While I have a full blown wine problem, I admittedly don’t buy a lot of wine locally. Over the last few years I’ve been able to really hone in on what I like, and I’ve found a few online distributors who specialize in these wines. One also acts as middleman for collectors who are selling some of their cellared wines, which provides me the chance to purchase wines with some age on them. I’ve tasted some real fine 07-09 red Burgundy, but it generally takes a first class premier cru Burgundy at least ten years before I have a tasting experience that makes “it” move.
An obvious downside of buying online is the lack of face to face discussion, and learning opportunities that occur with local retailers. I’m happy to report that after last week’s visit to Le Caveau in Chamblee, I’m genuinely enthused about building a relationship with this local purveyor of tasty, real, special, and otherwise geeky wines.
I must admit, I’m acquaintances with the owner Eric, whom I’ve met a couple of times in booze related social settings. So I’m not just plugging a good buddy, though we do share the bond of two men who’ve bought each other drinks at last call at The Cheetah.
My wine budget is mostly tapped out for the next month or two, though I did snag a few cool items last week. 2000 R. López de Heredia white Rioja. 2005 Radikon Jakot, a funky, fun, and oxidized Italian orange wine. And 2002 Puro Movia sparkling rosé from Slovenia. All three of these wines are fairly geeky and relatively rare, but the Puro is the sort of wine many sommeliers have never even heard of – a sparkling wine which has not been disgorged.
Quick lesson of Methode Champgenoise, which is the traditional method of creating sparkling wine: the grapes ferment like any other wine, but when bottled there is yeast and sugar added. This results in a secondary fermentation in the bottle, which develops flavor and creates Co2 pressure. The bottles are held in a rack pointing downward, and the bottles are rotated so the dead yeast (the lees) settle in the neck (this is called remuage). Then the neck is frozen, the lees are removed, sometimes a sweet wine called dosage is added to fill the neck, and the wine is capped. This process is called disgorgement.
The Puro below has not been disgorged, hence it is shipped and stored upside down so the lees will settle in the neck. To open this wine, one must fill up a tub of water, and open it under water. The highly pressured bottle will shoot the lees out as soon as it’s opened, and one must quickly pull the bottle out of the water to avoid losing wine. Of course, there’s a youtube video of this process.
Sorry for the long story, but this sort of stuff is exciting to me. And do check out Le Caveau if you are into wine, or want to know more. Eric is very passionate about the subject, and he’s already introduced me to some very cool and delicious stuff. He has everything from Italian to Burgundy to Riesling, and many of them are quite affordable ($10-$20). Le Caveau has some wine pairing dinners coming up, as well as frequent tastings too. Below are some killer bubbles and dessert wines that he was pulling for tastings last week. Check their Facebook page for upcoming events.