Swirl Wine Bar & Market

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wild About Rosé Tasting Series

Some give credit to the Egyptians for its creation, others to the Greeks but most agree that France, especially Provence, has been the capital of rosé production for centuries.  By the time that the Romans reached the area in 125 BC, the rosé wine produced there had a reputation across the Mediterranean for its high quality. From the delicate, dry rosé of the Anjou in the Loire valley and pale style clairets of Bordeaux, the popularity of rosé swept over all of Europe and have historically been a part of everyday life.

Pretty much every winemaking region in the world produces some sort of rosé whether it be a sparkling, still or dessert style. While European rosé has usually been produced in a dry style, it was the US that began the "blush", sweet style wines that became popular in the late 1970's.   As a result, many Americans unfortunately still associate "white zinfandel" with all rosé wine and are missing out on a whole world of fabulously dry, flavorful and incredibly diverse wines.

Rosé is basically a lighter style red wine, made with red wine grape varieties, served cold.  Red wine gets its color from the dark grape skins being in contact with the juice, so if you remove the skins early and shorten the time of contact, you'll get pink wine.  And those same skins also give red wine its tannins, so by removing them early you get a pink wine that is structurally more similar to white.

We've always been huge fans of rosé and over the years have made a concentrated effort to educate our customers on the value of rosé for food pairing and quaffing.  A good supply of them is in the shop no matter what the season, but the number of offerings increases in the summertime and our Friday tastings almost always include a rosé.  Well something seemed to click last summer as New Orleanians, and the rest of the US, are finally embracing it and giving rosé its due. According to Nielsen Company, rosé sales in the US market grew 26.1% in 2011 and I excpect 2012 will see an even bigger jump.

Our efforts, combined with Bacchanal and their very popular rosé fest, WINO and other fine wine shops in the city, have paid off and people are coming to the shop in droves wanting to experiment with rosé.  In fact our best selling wine over the past two weeks has been the 2011 Charles & Charles Syrah Rosé with 10 cases sold in less than 2 weeks!

So I've been on a quest to find the best of the 2011 rosés, telling our reps to bring them in as soon as they arrive so we can taste and decide which of these lovely, refreshing pink wines we should stock for your, and our, drinking pleasure.  As promised, we've been sorting our of favorites to taste at our Flite Nite on Wednesday, April 18.  But since there are so many good rosés continuing to come in, I've decided to hold 3 different tastings over the summer with the first featuring the impeccable wines from Southern France.  So please join us this Wednesday for Wild About Rosé Part I, a flight of 6 wines from France.  The tasting is $15 and will feature 6 wines presented by myself, Mike Fabianski and sommelier Kimi Kirivania and I can't tell you how excited we all are about this event!  Due to the interest we've received, reservations are recommended, call 504.304.0635 to hold your spots.  We will accepts walk-ins as spacing permits.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Farm to Table on the Rise in New Orleans

From Covey Rise Farms in Husser
There are a few things we can actually thank Katrina for. We were forced to move forward and embrace change faster than our usual snail's pace.  People came from around the world with new ideas and fervent energy, bringing their forward thinking global consciousness to the city that care forgot.  Combined with the strong will and survival instincts of New Orleanians, a city known for it's decadence and overindulgence is now focused on green building practices, sustainable energy and, most exciting to me, a fast growing farm to table movement.

Lucky for us, we've always had a strong and unique local food culture primarily based on our seafood industry.  Chefs like John Besh, Emeril Lagasse and John Folse and culinary activist Poppy Tooker helped put New Orleans on the map as a unique destination for local food and flavors.  Their longtime support of our fishermen and local farmers markets put meaning to farm to table well before the term was coined. 

Mike Fabianski, HGMF
Now we have even stronger support and more access to our local growers through the Crescent City Farmers Market and the Hollygrove Market and Farm as well as the many community gardens that are popping up all over the city. Young entrepreneurs and chefs are embracing our culinary roots like never before and we are reaping the benefits.  In the last few weeks we've visited three farm to table restaurants and were thrilled with the options we now have for well priced restaurants that support our local food economy.

Maurepas Foods in the Marigny - Chef Michael Doyle, formerly of Dante's Kitchen, has been a Swirl supporter for years.  It's been great to hear about the progress of the project and his dreams brought to life in this renovated corner store on Burgundy Street.  We've visited a few times now and have had great experiences.  From the carefully selected wine list, artfully crafted and affordable cocktails and fresh, creative twists on local food favorites presented in an energetic, comfortable atmosphere, Maurepas Foods should be high on your list of places to try. Maurepas Food, 3200 Burgundy St., at Louisa, 504.267.0072, is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Satsuma Cafe
Satsuma in the Marigny has been a favorite of ours for a while now, but we've been hearing rave reviews about their newly renovated kitchen and added dinner options.  The quiet, intimate atmosphere was perfect for us and the fact that you could bring your own wine for a $5 corkage?  Priceless...Anyway the food was delicious from start to finish, the best ceviche I've ever had, a lamb bolognese that was out of this world, truly everything was delightful!  We will soon be considered regulars...  Satsuma Cafe,  3218 Dauphine St. | 504.304.5962

Sweet Olive in the Saint Hotel - We were looking for a new spot to celebrate a few birthdays with friends and Mike Fabianski (of swirl and HGMF fame) recommended we try Sweet Olive. Beautiful presentations, a wine list that offers 3 or 6oz pours which makes it perfect for pairing with different dishes, and a list of local farmers and ingredients are shown on the menu.  Nice atmosphere for hotel dining with a great combination of hip yet elegant and comfortable decor, we will definitely return!  Sweet Olive, 931 Canal Street • New Orleans, LA 70112 • Tel: 504.522.5400

Monday, April 2, 2012

Wild About Rosé, Chronicles of the 2011 Season, Part 2

We had a great week of rosé tasting and are working hard to find you the very best of the 2011 vintage.  Two standouts for the week were the 2011 Charles & Charles Syrah Rosé from Washington, and the 2011 Fabre Montmayou Rosé from Argentina, while the biggest disappointment was the Farnese Cerasuolo (due to an ordering error the 2009 vintage arrived instead of the 2011), which unfortunately was not an age worthy rosé...

So onto our two gems of the week...Jared Breaux showed up at our weekly tasting and social hour on Tuesday with a little beauty from Argentina, the Fabre Montmayou. Yet another Bordeaux producer who found a home in the mountains of Argentina, Hevré Joyaux Fabre makes this Malbec/Merlot blend with all estate grown, hand harvested fruit from vineyards at 3800 feet.  Bright strawberry and juicy red cherries, nicely balanced acidity and a dry finish, it screams for light fare from the grill.  At $13.50, you gotta try it!

Knowing my quest for the 2011's, David Sobiesk has been gushing about two wines he's been waiting for from the two Charles', Charles Smith of K Vintners (the guy that makes some of our Washington State favorites, Kung Fu Girl, Boom Boom, Velvet Devil, etc..) and his partner in crime Charles Bieler (Three Thieves).  Together they produce the Charles & Charles label and we've been anxiously awaiting their Syrah rosé.  Dave ran into the shop with it on Friday and I just couldn't pass up the watermelon jolly rancher nose all wrapped up in a palate of vibrant red fruit, mineral, spice and racy acid.  This is your perfect summer porch lounging, bayou sitting, picnic wine and we've got three cases coming in Monday or Tuesday.  We can't wait for you to try it, so we are featuring it in our Wednesday Nite Flites this week...We're still waiting for the Charles Bieler rosé from Provence, I'll keep you posted!

Gina Warren promises to bring the Librandi from Calabria later this week, so stay tuned, I'm doing quick Facebook posts when we try something we like.  And while my quest is focused on the fresh 2011's, don't discount some of the 2010's that are in the market and drinking beautifully like the 2010 Ferraton Cotes du Rhone Rosé, 2010 Puzelet KO Rosé and the 2010 Chateau d' Aqueria Tavel Rosé.



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