January 29, 2009

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Woop Woop it up
Warm up winter with reds
By Tim Protzman food@hippopress.com

“The best part of winter is that you can keep your beer cold on the widow ledge.”

This trivet of wisdom has been spoken by many a college student. But now, during the discontent of winter, is the time for spicy southern wines and vibrant Mediterranean reds. Isn’t that the beauty of wine? That I can taste the warm plains of Mendoza, the trade wind-scented breezes of Western Australia, the ocean spray of the Cape of Good Hope? In wine, like sex, the most important organ is the brain.

Try this at home. Put a bottle of Woop Woop McLaren Vale Shiraz in a brown paper bag. Open it and let your wine friends taste it. This is called a blind tasting. Ask them to describe the flavor and nuances. I can almost guarantee that none of them will be able to guess it’s a Shiraz, let alone an Australian Shiraz. I can’t.

Now serve the wine without the bag. Ask the same questions. This time the answers will be more romantic. The description will include at least one allusion to eucalyptus. This is the mental power of the label, and the more exotic the vineyard location, the more emotions the wine will uncover. This will engage the wine drinker’s whole experience with Australian wines. It will bring up terms like “spicy and sunny.” Red clay may get a mention, too.

But isn’t that why we drink wine? Isn’t that why we pick up delicious Chianti at Hannaford? Because the location of the vineyard packs a strong psychological punch? Because on a cold New England night we can sip a Vacqueyras and feel the heat rising from the ancient stony vineyard soil 3,700 miles away?

Woop Woop is an Australian slang that’s the equivalent of Podunk.

And the emotions and feelings a wine will bring up are related to the quality. Dave once served two Long Island wines. An atrocious Seyval Blanc, acidy, herbaceous with an unpleasant sugary aftertaste. Then he served a Shinn Estate Vineyards Cabernet Franc ($34.50). The Seyval Blanc brought out disparaging Long Island comments. The Cabernet Franc elicited comments about Gatsby and the Hamptons. A perfect example of the mental and emotional power of wine. And I’ll forever be grateful to Dave for turning me on to the beauty of North American Cabernet Franc.

Here are the wines I enjoyed over the holidays.

• 1999 Chambolle-Musigny from Rene De Lacray — $19.99. It was soft with a touch of slate and Concord grape fruit. I preferred the Aloxe-Corton from the same producer.

• My Captain Ahab-like obsession with the “great white Burgundy” ended with 2002 Louis Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. ($125) The wine was overpriced and presented “a swampy nose,” according to Squiggy. I like the watercress and the lack of oak, but the wine would have underwhelmed me even at $45 a bottle. Goodbye Great Whites.

• 2005 Louis Jadot Savigny-Les- Beaune “La Dominode — $43.99. “La Dominode” denotes a special vineyard area in the southernmost end of the appellation. Dried strawberry, a touch of Smith Brother’s Cherry Eucalyptus Cough Drops and au jus with a baked crabapple. This was one of the better reds I’ve had in a few months.

• 2004 Schramsberg Brut Rose Sparkling Wine — $33.99. Too tight, too closed and too astringent. The money would have been better toward a bottle of Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial Rosé ($45.99). 

• 2005 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin — $46.99. A wonderful Burgundy with cherry, elderberry, a touch of cassis and a faint, faint hit of cherry cola on the finish.

• Martini & Rossi Asti DOCG — $13.99. Way too sweet for most champer fans, but this would be great with liver/foie gras. Too overpowering for chocolate (it makes it bitter), but it really works with orange and vanilla. Adam bought this to toast the Dallas Cowboys’ victory, and when that didn’t work out he thought of New Year’s Eve, but he left it home, so we finally opened it after the last fumble and turnover by the Miami Dolphins last Sunday.

• 2004 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon — $23.99 I thoroughly enjoyed this one, but Christine said it reaffirmed her snobbery toward Californian wines. Elderberry, leather and a touch of caramel in the finish. I could drink this every day, although the price has stealthily climbed past the $7.99 price it was when I started buying it in 1993.

• 1998 Pol Roger Extra Cuvee de Reserve Vintage Champagne — $69.99. Pulled the cork at 12:12 a.m. Jan. 1, 2009. It was delicious with lemon and  zwieback biscuit tones. Creamy and malty. But it had this musty, old wet basement nose. I suspected it was corked or on its way to being corked ( contaminated with 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole). However the juice was delicious, even with the musty age smell. Was it or wasn’t it? I haven’t thought this much about corking since they caught Sammy Sosa with his doctored baseball bat.

• 2008 George Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau — $11.99. Strawberry and pot roast flavors. Had tasted this at an office Christmas party lunch and went out and bought another bottle. The best pop culture wine I’ve tried in a while.


1/1/2009 A white burguindy eve

12/25/2008 Hey big spender
12/18/2008 White, the budget wine gift12/11/2008 Taste Burgundy, drink Pommard12/4/2008 The Riesling holidays
11/27/2008 Recession, anti-recession11/20/2008 Gastronomic recovery plan11/13/2008 A vote for...
11/6/2008 Spooky wine
10/30/2008 Critical darling
10/23/2008 An epitaph of good wine10/16/2008 A wine crime
10/9/2008 All my personalities love wine
10/2/2008 Harvest magic

9/25/2008 Where fantasy meets reality9/18/2008 The mojito cure
9/11/2008 Spend Fall in Spain
9/04/2008 Making a break for it
8/28/2008 Achieving the impossible
8/21/2008 AVA in search of a movie
8/14/2008 Return to seller?
8/7/2008 Wine at the game
7/24/2008 Reviving a star
7/17/2008 Champagne staycation
7/10/2008 Pair vintage with vintage
6/26/2008 Leftover wine
6/19/2008 Fortune favors Opus One
6/12/2008 In the year 2048
6/5/2008 Tea, the original infusion
5/29/2008 Hello old friends
5/22/2008 Ancient in the new world
5/15/2008 You are the expert
5/8/2008 The must-drink list
5/1/2008 Gaming wine futures
4/24/2008 Chronos and me
4/17/2008 Getting lucky
4/3/2008 The daquiri's of spring
3/27/2008 Germans play well with others
3/13/2008 Complain yourself happy
3/6/2008 Operatic wine tasting
2/28/2008 Everything must go!
2/21/2008 His & hers bottles
2/7/2008 Friends in spam
1/31/2008 Warm up the wine
1/24/2008 A drink to them
1/17/2008 Stalking the barking dingo
1/10/2008 Wishes and predictions
1/3/2008 Bit of bubbly
12/27/2007 Drinking blind
12/20/2007 Not fighting for the right
12/13/2007 The liquor store suite
11/29/2007 World of drinkin'
11/22/2007 Thanks for the Napa cabs
11/15/2007 Drinks with Diwali
11/8/2007 Candy Corn hangover
11/1/2007 Drinks with History Channel
10/25/2007 Schooled in Shiraz
10/18/2007 Spooky wines
10/11/2007 Location, location, location
10/04/2007 Shiraz history
9/27/2007 Ingenious appellation
9/20/2007 Small world of wines
9/13/2007 How not to get screwed
9/6/2007 Wine lover's shopping trip
8/30/2007 Bottle surfing
8/23/2007 Lobster goes red
8/16/2007 Emotional tasting notes
8/9/2007 Stop, wine thief
8/2/2007 Be your own sommelier
7/26/2007 You do know your wine
7/19/2007 Booze free association
7/12/2007 Raiders of the sidewalk
7/5/2007 A sustainable buzz
6/28/2007 We are the merlot
6/21/2007 Forgot Dad? Bring booze.
6/14/2007 Jack & Jill and a pail of wine
6/7/2007 Our lady of the Rioja
5/24/2007 Breaking the fast
5/17/2007 What the best bears drink
5/10/2007It's OK to be pink
5/3/2007 In praise of tastings
4/26/2007 Invention-tini
4/19/2007 More 'Mas'
4/12/2007 Futures in a bottle
3/29/2007 Uneasy glass of spring
3/22/2007 Chateau de blech
3/8/2007 Finding new beauties
3/1/2007 Infatuation or addiction
2/15/2007 The extraordinary ordinary
2/8/2007 A glass of sweetness
2/1/2007 A glass of sweetness
1/25/2007 Ham it up
1/18/2007 Cheating on wine
1/11/2007 Burning down the tree
1/4/2007 New Year's hangover
12/28/2006 Sins of the vine
12/21/2006 Kissing frogs
12/14/2006 Wine for horrible friends
12/07/2006 Like dregs in the wine glass
11/30/2006 Gift of calmer shopping
11/23/2006 YouTube for YouWine
11/16/2006 Welcome to wine
11/9/2006 Fine art, supermarket wine
11/2/2006 The geography of grapes
10/26/2006 Please continue to hold
10/19/2006 The trouble with reds
10/12/2006 Making new friends
10/05/2006 TiVo-ing the wine
09/28/2006 From an unknown battle
09/21/2006 Toast to turkey
09/14/2006 Wine for life
09/07/2006 What are Malpeques, Alex?
08/31/2006 Hanging out wines
08/24/2006 Falling into new wine season
08/17/2006 Where has that wine been?
08/10/2006 Bringing out the dead
08/03/2006 The birth of a wine fop
07/27/2006 Slow process of maturation
07/20/2006 The pain of adolescent wines
07/13/2006 Nice day for a white wedding
07/06/2006 Scoring goals with booze
06/29/2006 Beer, it's what's for dinner
06/22/2006 A drink fit for a czar
06/15/2006 A summer of beer and fried clams
06/08/2006 Keep your cool, fool
06/01/2006 The social lubricant
05/25/2006 Water, water everywhere
05/18/2006 Big fat greek wine tasting
05/11/2006 Drinking to the end
05/04/2006 Schooled in the art of wine
04/27/2006 Make a wish
04/20/2006 Immigrant wines
04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
04/06/2006 Got milk?
03/30/2006 Throw a dart and there's wine
03/23/2006 A life of good wine
03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
03/09/2006 What once was old i new again
03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
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