LUSH: Secret Wine

September 27, 2010 at 9:54 am (Current Events, French Wine, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , , , , , , )

I love contests. I am fairly competitive, and always love a good game and friendly challenges.  And, if wine is involved, all the better.  Thus, when Ms. Cara of Decant Chicago blog mentioned the Secret Wine contest, I just couldn’t resist.  Exhilarating!

The simple rules involved registering as one of the first 85 bloggers, eagerly awaiting 3 bottles of blind wine, and then voting.  At stake, a trip to France! Awesome. I am SO in. And game.

The wine arrived, re-bottled, re-corked, and labeled with ‘Secret Wine’ and a number.  Instructions were to guess the appellation. Just the appellation. Not the grapes, or the year, or the producer.  Seems simple, right?  Not so much.

After completing some very brief research into the host company, Clare de Lune, a French wine PR company, I surmised that the wines are most likely from the regions the company represents in France.  However, even with all that narrowing down and focus, it is still extremely difficult to pick just one. And, yes, I am also well aware that making assumptions when blind tasting is involved is risky business.

The contest is still running, but we have been encouraged to share, in detail, our tasting experience and reasoning process.  Much tasting.  Very fun.  And surprising.

One vote only. Apparently, all guesses thus far are not quite correct. So, the waiting continues while the remaining bloggers catch up and vote. Until then…the wines are still secret.

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Day Off; or, The Best Lunch I’ve Eaten Recently

March 16, 2010 at 9:32 am (Current Events, French Wine, Our Favorite Things, What we are eating, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , , , , , )

by erin

We all know what grand plans get made for a day off work:
“I’m totally going to do all that laundry! And, like, go grocery shopping! Yeah!”

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A Quick and Dirty Intro to Bordeaux

September 8, 2009 at 4:40 pm (French Wine, What we are thinking) (, , , , )

In honor of our Merlot tasting this week, we thought we’d talk a bit about this grape’s birthplace and noble heritage, which lie in the tumultuous and prestigious river banks of Bordeaux. Being the largest fine wine region in the world, and having no fewer than 57 appellations to speak of, with loads of history, intrigue, and hype, Bordeaux can be a little bit intimidating to the everyday wine drinker. But lucky for us, there are a few sweeping generalizations that can be made about Bordeaux, which can help us to get a grasp on this all too mysterious region.

Let’s talk about the rivers: Bordeaux is cut down the center by the Gironde Estuary, which splits apart into the Dordogne River and the River Garonne. You’ll hear a lot of wine folks talk about Bordeaux in terms of ‘Right Bank’ and ‘Left Bank’, and the land that straddles these rivers is exactly what we’re talking about. The Left Bank/Right Bank distinction, however, is not just something wine snobs throw around to look smart: it is the most fundamental step to understanding Bordeaux. Not only does a huge shift in terroir occur from one bank to the other, there is also a major switch in terms of grape variety planted (and if you master this one little bit of information, you will know a lot more about Bordeaux than you think!): Merlot is the dominant planting on the Right Bank, and Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant planting on the Left Bank.

If you can remember a few other differences between the Left Bank and Right Bank, you’ll have enough info to not only make some educated wine decisions, but also impress friends at cocktail parties (well, maybe).

Left bank:

  • Planted largely to Cabernet Sauvignon, with some Cab Franc, Merlot, Petite Verdot, and Malbec.
  • Gravelly top soil with a limestone bedrock. The stony top soil makes the vines reach down deep for their nutrients, creating a more desirable environment for old vines that create age-able wines.
  • Generally flat
  • Most famous regions: Medoc, Graves, Sauternes, St. Estephe, Paulliac, Margaux, St. Julien
  • All the original chateaux from the original 1855 classification are on the Left Bank.

Right Bank:

  • Planted largely to Merlot, with a lot of Cab Franc, some Cab Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, and Malbec.
  • Limestone emerges at the surface here (rather than being buried, as it is on the Left Bank). Gravel is less predominant. The only exception is the Pomerol (called by some a mini-Medoc), where a tributary of the Dordogne has dumped millions of tons of gravel and created a bed rock of sandy clay deposits and a layer of iron rich sands.
  • Generally flat as well, with the exception of St. Emilion and Cotes de Castillon, which make a dramatic slope toward the river.
  • Most famous regions are St. Emilion, Pomerol, and Fronsac.

Both the Left Bank and the Right Bank are home to some fantastic wines (and even — shocker! — some good value wines). And the best way to get a grasp on the differences is to taste, taste, taste. Hard work, we know.

Posted by Jane.

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On Vacating

June 8, 2009 at 9:29 pm (French Wine, What we are eating, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , , )

I’m not good at vacation. I thrive on being productive, and vacation, by its very etymology, implies absence and departure…not, as I tend to practice, a continuation of self-imposed obligations and tasks. Having said that, I did manage to leave that all behind for moments on my recent sojourn to California. And, working at LUSH, I can consider cooking and drinking wine to be important work-related research projects, right? Right. Well, here’s one such research project.

On my last night in California, I cooked up jalapeno crab cakes. Served with some salsa and a simple salad, it was an easy, delicious meal. I got the recipe from Bon Apetit magazine. In the future, I think I would pair the crab cakes with, instead of salsa, perhaps a garlic and lemon aioli. Yumm…

And, then, the pairing: my options were limited to the bottles of wine I’ve periodically sent out to my parents. Most of their own stash, bless their hearts, is $5 Chardonnay from California (which, needless to say, is not my favorite). Rifling through their wine collection, I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for: perhaps an oily, heavier white that still had freshness to it? Something that could stand up to the crab, but had the acidity to jive with the salsa…Le Cetto Chardonnay? Nah, too oaky. Te Aro Grenache? A red was not the right fit for this meal, even one as delicious as this. And then I saw it: the 2007 Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier from the Languedoc. Perfect! A nice rich body, stone fruits, a hint of vanilla oak, but still very fresh and floral. Success!

A very productive evening…

Posted by Jane.

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French Wine Series: Sessions 2 & 3

March 23, 2009 at 9:35 pm (class, French Wine) (, , , , , , )

We just finished up the final session in our French series last night. And what a way to end it, focusing on the wines of Bordeaux and Champagne! Two heavy hitting regions that can be rather intimidating, we wanted to provide an overview of the terroir, the grapes used, how the wines are made, and important information for buying wines from these areas. And we wanted to open wines that would demonstrate the variety that each region has to offer! The wines we poured were:

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French Wine Class: Session One

March 9, 2009 at 3:36 pm (class, French Wine) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Last night we taught the first in our series of three classes on French wine. The focus of the first class was the wines of Alsace, Loire, Languedoc, and the Madiran. These are some of my favorite regions in all of France (hell, all of the world!). So many delicious wines, different terroirs, and exciting winemakers. We chose to group these regions together because of some similarities in winemaking mentality and aesthetics. These are smaller regions, for the most part (okay, the Loire Valley is about 700 miles long!), with the best producers being small, family owned wineries. A lot of these producers are proponents of non-interventionist and biodynamic winemaking, really fulfilling the legacy of terroir so painstakingly implemented by the AOC system. Read the rest of this entry »

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Drinking at work.

March 6, 2009 at 4:45 pm (French Wine, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , )

Cream Wine Company just did a very unprecedented thing, considering.  They put some very obscure, very delicious wines on sale.  Apparently, not every wine shop and restaurant in the city of Chicago buy weird wines from small producers.   But, as a lush, I love it!  Hopefully not too many other shops catch on before I can drink, er, I mean sell it all.

But, this inspired me to open a few really cool things on this very sunny and warm ‘spring’ day.  So, please read on for an account of what happens when I drink at work…and then do a bit of research and spout random facts that are cluttering my head.

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Surviving Epic Tastings: A Field Guide

January 30, 2009 at 5:26 pm (French Wine, Our Favorite Things, Special Events, Uncategorized, What we are thinking) (, , , , , )

I recently attended the tasting for the 2006 vintage of Bordeaux, put on by the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux at the very historic and beautiful Palmer House Hilton. I went with Ms Jane Lopes of Roscoe Village Lush fame, and I am glad I had her company, because these events are always just this side of insane. Read the rest of this entry »

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LUSH Interview: 10 Questions with Mitch Einhorn.

January 13, 2009 at 9:38 pm (Beer, French Wine, Interviews, Our Favorite Things, Travel, What we are eating, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

10 Questions with…


LUSH Wine and Spirits

Owner, Head LUSH


Mitch Einhorn, a local boy with a penchant for incredibly irreverent humor, yummy food, wine, beer, and bourbon, is the catalyst to making LUSH happen.  He loves good wine and wants to share.  He cooks…gourmet chef style, with big knives, and loads of local, or at least gourmet, ingredients.  He has a couple awesome kids that inherited the precocious tendency to entertain.  The Einhorns have been involved in several local Chicago projects, including Bone Daddy, Pie Hole, and the Twisted Spoke…um, Smut and Eggs anyone?  Mitch is a serious wine drinker…and likes to spread the love for all things fermented.  Hence, each and every day wine, beer, and spirits are OPEN and available to sample.  LUSH strives to offer hand-crafted, eclectic, boutique bottles.  Any budget is welcome, just make sure you are ready for an adventure.  Open your palate and step into Lush.

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What will you be drinking New Year’s Eve?

December 30, 2008 at 3:49 am (French Wine, What we're drinking) (, , )

Despite its lack of originality for the day, I will certainly be drinking bubbly on New Year’s Eve. I just can’t imagine toasting the New Year with anything fizzless. BUT, within the grand category of sparkling wine, there are many options that certainly do not lack originality. Read the rest of this entry »

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