Friday, September 16, 2011

Wandering Wino: Gator Bait Edition

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2011 at 8:54 AM

One would think that with both pro and college (semi-pro) football seasons cranking up, the volume of Saturday tastings might drop off a little bit, since many of us will be spending our next 16 weekends enjoying maltier beverages and staring at our megatron televisions in our bonus rooms. Especially with the big UT/Florida dust-up happening this Saturday, one might expect the tasting calendar to be a little sparse.

One would be wrong.

So as the late great, Rusty McHugh used to sing at the Flora-Bama, "Girl, go get you a pencil and get ready to write!"

First off is news about two charitable events coming up. On Thursday, Sept. 22, Best Brands and Frugal MacDoogal are providing the wine for the ninth annual Vino on the Veranda at the Richland Country Club. The wine tasting benefits children’s programs at First Steps.

The featured winery this year is Franciscan Winery and their sister winery Mount Veeder. The vintner will be offering an excellent selection for tasting. Vino on the Veranda will also offer over 60 wines from other wonderful vineyards.

The mission of First Steps is to educate and care for children with special needs and medical conditions alongside their typically developing peers in inclusive environments and support their families. This is accomplished through the child development center and community outreach program.

For ticket information or to learn more about First Steps Inc., call (615) 690-3091 or visit them at

On Saturday Oct. 1, after the big wing-ding downtown winds down, Midtown Wine and Spirits presents Holly Street Rocks 2011.

Another year has already come and gone, and one of our longest-standing charity events is back and better than ever. We are honored to present Holly Street Rocks, a wine tasting, beer tasting and silent auction benefiting the Holly Street Daycare in East Nashville. We hope you'll join us for this fun night as we taste more than 40 wines from around the world and raise money and awareness for Holly Street!

Holly Street Daycare is a nonprofit organization that provides affordable, quality childcare for parents. The Tuition Subsidy Program bridges the gap between assistance a family might be receiving and the rising cost of quality childcare.

At Holly Street, children experience personalized attention and progressive learning in an intimate, low teacher/child ratio environment. Additionally, the center offers specialized programs such as dance, music and educational field trips. Holly Street strives to create an overall setting to further develop each child’s values, attitudes, and social skills.

When: Saturday, Oct.1, 6:30 p.m.
Where: The Building, 1008C Woodland St. (Behind Drifters)
How Much: $50 per person in advance, $60 at the door
Visit to get your tickets today!

In the strictly for-profit world of wine tasting, consider a trip to Fleming's this Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 6:30 p.m. for a reception-style tasting of artisanal wines from Bell Wine Cellars, paired with a selection of savory appetizers and a delicious 4-course menu from Chef Tracy Riddick. The tasting will be guided by special guest, Anthony Bell, as lucky attendees sip and swirl reds and whites from his Napa Valley winery.

CALL 615-342-0131 TO RESERVE

Tuna Carpaccio & Spicy Chicken Brochette
BELL, Rosé Sierra Foothills, 2010

Chopped Salad with Bleu Cheese Vinaigrette
BELL, Chardonnay Yountville Napa Valley, 2008

New Zealand Lamb Lollipops
with Polenta Fries and Pistachio Pesto
BELL, Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, 2008

Prime New York Strip Steak
served with Wild Mushroom Ragout and Swiss Chard
BELL, Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 6
Rutherford Napa Valley, 2007

Chocolate Wasabi Cake
BELL, Port Sierra Foothills, 2007

To reserve a spot, call (615) 342-0131.

On the other end of the food source spectrum from Fleming's, Woodland Wine Merchant and Marche are presenting another Vegetarian Wine Dinner on that same evening, Sept. 20. This event is sure to sell out, so hop to it bunnies.

This menu is built around fresh organic produce from Eaton's Creek Organics. Located just outside Joelton, Eaton's Creek is the source of some terrific certified organic local produce. We hope to see you there!

Here is the menu:

Radish & Herb Butter Crostini
- Cocchi Americano Cocktail

Delicato Squash Soup
- Meyer Fonne Gentil

Farm Egg Ravioli w/ Greens
- Corte Giara Bardolino

Potato Gnocchi w/ Shitake Mushrooms
- Hofstatter Pinot Nero

To be determined pumpkin dessert
- Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Ale

Call Marche to RSVP - (615) 262-1111

Vegetarian Wine Dinner
featuring Eaton's Creek Organics
Tuesday, Sept. 20
6:30pm at Marche
Cost - $50 per person

Finally, here's just a partial list of the wine stores throwing open their doors to interested tasters who can effectively time their trips to the liquor store with the 45 minute halftime festivities of a college football game.

West Meade Wine and Liquor Mart is hosting a tasting of Venta Marales Tempranillo and Martin-Codax Albarino this Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. Here's what you could be drinking:

Martin-Codax Albarino

Attractive straw-greenish yellow color, with ripe lemon nuances. Bright and slightly sparkling. Stands out for its special intensity and elegance, its aroma is reminiscent of damp, dewy fresh herbs with a perfume of semi-ripe apples. Fine sparkling sensation on the palate, with a complexity of tastes denoting the freshness of vegetation in the valley.

Price: $15.99 per 750 ml

Venta Morales Tempranillo

Deep and extracted with a dark purple color, the aromas that jump from the glass are of black cherry and dark berry. Full bodied on the palate, it has rich and savory flavors of black cherry and raspberry along with hints of tobacco, chocolate and green herbs. Plenty of hearty Tempranillo flavors, coupled with a good balance of tannins and acidity.

Price: $9.99 per 750 ml

Midtown Wine and Spirits has some spectacular wines from the Torrontes and Syrah food groups that they plan to uncork this weekend. Here's the authentic invitation to make it official:

We've got a particularly delicious lineup this weekend, especially with the final wine on our list — Fetish "The Watcher". This plush and velvety Shiraz was in The Wine Spectator Top 100 last year, and we think it'll be a great way to kick off your weekend.

Camino del Inca Torrontes 2010
Cafayate Salta, Argentina

"Very aromatic, an imaginary blend of Muscat, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling, dry and spicy." — 90 points, The Wine Advocate
$15.99 / 750 ml

Padrillos Torrontes 2010
Mendoza, Argentina

"Fresh, with good cut to the tangerine, lemon verbena and chamomile notes that linger on the friendly finish. — The Wine Spectator"
$13.99 / 750 ml

Four Vines Syrah 2007
Paso Robles, California

"Juicy and layered, with red fruits, red cherry, plum, spice and pepper notes that are clean and persistent, ending with a pleasant earthiness." — The Wine Spectator
$19.99 / 750 ml

Fetish "The Watcher" Shiraz 2008
Barossa Valley, Australia

"Fresh and vibrant, this is medium-weight and juicily focused to show its blackberry, black plum and white pepper flavors, lingering with hints of white chocolate on the harmonious finish." — 91 points, No. 61 in 2010 Top 100, The Wine Spectator
$19.99 / 750 ml

We will have these four wines open to taste, so come by Midtown on Friday and Saturday between 2 and 7 p.m. and we'll be happy to pour you some samples!

Finally, belly up to the wine bar at Grace's Plaza Wine and Spirits from 3 to 6 p.m. on Saturday to taste these Oregon and Washington beauties:

Spindrift Cellars 2009 Pinot Blanc
Willamette Valley, Oregon
$14.99 - 750ml
It must be hard for Pinot Blanc, often standing in the shadow cast by its more widely-grown cousin, Pinot Gris. But it's limited production only makes this crisp and refreshing wine all the more delicious. Flowery aromas of peach and lime entice the nose, while the zingy palate beckons you back for more. The unreleased 2010 vintage just made Wine and Spirits mag's Top 100 Best Buys of 2011, and the quicker Nashville can finish the 2009 vintage, the quicker we can get that 93 point wine on our shelves. Come help us!

L'Ecole No. 41 2009 Semillon
83% Semillon, 17% Sauvignon Blanc
Columbia Valley, Washington
$18.99 - 750ml
The third oldest winery in the Walla Walla Valley, L'Ecole No. 41 grew their reputation from a solid and small-time boutique winery to an internationally recognized producer, especially of Cab and Merlot based Bordeaux-style wines. This Semillon is perhaps their most consistently good white wine. Barrel fermented, 50% barrel aged and with 17% Sauvignon Blanc added, this wine is made to taste like a fine white Bordeaux with its rich, round and honeyed texture balanced perfectly by a bit of grassy, lemony acidity.

Left Coast Cellars 2006 Cali's Cuvee
Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley, Oregon
$19.99 - 750ml
Any winemaker can tell you that what grows around the vineyard always has an influence on the flavor of the wine. So maybe it's the black European truffles that Left Coast grows that give this Pinot its unique and savory earthy qualities. The medium-bodied wine has fine tannins with chocolatey tones to the tart cherry and black raspberry fruit. We loved this because of the dark, and vaguely Syrah-like, depth not usually seen in the typically bright and floral Willamette Pinots.

Hedges Family Estate 2009 CMS
45% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Syrah
Columbia Valley, Washington
$14.99 - 750ml
Lastly, bringing a little power to the tasting table this week is the Hedges CMS, a blend of perhaps the three top Washington state red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The higher latitude of Washington gives this a bit more of a savory edge than the intensely fruity California reds, while the prices usually signal a fantastic bargain. This is a Washington staple, produced since 1987- although we think the current vintage is probably tasting a little better these days. Come see for yourself!

Pack a lunch. It's gonna be a long week.

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