show its maturation twice as quickly as its full-bottle counterpart. I have enjoyed this wine with braised lamb, roasted rabbit, and hanger steak with tomato-olive sauce. To be honest, I also love to savor this wine all by itself while enjoying an evening in solitude.



Clelia Romano, Colli di Lapio, Fiano di Avellino
(100% Fiano; Campagnia, Italy)

This wine is terroir embodied. Even the name translates to 'the hills of Lapio,' the region in southern Italy where the vines grow. Thought to have originated from Greece, this wine thrives in hot climates and made its way north to Southern Italy, where it found the perfect home in the area surrounding Naples and Mount Vesuvious.

The wine is medium bodied with a soft golden hue. The nose shows hints of honey suckle and hay, while the palate is rich in the middle with a burst of soft acidity on the finish.

Drink this wine with pasta, asparagus, artichokes, and creamy, mild cheese such as burrata or mozzarella.


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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Justin's May Wine Club Picks

Members of A.M. Wine Club enjoy three carefully selected wines from around the world each month. Each wine is hand-selected by proprietor Justin Abad to create a unique tasting experience and showcase some of our favorite wineries. The club will give you a chance to try new varietals and taste some of our personal favorites--not to mention, enjoy the convenience of letting us put everything together for you. Read more or sign up here.

May's Featured Wines
This month, we're featuring a few of our favorite underrated gems.

Botani, 2010
(100% Moscatel Seco)

This Spanish white is from the ancient village of Almachar in the mountains of Malaga, Spain.  It is a collaborative effort by two of the most well respected wine families in the world: Jorge Ordonez, best known for capturing terroir of indigenous Spanish varietals, and Alois Kracher, an Austrian wine maker who was instrumental in re-vitalizing the nearly forgotten Austrian varietals.

The product of their collaboration is a light, floral white with an expressive bouquet.  It has notes of citrus and wild berry, with undertones of minerality.  The wine is extremely energetic and almost jumps on the palate.  Forget about comparing this to what you have tried before. Instead, approach this wine with an open mind.  It's essentially a spring day in a bottle, paired best with salty meats and firm cheeses.


Rene Bouvier, La Chapitre, 2009
(100% Pinot Noir))
Previously featured as a Wine of the Week selection.

Bernard Bouvier continues the tradition that his father Rene began nearly 40 years ago. Nestled at the border of Cote d'Or in the village of Marsannay, Bernard creates wine that blends tradition with modern vinification technology. Still prohibiting the use of any chemicals in his vineyards, Rene is able to capture the "terroir" and culture of his Burgundian roots in his most accessible Pinot, "La Chapitre." 2009 was a hot vintage that resulted in an accessible expression of Pinot that shows elegant dark fruit with just enough structure to lend balance to this red burgundy.

The wine is light to medium bodied and shows rich earth tones with balanced dark fruit. If you asked me to describe the wine in one word it would be this: balance. Accessible, balanced, and an amazing introduction to Bernard's style, this Bourgogne outperforms its contemporaries by leaps and bounds. Enjoy alone or with ripe cheese and charcuterie and see what all the fuss is about!



Sierras del Priorat, Priorat 2010
(blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mazuela, and Syrah)

From the acclaimed wine maker of Clos Mogador, Rene Barbier, comes this "baby Priorat."  The wine shows off the traditional style of Clos Mogador without the major investment (upwards of $150/bottle).  Rene creates this wine with fruit from some of the same vines used in his higher tiered releases.  

The medium body red shows supple texture, especially in the mid palatte, and finishes with rounded and well balanced tanins.  On the nose there are rich, earthy red fruit tones with a subtle, almost rose-bud bouquet.  Pair with grilled meat (my favorite with grilled bison), tomato based stews, or any dish involving game of some sort.  This little treasure is a gem that I'm sure you will enjoy!



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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Justin's April Wine Club Picks

Members of A.M. Wine Club enjoy three carefully selected wines from around the world each month. Each wine is hand-selected by proprietor Justin Abad to create a unique tasting experience and showcase some of our favorite wineries. The club will give you a chance to try new varietals and taste some of our personal favorites--not to mention, enjoy the convenience of letting us put everything together for you. Read more or sign up here.

April's Featured Wines
This month, Justin is pulling out all the stops with three of his all-time favorites.

Ulacia e Hijos, Txakoli ("choc-o-lee")
(85% Hondaribbi Zuri, 15% Hondarrubi Belza, from the Basque coast of Northern Spain)

This Txakoli is one of the most unique expressions of Spanish wine that I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Light and crisp with lively acidity and notes of lime zest that remind one of a warm afternoon on a Mediterranean beach. Its subtle effervescence and low alcohol content (11%) make it perfect for a hot day on the porch. Enjoy this wine with oysters, clams, or any type of steamed shellfish and you won't be disappointed. In fact, I find it hard to imagine drinking anything else with pintxos (small plates) or as an aperitif.  A seasonal favorite of mine that brings me back to the plazas of Spain, this wine will surely transport you to a place equally as inspirational and refreshing. VALE!


Tres Sabores, Porque No?
(A blend of Zin, Cabernet, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, Petit Syrah from Napa Valley)

The "Porque No?" is A blend of some of the finest fruit from Julie Johnson, one of the most inspirational wine makers I have ever known.  Johnson truly is a winemaker without pretense. The name of this wine, which translates to "Why Not," fits its style and attitude perfectly. Johnson has created a well-balanced expression of zinfandel-based wine that shows the right proportions of soft, round tannis, dark berry fruit, and spice. Delicious with anything grilled or carmalized, this wine will undoubtedly become a summer favorite. Just don't spoil it by trying to over-analyze it. "Porque No?" is meant to be enjoyed and celebrated without too much thought.


Domaine Jean Folliard, "Cote du Py" 2010
(100% unfiltered Gamay from Morgon, France)

One of the ten official Beaujolais Crus, and widely considered the most elegant from the region, this Gamay is one of the few expressions that can and should be aged for 5-10 years in bottle. Its floral nose gives way to notes of stone fruit and soft earth tones on the palate. Serve this beauty with a slight chill to allow the aroma, fruit, and structure to come together in a beautiful harmony. Pair it with light pork dishes, rich seafood dishes, or enjoy by itself, and you'll notice that this wine demonstrates that Beaujolais doesn't have to fit the flashy "Nouveau" style. Great Beaujolais shows elegance, complexity, and structure. The only problem with this amazing wine is that you'll never think of Gamay the same way again. (Whether that is actually a problem is up to.) Despite limited allocation each year, you can find this favorite on Justin's Cellar Page at Cashion's Eat Place.



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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Justin's March Wine Club Picks

Members of A.M. Wine Club enjoy three carefully selected wines from around the world each month. Each wine is hand-selected by proprietor Justin Abad to create a unique tasting experience and showcase some of our favorite wineries. The club will give you a chance to try new varietals and taste some of our personal favorites--not to mention, enjoy the convenience of letting us put everything together for you. Read more or sign up here.

March's Featured Wines

As part of our South African Wine Month, two of our three selections hail from the country's best wineries. We hope you enjoy these gems as much as we do!


Château d’Orschwihr, Cremant d'Alsace
Blend of Sylvaner and Muscat from Alsace, France

This Chateau has a long and rich history of practicing sustainable farming techniques, which includes avoiding the use of any pesticides.  The proprietor and wine maker Hubert Hartmann perpetuates a philosophy of consistency and quality by keeping yields low and having complete control of the growth, harvesting, and fermentation of all the fruit used to create this rich, yet refreshing sparkling wine.

The wine itself has a rich front palate with notes of honeydew and other green melon.  The mid palate's balanced, supple texture gives way to a bright finish with a refreshing burst of acidity, likened to ripe citrus.  The wine is an excellent accompanyment to food, due to its richness and weight, and one that deserves to be saved for only the best company.

Vilafonte "Series M"
32.5% Merlot, 30% Malbec, 32.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc

Stellenboshc, South Africa

This Bordeaux-inspired blend is brought to us by Mike Ratcliffe, the co-owner of Warwick Estates in South Africa.  Mike is largely responsible for putting South African wines on the map with his value-driven, consistently-made Warwick Wines.  For this particular wine, Mike wanted to demonstrate that South Africa has the terroir and sophistication to produce a high level, complex wine that is reminiscent of some of the finest Bordeaux's from France.

The wine is powerful and full bodied with a bold but silky mouth feel from start to finish.  It has the structure and depth to age for years, but can easily be enjoyed within 30 minutes of opening (or less if decanted).

Notes of cocoa powder and black fruit with deep floral undertones make this wine perfect for grilled meats, braised stew, and rich, hearty preparations of any kind. Those of you who love BIG wines will enjoy the balance of the "Series M" on its own!

Badenhorst "Secateaurs"
100% Chenin Blanc from Swartland, South Africa

This gem is brought to us by Adi Badenhorst who will be co-hosting our Wine Dinner at Cashion's Eat Place on Monday, March 26th.  The Chenin Blanc grapes are hand picked by Adi and his staff at the vineyard, which speaks much to the philosophy of "farmer first, winemaker second" that is personified by the Badenhorst Family.

The wine shows incredible texture and palate weight, making more of an impact than you might think for a South African Chenin Blanc.  However, the fruit is expressive and accessible enough for everyday consumption.  Because of the wine's slight residual sugar and richness, spicy dishes are the perfect companion for this well-balanced, and fruit-driven white.  It may sound crazy, but Thai food and South African Wines are a match made in heaven!




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Friday, February 10, 2012

A.M. Wine Club February Picks

Members of A.M. Wine Club enjoy three carefully selected wines from around the world each month. Each wine is hand-selected by proprietor Justin Abad to create a unique tasting experience and showcase some of our favorite wineries. The club will give you a chance to try new varietals and taste some of our personal favorites--not to mention, enjoy the convenience of letting us put everything together for you. Read more or sign up here.

February's Featured Wines:

Mazzolino Sparkling Rose, Oltrepò Pavese

This delicate, refreshing sparkling rose is made entirely from Pinot Nero grapes grown just southwest of Milan in the Oltrepò Pavese region of Lombardia. Salmon in color and light in body, this wine is made in the "méthode champenoise" - the classic method used in France's Champagne region, allowing secondary fermentation in the bottle.

The wine has a delicate and refreshing palette with fruit that is reminiscent of freshly picked strawberries and a finish that is clean and crisp. It pairs exceptionally well with ripe, soft cheese, charcuterie, and bittersweet chocolates, and its beautiful balance makes it great to start (or end) any special Valentine's Day celebration.

A few years ago, A.M. Wine Shoppe proprietor Justin Abad met the winemaker, Jean-Francois Coquard, and was quickly inspired by Coquard's passion, talent, and dedication to the vine. Justin first tasted the Mazzolino Sparkling Rose at 2:30 a.m. with Coquard and importer Brennan Downey after the Tre Bicchiere Wine Tasting in New York City. To his delight, the wine tasted as good as he "remembered" it when it arrived in the Shoppe and at Cashion's Eat Place a few weeks later.


Domaine Sange de Cailloux, Vacqueyras

This blend of Grenache (70%), Syrah (20%), Mourvedre and Cinsault (10%) hails from the Vacqueyras region of southern Rhone in France. "Sange de Cailloux" literally translates to "blood from stone," stemming from the fact that the soil is composed of many small clay and limestone rocks.

The wine exhibits smoky black fruit with background notes of leather, rosemary, and spicy "garrigue" (oak). The texture is seemingly medium to full bodied, but deceptively light given its driving acidity. The Sange de Cailloux is a versatile wine that will pair well with any Valentine's Day feast. Given the season, it's especially perfect for braised meats, game, and rich fish preparations.

The deep earth tones and lush textures common in wines from southern Rhone makes it one of Justin's favorite regions. His first experience with Vacqueyras was with a braised pork dish with stewed tomatoes, cous cousaki, dried oregano, and shaved Parmesan cheese.  Heaven.


La Tour Vieille, Banyuls Riserva

A blend of late harvest Grenache (35%), Grenache Gris (35%), and Carignan (30%), this rich, decadent dessert wine hails from the "French Catalonia" town of Collioure on the Mediterranean Coast.

The wine has a rich and full texture with deep plum and black fruit notes. Its acidity makes it surprisingly less cloying and viscous than many of its counterparts. It pairs exquisitely with any chocolate and/or caramel desserts for your Valentine's Day sweetheart.

A great treat of this wine is its incredible durability. Since it goes through a natural oxidation process, the wine will last opened in your refrigerator for up to a month.


To learn more about A.M. Wine Club, or to sign up, click here

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