RSS Email Facebook

Archive February 2014

“The Best”

    Everyone loves to complain about their job. Even if they love what they do, they’ll find something to gripe about around the water cooler. If you’ve ever seen the film “Clerks”( a favorite of retail workers everywhere), you’ll already know that those of us in the trade LOVE to complain about our customers. No, not all of them, just a select few. My personal favorite is a customer I like to call Mr./Mrs. Best. The exchange usually goes something like this…

Me – “Hi, can I help you find something?”

Mr./Mrs. Best – “Yeah, I’m looking for a bottle of Chardonnay (or Merlot, or Cabernet, etc.) for dinner with friends.  Which one is “THE BEST?”

    Now there’s a loaded question. The Best? The best how? The best value? The best balanced? The best match to the food being served? The best purity of fruit? The best expression of terroir? I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

    The problem with “ The Best” is that it is a completely subjective term. How do you quantify the quality of a wine? I know lots of wine critics try to with their 100 point scales, or “stars” or “Bicchieri” (Glasses), but what do those scores really mean? It’s just the opinion of one individual (or group) that may have very different tastes than you do. You could ask ten different people what they think “The Best” Chardonnay is and get ten different answers, for ten different reasons. I’m not saying that some wines are not better than others, but to single out one bottle as “The Best” is a bit presumptuous.

    However, the solution can be easier than one might think. With just a little more information, we can figure out what wine(s) will match up well with their tastes and needs.

-What are they looking to spend? $200 wines can be wonderful, but so can $20 wines.

-What are they pairing it with? Veal Parmesan? Burgers? Good conversation? Whatever it is, we can find a wine to go with it.

-What do they usually like, or not like to drink?  If I’m thinking Malbec and they like Malbec,…we have a winner. If they don’t like Merlot, then I’m not going to recommend Merlot even if it is the traditional pairing.

-Then some fine tuning. We’ve decided on Sauvignon Blanc. Do they like 100% varietal or perhaps a blend, like a white Bordeaux? A minerally bottle from the Loire or one with tons of fruit from New Zealand? Something that’s spent a little time in oak or something fresh from stainless steel?

    Just by asking a few simple questions, we can find the wine(s) that are “The Best for you”, whatever your situation may call for. Leave “The Best” for the critics to argue over. We’ll just drink good wines.

-Roger Waxman

Flash Sale!

For those who do not remember, flash sales are not advertised in the newspaper, only electronic media (web-site, e-mails, tweets). From now until 6 P.M. on Sunday, February 23rd, mix up 12 750 ml bottles of wine and receive 25% off. The only exclusions are Everyday Low Priced wines, Sale wines, and French Champagnes. All of our Bordeaux, California wines, Italian wines, and more is on sale! So come on down and shop till you drop!

We should all drink more Cru Beaujolais

We should all drink more Cru Beaujolais (I’m not talking about Beaujolais Village or Nouveau). Take tonight for example. I want to do a simple roast chicken. And of course I want to drink red wine. But I don’t want it to overpower the simple, unique flavors of the chicken. I want it to be somewhat substantial, yet I need some of those bright berry flavors that go so well with the bird. I really don’t want harsh tannins, and I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg.

In short, while my head is saying Grand Cru Burgundy I’m operating on a much simpler budget.

AND, if I’m going to buy something that I might throw in my cellar I’m going to want some indication that it will age.

AND, Cru Beaujolais, made from 100% Gamay Noir a Jus Blanc, can age very well. Especially in the cru’s Moulin-A-Vent and Morgon, oftentimes resembling Burgundy more that Beaujolais after 5 to 10 years.

AND, Beaujolais is NOT priced like Burgundy! There has been no worldwide escalation of prices, like there has been in Bordeaux and Burgundy.

For all of these reasons I present to you two examples of Cru Beaujolais which are delicious and satisfying, age-worthy and somewhat unique. At prices that won’t make you run from the store clutching your wallet.

2011 Domaine Mont Chavy Morgon – “This big, burly effort is structured and solidly textured. It has weight accompanying the blackberry flavor, with a firm character that demands aging over at least 18 months. The finish is still firm and concentrated.” 91 points Editors Choice Wine Enthusiast. Regular price $17.99 on sale $14.99 NET!

2011 Domaine des Rosiers Mulin-A-Vent – “Representing one of the multi-generaltional collaborations with Georges Duboeuf, the 2011 Moulin-A-Vent Domaine des Rosiers – from parcels in the commune of Chenas including a portion of La Rochelle, and raised in a mixture of barrel and tank – is pungently resinous in its expression of dried herbs and more subtle in its smoky black tea and spicy, oak-related elements, which are nicely woven into an overtly dense palate presentation saturated with cassis and beet root, and suffused with fine tannins. Finishing with cut, juicily mouth-coating persistence, invigoratingly peppery bite, and saliva-inducing salt-and iodine-tinged shrimp shell reduction, this superb value promises to reward at least through 2016.” 92 points Wine Enthusiast. Regular price $21.99 on sale $17.99

I have slashed prices on these two outstanding Beaujolais Cru’s down to what I would normally offer on my e-mails for a case. Although you can certainly order cases, the prices will not get any better than this. Both of these wines are brought in by Georges Dubouef, widely known as the King of Beaujolais. And both are serious examples of the best the region has to offer.

Both are in stock now. So tonight, roast a chicken and try some Morgon or Moulin-A-Vent with it. Then put the rest away for a year. You’ll thank me.

Cheers,

Ken
Wine Director
Acton Wine & Spirit Co.
Marlboro Wine & Spirit Co.

Moonshine

It’s here! Jr Johnson’s Midnight Moonshine in mason jars.  Made from American corn and triple distilled for a smooth and clean finish.  Choose from three kinds of shine, original, apple pie and strawberry.  Use it to create and infuse your own cocktails or just drink it straight the way Jr Johnson intended.  My favorite is moonshine and lemonade.  Fill a glass with ice than add 1 and a half shots of the original shine and top off with homemade lemonade.  You can also create some moonshine jello shots.  All three styles retail for $21.99 and are available in both Acton and Marlboro Locations.

Information and Misinformation About Beer

    When I first got into the beverage business I was told there were two kinds of beer; Lagers and Ales. I was told that the only difference between the two was the temperature at which the fermentation process took place. Ales were Top Fermented (at higher temperatures) and Lagers were Bottom Fermented (at lower temperatures) …and that was it. I took that information and I ran with it.

    Now, this information isn’t necessarily incorrect, …more like incomplete. Like most people (see just about ANYTHING on Facebook for details), I fell victim to the old adage, “a little information can be a dangerous thing”. When I discovered just how deficient my knowledge on this subject was, I began to digest, both physically and figuratively, anything I could find on the subject. I discovered that it was in fact the type of yeast used (lager yeast or ale yeast) that determines the type of beer being made, and something deeper still;  there was a third type of beer. Sour, or Wild beers that are made using indigenous yeast and spontaneous fermentation.

    To those “in the know”, this information might seem very easy to gain access to, but it isn’t always so.  For instance, doing a recent Google search for “types of beer”, I found four websites, on the first search page alone in which information on wild/sour beers is partial, non-existent or wildly inaccurate.  Thebrewbros.com mentions a, “third rather obscure type of beer, called a Lam­bic, which is made only in Bel­gium”. While Lambics do come from Belgium, they are only one of many wild/sour beers that are brewed all over the world. Bendbrewfest.com lists Pilsners (a type of Lager) as the third type of beer, while listing Lambics and Gueuze (a blend of Lambics) as types of Ale. Differenttypesofbeer.com makes a minor mention of Lambics as being, “far less popular than Ales or Lagers”, and good ol’ Wikipedia makes no mention of them at all.

    So, what’s my point? If you’re interested in learning about beer (or wine or spirits for that matter), or just looking to pick up a six pack for “the game”, it’s important to find good sources of information to help you make better and more informed choices. The number of choices available to us seems to grow more every day. My advice? Find a knowledgeable, experienced beer guy (even if it’s not one of ours) that is passionate about his craft. I’ve learned in almost 20 years in the business, that it’s passion that instills us with a hunger to experience and learn as much as we possibly can; and then share. Real beer guys like to share; both information and beer.

    We are very fortunate to have a great beer guy in each of our stores; Tony in Acton and Jeff in Marlboro. From personal experience I can tell you that both are passionate, and both LOVE to share.

Roger Waxman

Why is the Spencer Abbey so special?

First off, as always, a little history lesson.  The term Abbey is derived from the word Abbot which is the title given to the head of a Monastery.  The term Abbey Ale simply refers to a beer made in a Monastic tradition.  Some of these monasteries were of the Trappist order from La Trappe, France.  Trappist monasteries have their foundation in the Benedictine tradition of manual labor and self-sufficiency, which still holds true to this day.  Many of these Trappist monasteries had or built breweries to feed themselves and their local communities.  After all beer is liquid bread.

Flash forward to today.  There are only ten active Trappist breweries in the world.  One of which is St. Josephs Abbey is Spencer Massachusetts.  To qualify as a Trappist beer it must meet several criteria.  The beer must be brewed within the walls of the monastery.  Benedictine lifestyle tradition must take precedence over brewing.  The brewery must not be a profit making venture.  Profits from the brewing may only be used to maintain the Benedictine Trappist lifestyle and the brewery.  All other profits must be given to charity.  The beer must be brewed by or overseen by monks.  The beer must also be brewed to the highest Trappist standards.  All these criteria are overseen by the International Trappist Association or ITA.

So what does this all mean?  The St. Josephs abbey was founded in 1950 and despite it’s relative youth the “Spencer Abbey” beer is steeped in 400 years of artisan brewing tradition.  One thing to remember when you are sipping the last drops of golden, fruity, yeasty deliciousness from the bottom of you glass, you can rest assured that the locals communities in and around Spencer Massachusetts will be benefiting from your pleasure and not some faceless mega beer company that only care about their share holders.

That, in my opinion, is why the Spencer Abbey beer is so special.

 

-Jeff Smith

Arturo Fuente Opus X Cigars

Logo_Opus_X

If you are having a difficult time sourcing Opus X cigars by Arturo Fuente, stop in Acton or Marlboro Wine and Spirit Co.  We recently received a shipment of the 3 pack tins.  All three sizes are available in both stores.

Opus X Robusto 5 1/4″ x 50 Ring Gauge$52.95+tax

Opus X Perfexcion X 6 1/4″ x 48 Ring Gauge $ 55.95+tax

Opus X Reserva D’Chateau 7″ x 48 Ring Gauge $59.95+tax