Friday, October 31, 2008

French Owners, Husband & Wife Monique & Jean-Paul Paquet of DOMAINE DE FUSSIACUS, St. Veran/ Pouilly Fuisse Friday 9/26/2005 In-Store Wine Tasting

It's always a great treat to have the owners and or the winemakers come and taste their wines at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits (,, 202-363-4265 3423 Conn. Ave. N.W. Washington D.C. 2008 ) and this was no exception at all! We had already been selling really well both the Pouilly Fuisse white burgundy as well as the Saint-Veran. Both are owned and run by Monique and Jean-Paul. The Pouilly Fuisse 9 DOMAINE LES VIEUX MURS - we currently have the 2006, $27.99 11/1/08 ) is managed by Jean-Paul while the Saint-Veran ( DOMAINE de FUSSIACUS, we sell currently the 2005 $23.99 11/1/08 ) by Monique. Both are estate-bottled wines. Their son is also involved and he came to see us later by himself when Alphonse Mellot was scheduled to taste in our store one evening. His pictures have already been included under that tasting.

Here are some pictures from our marvelous in-store wine-tasting of both the Pouilly Fuisse as well as the Saint-Veran. Laurent Givry ( president of Elite selections with Cindy ) was at the tasting as well on this Friday evening. I hope you get some of the chemistry of the evening in these pictures. It definitely was an animated, fun time with some real warmth and interaction between Monique and Jean-Paul and our customers. Lots of Franglais was spoken to bridge the gap between the two languages. Between Laurent and me and everyones'patience and help we survived/thrived marvelously this wonderful evening of three hours from 5-8 PM.

Before I go any further I do want to mention that this was a duo-wine-tasting with two separate yet connected wine-tastings going on simultaneously side-by-side. We also had a Greek wine owner/maker pouring his family's wines. I have included here pictures of both wine-tastings as well as a number of customers that stopped to taste. They are some of our favorite customers and I wanted to get pictures of them to include at some point just like this. Imagine that?!?

There are a number of pictures this time where someone has their eyes closed and I included them anyway. I did this because their is a lot of joy and their faces do radiate contentment even though they may have their eyes closed for that split-second. Oh well. Hope you like them anyway.

     I found the pictures of Monique and Jean-Paul's son when he did his tasting here later with Alphonse Mellot of Sancerre, importer Laurent Givry and owner Arya Campbell of the California Laurel Glen Winery. They are all in these pictures. Cheers, more to follow soon.   TONY

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Owner-Visionary Riccardo Cotarella ( FALESCO, Ferentano, Montiano ) In His Own Words-Paraphrased Oct. 26th, 2006 At Johnny's Half Sheel, Wash. D.C.

It was great to finally meet Ricardo Cotarella the owner of Umbria's FALESCO wines at Johnny's Half Shell ( used to be La Colline, and sorry I spelled it wrong in the title! ) on Capitol Hill by Union Station on October 26th, 2006 just a bit over two years ago. I did not know what to expect but any expectations I might of had formulating at the time were dashed,surpassed and tripled and quadrupled and more! I had a blast and was thoroughly inspired/fired and ignited, too.

It was a private luncheon that I was invited to with others in the trade. I arrived a bit late and Riccardo was already beginning to wax quite poetically/passionately about his wines. We were still on the entry level of the Vitiano line as I slipped into my seat with Kay Mallon ( directs Winebow Imports here in Washington D.C. ) to my left and Sue the owner of a small fine wine shop in Shirlington, Virginia on my right I believe. Riccardo was facing me across the large table just to my left, three feet from me with Mike Postasnik directly across from me. David Pinzolo was there, too to translate and fascilitate a smooth tasting/luncheon. So was Patricio. Kelly from Palena was there, too just a couple of seats to my left away from me. I took some great pictures during this event which I loved and also snapped a number of pictures which I now must find and include at some point in this blog.

It was no easy feat for me to get to this luncheon. I had some help as I left the store for almost three hours, driving like a madman down the Rock Creek Parkway and around the Lincoln Memorial/Washington Memorial and Tidal Basin to bypass as much traffic as possible and then arrive on time. Parking, too was a real problem and I had to drive around for ten minutes or so before really struggling to fit my car into a very tight space ( my several years as a wholesale rep really assisted me here ! ) and then walk a couple of long blocks to get to Johnny's Half Shell! I was bushed by the time I got there but thrilled to finally be there and collapse.

I started writing a mile-a-minute as Riccardo had lots to say as he was quite focused and quite passionate about all his wines from start-to-finish. He took great humble pride in all that he has accomplished, that was quite evident from the first. Across the table from em he seemed like a nice man. I warmed to him quickly and began to hang on his words, hoping to write them down and record them as fast as he spoke them. This was a daunting task indeed and one in which I succeeded only perhaps 70% unfortunately. I wish that I had had a camera rolling and capturing both image and sound all in one. I'm amazed that more people do not think to do this. This is real history taking place at events like these and no one does anything much if anything to preserve them for later. I try and do my part and write like one possessed I did! I, too for that am quite proud.

As you read these words of Riccardo's you can see how well or badly I did depending on how much of it makes sense to you and what you can understand from them? I will try and fill the gaps in with my own words as I believe that Riccardo had a number of really wonderful expressions and much to convey of interest to anyone really interested or in love with Italian fine wines.

It's Thursday evening at 12:16 AM now ( midnight just ) October 30th ( now 31st ), 2008 as I begin this labor of my love. I will learn and benefit from revisiting now this wonderful three-hour period in my life just two years ago. Being as it is quite late, however I will take my leave now and get some much-needed rest and resume this tomorrow when I am fresher.

The " tomorrow " I referred to is sadly now December 1st, 2008 at 10:11 AM and I am home with my dog waiting for an electrician to come fix something here. The rain has gone away and it is much nicer than yesterday with all the dampness/wetness/coldness everywhere. Brrr. It was nice to get out and walk : stimulates the thoughts.

It is a " labor of my love " ( I was feeling quite poetic when I wrote that ) as I realize that some of these blogs of mine ultimately benefit me as much as anyone. They are certainly written from my own. personal, humble I hope perspective, too as I want to add something to the equation so to speak whether good or not depends on who's reading it and what they decide. For me it is introspective and therapeutic and often exhilarating - a rush of emotion and adrenalin that's welcome and warming and exciting.

Bottom line is I met Riccardo for the first time here and was really pleased and inspired by him, his words and actions and wine of course. My BIG DISCOVERY was his white indigenous Lazio Roscetto that worked with all the foods just as he said it would.

We enjoyed a wonderful meal, too at Johhny's Half Shell starting with appetizers of roasted Criple Creek aged-tenderloin ( the Falesco Sangiovese 2005 and the Falesco Merlot 2004 were served ). I enjoyed both wines and especially the fruit-forward flavors of both that had brighter red, toasted cherry-berry flavors and less sharpness or dryness of tannins.

We then passed onto the main course of chicken in Creole Etouffe sauce with green onions and Basmati rice. The accompanying wines were the Falesco Montiano Merlot 2001 and the 2003. The 2001 won hands-down for me over the 2003. The 2001 had gravitas and heft and weight and real depth that needed the food to balance and flesh it out. The 2003 was lovely, polished and elegant but left me a bit bored in comparison. It just was too subtle , even for me who loves subtlety.

The white Roscetto Ferentano was served with both the aged tenderloin and the chicken in Creole Etouffee sauce. It had been introduced earlier by Riccardo as we tasted it in some of his opening comments. I had never had paid much attention to it. I think that I had already sampled it with our reps Jody Jackman and Falesco hands-on David Pinzolo ( who I have known now for years and enjoyed a good comeraderie with, too as well as mutual respect ). It CAME ALIVE, however, when I tasted it with the different foods.

I kept thinking of Riccardo's words about not forgetting it and assuming that it would not work well with our whole meal. Here was the owner of a really famous Italian line of family-wines telling us to really pay close attention to this white wine when he was already so very famous over the whole United States for his reds! What gives? I had to respect this comment as it was both intriguing and a bit unexpected. What was Riccardo saying? Why was he so gently insistent on drawing attention to this unheard of white from Lazio made with an unusual, little-known white grape called Roscetto? Why didn't he just plant and make some more Chardonnay which we have all already heard of ad-nauseum?!?

That was just the point : Riccardo said himself that he wanted something " new " and local to bring to the table. That's for me where the " visionary " part of the title to this blog comes from. He's got both vision and a strong will and desire to follow things through. As he said it's been a real challenge for him and his team and I think he's on a fabulous path to lots of interest and acclaim for his Ferentano.

I liked the Ferentano Roscetto white better or as least as much as the other reds with both the aged tenderloin and the Creole chicken! This is when this wine came into complete Kodak-moment-clarity-serendipitous-delightful focus for me!! I was hooked and I would learn later that Kelly of Palena was also enamoured as I was. We both ordered and promoted it : me in my store at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue Wines & Spirits ) and she at her restaurant Palena just a block away from us. Cleveland Park residents were now getting a good exposure and dose of this flavorful, rich, thick, bright sunshine-laden white that I could probably float on happily without sinking because of it's generous, deep texture and completeness of flavorings both subtle and unabashedly happy.

We finished the meal with some fall fruit compote ( served with spiced cream and almond tuile ). I was busy taking more pictures which I need to find on one of my discs and download. I'm sure they are good. I can't remember as I have not seen them since I took them back two years ago to October 26th, 2006. I also had to get this menu signed and speak a bit to Riccardo and thank him before taking my leave to rush back to our store.

It was only because Jody Jackman ( thanks Jody ) my rep for Winebow was willing to pinch-hit for me at the store that I could afford to take this time away from work to attend this private luncheon of perhaps fifteen or so people. It was held in Johhny's Half Shell private dining room around one big oval table so that everyone could see everyone else. Nice. Like a big family sitting down to a meal. I think we all became a bit more family because of this even though many of us may have never met before.

This was an extraordinarily intimate way to meet such a captivating personality such as Riccardo and get to listen to him speak and share his wonder, his passion, his focus, success and dedication that still returns successfully to both Umbria and Lazio where he calls home. He's true to these regions and an grand ambassador for them.

I wrote quickly down what he was saying about his experiences and each wine. I will record them in the second part of this blog. Thanks again Riccardo. For more technical information go to : Azienda Vinicola Falesco Sri loc. S. Pietro snc 05020 Montecchio ( Tr ) Tel : +39 ( 0 ) 744 955601 Fax : +39 ( 0 ) 744 950725 .

I have decided to post this now and break this blog into a two-part blog so as to make my life simpler and so as to post something that shows up as the first entry of December 2008. That will be good. So, after reading this please go back to December for the second installment. Cheers and Happy Holidays 2008 , TONY

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Spanish Father Mariano & Son Alberto Garcia ( MAURO ) / One Legend & One In-The-Making With Importer Aurelio Cabestrero Visit Cleveland Park Wines

It's always a great treat to have new and rising wine talent visit our store but when he comes with his father that has already made his indelible mark on the fabric of Spanish

wine-making for the past forty years or more then it's even more exciting ! Just try and imagine that. Combine this with the fact that Spanish importer Aurelio Cabestrero ( president of Grapes Of Spain Imports ) brings them to the store with open bottles of their " new " family releases then you begin to get some of the giddy excitement that washed over me on this special visit of theirs - quite serendipitously, too I believe. I don't think I had much warning if any.

On November 19th, 2005 we had Alberto Garcia bring his famous father Mariano Garcia to our store. With Aurelio Cabestrero they had open bottles of the PRIMA 2004, the SAN ROMAN 2002, the ASTRALES 2002 and the PAIXAR 2002. I tried them all. Unfortunately Mike Martin that I work with here at the Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits was not here to taste with me.

I liked everything that I tasted and bought some of everything but more of the PRIMA 2004 and the ASTRALES 2002 ( my favorite red 2002 considering the price). I would later talk with David the sommelier at the Taberna a month later on my birthday at his restaurant ( December 27th, 2005 ) and he agreed with me that it was one of the finest, if not finest 2002's that he had tried. I still have a wee bit left of each the 2002 ASTRALES and the SAN ROMAN both around $55 a bottle. They should be drinking fabulously just about now. I'd love to try one soon myself to check this out because the proof is in the tasting!

It is agreed by many that with Mariano Garcia there is no other more talented winemaker for making wines in the Toro and the Ribera del Duero. Mariano Garcia understands perhaps better than anyone else the terroir and the necessary techniques to make world-class wines in these two areas.

For technical information about their wines go to : Bodegas MAURO S.A. Cervantes 12 47320 Tuledo de Duero ( Valladolid ) Espana Tel: +34 983 521 972 / +34 983 521 439 Fax : +34 983 521 973 ... as well as BODEGAS Y Vinedos MAURODOS S.A. Carretera Nacional 122 KM. 412 Villaester 47112 Pedrosa del Rey ( Valladolid ) Espana Tel : +34 983 784 118 Fax : +34 983 784 018 ).

Here are some of the pictures that swept me away. The father did not speak much English and so the son had to translate for me. That was quite alright. They were both through-and-through gentleman and it was a rare and very meaningful meeting for me.

I am sure that I will add to this blog but I'd like to share what I already have and get these pictures out now. It's Wednesday, November 19th, 2008 at midnight ( 12:08 AM ) here at home as I type and proof my work before posting shortly.

It's been just three years since they stopped by that memorable afternoon to our store. They wrote some kind words in Spanish which I have to get translated so that I can copy it here later. I'm also looking forward to our next tasting/ meeting. It's already been much too long!

Gracias & hasta luego Mariano & Alberto! TONY

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Owner Andrew Quady Stops At Cleveland Park Wines On Sept. 20th, 2005

It was great to finally meet owner Andrew Quady of QUADY California dessert Wines ( Essensia, Elysium, Electra, Port, Starboard, Vya -, 13181 Road 24 P.O. Box 728 , Madera CA 93639 555 673 8068 Fax : 673 0744 ) come by for perhaps an hour to taste some of his " new " releases with us at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits. He was here on Tuesday, September 20th, 2005 just an hour or so after owner John Casella YELLOW TAIL Winery, Australia ) left our store after his hour-and-half wine-tasting with our customers. Andrew tasted with us and our customers this evening pretty much the whole line of his excellent CA. products. We introduced the Electra this tasting I believe.

It was a busy day indeed because while John Casella was in the store owner Alice Fitz of the FITZ-RITTER winery in the Pfalz, Germany had been in to taste me on her new releases of sparkling Sekt, Gewurztraminer, Rieslings and dry Chardonnay!

This is what it is all about : learning and sharing experiences with ourselves and our customers and bringing them in contact when possible with the principals of each wine operation. We did a lot of this this day with the help of Andrew, John and Alice. Thank-you all.

Andrew was in a hurry the next day when he returned to the store. He did not have a lot of time but we are happy for the time you did have for us Andrew the previous day. Our customers enjoyed meeting and tasting with you.

As you wrote in my guest wine owner/maker book : " I was here ". And thankful we are that you were. Perhaps on your following visit we will get a chance to speak more in-depth about what you are doing these days, what new projects, etcetera. I look forward to that day Andrew.

Of all of the QUADY items the VYA vermouth-style dry and sweet ( in 750 ml and 375 ML ) do really well and we are always selling out. WE also do quite well with the QUADY Orange Muscat.

I forgot to add that Andrew was in a hurry the second time that he came to our store ( the day-after the store tasting ) because I asked him to return and sign my poster and my guest book for wine makers and wine owners. He has a busy schedule I know ( I just got an email from him this morning, Nov. 2nd, 2008 saying that he is in Denver and just hosted a chocolate tasting with his QUADY spirits/wines ) and I am thrilled that he returned quickly to sign both before continuing his active routine. Not everyone would have been as obliging. Thanks Andrew. I look forward to hearing more from you soon.

Just yesterday, Halloween ( Oct. 31st, 2008 ) I was asked by a customer to describe Italy's most expensive and sought-after vermouth called Antica Formula, $31.99 and I kept telling the customer that along with trying it that he HAD to try the two Vya's from QUADY : the extra dry and the sweet ( available in 375 ml at $14.99 and the 750 ml at $21.99 - we have both ). I'll have to wait and and see what the response is.

In the meantime here are a few of the pictures I took of Andrew while he was at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits. Cheers, TONY

Monday, October 27, 2008

Decanters Full Of Wine, Great Old French & American ( Californian ) Wine Bottles, Old-Vine French Cork Screw / Pictures Taken Monday Oct. 20th,2008

It was a great Monday afternoon - this last one - October 20th, 2008 at around 1-2 PM to take all these artsy photos of my three decanters, old French and California wine bottles ( that we had poured for the Aussie's visit chez nous a couple of week's past ) . I took the decanters outside with my old gift of an old-vines French cork screw given to me by my French etching instructor Joelle Serve back in the mid 1970's, and the vinegar wine barrel given to me back in the early 90's by chef-owner of " Le Rivage " on the Potomac waterfront close to the Jefferson Memorial /now jewelry store-owner Alain Planche, my INAO wine glass filled with some 2007 Syrah " Only Girls " from CHATEAU D'OR et de GUEULES dry red Costieres du Nimes wine. I had a blast taking all these artsy pictures on our back deck at home on my day-off. There were plenty of beautiful plants - colorful, as well as green foliage and the wood of the deck as well as the bright sunshine and the myriad of reflections to set everything off and apart and still all held together miraculously!

Also important are my shadows here, my hands, my shoes , the red hummingbird feeder and the oak tree and the ground just past the wooden rail where the bottles are originally line-up on. There are also the fallen leaves, the striped blue-and-white cushioned metal chair, the unpainted cement cat licking it's paw, and the reflection of the clear blue skies above reflected on the rounded surface of one of my decanters!

I am pleased and proud of myself for pushing myself in these new directions to take more art-oriented photographs. They don't replace the wine and the joy the wine provide. Not at all : they simply add another element that I enjoy immensely and that I hope you, too will. I;d love to hear your responses or read them here at the bottom of this blog where the word comment is written. Just click it and leave your impressions.

And to better see these pictures and read the labels click them to enlarge them on your screens. All these pictures as most all the pictures that appear on this blog were taken by acknowledge that if you make copies of them to share with friends.

This is just the beginning of a very beautiful relationship.

Enjoy these pictures. Cheers, TONY