Saturday, February 14, 2009

2/13/09 , 3 Tastings : EVERGREEN'S Spruce Goose, Oregon, Macchu Pisco Peru, & Four French Beers : Brass. Du Mont Blanc. St. Rieul, Du Bouffay

The rest of the headline here should have read : " And The Mandrin Biere Aux Noix ". Sorry, ran out of room ...

Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 , Tel : 202-36304265 ) is already a pretty happenin' place if I may humbly claim myself. So, when you add to the equation three different tastings, all happenin' at the same time this past Friday night ( 5-8 PM ) on February 13th, 2009 then you get an absolute explosion of things going on - people mingling, lingering, smiling, buying and over all enjoyin' themselves. What more could they/ we ask for on a Friday night?!? Not much ...
John and Theresa Morrison of Boutique Imports brought both Greg Jones ( ) and Jule Gradek ( ) from EVERGREEN'S " Spruce Goose " Willamette Oregon winery to the store to taste the new range of their wines. We tasted both the 2004 " Spruce Goose " Pinot Noir ( $21.99 ) as well as the special EVERGREEN " Commemorative " edition 2004 bottling of Pinot Noir(  $30 ), the EVERGREEN Pinot Gris 2006 ( $19.99 ) and the EVERGREEN dry Riesling 2007 ( $19.99 ) as well as the " Spruce Goose " Pinot Noir, non-alcoholic grape juice ( $9.99 ). Greg also brought a box of " Spruce Goose " dark chocolates to give out after sampling the wines. The box Jules tells me is made in England and I believe she said the chocolates were Belgian. Tasty. One goes a long way to satisfying one's craving for chocolate.

As you can see by these pictures that lots of people showed up to taste these excellent Oregon wines that we have enjoyed selling now for three years I believe. Last year I helped Greg, John and Theresa arrange to get a table to pour their wines at the Smithsonian's National Zoo "Zoofari " tasting with foods from local restaurants, too to raise money to help save the world's endangered frog population. This is a cause dear to my heart as for me as a child I used to be passionate about frogs and toads having grown up part of my early life in Brazil. It turned out to be a big success all around. I took my daughter and we enjoyed the whole affair and stopped off at John and Theresa's table at the end of the evening. Nice.

That evening we also stopped briefly to say " hello " to Scott Peters and to taste his Robert Mondavi wines ( the Cabernet Sauvignon ). I'm glad we did because just after that Robert Mondavi passed away and he sure did do a whole lot to support wines over the world in general as well as in California.

But I am getting off course with all this and need now to get back to this Friday evening. I enjoyed the real finesse and elegance of the 2004 " Spruce Goose " Pinot Noir. It is so subtle and refined and will go great with salmon and white meats. The " Commemorative " bottling of the Pinot Noir was more " meaty " with more " grip " and more weight and I must say that I preferred it this evening. It will go better with more flavored/seasoned foods in general.

I enjoyed trying the Pinot Gris and the Riesling. It was busy then and I sipped them rather quickly just to get some idea of what was currently in the bottles : both dry, both balanced, distinct and to my liking. I would definitely enjoy them better with food than all by themselves. I will write more once I try them again.

The " Spruce Goose " Pinot Noir grape juice without alcohol I found too sweet for me this evening. It needed to be better chilled and I think it's an excellent product for those wanting to drink something without alcohol. It will be great with the warm weather, great for pregnant women and , as I said, just about anyone else who likes wine but does not want the alcohol.

We also had our dear friend Melanie their with her two own creations : she's Peruvian and has brought the U.S. two excellent piscos : the Macchu Pisco and the La Diablada : both of which we sell at the store ( have for the last three years or so ) everyday. Because of Valentine's Day the next day Melanie used Grenadine to give her Pisco Sours some pink color and they sure were good as always. I only had three sips or so and that was more than enough for me. Melanie had just finished the night before I believe doing an important event at the Peruvian Embassy that I had been invited to but which, sadly could not attend. She had stars in her eyes when I mentioned it. It must have been the grand event, right Melanie? You will have to tell me more about it later. Thanks Melanie.

Then we had Shannon come and pour four ' new " French artisanale beers ( bieres ) that all are packaged in small little bottles. Shannon works for Jocelyn Cambier and I remember several months' ago reading about these French beers / bieres in the Food Section of the Washington Post newspaper . Yes, I still really like reading the actual paper - having it in my hands, and not reading it online! I had just finished reading and enjoying the excellent wine-writing/evaluations and social-historical-environmental-conscious wine-evaluations of Dave McIntyre. He's right-on with his writing ; relevant, connecting the pieces of the wine-puzzle, so-t0-speak and bringing us more germane, pithy articles that we should be really sinking our teeth into / tongues onto as they are so much more pertinent than some " fluff jobs " we see so much more often. And they really, in my humble opinion do not speak much to me. And for me do not have much relevance in today's quickly-changing/morphing world of everything including wine. Cheers Dave, keep it up !

Anyway, when I tasted Shannon's wines I mentioned the article to her and the French beers and as you can clearly see in these pictures now the rest is history! We are thrilled to be able to include them in our big selection of quality beers at Cleveland Park Beers, Spirits and Wines Selections. Let's always keep the variety available to one and to all : all small, wonderful, indigenous, artisanale selections that keep the world the truly interesting place it is.

They sure are tasty and I got a chance to try all four this evening and liked the first three quite a bit but found the fourth, the " MANDRIN " biere aux noix ( $4.99 ) to be too heavy and too strong for me.

Shannon started by pouring for everyone the DU BOUFFAY " Blonde " biere artisanale du Pays Nantais ( Loire valley ) , $4.49 first. It comes in the taller, skinny bottle pictured here. I really liked it a whole lot : excellent, not have, not cloying - flavorful, smooth, elegant bright taste. She then poured the BRASSERIE DU MONT BLANC " La Blonde ", $4.25 second and again I really enjoyed the extra flavor, weight and bit more " high and low " flavors here. It did not rest so comfortably in the middle range of flavors as the DU BOUFFAY. I then proceeded to the ST. RIEUL " Grand Cru ", $5.99 and remarked the deeper color and richer, thicker flavor. It, too pleased me as I flitted around the store from customer to customer, from tasting to table, selling, schmoozing, talking, making polite conversation, etcetera. I was also having a grand time taking pictures of all of this activity. There were so many people in our store and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and the general mood of the evening.

By the time I got to Shannon and to talking to Mitch at the register I was pretty much totally relaxed and feeling " no pain " having sampled " wee " bits of everything. That's when I tasted the " MANDRIN " biere aux noix with Mitch and inadvertently spieled out : " I'd rather do the blond ( the DU BOUFFAY " ) than this on ". It occured immediately to me that what I said if taken out of context could be quite damning and I mentioned this immediately. The lady there smiled and understood while both Mitch and Shannon said nothing at all. Oh well, it was innocent enough, just a slip of the tongue that I caught quickly after!

It was a grand evening at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits and I thank everyone for their help : Greg, Jules, Theresa, John, Melanie and Shannon. Without you we could not have done this. Kudos to you all and to all our great and faithful Cleveland Park customers. Happy Valentine's Day to you all.

It's now Sunday afternoon here at home in northern Virginia at 1:20 PM as I type, proof and post this blog. I know I have left a lot out and will add it as I realize what it is and as time permits. In the meantime enjoy this bit that I will post in a few minutes. Cheers, TONY

Here are some of the pictures I took here at Cleveland Park last night. Hope you like them. Cheers, TONY

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