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Beat the Heat with Loire Valley Wines


Beat the Heat with Loire Valley Wines

As the weather in Nashville begins to heat up, most people think of breaking out the grill and cracking into a cold bottle of beer.  But for the wine drinkers among us, summertime means the return of the same standard wines that, though delicious, lack that element of excitement that the warming of the weather calls for.  While we know there are better options out there, sometimes we just don’t have the time to look for them.  Luckily for the discerning drinker, we have you covered!  France’s Loire Valley offers a wide range of wines whose bright acidity pairs perfectly with summertime heat.

Louis de Grenelle Saumur Brut Rose NV


1473 0 Beat the Heat with Loire Valley Wines

A frankly ludicrous value, this traditional method sparkling wine from Saumur is made from 100% hand-harvested Cabernet Franc.  The 24 months it spends aging on lees before disgorgement is longer than the minimum for NV Champagne (you know, the kind that would run you $50), all for a mere $20.  A prime candidate for gulping all summer long, and pairing with a wide array of lighter grill fare.

Pierre Luneau-Papin “Clos des Allées” Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie 2013


 Beat the Heat with Loire Valley Wines

Commonly confused with Moscato, this totally DRY white wine from the far western reaches of the Loire valley is made from hand-harvested Melon de Bourgogne grapes.  Extended aging on lees balances the natural acidity of this Muscadet with a lovely structure and mouthfeel.  Perfect for the Chardonnay drinker looking to branch out, or for pairing with that bread and herb-crusted halibut you’re serving.

Joseph Mellot Sancerre Rouge “Le Rabault” 2011


9 image 240x615 Beat the Heat with Loire Valley Wines

Known mostly for its bright and refreshing white wines, Sancerre is also home to a delicious selection of red wines made from Pinot Noir.  This particular offering, from steep hillside vineyards planted with 30-year-old vines, offers a tantalizing balance between the acidity the Loire is known for, and the ripe cherry and currant notes that a good vintage for Loire reds can provide.  If you’re grilling any kind of chicken or heavier fish this summer, this is your wine.  Try serving it at cellar temperature (around 58°F) to beat the summer heat!

Wine and Food Festival Preview & Guidebook


WineFestLogoWithDork 300x259 Wine and Food Festival Preview & Guidebook

Things are shaping up nicely for the Inaugural Wine and Food Festival.

We are excited to have 34 tents the best wine from around the world, including Duckhorn, Orin Swift, Louis Latour, Banfi and more, 11 tents of food, 5 seminars & demos and much more!

In addition, the VIP experience  will be fantastic with outstanding wines from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, food by The Farmhouse and chocolate from Olive & Sinclair.

Tickets are selling FAST but it’s not too late to get yours!

Just visit thenashvillewineandfoodfestival.com

As a bonus, for an in-depth preview, check out our festival guidebook:

Download the Festival Guidebook!

Inaugural Wine & Food Festival


Announcing the First-Ever Nashville Wine and Food Festival!

It feels like just yesterday that we were blogging from within the depths of  an exceptionally long and dreary cold snap, but springtime pollen counts never lie: we’re poised on the edge of yet another beautiful summer in Music City.

We couldn’t be more excited to welcome the season with a delectable surprise — in fact, we’re so excited that we’re throwing a one-day culinary affair the likes of which Music City has never seen: Midtown Wine and Spirits is proud to present the first-ever Nashville Wine & Food Festival!

Scheduled to take place on June 14, 2014 at Riverfront Park, the Inaugural Nashville Wine & Food Festival will pear tasting booths stocked with over 150 wines from around the world with mouth-watering offerings from a staggering lineup of Nashville’s very best chefs, merchants, and vendors – from Duckhorn and Holland House to Orin Swift and Olive & Sinclair, festival guests will have the opportunity to sample the creme de la creme of everything that Nashville’s culinary scene has to offer — and much more!

Tickets are disappearing quickly and this inaugural event is already shaping up to be the most talked about wine festival in an already jam-packed culinary season, so don’t hesitate — buy your tickets today!

For more information on the 2014 Nashville Wine and Food Festival – including admission pricing, V.I.P. opportunities, and an up-to-date list of participating restaurants, wineries, vendors, and benefitting charities – please visit www.thenashvillewineandfoodfestival.com.

If you or someone you know would be interested in participating in the festival as a volunteer,  please email us with your name and contact information to midtowncorkdork@gmail.com “Wine and Food Festival 2014 Volunteer” in the subject line. (**IMPORTANT: All volunteers must be 21 years of age or older as of June 14, 2014**)

Happy New Year!


Did you have a good holiday? We sure did!

The holidays may have come and gone, but the cold weather seems pretty eager to stick around. All these plummeting thermostats have the Midtown Wine and Spirits night crew thinking…what kind of wine or spirit do we all want to have on hand when Old Man Winter won’t let us leave the house?

SnowFridge Happy New Year!

Lou: I made a great big pot of chili to last me through the cold snap, so give me a spicy red wine -preferably a Rioja like our staff favorite Vina Eguia Crianza – and I will be a happy woman!

Ingo: It’s 40 degrees below zero up in Winnipeg, so I figure that if it’s good enough to get one through a Canadian Winter, it’s good enough for me down here in Nashville. I’d go with Caribou Crossing.

Josh: I may look tough, but I like the sweet things in life — when the weather gets chilly, you’ll find me bundled up under a blanket with a warm drink that contains a healthy dash of Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream.

Travis: In cold weather, I like to put on old records and sip on a nice cognac, or maybe some Chambord drizzled on top of ice cream – but, when it’s this chilly you can’t go wrong with an island spirit like rum — preferably some Diplomatico!

Korie: If I’m snowed in, I better be snowed in with some sparkling wine. I want to celebrate my life in style even when it’s not beach weather, so I would go with something pink and glamorous, like Mirabelle Rose!

Matt: A high proof whiskey (like Old Granddad 114!) would do the trick for me. And I wouldn’t complain about a high alcohol beer with some holiday cheer, like The Missing Elf (9.5% Alcohol).

Claire: I crave spices when the temperature drops so I’ll be curling up with my cat and a warm and toasty amaro, like Montenegro. I have been eyeing the Absolut Chicago, however, so that might be my top choice — a savory vodka with Rosemary and Olive notes sounds like a wonderful way to beat the cold — don’t forget to ice it down like a Chicagoan would: in the snow!!

Eric (our next door neighbor at the Midtown Beer and Cigar): Everyone knows that winter is the best time of year for the highest of high gravity beers – this is the perfect weather for TenFiddy!

Spring Pairings: What to eat with Rose


This is the perfect time of year to pair your favorite wine with fresh produce from the farmer’s market. This week, Nat has a suggestion for a vegetarian-friendly dish that will play very nicely with the Calcu Rose Reserva:

“Because this is a refined and elegant Chilean Rose with wild berries and lemon blossoms on the nose followed by crisp, vibrant, fresh notes on the palate, it works very well when paired with vegetable dishes such as risotto or rice.

Primarily Malbec with 35% Syrah and just 10% Petit Verdot (this last grape being the one that gives the wine its crisp dryness), this Rose would also be delightful with a potato salad made of tiny fingerling potatoes (very Chilean!), along with cilantro, onions, garlic, celery, and chopped hard-boiled eggs. You can also further integrate the Calcu by dressing the salad with a simple homemade mayo made of whipped olive oil, a bit of egg, salt, pepper, and a few drops of Rose!”

Calcu Rose 2001 Spring Pairings: What to eat with Rose

Rose and farmers' market fresh salad make for a light dinner that pleases your palate AND your budget!

Vina Maquis Calcu Rose, Colchagua Valley, Chile

If you have a wine or a dish that you want to try (or if you just want to learn more about pairing), please let us know in the comments — we would love to help you out!

Give Merlot A Chance…


There has been a recent renaissance of Merlot wine -making after the few years of demise brought forth by a certain Hollywood blockbuster’s quote demeaning the noble Bordeax varietal.  In the years following that movie’s release, there was an obvious decline in Merlot purchasing which in turn affected production. But if you’re out there and still frightened by or just dont like those big California Merlots, give some of these a chance.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Merlot 2010 – 88 points Wine Spectator

Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington – $19.99

CSM Merlot Indian Wells bottle1 96x300 Give Merlot A Chance...

I personally am not a huge fan of many reds from Washington state, but when I find myself buying something from the Northwest, its typically either a Washington Merlot or Syrah.  Comprised of 80% Merlot and the rest Syrah, this is the best of both worlds.  With big fruit up front from the Merlot and a strong, bold, yet subtly tannic finish from the Syrah, Ch. Ste. Michelle did some nice work on this wine that pairs extremely well with Pasta as well as Roasted Pork Tenderloin.

And next up, from the Southern Hemisphere and around the globe…

Craggy Range Winery Te Kahu Gimblett Gravels 2010 – 91 Points Wine & Spirits Magazine

Bordeaux Varietal Blend (80% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 4 % Malbec) — $19.99

Craggy Range Te Kahu Bottle 117x300 Give Merlot A Chance...

This winery located on the Eastern coast of the north island of New Zealand.  Its close proximity to the coast and the South Pole keeps the coastal breezes light and cool thus giving the winery cooler days even in the heat of the southern hemisphere’s summers.  Unlike the Napa Valley Merlots that are hated in the Hollywood wine flick everyone knows too well, this is a Merlot dominated blend that stays lighter than most but the depth of flavor is dense.  The bright fruit up on the front of the palate strikes you from the get go, and the light structure makes this a great wine to have as an everyday drinker.  This pairs extremely well with herbal and vegetarian pizzas and bigger steak or tuna topped salads with a not too acidic vinaigrette.


Tired Of The Same Old Cab?


Tired Of The Same Old Cab… ?

If you’re tired of trying the same old Cabernet, perhaps its time to dive into the original…Cabernet Franc!  Shown by DNA evidence, the Cabernet Sauvignon grape is a product of vine grafting of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.  Cabernet Franc, or Cab Franc as it is usually called shows many similar characteristics of the Cab Sauv.  Its deep blackish color and bold flavors show just where the Cab Sauv came from, but with its typically milder tannic structure and earthier vegetal notes make wines made from this grape fantastic for grilling season.  The lighter Chinons from France pair extremely well with Pork dishes and grilled Ahi Tuna, where as the heartier domestic and South American Cab Francs can stand toe-to-toe with rich grilled flank steak or Portobello mushrooms.  Here are a few options of Cab Franc available at Midtown wine & Spirits to get you into the grilling season

Bernard Baudry Les Grezeaux Chinon 2010

91 Points Wine and Spirits Magazine

$21.99, normally $24.99 Tired Of The Same Old Cab?

This gravelly, 7.5-acre block sustains some of Baudry’s oldest vines, producing a tannic franc with black earthiness in the end. The gamey fruit has a blueberry tone, juicy enough to fill out the dry tannins and soften the finish. Age it to bring out the old-vine complexity. – Wine & Spirits

Lamadrid Single Vineyard Reserva Cabernet Franc 2009

91 points Robert Parker

$15.99 Tired Of The Same Old Cab?

The 2009 Cabernet Franc Reserva was sourced from the estate’s younger vines and aged for 14 months in 50% new and 50% second-use French oak. Herbs and spices (clove, cinnamon, potpourri) intermingle with enticing black fruit aromas to compose the bouquet of this tasty Cabernet Franc. Incipiently complex and lengthy, it has the structure to evolve for 2-3 years but can be approached now. It is an outstanding value. – RP

Vinum Cellars “The Scrapper” Cab Franc 2009

Special pricing, $19.99 Tired Of The Same Old Cab?

This is a wine made for the open-minded, the adventurous and those who root for the underdog. It’s Cabernet Franc from El Dorado California aged in used French Oak for 22 months; truly a Scrapper.  This concentrated pomegranate colored Cabernet Franc is rich with intense cassis notes and exotic spices like clove and sandalwood. On the palate, the concentration carries through with a sappy and juicy core of ripe black cherry fruit, dark chocolate and dark roast coffee notes. The wine finishes with round tannins which are approachable but well structured and will provide the foundation for ample aging. Enjoy now or cellar until 2022. This wine pairs well with nearly any grilled meat, but it is show cased well with marinated Flat Iron steak served with fresh summer vegetables or a salad served with an olive oil and tomato relish tossed in extra virgin olive oil, citrus and oregano with sea salt. – Winemakers Notes

Try these recipes for grilling season to pair with a Cab Franc:

Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Tango Sauce

Mango-Black Pepper Glazed Grilled Pork Chops

Spain’s Best Kept Secret


Wines from Spain are a personal love for me. I think everyone has had that one great taste of vino that makes them take a step back and go, ” Whoa! “.

corks250 Spains Best Kept Secret

For me, it was when I first sipped Petit Verdot.  Petit Verdot, you say? For those of you not acclimated with this wonderful varietal, let me shed some light. Petit Verdot is one of the five “classic” Bordeaux grapes. When grown in perfect conditions, it gives off a beautiful bouquet of fresh blueberries, lavender and violet. It’s only problem is that it ripens very late, even more so than Cabernet Sauvignon, so it’s a particularly difficult character to master. This is not the case in Spain. With their extended growing seasons, light rainfall and dry, arid climate, it’s a match made in heaven. Some research has even shown that it is actually native to the regions of Tarragona, Aragon, Navarra and Rioja, and was brought to France by the Romans thousands of years ago. Other parts of the globe with similar conditions such as Argentina, Chile and Australia have seen an influx of Petit Verdot plantings in the past 20 years. But Spain in my opinion has shown just how amazing this grape can become when given proper care and attention.

Take Chapillon’s Cuvée Harmonie, rated 90 points by The Wine Advocate, for instance. Blended with 10 percent Tannat, this wine shows off scents of bright, dark berries, spicy floral components, and leaves you with a finish that seemingly lasts forever. For 15 bucks. For those of you interested in pairing ideas, all things pork are perfection, with cured meats such as Jamón ibérico being even better. Hard, nutty cheeses, preferably sheep’s milk, are fantastic as well. So do yourself a favor, put on some Spanish guitar and check out Petit Verdot. You will be more than happy you did.

Kicking 2012 Off Right: Our Staff Party


Another year has gone by, and with it, we each get a little older. I still can’t believe that a person born in 1991 can legally purchase alcohol…

Anyways, we at Midtown celebrate each new year with our annual wine dinner, and 2012 may have been the biggest yet. We had more than 25 people, including our full staff and some close friends, and of course we had some of the best wine we’ll drink all year. Just like last year, The Clay Pit in Murfreesboro catered our party, providing us with another night of absolutely delectable authentic Indian cuisine.

This year we held the party in the rooftop ballroom at The Days Inn by LP Field, offering a stunning panoramic view of the stadium and downtown Nashville skyline. As tradition dictates, we got things going with some delicious bubbly, whites and rosés to go with our appetizers of assorted cheeses, crackers and naan (a handmade, oven-baked flatbread with garlic and spices).

— Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top Brut Champagne
— Soter Vineyards Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé 2006 (93 RP)
— Veuve Clicquot Rosé Champagne 2004 (93 WS)urbanshof 269x300 Kicking 2012 Off Right: Our Staff Party
— DuMol Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2007 (90-93 RP)
— Louis Latour Puligny Montrachet 2008
— Meyer-Fonne Pinot Gris 2006
— Trimbach Riesling “Cuveé Frederic Emile” 2001 (90 WS)
— St. Urbans-hof Riesling Laurentiuslay 2005 (93 RP)
— Poma Aurea Spanish Sparkling Cider
— Chateau de Selle Domaines Ott Rosé 2010 (90 WE)
— Contelucio Pinot Grigio Ramato 2009

Each year we always pull a bottle of the St. Urbans-hof — it’s a store favorite and we love to see how it is evolving over time. This year, it had less of the classical petrol notes you find in a fine Riesling and had much more honeysuckle. The DuMol is more than just a Chardonnay — it’s an entire meal. You can taste the 15 months the wine spent in 40% new French Oak, and it’s loaded with vanilla créme brulée. A friend of Midtown brought the Contelucio with him, and upon pouring it, we thought it had gone bad as it poured a color closer to a tawny port than a Pinot Grigio. However, that’s exactly how it’s supposed to look. “Ramato” refers to the old school Friulian style of winemaking where the grapes are fermented on the skins, resulting in the coppery color. It blew us away! And sadly, the only bad wine of the night was one we all always love — Latour Puligny Montrachet. Ain’t nothing you can do about a corked wine…

From here, we shifted into the red wines as we began to munch on spicy Vegetable Pakora (assorted vegetables dipped in graham flour batter and deep fried) and Tandoori Chicken. We tried to maintain some semblance of professionalism, tasting the lighter and older vintage wines first.gloria 141x300 Kicking 2012 Off Right: Our Staff Party

— Brolio Chianti Classico 1980
— Chateau Gloria Bordeaux St. Julien 1981
— Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1995 (93 RP)
— Coppo Pomorosso Barbera d’Asti 1997 (90 RP)
— Chateau Souverain Alexander Valley Merlot 1999 (92 WS)
— Talley Arroyo Grande Valley Pinot Noir 2004
— Bouchard Pere et Fils Beaune du Chateau Bourgogne Premier Cru 2006 (90 WE)
— Domaine Lecheneaut Chambolle-Musigny Bourgogne Premier Cru 2007

I’ll be honest — most of us didn’t expect much from the Brolio or the Gloria. Though certainly very respectable, neither of these bottlings come from absolute powerhouse producers or particularly good vintages. But on this night, we were taught the very important lesson of always tempering your expectations when it comes to opening a bottle of wine as both bottles drank impressively well!

The Brolio still had life in it, showing tart black cherry notes to go with classical sangiovese flavors of leather and tobacco. Most surprisingly, the bottle continued to taste good over the course of an hour whereas most wines this old would fade very quickly, if they even tasted good at all.

Then came the Gloria, and our prospects were grim as the cork disintegrated and collapsed into the wine as I attempted to open it. Thanks to some quick thinking on the part of one of my colleagues, we quickly poured the wine through a coffee filter and were able to salvage it. Like the Brolio, this wine impressed us quite a bit. A lot of the primary fruit had faded, but loads of cedar and spice were prevalent on the palate. It did, however, fade very quickly. After 30 minutes open, it tasted its age while the Chianti continued its life a while longer.

From here, it was time for the rockstars of the night — big, bold and rich reds.

— Robert Foley Claret 2004 (95 RP)
— Muga “Prado Enea” Rioja Gran Reserva 2004 (94 RP/WE)
— Sella & Mosca “Tanca Farra” Alghero 2004 (91 WE)
foley 174x300 Kicking 2012 Off Right: Our Staff Party
— Morgenster Lourens Rivery Valley Stellenbosch 2005 (92 RP)
— Whistling Eagle “Eagles Blood” Shiraz 2005 (95 WS)
— Durigutti “Familia” Malbec 2005 (91 WS)
— Switchback Ridge Peterson Family Vineyard Petite Sirah 2005 (95 RP)
— Tenuta Sette Ponti Toscana “Oreno” 2007 (96 WE, 95 RP)
— Cuvelier de Los Andes 2008
— M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut “Occultum Lapidem” 2008 (92 RP)
— Montes “Purple Angle” Carmenere 2008 (91 WE)
— Eberle Steinbeck Vineyard Syrah 2009
— Eugenio Bocchino “Roccabella” Nebbiolo Langhe 2009

Ah, where to begin? Well upon arrival at the party, I immediately decanted the Oreno, Purple Angel, Switch Back Ridge and Foley Claret. We gave them a good 2-3 hours decant time, and while they definitely benefited from it, they would have been even better the following morning. The Foley and Purple Angel may have been the consensus favorites, both being near black in color and displaying layer after layer after layer of flavors.

And what’s a party without dessert and some accompanying wine? We munched on Gulab Jasmun (juicy fried cheese balls dipped in honey syrup) and sipped on Quady Essensia Dessert Wine and Klein Constantia Vin de Constance Dessert Wine 2006 (95 WS/RP).

We even had a little high gravity beer appearance, in the form of the coveted Dogfish Head Bitches’ Brew, brought by one of our former employees (many thanks to Matty).

All in all, it made for one of the more memorable nights in Midtown party history. And on a final note, let us say that more than 25 of us consumed these wines over the course of more than six hours, and we also went through two 36-bottle cases of water.

Drinking a “Baby Amarone”


Back on New Year’s Eve, my wife and I had a little soiree at our place. A few of my fellow CorkDorks came over, and one of them brought a bottle of Zenato’s “Ripassa”. It’s a Valpolicella Ripasso, made from the Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes up in northeastern Italy. And so now a few weeks later, as I watch the 49ers and Giants face off in the NFC Championship Game, I’ve decided to crack open this bottle.ripassa 300x266 Drinking a Baby Amarone

Meaning “repassed”, Valpolicella Ripasso wines are passed over the leftover dried grape skins and seeds from Amarones for extended maceration. This makes the wine richer and more flavorful while also making it a little more fuller-bodied than it normally would be. These wines are often referred to as “Baby Amarones.”

This particular ripasso pours a dark crimson color with an inky, black core. On the nose there’s a touch of tobacco leaf, green tea, stewed black cherries and barbecued meats. It’s medium to full-bodied on the palate, and ripe cherry jumps out in front. The tannins coat the palate fully on the finish, letting you know this wine is made for food. A tart cranberry note lingers on the lengthy finish, along with a hint of cocoa powder.

This isn’t one of those wines where you just pop the cork, pour it and drink it. It demands cuisine, and the beef and ground bison pasta I had with it paired beautifully. Now I’ll admit I’m a little biased — a confessed lover of all things Italian — but I’d rate this wine a solid 91 points. Throw some rich food in the mix, and it jumps up to a 93.

Tell us about your favorite wine pairing…

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