Saturday, January 31, 2009

PLAIMONT ( Colombelle )Wines From Gascogne - Great Whites To Enjoy Most Anytime ; Export Manager Stops By Cleveland Park To Taste " New " Releases

It was fun to taste these wines with Philippe Olcomendy ( areas sales manager ) of Producteurs PLAIMONT ( Colombelle 2008 white and rose, 2007 red, Tel : ( 33 ) 05 62 69 62 87 Fax : (33) 05 62 69 66 74 email: ) and to taste his " new " releases.

We spoke about the labels immediately : the bright purple ( or lavender ) and the white of the white, rose and red ( all dry ) are eye-catching and I'm sure stand out on both shelves and floor displays. They all have changed since the old days when they were quite traditional, nondescript really and yet unmistakable, too. I still remember them and wish for them as I feel they were more " authentic " and less-contrived with only " extra " sales in mind.

I spoke off-and-on French with Philippe and told him that we used to have another person come from his company, an attractive brunette that lady came with Chasity of Winesellers Imports. It's a whole team now as Chasity has moved out to Las Vegas with her baby and boyfriend.

On this afternoon in January it was Emily ( her coat ironically was near the same lavender/purple color in the label and Philippe. Things change, life goes on and I must say that we three had a grand time as I tasted these five wines ( three or four from PLAIMONT ) and two other reds, one a Madiran 2005 ( called 1907 ) and the other which I really loved ( a great food wine ) the CHATEAU DE SABAZAN 2003 Cotes de Saint-Mont. I loved this last red : it spoke volumes of flavors and tastes , highs and lows and rich experiences that can only come with some bottle-age which it had ( and will sell for around $30 a bottle I believe ).

The first three PLAIMONTS were also delicious and very pleasing and fun ( less expensive ) wines that I feel very confident that I will buy. I don't think I will buy the excellent dry rose just because of the timing of the year but I can see asking my rep Arielle to come do an in-store tasting of the both the red and the white sometime soon. That will be a lot of fun and will get us back on track with a wine that I have enjoyed selling and representing that goes way back to the mid 80's when I first discovered them while working at the Mayflower Wines & Spirits with Sidney Moore and Michael Downey. We sold a lot back then of both the white and the red.

Funny, I left the Mayflower Wines & Spirits and after a disaster of working for less than a couple of weeks for Ace Beverages ( one of the stupidest things I have ever done, ever and still cringe when I think of today ) and then for Sidney Danneman at Burka's Fine Wines I ended up buying from George ( Reisling ( spelling ? ) a series of magnificent old vintages of the PLAIMONT reds and selling them like hot cakes. Dee Hutton helped me get the job at Burka's when I called her. Thanks Dee, I appreciated that a lot.

Once that people tried them in the store or on their own they rushed back for more. We must have sold more than fifty cases at Burka's in a short period of time. By then I knew all about PLAIMONT and the value-for-the-money of these wines. They sure were great expressions of their local way down there in the southwestern part of France not far from the border with Spain.

You could taste and smell the sun-baked grapes that had to struggle for water and to stay alive in this harsh heat and brutal climate of extremes I believe. I've driven through it in the summer months back in the the mid eighties and because of the intense heat upon times only wanted water at first upon arriving at my wine appointments ( and not wine ) ! We sold them all for under $15 a bottle if memory serves me well.

Wonderful French wines to enjoy with some flavorful meals - simple or complex, from a hamburger to a stek frites to a cassoulet, some cheese and pate, these Tannat and Cabernet-based reds were wonderful.

The whites ( made from local, indigenous grapes ) are just wonderfully refreshing, bright, zesty, mildly-perfumed that draw both nose and tongue over immediately . They are perfect spring and summer wines when you are able to sit outside and just " be " and watch life as it occurs nicely all around you! It simply enhances the spectacle of life and the joy of observing and noting it. The white just helps facilitate falling in love with life and whoever/ whatever is there around you, passing by you, briefly or for longer touching you and your life. It's not complicated and therein lies it's charm and instant appeal. Relax, take a load off, sit, chat, observe, interact ...

I was having a blast with Philippe : probably more fun with him than I should have. I barely knew him and yet I launched into one diatribe of French expressions, descriptions, taunts and dares and many twinkles and smiles, laughs and stories : perhaps too many?!? I hope so, I meant well. I just like to be entertaining at times as I certainly am myself as I am caught-up quickly in the flow and " nowness - instantness " of these rather serendipitous meetings I have with new people as I taste their wines perhaps for the very first time or again as old and welcome friends. Both are welcome at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008, Tel : 202-363-4265 ) in our nation's capitol.

We should have these wines back in our store soon. Call and ask Mike Martin or me ( Anthony - TONY - Quinn 202-363-4265 ) for more information or to place your orders. Cheers and thanks Emily and Philippe. TONY

SMIRNOFF " New " Flavors Tasted At Cleveland Park Recently In January On Saturday, he 17th , 5-8 PM With Our Customers

On one of our Saturdays in January 2009 ( before the Inauguration - must have been the week just before that ) manager and liquor-buyer Ravinder Sharma at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue Wines & Spirits N.W. Washington D.C. 20008, Tel : 202-363-4265 ) scheduled a SMIRNOFF vodka tasting to introduce three of the " newer " products that they now offer in their arsenal of varied and always value-oriented American products.

This time a young lady came and poured for our customers the SMIRNOFF " Mojito ", the SMIRNOFF " Pomegranate Martini " and the " Garn Cosmopolitain ". All three were well-received and we sold some of each. We also offered aour customers the opportunity to taste so that the next time they need one of these three products ( or all three ) they have tasted already and know exactly what and why they are buying them. That's a very valuable service, one that should never be minimized or belittled because the products may not have been sold at the moment of the tasting. Patience is a virtue here and our customers may not need every product or want to spend the money at the moment they are being tasted.

Anyway, SMIRNOFF seems to be on a rather golden course and are producing products that poeple can afford to buy. Once they try them they usually enjoy them ; and they sure are less-expensive. Of course, there is always the " image " to get-over and around and beyond that so many have these days. That's why so often products do so much better when tasted blind where people cannot bring theirs or other's preconceived notions into play while tasting the " unkown " products.

Hope you like these pictures. I was distracted this Saturday and only got a few. The lady tasting has a quisical look on her face because I am taking her picture as she tastes. I explained and she relaxed and was cool with it afterwards.

It's now Monday afternoon at 5:59 PM at my home on my day-off in northern Virginia, February 2nd, 2009 ( Groundhog Day ). It's bee an absolutely beautiful, warm, balmy day so far. But all that is expected to change with the temperature dropping now and rain in the forecast followed by snow at night. Too bad. Maybe it's time for a SMIRNOFF Pomegranate Martini about now?!?

Cheers, TONY

More Of Our Cleveland Park Customers Here In January 2009

Here is a start to our 2009 addition of our favorite Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 Tel : 202-363-4265 ) customers. These are taken just after the Inauguration and some of our customers are still wearing their Obama pins. Lots of smiles and happy expressions all around.

Also displayed is a bottle of the HOGUE Cellars Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon ( $9.99 ) that will be soon enjoyed. It sure is a great value for both the dry, rich flavors and the price. We have also been selling the Chardonnay for the same price.

Enjoy these photos, cheers, TONY

Friday, January 30, 2009

Victor Del Villar Olano, Family Owns CASTILLO De MONJARDIN, Navarra, Spain Visits Store Thursday, January 29th, 2009 With David, Tastes New Releases

     It was great to meet Victor Del Villar Olano who's family owns the Spanish Navarra CASTILLO DE MONJARDIN ( 31242 VillMyor De Monjardin,  Navarra , Spain, Tel: +34 948 53 74 12 ) as he came here to taste his family's " new " releases.

     I discovered from talking to Victor yesterday that his mother designs the labels and is in charge of marketing while his father makes the wines. He asked me immediately whether I liked the labels or not as he put them out on our round table. I told him swiftly that I liked the original label the best that the dry, unoaked Chardonnay came in. And that's when the conversation started to flow freely, immediately and I recollected and related all in one to Victor and David ( our Winebow Italian rep ) how we had started here doing business back in 2000 or 2001 with the MONJARDIN ( means in French " my garden " ) wines. I told him the Aurelio Cabestrero ( now owner / president 0f Grapes Of Spain importing ) who worked with Rory Gallagher of Ingram Imports had brought both the dry Chardonnay ( I think there was both an oaked and an unoaked version ) as well as the Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon dry red blend. We bought both immediately, one red and one white and put them on our shelves back then, seven-eight years ago.

     I fell in love with the Tintico Tempranillo 2006  that we may sell as low as $7.49 or  $8.99 depending on how much we buy. I loved it so I think we will have it shortly and sell it for the lower price. I loved it because it was drinkable, balanced, charming and great with or without food. 

     The El Cerezo 2007 unoaked Chardonnay at $13.49  or $11.99 was also a pure joy to drink because it's freshness, brightness and great acids and citrus overtones. I really, really enjoyed it : just not as much in this cold weather as the excellent Tintico 2006 red Tempranillo.

     Victor also tasted me on the other two reds : the 2005 Crianza ( Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot red blend ) that had more heft, more weight, more bite and kick - more layers of flavor that are best dealt with when balanced with food.

     The 2004 Deyo is MONJARDIN'S Merlot at $21.99 or $19.99 and more stylish, more elegant, more refined and silky than the Crianza 2005. I liked both these two fancier reds and we have scheduled a tasting with David our Winebow rep on Friday, April 24th, 2009 ( 5-8 PM ) so you may all come by and taste all four then.

     Until then we will at least bring the Tintico 2006 Tempranillo red for you all to enjoy and fall in love with - love at first taste - you will, trust me. Cheers,  TONY

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Catching Up Serendipitously / Marvelously At Cork With My old Friend & Colleague Raz In D.C. At Local American Wine Bar Late 2008

I have know Raz ( Mariam Razavi - this may be an old email address )now for many years and for awhile our paths crossed frequently. Raz was the wine-buyer for a small, fun specialty store on 17th Street N.W. called Prego Secondo across from Cairo Liquors and catty-corner from the Safeway.

I used to go take inventory and sell her wines that they already stocked as well as try and sell her new wine. This was back in the early 1990's I believe. Time passes and memories fade, but not the times we spent talking wine and tasting together. I think we were inspiration for each other : I know we both developed a healthy dose of mutual respect for one another. That still endures : is still very strong, even after all these years!

Back then when I worked in the wholesale business and sold to both stores and restaurants it was simply different, less-complicated. Prego Secondo was owned by Dan and Mike if memory serves. I used to sell to them, too. Raz and I even did some wine-tastings there at Prego Secondo and we'd put our two heads together and come up with some pretty stimulating themes, fun, unique and overall contagious to anyone wanting to experience more the true richness available to people in the wine world. I'll have to find one of those old tasting-sheets and include it later here. I think I still have at least one of them.

Raz is a consummate wine-educator just like myself. She wants to put people together with both good food and good wine. She's all about that : give her the chance and she'll get out her magic bag and pull some really neat things from it.

So, here I show up at this famous watering-tasting-wine bar Cork and who should come up to me immediately as I walk through the front door but Raz : wow. I loved it. Great to see you Raz. We should see each other more often : why has it been so long since we last saw each other ?!?

It's always great to see you Raz, you always look and sound marvelous!

This is a WORK IN PROGRESS BUT i WOULD LIKE TO GET IT OUT TODAY, mONDAY AFTERNOON ON fEBRUARY 2ND, 20009 , 5:07 pm ON " gROUNDHOG dAY ". Can you believe I just typed this last sentence like I did?!? I have just risen from a nap and am still a bit groggy as I sip some of my 2006 " old Vines " Sylvaner from Alsace. I think it may be called SIPP or something like that?!? Quelle coincidence, n'est pas vrai - if it was true, the name that is - sip for a / from a SIPP ?!? More about that soon.

However, for the moment I will leave you with a " wee " little story when , years ago both Raz and Hillary came to visit me and my wife here at our home. They cam bearing gifts : one was a great bottle of PETER LEHMAN'S Cabernet Sauvignon red from Barossa with the painting of the lady on it.

The other was something from Raz's home : a beautiful metal ( silver and copper - bronze, too? I am not sure ) bird that looks very much like a falcon about to land with it's talons open and ready to catch it's prey or perhaps land on the arm of it's owner. I am looking at it now and love it. The frame it's in is also highly-worked with many inlaid pieces of ivory or shell painted in deep reds, greens and also gold. I like the whole image and frame Raz: but most of all I like it because you gave it to me and my wife. Thanks.

By the way, the PETER LEHMAN Cabernet Sauvignon ( a vintage back in the nineties ) was really wonderful. We enjoyed it quite some time ago.

As you can see I have included other pictures here as well of the tasting where I bumped into Raz quite unexpectedly. There was a good turn out for these excellent French wines sold through Bacchus Imports. I still may buy some. In the meantime the "old vines " 2006 Sylvaner from Alsace that my wife and I are now enjoying is also from Bacchus and that will come to our store this week sometime and will be ON SALE. Stay-tuned - lots more to still come on this blog.

Enjoy these pictures and partial text in the meantime. Cheers, TONY

Catherine Wevar Zencovich ( Europe Manager ) Of TERRA MATER Wines, Santiago de Chile Visits Cleveland Park Wines Wed. Jan. 22nd, 2009

     It was great to meet Catherine of TERRA MATER Chilean wines ( Tel : ( 56 2 ) 4380000 Ext ; 150 , 56 (9 ) 90797034  Luis Thayer Ojeda 236 , Piso 6 , Providencia / Santaigo de Chile ) here with one of our favorite importers Theresa Morrison ( owner/president of Elite Imports with husband John Morrison ) and Ian Tarlie ( both our customer and also now working with Theresa and John ) . We had never tried the wines from TERRA MATER and I have to say that I really enjoyed them. We will have them soon here in our store.

     As a matter of fact we will have them here this Saturday when John and Theresa come to pour wines here for our customers January 31st, 2009. We will at least try one of the reds this Saturday : it may be the " Altum " Shiraz  but I cannot be sure. You should all come by and check these exceptional wines out. I think that you will concur with me. 

     They produce different levels of wines ( five in all I believe from the Paso del Sol to the  "Vineyard Reserve ",  " Limited Reserve ",  " Altum " Shiraz and " Unusual " and use an assortment of grapes, too ; Chardonnay, Cbernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Carmenere, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and Shiraz. I wish they would call their Shiraz " Syrah " and not " Shiraz ". I liked it a whole lot. Oh, the pricing is really reasonable, too for so much flavor. These are stylish, balanced, a great blend of old-world and new world. Excellent : what's not to like?

     I just talked to importer Theresa Morrison  ( ) and we've decided to pour the Shiraz Reserve bottling this Saturday.

     I will include more but here are the pictures I took. I will continue this blog once that we do our weekend tasting. Cheers,  TONY