Arrowine – A Trove of Bottled Treasures

Arrowine has been selling the fruit of the vine in the Lee Heights Shops on Lee Highway in Arlington, VA for many years now.

I can remember discovering the store myself quite some time ago, and it wasn’t new then.  In fact, I believe it was opened in 1985.  Despite having found my way there long ago, I haven’t been there in years … literally years.  Why?  Well, I don’t have any really good excuses.  Laziness, perhaps?  There are many wine merchants closer – in and near my own neighborhood.  So … this weekend I made my way back to Arrowine to refresh my memory.

OMG!  Why did I wait so long to return?  Their website says they are a neighborhood wine shop with a national reputation.  I think that’s a great summation of what they do.  They are a big shop, but not a huge big-box type store.  They stock a very large selection of wines from around the world with quite a few unusual, unexpected, hard-to-find wines.

On Saturday afternoons they have a free wine tasting, and I planned my visit accordingly.  That place was humming with activity when I arrived!  There were folks crowded around the wine tasting table where they were pouring six different wines.  There was also quite a bit of hub-bub around the cheese counter.  On the main floor across a sea of wine racks, I heard people greeting old friends and catching up.  I guess it really IS a neighborhood establishment.

As far as the tasting went, I was impressed.  The gentleman pouring was friendly and very knowledgeable about the wines he had on hand.  In fact, he clearly had been involved in finding those particular selections because he had some fun personal anecdotes about a couple of the boutique wineries represented.  He wasn’t pushy in the least.  But when asked a question, he was very forthcoming with pertinent and interesting info that he was excited to chat about.  His was not a dry regurgitation of memorized wine facts nor a hard-sell pitch.

I had a good time.  Browsing their inventory for a bit, I grabbed a couple of bottles while I was there.  Of course!  I could see how the store might seem a bit daunting if you aren’t comfortable in the world of wine.  Because they have a world of wine on hand, let me tell you.  But the staff is friendly and helpful, so there is no reason not to dive right on in.  I’m glad to have rediscovered Arrowine for myself.  I know I’ll be back soon.

 

 

 

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Firefly Ridge Syrah 2011

I think there are lots of reasons for liking a wine.  Sometimes it’s because the wine proves the perfect exemplar of what you understand that particular wine should be.  Other times wines that give me something completely unexpected can be enthralling.  Now I’m not happy with just anything unexpected — like the white I had at one local wine fair that literally tasted like kerosene.  That was unexpected, but not welcome.  lol  Admittedly, Syrah can be many things, depending on the climate and soil, etc.  Even so, this Syrah from Firefly Ridge struck me as – forgive the golf analogy – pretty much down the middle of the fairway.

Winemaker: Firefly Ridge (a Safeway private label)
Varietal: Syrah
Vintage: 2011
Appellation: Central Coast, California
Price: $15.99

Notes:  In the glass it was very dark garnet … very dark.  On the nose I found dark fruit, pepper, and dirt. It was a soft medium-bodied selection.  Initially I tasted loads of cherry, a hint of plum, gobs of pepper, tea, and floral notes including a soapy lavender on the finish.  As it breathed, the cherry deepened into more of a plum with currant notes and the pepper decreased slightly.  At the same time the wine picked up a little bit of earth (or maybe it was just able to get through). I suppose the tannins were the least exemplary facet in this wine – they were on the modest side.  But I found they still give a pleasant little bite near the end.  Alcohol is at 12.5%, and acidity is fine.  I thought this was a nicely balanced offering from Firefly Ridge.  There is enough structure to allow it to pair well with food or cellar just a bit.   It will probably do well with many dishes, but what comes to my mind are duck or Moo Shu Pork.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

Kenwood Vineyards Chardonnay 2010

Well, it was time for this Kenwood Chardonnay.  After all, I had their Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot recently.  This bottle is the last in the Kenwood trio I bought at the store awhile back.

Winemaker:  Kenwood Vineyards
Varietal:  Chardonnay
Vintage:  2010
Appellation:  Sonoma County, CA
Price:  $17.49

Notes:  This California Chardonnay was a bright yellow in the glass.  On the nose I got lemon, apple, and floral notes.  It had a good weight on the tongue.  On the palate I found very ripe pineapple, lemon and toasty oak with hints of butterscotch and artichoke.  For those who don’t like heavily oaked whites, it was a definite but by no means overpowering presence in this Kenwood.  Alcohol is at 13.5%, and acidity is good.  I wish it cost a few bucks less, of course, but I will be checking around now to see if another store has it for less.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

365 Paul Valmer Chardonnay 2011

Another offering from the Iberian Peninsula – this time a Spanish white.  By the name, of course, you can tell it’s one of the Whole Foods private label selections.  I actually purchased the Tres Ojos Garnacha on the same trip.  Although I didn’t plan on getting only Spanish wines, I guess I was in a Spanish frame of mind that day.

This wine was labeled as Vino de la Tierra de Castilla.  As I’m not especially well versed in wines from Spain, I did a little research to find out what that means.  Turns out that the Vino de la Tierra is a kind of geographic (and wine quality) classification that is one step below the well-known Denominación de Origen (DO).  Akin to the French “Vin de Pays,” the Vino de la Tierra designation represents a wine quality above simple “table wine.”

Winemaker:  Felix Solis for Whole Foods
Wine: 365 Paul Valmer White Wine
Varietal:  Chardonnay
Vintage:  2011
Appellation: Castilla, Spain
Price: $5.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  This Spanish white was a pale yellow in the glass.  For me the bouquet held primarily citrus.  On the palate this was a very, very light-bodied wine.  Sipping it, I found a somewhat sweet Chardonnay with flavors of citrus (lemon and grapefruit) and melon along with some toasty spice notes and bitter grass on the finish.  Acidity was good, and the label puts alcohol at 12.5%.  The problem here in my opinion is that it is so light.  When chilled, it comes across very tight with mostly the grass and a bit of citrus.  As it warmed to room temperature, the rest of the flavors were coaxed out.  So you might consider room temperature (or less chilled, anyway) as an option when serving it.  Even then, the flavors were pretty faint to me.   As a result, I’m not sure this wine would stand up well to much in the way of food.  Maybe a salad or some young cheese.

Self-Centered and Unapologetic – Flank Steak in a Blueberry Wine Reduction

The recipe in this post by The Flash Cook looks so amazingly tasty and incredibly simple at the same time that I wanted to share it.  Although Flash Cook mentions a glass of wine (not just in the dish but as accompaniment), the wine isn’t identified. That got me thinking.  What wine would I choose?  Hmmm ….  If I were to make this dish and pick from among the wines I’ve posted notes about on Oenophilogical since February, I guess I’d choose the Mirafiore Barbera D’Alba Superiore 2010 which runs at about $20 retail where available.  Or for a budget option, I thought perhaps the Panilonco Merlot-Malbec Reserva 2011 at $4.99 would do pretty well also.  What about you?  What would you pick from your cellar or store to accompany this dish?

The Flash Cook

Sometimes it is ok. No, scratch that. Sometimes it is right, perfect and justified to be absolutely and completely self-centered.  Tonight I am unapologetically all about me.  What daughter? What emails I haven’t answered? What responsibilities?  I owe nothing to no one and my sole purpose on this earth tonight is to do exactly as I wish.  All. about. me.

The evening started as I left work a little early to take a stroll in some unexpected late afternoon sun.  I walked to one of my favorite treat destinations – Magnolia’s Cupcakes. I used to stand in line with all the other suckers in NYC to get these little bundles of cake topped with chocolate sugary butter!  Now I just stroll right into their Chicago satellite and order myself a four-dollar cupcake. All. about. me.

Afterwards, I walked to my other favorite treat destination, my neighborhood spa and had…

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Tres Ojos Garnacha 2011

Peck_TresOjosGarnacha2011I grabbed this nice Spanish red just the other day from the “gettin’ place” as my parents used to say.  Glad I did.

Winemaker: Tres Ojos by Bodega San Gregorio
Varietal: Garnacha
Vintage: 2011
Appellation: Calatayud, Spain DDO
Price: $7.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  This wine is made from 100% Garnacha grapes.  In the glass it is very purple: deep, dark and rich to look at.    I caught a light bouquet of berries, with a hint of earthiness and bread.  On first opening it was almost effervescent on the tongue.  That leads me to believe the acidity is high, but definitely not too high in my opinion.  On the palate I found lots of dark raspberry and spice notes such as sweet cinnamon.  It brought to mind a berry muffin – more berry than muffin.   I also found pepper and a light hint of licorice.  Modest to moderate tannins bring a tad of eucalyptus to the lingering finish.  Alcohol is at 14.5%.  For me, it was a very pleasant wine.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

Purple Moon Shiraz 2011

Peck_PurpleMoonShiraz2011One of Trader Joe’s private label wines in the Moon series.

Winemaker:  Purple Moon by Delicato Vineyards
Varietal:  Shiraz
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  California
Price:  $3.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  In the glass this wine is a deep purple-red.  On the nose I detected blackberry and wood.  On the palate this was quite a light-bodied Shiraz.  That being said, it didn’t lack in flavor.  On initial pour I found plenty of blackberry with currant, touches of cedar, some tea leaf, and a mineral note.  Tannins were moderate, adding menthol on the finish.  Acidity was fine, and alcohol at 13.5%.  With oxidation I found that the tannins softened considerably, leaving a fairly simple, fruity wine (losing currant, picking up plum – darker but softer).

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.