While my spunky daughter Margaux naps, I like to utilize the time to write my blogs. Today, as the snow continuously falls outside and daytime TV turns from Wendy Williams to The Chew, I find myself uninspired by the topic on deck. I look to Chef Pete’s blogs, and with all the cooking going on in the background on The Chew, I just end up hungry. Then I think, Where do I get most of my inspiration? From you! The best part of my job is talking to my customers about how their wine choices affected their evenings or what they’ve tasted lately that has really wowed them. While chatting one day, one of my customers said he wanted my blog to feature what I’ve tasted lately, what’s new and what’ll be in the store soon.
Nearly every week, Simone comes over from our Clinton Township store to taste with me. This is an opportunity for vendors to show us new items or have us re-taste wines that have either slowed down in volume or changed vintage. Just yesterday, we tasted through about 25 different wines–spitting to ensure a level head, and about 90% were winners. I hope to bring them all in! Here is a brief description of what we liked:
Andean Sky Mendoza Argentina
Going for up to $10.99 on some websites, this is your new Tuesday night buy-it-by-the-case party wine. Garnering a Wine Enthusiasts Best Buy, these wines will only set you back $5.99, and they’re well worth double that. Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec were the strongest of the line, with a very solid Shiraz and a decent Chardonnay.
Elicio Cotes du Ventoux France
Sustainably farmed–just a step below organic–and available in red, white and rose, the Elicio wines are soft, fruity and elegant. The white is a bright and refreshing vermentino, and the rose, though extremely limited, is sure to be a springtime hit. An unusual blend of Grenache and Merlot, the red is light-bodied yet powerful. Think Featherweight boxing here. This summer, when the temperatures rise and you don’t want a highly alcoholic Zinfandel, but you still want something that will stand up to smoky grilled meats, this is the one to grab! For under a Hamilton, these stylish wines will be on every patio and porch as soon as the snow melts.
Lange Twins Lodi California
Many of you may know that Gen 5 Cabernet Sauvignon is one of Nino’s best-selling wines. But did you know that Gen 5 stands for the five children of the Lange Twins, making them the fifth generation of winemakers? Though I love the Gen 5 wines, these Lange Twin wines are, pardon the pun, a little more grown-up. The workhorses here are the Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, but the Zinfandel and Pinot Noir were excellent too.
Peirano Estate Vineyards Lodi California
More and more good-quality wines are coming from the Lodi appellation in California, and what’s funny is that many of them have been around for almost a century! The Peirano family has been making wine there since 1879, and the heirs have made it their goal to show what beautiful wines can come from Lodi. By far Zinfandel, the same varietal Giacomo Peirano first planted, is my favorite. Their Immortal Zin is soft, rich, and layered. The Cabernet Sauvignon is bold and spicy, with complexities and nuances I would expect from a much more expensive wine.
Tasty Tuesdays with the Nino’s staff are fun, but this is where a lot of serious business goes down. Each time a vendor walks through the cellar door with its bag of tricks, I think, Could this be the next big hit? Most of these wines will be in our stores by February, so let me know how we did! Do you think they’re a hit or a dud? I will tweet pictures of what we taste in real time, so if you follow me @ninoswineexpert, be sure to ask what made our palates sing and what made us want to spit even quicker than usual.
– Jennifer Laurie