Monday, April 4, 2011


Tonight I attended a nice primer at North Loop Wine and Spirits in the warehouse district of Minneapolis on organic, sustainable, and biodynamic wines. The teacher, @jasonkallsen knows his shit, has been around the cities biz for some time now, and his classes are really worth seeking out. Enough plugs! I learned some fun facts and had a great time:

-There are more sulfites in a glass of apple juice than a glass of wine. If you think it's the sulfites that are giving you a headache, you are probably wrong. There are also more sulfites in a glass of white wine than red.
-The time you were in Europe on vacation and were able to drink multiple bottles of wine at dinner, only to wake up with no 'sulfite' allergy or hangover was a fluke. Their wines have just as many sulfites as ours, only they are not declared on the labels. You were probably just living in the moment.
-Organic, Organically Grown, Biodynamic, Fair Trade, Green, and Sustainable are all murky code words on wine labels. Even I can't give you a lowdown on how they are (in)directly related. Do a little research if you're interested, but most likely, BIODYNAMIC is the word to be most interested by (in my opinion).

If you're in Minneapolis and love wine, check out Jason's course offerings (and let me know... I want to go with). But if you're not in Minneapolis and can't attend any of the classes, I recommend you search out another wine-school type setting in your area that'll satisfy your desire to learn; that is if you're not into the whole Sommelier or WSET certification thing.

After the class was over, I was gunning to head home and crack a cheap(er) bottle of wine. I realized all the wine I had at home was not necessarily cheap. Hence, I decided to take a quick peek at the wine cooler at said wine shop and grab an interesting bottle rather quickly (because I had decided a white wine was in order). I took little time to explore the options, but after seeing a white Rhone blend to which I was unfamiliar, I grabbed, and went. (I'm just getting deeper into wines of France but the last white Rhone wine I had was a Chateau L'Ermitage Costieres de Nimes blanc from 2007 and it was STUNNING. Color, Aromatics, Palate, it was a wholly exceptional wine for the price: ~$10 on closeout. It could've been the vintage, or a little bit of age, but DAMN! Buy that wine if you can find it).

The 2009 Cuvee des 3 Messes Basses, what I chose, was BLAH for me. An interesting blend of 40% Clairette, 40% Grenache Blanc, and 20% Bourboulenc, I didn't quite know what to expect. With some seafood, it might shine through. It had a funk on the nose at first that I didn't expect, though given my relative inexperience with white Rhone wines I could be full of BS. Later on after being in the glass for a bit, there were pretty floral perfumed notes that came and went. The minerality grabbed at my tongue throughout, making me wish I would've had some shellfish or cheese to eat with the wine. I have yet to really frown on a wine on this blog (as the frequency with which I write is limited enough so that I can highlight the winners), but I would probably not buy this wine again unless it came on a recommendation from a respected associate. Needless to say, every bottle consumed is another lesson learned. While this wine didn't make me jump for joy, it did satisfy my desire for a unique white wine that would teach me a thing or two.

Have you had a unique wine that has shaken your senses recently? What parameters do you stick to when buying a new wine? What are your favorite wines that dance on the $15 priceline? What was the last wine you bought on a whim without much research or even reading of the label? Any favorite white Rhone wines in the LESS THAN $20 Price Range? Please share your feedback below or submit questions/comments to

Cheers to Spring!