Posts Tagged ‘French wine’
Sometimes You Get More Than You Expected at a Wine Tasting..
I’ve been to alot of low-priced wine tastings – and normally, the price of the event and the quality of food/wine/ambiance match – but not this time! Redwood Restaurant in Bethesda, MD which is right in the heart of the burgeoning retail sector on Bethesda Ave (anchored currently by Barnes and Noble) is a beautiful high-ceilinged restaurant with plenty of redwood (surprise!) and glass fronting on a lovely outdoor open-aired pedestrian atrium.
Although there was not actually a private area for this walk-around tasting (no seating) it was in the back of the restaurant and began at 6 pm before the hordes of diners and bar loungers came in. It was a simple basic setup of regular tables with wine reps pouring a selection of their wines at each table based on a theme: Table 1 – South Africa, Table 2 – Italy, Table 3 – France/Germany/Spain and Table 4 – Argentina/Australia/California. Each table had 5 wines, so that adds up to 20..the 20 wines for $20 title..but really, this event had more: generous hors d’oeuvres! Unfortunately, I couldn’t take photos of the food, but it was well-prepared, presented by servers with a napkin (nice touch..funny how important a napkin can be when you are trying to drink wine in a glass!).
The Wines (my apologies for forgetting vintages!): Since I find reviewing wine boring and frankly hard to follow, I’ll focus on what caught my attention. I started at the South African Table with wine rep Matt Leemhuis of Cape Classics, a well-known importer from that region. Two wines were really noticeable – the Kanonkop Pinotage and the Detoren Fusion V, both over $50 retail in Montgomery County. Pinotage is a funky, earthy smokey kinda wine, but it goes great with food. Detoren was it’s polar opposite with a Bordeaux Blend that was luscious rich black fruit and soft tannins and extremely accessible.
At Table 3 which was a mix of European wines, the Leitz Dragonstone Riesling really stood out – all the things I like about a German Riesling with a hint of petrol, but lots of minerality and acidity to balance a bit of sweetness – although Rieslings are great food wines (think Asian food), this one was actually so vibrant on the palate that me a Red wine drinker was just savoring it!
At Table 2 Italy, there was a very interesting white, but I was really enjoying the Argiano Non-Confunditor which is a blend made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese – a Super Tuscan wine, and it actually tasted like a blend of Old World and New World – earth and soil from Italy, but roundness from Cabernet – a really interesting contrast!
Table 4 had contrasting Malbecs: Finca Sophenia Malbec Reserva vs Voodoo Moon Malbec – the first was pretty traditional with a touch of rough tannins and earthy overtones, while the latter was all perfume and weirdly candy-like – unexpected but delicious!
Food: I didn’t try everything, but all hors d’oeuvres were passed – the chicken wings were especially good and enormous – they were in a sweetish BBQ sauce that was decadently good, thumbs up (I ate them to the bone!). The fried foods were served hot, an although the pimento cheese biscuit was only OK, I was overall impressed by service and the food in general.
Conclusion:If they do another 20 for 20 event, snap up a ticket – it’s a great deal, great food and really decent setup and service. If I could Yelp this event (I probably could!), it would be 5 Stars, no caveats. Forgot to mention..even the wine glasses were very nice and big allowing for good swirling..Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Upcoming Wine Tastings at TasteDC:
TasteDC has organized many events in the past at the French Embassy‘s “Maison Francais” including the Annual Beaujolais Nouveau celebration which always takes place (by law) on the third Thursday of November..and how convenient, probably the most versatile and light red that easily shines with the complex variety of flavors of many foods, is exactly one week before the Thanksgiving turkey-down celebration! Back in 2005, we organized a TasteDC.com Beaujolais Nouveau event at the French Embassy, and hundreds of people flocked to taste these fun wines, great French fromages and some delicious French fare, see many Photos Here.
The key to understanding this wine is it is meant to be drunk young – utilizing a process known as “carbonic maceration” CO2 is used to quickly press and maximize the skin compounds from the red grapes to produce a generally lower alcohol wine with an intense floral nose. Beaujolais is also 100% Gamay which is considered an inferior red grape to the Pinot Noir of neighboring Burgundy, but frankly is priced so much less, that it gives amazing bang for the wine purchasing dollar!
The story goes that this wine became popular because of Georges DuBoeuf and other Negociants in the Beaujolais wine region (just south of Burgundy) who wanted to sell young wine to improve their cash flow – a very traditional method of financing better wines in France. Wikipedia does a nice job explaining the history and details.
Here’s a schedule of some of the events coming up this Thursday, November 17th, 2011 in the Washington, D.C. Region via NBC Washington. Yes, Beaujolais Nouveau is an excellent wine for Thanksgiving – it has the features I like in a Thanksgiving wine: red, inexpensive and because of relatively low tannin and alcohol, it goes with the unusual range of foods expected to be gobbled down on that day. Enjoy, and cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
- Beaujolais Nouveau at the French Embassy (cellarblog.org)