Monday, January 4, 2010

Three Countries, Three Delicious Reds & Four Ladies Saying, "Yum"

“Could you recommend a nice everyday drinking red?” was the answer a new customer gave me yesterday afternoon in response to, “Can I help you find anything or answer any questions for you?” my standard greeting to anyone wandering around the shop. She had piled a few wines on the counter, mostly domestic, and was looking for something new so I lead her to my little piles of quaffing wines in the French department and pointed to one of my favorite Cotes du Rhone.

“If I were going to buy a case is there any way I could taste it first?” now this not something I do very often, more often than not I urge the customer to just buy one bottle, take it home, spend an evening with it before buying a whole case. I’m not being stingy, the staff opens bottles all the time, in fact there is a better chance of selling a wine by having a bottle open on the bar. No, I don’t do it because without knowing someone’s taste, or whether they ate like Gummy Bears before coming in, I just don’t feel that my little French reds show their best in that, “Take one sip” setting. But it was a slow Sunday, Merritt and I had stocked and cleaned everything so there was little else to do, plus one of our regular customers, Vicki, was already in the tasting bar sampling some of the leftover Italian wines from our Saturday tasting.

I grabbed a bottle and headed into the tasting room while asking the customer what it is she normally drinks. “I like rich, full reds” she responded and I started to get that, “Rut Roe” feeling in my tummy, “why don’t you taste one of these Italian wines while I open this” I urged, hoping the high acid Italian red would ready her palate for my little Cotes du Rhone. She expressed that she had never really had an affinity for Italian reds, or white for that matter but after listening to Vicki recommend which ones she ought to try she reached for a glass.

I popped the cork on the Cotes du Rhone, poured myself a little and gave it the sniff and sip test, all good but I knew with just a few more minutes it would show a lot more, so yeah….I stalled a bit. “So what do you think about that Terre Nere Rosso?” I asked, noticing the slight crinkle over our new friend’s nose. Before she could say much I poured a little in my own glass to taste with her, it had been my wine of the day at the tasting and I was curious how it was tasting after being open for over 24 hours.

One sniff and I was once again transfixed, the aromatics were so lovely, so pure, so um….Pinot Noir like, stunning that I was diggin it the day before right? Vicki and I emoted over the Terre Nere, went on and on about the delicate floral notes, the tart strawberry and red cherry aromas and once the wine was in my mouth I knew instantly why our new buddy was making a, “crinkle face”….tangy fruit with really high acid, not all that pleasing to the palate that adores rich and full. Looking to our new friend I said, “Tons of acidity here, would probably taste amazing with a piece of pork or something kinda beefy” and motioned for her to feel free to dump the rest while I poured myself another little sip of the Cotes du Rhone….oh yeah, lots more happening now.

While pouring our new friend, whose name I now knew to be Stacy, the second wine I asked her a few questions; why she wanted to get into French wines, where she had been shopping before, just making a little small talk to pass the final hour on a Sunday evening. Merritt came over and joined us, we chatted, laughed, compared the two wines…discussing the merits of both. I looked at Stacy and while the, “crinkle face” was gone she was not wearing the elation I had hoped for so I just asked, “So what do you think of the Domaine de la Guicharde?” her response was about what I expected, “I like it a lot, really nice fruit and easy to drink, I just wish it was a little fuller” fair enough.

I walked back to my department and looked at my post holiday depleted stacks….sadly there was little left that I thought would suit Stacy's palate so I turned to my right which is where the Spanish department sits in the store. I perused the piles of affordable wine, many of which I had tasted before but it was label that I did not recognize that caught my eye, “How are you feeling about Spain?” I asked the still-sipping-on-Cotes du Rhone-ladies in the tasting room. Popped the cork on the bottle of San Martin 2007 La Nevera Navarra…elated Stacy face, awesome.

Stacy purchased both the Domaine de la Guicharde and the San Martin La Nevera Navarra along with her domestic wines that had been assembled before our little tasting adventure…the Terre Nere sadly, but not surprisingly did not make it into her mixed case of wine. She told us she had a great time and would be back soon, I sincerely hope to see her again. As Merritt and I closed the store, counted out the drawers and cleaned up the tasting bar we talked about how nice that last hour had been….
Three Countries
Three Delicious Reds
Four Ladies Saying, “Yum”

2008 Terre Nere Etna Rosso, ($17.99) my wine of the day at our Saturday tasting and honestly I liked it even better the next day. Tart red fruits, rose petals, faint..almost Indian type spice, light on the palate with really racy acidity. I dig this kind of tang in wines with such a light mouth feel, just feels bright and racy and like I want another sip.

2007 Domaine de la Guicharde Cotes du Rhone, ($10.99) everything I adore about Grenache, bright raspberry fruit, spice and pepper with a medium mouth feel, racy texture and a long satisfying finish. One of my go-to reds for everyday drinking, tasty, food friendly and affordable…how the hell can you not dig that?

2007 San Martin Nevera Navarra, ($9.99) it’s not too often that I go all gushy for a Spanish red, least in the past five years, (since they went and got all goopy and too damn fruity) but this wine is just damn tasty and infinitely gulpable. Packed with really fresh tasting raspberry and blueberry fruit, tiny bit of smokiness and a creamy, soft, but not opulent, mouth feel…the finish is just fresh, clean fruit…..simple but simply delicious.


vickibarkley said...

The St. Martin was great with our bacon cheeseburgers last night! And, it's a truly wonderful Sunday when I pop in to the store, and the stars are aligned just right for a little tasting and talking with you!!

Michael Hughes said...

I love love LOVE that Terre Nere. We don't have that '08 you were trying but on many occasions I've had the '05 Calderara Sottana & it was simply stunning! I envy your tasting bar. My sales would skyrocket if I could (legally) open bottles in the store for customers to try. Tennessee kinda sucks that way.

Samantha Dugan said...

That little Sapnish wine was indeed a revelation, so damn tasty and for 10 bucks?! Awesome wine that I know I will be putting in everyone's hands. So glad you stopped by last night, was a nice wind down after the non-stop holiday season and I think our taking the time to really talk to Stacy will go a long way in capturing a long time customer which is one of the great things about The Wine Country!

Dug that Terre Nere, thought it was stunning on the nose and so vibrant on the palate. I think it stinks that you guys cannot open wine at your store, that whole thing makes no sense to me!

Michael Hughes said...

The Baptist lobby still has lots of power in the legislature up in Nashville. Boo.

Sara Louise said...

I envy you being surrounded by all those bottles. I'd be quite content to stand and read those labels for hours.
Do you stock any French wines from the Luberon?

Samantha Dugan said...

Boo indeed! You want I should come out there and show those Baptist what they should really be worried about?! Rawr...

Bonjour Chicka! I am seriously lucky to have such amazing wines at my fingertips. I go into other shops around the US and think, "Damn, this blows", so you can envy me my wine selection and I will envy your living in I do have a wine from Luberon, I have the Canorgue wines, two whites, a red and the Rose when we can get our gubby little hands on em', you tried those?

So just cuzz I'm feeling all chatty and shit after inventory, I have a Canorgue story...and NO it's not about that damned Russell Crowe movie. I was having lunch at the estate, (okay, yes where that damned movie was filmed) and I saw a bowl full of fluffy white mashed potatoes, took a giant scoop, (so not like me, I go little and go back should need be) as I was aching to put something in my mouth that I, not taters dude. Very fishy Cod fish dish that made me gag each and every time I tried to put it to my lips. I'm sitting there with this lovely couple trying not to throw up the meal she made for us...would have been stashing the dreck in my napkin but goddamnit, the French use like cloth napkins and junk. I puppy-eyed one of the guys that was with me and he sent me a very stern, very harsh, "No Way" look....ended up being the obnoxious American that over served and left it, still not over it.