Posts Tagged ‘Chenin Blanc’

Tough life – Wines of Loire Valley

Friday, August 8th, 2008

You know, the life of a wine industry professional is real tough. Going out to taste wines, being given samples to taste, speaking with winemakers – some of the coolest people around – let me tell ya, I don’t know how I do it.

Last night I had the arduous task of tasting through some wines made from Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley with some contemporaries.

Loire Valley

We started with a sparkling wine, the Vouvrey Brut, Pinon NV. I’m still figuring out exactly how to better assess sparkling wines, but this one did have a nice chalky minerality and crisp tight bubbles – or so I think. Apparently these are desirable sparkling wine characteristics and that darn power of suggestion can be really influential.

Following the “bubbly” we tried 5 still wines. (more…)

Nederburg pours wine at Xai Xai wine bar

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

I attended a very informal wine tasting early yesterday evening at Xai Xai, the South African wine bar located in the Hell’s Kitchen district of NYC. I’ve been to Xai Xai before & believe that as far as wine bars go this place is doing many things RIGHT. I also like that this bar is exclusively a South African wine bar with South African wine, food, music & decor.  I firmly believe that there are enough generic or Italian/French wine bars in the city.  Having recently heard of an Eastern European bar I am certain that focusing on specific regions is the way for the new entry’s into the food/beverage business to go.

The event last night was intended to promote the release of one of the first (according to them) 2008’s to be released. Pretty amazing when you think that here in the Northern hemisphere the vines barely possess any semblance of fruit yet. But alas the Southern Hemisphere harvest is generally February/March time with white varietals destined for crisp wines harvested first. (more…)

Better Wine Bar experiences

Friday, February 29th, 2008

This past Wednesday I visited two wine bars.  One was with a young woman after work and the other was with yet another young woman somewhat later in the evening.

The first wine bar was a South African wine bar which I have previously mentioned.  I was greeted warmly by two people that worked there.  I have been to the place twice before but I was greeted as if I was a regular.

When my companion arrived she indicated that she preferred white wine as red wine tends to have an effect similar to caffeine.  I was fine with that as a nice South African Chenin Blanc seemed like a nice wine to start the evening with.  The server allowed us to try two kinds and we chose one which was nice Quaffer (simple, easy to drink wine).

The only negative comment I have about my experience there was that the server, thinking he was doing his job, kept coming over and pouring the wine from the bottle into our glasses.  NOT A BIG DEAL of course but I MUCH prefer to do my own pouring.  This in my mind better allows me to see the evolving of the wine in the glass (where relevant – which here with the Chenin it was not) and also allows me to maintain a level in my glass that I am comfortable with – something that is important to someonewho likes to swirl their wine as much as I do.

The next wine bar is a place in my neighborhood that we were informed opened 7 weeks ago.  The place has an East side location that I have been to in the past.  This location was very impressive.  Quite large – not necessarily the best thing for a wine bar as the small, intimate setting seems to be the format that has proven to be most successful.  It was dimly lit and had a warm feeling.  I was most impressed by a storage room enclosed by see-through glass doors that kept the wines temperature & humidity controlled.  Something I might want to include if I were ever to open a wine bar (hypothetically speaking of course ;)).

But the best part about this wine bar was the service.  We were offered multiple tastes before ordering.  There was no pressure whatsoever.  And when the server could not answer a question she simply said that she better ask someone who could properly address the question – no BULLSHIT.  Which I very much appreciated.  BUT, it did not end there.  We finally decided on a California Syrah.  It was brought over, presented…and WAS OFF.  I think it may have been corked, but definitely off.  The server was extremely apologetic (which was not necessary) and was quick to offer to get us a different bottle.  the other California Syrah option was brought out and proved to be a very fine wine.  BUT, it did not end there.  Apparently embarrassed by how long it took for us to get a satisfactory wine (I process that while long I actually enjoyed) the server offered to get us a plate of food on the house.  My date had not yet eaten so we ordered a tuna tartare which actually went quite well with the Syrah (even though one might think that a tannic Syrah & salty raw fish might clash).

In all I had a lovely evening and I was very pleased with the warm service and decor in both locations.  Something to aspire to…

Happy wine bar hopping!