The first bottle was an Italian white, Arnaldo Caprai’s Grecante Grechetto dei Colli Martani (2011). I’m a sucker for the less-common white varietals, and this one did not disappoint. It was light and refreshing and perfect for pre-dinner appetizers of cheese and roasted eggplant spread. At 13.5% alcohol, I started to feel it by the end of the first glass. But it's a party, right?
Grecante is made from grechetto grapes from the Umbrian region of Italy. Grechetto grapes are harvested later in the season, which makes a sweeter grape. Typically, it’s mixed with in other varietals, but the the Grecante Grechetto dei Colli Martani is made from 100% grechetto grapes. Arnaldo Caprai was awarded the distinction of being Wine Enthusiast's European Winery of the Year for 2012, in large part due to its focus on indigenous varietals, particularly with the Sagrantino di Montefalco. The winery has also long had a focus on sustainable farming practices to protect both consumers and the integrity of the wines, as well.
The Grecante is crisp and has a fruity aroma with hints of citrus and a bit of peach. So, not only does it go nicely with light appetizers, it’s also appropriate for some pastas, seafood, and on its own as well, particularly in the summer.
For dinner, which was homemade pasta with rich tomato sauces (and meatballs for the omnivores), we had a Marchesi de' Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva (2009). Chianti is my favorite of all the red wines, though I usually go for a classico, which comes from the region of Tuscany where the wine originated. It’s just been my general preference. Though I very much enjoyed this Rufina, which, among wine connoiseurs is held in as high a regard as classico. Note that the Frescobaldi is also “riserva,” which means it was aged longer than other Chiantis, this one at two years before bottling.
The wine staff at Flyte will lead the classes; each class will run about an hour-and-a-half and include some nice cheese pairings to help fill you up between wines. The cost per class is only $25, and reservations can be made online or by calling (615) 255-6200.
After the jump check out the class syllabus:
The syllabus includes a review of the wine growing regions of Italy, the most common grape varietals and pairing Italian wines with food. The class is $30 per person and includes five wine tastings and light appetizers. Since you can't buy wine in the liquor store on Sunday anyway, this looks like a great way to do a little day drinking from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
To register, call (615) 262-5346.
1112 Woodland St.
During The Crush, these wines, plus some special offerings that are rolling off the old list, will be available at half-price by the glass or the bottle. For a full list of the wine offerings at Macaroni Grill, check out the restaurant's website. While this is a really good deal on some perfectly fine reds and whites, there is one disappointing bit of news.
At most Macaroni Grill location, they operate on an "on your honor system" when it comes to their house wine Chardonnay and Chianti blends. Ask for a jug of these wines, which are specially blended by the Placido winery in Tuscany, and your server will just leave the bottle behind.
You simply keep track by marking the number of glasses you pour yourself on the paper tablecloth with the provided crayon, and they'll charge you on you honor at the end of the meal. But alas, Tennessee law doesn't allow for that sort of serve-yourself system.
As in, people drinking rosé. Because they like it. Apparently, rosé has come a long way from the pink wine of the 1970s — which wasn’t really rosé at all; it was mostly “blush”— but I still associate it with Riunite Lambrusco and Orson Welles (who, it turns out, was a famous filmmaker before he peddled wine on television).
Rosé has regained respect and is consumed by people I know to have good taste. And though I don’t generally like white or pink wines, I decided to give it a try. I armed myself with a number of good recommendations and headed to the liquor store on the way to a party at a friend's house. I selected the Domaine Houchart, which I'm told is quite popular.
The verdict? Thumbs up from my friends, but a thumb down from me. It was dry (as most rosés are), but still a bit too tart and shallow for me. Yes, I know it’s summer, but I still prefer depth to my wine. And unlike (some) others, I drink red wine slightly chilled, at the temperature closer to that of a real wine cellar than that of a Nashville “room temperature.” I don’t drink hot wine. Except in a hot cider drink.
Anyway, Bacchus must’ve been smiling upon me as all this coincided with an offer from the folks at Masi Agricola. Would I like to try their Masi Bonacosta, a light summer wine that’s an alternative to white or rosé? My answer was not yes, but hell yes. Well, technically, it was “of course I’d like to try this wine.”
So, one very good Tuesday morning, I took receipt of my bottle of Masi Bonacosta Valpolicella Classico. A Classico, by the way, typically denotes a wine made from grapes grown in a specific region, its terroir being an important element in taste. The Bonacosta is made from several types of grapes grown in the Valpolicella region.
But seriously, I returned with a ton of great information to share with y'all and some story ideas that you'll see in this space in the near future. In addition to visiting several amazing craft breweries and wineries, I am now full up with knowledge of and appreciation for hard ciders, so I'll warn you that I may become a little bit insufferable about the target. While Thomas Jefferson, or "Mr. Jefferson" as he is called by citizens of the Commonwealth, may be known as the father of American wine-making, he couldn't grow grapes worth squat.
What he did grow well was cider apples, which are sometimes really horrific to eat, but wonderful to press and ferment. Those sour crabapples are known within the industry as "spitters." Local liquor stores have a growing variety of ciders from across the country for you to try, but if you want a gateway into the world of hard apple juice, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar on West End has a nice opportunity coming up for you.
Now, Crispin Cider is from California, not Virginia, but they do make a fine product that can help to introduce you to the nuances of a new drink category for most folks. On Thursday, May 23, Joe Heron, the founder and president of Crispin CIder, will be hosting a five-course cider dinner starting at 6:30. He will discuss cider and assist in the pairing of some of his crisp and clean ciders with an appetizer, salad, two entrees and dessert prepared by Chef Jay Daigle and his kitchen staff at Fleming's. Check out the entire menu:
Crispy Brie Bites
sweet & spicy pepper sauce
Prosciutto Gorgonzola Bruschetta
apple, truffle honey drizzle
Heirloom Flat Bread
heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil
Crispin Original Cider
Roasted Golden Beet & Chevre Napoleon
arugula, roasted shallot vinaigrette
Coriander Cumin Spiced Braised Short Ribs
jus, jicama slaw
Crispin Honey Crisp
edamame succotash, ginger-garlic butter
Crispin Bird on A Wire
Vanilla Pound Cake
cinnamon ice cream, almond lace tuile, caramel sauce
Crispin Fox Barrel Pacific Pear
The dinner is $60 per guest, so call (615) 342-0131 to reserve a spot at the table.
The Nashville Wine Auction does a whole lot more than just putting on some of the grandest wine tasting/fund raising events of the year. They also occasionally organize smaller tastings of some of their favorite winemakers to introduce them in a personal way to Nashville wine lovers. Next month, they’ve invited Thomas Duroux, the CEO and winemaker of Château Palmer for an afternoon tasting at F. Scott’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar on Friday, May 17, from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Five Château Palmer wines to be tasted:
Alter Ego 2008, Château Palmer 2008, Alter Ego 2004, Château Palmer 2004 and
Historical XIX Century Wine L.20.07
Château Palmer is regarded by wine lovers all over the world as one of the best estates in the Margaux appellation of Bordeaux. "Vintage after vintage, the wines of Château Palmer express our vision of an exceptional wine," says Thomas Duroux, CEO of Château Palmer. "We believe Palmer is born of a mysterious trilogy: terroir, history, memory. All of our efforts are concentrated on bringing this unique combination to life vintage after vintage."
Join us for this rare opportunity with Thomas Duroux, Winemaker and CEO of Château Palmer to taste Château Palmer wines. Chef Kevin Ramquist of F. Scott's Restaurant and Jazz Bar will offer tasting portions with the wines. Stay for dinner at F. Scott's and enjoy a 20% discount on dinner.
Limited space is available. Call the Nashville Wine Auction at (615) 329-1760 or email Kristin Sebastian at Kristin@NashvilleWineAuction.com to make your reservation.
Village Wines is taking over 360 Bistro in West Nashville on Tuesday, May 7, at 6:30 p.m. for a tasting of the wonderful Napa Valley wines of Krupp Brothers and Veraison. While you may not have heard much about this winery, the experts love it, and here’s your chance to taste through their selection of fine reds and whites. The event is just $15 per person plus tax and gratuity, so call Hoyt Hill at (615) 383-2102 for more information and reservations.
Grand Cru on Murphy Road has tastings both this afternoon and tomorrow if you happen to be in the neighborhood. Today they’re throwing a Bordeaux vintage throwdown between wines form 2009 and 2010. They’ll be tasting a 2009 Chateau Haut Pommarede and a 2010 Chateau Patache d' Aux, so drop by between 5 and 6:30 p.m. to pick your favorite.
Tomorrow is Tequila Saturday at Grand Cru, so take the edge of the afternoon with sips of Gran Centenario Tequila and Maestro Dobel Diamond Tequila from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
As I told you last week, there are some pretty notable wine events coming up in April, all of which benefit some really good causes around town. Fire up your Google calendar and clear your schedule.
The good people at Midtown Wine and Spirits help out many nonprofits around town, but one of the dearest to their hearts is the event that they are the Platinum Sponsors of, the 11th annual Wine Tasting and Silent Auction Benefiting the East Nashville Hope Exchange. The soiree will take place at St. Ann's Episcopal Church at 419 Woodland St. on Friday April 19 from 6 to 9 p.m.
The ticket price is a ridiculously reasonable $25 per person, which gets you access to a massive tasting of great wines from around the world, courtesy of Midtown. There is also a large silent auction that features donations from generous benefactors including jewelry, gift certificates to various restaurants, fine art and sports memorabilia. For you Lady Vol fans, there will be a basketball signed by Pat Summitt on the auction table.
To give you an idea of the scale of this event: Even with such a low admission price, last year they raised more than $20,000 for the East Nashville Hope Exchange, a nonprofit summer program that develops leadership and literacy skills for economically disadvantaged children in East Nashville. Perhaps most importantly, the program helps to prevent "summer learning loss" for the kids.
"Last year, more than half the students showed gains in reading level and comprehension, phonics, word recognition and fluency, while 85 percent either maintained or showed gains in four areas tested,” said Ed Miller, president of the Hope Exchange Board. “These results are especially significant since research has shown that particularly for children living below the poverty level, reading skills often decline two to three grade levels over the summer.”
If you want to help out this very worthy organization and have a great time doing it, buy your tickets at their website.
There's another shindig going on that same evening April 19 down in Franklin as the group behind A Vintage Affair throws a big party to raise money for Williamson County charities that benefit women and children in the county.
In the meantime, your friends at Grand Cru on Murphy Road have not left you hanging with nowhere to taste this weekend. In fact, they've got two events planned. This evening March 29 from 5 to 6:30, they'll be offering a nice California Cab from Edge and a very food-friendly and affordable Pinot Noir from Acrobat.
Tomorrow, March 30, they're cracking the top on two slightly more exotic wines from 3 to 4:30 p.m. First is the delightful Villa Des Anges OV Rosé. Rosés are hot right now, and a nice dry one matches with just about any food you want to pair it with. For something a little jammier and fruit forward, try out the Syrousse Red, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan that hails from the villages of Roussillon. Carignan used to be a hugely popular grape in France, but we normally just see it as a blending varietal. It plays particularly well with Grenache and Syrah to produce a soft perfumey wine.
The wine mavens at RED Spirits and Wine out in Bellevue really know their juice, so when they named Meyer Family Cellars' Bonny’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon as their No. 1 reserve wine of the year, I sat up and took notice. Now that they have invited Matt Meyer, the winemaker at Meyer Family Cellars, for a tasting event that's a call for action.
He'll be signing bottles and tasting from his portfolio this afternoon, March 8 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at RED. Reservations are not necessary, but it would be kind if you called (615) 646-1400 to let them know you're coming because this event should prove to be very popular.
Keeping with the theme of really remarkable wine experts coming to town, Hoyt Hill at Village Wines wrote to share the news of an event that should sell out fast, so he wanted to give plenty of notice. Allen Meadows of burghound.com is regarded as one of the world's top experts on Burgundy. He is coming to Nashville on one of only five stops this year on his tasting tour.
The event will be Sept. 7, and will feature some of the world's greatest Burgundy wines. The cost is $200 per person, and is payable when making your reservation. Of course, if your plans change, Village Wines will refund the payment. Call Hoyt at (615) 383-2102 to hold your spot.
Meanwhile, Ruth’s Chris Steak House is presenting a Taste of Napa Valley Wine Dinner this Thursday, March 14, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at their location on West End. The cost is $95 per person plus tax and gratuity, and the menu looks spectacular:
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