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Heather’s Mix Tape

January 29, 2016

Once upon a time, I was really really into wine. What happened? I moved to New York where wine isn’t sold in grocery stores.

I never bought a lot of wine in California’s grocery stores. Still, it was always good to know it was there. But having grocery store wine did something really really important for the wine culture in the region. It elevated it. And here’s why. If you were a serious wine store or a really good restaurant, you wouldn’t be caught dead with a bottle of wine on your shelf or on your list that could be procured from the Safeway down the street.

This isn’t about snobbery. It’s about an appreciation of small passionate winemakers doing their thing. It’s about interesting wines, with character and nuance being made the hard way, without regard for marketing or consumer trends. These kinds of products don’t usually have the production runs to be carried in supermarkets. These special bottles go to smaller wine stores where passionate owners chase them down. And of course, they go to restaurants, where sommeliers make sure to have great wines at every price point.

Back to the Capital Region. So Vic & Heather opened up a wine store. A real wine store. A wine store with personality. And browsing through that curated selection, you’re unlikely to see any bottles you recognize.

The potential for this shop is huge. So I’ve gone and done something entirely unprecedented.

When the shop opened I wrote, “browsing these shelves is like looking through your cooler friend’s record collection. It’s a tightly curated selection, purposefully arranged in interesting ways, that will help you think about wine differently.”

Going with that metaphor, I recently asked Heather to put together a mix tape. For younger readers, a mix tape is kind of like a playlist. It’s a small but meaningful selection of songs that reflect who you are at a specific point in time.

Right. So leaving the metaphor behind, that would be a mixed case. But I wanted this to be a collaborative project that brought together what she believed about wine selling and what I believed about wine buying:

  1. Good wine doesn’t need to be expensive
  2. If a wine is worth buying, pick up at least two bottles of it
  3. Be brave and reap the rewards of unusual grapes and appellations

The goal was to produce a balanced, well-considered, mixed case of wine for the adventurous value seeker. I wanted the wines to go well with food, and lean towards a more old-world style. There was no cap on the price per bottle, but all-said-and-done I wanted this case to come in under $150.

She did it. So I bought it and  am incredibly excited to start digging into these wines. And now I’ll let Heather tell you a bit about the selections.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 9.11.42 AM

2014 Domaine du Haut Planty Vdf “Muzkadig Breizh” (Loire Valley, France) – $15
“100% Melon de Bourgogne. I love this wine for so many reasons: #1 It’s unfiltered and yes, it is very cloudy, #2 It has absolutely no added sulfites, #3 It’s delicious. Brothers produce this distinctive wine that has lovely acidity and notes of peach and stone fruit in general. It’s the perfect pairing for oysters or other seafood.”

2013 Alpha Loire, Cheverny Enclos de Petit Chien (2013) (Loire Valley, France) – $10
“This is the value white in the bunch. The Sauvignon Blanc, with a little hint of Chardonnay blend, is light and refreshing. It’s made with biodynamic grapes and has some nice bright acidity. I want to drink it with grilled asparagus or a salad with asparagus, but it will go equally well with ahi tuna or broiled cod or haddock.”

2014 Teutonic Wine Co. ‘Jazz Odyssey’ (Willamette Valley, Oregon) – $18
“I can’t get enough of the Teutonic Wine Co. Love them so much that we sell two of their wines at the store and feature their Pinot Gris by the glass at Peck’s Arcade. ‘Jazz Odyssey’ is a blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. It has a bit of residual sugar, but is balanced by great acidity. Winemaker, Barnaby Tuttle, makes his wines to pair with food. This wine is a great accompaniment to food that has a little spice.”

2014 Quinta Milú, Ribera del Duero Milú (Ribera del Duero, Spain) – $13
“Germán R. Blanco produces only 3-4 wines yearly, all made from Tempranillo grapes in his self-described ‘micro-winery’. The Milú, named after Blanco’s son, is what he considers his ‘house wine’. It’s juicy and approachable. This is one of my go-to’s when recommending a crowd-pleasing, dry red.”

2013 Napo’s Sangiovese (Umbria, Italy) – $11
“A red blend (Sangiovese, Sagrantino, Ciliegiolo, Merlot and Montepulciano di Abruzzo) from Umbria, Italy. It’s a wine for food. I would consider it an excellent pairing with pizza or another dish with red sauce. Dry, with notes of spice and dark chocolate. A delicious, organic, value red.”

2013 Les Vignerons de La Vicomte “Cabarel” (Languedoc-Roussillon, France) – $11
“75% Syrah and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is guaranteed to become your everyday table red. Juicy and flavorful, this wine over delivers for the price. And, it was selected by Willie Gluckstern who says he is on a self-proclaimed mission to find ”little growers who make 700 cases of wine and yet work like mountain goats to do it.’ Check out his NY Times wedding announcement, if you have the chance.”

Tonight I’ll be cracking into the first of these bottles, and I can’t wait. We’ll probably start with the French red to go with roast chicken. You know, because it’s Friday. And that’s what we do.

IMG_3692Here’s the fun part. You can play along with me at home. Heather would be happy to pack up the identical case for you too. I’m not getting any kickbacks or commission. All I’m doing is shining a light on yet another small idiosyncratic business that is helping to raise the standards of our community.

And that’s a very good thing indeed.

If you do want in on this, email Heather directly at lavineheather@gmail.com and she’ll have it packed up for you and ready to go. The mixed case does come with a 12% discount, so after tax all twelve bottles, two of each listed above, comes to $148.26.

Ounce per ounce, that’s actually cheaper than some of the beers I’ve been buying lately. But that’s another story.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 29, 2016 11:33 am

    I love that muskadig breizh!

  2. January 29, 2016 11:51 am

    Dammit. Now I need a bottle of that Sangiovese because she paired it with the magic word.

  3. Mary M permalink
    January 29, 2016 12:00 pm

    I can vouch for “Jazz Odyssey”. Bought two bottles at Heather’s suggestion and then went back for more later on.

  4. January 29, 2016 10:08 pm

    What’s “tape”?

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