Friday, November 13, 2009

Bottle Battle

I expressed in a recent post how worried I get when I imagine my little wine shops going up against the giants. But I was intrigued when the Sam's in the South Loop closed its doors not long after it opened, leaving the South Loop Wine Cellar standing just a few blocks south. Maybe the big stores weren't the indestructible behemoths I thought they were.

Well, last month Binny's bought Sam's. As a result, there are some inventory clearance events going on at Binny's, and I have dipped into them already.

But in the meantime, I've learned about another little shop, this one a few blocks from where I work. Perman Wine Selections. The owner, Craig Perman, sends out emails each week with recommendations. One arrived this morning that mentioned that he was selling his remaining bottles of 2005 Bodegas Mauro for $21.99 instead of $47.99.

At that point, I don't really need to hear any more. But his description sounded intriguing, and he included this review from Wine Advocate:

"Opaque purple-colored, it reveals a brooding but enticing bouquet of wood smoke, pencil lead, tar, and assorted black fruits. This leads to a layered, plush, mouth-filling, sweetly fruited wine with tons of flavor. It has enough structure to evolve for 2-3 years and its finish is long and pure. It can be enjoyed now but will continue to provide pleasure through 2025. 93 Points."

So on my lunch break today, I headed over and picked one up.

The shop is a small, stark space, but its healthy attitude toward education is illustrated by a tall chalkboard explaining his monthly $60 wine packages. He sells six bottles at a bit of a discount and includes detailed descriptions so you can learn as you taste, at your leisure.

He recommended decanting the Mauro, a blend of Tempranillo "y otras," for a half hour or so.

I also ran the wine through the Wine Spectator website, to which I have managed to score a free two-month pass. They had this to say:

"Black cherry, herbal and licorice flavors mingle in this firm, polished red. Lively and balanced, with a bright core of fruit. Tempranillo. Drink now through 2013. 23,000 cases made. Score: 87"

Not quite as enticing. I find smoke and pencil lead a lot more mouthwatering than black cherry and bright fruit. But still, I am intrigued. Possibly intrigued enough to invest in a decanter.