Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jean & Niece Anne Trimbach of TRIMBACH winery, Ribeauville, Alsace, France Here Last Night Tasting Their Current Releases, Wed. Sept. 24th, 2008

     It was great to have Jean here again with us again : I think it was his third visit to the store. We had a blast and a number of you managed to show up and meet both Jean and his niece, Anne. She is the daughter of his brother Pierre who makes all the wines. Hubert is their father and so as Jean pointed out on the label of the Reserve Pinot Gris, 2003, $24.99 ( their names are on the front label, all three except for Anne's name - she's the " new " addition , i.e. the future of Trimbach , and charming and beautiful, too ) three generations of Trimbach's are represented.

     Everyone showed up, this is big stuff! We had John W. Laird ( Vice President , European Estates , NY of importers Chateau & Estates ) show up first to be sure everything was set and ready. I assured him it was or soon would be. I was not worried, I have done hundreds of these and they are all, believe me important and have to be orchestrated and managed well. Jean and Anne are our rock stars in this business and when they showed up they both looked great and the part! Jean who I know well enough walked right past me by the tasting table and that was a fun touch of his. I liked it. We were both ready to have a great three hours here and that we did. 

     I introduced everyone first to Jean and Anne and then John. Things went smoothly. People came over and tasted and bought and Jean signed their bottles. At the end of the tasting I got Anne to sign some of the bottles as well and they wines shown beautifully, all of them, so stylish, so polished, so much a reflection of their various unique terroirs! Wow, this was impressive. I loved both the simple 2005 clean steely and so fresh, $16.49 and the reserve, fuller, richer more intense Rieslings: the Reserve 2003 Pinot Noir, $21.49 has a lovely spicy, clove taste, medium-to-light-bodied that will complement many a dish. 

     We tasted the 2005 Pinot Blanc, $16.49 and the 2005 Gewurztraminer, $22.99 and the other three I have just mentioned. For a real treat we tasted the 200 " Cuvee Des Seigneurs De Ribeauville " Gewurztraminer, $41.49 and the 2001 " Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling , $49.99. I could not get over the finesse, brightness and overall elegance/refinement of the 2001 Cuvee Frederic Emile - that is a great bottle of wine!

     Anne is the daughter of Pierre Trimbach, Jean's older bother who makes the wines while Jean helps promote them. This is Anne's first visit to the U.S. and it sounds as if she will be helping Jean promote the sales of the wines. Jean kept telling me during the tasting that I could give her my orders. I liked that. I'm sure if I had that she would have had them her this morning a l'heure comme il le faute! 

     Eric Platt and Christian of the Pinnacle House were also on hand to be sure that everything went smoothly. I was pleased to have Christian here to give him additional orders as we sold more of the wines. I ran into both Xavier ( wife ) and Emilio( girlfriend ) with there significant others outside at 8 PM when I walked to NAM VIET restaurant to see the owner  Ricky and let him know about his special guests coming to dine soon! It was great to see you again Emilio! We love Nam Viet. I know that Eric Platt ordered some to take home to his wife. When he told her that he was here at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 202-363-4265, ) shae asked him to pick up some food to bring home from Nam Viet ; one big family we are.

     We have all these wines from last night as well as others from TRIMBACH. Call Mike or Tony at 202-363-4265 and ask for vintage, price and availability.

     It was a treat to have both Jean and Anne here last night. They both really were super as they poured, explained the wines and signed bottles. You can see in the pictures how good everyone looked. For more technical information on each of these wines go to : 03 89 73 60 30 / fax : 03 89 73 89 04 , 15, route de Bergheim, 68150 Ribeauville. Cheers, thanks- merci Jean et Anne - revenez nous voir!   TONY

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Luncheon/ Wine-Tasting / Anthony Quinn Presents First Daniel O. Newberry Series Of Year 2008 At The DacorBacon House, 9/17/08

It's a pretty long story but one of our customers of Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits asked me a few months ago whether I had any interest in presenting the first luncheon at the DACOR BACON house at 1801 F. Streets N.W. D.C. in the Daniel O. Newberry series? I said that it sounded interesting to me and that I wanted to know more. Everything sounds interesting to me and I was certainly interested in Ed's proposal. It's a window to the outside world for me and besides it was in a historic house in Washington D.C. and it could get the wine store I manage more customers, all of which I liked the sound of. Ed, a retired Foreign Service ambassador brought me a brochure and more information. In my own fashion I only glanced at all this at first. I think the brochure and the post card really got my attention when I realized that it was an organization for current and retired Foreign Service ( State Department, American Embassy personnel ). I was hooked! I would do this for my father Harry Alan Quinn ( a retired career Foreign Service diplomat ) and my mother Nancy Proctor Quinn that stood by him and helped in so many ways while serving oversees. I am indebted to the both of them for providing me with a wonderfully rich tapestry of countries, people, languages, sounds, sights, smells, etcetera that have shaped and rooted me , enriching and nourishing me and making me incredibly democratic in everything that as I do with being as open-minded and tolerant/accepting of others, too. I was often the sole American while oversees with them and my voice and actions represented America and I was both scared at times about that as well as always proud.

So it was for my parents that I wrote out in my own handwriting and gave out to the forty or so people attending the lunch these words : " I'm thrilled to be here conducting a wine-tasting / wine-food-pairing luncheon at the Dacor Bacon House this Wednesday, September 17th, 2008. Thanks to my parents Harry and Nancy Quinn I got to experience some wonderful areas of the world. My father was a career Foreign Service officer. It is for him and my mother and all those times that I stand before you waxing-poetic on these four wines and how they complement this excellent meal before you ".

Everyone was so helpful, professional and courteous to me at this luncheon. I was ushered out into the court yard on this absolutely beautiful Indian summer day and immediately recognized Brian Googins one of my old customers. It was great to see Brian and get a chance to speak to him for awhile. I then spotted another old customer of mine, Cameron Sanders. We all spoke some and then I took my leave of them to go introduce myself to some of the other guests huddled around in small groups. They, too were just as nice and happy to meet me. We were all enjoying the LUIGI BOSCA, Argentinian white made from the Torrontes grape, 2007 ( $9.99 ) called " La Linda ". I got several positive comments on this wine. What was not to like? It showed beautifully all on it's own, with or without food.

Before I knew it we were being called to our seats and the luncheon that awaited us in the warm, richly textured, worn with tradition, radiant with care and attention tables all aglitter with shiny forks and knives, bone china plates and sparkling glassware. Wow. I liked all of this. Richard got up to introduce me and then I said a few words. I had ten minutes to speak about the wines and about my parents as I saw it : plenty of time. I intended to get up during this two-hour lunch and walk around the four other tables set with happy guests. I would make it a point to say " hello " to pretty much each and every guest and I think I did.

The baby lamb chops were served with mint sauce, duchess potato flores, Parmesan cheese and a fresh vegetable medley. Some warm and appealing biscuits were passed around, too. For this lamb I chose to serve two wines to spice-up this luncheon. Most people only serve one wine per course and I feel this is wrong and a bit restrictive. I mean, each plate has various foods and different flavor profiles and this one , single wine is supposed to complement them all?!? No way Jose!! So for this lamb I chose a 2004 ( great year, red Rioja from Spain made by MONTE REAL, a " crianza " that was mostly Tempranillo but which also included I believe about 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was medium-bodied and quite rich and held it's own against all the various flavors on and off the plate. Many people seemed really pleased with this selection from VINTAGE IMPORTS in New York. They donated the bottles to this luncheon and I thank them for their generosity.

It seemed to puzzle and intrigue most everyone that there was a second wine there by their plates, both poured and both offering quite a different palate color. The second wine was a dry rose that had a peach color to it, made by CHANDON vineyards in the Napa Valley ( Carneros ) and made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes. It was a " new " addition to their portfolio and the folks at the Pinnacle House was nice enough to donate it to this wonderful luncheon. It, too worked quite well. Most people that I could overhear at our main table were grappling with first having a dry rose and then trying to figure out if they liked it and if it worked with the food before them? I think it worked beautifully with everything , maybe not quite as well as the MONTE REAL rioja with the lamb but with everything else wonderfully. It did not overpower any of the flavors, just added to them ; helped showcase them better. People slowly warmed to this rose. I think they really enjoyed the novelty of having two wines served with the same course to see what wines worked best with what foods on each plate?

The last course was the baked apple garnish atop the decadently rich and wonderful chocolate torte with a raspberry sauce. I only got two-three bites in haste of this but it sure was tasty. I had to try it with the last wine, a LOOSE END, 2006 Barossa, South Australian dry rose. It had much deeper color, darker, too than the CHANDON. It was bolder and had more of a chance holding it's own against the chocolate and the raspberry flavors. The last vintage , a 2005 was also sweeter and fruitier and I thought that this would also be interesting in this wine-food pairing? And damned if it did not work ,and work quite well! It wasn't perfect , mind you but it was pretty good and the two coexisted nicely and did not repel the other. That's not bad all things considered.

It was donated by the Australian branch of the Country Vintners Imports now located in Ashland, Virginia, home of the Randolph-Macon College where I got my BA in English literature back in 1976, Wow, that sure was a long time ago.

As I pointed out the beauty and the fun of doing these wine-food-pairing meals is the sense of adventure and the serendipitous pleasure one derives when one makes the right combinations. Sometimes it simply does not work , this time I think that we did pretty well and provide and interesting backdrop of flavors and tastes to really stimulate and in some cases challenge old notions and one's own palate. For me that is all good.

Richard got up and made his closing remarks, thanking Ed for bringing me to the Dacor Bacon house ( and asking us all to toast him even though he was not there because of a prior commitment ). Richard also presented me with a gift of a signed copy by author William D. Calderhead of the book : DACOR BACON HOUSE. Thanks everyone for this and I want to say that I really enjoyed my time here being with you all. It has meant something special for me especially knowing that it was in my parents' honor that I was here.

I made my closing remarks and then circulated through the tables one last time getting my menu signed, meeting/shaking the hands of more people. They smiled and really thanked me and that made me feel especially nice. When Anne-Catherine spoke to me in French at the end there it really was the icing on the cake for me. I loved that. I hope to see you again Anne-Catherine with your husband Kevin. Cameron and Brain, it was great to see you both, too. You both said so many nice things. I met Jaia, Tina, Peter ( who also knew me ), Erin ( about to start her illustrious career in the Foreign Service, " good luck ! " ), Susanne ( part of the committee ), Lisa ( a wine sommelier ) and her husband, Lucy, Sherry, Christopher and more.

I want to thank you all for making this so very memorable and enjoyable and I hope to see you all again in the future. Come to 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. D.C. ( Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits, (202) 363-4265 sales@clevelandparkwine , ) where I work sometime and we can share another glass or sip of wine together there. Cheers to one and all and to building new and positive moments on those of the past. I am sorry but this time I did not take my camera and so there will not be any pictures. You''l just have to use your imaginations and trust me that these two hours at the DACOR BACON house were simply marvelous! TONY

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday, September 22nd, 2008 : Quite The Day Chez Moi Et Pour Mes Pensees !

It's really been quite the active day that just kept on giving and giving and giving and making me do and do and do more. Exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time because here it is 11:54 PM at my house and I have just finished taking a number of pictures of the five VAJRA Piemontese bottles, Italian reds that I have just recently been blogging about. I am in fact sipping some delicious " Coste & Fossati " 2007 Dolcetto and enjoying it thoroughly. Normally I would never be doing this but these are demanding times indeed. I also just tasted and really enjoyed some of the Barbera D'Alba 2006 Superiore of G.D. VAJRA. It's also showing quite well now and that pleases and thrills me enormously as these five bottles of G.D.VAJRA were all opened last Friday, September 12th by owner Giuseppe Vaira and left at the store after his most-successful in-store tasting with our customers at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( ).

As I wrote earlier I have been tasting these open bottles now for more than a week and taking mental notes and enjoying their different odysseys. Tonight I still had not tasted them really since this past Thursday when they charmed and warmed me and sang sweet lullabies and rocked my boat all in various pleasing ways! I wanted to see what had happened to them. So tonight I chilled them all slightly and tried them with the roast pork tenderloin that I had just grilled outside for my family's dinner tonight. I started with the Freisa 2005 and then proceeded immediately onto the Barolo " normale " 2004 and then onto the 2004 Barolo " Bricco delle Viole ". They were all amazing and very pleasurable/drinkable even after all this time. Funny, I mostly sampled them after the meal and they were still wonderful " earthy, pungent, deep and complex, dusty-dry with herbs, spices and minerals and still, profound fruit that was beautifully integrated with the other components of tannins, acids and alcohol. These are amazingly well-balanced/focused wines made for the long haul and not the short-term delight even though they may be and often are consumed that way. Cheers to Aldo, Milena, and Giuseppe Vaira. They have produced some intriguing, beguiling, terroir-terrific dry, complex red wines to charm and titillate the palate along with the foods that they accompany ; for these are most-assuredly food wines from tip-top to pointed toes.

There is a bit of oxidation showing mostly in the 2003 " normale " Barolo as well as a bit in the 2006 Superiore Barbera as it warms up in the glass and in the finish on the palate. Incredible, really. I'm so excited to know that eleven days after being opened that they are still quite resilient, enjoyable and highly drinkable and entertaining, too.

I got up and walked our dog and started to compose my " to-do " list as I walked. It was extensive and I only accomplished a portion of the things I wanted today. I wrote four poems thinking about Michael Downey's 60th birthday ( it would have been today ) and his remarkable two children Brennan and Shannon ( now grown ) and my wife and my two remarkable children. I kept thinking how proud Mike would have been ( how proud Peggy must be ) and in turn how proud both my wife and I are of our remarkable daughter and son. That is really something and it produced four poems and put a big smile on my face as I drove my son to a doctor's appointment this afternoon. We spent some really good time together and he even remarked upon it and furthermore thanked me for it ; wow.

Both Shannon and Brennan both pointed out yesterday at their 10th Anniversary celebration of Michael Downey imports how long they had known me and that it really meant something to them both. Well, it really meant something to me seeing them both in action at this party celebration yesterday : they exuded both charm and radiated confidence and good cheer. I snapped many pictures of their happy countenances and will include them shortly in a blog here. They represent our future : the future of our world ( along with our two children... I could not miss the parallel that Peggy and Michael had a boy and a girl just like my wife and I ) and the wine world. We will shortly pass onto them the reins and the keys lock, stock and barrel and I feel confident that they will do us proud. At their party yesterday at Etrusco I only drank white ( I knew I would be tasting some of these VAJRA reds again soon ), mostly Italian where the Downeys got started : Fiano, Erbaluce, Gavi and Gambellara. I did break down and have a glass of the Cheverny-something(?) Loire white but found it so intense and heavy-handed after the Fiano that I had to go back to Italian whites.

I took all the pictures of this splendid event and I thought to myself : " what may I contribute if anything ? " My answer was a story about my impressions. Since I was there mostly for the Downeys what were my impressions? As I said my impressions of Brennan and Shannon were that I had never witnessed them both so happy, free and comfortable in their own skins : wow, so gratifying, really. Peggy you sure have done a great job along with Michael ; but you already know that!

I watched Peggy and she, too was radiant and free and almost theatrical in her gestures, embraces, dancing to the live music in one of the rooms , and in her movement of her hands as she painted stories and regaled her guests. I took lots of pictures of that, facial expressions and hands tell so much.

Here is at least one of the four poems that I wrote earlier this afternoon. I may put them all in tonight : it depends on how long I hold out as I am quite tired after this busy day on a beautiful day here in Virgina : warm, bright, sunny - my wonderful day-off. I will start with POEM NUMBER 4 :

This Da Da Day I
Thin Hin Ink To Pa
Pa Ma Ma Aper Put
Pen Mine Po Po Oised
Noised As Thin Hink I
Of Son Dau Dau Augh
Aughter Son My Mine Ours
So Pro Pro Roud On
Nine Ten E-Leven Clou
Clou Boi Boy Girl
Whirl Oister Oyster Ours
Oisterous Be I We Thin
Inking Grow Up Qui Qui
Uick Blink LInk Linking
Lives Ours Lyn Ynne
To Ony Pe Pe Peg Mi
Mic Ichael Us Yes Oui
Si Four Bo Oth Coup Ouples
Each Have Boy Oh Boy Gir
Irl Whirl Swirl Prou Prou
Roud Each Us Of Them So Yes
Very Proud Chil Hil Ildren Ours ...

#4 le 22 Septembre, 2008 Lundi apres-midi a 2:15 PM en Virginie, en pensant de nos enfants et les enfants de Peggy et Michael Downey aussi.

One One's Bi
Ir Irth De DEa
Eath The Be Time
To Be Real To Ex
To Xist To Ist
To Live Live Stri
Stri Arrive Rive
Droite - A - Ahhh
Oui Si Gau Gau
Auche Sco Sco Sco
Sch Osch Cosch
Good Be Live Good
Fu Fu Un " X " " Y "
Pose Posed Su Su
Uper Imp Oui Pose
Over Oh Ohh Lap
Apped Sapped Slapped Wa
Wa Aked Wacked Sacked Tapped ...

#3 le 22 Septembre, 2008 Lundi apres-midi a 2:10 PM en Virginie en pensant de la mort de Michael Downey et qu'est ce que ca peut dire?!?

Pro Prou Roud
Rowd Owdy So
Mi My Mi Their
Heirs Michael's
Chi Hi Hello Child
Hilds His Son One
Dau Dau Aughter Too
He Mi Mi Ich Ich
Ichael Would On
60 Yes Ieth Earth
Birth His Day Would
Been Have So Pr Rou
Poud Of Bre Ren Sha
Ha Ha Shan Tennan -
B-B- Hanon-S-S
Kids His So LIve So A-A-A +
Days These

#1 Le 22 Septembre, 2008 Lundi apres-midi a 12:03 PM en Virginie. Michael Downey would have been 60 today.

Dat Peg Dat Dow
Ow Pow Owney
Down She Oui
Yes Groun Roun
Rounded She
Chil Ra Ra
Two Raise Now
Self All By Aft
After Mike Ad To
Dieu He Us Bade
" X " His Ex Xit He
Qui Uick Made
To 'Bove On Them
Down Owney Look
Smi Smi Mile Lo Lo Long
Wide Wild Ha Ha
Appy Sa Sa
Sappy He Yes Now?!
Like Ikely Not Much Fun
Still Have To ...

#2 le 22 Septembre, 2008 Lundi apres-midi a 12:41 PM en Virginie. Cheers, hope you liked/followed them. TONY

P.S. It sure was a full day and I have more to write about today later when I have a chance. I've got to get some sleep mow 'cause it's really late. Bonsoir a tout le monde.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Michael Downey Would Have Been Sixty Tomorrow, Monday September 22nd, 2008

This afternoon I drove into Washington D.C. with my destination being Etrusco restaurant ( used to be Vincenzo's years ago and is still owned by Vincenzo who dashed back to and fro making sure everything went seamlessly ) and a celebration of Michael Downey Selections ten-years of successful wholesale wine business. Michael who passed away a few years ago started the business with his wife promoting small Italian vineyards from the various regions of Italy that went from Piemonte, Friuli, Oltrepo Pavese, Veneto, Tuscany, Umbria and also down into Naples if I am correct. I think so though I may have left something out.

I used to work with Michael ( in the mid eighties ) at the Mayflower Wines & Spirits down on M Streets N.W. there at the corner with New Hampshire Avenue. The law offices of Arnold & Porter were above and we had a blast running it as a team with Michael, Sidney, Iris ( the cashier who would say : What, you only want a half-pint, I spill that much ! " with a smile and a twinkle to her beautiful eyes ), Leon the other cashier, Larry Jennings ( our invaluable delivery man and man-behind-the-scenes, I'd greet him with " Lawrence m' boy " and he'd respond " Quinn m'lad ! " ), Karen ( our bookkeeper ) , Mo Parzoe ( our liquor man who really got me the job when he left Colonial Liquors just down the street where we were both working at the time ), me ( Anthony Quinn ) and an ever-changing cast of other characters and players. These were wonderful years filled with boundless possibilities, discoveries, wonders and serendipitous moments to fill the hearts and souls of many. I will never forget them, ever! I loved working there and learned so much from everyone including Michael.

It is at the Mayflower that I met many of the people that Michael went on to work with : Andrea Fossi ( FOSSI Chianti, Tuscany ), Alessandro Furlan ( FRANCO FURLAN, Friuli ), Elizabetta ( who's family owned VIETTI, Piemonte ) and more. Elizabetta, Allessandro ( Sandro ) and Andrea all came over to learn English and get some American experience ( retail ) under their belts before returning home. They stayed with Michael, Peggy, Shannon and Brennan Downey in North Arlington, Virginia. I got to know them mostly at the store but was fortunate enough to also see them some outside the store. These are some of my very fondest memories. Bridges of trust, respect and friendship were built in these years and they later helped Michael and Peggy get a firm grip in Italian importing that has grown stronger every year and now, ten years later is a well-respected, admired and " good-fit " for many of us out there in the retail or the restaurant trade. I heard a number of really nice complements today as I wove my way through the crowd at Etrusco taking pictures, saying my many " hellos " and just taking in the scene filled with jovial, happy people, relaxed and ready to mingle and enjoy each other's company. Peggy, Shannon and Brennan all shone today. They wore almost continual smiles along with Guillaume ( Shannon's husband ) and Bill McKenny who has been with them since the very start.

I remember one of Michael's first visits to Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( where I manage the wine department ) almost as if it was yesterday. Remember Michael and I go way back and here he came with his beautiful old-vine woven six-bottle carrying basket with a handle filled with intriguing Italian wines for me to discover. I remember two in particular and was thrilled to discover both. I bought both immediately to include in our collection at Cleveland Park (, ). One was from Piemonte Italy made with a red indigenous grape that I had never heard of before ( only a few hundred cases are made of this wine in it's entirety! ) called Gamba di Pernice ; and the other was a Friuli red blend from Max of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Refosco ( another indigenous red grape variety from Friuli ) called Ronco Nole. I loved both immediately as well as their stories. Since I am mostly a story-teller these immediately fit into the fine fabric of woven and still-to-be-woven wine stories/selections that I will both carry and sell.

I remember talking to Peggy after Michael's death and discovering many things about him that I did not know : he was a history buff. I knew already about the Checker cars and the music as well as his infinite love of wine, women and food. He was ever the charmer and warmed many a heart his way both male and female. It was that Irish cheer and determination, dedication and warmth. It warmed me many a time as well as often amusing me as well as spell-binding me. When it did not work on me I often saw it first-hand work on others. We shared many exciting times together at the Mayflower Wines & Spirits and often depended on the other in busy times there. It was a pleasure to know and work with Michael most of the time. I hope he would say the same about me. I think undoubtedly that we had formed a mutual respect and admiration for one another, not on everything but more than not. I'm happy to have known him.

So, here on the eve ( it's 11:31 PM chez moi a Annandale, Virginie ) of Michael's sixtieth birthday ( I learned this tonight from his daughter Shannon ) I just want to say that I raise a glass symbolically now ( and will again tomorrow ) to toast you Michael and your fine family and all the memories past. You would have loved this party tonight. It was a beautiful day and night for such a party and Etrusco is a wonderful place to have it. Shannon shared with me that it was at Etrusco ten years ago that she and Guillaume had their wedding party there at Etrusco. Almost in the same breath as I said I knew it as Vincenzo's she said that she had worked there when it was called that. Good history all of it and it makes for a really firm foundation from which to build the future immediate and slowly as it unravels it's red carpet for us to walk down in celebration of , as Peggy wrote : " Good friends, good times and good memories " - and many more still to come as either Shannon or Brennan wrote tonight.

I took many pictures of this fabulous event and will include them soon in another blog for everyone to enjoy.

Driving to Etrusco I wrote four poems to celebrate this event and I will type them here onto tomorrow's blog for all of you to hopefully enjoy.

It's 12:17 A.M. on Monday night, November 17th, 2008 and I have finally added these pictures that I took at Etrusco restaurant that eventful, wonderful Sunday afternoon. My fifteen year-old son helped me and so thanks to him here they are. Hope you like them. They each tell stories and combined they tell even more.

They start and end with the picture of Michael Downey harvesting grapes. It's really a great photo. The pictures of Peggy, Shannon and Brennan through my wine glass I took just before leaving and I think though blurred they are fitting as all this takes place around wine and you can see it in each of the pictures.