February 16, 2006

 Navigation

   Home Page

 News & Features

   News

 Columns & Opinions

   Publisher's Note

   Boomers

   Pinings

   Longshots

   Techie

 Pop Culture

   Film

   TV

   Books
   Video Games
   CD Reviews

 Living

   Food

   Wine

   Beer
   Grazing Guide

 Music

   Articles

   Music Roundup

   Live Music/DJs

   MP3 & Podcasts

   Bandmates

 Arts

   Theater

   Art

 Find A Hippo

   Manchester

   Nashua

 Classifieds

   View Classified Ads

   Place a Classified Ad

 Advertising

   Advertising

   Rates

 Contact Us

   Hippo Staff

   How to Reach The Hippo

 Past Issues

   Browse by Cover


Love and the vine
Repair V-Day gaffes with the right bottle
By Tim Protzman  tprotzman@hotmail.com 

Valentine’s Day snuck up on me this year.

Chalk it up to mid-winter malaise or that there’s no special someone — not even some unrequited love-from-afar-type secret crush waiting in the wings. So this year, I treated the most important person in my life (me) to fine chocolates, a glass of wine and a nice dinner. Then, like the Love Scrooge that I am, I fell asleep early and was visited by the Spirit of Valentine’s Day Past.

Here’s a doozy of a Valentine’s Day from the true-life files. This man (not my father) was engaged to be married to his second wife (not my stepmother). She got roses and a little trinket of jewelry. Because they had combined their finances, she noticed that on the end-of-the-month credit card statement flowers had been purchased from a store in California, in the same city where his ex-girlfriend had moved. He called me up and begged me to suggest a wine that would soothe the rift and mend the heart. I choose a Krug Clos du Mesnil, a single-vineyard Champagne that comes from a plot of land that was within the walls of an old Benedictine Monastery. The Krug family spent 10 years planting new chardonnay vines and today the 35-year-old vines are at their peak. He balked at the $135 price tag until we did a cost/benefit analysis where we added the cost of her gifts to the price of the illicit bouquet and found that the reproach-atory bottle was less than half of what he had already spent.

They drank it at home on a Friday night with a takeout white clam pizza and fudge cake and all was forgiven. I’ve told this story several times, and the one constant I hear is:

“Do I have to spend $135 on Champagne to have it be good?”

The answer is yes and no. Yes, you’ll be able to tell the difference between a $50 and a $150 bottle, but there are sparkling bargains that you’ll find yummy. It just won’t be this great big bubbly awakening.
For those not in the doghouse and on a budget I like Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial, $33.99. It’s nicely made and sweeter than most champagnes, but not syrupy. If you want a drier champers then try Mionetto Sergio Prosecco Extra Brut, $17.99. It’s extra crisp and made the same way they make Champagne, but they can’t call it Champagne. That designation goes only for wines grown and made in the Champagne region of France.

Instead they call it sparkling wine, methode champenoise or, in Spain, cava and Prosecco or Asti Spumante in Italy.

If you like chocolates, many red wine varietals pair well with the dense bittersweet candy.

The prime candidate is cabernet sauvignon, with a three-way tie for second from the big meaty zinfandels, the petite and demur pinot noirs and the sexy, earthy syrahs.

Burgess Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa is a great wine that tastes of the valley’s soil and presents an un-manipulated, low-chemical taste. It’s $29.99 and worth every penny. Just avoid any minted candies with this one.

For zinfandels, I’m taking the advice of Scot Kinney of UnWined, the popular Manchester restaurant located at 865 Second St. I called him to ask him what he’d order if he were a guest at his own restaurant. Scot suggested the Venison Tart, ground venison in a puff pastry with baby carrots and a fig and cherry in red wine demi glace. This mouth-watering entrée is part of his new menu, ready just in time for Valentine’s Day.

He’d pair the Venison Tart with a Ravenswood Icon Syrah ($36) an 88 percent Syrah, 6 percent Mourvèdre, 6 percent Grenache blend from Sonoma.

As for Zinfandels, he’s partial to Rosenblum single vineyards like Carla’s Vineyard, $17.49. This zin would go well with a Cadbury Fruit and Nut Candy Bar. The wine is dense and black and spicy.

Pinot Noir is a romantic wine. It’s subtle with hints of the vineyard’s soil and sun. It’s long been held to be a feminine wine to the masculine wines of Bordeaux. And in France they call it Burgundy, after the region, unless it’s not from Burgundy and then it’s Pinot Noir.

The great thing about Pinot is there’s so much good stuff from California, New Zealand and even New York State that for around $15 a bottle you can taste some great juice.

My favorite producers are: Truchard, Steele, Saintsbury, Lincourt, Jekel, Eyrie, Elk Cove Edna Valley, Echelon and Domaine Drouhin. The Drouhin is expensive at $34.49, but delicious. Pinot pairs with succulent roasts, lamb, duck, chicken and veal. It’s good with strawberries and chocolate, but avoid cream and cream sauces.
Wine Tip of the Week: 2000 Chateau le Sartre from Pessac-Leognan in Bordeaux, $14.99. A shy little wine that tastes so genuine and demure that it seems to fly in the face of everything Robert Parker likes. The wine rookies liked le Sartre’s understated elegance over a $39.99 bottle of Les Forts de Latour, the second label of the famed Chateau Latour, which seemed “Californian?”

E-mail your comments and wine stories to tprotzman@hotmail.com.

Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com



02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
02/02/2006 The winos' mecca
01/26/2006 Date-nite drinks
01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
10 Wines To Get Lucky With

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave
A Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting
A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
Finding A Great Medium Weight Drink (II)
Gifts for blood, love or money
Gin
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
Mondovino
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce