Saturday, August 30, 2008

10 CANE TRINIDADIAN RUM TASTING Saturday August 29th, 2008 Here

     Ravinder Sharma our spirits specialist at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits, 202-363-4265, ) organized with our local wholesale rep a tasting of this really polished, smooth, elegant, finely-nuanced pure sugar cane rum from Trinidad and Tobago that does not use molasses in the production. This 10 CANE , first-press sugar cane rum ( ) is all handpicked and double=distilled to give this silky feel and texture on the palate. Last night our pour er was making mojitos with this rum and I decided I wanted to taste it in it's pure form and so brought out my Riedel bowl-burgundy wine glass and had her pour me a bit to taste from and use for my signature pictures taken " through the glass with the rum in this case, not wine in the glass. I think it adds something a bit different taking them this way.

     As you can see from the pictures the tasting was a success and I think most people that tasted could tell the difference that this 10CANE offers. I learned from our rep about six months ago that it's called 10 CANE because it takes ten sugar canes to make each 750ml bottle. I wrote in her summary that I was pleased to see that people I did not think would buy it actually did when they tasted it and could taste it's excellent quality. It's now ON SALE here for $36.99 and is  in my humble opinion worth every penny of it. However, this is a lot more than many rums on the market today so tasting is key to getting it selling more and on the tips of peoples' tongues when they think of premium, small-batch rums to really enjoy and not rush through. Make it a special moment when you drink it. I like to use a brandy snifter when I drink my rum. I will now consider buying some of this for myself when I run out of the WESTERHALL PLANTATION West Indian St. David's Grenada pot-distilled rum, $26.99 Batch # 8008 that again reminds me of a fine, bit sweeter-tasting cognac ). 

     I spent time as a child ( my summers and holidays ) in Trinidad and Tobago when my father Harry Quinn worked there in Port of Spain at the American Embassy. It was there that I had to register for the draft for the Vietnam War, with my father, I still have a picture of it, long hair that touched my shoulders! Anyway, back then I were friends with the children of the family that makes FERDIE'S rum and I still remember many great times together, especially snorkeling off their property. They were really nice to me, welcomed me and made me feel at home.

     Here are the pictures I took last night to try and capture the moment. I was at the same time conducting my own tasting of four wines : two reds and two whites : the " Cuvee French Kiss " Sauvignon Blanc ( no semillon, rare in this case ) 2007 white Entre-Deux-Mers Bordeaux from CHATEAU LA MOTHE DU BARRY $11.49, Joel Duffau, Moulon ) that was bright and pretty and went down so seamlessly; the RAMBLIN WHITE dry California blend with just a splash or Riesling I think to give it more richness and a bit of tropical smooth fruit - great to sip all by itself, bought it for this past 4th of July here, 2008 and it went over really well just as it did tonight, $8.99 2005 : and for the two reds -  a Spanish tinto TERRAI, $8.49 2007 100% Garnacha ( Grenache, forward, ripe Rhone-style ) from the Carinena area of Spain that was bright and really easy sipping for this warmer weather ; and the 2005 red Bordeaux old-vines CHATEAU DES LEOTINS Bordeaux, mis en bouteille au chateau-estate-bottled, Sauvetierre de Guyenne - for more technical info - $8.99, from a great year, a bit young still and will complement many of the things we enjoy this Labor-Day weekend  here in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. HAPPY LABOR DAY to one and to all!. All the wines showed well, they all sold well and had their champions. They were all great values, too. I do not have pictures of my tasting except the picture of the two black young ladies enjoying some of the RAMBLIN WHITE. All the wines are here and available. We do wine-tastings here each Friday and Saturday. Call Mike or me, Tony ( 202) 363-4265 to order or for more information.
     Hope you enjoy these photos.  Both Ravinder and I are in the photos. I was trying to get a smile from our talented, professional taster and I finally think I succeeded with the one I took at the end of the tasting with me.Come and check us out here at the store at 3423 Connecticut Avenue, Washington D.C. North West. We're just across the street from the Uptown movie house and two blocks away from our fabulous National Zoo. We have fun at the tastings as well as sell the products. You can see this in the photos. We're a place where you can come relax, learn, taste meet other people interested in wine, liquor and beer in a comfortable, non-stuffy environment. We sell the products themselves and the people behind them, not the scores and the points. Come see for yourselves. Often we'll have a wine, a beer and a liquor tasting all at the same time either on Friday or on Saturday.

     Cheers, happy Labor Day once again,   TONY

Friday, August 29, 2008

Owner Max di Leanardo of Di Lenardo Vineyards, Friuli, Italy Here May-June 2006 With Importer Brennan Downey, Son Of Michael Downey

     It's always fun to have Max di Lenardo of di LENARDO Vineyards (, Gonars, Friuli ) here in the store. The first time I met him a couple perhaps it was in 2004 (? ) I thought : " here's a man that had just walked off the runway of a Armani shoot! Handsome, piercing bright, warm eyes that tower over me. We have now been selling Max's wines for almost five years and they are really well-received here by our customers. 

     Michael Downey who I used to work with at the Mayflower Wines & Spirits back in the mid 80's first brought me a Max Di Lenardo wine that I could not refuse. He brought me the " Ronco Nole " ( we now still sell it, the 2006, $16.49 at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits,, call 202-363-4265 for more information ) which is a delicious dry, bright, round, fruit-forward concoction by Max of Refosco( an indigenous grape variety to Friuli- like a Rhone a bit, a Rhone and a Cabernet Franc perhaps blend ? ) and Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It was decadently delicious the first time Michael brought me some, they must have really toasted/charred those barrels, wow! They have toned it down a bit, it's lost a touch of it's warmth and fire but still has an appeal that is irresistible/unmistakable!

     Michael has since passed away I am sorry to say but his son Brennan, daughter Shannon  and wife Peggy are keeping his memory and his company Michael Downey Selections ( Lorton, VA. ) alive, well, kicking and full of great wines and values, too. Brennan now comes to see us here. Before that it was Bill McKinney that I believe actually discovered di Lenardo and brought it to Michael's attention? They are all a good, solid team. We will be receiving a new shipment of value wines from them this coming week of September, 2008. I'm typing now on Friday, August 29th, 2008 as it drizzles softly outside.

     We just sold out of the TOH Tocai dry ( some great weight and mineral as well as citrus taste and backbone )white. I wrote it up in one of my recent store emails to bring attention to it. In Friuli they are all really proud of their Tocai dry white wines. The Pinot Grigio wines may pay the bills in large part but it's the Tocai that gets them really excited and you can both see and feel their pride when they speak of their Tocai wines. We do have some of the excellent 2007 Pinot Grigio ( what's not to like? It's so appealing and forward and pleasing, like filtered sunshine through the Pinot Grigio grape right into your glass! )now in time for Labor Day weekend, $12.49 so stop by and get some of it and the excellent red Ronco Nole. Count on finding more of the TOH Tocai here next week. Cheers, have a great Labor's Day weekend, too.  

     Here are four pictures that I took of that visit with Max and Brennan back in late May, early June ( I can't remember exactly ). Hope you like them and see what I'm talking about when I first met Max. Ciao,  TONY

New Stags Leap Wine Cellars Pictures of Pricing/Front & Back

     I've just taken these new pictures of Stag's Leap wine-pricing schedule that I got there when I went with colleagues from Forman Brothers back in June, the 29th, 1996, a Saturday. We had a great tour and tasting conducted by John Foust with assists from others there at Stags Leap Wine Cellars in Napa, California. Refer to the blog I just did for the rest of the story. It's just a couple down from this one. It's Friday, August 29th, 2008 here at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits where I manage the wine department at 3423 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington D.C. 2008. There's a nice, refreshing steady drizzle of rain, our second day of much-welcome rain as everything was getting really rangy and parched. It's also twelve years after this great visit of mine to Stags Leap Wine Cellars. Gabriella , one of our favorite customers was just here and asked me whether I had seen the movie BOTTLE SHOCK yet and I said " no " but that I was looking forward to seeing it. She enjoyed it. Stags Leap Wine Cellars won the blind wine-tasting in the category of red wine way back in 1976 in Paris at the Caves de la Madeleine. That was thirty-two years ago, how time flies, how the landscape of wine has changed in that space of time. It used to be so much simpler back then there certainly was less variety. In my humble opinion I liked it much more back then when it was more about just the wine(s) and not such a business/corporation/machine to move-pump cases through the system. Was it easier to dream back then ? People took those dreams and ran with them, realizing them. Now many of those small dreams have now been bought by moneyed interests... but I'll save that for another time. For now I just want to dream about that lovely Napa valley, the hills where these vines have taken root, the rosemary running free by and large, the few olive trees I saw at Rutherford Hill vineyards and looking down onto the Rutherford Bench from my father and my seat outside the Auberge du Soleil restaurant as the sun baked/warmed us and we drank our bottled water and a half bottle of Ridge's Zinfandel, the Gyserville I think that was rounder, more velvety and a nice treat after all the Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons that we had already enjoyed or were about to in the Napa valley.   TONY
     Cheers,  TONY

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Firehook Bakery In Cleveland Park N.W. D.C. ( 7/07 ): A HOT SUMMER'S DAY With Cheryl Blaufeld's ( manager ) Beautiful Platters Of Fruit & Cheeses )

This sure was a very hot early evening/ late afternoon in June of 2007 here in the grape-trellised courtyard out back in Cleveland Park's ( northwest Washington D.C. ) as we at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits hosted a South African wine-tasting on a sweltering/really humid day.

And yet from the pictures here you can see that everyone adapted themselves to these conditions and had a wonderful time drinking South African red and white wines as well as some of Cheryl's delicious treats from the Firehook Bakery. She gave it 120% of her time, effort and energy as well as did everyone else involved. Read on and scroll down for the rest of this story ...

It was one of those really unbelievably hot afternoons here in Cleveland Park and we were all going over to enjoy being in the beautiful grape-arboured garden at Firehook Bakery( 703-263-2253, ask for manager Sheryl ) and enjoy some dry red and white South African wines. I was just looking at the pictures here on my computer screen and thinking how beautiful all the colors of the green arbour and the fountain, the tables spread with both glasses, wine bottles and one after the other of lovely baskets of fruit and cheese, nuts, pates and also cookie, bread and other sweet " treats " arrangements.
Ken and Erica helped pour and Cheryl bustled about helping us whenever she could along with Elmer. Many of you our favorite customers showed up and we met many new ones, too. Just look at your smiles in these photos and you can get a picture of how much fun we all had on this really hot, humid day here.

Cheers to past fun neighborhood Cleveland Park events and to the still many more to come. The wines were all available for sale this night through the store Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits. They still are, we sell lots of great South African wines here daily. Call us at 202-363-4265. Give Mike or me a call here if you want any assistance on the wines of South Africa, Importer John Morrison of Boutique imports was just here last Saturday pouring the DE MEYE ( red Syrah-Cabernet blend, and the dry white Chenin Blanc ) , the PINE CREST ( Sauvignon Blanc ) and the MORESON ( Sauvignon Blanc ) wines. We introduced the BEAUMONT " Raoul's " 2007 red dry blend of six grapes, Bordeaux and some Syrah grapes, too. It sells for $16.49 and was well-received.

Enjoy these pictures and come see us for some of South Africa's best wines, too. TONY