Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thanks For The Great Ride! 2008 Has Been A Great Personal Year For Me !!

It's been a great year for me personally in 2008 having accomplished many tasks I've wanted to work on for years. I've loved the challenge and mostly the disciple of keeping focused on these projects and then seeing how they flesh-out and grow and become really established and permanent fixtures to me and to anyone aware of them.

Anyway, here it is Wednesday evening, December 31st, 2008 at 7:52 PM at Cleveland Park Wines and Spirits ( 3423 Conn. Ave. N.W. Washington D.C. ) here in our nation's capitol and I'm about to go home and join my family and celebrate with them, my real loved ones. That's exciting!

Cheers, and thanks for coming along at times on this wondrous, marvelous, enthralling, exciting ride of mine in 2008! TONY Happy New Year 2009!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's Been A Great Blogging Year From May Through December 2008 !

      I've had a blast with these several blog pages of mine and feel like I am just beginning this wonderful, long, entertaining, amazing journey of mine that weaves me through so many new people and their vineyards, vines, wines and stories that got both them and their wines to my attention.

     Because everyone is welcome here in our store at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008. tel:202-363-4265 ) lots of amazing, wonderful, interesting and unique people have passed through our doors. I am eternally grateful for that as it has become my life-wine-blood and has nourished and fire/inspired me to really new depths of experience and consciousness. Thanks to you all!

     Happy New Year 2009. There will be lots more from where all this has already come plus so much new material, too. Cheers,   TONY

Ramzi Ghosn( MASSAYA ), Lebanese Winemaker Here 2006 Tied-In With Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Producer/ Tastes His Wines Sold Through Winebow Imports

     Here are some fun pictures of winemaker Ramzi Ghosn at MASSAYA vineyard ( Labanon ) that I want to share with you now at the end of December, Tuesday September 30th, 2008 to be exact. These pictures are from 2006 sometime. Cheers, Happy New Year 2009! 

       Jody Jackman of Winebow imports stopped by to taste me on these new vintages and introduce the two of us. The wines are superb and  we are currently out here at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits but I will have them back again in 2009.

     One of our favorite customers Krishna was on hand to taste through the wines with Mike Martin, Jody Jackman and me.

     Ramzi is tied-in with two French vineyards : Daniel Brunier of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Dominiwue Hebrard.

     Ramzi wears a great bowler hat, too. I will include that picture soon.

     Sante, best wishes for a healthy, hearty, happy, uproarious 2009!!!!!       TONY

2006 Visit To Taste The CHATEAU LA NERTHE Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2001 Vintage & Others With Emilio Velez & The Young French Female Export Manager

It's always a wonderful surprise to fall into a river, a river-like of wine, red, this one the Rhone river. It's in the south around the town of Avignon and here Emilio came with the export manager of CHATEAU LA NERTHE Chateuneuf-du-Pape : wow. What a river ride, what a serendipitous pleasure to find my tongue all of a sudden plunged/ submerged in the red hues of an excellent 2001 Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

I've been there, years ago : back in the 70's when I lived there with my family, when my father worked for the American Embassy in Paris. It was grand, Paris, Royan to learn French and later Avignon to learn about France!

Look at the color there in the glass : it breathes, it shines, shimmies, sweats-glows-reflects sunshine filtered through grapes that once held it and then later in the brown bottles embossed bas-reliefs that mark, that draw one's attention.

I was caught way way WAY UP in the flow of this Chateauneuf-du-Pape flow, river-like, languorous, still-like - like a lagoon, like a red sun's reflection of the surface of this still lagoon filled with CHATEAU LA NERTHE'S excellent 2001 red elixir-wine. What a wondrous journey-treat, dark street-red sunset sun-drenched-FLOODED - a sweet dusty-dry, straw rustic earthy-pithy, spicy red liquid wine's tastes that saturate, completely fill, spill, into light- onto tongue-palate deluge, into fuse, contuse ( not a word, sounds real good here, though ) .

This was a very special tasting down both memory lane and the now, the here the moment this of newness, blueness, blindness, finest hour, second, season this NOW palate mine and my mind, seven senses reel, wind, in-out-sin-you-me-us ate insinuate.

I loved this momentary lapse of thought, job, responsibility that this sudden visit revealed to me. I loved it, I knew of it in advance but it still caught me up and off-guard. I was prepared yet not. I knew that the visit would occur but unrehearsed it was - completely. Let the drips, sips, tastes fall-spill-drill whirl, squirrel where they may they might! It only matters that I follow, that attention I pay! I just want to be caught, swept into this river of wine life of Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine life! It has a life of it's own. It has a spell, I want it to wrap me up in it's spell for a spell!

It did, it worked, caught was I! I loved the wine. I loved the moment, it did for me more than many things as I caught it by it's tail coat ; I took the moment ( s ) to appreciate, to enjoy, to toy, to play - IT all laid out, spread fully wide for my tongue, my seven senses to triumph in this golden red sunset-color of Chateauneuf-du-Pape shine before the moon shone-shined-mind-senses-combined...

Truth be told it was also really nice to see the youthful smile and seeming-I-presumed-right-or-wrong-
innocence of this young French brunette that I at first took for the daughter of the owner of CHATEAU LA NERTHE. Look at the smile, it's lovely : a whole life ahead to look forward to ... what a special moment in life this is ... wine, music like the blues and jazz, a virgin canvas still largely empty ... the discovery of one's own poetry now being tapped and told, spoke, sung, tongued ... another sip of wine ...

I like CHATEAU LA NERTHE. The wines are always sound. I started selling them back when Pascal Salvadori brought them to me and we started selling the 1997/1998 and 1999 vintages. They used to sell back then for between $40 and $50 and it was always a special treat to recommend them. We used them in our dinners at Lavandou restaurant years ago as well with Veuve Clicquot and other CLICQUOT, INC wines. Those were fun days. Thanks Pascal.

I have to ask now what the current vintages are. It's been awhile since we sold the wines and I believe that they would be around $75 a bottle now or more : but I am only guessing. I'll let you know soon.

This blog has been composed as I watched the Denzel Washington portrayal of I believe Miles Davis. What an incredible mosaic of acting, images, moods and fantabulous music. It's made me go a bit off the deep end. I hope you enjoyed my roaming in my descriptions here.

Cheers and a Happy New Year 2009! It's now 12:26 Am on New Year's Eve - the beginning of the very last twenty-four hours of 2008! Wow, that's big, too. That's part of why this blog also had to be big now.

It's been quite a productive, surreal, wondrous, inspiring year for me and my family and I'm more than thrilled as I stop and reflect when I have small moments to do so. It;s important, time is important. Appreciate it, live it fully. Bonsoir mes amis et a l'annee nouvelle 2009! TONY

P.S. We also tasted the 2004 vintage and at least another vintage of the red as well as the white Chateauneuf-Du-Pape. I will have to find all my notes to complete this. It's 1:12 AM now on January 1st, 2009 ( Thursday morning ) as I type this. Cheers - glad that the new year is finally here. What a relief that is, and the Tuesday the 20th of January 2009 is just a few more days away now. I'm tired of beating around the bush. TONY

Monday, December 29, 2008

Jeanne Moillard At Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits In-Store Wine-Tasting Of Pouilly-Fuisse and Chorey Les Beaune, Dry Rose, Romanian Pinot Noir , Too

This was just a visit I believe of Jeanne Moillard's ( the MOILLARD family makes many excellent burgundies as well as other wines in the southwest of France and even outside like in Romania I believe it is? They own some of their vineyards and also have long-standing contracts with many growers in burgundy to purchase their grapes )to our store Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 Tel : 202-363-4265 ) one Friday just around noon in April 2006 perhaps? I am guessing of course. I wrote the headline first and believed it was an in-store tasting but through my detective work that I mention I have determined that it was indeed just a visit.

I checked my calendar of events back then and see that she was not scheduled to do a tasting . I checked the order in which I took the pictures ( who came first and after her ) so as to get a better sense of the time. I also checked the pictures and found two of our favorite customers in them.

Usually Ernie and Lloyd come to the store on Fridays just after they have had lunch in one of our local Cleveland Park restaurants. They get to the store perhaps between noon and 1:30 PM?!? I think so. Anyway Ernie comes in search of a red or a white wine for the week. We have a grand time chatting : lively, animated, a bit insane conversation where neither of us knows where it might lead and that's what keeps it so unexpected and entertaining! Usually Lloyd listens to Ernie and I interact. Sometimes she adds things, too. You never know what to expect. Sometimes Lloyd is on a mission to buy something too or I find something to taste her on or tempt them both with and Lloyd cannot resist.

It's always fun no matter what. I introduced them this time to Jeanne Moillard and perhaps we tasted some of Jeanne's wines. I cannot tell from the photos. I did get them to pose for me so that I could take their pictures. Sorry, the camera I was using was starting to die on me and so they are still fun but a bit fuzzy the images.

Jeanne and I may have worked out a future tasting with her at the store. This may also have been the time that I stepped out of the store to enjoy a twenty-minute or so coffee break with her over at Firehook Bakery? Memory fades so it is nice to have the pictures to remind of these times now more than two years ago. I also took two pictures with Jeanne and Mike Martin my business wine-buying partner here at Cleveland Park. Enjoy.

Jeanne is now like family. We sell her wines when we can and are offered them. It's now Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 at 9:19 AM here at home in northern Virginia as I type and proof this before posting it.

Happy New Year 2009 Jeanne, Ernie, Lloyd , Mike and everyone else not in these photos.. Cheers , TONY

Ronnie Miller Et Antoine Songy Here At Cleveland Park Wines Week Of 5/3/2006 With Owner/ Winemaker Christophe Blanc Of MONTPEZAT, Vin De Pays D'Oc

     This first visit/tasting of the MONTPEZAT ( CHATEAU DE MONTPEZAT 34120 Pezenas France, +334 67 98 10 84 )wines ( Vin de Pays D'Oc )  with owner/winemaker Christophe Blanc was a nice treat for our Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits customers as you can clearly see in these photos. I think that owner Christophe Blanc of CHATEAU DE MONTPEZAT was pleasantly surprised also to see such a strong response to him and his wines. I don't think most of the winemaker / owners that come here for the first time expect to be received by such a receptive community. They came the week of May 3rd, 2006.

     Our customers are used to sampling wines all the time now with owners and winemakers. They know the drill of tasting and talking directly with them and then getting bottles signed as gifts if they like the wines enough to buy them. It never ceases to fail this combination of introducing our Cleveland Park ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008,  tel; 202-363-4265 , ) customers directly to the sources for these fabulous wines. The MONTPEZAT wines have some real depth, too. They are serious, flavorful wines that almost always show best when paired with food.
     Here it is now Friday morning at 10:33 AM here at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits, January 2nd, 2009 and we have recently been selling a lot of both the MONTPEZAT Merlot 2006 ( ON SALE for $7.99 ) and the 2006 MONTPEZAT Sauvignon Blanc ( ON SALE for $9.99 ). We still have some of both but are getting really low. 

     Our rep Ronnie Miller for Robert Kacher selections will come by later today and we will see about ordering more, especially of the 2006 MONTPEZAT Merlot. The 2006 MONTPEZAT Sauvignon Blanc is getting a bit tired now with hints of sherry in the taste. It's time to move to the current vintage. We will have to get back also the more flavorful, complex Rhone-Bordeaux-style blends with Cabernet blended with Syrah. . He also makes a straight Cabernet Sauvignon. They will be on the shelf for more money ( around $15 ) but they also will hold their own better to more flavorful cold-weather meals like stews, pot roasts, crock pot dishes, chili, cassoulet, etcetera ... as well as more flavorful, older cheeses.

     This tasting was held around Bobby's annual portfolio tasting at the Bistro Francais restaurant in downtown Georgetown, Washington D.C. N.W. I have recently blogged on it and you might want to read that, too and look at the fun pictures I took afterwards over on Wisconsin Avenue with some of our customers as well as some of the winemakers / owners.

     It was great to see some of our customers like Sarah and Mark Haskell's wife and daughter. Mark is a chef by training and often takes small groups to France for wine-food-pairing excursions. He has a home in the Rhone and so often comes to the store with lots of interesting stories about this region. He knows it now quite well. Wish I could tag along with you Mark. I bet I'd love it, too!

     Antoine Songy came along with Ronnie Miller and owner/winemaker Christophe Blanc of MONTPEZAT and so we had lots of help and ready hands to pour and chat-up these real values from France's Pays D'Oc region of southwest France. Thanks Ronnie for always thinking of us and bringing us all these wonderful people and owners, winemakers in France. We've all benefited from these meetings/tastings.

     On a sad note I am sorry for your recent loss Ronnie of your mother that just passed away. That's always such a hard thing to deal with.

     Hope you like the pictures. I will add more when I find my notes from this tasting. In the meantime enjoy these pictures.

     Christophe, revenez nous voir bientot! Ca fait trop longue que vous n'avez pas repasser nous voir et deguster vos vins avec nos clientelle. A la prochaine bientot j'espere. Bonne annee 2009 a vous et a votre famille. Quoi de neuf? Est-ce-que vous avez des nouvelles de vos vins recents?

     Cheers on this 2nd day of our new year 2009 filled with hope and promise and many good things on espere ....   TONY

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wine Owner/Winemaker Maurice Barnouin( DOM. GOURNIER )Here At Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits May 4th, 2006 After Portfolio Tasting At Bistro Francais

     Maurice Bournouin , owner/ winemaker of DOMAINE GOURNIER ( a 30190 Sainte Anas, Cevennes France  situated between Avignon and Nimes )here the day  after the Robert Kacher  May 3rd, 2006 portfolio tasting at Bistro Francais in Georgetown, Washington D.C. 

     I had met Maurice before and have enjoyed selling his wines from the simpler dry white Viognier and the red Merlot all the way up to his  the " Hommage " 2004 ( which, by the way we have now ON SALE here in the store for $12.99 - what a deal! - it's Wednesday, January 7th, 2009 as I type this blog more than three years later. What have I been waiting for?!?

    Maurice has been her once before and tasted his wines with our customers and I  will have include those notes and pictures at a later date. Maurice came with Ronnie and another Bobby Kacher sales rep ( a French young lady ) from New York I believe. She's in these pictures with Maurice.

    It was just a social visit to say " bonjour/salut ) and to tell us about new developments at DOMAINE GOURNIER.

    Recently I have loved selling the red Grenache as well as the dry white Viognier and this amazing 2004 " Hommage " ON SALE for $12.99 , reg: $17.99 ). Get some quick for the inauguration and other great events.

     Hope to see you soon. 

     Cheers, Happy New Year 2009. And Maurice , come back and see us soon. You are always welcome here. Viens nous revoir Maurice! Bonne annee a toi et a ta famille.  TONY

R. Kacher's Wash. D.C. Portfolio Tasting 5/3/06 -GAUBERT/GOURNIER/MONTPEZAT + At Bistro Francais / Later That Night Afterwards Actually At Cafe Ole

This is the evening of Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006 , the Robert Kacher portfolio French wine-tasting ( we had the DOMAINE MONTPEZAT Pays D'Oc - we had just done an in-store tasting earlier & the DOMAINE DE GOURNIER - the owner/winemaker came by Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits the next day - Vin de Pays de Cevennes wines, and Dominique Haverland of CHATEAU GAUBERT Graves ( Benjamin de Vieux Chateau GAUBERT ), Bordeaux as well as other owner/winemakers at the Bistro Francais I believe. It was the last one held there if I am correct. 

     I also got to meet the owner of MURE in Alsace, Thomas Mure , brother of Veronique Mure who has already been here and tasted the MURE wines with our customers. Thomas has never been to the store but it was fun to meet him anyway at Cafe Ole. Thomas is the first pictured here in this blog with the blond/gold hair and  scruffy beard.

      I did not attend this portfolio tasting at Bistro Francais as it is always in the afternoon in the middle of our busy work weeks and I cannot always justify the time to get away. Oh well, you do what you can.
When I saw Bobby later this evening when I got off work at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue Wines & Spirits Washington D.C. 20008, Tel:202-363-4265 ) Bobby just shook his head and told me of some of the great wines opened that I did not taste. I agree, I missed out! However, I am not paid just to taste wine. I am paid to sell them and I do that. I wish that I had the luxury of time and money to step out of Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits and go off and taste, evaluate, converse and catch-up with others in the industry. Alas, it just is not so!

Besides, I have become a bit selfish. I'd rather be able to sit down somewhere and get to meet and speak with the wine owners / makes and get to know them and their wines better. That's what I like. To be able to sit next to them and have a meal, hopefully in a restaurant that I do not know. Selfish, this was a kill more than two birds with one stone and that just suits me better.

I knew that a number of Bobby's wine owners and winemakers would be there at the tasting earlier. I knew I would miss the " goodies/ cherries " so to speak. Drat! Oh well, I also knew that they would be more relaxed and willing/able to speak a bit more with me afterwards at the Cafe Ole on Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. and I was correct.

Funny, on this particular evening things were just evolving and unfolding in a nice fashion and I was in my own preferred way picking the pieces and joining them together. Anticipating some possible resistance I called Ronnie my rep and asked him if I could bring some of our favorite Cleveland Park customers to Cafe Ole when I left the store. Somehow Bill was there, so were Mike and Nadia and somewhere along the way Jennifer was also there in the store at the same time. I simply felt the urge to invite them all to this casual event after the big Robert Kacher portfolio tasting. Should I, dare ?!? So I called Ronnie Miller and he said " okay ".

It was a cool evening and quite dark outside. I told them to meet me there and they all did. Jennifer came with her boyfriend John ( they are recently married now ! ) and were all waiting when I arrived. It was good to be out of the store. I was ready to relax and enjoy and see what the evening had in store for me as well as for my customers.

I found Ronnie and Craig, Antoine Songy and Kelly. I saw some of the winemakers and owners and was looking forward to seeing again those that I knew/meeting those that I did not know already. It was all pretty heady, fun stuff for me and I began to relax and feel again in my element as host.

This is where I get into trouble sometimes. I turn into a host and of course it is really not my event! Oh well, I'm incorrigible this way and it's hard to stop/thwart me when I get going.

I saw the owner busy and bustling around of Cafe Ole. We had already met on two occasions : once before like this and once at a Bobby Kacher dinner that Bobby and Kelly themselves hosted along with me and Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits and owner Herve Gantier of DOMAINE SAINTE-EUGENIE Corbieres, southwest, France.

I asked about the wines available to taste, about food? I began to marshal and corral and put the various pieces together here for my customers to get a real experience of wine. food and winemaker and owner, too. It was all flowing smoothly.

When I caught up with Bobby and he saw what I was doing he was not very pleased. He said that he had invited me. I said that I had checked before with Ronnie but that did not seem to appease him. Oh well Bobby, look at it as if you were doing it all for me : thanking me for all the business that I have given you over the years. No one else ( Antoine, Ronnie or Kelly ) seemed to mind. It bothered me, however Bobby and I did not return the following year because of it. Some things stick even though perhaps they should not. C'est la vie, c'est comme ca, dommage, peut-etre la prochaine, peut-etre pas. On ne peut pas toujours recouperer nos paroles, meme si on les veut. Quand-meme, c'etais une soirree merveilleux pour moi et mes clients et nous avons profiter beaucoup. Nous gardons aussi des grands souvenirs de ce soir-la, grace a ton equip et tous les vignerons.

It was great : many of the wine owners and winemakers made a real point to come to our table and pour us some of their wines. They were smiling, helpful and welcoming and it was a great pleasure to taste their wines and put a face with a label. What more can you ask? Not much. The food was also really tasty and helped warm and fill us a bit on this dark, cool Washington D.C. evening here in our nation's capitol.

The pictures you see first are of all the vignerons/ winemakers and owners. I also got Bobby in the last two group pictures. He's the one with the glasses, second from our left. It was really dark and my camera lens was dulled and the flash did not always work. Sorry for all of that. However, I still managed to capture here in these pictures some of the real magic and charm of the evening at Cafe Ole.

The pictures that I end with are of my Cleveland Park customers : Bill, Jennifer, John, Mike and Nadia. You can see I like taking more pictures of the women : so shoot me!

I want to post this tonight, Monday evening at 8:21 PM from my home here in northern Virginia on December 29th, 2008. I know I have many more details and names and wines to mention and I will do that shortly.

In the meantime cheers and Happy New Year 2009 to One and to All of Us ! TONY

P.S. That Friday, May 5th, 2006 from 5-8 PM the owner Dominic Haverland of CHATEAU GAUBERT, Graves Bordeaux was due to come to Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits to do an in-store wine tasting of both his red and white Graves, Bordeaux wines. TONY

     PPS : I'm looking at an empty bottle here on our shelf signed by Dominique " the Benjamin de Vieux Chateau GAUBERT 2003 Graves white ) and he wrote from his tasting here in the store : " Tony, mercipour ta passion ". signed Dominique. Thanks Dominique et merci aussi pour ta passion. ( I added this on Friday 6 PM at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits on January, 2nd, 2009 - a brand new spanking shiny glorious, uproarious. cheerful, virgin white slate year. Yes!  TONY

     PPPS: I can't believe it! I'm dusting the bottles on the shelf and see buried another Benjamin de Vieux Chateau GAUBERT 2004  white Graves ( $15.49 ) and Dominique writes : " A la sante de Tony " signed Dominique. We really bonded this evening. Great memories, je gards des tres bons souvenirs de ta visite  Dominique!  TONY