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
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
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
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!
Back in May, a few of the staff made our annual trip to Jim Beam to pick out the store’s very own single barrel of Knob Creek Private Reserve. I enjoyed the trip last year so I was excited to visit again this year!
Paul, Natasha and I got a really early start and made it to the distillery mid-morning. We noticed a few improvements for the whole process and tour this year! We enjoyed a nice tram ride to the warehouse (K) where it was a nice cool temperature inside. Our barrels were lined up and ready to go along with some nice actual glassware (nice touch as that was our only concern last year).
The fun part began when we got to take turns with the hammer and hit out the bunghole. After a few tries each, (maybe a few more for Natasha…) our barrels were opened one-by-one and samples poured straight from the barrel. We tasted through, noting what we liked and didn’t like. For my tastings, I liked to taste straight barrel proof with nothing added and then add a drop or two of water. Adding the water brings out the intricacies of the taste and also cuts the alcohol just a bit to allow your tastebuds to more accurately taste the whiskey.
The fun part about tasting barrels with fellow employees is trying to balance everyone’s taste preferences while judging what is best for the store. We had no shortage of debate with picking this barrel. For my tastes, we actually went with one that I initially did not prefer when I first tried it. After discussion of the three, I started to pick-up more intricate flavors and thought about what the Midtown customer would want. At first, I liked the more mellow, vanilla, sweet barrel but switched to the other because we know that a Midtown customer is looking for a little MORE from their whiskey.
From our tasting notes:
It’s got great intricate flavors, fruitiness/fruitcake notes on the front and a big, bold, drier mouthfeel. We loved the vanilla on the finish and there was even a hint of orange peel in there. We think it’ll cut down nicely to 120 proof!
After picking the barrel and helping roll it onto the truck, we were taken on a tour of the distillery. As with last year, the tour is nice. They’ve built a small production distillery where you get hands on action throughout the process, including dumping our barrel and actually putting the Midtown placard on each bottle as it went through the bottling line.
It was exciting to pick out this bottle of Knob Creek for the store and I hope all y’all whiskey fans enjoy it as well. There aren’t that many 120 proof bottles out there and this one stands out!
Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve
Fruitiness/fruitcake notes on the front end
Vanilla on the finish
Light floral notes
Touch of orange peel
Lot ID 05C23
Rack Tier 2
Barrel Proof: 128.7
PAUL: I might start off the day with a dry white such as St. Urbans-Hof Leiwener Laurentiuslay Riesling 2005, then go to a terrific red for summer, 2010 Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas.
RUSH: Eberle Cote d’Robles- A great red blend with a definite French influence, but it’s domestic!
ERIC: Yazoo Summer Ale. It’s good and something different.
ROYCE: Margaritas by the pool. Made with El Jimador Gold and Triple Sec of course!
TRAVIS: Domestic Champagne. Roderer Estate because it crushes the competition at its price point, and at least two bottles because there is nothing more American than drinking multiple bottles of champagne.
MATT: Beer! Founder’s Double Trouble and Terrapin Rye Cubed – they’ll be like fireworks in my mouth!
CLAIRE: I love whiskey but I like to keep it a little lighter on the fourth, so I’ll go with a refreshing glass of Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka with lemonade and a splash of rye. Then I might switch over to Remy V during the fireworks because nothing says “I’M PATRIOTIC!” like eu de vie!
KORIE: I normally stick with red wines, but this hot weather has me drinking rosés, so I’ll go with something light and dry, like Commanderie de la Bargemone.
GLORIA: I typically go with Porters or Stouts, but on Friday I’ll be drinking New Belgium Ranger IPA – or any IPA really – because the 4th is a great day for lighter beer.
NANCY: I’ll be drinking Kentucky bourbon, perhaps in a cocktail such as a “Thoroughbred Mule” made from our Four Roses Single Barrel, Gosling’s Ginger Beer, and a splash of lime over crushed ice in a chilled glass. Very refreshing on a hot day by the lake!
NATASHA: Charles and Charles Rosé because the label is oh-so-patriotic, you’ll see stars and what could be more American than a big pink!?
Make it a Mixology Weekend!
If you’ve been in to the store lately, you may have noticed some changes in our setup — particularly on the spirits floor.
That’s right — we have a brand new Mixology Center! This is the perfect weekend to cool down with some hand-mixed cocktails, and we’d love to help you find everything you’ll need to mix up something good (stumped for ideas? Check out some of these appetizing cocktail recipes:
The Wedding March
The Last Word
Come visit us and check out our ever-growing collection of bitters, liquers, and apertifs — now conveniently and centrally located in our brand new Mixology Center!
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!
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 email@example.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**)
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?
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!
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel:
Taste of Tradition
For this edition of a single-barrel tour, I’m going to jump ahead in my tour schedule to tell you about our Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel because…
We are excited to have this IN STOCK NOW!
Our half-day trip to the distillery was once again an entertaining and informative experience. We arrived in time for our lunch at Miss Mary Bobo’s. Now, it may sound cliche and touristy to eat lunch at the distillery restaurant, but this was definitely worth it. We were seated around a large table with 8 or so other guests. As we sat down, a wonderful retired lady talked to us about the experience, food and distillery. She was very knowledgeable and sweet.
The food came and was a fantastic mix of southern fare: fried chicken, Jack Daniels apples, mac and cheese, fried okra.. and on and on… all served family style via a lazy susan. And once we were stuffed with the main course, we were treated to Jack Daniels chocolate pie!
And then we were on to the whiskey! Now, much like other distilleries, Jack Daniel’s blends their whiskeys in order to find the perfect “Jack” taste. That is why picking out a single barrel is exciting: we pick one barrel that we think is perfect for our customer and the bottles are all consistent with that taste.
We were welcomed into the newish tasting room (they now offer tasting tours!) and were seated in front of a selection of three barrels and a couple of guides.
Tasting these barrels was a bit different as they were already taken down from barrel strength alcohol content to bottle strength. That meant that we did not have to add a bit of water in order to bring the spiciness (or “heat”) down.
It was four of us this time so we had a good number of opinions and came to a majority agreement. One was eliminated right away and we had some haggling over the other two.
First, barrel number 1745:
Nice milder tasting bottle which had some “oakiness” to it and light vanilla notes. It left a nice lingering, spicy finish. Had a sweet, tart aroma to it
I thought this was good but I wanted something a little different with a little more to it.
Next, barrel number 1760:
Mild aroma. It had a dryer caramel taste with a lighter spicy finish.
This was my least favorite. While I enjoy a nice caramel whiskey, I don’t think that’s what our customers would want. I wanted something more complex… which leads to…
OUR CHOICE: Barrel 1757:
Had a mid-mild nose to it. A good mix of caramel, woodiness and a great oakiness on the mid-palette. It starts out milder but ends with a lingering spicy finish on the side of the tongue. It is also not overly sweet.
Overall, I loved this one from the start. It has a lot going on and a lot that is unique to this whiskey in comparison to our other single barrels. I think the oakiness and spicy finish make this barrel fantastic.
So, if you like Jack Danie’ls, and want something unique and great tasting or need a souvenir unique to Nashville, this is highly recommended!
Single Barrel Tour with Matt the Beer Guy
This is part of an on-going series of single barrel whiskey picked exclusively for Midtown.
Interested in whiskey? Be sure to check out Nashville Whiskey Festival!
Single Barrel Tour with Matt the Beer Guy
This is the first post in an on-going series of single barrel whiskey picked exclusively for Midtown.
Jim Beam: Knob Creek Single Barrel
An Introductory Experience
I enjoyed the trip to Jim Beam for my first barrel tasting and selection. The whiskey was great to try and meeting Master Distiller Fred Noe was a trip. It’s impressive to be met by the master distiller and see that his office is the first one as you enter.
Now, I was warned about Fred: He makes no changes to his style for anyone, meaning, he’s going to be the good ol’ boy from the country, cussing and all. He know his stuff though and was fun and interesting to talk to.
After introductions, we headed to the barrel warehouse for the tasting. It was awesome to be let into the storehouse to see all of the stored barrels and smell all of the aging bourbon. We were presented with 3 barrels, each stored in a different location but *I believe* aged for the same length of time. One of the storehouse managers showed us how to hammer out the bunghole and pour the samples. We were set to taste!
Now comes the point of contention from Midtown: We were presented with plastic cups. As a wine, spirits and craft beer store, we pride ourselves and appreciate the appropriate glassware. Unfortunately, this falls short. That being said, the bourbon itself did not.
The fun of tasting straight from the barrel, is that the bourbon is barrel strength, aka not watered down. The Knob Creek we tasted was all above 100 proof and thus pretty hot. That is why Fred recommended we add a bit of water in order to bring the simulated proof roughly down to single barrel bottle standards. We tried them barrel strength first and then added a bit of water.
My favorite was one of the smoother bourbons as I love the carmel and vanilla notes that I associate with “smoothness”. That explains my taste for Woodford Reserve. The last of the barrels, we all agreed, was definitely not up too par; it tasted less complex than once would expect. The third barrel had a decent bit more spice and good depth. We decided upon this barrel as once our customers would love.
After deciding, we were taken for lunch and given a tour. The new touring facilities and visitors’ center are impressive. They have a mini distillery setup just for touring and it gives a fun, interactive aspect to the process.
Overall, my first single barrel tasting was a fun and informative experience. I hope you like the Knob Creek. We’ll let you know when it arrives.
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!”
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!