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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

National Wine and Spirits to become Republic National

Indianapolis-based National Wine and Spirits, the largest distributor of wine and spirits in Indiana and Michigan, has agreed to be acquired by Republic National Distributing Company. Headquartered in Atlanta, Republic National is the nation’s second-largest distributor of premium wines and spirits in the United States. With the addition of NWS, Republic National will operate in 22 states and Washington, DC. NWS will now become Republic National Distributing Company of Indiana.

More changes to Indiana’s lineup of wine and spirits distributors could be on the horizon. The state makes a conspicuous gap on the distribution map of Miami-based Southern Wine and Spirits, the nation’s largest distributor with operations in 29 states. Stay tuned.
J. Silverheels Gray, 11:26 AM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cruz Andina Malbec 2006

Last Saturday evening I was planning on making a grilled leg of lamb seasoned with salt, cumin, garlic and hot curry powder, along with baked cauliflower and palak paneer. I had been waiting for a good reason to try the Cruz Andina Malbec 2006, and this was going to be it.

Dinner turned out very well, and my only regret was that I hadn’t come up with a reason to try the Cruz Andina sooner! It is unlike any other Malbec I’ve ever had, and it is absolutely one of the most enjoyable — right up there with Achaval-Ferrer’s Finca Altamira, though at a fifth of the price.

With the first sniff it’s evident that this wine has been treated to a generous amount of oak, and it has: Sixteen months in 100 percent French oak, 30 percent new. Tantalizing aromas of vanilla-tinged dark berries and spice box waft from the glass; the wine washes over the palate with creamy layers of mocha, dark fruits and melting tannins then gradually takes its leave with a long, satisfying finish.

This wine pushes all the right buttons for me. I’m a lover of new-world Bordeaux-style blends, and this is an old-vine, high-altitude Malbec blended with 10.5 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, three percent Merlot and one and a half percent Bonarda. That’s not exactly a classic blend, but it sure works!

And no wonder. Cruz Andina is a collaboration between Veramonte, one of Argentina’s oldest wine families, legendary Chilean vintner Agustin Huneeus (think Quintessa), Carlos Pulenta, a third generation Mendoza vintner, and Chilean winemaker Alvaro Espinoza, who gets most of the credit for helping to sort out that country’s Carménère-Merlot mixup. The result is a spectacular wine with roots on both sides of the Andes — and at $19, one you can afford to not miss.
J. Silverheels Gray, 5:21 PM | link | 1 comments |

Monday, March 01, 2010

Earthquake Zinfandel 2008

Earthquake ZinfandelEarthquakes have been in the news a lot lately, popping up in such an unlikely place as Chicago, rattling Okinawa, and causing death and devastation in Haiti and, most recently, Chile.

Through my friend Tatiana I have met several very nice people who live in Chile, including her sister and parents who make their homes in Santiago, as does her good friend Anita. After news of the Chilean earthquake came through I checked with Tatiana to see if everyone was OK. Her immediate family was fine, but she hadn’t heard from all of her friends yet, including Anita.

Several of us in Indianapolis have dined and drunk with Anita on her visits here.  She’s a fun, vivacious person (or, as Tati puts it, “crazy”) — and she has two Weimaraners, so you know she has to be nice! I don’t think I’ll be contradicted if I say that as the days with no word from her stretched on, we all became increasingly concerned.

Today, finally, over Facebook came the word: Anita and her family were OK, though her sister who lives in Conception — the quake’s epicenter — is having a hard time. But she did survive an 8.8 earthquake, which, unfortunately, many hundreds of people did not. I was relieved to know that everyone I knew in Chile and their families were safe.

A couple of hours after getting Anita’s update I went to Costco for my weekly gas tank fill-up. While I was pumping Ethyl (sounds dirty, doesn’t it?), I made the snap decision to go in and get a frozen pizza for dinner. On my way to the pizza cooler I decided to cruise the wine department, and something caught my eye: Earthquake Zinfandel.

I had seen this wine before, but had never tried it. It’s made by Michael and David Phillips, who also make 7 Deadly Zins, a wine I find to be just OK. Today, though, the name spoke to me: Earthquake.

What the heck, thought I. It’s just $18 or so, so why not give it a try? Costco seems to vet their products pretty well, so chances are it wouldn’t be awful. And if it was awful, there’s always Plan B.

Got it home, fiddled around a bit, finally popped the cork and poured some in a glass. Gave it a sniff. Wait, what’s that? Another sniff. Sniff sniff sniff. COCONUT! WTF? Coconut?

Yep, coconut, plain as day. Holy moley. Never got such a strong nose of coconut before, and can’t say it’s something I really want to find in my wine unless I put it there myself for some inexplicable reason, along with a little paper parasol.

Well. Swirl, swish, swallow. Hmm. Not bad! Gave it some more time, and the coconut moderated to vanilla, which I like (vanilla: catnip for humans). Some big blackberry and plum flavors emerged, and each sip made me want to take another. This is some pretty good stuff!

The short story: This wine ended up far exceeding my expectations, and it’s well worth a try. Just close your eyes and imagine you’re at Rum Point having a coconut daiquiri until it comes around.
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:46 PM | link | 0 comments |