Swirl Wine Bar & Market

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Calling all Wine Geeks, Sutton Cellars Tasting!

Wild yeasts; low alcohol; high acid; minimal oak; unfined; unfiltered; hand bottled; hand corked; natural winemaking....music to my ears in terms of wine production in any part of the world.  But Carl Sutton is doing this in the unlikely place of his urban winery in the historic Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. David Kenney from Uncorked will be pouring 4 of Carl's cool, geeky wines at our Wednesday Nite Flites this week and this is going to be a night you don't want to miss!

Carl Sutton
Carl created Sutton Cellars in 1996 and started with an annual production of just 350 cases. He has increased production to 3000 cases, half of which is sold as part of a really tasty jug wine program. His grapes grow mostly in Sonoma County (with a little Mendocino in the mix), and are often single vineyard wines. At a time when many claim personal care, Sutton's brown label wines are actually filled and corked by hand. Often this kind of care implies high costs, but Sutton stays amazingly affordable at $17-$30 a bottle.

His brown label wines, which we will taste on Wednesday, are produced in lots of about 100-300 cases, making them very low production wines.  As per their website, the goal at Sutton Cellars is to coax wines of subtlety from the vineyard striving for lower alcohol, higher acid and less oak than is the commercial norm in California winemaking.
Carl displays his individuality and passion in the quality wines he produces. He is probably most noted for his Vermouth, the first artisanal wine of its kind to be released in California in a decade.  Made from a base of Sonoma wine and infused with 17 botanicals, including rosemary from the bush outside the winery, the Sutton vermouth is round and big-bodied, with a drier profile than most brands on the market. We'll have you try it alone first and then as a sprizter with sparkling water and lemon. The perfect apertif, it's dry and elegant, in an herbal-citrusy-savory way, and at the same time rich and mouth-filling from the fortifying brandy. 

We'll also be tasting his rose, a red made with 60 year old Carignan vines and a dessert style red.  Here's the info on the wines, but really you just need to come taste them! 

Vin de Noix - a California take on the apertifi drinks of the Dodogne region in France -  red base wine is fortified up to 17% and flavored by macerating green walnuts, spices and other botanicals.  The wine is aged both in glass demijohns and older neutral oak barrels.

2010 Rattlesnake Rose - made from 60 year old vines that are dry farmed and certified organic.  Barrel fermented in in older barrels with natural yeast and aged sur lie for 18 months.  Unfined, unfiltered and no added sulfites; only 150 cases produced.
La Solera

2010 Carignane - made from 60 year old vines that are dry farmed and certified organic.  Aged 18 months in older French oak.  Unfined, unfiltered and no added sulfites; only 150 cases produced. This single-vineyard old-vine Carignane is a scrappy mix of plum and just-cracked peppercorns for easy drinking.

La Solera - A blend of vintages from 1999- 2007 of equal parts Zinfandel and Syrah with 15% Carignane. Aged in old barrels with a portion of the wine baked in the sun in glass demijohns. It evokes Madeira, Banyuls, sherry, even whiskey, with whispers of burnt orange, and a golden richness from its time resting in the sun, a classic method he picked up in Spain.

Wednesday Nite Flites, November 28th, 6-8pm with David Kenney from Uncorked.  Be there!  No reservations required, special $10 flite because we REALLY want you to taste these wines!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Let's Talk Turkey, Annual Thanksgiving Hit List

Those of you who shop with us know that we just love food and wine pairing so helping to make your selections for holiday meals is a real treat. What should you drink with all of those sides and mounds of turkey? There are so many answers to that question that sometimes the best choice would be to open a bubbly, white, red and rose, put them on the table and let people chose for themselves because it’s all about personal preference!

Every year I give a few pairing tips and recommendations from our staff.   We’ve chosen traditional and some more adventurous options at different price points so there is something for palate and every wallet.  Each of the wines will have a tag with our silly turkey photo above to let you know who picked it and if you purchase any 4 of these wines for your celebration, we’ll give you a 10% discount.

1.  For the wide array of flavors on the Thanksgiving table, sparkling wines are a no-brainer. Bright acidity, fruit and yeasty undertones make bubbly extremely food-friendly. Especially good are Brut Rosé and Blanc de Noir, which can take you from the lox or chevre hors d'oeuvre to the vinaigrette salad right through the turkey and potatoes and onto the pie. The Pinot Noir grapes in these wines provide body, some tannin for texture, red-fruit character, complexity and acid balance. And in general, the bubbles from natural carbonation from the yeast, in concert with the wine's acidity, help cleanse the palate for the next course.

Our Picks: Beth: Terres Dores FRV Sparkling Beaujolais, $20; Mike: Calixte Cremant d'Alsace, $18.99; Matt:  Berlucchi Sparkling Brut, $18.99;  Kerry: Graham Beck Sparkling Rosé $19.99; Kimi: Jean Velut Champagne, $41.50

White wines with lively fruit and acidity and little to no oak are also versatile. With its aromas and flavors of citrus, apple and pear and zippy acidity plus herbal notes, Sauvignon Blanc pairs with everything from butternut-squash soup to green salad to turkey with a dressing made of briny oysters and herbs. Even notoriously tough-to-pair Brussels sprouts will sing with Sauvignon Blanc. Alsatian and German whites like Rieslings, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Gris with their tropical fruit, citrus, green-apple, pear and mineral notes combined with thirst quenching acidity, work with almost any Thanksgiving dish except the cranberry sauce.

Our Pick:  Mike: 2010 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas, $21;  Matt: 2011 Closel Savennières la Jalousie, $23.99;  Beth: 2011 Andrew Rich Tabula Rasa, $19.99; Kerry: 2011 Contesa Pecorino, $17.99, Kimi: 2011 Enjingi Welschriesling

Fruity reds and dry rosés are a favorite "go-to" pick for Thanksgiving. They bring soft, easy drinking affordability to the table that's perfect for the cornucopia of flavors and large group setting that Thanksgiving entails. With their bright fruit flavors, they can perk up the milder dishes and enough have structure to hold their own with the more robust courses made with sausage and herbs. As an alternative, a good Dolcetto or lighter style Barbera can offer similar characteristics and are real crowd pleasers.

Our Pick: Mike: 2010 Tami Frappato, $17.99; $16.99;  Kimi;  2009 Villa Ponciago Beaujolais Fleurie Reserve, $21; Beth: 2010 Sutton Cellars Mendocino Carignane ; Kerry: 2011 Domaine Skouras Zoe Rosé and 2011 Terre Nere Etna Rosso

 Bigger reds with spicy, dark fruit and berries like Syrah and Zinfandel can bring out the best in cranberry sauces as long as the wine has soft tannins and ripe, forward fruit and the sauce is balanced -- moderately tart and not too sweet. 

Our Picks:  Mike: 2009 Radar Syrah, $17.99;  Matt: 2008 Dominio IV Technicolor Bat Tempranillo/Syrah, $23.99; Kimi: 2009 Ultraviolet Cabernet; Kerry: 2010 Clos de Caveau Vacqueyras, $20.99; Beth: 2009 J. Daan Cabernet Franc, $23.99

The most popular single wine to choose for Thanksgiving is Pinot Noir. This versatile varietal has tangy red fruit of strawberry and cherry, with nice acidity to balance and low levels of tannin. With elegance and a touch of earthiness to lend complexity, Pinot Noir will subtly support most things on the Thanksgiving table without overpowering them. Cranberry sauce and dessert are exceptions again, with the sauce too tart and the dessert too sweet. Something a little more adventurous, but with a similar profile could be an Etna Rosso or a Sicilian Cerasuolo.

Our Pick:  Matt: 2009 Pierre Andre Bourgogne Rouge, $15.99; Kimi: 2009 J.J. Pinot Noir, $19.99; Kerry: 2008 Moises Holmes Hill Pinot Noir, $36.99; Beth: 2007 Cristom Eola-Amity Hills Eileen Vineyard, $45
So there you have it! But remember the most important thing is to drink wines that make you happy with people that make you smile, because that is what it's all about!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Our Weekly Newsletter, November 5, 2013

This Week at Swirl Wine Bar + Market

eating grapes.jpg
Wednesday Nite Flite to Oregon!
After our trip to Pacific Northwest with James Moises, I can now add Oregon to my short list of wine region obsessions, second only to Italy as my favorite place to drink and eat!

I spent yesterday writing about our trip and my new wine quest which is to drink a new 2008 Oregon Pinot Noir a week until every bottle in the city is gone!  And all of that writing about Oregon made me want to drink more Oregon wines and share them with you so our Wednesday Nite Flite this week will feature 3 Oregon wines: the newly released 2011 Moises Pinot Gris, the 2009 J.J. Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (our new best selling Pinot!) a Syrah Tempranillo blend by biodynamic winemaker Patrick Reuter (see my post below on Patrick and Dominio), the 2008 Dominio IV Technicolor Bat.  It's a really great lineup, I hope you'll join us!  And here are my 2 blog posts and a little Oregon wine for thought:
Falling in Love with Oregon, One Pinot at a Time
2008 Pinot Quest, Dominio IV The Black and the Red

Election Day Sale, Tuesday November 6, All Day!

We will all need beverages to either celebrate a win or drown our sorrows so today only, take 15% off a 12 bottle mixed/same wine case or 10% off 6 bottles! 10% off all cheese, meats, pestos, olive oils and crackers too!  Afraid to use glassware because your friends might break something?  Take 10% of Govino shatterproof, stemless champagne flutes and wine "glasses" too!

Wednesday Nite Flite to Oregon Wine Country, November 7, 6-8pmbucket o grapes.jpg
Join sommelier Kimi Kiviranna and Mike Fabianski for a great flite of wines from Oregon!  The newly released 2011 Moises Pinot Gris, the 2009 J.J. Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (our new best selling Pinot!) a Syrah Tempranillo blend by biodynamic winemaker Patrick Reuter, the 2008 Dominio IV Technicolor Bat. $15 gets you 3-2 oz. pours of delicious juice, no reservations required!

Italian Wine and Cheese Pairing at St. James Cheese! Wednesday November 7, at 7pmI'll be joining Chris Noyes from Winebow and Casey Foote for an evening of delicious Italian wine and cheese!  Chris will be pouring 6 exciting wines from the Allegrini family portfolio with wines from their Tuscany and Veneto estates paired with Casey's best picks from the regions. The event is at St. James and reservations are required, call St. James @ 899-4737 or click here to reserve on line, Allegrini.  $30

Friday Free For All, November 9, 6-8pmPeggy Hymel is joining us this evening for a Latin wine themed evening with wines from Chile, Argentina and Spain!  Walter is out this week, but we're working on a guest appearance from one of our favorite chefs... Check out our Facebook page on Friday for the lineup, chef and menu!

Saturday Hollygrove Happy Hour November 10,  4-6pm
Saturday afternoons are heating up at Swirl as we are THE place to pick up your Hollygrove Market box of fresh, local produce.  The infamous $25 Hollygrove box contains roughly 12 items at the peak of their season and can be picked up at Swirl on Saturdays from 4-6pm during our 1/2 priced Happy Hour.  See instructions here on how to order your box

New Tuesday "Cheesy" Hour with Casey Foote, November 13th
Casey Foote, the infamous cheese monger from St. James Cheese is the latest addition to the Swirl staff of talented, passionate professionals and on Tuesday nights we'll be giving he and Matt Snyder the opportunity to dazzle you with wine and cheese pairing ideas.  More details in next week's email, French wine and cheeses will be on the menu!

Special Wednesday Nite Flite with James Moises, November 21, 6-8
Tonight is a truly special flite where James will share his 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages of his Moises Pinot Noir Yamhill Carlton.  Besides drinking three killer Oregon Pinots, you'll learn about the differences in the 3 vintages and how they effect what is in your glass.  Reservations are required for this event, please call for information, 504.628.1226

Special Wednesday Nite Flite Nite with Dave Kenney from Uncorked Wines, November 28, 6-8pm Uncorked's wine guru Dave Kenney joins us for a really cool lineup of wines from Sutton Cellars in Mendocino.  You know that I don't often feature California wines in our Flite Nite, but these are really special and Dave is a great presenter so come out and show him some love on his first flite nite!

Friday Free For All with Antonio Molesini, November 30, 6-8pm 

Join Antonio for a special tasting of wines from Umbria and Tuscany!  We'll also be releasing our itinerary for our 2013 trip to these two amazing wine regions and chef Walter will have some Italian themed small plates for us tonight.

Mark the Dates, Wine & Cheese Classes @ St. James!
November 28, The Killer B's, Barbera, Barbaresco, Brunello and Barolo, more details TBA. $50, 7pm. Call St. James for reservations at 899-4737.

2013 Wine & Culinary TravelAntonio's Italy:  July 20-27, 2013; Details and itinerary this month!
The Oregon Road Show:  Harvest 2013, October 9-13; Details and Itinerary coming soon! 

Drink Like a Pro @ SerendipityWe are so excited to have chef Chris deBarr, whose palate for interesting and different wines is a perfect match for our own, just blocks away in his new restaurant, Serendipity. We are already discussing events and his "Drink Like a Pro" events are a great way to taste and evaluate wines like those of us in the "business"!  This Thursday Chris welcomes Debra Lewis, of the wonderful French wine importer Vintage '59 and their amazing portfolio of artisanal winemakers, to New Orleans. Chef Chris is holding a special edition of "Drink Like A Pro" Wine Seminar on Thursday, Nov. 8, from 6-7:15 pm at Serendipity.  Call the restaurant for more information and reservations at 504-407-0818

Swirl and Savor
Our wine and food blog...here are a few from the past 2 weeks, but there are lots more at swirlandsavor.

Falling in Love with Oregon, One Pinot at a Time...
me at yamhill.jpg
"Oregon is a pretty fabulous place that makes fantastic wines without any pretense.  It's a place where quality over quantity is the rule, sustainability is a lifestyle and where visitors always feel welcome and the winemaker is never far away…Click here for the post, Falling in Love

The 2008 Dominio IV Pinot Noir The Black and the Red
We spent a few hours tasting and talking with the passionate, dynamic winemaker/proprietor of Dominio IV wines Patrick Reuter on our recent trip to Oregon.  His tiny production wines are represented by James Moises in New Orleans and we've been big fans for awhile. His winery and tasting room are located in an old granary in McMinnville and will definitely be a stop on our Oregon Wine Tour 2013. Click here for the post, Dominio IV

New recipe on swirl and savor...
"...Everyone in the group loves to cook so each brought a dish with Kerry and I providing some appetizers and the meat course.  I decided on grilled pork loin, and a recipe that was fairly easy yet really flavorful, featuring my two favorite herbs for Italian cooking. Thanks to Kerry, sage and rosemary are in abundant supply in our garden!  Click here for Italian Grilled Pork Loin

Fish en Papillote
"Now that the MS Ride is over I feel like we can finally get back to cooking which means I can get back to writing about cooking!  One of the things I've really been enjoying lately is cooking fish and vegetables in parchment paper.  It is a super easy, quick, healthy and flavorful way to prepare food and while certain combinations give better results than others, you really can't go wrong!  Using filets of your favorite fish, fresh herbs and veggies served with pasta, rice or quinoa, the combinations are endless..."  Click here for Fish en Papillote

Positano Bites Deep...

"After 13 hours of flying and two tiring train rides, the five of us, later tagged as "le cinque donne", lug our suitcases down the very long train track in Napoli. At the end of the platform a pack of Italian male limo drivers awaits, holding up signs, maneuvering around each other, ready to whisk the "stanieri" to destinations on the beautiful Amalfi Coast." Click here for the post: Positano

A Dangerously Simple Summer Cocktail
"Sunday evenings = cocktail time.  We've done a long, hard bike ride at the end of a busy week, and a nice refreshing beverage is the perfect recovery tonic!  We love citrus based cocktails and this one with fresh lemon juice, ginger and agave nectar added to some Square One Organic Basil Vodka is the BOMB!"
Olio, Limoni e Ospitalità del Sud (Olive Oil, Lemons and Southern Hospitality)
"...took a drive down the coast to visit a frantoio, an olive mill owned by friends of Vincenzo, perched atop the high cliffs of the Sorrentine Peninsula. Stomachs rumbling from the swervy coastal switchbacks and the small breakfast consumed hours ago, we were anxious for our lunch on the "dal patriarca", the local term for a coastal garden by the olive mill where they entertain guests lucky enough to know about this place..."  Click here for the post and a recipe Olio, Limoni

True Italian Lasagna
"The first time I had this amazing dish was in Tuscany last year on our wine and food tour.  Antonio's sister knows an Italian nonna who is in her 80's and makes the best lasagna you've ever eaten.  She made us two big pans that arrived at our villa still warm from the oven, and we served outside in the garden with some delicious Cortona red wines.  It takes her 2 days to make it, and now having done it myself, I know why."

I've been doing a series of posts on the recipes for the soffritto, the ragu, the pasta and the besciamella; now it's time to put it all together!  It's best to make this over a two day period....the links to the recipes are highlighted below.

Humble Beginnings, Italian Soffritto
Next Step, Tuscan Ragu
Time to Make the Pasta
Almost there, the Besciamella
True Italian Lasagna

Hope to See You Soon!
Beth, Kerry, Matt, Mike, Kimi and Sangi

Swirl Wine Bar & Market

3143 Ponce de Leon Street
New Orleans, LA 70119

Sunday, November 4, 2012

2008 Dominio IV The Black and The Red; Falling in Love with Oregon, One Pinot at a Time...

This weekend's treat!
We spent a few hours tasting and talking with the passionate, dynamic winemaker/proprietor of Dominio IV wines Patrick Reuter on our recent trip to Oregon.  His tiny production wines are represented by James Moises in New Orleans and we've been big fans for awhile. His winery and tasting room are located in an old granary in McMinnville and will definitely be a stop on our Oregon Wine Tour 2013.

Tasting some new wines with Patrick at the Dominio IV tasting room.
Patrick and his wife Leigh Bartholomew, who has also been the vineyard manager at Archery Summit for the last 12 years, bought land in Mosier Oregon with Leigh's parents in 2002. Their Three Sleeps Vineyard is certified Biodynamic and here they produce Viognier, Syrah and Tempranillo.  But knowing all of the Oregon wine jobs were in the Willamette Valley, they've based their operations in McMinnville where they source biodynamic and organic fruit from Moe and Flora Momtazi in McMinnville, the Stermer Vineyards, owned by the Lemelson family in Dundee and Bella Vida in Dundee.
3 Sleeps Vineyard

 The name of their wines, like viticulture, the word Dominio comes from deep in the past. The Spanish use the word to mean land or territory or dominion, where as the Romans have a secondary meaning of a feast or banquet, thus a feast from the land. Dom is also of the sun as in Domingo (Sunday). The number four represents four people, four seasons, four varieties of the grape and four quadrants of our symbol the labyrinth. Four is also the number of the earth. (from Dominio's website)

We featured Patrick's Dominio Pinot Noir Poetry and Roses in our 2008 Oregon Pinot Show but this is the first time we've tasted The Black and and the Red (where black midnight meets deep red cherry...) and it is a show stopper.  While it could still use a little bottle age, it opened up beautifully after decanting.

The Momtazi Vineyard in McMinville
 He sources 50% of the fruit from each Momtazi and Bella Vida vineyards.  The Bella Vida vineyards feature Willamette Valley's flagship dirt Jory, the basalt-based volcanic soil found in most vineyard sites in the Dundee Hills.  High in clay content and iron, Jory is reddish in color and nutrient-rich. The Momtazi vineyards are grown on the shallower volcanic basalt soils of the Nekkia series seen throughout Eola Hills and McMinnville.

This is a powerful pinot, dark black cherry fruit and plums with cinnamon and baking spices, it still has a bit of tannic edge to it buts opens up with decanting to a plush mouth feel with layers of complex fruit.  Very balanced, tons of aging potential!  And at $35.50, it is a steal! 175 cases produced.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 92 Points
The 2008 Pinot Noir The Black and the Red sports a captivating nose of sandalwood, exotic spices, violets, black cherry, and blueberry. This is followed by a dense, ripe, loaded, suave offering with layered fruit, exceptional concentration for the vintage and 2-3 years of aging potential. This superb Pinot has a drinking window extending from 2013 to 2021.  


Falling in Love with Oregon, One Pinot at a Time...

Picking grapes at the Wahle Family Vineyard in Yamhill

Oregon Pinot Noir has been slowly, subtly, seeping its way into my wine consciousness since I met James Moises in the summer of 2009.  Wrongfully lumping it into my not so favorite category of new world wines, it has always been lurking just a bit under the radar for me.  And even though our wine reps have been bringing me Oregon Pinots for years, it was my personal relationship with James that made me want to learn more about this place that was drawing him away from his lifelong medial career and home town of New Orleans to make wine.  Well I got all of my questions answered on our trip last month with him to the Willamette Valley.

The Holmes Hill Vineyard, a 310 acre site in the Eola Hills

Oregon is a special place, and while there are a handful of big money, fancy wineries in the area, the majority of the producers are small and passionately making artisan wine from tiny, individual plots of land that they are farming themselves or from carefully selected purchased fruit.  Take Mark Wahle, James' business partner, as an example.  His family planted the earliest commercial vines in 1974 on a hundred acre plot in Yamhill.  He and his mother Betty Wahle manage the vineyard from the tending of the vines, picking of the grapes, and maintaining long term contracts to sell fruit to other wineries, as well as using it for their own wines.  One foggy, rainy morning we assisted in the picking of 3 tons of grapes with Mark, Betty, James and one worker, that were being sold to Ponzi. They are the real deal; farmers and stewards of the land who put their heart and soul into those vines and it is hard work!

The Carlton Winemakers Studio

Mark and James both currently make their wine in an eco-friendly, recycled-material-using, cooperative winemaking facility where a bunch of top-notch Oregon winemakers all share equipment and resources.  The Carlton Winemakers Studio became a leader in "green" winemaking when they came LEED Certified,  Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, an internationally recognized green building certification system. There is a wonderful environmental awareness pulsing through Oregon wineries and an amazingly collaborative, friendly wine community.  Winemakers and owners talked freely about what wines they made and how they made them.

Biodynamic winemaker Patrick Reuter of Dominio IV

And then there are the wines themselves.  I have to admit, I thought I would get bored with drinking Pinot for 5 days straight, but I didn't, not in the least.  The wines are the the perfect blending of the old and new world; subtle, elegant, higher acidity levels but still with beautiful, intoxicating fruit.  The different vineyard sites and vintages offered such unique expressions of the grape that I just couldn't, and still can't, get enough.  And what a treat to be spending time with Mark and James who know all of the winemakers and vintages and selected the most beautiful examples of what Oregon produces for our drinking pleasure!
One of our favorites from the trip.
And most importantly, Oregon is a pretty fabulous place that makes fantastic wines without any pretense.  It's a place where quality over quantity is the rule, sustainability is a lifestyle and where visitors always feel welcome and the winemaker is never far away…

James pouring a taste of the 2012 Yamhill from the tank.
So I'm on a bit of an educational quest right now in terms of Oregon wines.  And part of that quest is involving the drinking of at least one 2008 Pinot per week until the 2008's are gone from the city.  Not that 2008 is the end all be all vintage, but I had to start somewhere!  Each week I'll be writing about the wine that I've chosen, sometimes they will be available for retail, but sometimes not like the Willakenzie I had the last bottle of last week...and yes the educational research is also for an upcoming customer trip that I am putting together for next year's harvest, but more on that later!

Last week we popped the 2008 Willakenzie Estate Pinot Noir Aliette and this week's victim was the 2008 Dominio IV The Black and the Red. Look for my posts on my 2008 Pinot Quests weekly on swirlandsavor.


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