2005 Spring Valley Uriah at a Restaurant

 If there is one thing that drives me crazy while dining out, it’s an overpriced and uninspired wine list. I get all worked up, pointing at wines and loudly reciting what we charge at Binny’s. I think it annoys the people I’m with. And it happens a lot, because I’m poor and I can’t afford to dine at places that put much of an emphasis on wine.

 My girlfriend’s birthday is coming up in the next couple of weeks which reminded us that she still hadn’t used the gift card to a restaurant that was my gift to her last year. So this last weekend, we decided that it was finally time to use it. So we had a very nice dinner at the restaurant where the gift card was from.

 The restaurant where the gift card was from has this big wine cellar, viewable from the entryway, behind floor-to-ceiling glass. The game started there I pointed out bottles and announced how much Binny’s would charge, and guessed how much the restaurant would charge, and also tacked on any anecdotal information I could. I act the same way at concerts.

  Here’s what I said about one wine that caught my eye: See that bottle with the guy with the mustache? That’s the Spring Valley Uriah! I wonder what vintage it is! I had the 2006 a couple weeks ago at that big tasting! Binny’s charges like forty bucks for that bottle. I bet this place has it for one twenty. It’s from Walla Walla Washington. Yeah, the 2006 was totally awesome….

 I am starting to realize that I am not a very bearable person to be around.

 When we sat down to order dinner, the Uriah turned out to be the 2005, and could be ours for only $78, which was a pleasant surprise, it seemed like a bargain. My rule of thumb is that if a restaurant is charging less than twice what you’d pay at Binny’s, it’s probably a bargain. She agreed to let me order the wine after a couple of minutes of this: Can we get it? Can we can we can we? Aww, come on…. You’d think it was my birthday that we were celebrating eleven and a half months late and not hers.

 The wine was good, and still quite young. Also, the glassware was excellent, which is a great thing to see at a restaurant. At first the ’05 Uriah was tight a nose of cherry, raspberry and blueberry (That’s probably from the Cab Franc, I said, brimming with excitement.) with depth black olive, anise, and maybe a little spice made way to a big, fruit-driven wine with a richly tannic finish. After some time in the glass it opened up more cocoa on the nose, and the fruit lightened toward more tart, bright cherry, with a layered and complex finish. (By the way: The 2006 Spring Valley Uriah, available at Binny’s right now, shows a lot of these great flavors, with even more concentration.)

 It was a splurge, but a good one. Unlike a lot of people I know in the wine industry, I never did any time in restaurants or bars, leaving me with a detached and willfully ignorant stance regarding restaurant pricing. I know that restaurants have to charge what they do for wine, but it still drives me nuts. I’ll keep looking for deals and buy cheap. I’ll drink water, and go to BYOB places as much as I can. And for her birthday this year, I’ll be making my girlfriend dinner at home.

 How about you? Do you regularly get wine at restaurants? Do you have strategies to save money while keeping the fine dining experience? Tell us about it: leave a comment below.

 ….

 So I sat there, waiting to pay the bill, having gone way over the gift card amount, thinking about the price tag on the bottle of wine we had just enjoyed, and dinner too, and how I’d probably blog about it, all the while sipping on my tiny little $7 espresso. Mmmmmmmm. Frugal.

Some Thoughts on South African Wine

 I’ve had the chance to try quite a few South African wines in the past couple of weeks – and while I am not, say, enamored with the wines of the country, I do think South African producers are doing some interesting things, and are making some wines that will at least elicit consideration and conversation, which is what I love about wine. The general consensus is that wine growing, production and quality in general are all improving in South Africa.

 

First: Great, Affordable Whites

  I do love white wines from South Africa, known to be plush and fruity yet vibrant and crisp and refreshing, from chardonnay to chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc and more, and usually at great prices. They tell me the cool climate helps. A winemaker from South Africa I spoke to last week said, But we don’t want to be known only as a white wine producing country. That’s fine, but white wine from South Africa is just so good!

  Lately I’ve had the opportunity to try a few: The 2007 Glen Carlou Chardonnay is a good example of a fresh, clean white with a fresh, peachy nose with hints of sweetness, but dry on the palate. It’s easy and light on its feet with fresh fruit and good acidity. Also the 2008 Juno Chardonnay (coming soon to Binny’s) is bright, fresh and clear with light citrus fruits and refreshing acidity.

 Also coming soon to Binny’s is the 2007 Vin d’Orrance Chardonnay Cuvee Anais this chardonnay is a beauty. Butter and barrel influence on the nose, but subtle and creamy (not spicy or heavy-handed) just eclipsing the underlying clean fruit. Elegantly creamy on the palate, with lush tropical fruits gracefully in balance. The pourer proclaimed: It’s Meursault from South Africa! It will hit select Binny’s stores in a few weeks, retailing somewhere under $30 half the price of comparable French and California Chardonnay. If you love chardonnay, watch for it.

 As I said, I like the white wines.

 

South African Reds: Identity Crisis

 Then there are the reds, which to me fall into two general groups one is red wines that show characteristic South African funk. I’ve heard these descriptors used: band-aid, rubber band, leather, barnyard, and this one time I heard some guy say, rhubarb up a horse’s ass. Some folks out there really like these qualities. Maybe I do, but only in small doses.

 On the other hand, South Africa has also been offering a lot of sleek, fruity and oak driven, New-World styled reds. While I certainly like the style, it isn’t uniquely South African, which I suppose is only a drawback to those South African producers who want to create an identity for their wines. In other words, if a shopper can find new-world style from California, Australia, South America and Spain, all at reasonable prices, South Africa might not be the first place that customer is drawn to.

 I’m being a little obtuse, of course; there are quite a few compelling South African reds that manage to combine these elements to create unique and expressive wines, but (and I’m speaking candidly here and risking my friendship with the Binny’s South African wine buyer and also my boss) they seem a little expensive to me. I mean, I’ve tried some interesting wines with layers of complexity and a tinge of that uniquely South African character (I guess it can be charming in small quantities) but customers might be more compelled to experience wines from this still-emerging country if they were drawn in with lower price tags. 

 That said, do not hesitate to taste these wines if you get the chance:

 The 2005 De Trafford Cabernet Sauvignon is an awesome powerhouse, showing a list of complexities including plum, crushed black pepper and anise, smoke, vegetal overtones and just a touch of that barnyard earthiness. Very New-World, but probably not mistakable for a California Cab.

 The 2004 Glen Carlou Gravel Quarry (available at select Binny’s stores soon) has a nose with hints of that South African funkiness, layered in with vanilla and berry fruit. It starts soft on the palate but the tannins swell to balance power with the sleek fruit. I also tried The 2006 Gravel Quarry, which is younger and even bigger.

 The 2006 Slowine Shiraz (this one will be available soon as well) is an outstanding South African value. I might recommend it to a fan of fruit-forward Australian shiraz who wants something with a slightly different twist. I would just have to get that person to the South African aisle first. The Slowine shows a tiny hint of barnyard on the nose, kept in check by layers of ripe red raspberry. Broad on the palate with great heavy fruit and a touch of cocoa. Watch for the Slowine it’s a great value that will retail right around ten bucks.

 

What do you think?

 So what do you think? Any favorites from South Africa I didn’t list here? Are you customers out there willing to give a still-emerging wine country a chance, or another chance? And to you sales folks in the stores: are you willing to pull customers over to the South Africa aisle just to get them to try something new?

Lagunitas at it Again

Lagunitas has really impressed us recently with their past and present seasonal offerings, as well as their recently released 2009 Correction Ale. As was mentioned in a previous blog, Lagunitas had plans to release a brand new summer beer that was to be announced. Well their spanking new summer beer hit Binnys shelves this week. Here is the description of the innovative beer from Lagunitas:

 

A Little Sumpin Sumpin Ale

ABV: 7.7%

“Way smooth and silky with a wheaty-esque-ish-ness. Just the little sumpin sumpin we all need to kick Summer into full swing.”

 

To us, A Little Sumpin Sumpin Ale was a tantalizing hopped up wheat beer. We found ourselves wondering if this was indeed a wheat beer or an IPA, and came to the conclusion that it is both. Look out for its deceptive drinkability despite its 7.7% ABV. It is a refreshing beer perfect for summer, and is poised to compete with heavy hitting summer beers like Bells Oberon and Three Floyds Gumballhead. Just as we would say for any of the Lagunitas line of beers, A Little Sumpin Sumpin Ale is a must try. It will be on sale for the short remainder of May, so if you are looking forward to trying it, it would be wise to head over to Binnys in the next few days. Are there any other breweries that have impressed you more so than Lagunitas over the last several months?

 

 

An Inaugural Beer Cellar

A couple good friends of mine got together the other night for one of the Blackhawks playoff games, where grilling and good beer was a must. Before the game we casted a fishing line out in a neighbors pond, and brought a few Brooklyn Summers and Metropolitan Flywheels. Although we hate wasting beer, the fifteen pound carp made up for the bottle of Flywheel I spilled.

 

After some pregame fishing and some lighter brews, we moved into Dons family room, where some cellared beers started to flow during the Hawks game. First up was a Lagunitas Imperial Red aged for a year. The hops had died down a bit, but the beer held up fine and was a delightful experience. Next up was a Brooklyn Monster Ale aged for about a year and a half, and this one really got us going. In fact this beer was so scrumptious that it inspired Don to start up his own beer cellar.

 

Don was so enthusiastic about his experience with aged beer that when I came into work the next day, he informed me that he already had six barley wines boxed up and ready to cellar. I let him know that although I agreed that barley wines age better than any other style of beer, it might be a good experiment to mix a few other styles of beer in with them. Don obliged, and the following are his inaugural batch of cellared beers:

 

Avery Hog Heaven Barley Wine

 

Southern Tier Back Burner Barley Wine

 

Arcadia Cereal Killer Barley Wine

 

Great Divide Old Ruffian Barley Wine

 

Avery the Reverend Quadrupel

 

New Holland Night Tripper Imperial Stout

 

What do you think of Dons choices of beers to cellar? What were the first beers you ever cellared? We will let you know how Dons beers turn out, just give us a year or two. That is assuming that Don can keep his thirsty hands off of these extraordinary beers.

Wine Spectator’s Grand Tour 2009

 Sometimes it feels like my life is full of lucky coincidences like it’s a series of events where I happen to be in the right place at the right time. I’m pretty sure that’s how I wound up with an invite to the 2009 Wine Spectator Grand Tour, and how I found myself waiting in line to get into the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier at 6:45 last night.

 The event was excellent, if a bit short. Only three hours to taste all 213 wines being poured (only one from each producer). I’ve said this before: what a complaint to have! By my notes, I was only able to try about a third of what was offered, and I broke a sweat in the process.

 What is there to say about the wines? They were wonderful. People ask me What were the highlights of the night? Pretty much everything was a highlight. Just off the top of my head, some I remember fondly:

 The Ornellaia is awesome, The Gemstone is amazing (I joined their mailing list, my first mailing list ever because I simply can’t afford it) Sassicaia’s 2006 Guidalberto is huge, the First Growths are elegant and distinctive, and the other Bordeaux are right up there too. The 2005 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet is excellent, surging back from a slump a few vintages ago. The Brunello di Montalcinos (Brunellos di Montalcino?) from several producers were huge and youthful, from both 2004 and 2001. And many more, and many more.

 Values that stick out in my mind: 2006 Torrione Petrolo is great, even better than vintages I’ve had in the past, but still very young. 2006 Querciabella Chianti Classico is great for the price, and was the first wine of the evening where I wanted to pair the wine with dinner. Hogue’s 2005 Merlot Reserve is a powerhouse, and Spring Valley’s 2006 Uriah shows wonderful complexity and finesse for a wine Binny’s offers for under $40. The 2007 Mollydooker Boxer Shiraz, though a little too flamboyant for my personal tastes, stands up against wines ten times the price. These two guys I met, George and Brett, talked to me about it George uses the Boxer as a litmus test for all Australian reds he said If you like it, you like Aussie wine. I recommended he try the Vina Cobos, and the Colonial Estate Emigre, and everything from Spain, and the Two Hands Bella’s Garden, and the Bennet Lane Reserve Cabernet, and many more, and many more. 

 And that, if I may veer into subjective rambling, was the highlight of the night. There, amid the ocean of world-class wine, were all these people sharing this wonderful experience – pouring wine and tasting wine and talking about wine. They were even willing to talk to me, an awkward guy needing a haircut with a pen behind his ear, clutching a glass and a book of hastily scribbled notes. Rubbing elbows and working the crowd are not skills I’m known for.

 Wearing my Binny’s name tag surely attracted attention. Most conversations started with You’re from Binny’s? Well, what are the highlights of the night? I overhead this: “Do you want the rest of my Caymus Special Selection?” Then the lady who said that turned to me and said, “I bet that’s something you’d never expect to hear. Oh hey, you’re from Binny’s!”

 One group of young ladies requested my attention, pulled me to a table, forced me to taste the wine there (which was very good). I thought maybe they were looking for my expert opinion, or just liked me, or something, until they demanded that Binny’s carry the wine, which unfortunately doesn’t have distribution in the Chicago market. I told them I personally didn’t have that power, but promised to see what I could do. We chatted for a while, I ran out of things to say so I awkwardly blurted out Shop at Binny’s! and they told me they were going to get another glass of port, and that I should have a nice night.

 My palate fatigued, I told a waiter working the cheese table that there wasn’t enough time to taste all the wines. He told me that people use that excuse, but that there’s always time, as long as you use your time on what’s important. He told me the same thing is true of money. His name is Andres. We started talking about the restaurant he recently opened, and how time and money are in short supply, so he has to invest them wisely.

 Maybe all this chatting is why I only got through a third of the wines offered.

 Um…

 So yeah…

 Shop at Binny’s!

Get the Mollydooker Shakes

  It was two nights ago that I was at the Wine Spectator’s Grand Tour 2009. I was running out of time, skipping my way through a row of Australian producers, and as I passed the crowded Mollydooker table, I overheard the pourer (I didn’t catch her name) explaining the “Mollydooker Shake.”

 I was amazed. A co-worker had told me, years ago, about how some people on the Internet (you know you can trust people on the Internet) said that the best way to enjoy a bottle of Mollydooker wine is to pour a bit into a glass, replace the Stelvin enclosure (screw cap) and shake the wine up a lot.

 ”I can’t believe you’re actually promoting that,” I said to the woman pouring the Mollydooker.

 ”We definitely are,” she said. “Oh! You work for Binny’s! Take these!” And she gave me a handful of Mollydooker promotional books, the back cover of which is dedicated to explaining the Mollydooker shake. She eagerly told me to check out their website, which even has a video explaining the ritual.

 (A brief explanation: Apparently, the Mollydooker winemakers bottle their wines with nitrogen gas as a preservative. When the wine is young, the gas remains in the wine, messing with the flavors. So they invented this maneuver to release all the nitrogen.)

 I was hyperactive and chatty when I got home, which I think was getting on my girlfriend’s nerves. Probably because she was trying to fall asleep. I told her about this whole ridiculous shake thing. She asked me what was so ridiculous about it. I told her that I want my wine to be good for its own sake. I said that I thought it was silly to invent new rituals to go along with wine. I said I didn’t want any gimmicks. I said I want it drinkable on its own merit.

 ”Rituals?” she said, “You mean like how you constantly swirl everything you drink? Even icewater?”

 ”Gimmicks?” she said, “You mean like that big decanter you have?”

 ”Drinkable?” she said, “You mean like all those wines you have in the wine cooler that we can’t open for years?”

 ”I’m just saying,” she said, “that it’s all pretty much a gimmick already.”

  Okay, fine. I guess she got me; I guess she’s right. At least the wine gimmicks we know and love are gimmicks with tradition. Is there room for this new dance move, too? How about all those new gizmos – wine aerators and breathable glasses and magnetic pourers and so on?

 People often lament the loss of the cork-pulling ritual as Stelvin enclosures grow in popularity. Maybe it’s time to introduce the Shake. Maybe we can even get waiters to do it in restaurants!

  By the way, they don’t suggest excecuting the shake on Goosebumps, their sparkling shiraz. That could only end badly.

The “Sideways” Effect

It was a few days before my 21st birthday and I had a day off from work and school. I decided to rent a movie. I picked up Sideways and thought, sure, this is critically acclaimed and sounds funny.

 

Little did I know, this movie would change me forever. I was about to finish my Culinary Arts Degree from Joliet Junior College. Working in kitchens throughout my high school and college years, wine was just an afterthought. Not after viewing Sideways.

 

Jack and Miles make their way to Sanford. Miles is swirling a glass of rose, and he shoves his nose into it. He starts listing off strawberry, asparagus, nutty Edam cheese… I was confused and intrigued. I had no idea there was an analytical side to wine. I thought it was just a drink usually enjoyed with a meal.

 

Later on in the movie, the monologue that Maya gives about the life of wine basically made me become a wine nut at age 20. At 10 in the morning on my 21st birthday, I was in my local wine store buying wine.

 

After learning about wine, yeah the movie is a bit hypocritical and is basically free advertising for Pinot Noir, but it changed my life and career path. 

 

With Pinot becoming “the new Merlot,” there are a lot out there, now.  I set out to find the best one under $20.  Macmurray Ranch from the Central Coast in California is one of my favorites.  It’s well priced, fruity and food friendly.  Under $10 is tough for a bottle of Pinot Noir.  An unlikely source produces a great one.  Gunther Schlink from Germany runs $8.99 and is a sure winner for a value red. 

 

If you saw Sideways, how did it effect your wine hobbies?   

What’s New?

I get this question alot, from both our suppliers and from Binny’s shoppers.  The suppliers of course want to know what category might provide them another business opportunity, but our shoppers really want to know “what’s new?” is there something I might be missing?

One interesting recent development is the introduction of a number of clear, unaged grain spirits, basically precursors that with oak cask aging would eventually be called whiskey.  As for style, think vodka with actual distinct character.  Call them Moonshine, White Lightning, White Dog, New Make, call them whatever, some of these new grain spirits are well worth checking out,  I want to tell you about 4 new bottlings from two different distilleries.

First, I want to welcome Chicago’s newest distillery, Koval.  The dream of 3rd generation distiller Robert Birnecker and his wife Sonat, Koval joins Lake Bluff’s outstanding North Shore on the local scene.  Certified both organic and Kosher, the main focus will be recreating traditional products from Robert’s native Austria.  Amongst their first efforts are a couple of products that aren’t necessarily Austrian, but well done nonetheless.  Midwest Wheat and Chicago Rye ($37.99/750ml) are both double distilled from a mash of their namesake grain and bottled at 40%abv.  The first thought that hit me when trying the Midwest Wheat was holy bananas!  This light but distinct and clean character carries through on the palate, with surprising weight and mouthfeel for an unaged spirits.  I loved it on its own, but it also worked well with soda water, tonic, and juices like cranberry and grapefruit.  The Chicago Rye delivers a nice peppery pop, as a rye veteran would expect.  I was looking for some baking spice (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, etc.) character as well, it’s there but very tight, think cinnamon stick or whole clove rather than ground.  The palate has a nice, light sweetness to balance out the pepper, actually made quite a nice little dry martini and the salt from the olive worked well with the pepper.

If you want some good insight into what a peated scotch whisky starts out as, the Wasmund’s Single Malt Spirit and Rye Spirit $22.99/750ml), produced by the iconoclastic Rick Wasmund and Sean McCaskey at Sperryville, VA’s Copper Fox Distillery Enterprises are great starts.  The Single Malt Spirit is made with 100% hand malted barley and lightly smoked with a combination of 60% Applewood and 40% Cherry wood during the kilning process, bottled at a whopping 61.5%abv.  If the Koval’s had a surprising amount of sweetness, these two are all about savory and herbal.  A fantastic fresh malty/grainy aroma, with a touch of the smoke greets the nose.  Even uncut there is enough malty sweetness to balance the smoke and inevitable alcohol on the palate.  This really does benefit from cutting with water, and once done the malty sweetness is infused with a more prominent clean smoke character.  The Rye Spirit is compsed of 2/3 rye and 1/3 hand malted barley, the same smoking regimen, bottled high octane again, at 62%.  The malty sweetness is more subdued on the nose and a little more smoke character comes through.  If the Koval Rye had a “nice pop of pepper,” this is more along the lines of “holy black pepper!”  Once cut, a very nice round sweetness softens the smoke and black pepper character.  I preferred both of these straight with some water to cut the alcohol, but I’m willing to bet they would also make nice dry martinis, and killer Bloody Marys.

Coming Soon: Beer and Cheese Pairing at Binny’s in Willowbrook

After a decent amount of research and consultations with experts like Chris Speir, wine manager at Binnys in Willowbrook, the following list was formed. Besides pairing beers and cheeses that go together harmoniously, we tried to incorporate as many styles of beer and cheese as possible. If you have any suggestions on how to better our list, or have any other ideas of some quality beer and cheese pairings, please leave us a comment. We hope to see you May 28th!

 

Beer and Cheese Pairing at Binnys in Willowbrook

Thursday, May 28th, 5:00-8:00 p.m.

$5 Binnys Card Members / $10 Non-Members.

 

Beer: Weihenstephaner Kristallweissbier, Kristalweizen, 5.4% ABV. $2.99 / 16.9oz btl.

Cheese: Bucherolle, – Aged soft ripened goat cheese, delicate sharpness, slightly salty. $15.99/lb.

 

Beer: Bells Two Hearted Ale, India Pale Ale, 7% ABV. $8.99 / 6-pack.

Cheese: Point Reyes Blue Raw cows milk farmstead, creamy, slight lemon tang to the finish. Made in California. $18.99/lb.

 

Beer: Anchor Old Foghorn, American Barley Wine, 8.8% ABV. $12.99 / 6-pack.

Cheese: Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen Blue Cave aged in Vermont, this is a very rich blue with hints of chocolate on the finish. $23.99/lb

 

Beer: Saison Dupont, Saison, 6.5% ABV. $8.99 / 750ml.

Cheese: Explorateur Cows milk, triple cream. Explorateur is to cheese as Champagne is to wine. $19.99/lb

 

Beer: Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale, American Brown Ale, 7.2% abv. $7.99 / 6-pack.

Cheese: Ossau Iraty Sheeps milk with a nutty, olivey, fruity flavor. $17.99/lb.

 

Beer: Lindemans Framboise, Fruit Lambic, 4% ABV. $10.99 / 750 ml.

Cheese: Raspberry Bella Vitano Soaked in New Glarus Raspberry Tart Ale. $15.99/lb.

 

Beer: Old Rasputin, Russian Imperial Stout, 9% ABV. $6.49 / 4-pack.

Cheese: Pittig 4 Year Dutch Gouda Butterscotch and caramel tones. $15.99/lb.

Beer: Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Maibock, 6.5% ABV. $8.99 / 6-pack.

Cheese: Hooks 4 year Cheddar Best bang for the buck when it comes to cheddars. $13.99/lb.

 

Beer: Goose Island Summertime, Kolsch, 5% ABV. $7.99 / 6-pack.

Cheese: Les Freres Semi soft washed rind, cows milk, rich and full flavor, starts off with a burst of apple cider, then a hint of mushrooms, finishes with toasted sesame. $13.99/lb.

 

Beer: Chimay Grande Reserve (Blue), Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 9% ABV. $13.49 / 750ml.

Cheese: Chimay Delicious washed rind cows milk cheese made in a Belgian monastery. $19.99/lb.

Values From Across France

 Part of working in the wine business is taking advantage of every possible opportunity to taste wine and tasting all this killer wine all the time is pretty awesome. It’s sort of a Catch-22, though. While I’m always finding new favorites, as long as I sell wine for a living, I’ll probably never make enough money to actually buy most of it. (What a complaint to have!)

 So you shoppers out there should know that if you’re looking for good deals, be sure ask the wine guys in the aisles we’ve all pretty much made a career out of finding good wine values.

 Because May is French Wine Month here at Binny’s, and because I was pretty impressed with these particular wines, here are a few values from all around France that I tasted recently.
Values From Across France

  For an unusual white wine, give the 2008 Hughes Beaulieu Picpoul de Pinet a try it sounds more scary than it is. From Languedoc, this fresh little white has an interesting nose of citrus fruits underlined with piny notes. Bigger than you’d expect for the price, the soft fruit and acidity is balanced well with a stony minerality.

 If you’re looking for a good bargain from Burgundy, try the 2007 Le Jardine de Charlotte Bourgogne Rouge, it’s a great pinot noir for the price. A familiar, spicy nose of old-world pinot (I always think of cinnamon dental floss, but in a good way) supported with lots of tart red cherry. On the palate it’s deep, a good example of Burgundy, with deep fruit and herbs.

 I’m a big fan of the Rhone, so the 2006 Domaine

Grand Nicolet Cotes du Rhone caught my attention. The nose is a bit soft (quiet? understated?) with a hint of mustiness, which is why the huge amount of raspberry on the palate comes as a bit of a shock. I actually wrote out “BANG!” in my notes. The heavy fruit is countered with good, fine tannins and anise. Robert Parker calls this one “a heck of a wine that sells for a song.”

 Your local Binny’s probably has plenty of reasonably priced Bordeaux – a few big shipments have arrived over the last few weeks. Like I said,the wine guys in the stores know which are the best deals, so don’t be afraid to ask. One that caught my attention is the 2005 Domaine du Bouscat, a great yet inexpensive Bordeaux Superieur. Raspberry, earth and wood on the nose lead into a solidly tannic wine with strong notes of dark chocolate, raspberry and tea and a finish with plenty more of the fine tannins.