Monday, May 31, 2010

Paul Cluver Of Elgin, South Africa Here W/ Kay Mallon ( Winebow Imports ) Tasting Current Releases, 5/10/10, W/ Soccer World Cup Just Around The Bend!

This is a three-part story that started with Kay Mallon of Winebow Imports when she brought me Paul Cluver the owner of PAUL KLUVER, Elgin South African wines to Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits on May 10th, 2010 to taste his wines currently available through Winebow Imports. That was Part One.

Part Two was when Jody Jackman our rep here at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 Tel:202-363-4265, ) came to do her in-store/wine-tasting for our customers and tasted Chris Barker and me on the PAUL CLUVER 2008 Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest , wine of origin Elgin, South Africa. We tasted it and I liked it and before leaving after the tasting she offered me the bottle? I accepted and took it home to enjoy with my wife and daughter sometime later.

Part Three is a couple of weeks later ( this past Saturday, June 5th, 2010 ) after work deciding to serve it to my son's 5th grade teacher and her husband with our daughter's lemon dessert. It was the right decision : it was incredible, really. It shone with these rich and sweet and gooey slices of lemon dessert and were a perfect foil for their sweetness. All the elegant and refined and fine-nuanced/bright and fresh and with so many distinct, defined Kodak-type liquid moments : wow! The freshness of ripe apricots and peaches and nectarines were amazing and so crystal-clear.

The accents of sharp and yet smooth, never-heavy nuts and honey was another real treat as it provided relief and definition and an oasis from the sweetness of the lemon and sugar and softly chewy goo - pretty incredible, really. I kept tasting to see if the spell would be broken? Would the circle be broken as well? Never , and believe me I kept putting thins to the test silently as everyone talked and laughed and spun tales and added comments and their own spin on things as the conversation ricocheted back and forth between us at our dining room dinner table, never losing a beat.

Everyone enjoyed the combination I believe as plates were cleaned and glasses were drained ... incredible, wonderful, a " moment " for me, silent but loud with meaning ringing inside my head where only I could hear and smile ...

Paul, tell me about the Weisser Riesling as I have never heard of this before? What is the story behind it as well as your personal story about it?

Thank you Jody : I will have to thank you in person tomorrow when you come to the store.

I enjoyed meeting owner Paul Cluver of his own winery very much. I was able to taste four wines : 1) PAUL CLUVER 2008 Chardonnay ( $18.99 ) ; 2)PAUL CLUVER 2008 Sauvignon Blanc ( $14.99 ) ; 3) PAUL CLUVER 2009 Riesling ( $16.49 ) ; and 4) PAUL CLUVER 2008 Pinot Noir ( $22.99 ).

It was a good tasting and I think that we all really enjoyed each others' company. Jody Jackman showed up at some point and that was nice. She tasted with us briefly before having to head off to another appointment.

I enjoyed myself and took lots of my artsy photos as you will see here as you scroll down. I always have such a grand time trying to capture natural expressions that are not self-conscious. I also love trying to capture images that help tell the story of each of these special moments we share together through pictures and not through words. I almost want you the viewer here to fill-in the details of these tastings on your own reading what I have written as well as mostly relying on the pictures to give you some sense of place and time and mood/demeanor of those involved like the owners and wine-makers of their properties and wines.

It's easier said than done : it's really a whole lot of work that depends a lot on chance and timing and coordination of man and machine ( my Canon digital camera ) and of those other people I am photographing along with their wines, the Reidel glasses with their wine, their bottles of wine and their wine-labels, etc ... how to capture it all? How to make it feel and look exciting and grand and fun and monumental/profound, too?!? It's a grand challenge and one that I rise to quite often here at the Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits store that I have now managed and run for the last ten years in N.W. Washington D.C.

Here's Kay Mallon in this photograph above through my Reidel wine-tasting wine glass with the PAUL CLUVER wine inside and a nice smile on her face : I like it.

In this picture above Jody Jackman has arrived and Paul is pouring her some of his 2009 Riesling to sample.

Paul spoke a lot with his hands and I enjoyed capturing this with shot after shot, along with all the other pictures of him and his wines seen through my Reidel wine glass. I'm very pleased with many of them.

I asked Paul to write something in our guest book as we talked and bounced ideas and impressions/beliefs off one another. He wrote some pretty good things, too. Here is what he said and observed to me :

" People come to taste the Sauvignon ( Blanc ) and never want to try the Gewurztraminer. Once they try it they often end up buying a case as they are pleasantly surprised. "

And : " High alcohol wines with heavily extracted fruit are impressive at first, but I can hardly finish a glass let alone a bottle ".

Then Paul finished with " Dear Tony, Fantastic meeting you. Your enthusiasm is amazing. Hope you enjoy the cool climate wines from Elgin. " Cheers, Paul 10-5-2010

Thanks Paul, I agree wholeheartedly with your first two observations.

This is a really good picture of you Paul above : do you agree?

Too bad in this picture above that I did not wait another split second to get the wine being poured from the bottle into my glass. I did, however get the label and the glass and a bit of you and that tells the first art of the process of pouring wine doesn't it?

I love this picture above as there are three images of you Paul here : amazing. Enlarge it n your monitor screen at home and see these three images broken apart of you at the same split second that I snapped this picture. I love this type of thing : very artsy.

I also like this picture above of you Paul very much for the same reasons. It's not as dramatic or shocking : more subdued and yet it has it's draw and appeal, too ...

I love all the many big beads or circles/pools of bright red toasty 2008 PAUL CLUVER Pinot Noir being poured into the Reidel wine-tasting glass above. The ceiling lights really shine through it and make it churn and move and come alive visually. Only with the camera can you/I really hope to appreciate all of this as it all happens within the blink of an eye or a split one-hundredth of a second ...

In the picture above I have captured a more calming and serene moment in the lie of this 2008 PAUL CLUVER Pinot Noir and with the ceiling light shining through and illuminating it ( like a beautiful old manuscript ) I rather like it as well as the more turbulent image above ...

I am speaking here with my words and with my Canon digital images as an artist and I hope you enjoy my perspective and angles in all of this that I have with the help of my Canon and with sheer luck and chance materialized for everyone to enjoy now and later and whenever they may want or choose ...

Sorry I cut your head off above Paul but I did get all of your handsome suit and dashing figure and shiny shoes. The ladies will like this I hope. I did then snap quickly a picture which is one of the first I have downloaded above in this blog with all of your head. Combine the two : super impose one over the other and create the whole of you Paul Cluver. I leave that up to you experts with cameras and editing for later. Cheers and good luck with that.

With the Soccer World Cup taking place in Cape Town, South Africa in just a few days I want to get this blog posted by tomorrow ( June 9th, 2010 ) at the latest. I still have to refer to my notes at the store tomorrow and call Jody Jackman about a few details and then I will finish typing and post this finished blog. It;s quite a bit of work from start-to-finish and I don't want to compromise on each post and bee in too much of a rush. So please enjoy and be patient with me. The idea is to give you some new stimulus to go out and look for these wines and try them : maybe even while you are watching the Soccer World Cup? Not a bad idea, really ...

Look at the bit of 2008 PAUL CLUVER Pinot Noir from Elgin that I have at the bottom rim of my Reidel glass in the picture above? Look at how the glass curves and makes Paul's face inside look smaller than that of him outside the glass? Interesting : two perspectives here in one ...

I'm always glad when I can manage to get a picture of all of the participants in any given time and " moment ". It helps to bring a certain sense of closure for me and I hope for everyone if you will ...

I liked meeting and tasting with you all today and will speak now to Jody about ordering some of these wines. We will compare our notes ( mine are in Cleveland Park at the store now - I'm still at home ' and we will buy some of these wines for the store. I will add the PAUL CLUVER 2008 Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest half-bottle to the mix as I sure was impressed with it, especially when I had it with my daughter's dessert recently.

I will also undoubtedly buy the Gewurztraminer if and when any comes to the United States. I hope you all have some in stock Jody? If not I will add the Riesling to our selection at the store as I do not have any of that either. The rest we will just have to see about Paul. I buy them as I am inspired by them or as I need them to fill a void/category.

Stay-tuned for more soon and drink up and enjoy the Soccer World Cup really soon .... cheers, TONY

P.S. For more info on PAUL CLUVER the wines and the family and the man go to : PAUL CLUVER ( managing director ) De Rust P.O. Box 48 Grabouw 7160 , South Africa, Tel : +27 21 844 0605 Fax: +27 21 844 0150

And please feel welcome to comment in the space below/following this if you have anything that you want to ask or add. I'd love to read what you all have to say.

Dirk Richter, WEINGUT MAX. FERD. RICHTER Mosel Zeppelin Rieslings( Including Thomas Jefferson's Fave? ), W/ Sotiris May, 2010 @ Cleveland Park Wines

Dirk Richter of WEINGUT MAX. FERD. RICHTER Mosel German Rieslings and more go back a long way : actually to 2001 or 2002 I believe? We have just completed the cycle here in May I believe 2010? It all started when Sotiris Bafitis with his own import company brought Dirk to Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 Tel : 202-363-4265, ) eight-nine years ago? I will have to check our guest book to see when it was exactly. Anyway, that's when I started using Dirk's various German Mosel Rieslings including the famous " Zeppelin " bottle that tells a great story along with the fancier Riesling of his that supposedly Thomas Jefferson thought was the best he had tried while he was alive? I loved selling both of these and telling their stories as best as I could. Dirk tells them the best of course and I should have made a video of him doing this.

Sotiris bought the WEINGUT MAX. FERD. RICHTER wines through the Langdon-Shiverick selections and has also brought Langdon Shiverick at least twice to Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits back then when he still had his small/up-start import company.

Lots has happened since and now Olivia of Voila Selections ( along with her husband that are owners ) is representing the RICHTER wines. She's done this perhaps for two years? I started buying them again two years ago and I am currently out of them but will address this when they come back to the store for sale the first week of July 2010. Your visit Dirk has prompted that because I love to support great wine and I especially like to support it when the owners and wine-makers make it a point to visit us when they are in Washington D.C. It becomes my/our extended big family of wines and owners/wine-makers/customers, reps, etc. I can and am willing to sell this idea / this concept of the people involved in and behind the wines from those that pay to have them made, make them, sell them and drink them : now that's something real and concrete and that I can bathe my tongue, palate and all my senses in - as well as completely believe in. That's the only " point " or " score " that matters at all to me - the rest be damned.

I have more to say about these fine wines seen in the picture above that I tasted with Dirk and Sotiris but I will do that later. Today it is beautiful here in northern Virginia where I live and it's Father's Day so I am going outside to sit on our deck and be with my wife and enjoy reading the Washington Post Sunday edition of the newspaper ( I like holding it in my hands! ). Many of our flowers are out and I will enjoy gazing into our yard and garden, too.

I miss my father and of course will also think lots all day about him and all the wine trips that we made together into the California wine country ( RIDGE, BONNY DOON, RUTHERFORD HILL, STAGS LEAP WINE CELLARS, SILVER OAK, SIMI, CANYON ROAD, GEYSER PEAK, PARDUCCI and more ). I also drank with him and my mother while living in Paris some okay German white that I would buy a couple store fronts down from 63 Avenue Paul Doumer ( at Hediard ) in the 16th arrondisement of Paris , France while he was both the chief of the Visa, then Passports, then Visa sections before leaving to continue on to Panama. My father was an excellent Foreign Service career officer for the American Embassy. Memories, memories Dirk : if only I had discovered your excellent Mosels back in Paris in the very early 1970's!

Oh well, I know them well now and will continue to sell them. Thanks.

Stay-tuned for more in another couple of days. In the meantime enjoy these artsy photos that I have taken and enjoy Father's Day, too as well as the continuing Soccer World Cup. Happy Father's Day to one and to all fathers living and dead. Cheers, TONY

ALSO : go to : to see my even more artsy portraits of Dirk taken mostly through my Reidel wine glass.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

May Tastings 2010 LE GODE 2001 Barbaresco W/Arielle Monaco Of Country Vntners 5/28/10 Thursday Afternoon @ Cleveland Park Wines

It's all about taste : personal, subjective taste. I flipped out over this 2001 LE GODE Barbaresco and both Chris Barker and Arielle Monaco were only lukewarm about it! How is that possible? Go figure? I have to scratch my head at this and yet I understand that I don't understand perfectly! How is that everyone does not have my excellent taste : or that I do not have theirs?!?

That's life! I flipped out over it because it was so complex and earthy and dusty and weedy and the earth warmed over with the heat and the lingering sunshine that somehow got trapped into the pores of the grapes and that, like champagne is finally being released now?

I could have nursed my way through that bottle all by myself, slowly, lingering to smell the roses faded and not in the bouquet of this multi-layered, mature and story-telling 2001 LE GODE Barbaresco. What did it live through in 2001 to attain such heights that in fact spread across the palate and go vine-to-vine and fill in all the nooks and spaces and crannies ( ravines, gorges, plains and plateaus of my senses that gather and mingle and are teased/pleased/charmed and bit at times alarmed that there can be so much pleasure/treasure in this liquid ruby-brown gold of reflective lights Nebbiolo that is almost ten years old now? How?

Lovely and everything nice, at least for me. Cheers, .... I've never heard of it before but I must buy some of it for our store Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 Tel : 202-363-4265 ) for July 2010. It's now Saturday, June 19th, 2010 at 9:07 AM as I type this and post it from my home here in northern Virginia before driving off to work in Washington D.C. on this beautiful, sunny, bright, blue skies and low-humidity morn to sell more wine - but not before I see my son swim some... TONY

Still kicking and very much in it's prime - beautiful color, too ...

Friday, May 28, 2010

May 2010 Bobby Kacher Portfolio Tasting ( With Many Producers/Wine-Makers/Owners All There)Washington Club, Dupont Circle, Wed. May 26th, 2010 1-5 PM

Here's Bobby above. I had to get a few pictures of you Bobby for this blog. This one is pretty nice showing you " wax poetic " over one of your wines ...

This was a really nice tasting for me to be able to attend to meet some of Bobby's wine-makers and owners that I already knew as well as to discover some of the " new " ones, too. This of course was the Robert Kacher annual wine portfolio tasting at the Washington Club held on Dupont Circle for the very first time. I had never been to the Washington Club and so this was another attraction for me. It's always fun to discover " new " things even though they be old-hat to many others.

I liked both the building and the space of the Washington Club. I liked it's age and it's ability to transport me back into the past - Washington D.C.'s past. How many interesting events have happened over the years in this space? being an artist this type of thing interests me and catches my attention.

I took the metro from Cleveland Park two stops down on the Red Line to Dupont Circle and got off and did the very daring thing to climb up the escalator motionless steel stairs on a rather hot and muggy day and it was quite the climb! I got to the Washington Club in rather a pant and went inside to be greeted by a French lady handing out name tags.pamphlets and even pens with the wine glasses on a table to her left side. I forgot to get my glass and when I remembered I was half way up the two-part back-forth staircase. I was staring at a lovely wall and fountain - a lovely space and I said to myself that I would later take a picture of that feeling a bit self-conscious at this exact moment. I never did : too bad.

This is the lovely Kelly in the picture above at the rose table pouring for me and others. It was nice to see and chat briefly with you Kelly.

Getting my glass and rushing up I was immediately greeted by the always lovely Mary-Leigh that was smiling and happy to see me. We talked briefly as she was leaving to go to work and I was arriving. Nice to see you after all these months Mary-Leigh.

Next I bumped into both Randy King and Tom McKnew and we stood there side-by-side in this picture above being served some of Bobby's Grand Cru champagne. That sure was a lovely way to start the ball rolling for me with the Frenchman pouring the bubbly with the big /open window behind him and the light flowing freely into this entrance/hall space between two of the larger rooms. I had arrived : I could now begin to enjoy myself. I spoke briefly with both Randy and with Tom but was eager to discover who was there and so I pressed on into the room to my left with Antoine Songy there and the food, too.

Here's Tom above looking at one of the bottles of the Grand Cru champagne. Not too bad Tom. I did enjoy my glass and really if time had not been an issue stayed to try the others.

As I said I wanted to know which of Bobby's owners and wine-makers were in attendance because it was these that I wanted to focus on. In the end it meant that I did not try a lot of great and expensive wines from France. But I was not there for simply that : I never am. It's the people behind the wines and bubbly that interest me as much as their results as they are tied inextricably together. I like listening to their stories and anecdotes / names for wines and hearing about their families and what they each do to make these wonderful wines a reality : all here to be tasted , appreciated, bought and sold by us retailers and restaurateurs for our many customers - probably shared for the most part.

Here is dynamo of energy Dianne the owner above of the southern French Costieres de Nimes " Only Girls " Syrah that I like so much and which she named because her family includes five girls and no boys. I later teased Dianne about this wine as I came back to taste it later with her and eat some food quickly as by that time I was starving!

I like taking pictures of the owners and wine-makers through the wine glasses. In this case I had some white Puligny Montrachet in my glass.

I remember so fondly the " Only Girls " Syrah because perhaps two years ago my wife, daughter and son went to listen to an Elton John concert at the John Paul Jones stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia. I was at work and our Robert ( Bobby ) Kacher rep was doing an in-store wine-tasting for us tat Friday evening between 5-8 PM. He had a bottle that he wanted Mike Martin and me to try : it was " new ". It was this " Only Girls " Syrah from Dianne and I tried it before getting ready to go home. He left the bottle with us after the tasting and I took it home to have with my dinner.

Anyway, to make a long story short I got home and was reheating my steak and making a baked potato when the phone rang. It was my wife that simply said : listen". And listen I did to the voice of Elton John " live " over the cell phone ( it died on me so I had to call back on our land line phone later ! ). The concert was great : like listening to a bootleg version of songs and thrilling and wonderful and a bit out-of-the-ordinary - so very serendipitous! I loved it all. I made and ate my meal ; poured my glass of " Only Girls " Syrah and took it all with me down here to my computer EMACHINES ( a dinosaur these days ) and started my blog on Dianne and her " Only Girls " ( which drinks smoothly and wonderfully - massaging my throat and tired senses and hungry spirit wanting to be nourishes and excited ) . I posted the blog as this " live " concert ended and it's all there for you to read if you want here on my :

Thanks Dianne for this " Only Girls " Syrah which we have now sold since this one and I need to order more from Ronnie as I am now out again in the store. He's coming to do another in-store/wine-tasting tonight and I will give him an order. We are tasting Dianne's lovely dry rose tonight from 5-8 PM so join us if you are free. There is never any charge for our wine-tastings and everyone is always welcome.

Here's Randy above enjoying his Grand Cru champagne.

I've got to go to work now so I will post this as it is and finish it this weekend. Enjoy this part so far and all the pictures. A plus tard mes amis, TONY

May 2010