Free Friday Tasting: Beaujolais, Baby! and a nice Italian white

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We pulled the cork on the very first wine of the vintage year 2016 yesterday. Beaujolais Nouveau is traditionally released on the third Thursday of November – it’s an unofficial kickoff to the holiday season. A signal that says “It’s time to drink some wine.”

Stop by and try one of the big names in Beaujolais Nouveau, plus a delightful Italian white for Thanksgiving, at our Free Friday Tasting, 4-6 p.m.

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Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau, Gamay, Beaujolais AOC, France 2016 — This wine was hand-picked Gamay grapes just a few short weeks ago. Beaujolais producers started a tradition of racing from the region (which is technically in Burgundy) to bring the first wines of the harvest to Paris.

This is a bright, fresh wine that benefits from a bit of a chill. The timing couldn’t be better: it’s a great balance for Thanksgiving food. Fruity and light, it’ll refresh you when you’ve had too much turkey and cranberry sauce.

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Arnaldo Caprai, Grecante, Grechetto dei Colli Martani DOC, Italy 2012 — Lots of fruit, with melon, peach, and citrus, cut with nice acidity so it’s not cloying. A nice way to switch it up from a Sauv Blanc or an unoaked Chardonnay.

This would be a GREAT choice for your Thanksgiving guests who like fun white wine. If you’re having it as an aperitif before dinner, don’t be surprised if you decide to stick with it through the main course!

Chardonnay with secrets; Straight-up Shiraz

One of these wines has a twist, and the other is a straight-shooter. Free Friday Tasting, 4-6 p.m.

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Formation, Chardonnay, Monterey County, CA 2012 — What’s the secret as to why this is so good? Well, they use a little bit of Pinot Blanc, for a rounder texture, and Grenache Blanc for a floral character.

That amps up the tropical fruit flavor classic to a Monterey County Chardonnay. You’d expect it to be hot here, and it can be, but the cool water coming off the bay gives it a unique climate. You’ll get apple, melon, and pear.

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Evens & Tate Big Squeeze, Shiraz, Australia 2014 — The Big Squeeze is a Big Wine. Well-rounded, with rich, ripe fruit, and some bold American oak.

Sources from several Australian regions, this is straightforwardly Shiraz (“Get yer SHEE-raz, here!”) Dark cherry and plum, with black pepper and spice on the finish.

A Little Chardy for the Party; Italian Red; Free Friday Tasting, 4-6 p.m.

This is what I want from wine: a white to have while raking leaves, or polishing off the last of the caramel apples. A red for hanging out on Saturday night, watching movies, and taking out pizza. Free Friday Tasting, 4-6 p.m.

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Annabella by Michael Pozzan, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, CA 2012 — A full-flavor, medium-body Chardonnay, thanks to time in French oak. Ripe apple, mango, and pear, with a crème brûlée finish and crisp acidity. Owner/winemaker Michael Pozzan named this line in honor of his grandmother.

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Cusumano, Nero D’avola, Sicily, Italy — A dark, ruby-red with with a fresh blackberry and plum nose. Bright and juicy, with herbal notes and a hint of cola. A moderately long finish, this is a well-made and a great bang for your buck.

More like HalloWINE, amirite?

Today, in celebration one of our favorite holidays, we will be tasting some fun wines for all those Halloween parties. These would be great with candy! Free Friday Tasting, 4-6 p.m. ???

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Poizon — A California Zin with juicy fruit and mocha, this is wine “to die for!” They blended with a little Petite Verdot for balance, and we’re guessing they chanted “double, double toil and trouble” while they did it.

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Antidote — Luckily, we’ve got the antidote. This light and crisp Pinot Gris (that’s American for “Pinot Grigio”) is a great contrast to that jammy red. Get in here and get some in your gourd!

Prosecco like a Pro; Sparkling Italian Rosé at our Free Friday Tasting, 4-6 p.m.

Italian sparklers on deck for our Free Friday Tasting, 4-6 p.m.

Mionetto, Il, Prosecco, Veneto, Italy NV — This neatly capped Prosecco is as easy to open as it is to drink. Lightly sparkling in the “Frizzante” style, this opens up to fruity pear and citrus flavors with easygoing acidity.

This is great by itself, but also good for mixing into cocktails – mimosas, anyone?

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Cavicchioli 1928, Rosé Spumante Dolce, Modena, Italy NV — As a “Spumante,” this features a full, evanescent foam, with strong flying chains of bubbles. It’s a bright and pale pink “candy” color, with fruity fresh flavor.

A sweet, and slightly spicy, long-lasting finish. Made from 100 percent Lambrusco di Corbara, this is a great cocktail-ing sparkler, or a pair for light pasta dishes.

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Pinot Noir & Zinfandel: Free Friday Tasting, 4-6 p.m.

We’re bringing out a couple of reds for this cooler weather at our Free Friday Tasting, 4-p.m.

Underwood, Pinot Noir, Oregon 2015 — This Pinot aims to be an excellent every day drinker, and it hits the mark. Well-balanced with light strawberry flavor, and herbal forest notes.

Underwood is label of the Union Wine Co., which is very proudly made in Oregon, and boasts one of the most fun online presences of any wine company (just check out their Instagram – it’s a pretty good time). This Pinot was rated 87 points and a Best Buy by Wine Enthusiast.

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This is our photo. Check out theirs from their Instagram:

Our favorite food groups. #pinkiesdown #underwood #pinotnoir P:@altwen

A photo posted by Union Wine Co. (@unionwinecompany) on

Klinker Brick, Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, CA 2014 — “Old vine” isn’t legally required to mean anything, but the idea is older grapes produce lower yield and therefore concentrated juice. In this case, it means a blend from 16 different vineyard blocks with an average age of 85 years.

What you get is dark, sweet fruit flavor with berries and spices on the nose, and a hint of black pepper. A big, hearty Zinfandel with a long-lasting finish.

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It’s Friday! Tasting Malbec & Sauv Blanc, 4-6 p.m.

Our Free Friday Tasting is about to happen in the shop, 4-6 p.m. Here’s what’s on for today…

Pomelo, Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County, CA 2014 — Pomelo is a giant citrus fruit from Malaysia, an ancestor of grapefruit. Think aromas of fragrant orange blossom, and grapefruit, and white peach flavors, and that’s what you’re getting from this refreshing Sauv Blanc by Mason Cellars.

Nimble and light-bodied with high notes of lime zest and passionfruit. Wine Spectator gave it 90 points and put it #40 on its Top 100 last year.

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Regio, Malbec, Lodi, CA 2012 — Dark garnet color, with dark plums, black currants, and spice undercurrents. This is a nice alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon, and a great table wine, especially if you’re setting your table with grilled meats or barbecue.

Medium-bodied, with a velvety finish. Lodi’s Mediterranean climate makes a more finesse style of Malbec (versus Argentinian big, blustery styles).

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FFT: Germany via Italy; Chilean Red Go-To Blend

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Here’s what we’re going with for our Free Friday Tasting, 4-6 p.m. We can’t wait to crack into these…

Montes Twin, Red Blend, Colchagua Valley, Chile 2014 — The blend mashes up some of our favorite New and Old World varietals to make a well-balanced table wine: fruit and structure from Cabernet Sauvignon, freshness of Tempranillo, substance of Syrah, and velvety finish of Carmenère.

Part of the beauty of South American wine is that it gets right down to business with young yet powerful wines. This one has plenty of red and black berry fruit flavor, followed by subtle spices. French oak gives it a touch of dark chocolate and caramel on the finish.

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J. Hofstadter, Lagrein, Alto Adige, Italy 2012 — This one is fun! Say the varietal with a German accent (“lah-GRINE” rhymes with “WINE”) and the appellation with an Italian accent (“ahl-taw ah-dee-je”).

That’s because in this mountainous region of Italy, also known as South Tyrol, the majority of people speak German – it’s right on the border. Lagrein can be an enjoyable, straightforward wine with tasty plum and earth notes, full-bodied but not too heavy, with a minerally finish.

This is a perfect example of a Lagrein, a with deep-dark color, captivating aroma, and harmonious yet assertive palate.

Free Friday Tasting: Time to Celebrate!

We’re very excited and humbled to earn a spot on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s dining critic’s Top 30 list for the second straight year! Let’s celebrate a little by tasting some reds at our Free Friday Tasting, 4-6 p.m.

Albino Rocca, “Rosso Di Rocca,” Nebbiolo Red Blend, Barbaresco, Italy 2014 — This is a stylish, racy Piedmontese wine, and a great bang for the buck. Because it’s a blend, it can’t be called a Barbaresco, which has to be made solely from Nebbiolo. This one is rounded out with some Cab Franc and Barbera. Expect a whole lotta dark cherry, blackberry and bitter chocolate. Medium-bodied and juicy, with a slightly sticky finish that lingers. Great value at $12.

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Primitivo Quiles “Cono 4” De Pura Cepa, Monastrell, Alicante, Spain — Ruby red Monstrell shines in this Spanish red. Straightforward red fruit flavors are perky right away, and pick up some earthiness when you let it breath for a while. Then you get some jammy raspberry and cherry, and a smooth finish. Pretty great deal for just $10.

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Free Friday Tasting: It’s Labor Day Weekend!

We’re tasting a two wines that are great for this not-quite-autumnal time of year. A Red Blend to go great with grilling, and a Sauvignon Blanc to savor the last bits of summer. Stop by for a free taste, from 4-6 p.m.

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Red Blend, Columbia Crest, Limited Release Gold, Columbia Valley, WA 2013 — Dark, rich, silky palate… what are we talking about? Fresh raspberries, salted dark chocolate… Ready for this? This is a Cabernet Franc-based red blend! The grape is probably best known for often riding shotgun to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in Bordeaux. Here we get to taste what it can be when it grows through a warm Washington State summer, ending on a cool September, with some time in a little French oak.

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Sauvignon Blanc, Angeline, Russian River Valley, CA 2014 — This is a great portrait of a Russian River Sauvignon Blanc. You’re going to get a lot of bright, citrusy notes right away, like ripe mango, kiwi, and key lime zest. It’s bursting with fruit flavor, but balanced out by a crisp acidity. This would be great with fish dishes. Or maybe our Elote. So good.

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