Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We Want the (P)unk

Last night I was pleased to be a part of a special wine seminar. Though I was technically 'working' there, along with my co-worker 'Bill the Cities 97 Wine Guy,' I felt more like a wallflower at an extraordinary show.

The event was, 'The Black Wines of Southwest France,' with special guest speaker Chris Osgood and his partner Adrienne (sp?). Mr. Osgood's name was put on my radar a few years back by a colleague who suggested I meet the man, for we might have a lot in common. It wasn't until last night that I finally had the chance. For those of you who don't know the name, Chris Osgood fills the pages of Minneapolis folklore, some might even call him a local legend. (See: The Suicide Commandos, Springboard for the Arts, Star Tribune Article, McNally Smith). Though he's woven thickly into the fabric of the local arts scene he's also quite a staple in the Twin Cities wine scene as well. As you can read in the S'Trib article, he and his partner are importers of some crafty (big) wines from southwest France. Hence, the reason he was leading the tasting last night.

Malbec is hotter than Hades in New World wines right now (See: Malbec) but if it wasn't for Cahors and the grape formerly known as 'cot,' Mendoza wouldn't mean squat (See also: Negrette and Tannat). Without expanding on personal tasting notes and wine-rating-rants, I can simply say that the wines we tasted were big, and oh so funky. Huge and natural, dark and luscious, herbal and fruity, they gave perhaps one of the best representations I've tried to this day of the definition of 'Terroir'. Chris and Adrienne are passionate about the wines they represent and the people who make them. They boasted about dinners past with their lovely French neighbors, pairings with cassoulet and mushrooms, homemade apple pastries and coffee. I could barely subdue my jealousy of their stories, travels, and gastro-experiences in France, as I felt a yearning for the days I spent in Southern France a few years back. I was awed and inspired, introduced to new wines and new people. When I'm turned on to new wines and regions in France I can't help but dive into the books and resources that surround me, soaking up every little piece of info I can get my hands (and palate) on.

Though I might never be a total French wine geek, I'm excited to be on the beginnings of my way there. At present, I can say that I love the FUNK that I smell in many of France's coolest little wines, and thanks to an old PUNK, Mr. Osgood, my palate, mind, and senses are a whole lot more informed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My New Place in the World

This week marks my 'debut' as the 'wine-guy' at our northern Twin Cities stores, Northgate Liquors, in Blaine and Andover. Though I've already been there for three months now, which feels like much shorter, I have finally settled in and started to grow with the company. Doug's Dozen is the theme of our weekly email that comes out tomorrow where I pick 12 of my favorite wines we carry in the store. I will be pouring and talking about them at a tasting on Friday and Saturday nights. It's quite flattering to have the responsibility and respect that I've been given and I'm gracious to the ownership and management for that opportunity. I picked wines across the spectrum of price, flavor, and location, from a cheap Portugese Vinho Verde, to a Tarry French Vacqueyras, a fresh box of Italian Garganega, and a pricier Oregon Pinot (Penner-Ash where I got my winemaking start). I'm really excited to get people's opinions and showcase some unique and value driven wines that many people are unfamiliar with. It's been great getting to meet many people who have been in the local industry for years and share stories on our experiences; many of my friends who have relatively little experience with wine have also enjoyed the abundance of wine open at our place and the conversation and learning that comes with it. I don't quite know how I fit in to the bigger picture of the wine industry yet, as I am STILL getting a foothold, but as each day passes I thrive on the new experiences and opportunities that come my way.
As my Brazilian neighbor would say, Saude!