Friday, December 28, 2007

A Jewel in Cedar Rapids Iowa

Past experience has shown me that wine shops in the Rural Midwest can be hit or miss. And so it was that Christmas dinner part one found me hunting for a couple of wines in the town of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Not content with the supermarket selection that never fails to disappoint, I headed to the web looking for another option. I found it in The 1st Avenue Wine House.

This is an old house converted into a wine shop, and what a wine shop it is. 3 stories of wines, and not just any wines, but carefully thought out selections of very good stuff, paired with a generous helping of knowledgeable sales staff. I love that it seems like they have tried every wine in the shop on multiple occasions and can steer me to the perfect bottle.

On top of being well versed and well stocked, they were offering a tasting when I walked in the door. A range of wines were open, with no particular theme. The distributor was on hand full of interesting tidbits about the wines, and he was more than willing to share information about all kinds of stuff.

I came home with a mediocre bottle of Chardonnay, which was my fault since I got exactly what I asked for, and should have known better. I'm beginning to understand why Napa doesn't produce subtle Chardonnay, its too damn hot. I found redemption in a bottle of Italian Chianti that paired like a champ next to a plate of homemade lasagna. All I can say is, mmm. Unfortunately I can't recall the producer, so I'm gonna have to research that.

What I was most pleased about though was a connection I made while tasting. On my trip to Tango Sur a couple weeks ago, I had a bottle of BenMarco Malbec. The salesman at Sam's mentioned that it was produced by a husband wife team. While at 1st Ave Wine House, the distributor mentioned another Malbec under a different label, with the same addendum. I inquired, and sure enough, it was the same producer. I'll say it now, the wines of Pedro Marchevsky and Susana Balbo are worth seeking out. I'm obviously late to this party, but I've arrived.

It looks like that resolution is getting easier to keep. Maybe this year will be my year to discover Argentina and all it has to offer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

after "Crios," try Susana Balbo's "Brioso" or her late harvest Malbec-derived dessert wine, called "Virtuoso." Ricardo Santos also does a decent Malbec as does Bianchi Family. Chianti-wise I'd recommend "Nippozano" by Marchesi di Frescobaldi or something along the lines of Ruffino's Tan label Chianti. All of these are good values in Chicago.