Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mayflower Days Of The Eighties / Straight From Sidney Moore's Monthly-Mailed-Out Newsletter!/NINO FRANCO-Spanna TRAVAGLINI/LUIGI VALLE

This was another era and it has come to an end unfortunately with the recent passing of Sidney Moore Margolis, owner of the Mayflower Wines & Spirits. I have just made a copy last week of one of the pages of the newsletter and will include it here in this blog entry now. This is Deja Vu : sorry for any of you that do not want to tag along down this very fun and unique and specific " memory lane " of the days back at the Mayflower Wines & Spirits back in the mid eighties.

One of our customers back then was Jim Stutsman and he just brought a copy of one of the monthly newsletters that Sidney would write each month. It was always crunch time and not a good time to disturb her while she wrote these. It was understood that everyone would keep their distance from her and let her approach you or speak to you when she wanted and to pretty much for the rest of the time keep one's distance and let her thoughts and her writing flow undisturbed. Thanks Jim for bringing this copy to Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 Tel:202-363-4265 Facebook at : Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits , also on Twitter at: cpwinespirits )early this April, 2011.

Here's what appears on this second page of the newsletter :

" The white we are featuring this month is Pinot Bianco, but we have others from the same producer ; all of great interest. Our last shipment from LUIGI VALLE was in June of 1981. I looked at the old newsletter and was pleased to see last year's price of $3.99. Despite the Italian inflation, wine prices in the U.S. are remaining stable or dropping. We're delighted to have the VALLE wines in stock again. Hope you will try several.
PINOT BIANCO, Colli Orientali Del Friuli, LUIGI VALLE $3.49/Bottle #37.69/Case of 12.

I guess this news letter was from September 1982?

SEPTEMBER SAMPLER ( of six bottles ) : Sidney writes -

" Great sampler this month. A bottle each of the VALLE wines and a bottle of the TRAVAGLINI Spanna - four whites and two reds. Let me go on a bit about these selections from VALLE - Tocai is, first of all, no relation whatever to the Hungarian Tocai. It is the most prevalent white wine grape of the region. In good hands produces a dry, distinctive drink, smoothly nutty, fruity, all that tastes good in a medium bodied white.
Where Tocai is restrained, a Pinot Grigio is exotic, opulent. It is a rich gold color yet dry. Pinot Grigio is the new darling of wine writers. However, none of the senses is so poorly put into words as taste. You can't possibly imagine the taste from a description - so I won't try.
The Riesling in the sampler is dry in the style of Alsatian Riesling and the Cabernet Riserva will stand up to a California at twice the price ; not as heavy as the one from California, but elegant. It's a good opportunity to taste a range of wines from a little-known region.
1 Pinot BIanco $3.49
1 Pinot Grigio $3.99
1 Riesling Renano $3.99
1 Tocai $3.49
1 Cabernet Riserva $3.99
1 Spanna TRAVAGLINI $3.99

Next is : BUBBLES and that is the bubbly of NINO FRANCO that makes really good prosecco. I will continue this a bit later. It's Sunday now, 1:21PM on Easter the 24th, 2011 and it's time to post this " as is " and to finish it tomorrow. In the meantime if you see and read this enjoy it and stay-tuned for tomorrow when I will finish the NINO FRANCO section as I believe that we may be one of the very first in the U.S. to introduce the United States to prosecco which may now be the most asked-for and enjoyed bubbly in Washington D.C. anyway?!? Cheers and Happy Easter e a presto! Or , Sante as Sidney would finish her monthly emails with. TONY

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Washington Opera Vin Rouge California Red Wine Vinted & Bottled By The R.H. PHILLIPS Vineyard For Burka's Fine Wines/ Mayflower Wine & Spirits

I Did A Private Label For The Mayflower Wines & Spirits W/ ROUND HILL, CA. Wines,Too.

Funny, I have a bottle here by my side now with some of the Sea Oats from North Carolina that I brought back of those glorious souvenirs of the weeks we have spent there as a family. I organized this with Ronald King that once worked with us at the Mayflower Wines & Spirits. Where are you now Ronald?!? I miss you.

I did the same thing with my art work on the labels, too of two other projects : 1) the first for the Mayflower Wines & Spirits when we did our House red Cabernet Sauvignon and our House white Chardonnay with the help of ROUND HILL Vintners. I even took a bottle once with me to France of the Mayflower Wines & Spirits Chardonnay and offered it as a gift. The 2) was a project on the cru Beaujolais wines of Dan Kravitz for his Hand Picked Selections wines. That was great, too. I used for all these my ink drawings and I will have to take pictures of them and include them here. I have a whole small box of them that I drew label-size to make it all fun and easy : all in black ink on white watercolor paper.

Wow, it's been a whole long time ago all of this : an era passing or ended as friend Paul Jameson just mentioned earlier. Anyway thanks to Sidney Moore and Michael Downey, to Dan Kravitz and to Ronald King I can say that I have had my own labels on wines that I have sold, bought and drunk myself. Cool.

I am still shook up quite a bit with Sidney Moore's passing this past Saturday morning, April 19th, 2011. It's now beautiful and warm outside here in northern Virginia on Monday, April 11th, 2011 and I will be headed outside in a few minutes. However, first I want to share this one story with you about the bottle that I took of the Mayflower Table Red California Chardonnay to France with me back in the mid nineteen eighties when I worked for Sidney and Michael at the Mayflower Wines & Spirits. I will include one picture above of our flowers as they are all starting to poke up out of the ground with many tender baby green cadmium colors that are irresistible, really.

I took the bottle with other American wines with me to give as gifts. I had intended to give the Mayflower ROUND HILL Chardonnay to my friend and business partner Philippe Melot of Sarlat, France. I met him as he had come himself to the Mayflower Wines & Spirits when he was working with D & M Imports owned and run by Barry and Kathleen Diamond with Martha and Al Moss partners, too. It was a great small company and we bought lots of wine from them eventually. Anyway, I had intended to give this bottle to Philippe when I arrived in Sarlat, France.

However, I was still in Burgundy, France and in Gevrey Chambertin and driving to my appointment with Pierre Amiot the owner of his own vineyard in Morey Saint Denis. I had just missed being with him the day before with Bobby Kacher and Bob Parker, Jr. My luggage was lost and I had to wait for it and so I did not get to the town of Gevrey Chambertin in time to meet up with them all. Too bad. Leo Fox was there, too. Oh well, I did get invited almost immediately by the Leclercs to dinner with them, Bobby and Leo. I gave them some of my gift bottles and then I offered the Mayflower version ( private label ) of the ROUND HILL CA. Chardonnay to Pierre because he had given me such a fabulous tour. I loved it - loved him. It was incredible and a beautiful day, too.

After the tour with just me and him I asked him if he had ever tried any American wine and he said just one, a rose. I asked him if he would like to try one? His eyes lit up and he smiled broadly and he said : " Oui ". I told him I had one in my car and I went in search of it. He, in the meantime, called all his family and workers and friends around to come quickly and together this small group of us tasted the Mayflower Private Label of this ROUND HILL, California Chardonnay and they were all quite pleased.

Pierre then went in search of a bottle for me and offered me his best wine as a gift, That became Philippe's bottle when I arrived at his hotel in Sarlat. I told him the story and he did not seem disappointed in the least. Rather I think he was happy to get this really good red burgundy to share with his family and friends.

More later on Moore and Sidney and all of this later. I'm off to join my wife now that has just returned from work. It's sunny and hot and in the eighties with baby blue skies and glorious and we have to enjoy it while we can. TONY

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Am Sorry To Say That Sidney Moore Margolis Of The Mayflower Wines & Spirits Just Passed Away Earlier This Morning, Sat. 4/9/2011

You will be missed Sidney, thanks for all that you did for us all in wine and in furniture and in life, in stories and song and so many things hard to quantify and categorize put into words. I really enjoyed working for you back in the past in the 1980's and came away with so many invaluable experiences! Grazie e a presto Sidney ... I will wrote more later. Check out what I wrote earlier here and go to our Facebook page at : Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits. Cheers, TONY

Pictured above is Sylvie Franco ( family owns NINO FRANCO ) and me with the NINO FRANCO Prosecco that we brought to the Mayflower Wines & Spirits for the first time back in the eighties when no one knew Prosecco at all. It was just starting! The " Rustico " that they make is a great bottle to drink anytime. Buy some here at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits and celebrate Sidney's life. Cheers, TONY

I left the store with Ravi at 9:30PM and heard some music being played - live - down in front of the old McDonald's location and it was a blues guitarist named Calvin Fox playing Jimi Hendrix's song " Red House " and I was moved and awed and so drawn to it that I had to stay and listen and I kept thinking of Sidney and the music and that it was carrying her to her next place and that the music was for her. I waited for Calvin to stop playing and when he did I put three dollars in his coffee cup and began to talk to him asking him questions and telling him about Sidney. I told him where I worked and we chatted as he told me his name, the name of the song, etcetera. I asked him if I could use his name and he said it was okay. Anyway, as far as I am concerned this live music of Curtis' was for you. Hope you heard it and enjoyed it. Cheers now at 11:25PM here on Saturday, April 9th, 2011. TONY

It's now Sunday, April 10th, 2011 at 3:18PM and I have been out cleaning our shed out back here at home in northern Virginia as well as putting some more red wine into my small wooden barrel that I make vinegar in and that the owner/chef Alain Planche of the LE RIVAGE French restaurant on the waterfront on the Potomac river in Washington D.C. gave me years ago. Thanks Alain : a whole lot of pleasure has been derived from this barrel as well as the one to make white wine in. Much appreciated.

I stumbled upon an old empty brown and faded bottle of 1959 FOSSI Chianti Classico that I intend to make some vinegar in soon. I have brought it inside here with me and intend to photograph it first, empty, however. I will do that tomorrow. I am way too tired just now having worked all morning and early afternoon on house projects here. I am, however, thrilled to have the bottle and here and now I will tell you what is written on the label alone which is remarkably good shape after all these years.

The FOSSI Chianti Classico 1959 label says : RISERVA Chainti Classic De Nominazione di Origine controllata FOSSI 1959 bottled by D. Fossi Fiesole Italy Imported By MAYFLOWER IMPORTS, LTD HYattsville, MD. Table Wine 750ml E Alcohol 12.7% By Vol. Product Of Italy.

The Small neck label above the larger label says : 0.750 B 0244159 Controllo Di Qualita Incarico Di Vigilanza Decretto Ministeriale 3-2 1979 Riserva. Wow, what a whole lot of information in two labels on one bottle of wine : I love it! I still have a bottle of the 1961 to drink some day which may be really soon. We will see. I may also have another bottle of old FOSSI Chianti Classico, too. I will check. I know we sold them going all the way back to the 1958 vintage and that sure was fun and special. We imported them directly to Washington D.C. and it was fun to have so many vintages to offer of the wine at the time. It was like being a kid in a candy store or a toy store all over again. What a special treat that all was! I will never forget the excitement of it all. When I do drink this last bottle or two I hope that Andrea Fossi is with us and we will toast him and his father and you Sidney and Michael, too as well as everyone else involved in all of this that I have already mentioned and including Peggy, Brennan and Shannon Downey, too. What a big and grand and glorious family we all were. What a whole lot of excitement we all generated the crazy and unique and various bunch of characters group that we were with all our various paths colliding together at that particular point and time there at the corner of M Streets and New Hampshire Avenue! Who would have imagined? Who would have guessed?

And Sidney I never did go over to Italy at this particular point in my life to visit your parents. That was a mistake. That would have been a very special eye-opener for me. Oh well, others will simply have to tell me about their experiences there at the time. Anyone is more than encouraged to share here in the " comments " section at the end of this blog. Please do share! Thanks and stay-tuned for more. TONY

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Recent Weekend Tasting : Portuguese LELLO Red, Portuguese Sparkling SAO DOMINGOS Red & White Brut, & FITA AZUL / SAM ADAMS Beers & Ales, Too

This tasting was done within the last two-three weeks here in Washington D.C. I think the last weekend of March 2011?

Pictured above id Danielle Davidowitz that is our rep for the Dionysos portfolio of fun and eclectic and really fin ( values, too ) wines from around the world : French, Greek, Portuguese and many more.

On this weekend I asked Danielle to come and pour some of her sparkling wines. We were low on sparkling wines in the store and I needed some and her Portuguese sparkling wines had done really well when we tasted them a couple of years ago for or end of the year 2009 Big-Theme Sparkling Wine / Bubbly Tasting at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 Tel:202-363-4265 also on Facebook at : Cleveland Park Wine & Spirits and on Tweeter at : cpwinespirits , too ) where I have now managed the wine department for eleven years.

That's Bill through my Sam Adam's plastic glass filled with some of their excellent latest selections. Bill's going back to Kentucky soon and we will miss him. Sorry to see you go Bill : it's been a great ride together here over the years with the excellent info on extra virgin olive oils that you know so well and on wine, too.

The two young men from SAM ADAMS brought samples to show everyone of the various hops that they use to make their excellent brews. I was very impressed by this : great so see them : to be able to touch and to smell them, too. A whole class should be conducted around this to really educate our customers here in the Cleveland Park N.W. Washington D.C. neighborhood. I will have to mention this and set it up.

I love to take my artsy photos like these two : action photos I call them. Hope you like them, too.

That's Michael above : he's one of our customers that really enjoys these in-store tastings that we do and he attends many of them.

More of my artsy pictures here and above.

Here you can see the various samples of the hops that SAM ADAMS uses in the pictures above.

All of the Portuguese sparkling wines sold well. They all have their distinct personalities and are all under $20 a bottle and fun to enjoy with or without food. They would complement many Portuguese dishes with all their fresh fish - especially the dry and crisp FITA AZUL at $13 a bottle I believe.

The dry red sparkling SAO DOMINGOS ( $19 I believe ? ) made from the Baga grape is just pretty much fun and entertaining and it would go great with many grilled foods. They could all be enjoyed outdoors with the better and warmer weather soon coming our way.

The Semi-dry SAO DOMINGOS white sparkling is simply smooth and bright without any bite and it would be great all by itself to be sipping and chatting away with family and friends and really getting to relax and fell the stress roll off one's shoulders and far away deep into the ground or into outer space.

We also poured a sparkling dry Italian Prosecco rose ( $11.99 ) that was made from 85% Prosecco and 15% Pinot Nero ( Pinot Noir ) that gives it more weight, color and complexity of dry, solid flavors. It's perhaps best with some appetizers - really a nice accompaniment to food like anything smoked, fresh strawberries and almonds, too. Cheers and stay-tuned for more. I will add more here time-permitting. Cheers here now on the 24th day of spring in northern Virginia close to Washington D.C. at 10:38AM just before I start work on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011. Take care, TONY

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Great Old Mayflower Days With Sidney Moore, Michael Downey, Iris, Leon, Karen, Larry, Moe, John , Italians Andrea Fossi, Alessandro Furlan Eliz

abetta of VIETTI Vineyards in Piemonte. They all came over to learn English and learn the business here in our nation's capitol back in the 1980's and I am glad and thrilled that I was around to be a part of all of this! Wow, what a chance of a lifetime, really special. I will never forget any of it either.

In the photo above I raise my glass in memory and fondness and true appreciation of this period in all of our lives that we lived and shared and worked together. Bravo!

That's the Maylower Wines & Spirits by the way at the corner of M. Streets and New Hampshire Avenue N.W. in the old Arnold & Porter Law Office's building location.

Here's to you Sidney as it is many years later and I know that you are really sick and fighting cancer and I am there right with you fighting, too. I have already let a number of people know of your fight and I am hoping, being an eternal optimist the way that I am that things will work out well and that you will beat the cancer. I simply have to believe this and anyway I want to share some stories here about the glory days of the Mayflower Wines & Spirits and working with you and Michael. What a couple of characters the two of you were and when you add your parents in and all the help and the young Italians that came to the store to learn English and the business and the Hoboken Italian-style Panelles ( small, medium and large ), the Fior Di Maggio pitchers, the Pittigliano white magnums, the Vietti wines as well as those of Franco Furlan : the extra virgin olive oils, the wicker baskets, all the FOSSI Chiantis going back to 1958, people like Iris at the register that would say in utter amazement to a customer : " What! Only a half pint?!? I spill that much! ", Allen Krazner ( incredible displays ), Robert " Bob " Parker, Junior ( the beginnings of the very young Wine Advocate , Spencer Graham, Barry & Kathleen Diamond of D & M Imports, Leo Fox of World Shippers, Dan Kravitz of Hand-Picked Selections, Burton Anderson the writer of the book VINO, Michael the photographer that died in a motorcycle accident was it that took the amazing photos hanging back in tasting room, our wine classes with David Vaughn, the young everyone's like Bobby Kacher, Alfredo Bartholomaus, Arris Zizzis,Terry Theis, the monthly store newsletter with the sample of six wines to taste, the recipes, the being the first with the Robert Chadderdon wines in Washington D.C. and selling Bilcart-Salmon rose ( when Bob Parker gave it a higher score than Dom Perignon ), the first Prosecco with the Nino Franc ( who knew Prosecco back then?!? ) ... well, we were " the thing " , the " destination ", the " place to go ", the " people in the know " ... we were the talk of the town and it was fabulous to work there and to be a part of all of this action and activity and excitement. There were the wine classes, too that people would come to and gather around in the back room packed with those eager to learn and drink wines.
There were the dinners, too like of the Robert Arnoux wines that Leslie and my mother and my wife came to at The Four Ways restaurant. What a dinner that was! There was so much going on back then and it will take me time to collect and write about it all here. That Poggio Lamentano unfiltered extra virgin Tuscan olive oil was something else! We had so many fun people calling on us then : Kristen-now Emily Maische, Deborah ( Dee ) Hutton. People like John Shafer came to pitch his " new " California wines to us and we bought some only to have him write me a hand-written letter later saying that he could not fulfill his promise to me anymore. You owe us a case of your wine John if you read this. That was highly irregular and suspect and you should make it right now. Send us some wine quick! I will take it over to Sidney's and share it with her and Dan and Harry and her daughter Jesse , too.
I learned so much from this experience and from working in such a lively and energized atmosphere. Thank you one and all and stay-tuned for I will write more really soon here. Cheers, TONY

4/8/2011 : Friday morning .... We used to sell lots of Morellino di Scansano, too. Just like the white Tuscan Pittigliano ( then our everyday magnum and 5th of today's Pinot Grigio - my how things and times have changed ) we would sell almost equal amounts of the Tuscan red called Morellino di Scansano. Today Morellino is rather expensive and no longer the " deal " that it once was before being really discovered like Chianti.

Chris Collins would come around to sell for Forman Brothers. I think he came after Emily Maische did. He could speak Indian and French and other languages even?

You never messed with Sidney when it was crunch time and she was under the gun to finish the store monthly newsletter that was printed up on white paper and folded and mailed to those on the mailing list. It was quite the thing back then. No email then, no computer really to speak of then. Times were different and it was a valuable source of information about all those things that we treasure in our daily lives. I t was fun reading and it always made you want to come to the store in search of one thing or another or even more.

But you did not disturb Sidney when she was writing it. She would in her fashion make it quite clear that she was not available during those times that she was actually at her desk typing away on her typewriter. Remember those? She might come to me or to Mike or to one of our many sales people with a question or two but it was always that way and not the other way. That was okay, everyone knew this or learned it quickly and the balance was rarely upset. It was the way of the universe at the Mayflower Wines & Spirits back then and it worked.

Time to be off to work now Sidney, I will continue this later as so many memories keep coming to me. I wonder how Larry Jennings is these days? I often think of him : " Lawrence Jennin's me boy! " I would say and Larry would respond : " Quinn me lad! " and we would both smile and laugh/snortle and continue along working side-by-side or go onto our own paths there in the store.

By the way just a moth or two ago Sidney ordered a case of the current vintage of FOSSI Chianti to be delivered to her apartment for her and Dan to enjoy as well as her neighbors and friends that often call me as I am recommended often by you Sidney. Thanks for that. I am glad to still be in contact with you after all these years and selling you wine. too.