Overall, we consider ourselves very lucky because in general, our customers are fairly well versed in wine, open-minded, and spectacularly (and sometimes unusually) willing to take home any bottle of wine that we put in their hands. For this we consider ourselves incredibly blessed. We’ve got a unique, eager, and intellectual customer set and it makes our jobs easier every day. And I’m not just trying to butter you up. It’s true. And I thank you because when you ask me to put the very best possible bottle of wine in your hands for $17, and I can hook you up with a killer bottle of wine from an honest, quality-minded producer—there’s no better feeling that that. In fact, even when I go home at night, it sometimes crosses my mind that hey, I bet John is pulling the cork on that Rioja right now, he’s going to love it. And that thought, that little vibe, that rush, is part of why I love coming to work everyday.
One question that I find more and more of our customers asking me (and I’m glad they do) is, ‘What wines should I be drinking to expand my palate?’ A great question, and although I can not speak in general terms about every single customer that comes into the store—I thought I’d put together a small list of wines that might serve to open your eyes to new wines, cool producers, and promising varietals.
Cono Sur Viognier ($11.99 or 2/$20)—I started drinking this wine on a regular basis only recently, and when I did, I wondered why I’d been purchasing any Chardonnay for $18 and under with this little gem right in front of my face. I also probably would have steered you away from oaked Viognier in general, but this wine is bright, stylistically executed, and a sweet value. And although I think I’d prefer this wine to the Cono Sur Chardonnay any day, this Chilean producer does an entire range whites and reds that are tasty, well executed, and underpriced.
Comoloco Monastrell ($11.99 or 2/$20)—Speaking of underpriced, the Comoloco (my new friend) is the newest member of our two-for-twenty and is surely one of the highest caliber reds on the table. Frankly, I think the label is worth $10 alone (I think it’s hilarious)—but the magnitude, fruit, and octane (15% ABV) packed into this muscular but balanced Monastrell is pretty suave.
Cantina di Santadi Carignano del Sulcis Grotta Rossa ($16.99 or 2/$30)—This Foxy and unctuous Italian red made from Carignano (the same grape that the French call Carignan), is an awesome alternative to your favorite Priorat. It is rustic but poised and structured bringing fourth dense blackberry, ripe framboise, earth, and spice.
Anne Pichon Rousanne ($21.99)—This woman makes some serious juice. This particular wine is made from the 1.5 hectares of Rousanne planted on the property. Fermentation and aging occurs in French oak and the resulting wine is bottled after 9 months. If there was any doubt that white wines outside of Chardonnay take well to oak (even after the Cono Sur Viognier)—this is the cold hard evidence.
Contadino 4 ($27.99)--This wine is biodynamically grown and fermented outside in the open air on mount Etna, an active volcano. It is probably the most unique red wine in our entire store and even if you don’t learn to love it, as we have, I promise that it will be a learning experience. As a result of this wine’s ultra-natural production, heavy (and chunky) sediment persists in its clear glass burgundy bottle—fear not though because this sediment is harmless and is best looked upon as an experience all in itself. Past the sediment however, I think you will be surprised at the lightness of this wine. Despite its ripe scorched fruit, the caliber and gait of this bottling is delicate and focused. And yes, it tastes like a volcano.
So there’s the list. And whether you find it redundant, eye opening, life changing, or rudimentary--hopefully you’re able to glean at least some kind of enrichment, motivation, or just plain pleasure from the wines. I know I do. ~(CODEY)