Photo-bomb courtesy of Lorelai Roberts
Once again with travel looming, and with a break between bouts of Alsace coverage probably not being that bad of an idea, we’re going with an early run of the monthly wine product review roundup (in which we highlight wine product samples that I receive that cannot be safely digested).
First up, we go (very) small scale with Hand-painted wine glasses by Jodi Granovsky (around $30 and up). Granovsky contacted me and offered up some examples of her work (available on Etsy), which I can now attest to striking a fantastic balance between obviously-hand-made and display-worhty-rustic-chic. As you’ll see from the inset pics, she’s fond of seasonal themes.
Generally – and it’s the case here – I don’t recommend ornamented stemware for drinking, as the designs tend to overshadow (and in some cases obscure) the true star of the gustatory show, which ought to be the wine, and cleaning something that is hand painted tends more often than not to be a pain. But if you’re looking for a pretty, high-quality gift for a wine lover on your list, these would likely find a nice spot on display somewhere in his/her home.
Next, and lastly, I was recently able to put a sample of the ArT Wine Argon Wine Preserver Spray (about $15) through the paces. The ArT is basically a can of non-toxic argon gas that you spray directly into an opened bottle of wine. Being denser than air, the argon should sink below whatever oxygen is in the bottle, protecting the unfinished wine in the bottle from oxidation (thanks, chemistry!). ArT claims a fourteen day preservation maximum; I sprayed the stuff into a half-empty bottle of Christophe Pacalet Chenas (delightful, by the way), put the ArT-provided stopper into the bottle neck, and left town for about a week. When I came back, that Chenas was still fresh-as-a-daisy drinkable (ask me how I know).
On the plus side, ArT is easy to use, it seems to work great, and the can is recyclable. The downsides: I’m not sure how the hell you will be able to tell when you’re getting low on argon in the can (ArT claims it’s good for up to 130 uses), and it’s probably the least-romantic wine preserver ever (unless you consider spraying Glade to be a romantic endeavor). Still, I can see a lot of viable uses for it, particularly on premise.
“We are very cheap for a Grand Cru!”
It could be said that Domaines Schlumberger‘s Thomas Schlumberger doesn’t fully understand the negative connotations of the word “cheap” in the English language. I write that because, as he told me the above quote during a media visit to the Guebwiller property that has been in his family for about 200 years, he phrased it in a tone that was at once proud and matter-of-fact.
The bottom line is that no one really offers a smoother glide path into the vinous world of Alsatian Grand Cru that Schlumberger. First, they have the typical history portion covered: Domaines Schlumberger is still a family business (7th generation export manager Thomas lives across the street from the winery, “where I grew up,” having come back to the family business after a stint in the perfume industry at the behest of his uncle), and still operates out of the area in which the family settled from Germany (choosing the site because of its access to water, needed for their textiles business). From a desire to make wine for their own consumption, they gradually expanded and replanted their plantings in the area to about 70 hectares (this took the purchase of 2500 plots in a single decade, along with ten years of replanting, much of it on terraced slopes so steep that a special breed of horses that don’t experience vertigo were needed to work the vineyards).
obligatory winery dog photo…
From a Grand Cru perspective, Domaines Schlumberger has the raw material to offer inexpensive Grand Cru action: about ten percent of all Alsace Grand Cru wines are sold by them, and they are the largest independent winery in the area, exporting 2/3 of their production to 50 countries (so chances are good that you can find some of their wares).
Maybe most importantly for an ultra-competitive, information-saturated wine market, they have what might be the simplest Alsatian SKU category formula: you can try “classic” versions of Alsace’s principal grape varieties in their Les Princes Abbés line, or the Grand Cru single-site versions, and that’s basically it…
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