Another #Under25Challenge Winner

Last Saturday afternoon I found myself in the middle of New Jersey at some sort of mad fun house[1] for a birthday party with a gaggle of seven year olds. It was exhausting[2]. I’ve never been in a place with so much stimulation. Ever. When the madness was over, I got in my car and cranked the Beethoven, because while I love me some Disney music, three hours of The Bare Necessities and Kidz Bop, had me on edge. Since I found myself in a new and unknown world, I broke out Yelp to find me a nice little wine shop so I could pick out my #Under25Challenge selection. The reviews for Merit Fine Wines looked good, so I made my way over.

File Feb 20, 9 54 36 AMI walked in[3] and was greeted by what could only have been the owner. I went into my spiel. “I do this thing on Twitter[4]…I need you to recommend your best wine for $25 or under…” After looking at my quizzically for a second, he smiled and said, “Well ok, I think I can help.” He took me all around the store offering me different varietals. Did I want an Italian, a sparkling? Maybe a Cabernet, or a Burgundy? He had options. His only concern was what bottle to choose. The store was quaint, with rows and rows of riddling racks[5] holding quite a diverse selection of wine. I went with the Cabernet[6] over the Burgundy at the suggestion of my new wine friend. I also loved the label[7].

This week’s Twitter chat was a blast. Even more engagement than last month, and several participants ended up loving their new wine[8]. I didn’t get a chance to talk about my wine again because it was so fast paced, so I figured I’d get it out in a blog. If you missed out, put it on your calendar for next month, March 16 at 8 PM EST. Happy wine hunting!


To:                  Alleged Blog Readers
From:              WineEsquire
Date:               February 16, 2016
Wine:              2012 Fortnight Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

File Feb 20, 9 55 01 AMGiven that we don’t have much time before we pass out and die from our day of healthy eating[9], the wine did not have much time for breathing. Straight out of the bottle, it was one of the deepest, darkly purple wines I’ve ever seen. The air bubbles were profound, even without an aerator. And they were gorgeously purple. On the nose I got a hint of sharpie and some fruit I couldn’t quite place. The first sip revealed a slight sour twist on the finish. A bit dry, almost chalky, but not in a way that’s unpleasant. A touch of raspberries and a leathery richness gave it a great mouth feel.

It was a great complement to the meal, though it could easily drink on its own too. If I was into buying bottles over again, I’d give this one another go. I bought it in New Jersey for $24.99, not the cheapest, but not overpriced either. Seems to be the going rate for the bottle even online. Give it a go and let me know what you think!

Wine Dossier
The website for Fortnight Winery is sparse; some great photos but not much information on the wine, the winemaker or anything really. I did a bit of digging and found that this wine is part of the Farm Collective, a portfolio of small Napa wineries run by a group of farmers that come together to make wine. Their motto is in Ex Agris Vita – In Agriculture Comes Life. Bertus Van Zyl, a South African native who, by the age of 15 knew he wanted to be a winemaker,[10] is the head winemaker for the collective.

File Feb 20, 10 03 31 AMThe 2012 vintage was a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Malbec and 9% Merlot[11] coming from four different Napa vineyards. Harvested between September 27 and October 31, 2012,[12] it was finally bottled on August 28, 2014 after spending twenty months in a mix of French, American and new oak barrels.

I liked this piece from the website:

A Fortnight is a unit of time equal to 14 days (2 weeks). And while every harvest season is the culmination of a full 12 months of rigorous preparation and strenuous effort to produce the best wines possible, there is a specific and almost magical moment during that period when we must decide our jumping off point and pick that very first cluster. From that point forward the journey has begun in transforming beautifully ripened fruit into exceptionally crafted wine.

It’s quite fascinating to think how much work goes into each bottle of wine that we so casually drink. Taking a second to step back and consider the number of people involved in the process is really necessary to appreciate how lucky we are to have infinite wines at our fingertips.

And on that deep note, I leave you to your wine!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] The website touts there’s over “100,000 square feet of fun!” More like 100,000 square feet of insanity. And germs. #handsanitizer
[2] Fun, but exhausting.
[3] After parallel parking like a boss. #citylife
[4] He clearly doesn’t do Twitter.
IMG_7704[5] You may recall that Madame Clicquot invented these racks back in the day. See Celebrating In Style, Wine Dossier.
[6] Surprise, surprise.
[7] And yes, it is ok to choose your wine based on the label, or at least have it be a contributing factor in the final decision. #PrettyThings
[8] Alas, it didn’t work so well for all, but hey, you win some, you lose some. Life’s all about adventures.
[9] The past week, Husband and I have been eating healthy. Green juice in the morning, yogurt at lunch, mint and lemon water throughout the day. By time we get home we’re STARVING. Our wine pairing feast that evening was broccoli cheddar soup followed by Cajun salmon with garlic spinach and spaghetti squash hash browns. Delicious, but most importantly, quick.
[10] Smart kid.
[11] Remember that legally, a wine needs only 75% of a single varietal in order to label it as that grape. Most bottles that are listed as single varietal wines are actually blends.
[12] It seems that vintners consistently harvest on Halloween; I knew it was my favorite holiday for a reason.

File Feb 20, 9 58 21 AMAnd if you haven’t voted yet, head over to Facebook and vote for WineEsquire in the Milessima Wine Blog Awards. Winning means I’d get to head across the pond for a wine adventure in Bordeaux. Read more here. Or just go vote. Cheers!


T-Minus One Week to #Under25Challenge


File Feb 09, 8 06 59 AMConsider this your formal invitation to participate in our second #Under25Challenge Twitter Chat[1]. We’ll be drinking wine and chatting next Tuesday, February 16 at 8 pm EST[2]. Last month was a blast and I can’t wait to do it again! I’m still hunting around for a new store to visit, have you found yours yet?

To join in on the wine fun, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to a new wine shop;
  2. Ask a new wine friend there to recommend their favorite and/or best bottle in the store. Note that the price must be $25.00 or under[3];
  3. Buy said Wine;
  4. Save it for #Under25Challenge Twitter Chat;
  5. Follow @WineEsquire and T.L. Summerville on the Tweeter;
  6. Be near your Tweeting Device at 8 p.m. EST on Tuesday, February 16;
  7. Uncork that bottle, pour a glass, drink up and Tweet with us;
  8. Repeat next month.

File Feb 09, 8 08 03 AMHappy Fat Tuesday[4]!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] You’ve already been invited, so this is just in case it got lost in the mail.
[2] Send a calendar invite to all your #winefriends.
[3] I keep having a problem with this rule. $$
[4] aka #PancakeDay

#Under25Challenge Round 2

If you read my blog on the regular[1], then you should know about the #Under25Challenge. If not, please refer to your official Invitation to Participate. The concept, in a nutshell, is each month, we’ll all find a new wine store, make a new wine friend, and buy a new bottle of wine for under $25, then we’ll get on the Tweeter and talk about it for an hour. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the perfect thing to do on a #TipsyTuesday evening.

So last night was our first #Under25Challenge Twitter Chat. The procrastinator in me decided to wait until yesterday evening to get my bottle. I’m embarrassed to say it, but from my office window, the same office window I’ve had for almost seven years, I can see a wine shop. A fine wine shop. And I’ve never gone in. It’s the strangest thing, because I’ve been to most of the other wine shops in the vicinity of my office[2], but never stopped in to the one that’s closest to me. I guess it was meant to be that I ventured there last night.

File Jan 20, 5 38 26 PMI walked in and explained my crazy mission. My new wine friend definitely thought I was delusional[3]. But we got to talking and as it turns out, not only was he a wine guy, he is a wine loving lawyer[4]! What are the chances of that?

I went with my new wine friend’s first recommendation, an Argentinian Malbec. There was something about going with his gut instinct that was kinda fun, even though I’m not typically a huge Malbec fan. I figured this was the time to try something new and move away from my favorite go-to California reds.

File Jan 20, 5 37 27 PMThe chat itself was exhilarating. An hour goes super-fast when you’re trying to moderate and participate with a bunch of wine friends! I didn’t even discuss my buy, but I think those who participated had a good time. Everyone commented how fun it was to go explore a new store and give some new grapes a try. I’m looking forward to next month and seeing what new adventures we collectively experience. I’d love for you to join us! February 16, 8 PM EST, be there or be square!

To:                   Alleged Blog Readers
From:              WineEsquire
Date:               January 19, 2016
Wine:              Punto Final Reserva Malbec 2013

There’s definitely vegetables on the nose. Husband gets tomato, I get green pepper. When I sip, my immediate taste reaction is cigar smoke followed by chewy tannins. This has been open and breathing for about an hour. Some thick slow legs cascade down my beautiful Riedel glass and the color on this is beautiful – deep blood red, almost black, with just a hint of color around the edges of the glass. There’s a slight sweetness hiding behind the tannins which is very interesting. Medium bodied with an almost spicy after taste. I’m not sure I’m sold on the Malbec thing, though I was told this is an excellent specimen.

If you’re partial to Malbecs give it a try and let me know what you think. If you’re more of a Cab fan, stick to that and send me a photo. Cheers!

Wine Dossier
File Jan 20, 5 53 30 PM
The producer is Bodega Renacer, a fairly new winery established in 2004 in Perdriel, Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina. According to their one sheet, the name Punto Final, means “final period” or “full stop,” and symbolizes the point at which the Bodega Renacer winemaking team has accomplished their common goal: a truly outstanding wine.

They’re committed to sustainable practices, and the Recycle Queen in me gives them an extra thumbs up for this. Notably, they collect water from the Andes Mountains into natural ponds and use this to water the vines.

The grapes in this bottle were sourced from old vine vineyards, the average age of which is 80 years. After fermenting in stainless steel, the wine rested in French Oak Barrels for a year before bottling.

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] And since you’re reading this, I assume you do read my blog. If you don’t then you should read my blog. Sign up for updates at the top.
[2] Obviously.
[3] He also wasn’t quite sure how the Tweeter thing worked, but by the end of the night I had a new follower.
[4] Trying to get out of the #lawyerlife grind, hence, his Tuesday nights at the wine shop. #goodplan

#Under25Challenge – Adventure Número Uno

File Dec 29, 8 25 19 PMA few weeks ago I had a brilliant[1] idea for a series of blog posts. The idea is for me to go around to charming little wine shops on my travels and ask the wine friends working there to participate in my challenge. The challenge is to recommend their favorite and/or best bottle $25 or under. Then I’ll take the wine home, take a few photos, drink a few glasses, and blog about it. Brilliant, right? I thought so.

So I went on my first challenge escapade. A few weeks ago I found myself up in the Litchfield Hills, a quiet beautiful corner of the state riddled with adorable boutique[2] stores and restaurants. I wandered[3] into a little wine shop excited for my first challenge. Given that they had literally just moved, their stock was pretty low, so this may not have been the ideal start to my #Under25Challenge, but c’est la vie.

I told my new #winefriend the parameters of the challenge, and he gave me two choices. One was slightly under $25, and one was slightly higher at $28.99. The under $25 was a personal favorite of his, a red blend from Italy. The other was a 2006 bottle of Spanish goodness, and one that you couldn’t find anymore. This was actually their last bottle[4]. Even though I made up the rules, I promptly broke them when I heard the Spanish wine couldn’t be bought anymore. I guess the new parameter is “around $25”. We’ll see how that works going forward.

Feeling odd buying just one bottle, I also picked up a 2009 Montefalco Sagrantino[5] that I’m epically excited to try. But that will have to wait for another day.

  • To:                  Alleged Blog Readers
    From:             WineEsquire
    Date:               December 29, 2015
    Wine:             Mansion Garrido Vina Centenaria Tinto Exclusivo 2006

This was a complex bottle of wine. It would actually have benefitted from filtering since there was a ton of sediment in the glass after I poured.[6] Raisins, leather and smoke on the nose. The mouth gave way to a bouquet of jammy raisins. Medium-bodied and a bit on the dry side. Excellent with our gourmet meal of beef stew, multigrain bread and sweet potato puree[7]. This was a strong wine and I think it may be too much to drink on its own without some nosh[8]. For the price I paid I was a bit underwhelmed, but it was certainly an experience I enjoyed.File Dec 29, 8 36 43 PM

Wine Dossier

Without the use of The Google, I could not for the life of me figure out what kind of wine this was. I determined that it was from Spain, but I couldn’t discern a varietal. To be fair, there’s a lot going on on this label. The producer, Mansion Garrido, is run by a family that has been making wine on the same property in  Fermoselle, Spain for 375 years[9]. The grape, known as Juan Garcia, is an autochthonous grape variety of the Arribes River Canyon within the inland Castile-León region of Spain. This means the grape is indigenous to this area and only grown there. It is also said to have survived the catastrophic phylloxera vine disease[10] due to its protected geographic area within the canyons along the Duero River.File Dec 29, 8 22 14 PM

Turns out you can find this wine online for less than what I paid. So for my first #Under25Challenge, I may have been slightly hoodwinked[11], but at the end of the day, it was a great bottle of wine. It all worked out and now you can try it too since it is not, in fact, an endangered bottle.

Happy wine-ing!

Lawyer Footnotes

[1] Brilliant may be pushing it, but I think it’s a good idea.
[2] Read: Expensive.
[3] Wandered may not be the correct word since I drove around the block four freaking several times and ended up having to actually call to find out where they were located. Turns out they had recently moved around the corner from their old location and Yelp! hadn’t updated their listing. Don’t worry, I sent a note to Yelp! about their snafu.
[4] Now that I think about it, I think he totally sales-pitched me into the higher priced bottle and I fell for it. #sucker
[5] Never heard of this? I hadn’t either until we adventured in Umbria, Italy a few years ago. A little known grape that packs the most delicious punch, I can’t wait to tell you about it. #comingsoon
[6] Note that we drank this out of my new Riedel Heart to Heart glasses I received for Christmas. The glass literally sings. #realcrystal #swoo
[7] The things Husband did to these potatoes was absolutely sinful.File Dec 29, 8 42 33 PM
[8] I tried it on its own on day 2 and found myself needing a few Christmas cookies to go with it. #ChristmasProblems
[9] You can find the current owner, Jorge Garrido, on LinkedIn, but only on the Spanish version, so I don’t know how to connect with him. #nohabla
[10] Remember we talked about this wine disaster? See One of Those Days post, footnote 11.
[11] Makes sense given the location; see footnote 2, supra.