It was a couple weekends ago that my fiancee and I were planning a trip into Wisconsin. Some friends and friends of friends were having a little get-together at a cabin up there somewhere and we were invited. We figured that while we were in the neighborhood, we might as well hit up a brewery or two. And as a possible counterpoint to Kyle’s recent trip to Anheuser-Busch, we planned our drive with stops at the Minhas and New Glarus breweries.
A funny thing happened to me recenty, and I’m surprised it had never happened before.
A friend invited me to a concert at Wrigley Field, only the tickets weren’t for Wrigley but for one of those rooftop bleacher sections across the street. Included with the seats came an unlimited buffet and beverages. Included in ‘beverages’ were several different wines, none of which I recognized. I tried the California chardonnay (it tasted like bubblegum but was drinkable) and the California merlot (it tasted like merlot but was drinkable) and the South American red blend (it tasted like merlot but was drinkable).
Our buyers have been busy this month, bringing in lots of new wines (and lots of new values). Here are a few bottles new to our shelves that you might want to check out.
New From Italy
2008 Farnese Sangiovese – $7.99
This isn’t a huge red, but it has fantastic balance. If you’re looking for a delicate Tuscan red, try this Sangiovese from the Abruzzo region. It’s got sangiovese’s signature strawberry and cherry fruit, and just a hint of herbs like tobacco and tea leaves, and is harmoniously balanced with soft tannins from time aging in wood barrels. At this price, the Farnese Sangiovese is an excellent value.
I was lucky enough to attend a wine dinner early last week hosted by Numanthia Termes, a great winery in the Toro region of Spain. We ate tapas at a tapas restaurant. I had never had tapas before.
What a dinner! But first, the wines. We tasted the 2006 vintage across the whole Numanthia lineupTermes, Numanthia and Termanthia. What is there to say? The wines are fabulous, each bigger than the last. All are quite modern, with heavy use of oak which the Tinto de Toro (the local version of tempranillo) boldly stands up to in support and body. All show huge raspberry, blackberry and plum fruits with layers of cocoa and vanilla, with rich tannins. These are wines that I couln’t possibly recommend enough to anyone with any interest in Spanish wine. In general, Toro is a growing region deserving attention.
To round out the night, we tasted from a magnum of the 1998 Numanthia, their first vintage, which is almost as big as the 2006. Time hasn’t stripped any of the fruit or tannin, though it has exposed extra layers of toasted graham cracker or waffle cone, vanilla and brown sugar.
Anheuser-Busch has long been the target of scrutiny by beer geeks. Being a beer geek myself, I will admit having some biased feelings towards craft beer. But after taking the beermaster tour at the AB St. Louis brewery, any ill feelings towards the brewing giant quickly evaporated. Upon completion of the beermaster tour, we learned that AB is not just about the beer, but is a hefty part of American history.
The first stop on our tour was a cold room that houses massive stainless steel vessels. The sheer size and capacity of these holding tanks, which are stacked 6 high and spread throughout the entire building, is startling. If you drank a 24 pack of beer every day of your life, it would take you 137 years to consume the contents of one of these tanks. These vessels are where AB beers are kraeusened and put through the famous beechwood aging process. A common misconception in the beer geek community is that the beechwood aging speeds up conditioning to reduce lagering time and ultimately save money. While the ultimate goal of the beechwood aging is to create a greater surface area for the yeast to cling to and in theory could speed up the lagering process, this doesnt change the fact that beechwood aging is one of the most expensive brewing processes in the world. The biggest reasons that AB continues to beechwood age their beer is to ensure that the history and tradition of their beers will live on.
Robin Hood and his gang are infiltrating Binnysin the form of beer. Sherwood Forest Brewers is the latest brewery to join the ranks of Binnys ever expanding beer portfolio. Hailing from Marlborough, Massachusetts, Sherwood Forest Brewers will feature four flavorsome brews at Binnys. Each six pack will retail at $8.99, and, when compared to some other six packs, can be considered stealing from the rich.
It’s not everyday you get to meet owners wineries. I’ve met three in July, alone. First was Joel Gott as Greg Versch mentioned, here. Then I met David Clark of Milton Park and Thorn Clark in Australia. This past week I met Gunther Schlink, as well. It is really exciting to meet down to Earth wine makers and vineyard owners.
When you shop for wine, are you set in your ways? Do you only drink one particular brand of California Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio? How about you Cab and red blend drinkers? Have you ever tried a Bordeaux? If you only drink one type of wine, I want you to do something for me the next time you visit Binny’s. I want you to try something new. We have all tried wines we didn’t like. Do not write off that particular type of wine. I sure did, and I really wish I didn’t.
Winery owner Joel Gott presented his portfolio of wines to a group of Binny’s employees recently it was good to be reacquainted with these wines. I’ve always considered the Joel Gott wines to represent a good value; the whole lineup retails at Binny’s at under $15, and they sure pack a lot of stuffing for the price. They’re able to make these good yet inexpensive wines by sourcing from producers who have excess juice, then blending different lots to fit a desired profile. Seems to be working well.
Binnys is excited to announce that another new brewery is hitting our shelves. Fort Collins Brewery, which shares the town of Fort Collins, Colorado, with New Belgium Brewing, is bringing a portfolio of seven beers along with them to Illinois. We had a chance to try a few of their beers, and cant wait to try the others. Without further ado, we would like to give you a look into the seven new beers that will be hitting our shelves.