Archive for January, 2010

Sensational Tandem Winery Sale!

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Tandem logoFor this week’s sale we’ve got possibly our best deal ever, both in terms of quality of the wines and the price we’re able to offer them at.

Regular customers know what fans we are of Tandem Winery – we’ve had their Chardonnay on the wine list, we carry their wines on the shelves, and we had owner/winemaker Greg LaFollette, who we became friends with during our time in Sonoma and is one of our favorite people both personally and professionally, in to the shop for an exclusive tasting of his single-vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays this past summer.

Well, we just learned the Tandem label is being retired – the winery was bought about a year ago (though Greg is still in charge of the winemaking) and the new owners decided to capitalize on Greg’s renowned reputation and change the name to LaFollette Wines. What does that mean for you right now? Existing Tandem wines are dirt-cheap!

We snapped up what we could and at these prices they’ll be sure to go fast, so reserve your bottles / cases accordingly. Even better, case discounts apply, 10% off any 12 bottles or more, mix and match!

Tandem 2006 Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley – Rich, full-blown California Chardonnay that somehow keeps its acidity and balance. This was a huge hit by the glass. Update:  SOLD OUT

Tandem 2007 Manchester Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay, Mendocino – This wine has never been available in Wisconsin before – Greg brought a bottle to the tasting just for fun, and it blew everyone away. Spicy and floral, feminine yet powerful. Update – 2 cases still left; visit store for price.

Tandem 2007 Silver Pines Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Mountain – Dark black cherry and loamy forest floor suggest a Burgundy on steroids – New World fruit with Old World typicity; simply delicious.  Update:  SOLD OUT

Tandem 2007 Van der Kamp Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Mountain – Intensely structured, this wine rewards decanting or cellaring for a few years, but it’s delicious now. A more masculine, feral Pinot Noir with great concentration of fruit balanced by supple tannins and acidity. Clearly a wine of pedigree. Update:  SOLD OUT

Reserve yours today! 414.277.7707 or

Champagne Tasting Recap

Monday, January 4th, 2010

A little bit late since the Champagne-buying season just ended, but one of my goals is to convince people that sparkling wine is great any time (it’s an ideal food wine, it makes everyone happy, the sound of a bottle opening makes any occasion festive – why wouldn’t you want to have it all the time?!?!) so it’s apropos in that respect. The tasting on Dec. 15 went wonderfully – we had a full house, and like I said, Champagne makes everyone happy.

We started off with Veuve Clicquot since that’s many peoples’ reference point – I thought it would be useful to compare that against what I consider to be more interesting Champagnes. Nothing wrong with the Veuve, though – it’s brighter than many Champagnes, with noticeable acidity and a lemony flavor that balances with the dosage (definitely on the high side for Brut, with perceptible sweetness).

Next was Marc Hebrart’s Cuvee de Reserve 1er cru, chosen to be a counterpoint to the Veuve – large producer vs a tiny producer. When you’re buying Champagne, look closely at the small print on the front of the label; you’ll see either RM or NM followed by numbers. NM (Negociant Manipulant) is what you’ll see most of the time; it’s a producer that buys most of the grapes. RM (Recoltant Manipulant) is grower Champagne; those producers can buy only 5% of grapes for their total production. RM is worth seeking out; these are smaller, artisanally made Champagnes with true character. Are they better than NM? Not necessarily, for a variety of reasons, but they’ve got soul. The Hebrart is RM, and at about the same price as the Veuve, I think it’s a far better value – from Premier Cru vineyards, with great purity and concentration. Primarily Pinot Noir, so has a nice richness and weight to it, with a beautiful finish. Much dryer than the Veuve.

Third was Jacques Chaput – also primarily Pinot Noir, and chosen to contrast against the Blanc de Blancs that came next. This Champagne was aged for a shorter period of time on its lees than the others here (normal is 3 years, this was 2) so it showed a lot of freshness and more fruit-forwardness than the others. The Pinot Noir component came through strongly, with a lovely cherry/strawberry finish. A refreshing Champagne, and this was a surprise favorite of many people.

Fourth and fifth up were Ruinart, which has long been one of my favorite Champagne houses with amazing quality for the price (I’d drink it over Dom any day, which costs twice as much). We did the Blanc de Blancs first – normally I’d serve BdB before Pinot Noir-based Champagnes, but the Ruinart has such concentration that it easily held up to the Hebrart & Chaput- rich, with baked apple, brioche, and a wonderful acid / fruit / yeast balance. My favorite Champagne of the night. A close second (and Aimee’s favorite) was the Rose – a little less yeasty, but with the added dimension of red-fruit flavors. Long, complex, and delicious.