Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What I’m Drinking

In preparation for our trip to France, I’m attempting to educate myself about French wine. Most casual wine consumers are intimidated by French wine – the unfamiliar language, the difficult pronunciation, and the AOC (appellation d’origine consolee) system can be confusing. Prices tend to be higher as well, and who wants to drop $40-50 on a wine that’s just okay?

Here’s a secret someone taught me: when in doubt, go with a wine imported by Kermit Lynch. I have yet to be disappointed by a Kermit Lynch import. Also, 2009 was a great year for most European wines, so this was a double whammy – a 2009 Bordeaux from the sub-appellation of Lussac St-Emilion, located on the right bank of the Garonne and Dardogne rivers, imported by Kermit Lynch. This particular wine is 95% Merlot grapes and 5% Cabernet Franc. For around $35, you could drink it now (like we did with a lengthy decanting period) or cellar it for a while. I got some hints of balsamic vinegar and blackberry.

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Normally Rieslings are wines that I’ll only drink when there’s nothing else available. It seems like most mass-produced Rieslings are cloyingly sweet with no acidity or structure. German Rieslings from the Mosel region have changed my mind. Now I find myself craving Riesling! It doesn’t hurt that we’ve had some nice patio weather lately, and at 8-9% alcohol, these wines don’t leave you feeling loopy.

My favorite so far is this 2012 Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett. It exhibts flavors of white peach, some floral characteristics, and a minerality that I’d never tasted before in a Riesling. It’s great as a porch-sipper or with spicy food, and I paid about $23 at our local wine store.

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For around $10, you can pick up this Leonard Kreusch Riestling Kabinett, also from the Mosel Riesling. It wasn’t as multi-dimensional or complex as the Dr. Loosen wine, but it still satisfied.

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On the beer front, Founders Brewing Company, out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, recently came to Middle Tennessee! I’ve been picking up Founders beers out of state for some time now, rationing their All Day IPA (a session IPA) and Dirty Old Bastard (a Scotch ale) until I could make another trip through Kentucky. No longer! And in celebration of their distribution here, there were several events last week that included a tapping of a keg of their Kentucky Breakfast Stout, an imperial stout brewed with coffee and chocolate and aged in bourbon barrels. Lately it seems like bourbon barreling has jumped the shark, but KBS gets it right. Smooth, rich, but without tasting overly boozy, even at 11.2%, it’s no wonder that Beer Advocate rates it a 100.

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It’s pretty limited, so if you see it where you are, get it while you can!