Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Convenience Store/Bar alive and well in Seattle

One of the most exciting stores I had the opportunity to check out recently in Seattle was not a record shop, not a new wine shop specializing in natural wine, not a store coolly displaying vintage and/or ironic used t-shirts. Nope, the coolest store and my happiest moment of retail shopping ocurred at a convenience store tucked away in a residential area of Seattle not too far from Ballard. In addition to the snack chips, commodity wine, oberto dried beef, and other sundry convenience items happened to be a very good selection of craft beers, both local, as well as from California and other places further afield. Even better, there was a tiny bar towards the back of the store where you could be served a quick pint or have the owner fill/re-fill your growler. At one point during the visit, Chuck (the owner) and I were trying to outdo each other's praises for sour beer in general and Cascade's spectacular Northwest style sour in particular.

I strongly encourage anyone who either lives in or travels to Seattle to pay a visit to Chuck's. The guy is clearly very passionate about beer. And if you do not think that a visit to a store that sells Doritos and serves great local beers on tap is worth a detour, then you probably don't deserve to experience the magic that is Chuck's.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Three Frappatos

Frappato is of course the light and bright, generous but not overly fruity red wine made from grapes of the same name in southwestern Sicily. Care needs to be taken when picking these wines as the not so good ones can taste formulaic, at times candied. Recently I caught up with some current releases of a few usually very good examples and one new one I was excited to try. These are terrific summer/fall reds and especially tasty with pizza. Here are some brief notes.

2009 Ochippinti Frappato

Arianna Occhipinti's wines are well known in critical drinking circles in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, etc. Her wines can occasionally be a bit jumpy out the gate, but are very fresh, with lively acidity and wonderful expression. This one was good from the start. Perhaps a bit riper and richer than what I'm used to here, or maybe this is my imagination and the passage of time since the 08 I enjoyed some months ago.

2009 COS Frappato

Not to be confused with the venerable, dreadful, Cos d'Estournel (which is also referred to as 'Cos' for short), COS has been at it for nearly 25 years now, producing this wine as well as nero d'avola and Cerasuolo di Vittoria (a blend of nero d'avola and frappato). They have an amphora bottling of the Cerasuolo di Vittoria as well. While this initially came across a bit lactic and chunky, unfocused, it opened up to become more fresh, precise, and refreshing. Good.

2009 Tami Frappato

Arianna Occhipinti supervises this project, which is a collaboration between her, some friends, and her boyfriend (sorry fellas, and ladies). I enjoyed this wine quite a bit, and at less than $17 it's a good deal. Do not expect to find as much of a highly contrasted balance between acid and fruit as you would on her Occhipinti Frappato. If you keep that in mind, or if you simply are approaching this bottle not having tried Arianna's other stuff, then you'll likely enjoy the wine.

To my readers: it's summertime and it shows with the lack of entries. Thanks for continuing to check in. I'll do my best to increase the posting frequency in the days and weeks ahead.