Thursday, September 18, 2008

Leonardo DiCaprio of Wines

The 2005 Montinore Estates, Parson's Ridge Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon is good for the planet and still so luscious - it's the Leonardo DiCaprio of wines. Like lovely Leo, this wine has definite depth to it. Layer after layer is slowly revealed starting with the dark berry and dusted cocoa aromas. Dark berry balances the leather and chocolate flavors while the taste of baking spices lingers in your mouth. And our environmentalist celeb Leo would approve of the biodynamic (think holistic & organic) farming Montinore practices. Like Leo, this classic is sure to please for generations.

Friday, September 5, 2008


It's back-to-school time and this Swirl Girl still gets a kick out of going school supply shopping. I
got fresh notebooks from Muji and folders from See Jane Work (they have the best bright colors worthy of display in my home office/living room).
Then, it was on to the fun "work" accessories, which in the wine world includes a brand new corkscrew. My new fave is the Rosendahl Grand Cru due to its simple and clean design and because it requires minimal effort - key when you're opening 20 bottles back-to-back. Next on the checklist was a set of Laguiole's cheese knives. Sporting elegant handles and perfect strong blades, they also make it easy to figure out which cheese goes with which knife. If only there was such a things as a wine valedictorian; I'd be sure to get to the head of the class with these supplies in hand.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wine Shop Talk with Blue Angel Wines:

Kym Apota and Norah Kelley, owners of a new Organic and Biodynamic wine shop in Williamsburg.

SwirlSavvy: What made you open specifically an organic wine shop?
BAW: We understand that people are becoming increasingly concerned about what they eat and drink. As this demand increases, so has both the quantity and the quality of organic wines made
throughout the world. We noticed a real void in organic selections in wine shops throughout New York City and saw an opportunity to create our own.
SwirlSavvy: How did you catch the wine bug?
Norah Kelly: I caught the organic food and wine bug while partnering for three years at the uptown organic restaurant A where I met tons of like-minded food and wine drinkers.
Kym Apota: During my four year tenure at Astor Wines, my love for wine appreciated as I had the opportunity to travel around the world meeting winemakers and tasting their wines.
SwirlSavvy: Why "Blue Angel"?
BAW: We named our shop Blue Angel because it was the first name given to organic and environmentally friendly certified products in Germany--though we have no connection to Germany, this is simply where this group started and still exists today.
SwirlSavvy: What is your favorite wine right now?
BAW: Our favorite summer wine right now is the Domaine des 2 Anes Rosé, made from Grenache and Mourvedre in the Languedoc region of France. The winemaker is a 32 year old woman known for her delicious biodynamic wines and this is the first year this rosé has come into the United States.

Blue Angel Wines
638 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

How to Pick a Summer Wine: The Gentler, Lighter Side of Wine

Summer’s soaring temps beg you to step away from heavy Cabernets and check out the gentler, lighter side of wine. When choosing the perfect summer wine for your outdoor engagement party or wedding, think light, crisp, refreshing--and because people tend to drink more in the heat--lower in alcohol. Nothing more prettily suggests summer than a dry (i.e. not sweet) rose. Avoid the simple, syrupy versions and try French roses from the Mourvèdre grape or roses made using the Saignee method for more complexity. Pick wines from countries where you imagine the locals sipping leisurely at sidewalk cafés while basking in the sun, like Spain. A Spanish fave is Albarino from the Rias Baixas region. Made to drink young, Albarino is a crisp, white wine with intense fruit, lively acidity and generally a lower level of alcohol. It pairs perfectly with summer foods from seafood to grilled vegetables. But you don’t need to swear off red wine for summer. Look for light bodied wines like Pinot Noir from Oregon or a Valpolicella from Italy, both capable of standing up to barbequed foods. And don’t be afraid to put a slight chill on your red wine. It is summer after all!

Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain, “Exceptional with Everything” Oh Really?

There's nothing we love more than a challenge. It's in our makeup. We're two women, thirties. One Indian. One Filipina. The first, founder and CEO of a business in the arguably male-dominated wine world. The second, building experience to be a future proprietess of a wine store. Add to this: In New York City. So when presented with the opportunity to play wine and food critic for a night—to pair Rías Baixas Albariño wines, proclaimed to be "exceptional with everything" with Mercat’s offerings —it is impossible and simply against every ounce of who we are, to refuse.

Mercat means “market” in Catalan, the language of the northern Spanish region where owner, Jaime Reixach, is from and where the restaurant’s menu draws its inspiration. The albariños we’ll be drinking also originate from the northern region, and so we’re already anticipating more perfect wine pairings than tragic mismatches.

It’s a beautiful warm Thursday night—and we are tasting two Albariño wines: Alba Rosa from Martinez Serrantes and Pazo San Mauro, both 2006 vintages. We take our time with each wine—assessing them alone and then side by side. At the end, we agree that both are delightful: the Alba Rosa is sparkling with surprising depth while the Pazo San Mauro would bring life to our springtime picnic. Further, we imagine that if each wine were to be personified, they might just be these two ladies, described as such:

Alba Rosa Martinez Serantes Albariño | Scarlett Johansson: "Sparkling with surprising depth"

Alba Rosa Martinez Serantes Albariño | Scarlett Johansson: "Sparkling with surprising depth"
This golden blonde hued wine gives an almost effervescent quality that shoots racy brightness into your mouth. It has the usual grassiness and citrus qualities one expects from this wine. The reason why this wine fits Scarlett most is because it has the quality of lightness but comes with surprising depth of character and fullness in body. The comparison would be perfect were the wine to show great legs, but its light-bodied, lower alcohol nature doesn’t allow it.

Pazo San Mauro Albariño | Cameron Diaz: “Livens up your springtime picnic”

Pazo San Mauro Albariño | Cameron Diaz: “Livens up your springtime picnic”
Cameron would be a fun addition to any springtime outing. Her lightheartedness would make everyone smile and this wine does the same. The light yellow straw color gives way to granny smith apples, peaches, melon, and citrus scents that jump at your nose, smelling like springtime in a glass. This wine begs to be explored further. The crisp and pleasantly tart apple is balanced with pear and makes it the perfect brunch wine.
Now, we move on to the heart of our challenge: Exceptional with everything? Oh really? How do these two beauties handle themselves in company? After the three and a half hours of glorious sipping, chewing, and chatting, among ourselves and the restaurant staff, here are our findings:

No surprise, our lovely wines get along splendidly with their classic and traditional partners: we have raves for the nicely seasoned patatas bravas—not too spicy, not too garlicky—and the padrones/blistered shishito peppers, the char and oil offset by the tartness of the wines. One of us goes wild for the Canelons de Verdura/eggplant wrapped spring vegetables, manchego, and cranberry reduction. And then Chef Lowder sends over Trencat d’Ous/mushroom with salsa verde topped with a fried egg, which again, goes splendidly with our wines. Even the suckling pig/Cochinillo, which we think will surely clash, in fact becomes the surprise of the evening. Like the beauty and the beast, our wines and the pig make an unlikely but harmonious pair.

We ask ourselves for the last time: Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain: Exceptional with Everything?

If not for being the gluttonous bottomless pits that we are, we would certainly have answered YES with an exclamation point. But since we order those two desserts—Torrades Sta. Teresa/fried bread with lemon yogurt and Pa Amb Oli Xocolata/bread, olive oil, and chocolate, our answer must be: Almost. These two desserts with our two Albariños — are disastrous.

Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain: Exceptional with almost Everything.

--Anu Karwa and Marie Estrada

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