Friday, February 27, 2009

Peter Of Terlato Family Wines Tastes Us On SANFORD, CHIMNEY ROCK, TAMARI & SEVEN DAUGHTERS Thurs. Feb. 26th, 2009 At Cleveland Park Wines

Peter of Terlato family wines tasted with Chrissy Carpenter of Washington Wholesalers this Thursday afternoon, February 26th, 2009 at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 Tel : 202-363-4265 ) .

This tasting of seven assorted wines included the excellent, aromatic, richly-textured and tasty seven grape blend called SEVEN DAUGHTERS. It;s a white blend of seven grapes including the Symphony grape and I immediately warmed to it and said that we would buy it.

The day before we had tasted in the store with Lindsay Pike ( a rep for Washington Wholesalers ) the SEVEN DAUGHTERS red which we did not like that much. I agreed to buy some, however, because I liked so much the white. Lindsay was scheduled to do an in-store weekend wine-tasting and so she would pour these two along with the two " organic " red and white from CLINE that I have also blogged about recently.

Funny, the day of the tasting with Lindsay in the store I liked the red SEVEN DAUGHTERS quite a bit more than I did on my first tasting of it : and it sold quite well the day of the tasting. I always like to revisit wines more than once as mood and circumstance and other factors often affect our reactions/impressions of any wine on any given moment.

The CHIMNEY ROCK Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the Stags Leap district of Napa are already in the store as our rep Tim Gural ( Washington Wholesalers ) had already tasted them on Mike Martin and myself perhaps six weeks or so earlier? We have and sell the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon and are happy to have it when someone wants something really special. It is still young but balanced and tasty and when served with a meal it will perform I believe beautifully.
I was introduced here to CHIMNEY ROCK'S " Elevage " 2006 white blend.

The SANFORD Pinot Noir St. Rita Hills 2006 and the 2006 Chardonnay I had not tried in awhile and was happy to revisit them. I will include more about them as soon as I get to the office and can check my notes.

Peter also introduced me to the Bodegas TAMARI wines ( a 2007 red Malbec and a white Torrontes 2008 ) on this visit. As usual it was a good tasting with Peter and Chrissy and I will call Chrissy to check on the status of my order. I believe I have scheduled to have some come in April which is right around the corner. So, stay tuned for an update on all of these wines.

I know that we are expecting more of the SEVEN DAUGHTERS' white blend today as a customer has ordered a case earlier this week having liked it so much when Lindsay tasted it earlier at our in-store tasting.

Thanks Peter, Chrissy and Lindsay. Come again anytime Peter : you always have interesting wines to share with us from the Terlato Family Wines' portfolio.

Here are some of the more artsy photographs that I took while tasting these wines. I hope you like and enjoy them. Cheers, TONY

Jeremy Sutton Of Kysela Pere Et Fils/Fille Tastes " New " Wines: TRES OJOS, GRAND VENEUR, PICPOUL DE PINET, REGUSSE Aligote & More Wed. Feb. 25th, '09

Here are the pictures that I took of Jeremy Sutton here on Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 in Cleveland Park. It's been good to get to know Jeremy. He clearly has the passion for wine and works for Fran Kysela that represents so many excellent wine values.

On this visit Jeremy brought Mike Martin and me some excellent " new " as well as old favorite wines to taste. You can see them here in the picture. I always take a picture because it helps me later when I write these for the details of the names and the vintages and the order in which I sampled them. You would think that you would remember all of this but we end up sampling many wines and this is a great way to keep it all as straight as possible as we know that memories flag and chose what to remember and what to forget : and that can be downright unfortunate!

In this line-up Jeremy brought us an excellent white 2007Aligote dry white indigenous grape ( not that many people have heard of Aligote ). The Aligote was probably better known twenty years ago when French wines were still all the rage and people were making more kirs to enjoy before a meal.

This Aligote 2007 ( $10.99 ) comes from the southern Rhone valley ( or is it the northern Provence- Hautes Alpes, the Pinoit Noir comes from there ) area from the DOMAINE DE REGUSSE ( vin de pays de Mediterranee,, tel: 04 92723044, Pierrevert,France ). We have enjoyed selling now for months the REGUSSE Pinot Noir that Mary Leigh introduced to us then.

It was with delight and anticipation that I tasted this  2007 Aligote. We can always use a good Aligote in the store to drink with a meal or to make a kir with ( that's when you add some creme de cassis to some dry white wine which was traditionally the Aligote dry whites from Burgundy). I was hoping it would be as good as the Pinot Noir that they make and I was not disappointed : rather, I was delighted!

It's hearty, it's robust, it's gripping and a bit tight and muscular , earthy, dusty-dry and a touch like a fine sandpaper as it goes down the hatch! It's perfect for a kir and perfect for a hearty meal that needs something to fight back and stand it's ground : both of which this REGUSSE 2007 Aligote ( $10.99 ) does brilliantly and more : and for a great price to boot! Cheers and kudos again to the DOMAINE DE REGUSSE.

     Jeremy also brought us the Alaine Jaume & Fils Reserve GRAND VENEUR ( 84100, Orange, France, ) 2006 red Cotes du Rhone, $10.99 that is smooth and polished and shows a lovely patina on the palate of bright red toasted cherry-strawberry flavors mingling cheerfully with milder, behaved spices that have been brought-up in a good family. It's balanced and well-spoken, sometimes a bit softer and sometimes it raises just ever so slightly it's voice and flavor profile to rise to the occasion and complement it, the guests and the food being served.  It's a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Cinsault grapes.We've always had here a soft spot for it here in Cleveland Park N.W. Washington D.C. and many of our customers have thoroughly enjoyed it over the years.

     On other recent visits Jeremy has also tasted us on the Spanish Calatayud old-vines Garnacha ( same as the French Grenache ) red TRES OJOS, $7.99, the Corbieres red 2006 " Col des Vents " of CASTELMAURE, $8.99 ( it's the best I've tasted in some time, excellent - really great polish and balance, ) and the EVER SUCCESSFUL/POPULAR Picpoul de Pinet HB 2008 Coteaux du Languedoc, $7.99 dry white French wine that we have easily sold more than a thousand cases over the years : and for which people just keep returning for over and over and over again! It's also available here in the magnum ( double-bottle size ) as well as in the 3-liter box. Never be out of Picpoul de Pinet at your home!!

     We have all these wines from Jeremy here in the store today on Thursday, March 5th, 2009 at 10:43 AM as I get ready to proof and post this blog. It's a cold, bright morning that is warming into the 40's and taking/melting some of the beautiful white snow along with it as it melts. It's a baby-blue skied morning and it feels great to be alive today and if you can, come by today and take advantage of our 20% OFF on twelve or more bottles of any still wines or any still wine bottle that sells for more than $20 a bottle.

     Cheers, and enjoy this glorious day. It's a great day for an Aligote REGUSSE  kir or some of any of the above reds mentioned : they are all so very affordable during these very serious, trying times.Cheers,   TONY

Enjoy, TONY

Lindsay Pike Of Washington Wholesalers Shows Mike Martin & Tony Quinn The CLINE " Red Truck " Petit Sirah & Sauv. Blanc, Both Organic, YES!

Here are the photos I took of Mike Martin tasting the CLINE Organic Sauvignon Blanc and red Petit Sirah under the " Red Truck " labels ( Lindsay Pike of Washington Wholesalers pouring for him ) on Wednesday, Feb. 25th, 2009 here at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008, Tel : 202-363-4265 ) in our nation's capitol!

I remember back in November 2007 when Mike and Jennifer of Washington Wholesalers made a sales call on Mike and me at Cleveland Park with a bottle of the CLINE " Red Truck " Pinot Noir. It was the week before Thanksgiving and we desperately needed a " value " California Pinot Noir and so as soon as we tasted it and heard the price we ordered it for the next-day delivery. It was a big success!

This bottle of Pinot Noir was not organic at the time. It may be now but I doubt it. It tasted flavorful and had some complexity and darker berry-cherry , toasted flavors and it worked nicely for us.

Now just last week on Wednesday Feb 25th, 2009 Lindsay brought us both the CLINE " Red Truck " Petit Sirah and the Sauvignon Blanc. I tasted first the Sauvignon Blanc and liked it. But what really caught my attention that it was organic and also it's really affordable price ( $11.99 for both it and the Petit Sirah ). That got me to thinking : what would the Petit Sirah taste like?

So many of our customers are in search of good Petit Sirah from California. It's really quite an easy sell especially when it is between $10 and $15 a bottle. People seem to really like California Petit Sirah : it seems to both be more successful as flavorful and interesting than many of the CA, Syrahs for the same money. We sell as a result so much more CA. Petit Sirah than we do CA. Syrah.

I tasted this CLINE " Red Truck " organic Petit Sirah with eagerness and much anticipation. It had good, deep color : I liked that immediately. It smelled inviting and not alcoholic, I loved that! The flavors were forward and fruit and also both earthy and ripe and toasty and with just enough " jam " in the middle range to be pleasing and balanced. But how would it finish? Would it leave a lot of " jam " and fruit and alcohol when I swallowed? I was hoping not. I wanted balance in this wine : a wine that would be tasty but not heavy and cloying and ultimately boring. To my enormous relief it ended with some dryness returning and acids to reign-in the " jam " and allow some of the spice and the other flavors to linger longer.

I liked it : I could drink another sip, I could enjoy the whole glass I believe. It was focused and flavorful and a very good value as well as being organic. Yes! This is what we are looking for : as much of the whole enchilada as we can possibly have. Here we have it.

Lindsay will be at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits on Saturday, March 7th, 2009 from 4-7 PM to pour both wines so that any of you that stop by the store this weekend can taste and judge for yourselves. Join us, there is never any charge. We'd love to see you.

Also : Lindsay will be tasting another " new " California wine : both the SEVEN DAUGHTERS red ( Merlot, Cab. Sauv, Cab. Franc, Zinfandel, Syrah, Carignane, Sangioves ) and white ( Riesling, Symphony, Chardonnay, Orange Muscat, Gewurztraminer,Sauvignon Blanc, French Colombard ) blends of each seven different grape varieties. I really liked very much the white. It showed brilliantly the next afternoon when Chrissy Carpenter brought it by to taste us on. The day before Lindsay had tasted us on the red and I was not as interested in it then because I was more interested in the CLINE " Red Truck " organic wines for less money!

The SEVEN DAUGHTERS ( , King City, CA ) each sell for $16.49 a bottle and I will write more about them once that we have tasted them again this Saturday. I want to get a second taste of the red to see if I warm to it more. Even if I do not does not mean that our customers will not. My tastes are my own and I know that. I want to see how I find the balance in the red. As I said the white impressed me quite a bit and I can see us selling it well.

It's fun to get to taste these ' new , up-and-coming " wines and seeing whether we will sell them or not. The people at Washington Wholesalers are doing a really good job making us aware at Cleveland Park of their various selections : and we are very appreciative of that.

Come by and check us out at Cleveland Park. Enjoy these pictures that I took later after trying the wines of Lindsay tasting Mike Martin on them. Cheers, TONY

Brennan Downey Visits Cleveland Park Wed. Feb.25th, '09 With VOLPE PASINI'S Single Vineyard 2007 Ribolla Gialla & SAINT NICOLAS Brem Rouge" Pinot Noir

     Here are the pictures I took of Brennan at the store last Wednesday Fe. 25th, 2009.

     Brennan came by at the samr e time that we had Samuel of the MAS DE DAUMAS GASSAC family here tasting their new releases and so the last picture of us here in a group includes Brennan, Samuel, Chris Pigott and me ( Tony Quinn ). It was nice for them to meet while we were tasting and Brennan got a chance to try these excellent wines from the haute vallee du Gassa, ( 34150 ) in southern France.

     Brennan always has a fun assortment of wines for me to sample each time he visits and tastes with owner Pietro of Sorriso and owner Dean of DINO restaurant ( both fine Italian restaurants here no more than a block away from Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ). In Brennan's " bag of goodies " he sometimes has an assortment of French, Italian, Californian and Uruguayan wines, too. I never know what he will unveil for me. I do know that I am always eager to see what he is carrying that particular moment because it will always be of the highest quality, great value and sometimes truly obscure like I like them. That's just me of course : loving the indigenous and seldom-touted wines.

     This morning Brennan had a great haul with him including an excellent dry white wine from Friuli, Italy made with the flavorful, aromatic Ribolla Gialla that you seldom see. Pietro loves it , however and usually has one on his list.

     This was the VOLPE PASINI single-vineyard 2007 Ribolla Gialla ( $27.49 ) that we tasted this go-round. Usually we taste the regular bottling from VOLPE PASINI as it is also excellent ( not quite as deep or concentrated and with a bit less of a finish perhaps, but wonderful nonetheless ) and easier on one's pocket book/wallet. I loved both the depth of flavors and the striking color of this single-vineyard and will talk to Brennan about getting some.

     I also tried with Brennan the French Loire Valley 100% Pinot Noir that completely floored me because of it's saltier, more sea-scape flavoring ( more like " salt and ocean breeze " Brennan just said when I spoke to him over the phone now. ) dry, leaner taste. It's also from the area around the mouth of the Loire river and closer to the Atlantic Ocean, thus the reference to a " salty, ocean breeze " texture and flavoring. I liked it and was intrigued by it. It comes from SAINT NICOLAS ( not de Bourgeuil by Chinon - I was at first confused by the name ) and is called " Brem Rouge ". 

     We tasted the 2006 vintage I believe and it will sell for $27.49 just like the VOLPE PASINI. I will have to have it here to introduce our customers to it. It's unique, it's flavorful, well-focused ( like a well-toned athlete ) and will make an excellent choice for some of those more tasty, flavorful meals we like especially now as the weather is still colder and we need a bit of extra warmth ( this one provided in a great liquid guise ! ).

     It will also be fun to have people discover with this SAINT NICOLAS 100% Pinot Noir that Pinot Noir is also grown outside of the Sancerre region of the Loire Valley which is at the exact opposite end from this one. I did not know until last Wednesday that Pinot Noir was grown anywhere else in the Loire. I still learn something everyday and for that I am eternally grateful as I am still challenged, wowed, bowled-over and fascinated by the wealth of wines and their flavors still available to us even in these difficult times when every trend seems to be to down-size and to limit some of this wealth of choice and experiences that one still has, luckily- for the moment - today. Let keep all these fun areas and indigenous and fun combinations healthy and alive and available to the many of us out there that want more choices and experiences.

     I just learned that Brennan is on the train up to New York City now going to the Gambero Rosso to the " Three Glasses " Awards tasting today. He said that he would be tasting some really good wines today. No doubt Brennan, drink one and think of us back here in Washington D.C. Be sure also to say " hello " to anyone there and say a special " hello " to the owner of VOLPE PASINI that you will see there. And don't forget to come back with some good stories for us here as well. We love stories : life and wine/ food, people and the arts are all stories - wonderful, incredible, amazing stories.

     In these pictures of Brennan that I took are featured the VOLPE PASINI Friuli Ribolla Gialla 2007 and the SAINT NICOLAS " Brem Rouge " 2006 Loire Valley Pinot Noir. I hope you like them : I take lots of artistic licence when I take them. It's art, too I hope that I want to preserve here as well as the people, wines and the visit. Our moment(s) : trying to " own them " and appreciate them for they are what we each have.

     Cheers,  TONY

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pierre de Benoist of DOMAINE A. Et P. VILLAINE, Burgundy Visits/Tastes " New " Releases At Cleveland Park Wed. Feb. 25th, '09 W/ Jody Jackman

This was another great tasting opportunity for me ( 25/02/09 - this is how Pierre wrote the date for me on his guest page, in the French style ) : serendipitous and totally one that I welcomed with outstretched arms. I simply had to see the labels peripherally as I zoomed by putting last minute touches on things on the store's wine floor, adjusting whatever displays needed a tweak here, saying " hello " and addressing any customers there, asking them after welcoming them if they needed assistance?

It's a full-time job that never stops and always flows together and becomes quite busy and demanding at the drop of a pin or the pouring of a wine glass with some " new " wine. I don't mind, I reveal more of myself and my abilities as well as learn in these active, complex moments of ours at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 Tel: 202-363-4265 ).

It's all in good fun. sport and learning as one goes along. I call it my -our moment ( s ). These are ours or mine alone and I simply chose to share them and make them as special as I possibly can. I've gotten more sincere and more focused on this as the years have gone by. So this is the environment in witch I finally met Pierre de Benoist of DOMAINE A. ET P. DE VILLAINE ( 2, Rue de la Fontaine, 71150 Bouzeron, Burgundy, France +33 (0)6 75 22 28 10

Jody Jackman our fabulously attentive, professional, beautiful rep from Winebow had called and asked if she could come by with a wine owner to taste his wines? I think she spoke to Mike Martin my wine-buying partner at Cleveland Park. He immediately told me her message to which I consented without blinking an eye. All wine-makers and owners are invited no matter who they are or what they make. This is essential to me : they may come by with an appointment or not and I / we will try and see them our the day's particular activities when they come.

In the case of Jody and Pierre it was a little bit later in the day as the store begins to get busier and buzz with more busy bees wanting to finish their shopping and to get home and relax and enjoy whatever they collected/produced along the way. So my time with both Jody and Pierre was a bit more fragmented. But, as I said, the minute I saw the wine bottle labels from the corners of my eyes I knew that I was in for a treat!

I met Pierre and shook his hand and said " bonjour " immediately to welcome him to our store. I told him I knew of his wines, I told him that I had sold his family's wines, that I knew of their reputation, of their excellence and fame with the connection of the DOMAINE DE LA ROMANEE CONTI, etcetera ( having been for years " Parkerized " ... ) and he smiled quickly and responded. I did not quite hear him so I cannot record it here. It was something about the association of the two.

I have over the years sold a lot of his fabulous Aligote white made with this once to referred to grape as the " poor man's Chardonnay ". This one from VILLAINE clearly matches many a Chardonnay if not surpassing a number of them in both quality. taste. character and value. I would not use this one for making a kir for example but would opt to drink it along with an excellent meal. That is where it will reveal more of the full range of it's various flavors : with a meal to bring it out/ flesh it out and give it color and shape and definition as an artist would by adding paint to a blank white virgin canvas.

This particular Aligote 2007 white burgundy was quite flavorful and broad in all it's flavor profiles. It had weight, some gravitas and a lot of taste that had edge and spice and mineral and even dried herbs and honey? I liked it, but it was a mouthful of taste to be reckoned with and my mind and guts and seven senses would need to be gathered more closely together to better focus and appreciate the nuances and blasts from this lovely white Aligote.

I told Pierre this as I continued to appear and leave almost as quickly helping customers. I also had to get my camera and a white page for Pierre to write on later ( as well as my poster for him to sign like all the other wine owners and wine-makers ). I would snap a picture, taste, ask a question, be whisked quickly away by a call on the phone or the request/question of a customer. It was a bit harried.

I called Mike over or stopped him dead-in-his-tracks as he passed us by and alerted him to the real quality of these wines I was tasting. When hearing the words : DOMAINE DE LA ROMANEE CONTI he stopped immediately and got himself a glass to taste. There are some things that simply must be tasted and acknowledged! You just cannot pass everything by and wait for a better, more convenient time. Sometimes you just have to drop everything and taste : this was such a time.

Here are the pictures that I took of Pierre de Benoist's visit to Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits. Pierre comes from DOMAINE A. Et P. De VILLAINE, Burgundy France ( 2, Rue de la Fontaine 71150 Bouzeron Tel : +33 ( 0 ) 6 75 22 28 10

I was tasting with one of the special " Redel " wine-tasting glasses. They look different than all the rest and they do work well. I've been using one of these now for the last two week's or so and liking it.

Pierre poured me some of the Chardonnay 2007 Cote Chalonnaise " Les Clous " and I warmed immediately to it's softer, more gentle, more rounded flavors that were also lighter and less-demanding on all of my tasting faculties. Overall it was simply a more flattering wine and one that I could immediately drink and enjoy with or without food. It had less edge as well and the fruit of the Chardonnay was brighter and more like pure sunshine captured in this wine, floating in and all around it. I liked it and will consider buying some for the store. I must buy the Aligote because of flavor and value : and so I will also buy some of the Chardonnay with any money left over after buying the Aligote! Decisions, decisions : tough choices to make in these most trying times.

The next two wines were both red Pinot Noirs : 1 ) the Bourgogne " La Digoine " Cote Chalonnaise 2007 and the 2 ) Mercurey " Les Montots " 2007, also from the Chalonnaise but in this case all from the area of Mercurey and not a blend as with the Bourgogne above of possibly Rully, Montagny and Mercurey Pinot Noir fruit.

I liked them both quite a lot. They had plenty of flavor and taste and weight and style and polish and finesse. They were both also quite bright red, toasty-berry in flavors and taste. Both were rounded and very appealing : the Mercurey simply had more weight and depth than the Bourgogne " La Dogoine ".

Ils sont tous les deaux tres flatteure et challereuses. Quels robes en rouge tendre et brillants et sublimes : comme je suis contents avec les deux. Je peux les porter avec moi au lit et boire aux femmes qui ajoutent la couleur, clarite, belle vie et presque tout ma raison a vivre et a etre ... merci mes femmes toujours autour de moi qui me donnent la force et l'esprit de continue a manger la vie comme je le fais toujours. Et avec les vins rouges comme ce Bourgogne "La Digoine " et Mercurey de DOMAINE A. ET P. DE VILLAINE je suis presque a paradis, moi ... merci infinement ... femmes, La Nature. les bons vins, l'art - tout m'inspirent d'etre beaucoup foux et content de vivre et d'ertr la pour tout les experiences de cette vie incroyable ...

I will buy one of the reds for the store as well. I know Jody that as you walked out of the store this evening with Pierre that I told you to send us some. I cannot now remember what I told you so that it will be a very pleasant surprise when it arrives with the rest of the order this week. It may be today in fact, my day-off.

It's now Monday ( 11:58 AM, just before noon here in northern Virginia ) and the whole Wahington D.C. metroploitan area is buried or covered in a thick four-inch or more blanket of fluffy, billowy white snow off of which the sun is now shining and making so reflective and bright. It's March 1st or 2nd, 2009 : I have to go check! I should know but I'm happy in my bliss not-knowing on my day-off. I do believe that it is the 2nd, 2009!

I have more to add and to write but now I will proof and send this as I'd like to share the story and the pictures with you all. I'm feeling quite inspired having seen the excellent show on Pompeii and all it's art treasures yesterday with my family at the Smithsonian's East Wing ( go to my " About Me - View my complete file " on the title page here and click it so that you may scroll down to my blog called : chat art " and click that on to read about my Pompeii inspiration in art and wine ).

I think the pictures came out quite well. At first I think I had pictures of Pierre wondering to himself where I was going with all these photos? I don't blame you Pierre, I do take things pretty much by " orage " / storm! That's just my way but I do hope at last that you finally enjoyed yourself and this experience that was ours and which we enjoyed together with Jody and Mike.

When I asked you to write something for us in our guest book this is what you wrote Pierre " " Tojours enjoie, toujours chalereux, un grand merci pour cette belle degustation. La prochaine se fear a Bourgogne au milieu et avec l'Ane des vins du Domaine. Bravo et vive le Bourgogne libre ".

Je suis d'accord avec toi Pierre. J'adore les vins du Bourgogne : j'adore la France et je gards des souveniers fantastiques de mes jours dans les anness soixante-dix la-bas a Paris quand mon pere etait chef des Passports a l'Embassade Americain a La Place De La Concord et pas loin de la magasin : Caves de la Madeleine de l'anglais Steven Spurrier. Cette experience ma' enrechisait ( enriched me ) comme pas beaucoup des autres! Excusez-moi pour mes fautes d'autograph ici

And Jody, thanks for blowing both Pierre and me un bisou/kiss. That was nice, et quel sourire de toi : your eyes actually sparkled! Gotta love that : I sure do. Et toi Pierre, qu'est ce que tu pense de cette foto ici ou Jody nous envoye un bisou tout les deux?!?

Merci encore pour cette visite et degustation a Cleveland Park Pierre a Washington D.C. le capitaux D'Aux Etats-Unis et la ville ou beaucoup des Francaises habitent continuellement et qui me rendre souvent visite pour mes conseils!

Cheers et Sante et a la prochaine notre nouveau ami. TONY

Marc, Anne Marie Tempe of TEMPE, Alsace Visit Cleveland Park Wines Today, Thurs. Feb. 26th with Roy Cloud( VINT. 59 ), Taste P. Blanc, P. Gris, Gewuu

" ... Ries. and Gewurztraminer " my headline should read! Sorry, ran out of room ...

I was in the office this morning composing my day - actually - dashing through a string of things that I wanted to get done or partially accomplished before the day came crashing down all around me and I started to realize some of the enormity of it! It's always more than I conceived or bargained for : and yet I am always wanting and willing to accept and enjoy whatever does come my / our way. Today was no exception!

I was typing some of my Morning Poems onto my blog site : : or perhaps downloading some of the pictures from my Olympus camera onto our Apple computer at work. I was frantic and absorbed and I see Roy Cloud come from around the corner and say to me simply " Tony! Do you have a moment? " I responded immediately in the affirmative as I secretly wondered when did Roy ever have anything to do with me that just took " a moment"? It just did not seem that anything worth doing concerning Roy and his excellent arsenal of fighting organic or organic ( mostly French ) wine would take only a moment?!? Maybe several and normally I am always happy to indulge him because I will ultimately be the better for having done so!

This was no exception. I said to give me a moment as I saved whatever it was that I was actually working on at that specific moment. Having done so I exited from my lair and came out looking for Roy and whatever " goodies " he had tucked into his magic hat for us. Ohhh, what would it be today? I simply had no idea at all!

I looked to my left out into the store and not seeing him looked to my right where I saw him and two figures just past him : a man and a woman. I shook Roy's hand and the other two approached as Roy introduced me to Marc and Anne Marie Tempe of the great TEMPE vineyard in Alsace, France. I immediately said " Bonjour " and started to speak a mile a minute in French, trying to relax these two and put them at almost complete ease. Saying that it is easier said than done and I often make my job doing that much more difficult than it has to be : I try and engage them with my words, images and comparisons. This can easily put people on their guard as they have to try and follow me and figure out where the hell I am going with all my images and part-stories/songs/poems - whatever.

That's okay. I get really inspired by these moments and simply try and share some of this enthusiasm. Also, let it be said that these owners and wine-makers are like my/the wine world's " super stars " and I do like to make them feel more than welcome as well as special, too. They deserve it, someone should say how special their contributions are - and how much they are appreciated. It's not only about scores and reviews : it's a bout real people making real wine and that wine having made real impressions on a lot of people and their friends and colleagues when shared at the various meals made all over the world that want wine as much as food to feed their souls and bodies both physically as well as mentally/spiritually. Hurray to them : to the Marc and Anne Marie Tempe's of the world that more than facilitate this : they grow and multiply and doubly-triply satisfy so many of our impatient hungers!

I was thrilled to be finally meeting Marc Tempe as I have now for many years sold quite a number of his cases of wines. In the year 2001 and 2002 I believe we sold over a hundred of them if not more. That's an interesting story in and of itself.

It all began when there was a consolidation of the various inventories and warehouses for the Michel Schlumberger portfolio of wines that then Roy Cloud and his partner from California bought the existing inventory. They had many different vintages and wines all made by Marc Tempe and little by little ( including the Sylvaner he made then : does Marc still make Sylvaner Roy? ) we at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits must have bought around a hundred cases assorted of TEMPE ( it might have been less but it was still quite a lot ). It was a great time to seel TEMPE and we made lots of friends as I recall, especially for those that know, love and understang great Alsace white wines.

It was both a treat and an honor to buy and so many of Marc's wines and I have to say that we gave a lot of our customers extraordinary bargains and wines with some bottle age to show how wonderfully they grow, expand, develop and show all their sometimes subtle, sometimes screaming personalities, nuances, guts and soulful liquid stories of lives well-lived and complete with scraped elbows and won medals and prizes gathered along the way.

Recently Roy brought some 2005 " Zellenberg " Pinot Blanc to taste us on at the store ( I was off that day ) and Mike Martin tasted it with Roy. Mike fell in love with it and started to buy a lot and sell it to many of our customers. I think we bought all that Roy had and it was one of our last great successes with the TEMPE wines.

When I told Mike earlier today that Marc and Anne Marie Tempe had been to the store he was visibly sad to have missed them as he had heard a lot about Marc. Oh well, it will have to wait till the next time. Hopefully they will both return and do an in-store winetasting of their wines with our customers at some point in the near-future? They both liked the idea when I mentioned it earlier today.

Roy introduced me to them in very nice words all of which I have now forgotten. He added that I was the writer of a long letter to Robert Parker, Jr. He knows about this nineteen page hand-written letter that I wrote to Bob Parker and which I was waiting for some response. I never got any.

I asked them if they had any wine for me to taste as I am a fan of Marc's wines. As I said I have sold many cases over the years. As we gather around our round tasting table I realize that I need all of my armor for this special moment : my Reidel tasting-glass, my Olympus camera, my business card, a piece of white paper for Marc and Anne Marie to sign, the winemaker/owner poster for them to sign, and the book to show them where I put and gather what people sign on each of these pieces of papers to which I attach their business cards.

Roy poured me some of the 2006 Pinot Blanc " Zellenberg " which I see is a lovely golden bright sun color that is like a delicate shade of honey or yellow amber. Wow, I was just smelling the wine and looking at it's color for the longest time. Marc was telling me about the wine : that it was 60% Auxerrois and 40% Pinot BLanc I believe? Do I Have that right? I was too busy submerging myself into this liquid Alsace golden color. It was mesmerizing me, really it was ; pulling me into it's depths and surrounding me completely. I loved the taste once I Finally put some onto my tongue and bathed it completely : lovely. I was speaking again a mile-a-minute here in French and saying that it was like a smiling liquid that was happy to see and welcome me and my palate : it would be a great way to die - one would be happy completely submerged with their eyes open at first and then when ready to take one's last breath of liquid Tempe Pinot Blanc 2006 in stead of air , dying happily and closing their eyes on this last intake...

I think that they were following me pretty well, really though I do believe everything I said and did at this moment was like a truck rolling over them and near-to-crushing them in both weight and surprise. I was being sincere in all of this. I meant every word in a flattering way.

I was also taking pictures as I spoke and sampled these four great white TEMPE wines. Roy then poured for me some of the excellent " Zellenberg " Pint Gris 2005. Again it was even more golden in color : but unlike the Pinot Blanc 2006 there was effervescent and lovely bubbles popping up here and there and unexpectedly. I asked Roy as I left to answer the phone for me whether this was the way it was supposed to be? I did not hear his answer as I disappeared back into our lair.

I came out and Roy was waiting for me and answered my question in the affirmative : that it was indeed Marc's intention to have the wine with a bit of bubble and sparkle. I smelled it and it had a strong bouquet that caught my rapt attention as it was so foreign to what I had just had with the Pinot Blanc. I was paying close attention now. How would it taste?

I loved the taste of this denser, more edgy, more linear 2005 Pinot Gris " Zellenberg " that filled my mouth nicely and a bit more slowly took up full residence there. I welcomed it. I welcomed this bit more muscular version of molten, lavas of warm, soothing honeys. Wow. It sure did feel nice to have it engulping my entire palate with more liquid sunshine. Impressive.

I was really starting to dig the moment. I was listening to Anne Marie and to Marc. I was trying to get them to interact with me and also get wrapped up into our moment here and now and completely our an no other's! They were, too. I was taking pictures and showing them to them : of Marc, of Anne Marie and of Roy.

Roy poured me the third TEMPE : a 2005 Gewurztraminer " Zellenberg " and again I noticed it's deep golden ambered color. What had gotten trapped inside it, when would it harden, when would it happily take it's last breath - sacrifice it's life willingly for this liquid bliss?!?

I always want to see what I can get my guests to share with me ? I was feeling very good now and the wine was beginning to work it's magic and make me just a bit more mischievous, too. I threw out a question as I was luxuriating in the subtle yet enriched flavors of this liquid gold Gewurztraminer : what wine would you drink here, or would this one be the one to drink while making love, or before or after ? I smiled and waited : what would these two respond?

Marc was pretty quick with his response and I simply cannot now remember his exact words : sorry Marc! Maybe you can tell me later again in an email response to this blog? I would like that very much.

Anne Marie answered that the Pinot Blanc would be the one to enjoy before love-making because it would inspire and set the mood while the Pinot Gris would be great during the love-making because it would fortify and provide the necessary level of energy : and a Grand Cru would be great afterwards. They both smiled and I could sense their energy and level of commitment now to our shared dialogue.

Roy, I am not sure what you were thinking or showing facially as I was keenly looking at both Marc and Anne Marie. Sorry, maybe later you can share your thoughts with me? I would like that as well. It all happened so quickly and then you were saying Roy that we had to wrap things up as you had another appointment to get to.

I berated you Roy and said that you always needed to plan more time when you called on us at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits. I said : " How can you expect me to absorb so much, so quickly, etcetera in such a small space of time - the " moment " I guess that you wanted with me when you first came? I can't! This was cruel : too much fun ! I need more time!

I quickly asked them both to sign my poster and my sheet of white, virgin paper. They did. I had to get Marc to do a bit more than simply put his signature on the paper. Anne Marie was more prepared. Marc said he was bad at this sort of thing.

Roy, I loved your comment that you made somewhere during our tasting that you were glad that you had decided to stop : that it was a good decision on your part, Thank you Roy, I appreciate this visit more than you know. And I gave you an order for the first three out of the four wines I tried.

Oh, the fourth, the " Rodelsberg " was a 2004 white blend of one third Pinot Gris and two thirds Gewurztraminer. I have to go check my sheet to continue. It was so different from the others : paler and so much more reserved. I had to work at it more than at the others. It was not as flattering as the others : it was more delicate, more closed and retiring and the one that definitely asked more of me and all of my faculties. It was the one of the three that I would definitely want o enjoy with a meal to help draw it out and show me more of it's submerged charms that were there but not quite as eager to come out and be engaged by my palate or anybody else's?!? I think I have that right, at least for my palate at this particular time and place.

" ... P. Gris, and Gewurztraminer " the heading should finish above! I ran out of space! It always happens! I always have too much to say and include!

We tasted the : 2006 Pinot Blanc " Zellenberg " ( $28.99 ), the 2005 Pinot Gris " Zellenberg " ( $36.49 ), the 2005 Gewurztraminer " Zellenberg " ( $36.49 ) and the 2004 " Rodelsberg " ( one-third Pinot Gris and two thirds Gewurztraminer ) ( $47.99 ). Incredible. Here are the pictures that I took earlier this morning of Marc and Anne Marie Tempe with Roy Cloud. Roy called this tour ( said it on his price list : " Road Day With The Bear ( Marc Tempe ) ".

I hope you like this story. I am sure that I will add to it with time. It's hard to recollect everything now : it all happened so wonderfully fast!

I want to thank Roy, Marc and Anne Marie for coming to our store. I found out that they have two children named Marie and Simon. That's all I know. I will have to ask more about them the next visit.

When we first met I got off on the tangent of what is real and what is not. It was something that Marc said to get me started. I said " Is Tempe real, is there really something behind Tempe, the man, the wines, the biodynamics?!? I was just making conversation to see where it would go. " Is it all advertizing and made-up by someone in some office trying to make money" I asked , or something to that effect? I wanted to just start an open, frank bit of conversation between myself and them.

It worked : they immediately said that it was " all very Real> Of course I knew all the time that it was. Anne Marie said that she could personally assure me that it was " all very real ". She smiled as she said this in earnest.

That's when I asked if they had children? They said that they did : two, one of each. And I responded that when they told me that they had children that I knew without a doubt that it was " all very real". How could it be any other way?

The children are our futures as well as the future of wine and the wine business. They will become our next rock-stars. I look forward to meeting these two : Marie and Simon someday.

Before leaving I got Marc to write something and this is what he wrote : " Le main de l'ours ( bear ) d'Alsace que l'energie de mes vins passe par cette main ". I like that a lot : " the hand of the bear of Alsace, and the energy of my wines passes through this hand ". Marc traced his right hand on this piece of paper that he signed earlier with Anne Marie.

Anne Marie wrote " " Merci pour ce moment passe avec nous. Votre energie est extraordinaire ". Translated to English she said : " Thanks for this moment spent with us. Your energy is extraordinary ". Thank you Anne Marie.

At some point in our early conversation I spoke about this moment that we shared that was ours. You can either chose to live and really get into it or not. I choose wholeheartedly to get into it/ live it/ suit-up in it and in wee parts, too won or at least borrow it!

In these artsy photos I like to take you can hopefully see the beautiful color of these four wines that have inspired/fire me so much this whole Thursday. It's now 11:27 PM at home in northern Virginia as I type these last words and check for typos, etcetera before sending it, February 26th, 2009 the same day we met. I want the whole world to know immediately what a wonderful moment this was for me. And by the way Roy, it is the 26th and not the 25th, 2009! You better change your watch or your computer because one of them is wrong.

Merci Marc et Anne Marie. Ca m'a plut enormement de faire votre connaisaance ce matin au magasin. Vous-etes vous deux magnifiques : beaucoup du caractere est esprit et courage et amour pour ce que vous fetes ensemble. Vous etes une belle equipe. Et comme j'ai deja dis a Marc tu es tres sage aussi Anne Marie. Marc a bien fait de vous marie amon avis. Passe-nous voir la prochaine fois. Vous etes toujours bienvenues n'importa quand chez nous ici a Washington D.C. Emmenez vos enfants la prochaine fois aussi. A binetot j'esper et bon voyages ici Aux Etats Unis et un bon retour en France. Excuzes-moi pour mes fautes d'autograph. A votre sante, TONY

P.S. One last thing that Marc said that I simply must share with everyone : I said to him how smart his wife was and he responded that you have to be aware of and be on the look-out for redheads : that they are strong and real forces to be reckoned with! He said this with a broad grin and smile that went from one ear stretching all the way over to the other. I didn't know before this, but now I know. Thanks for sharing that detail with me Marc. You are the bear ....

Two more notes : I just posted the blog and checked it and as I was looking at the pictures I took and enlarged to see better on the whole monitor screen two things came back to me. One was the picture of Marc's hands. I told him as he was speaking with them as well as with his voice that I wanted a photograph. I got a good one, too and it includes the one hand of his wife ( as well as mine ). I like all of that. Marc quickly said that the hands were important ( remember he drew his right one on the sheet of paper ) and quickly added that here at this moment they were both clean.

Second, if you enlarge the second to the last picture here that I took of him through the Reidel glass you will see that part of his face is also reflected below a bit lower in another part of the glass? See it? I really like that. It's great what you often get by welcome surprise this way. Do you agree? Hope you liked these photos. I also noticed Anne Marie's red hair in some of the photos ... nice. It was all so nice. Why did it have to end?

And thirdly, when I took the first picture seen here on this blog I asked Roy to put his hand back so that we could see it in the picture with the bottles ( with my left hand, too holding the glass with Marc's wine in it so you could also see it's color and clarity, etc ) because it would make the picture more personal and make it " our picture and story ". He smiled and said something to the effect that I was crazy. Oh well, so be it : I can - have lived with that for much of my life : no turning back now ...