da wine Providence - VT Wine Media Road Trip

February 3, 2010

My trusty winemaking partner Tony Velturo got an invite from his son-in-law, to attend a monthly “Knights of the Wine Table” meeting in Providence, Rhode Island.  This month it was held at The Capital Grille  downtown, and afterwards we stopped to check out the only real wine supply store in the city, at Silver Lake Beer and Wine Supply.

It was a boisterous and good natured affair, with lots of iPhone photo snapping…hence my deer-in-the head lights eyes in the next two photos.

The first while swirling our 2009 Carmenere that we were asked to bring and share with the table.wine-club-winemaker
 Next, after having shared some with Carlos Figueroa, owner  of J.C. Imports Company, who  provided us with some fine South American selections…notably from Von Siebenthal, one of our special favorites.

Carlos Figueroa

Carlos Figueroa

 Carlos is a kind and knowledgeable man.  He was very gracious, and gave me some honest and helpful feedback, that I will certainly have in mind when we get ready to place our order for Chilean grapes, from the Curico Valley, next month. 

Our 2009 was done in a Beaujolais style, got only a little oak exposure during fermentation, and then in the first couple of weeks of aging.  We had no idea if we would be able to produce something truly age worthy, so we made this vintage with early drinkability in mind.  It  does not have the full tannin structure that the grape is capable of, but the fruit qualities and aromatic/taste profile of the varietal are all right on.
The result has been deemed both tasty and respectable.

So, if you ar eusing a GPS to find the Capital Grille, there is about a 3 block distance between One Union Station and 1 Union Street…it’s th edifference between the RI Department of Labor Office and a really nice lunch.

The club meets regularly in a different local restauarant, and members each bring a bottle or two to share with their table or other foks in attendence.  There is a wide variety of participants, from local business people, to public officials, and retired wine lovers.  Lunch started with an appetizer - a mozzarella croquette with a piece of prociutto wraped inside, with a grape tomato salad garnish aside it.  Next was a healthy sized house salad with some very nice bread for the table.  Finally the entree choice was between a Beef Welington and a seafood stew.  Since this was a heavily red wine weighted crowd, Tony and I both went with the Wellington.  It was presented with a pastry type nest atop, two honking pieces of beef, what semed to be filet mignon, atop a thin piece of toast and a bed of sinfully sauteed mushrooms.  The conversations were very engaging, but I had to keep excusing myself to stay focused on the welly.

We came across the Von Siebenthal wines a few years ago, while visiting my wife’s family in Chile, and then upon return, found and fell for the Von Siebenthal Carabantes 2004 carried by our friends at the Woodstock Farmers Market. It is an old world Syrah buit from new world fruit, and every time I whiff it, I swear I am smelling the air in Chile.   We’ve also been fans of both the Las Perdices and in Situ brands, so for me, it was a great honor to meet the gentleman who is responsible for bringing us these fine wines.

Carlos Figueroa of J.C. Imports presented four wines to the crowd…unfortunately the room was a loud one, and ambient noise from other parts of the restaurant made hearing the details difficult.  Nevertheless, the nose and palate of the wines that were decanted and waiting for us, were worth the aural incovenience.

The four wine presented were:
Von Siebenthal Carmenere, Aconcagua, Chile 2006
a very elegant version of Carmenere, which in its somwhat limited commercial variations, can swing between an underripe overoaked product to an opulent spicy thick luscious piece of art.  Medium body, very well balanced and the oak is reserved and frames the consistent fruit.  I have to say, aside from our slightly deficient fruit and oak tannins, and fast and dirty process, our own Carmenere had many of the same aromatic and taste qualities as the Von Sebenthal, enough so that comments were made at our table.

Las Perdices, Tinamu Mendoza, Argentina 2008
We first came across the Las Perdices Malbec at the Woodstock Farmers Market a couple of years ago, a little ahead of full-on Malbec Mania, and it really impressed us for the price.  This one  is actually its refined big bother and is blend of  Malbec 60%, Cab Franc 25%, Petit Verdot 10%, and Tannat 5%.  I would normally think that with that much CB and PV in th emix that it could lean towards the big herbeceous, but instead resulted in a complex and engaging tannic formula.  Definitely worth seeking out again.

In Situ, -  Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah - Chile 2007
We also found the In Situ for the first time in Chile a few years ago, in what I now understand was the first bottling…which explains why we may not have seen this sooner.  A very Bordeaux like blend, and heck, given that Chile is still working with pre-phylloxera vines, it may be more old Bordeaux like than the modern? Smooth, sophisticated, fruit driven…enjoyable now, ageable? Only time will tell. There are a lot of big players in the Chilean wine import market so shelf space is a challange for the smaller outfits.  Let me tell you though, there is a LOT more available than what we see in store here. 

Von Siebenthal, Montelig, Colchagua, Chile 2006
This was really nice…elegant is the only correct word.  Not a big powerful wine like I somehow expected, but an elegant, well crafted, well blended wine…still so young and wound up, and still so tempting.  The tannins are young in flavor but silky in texture, the fruit is reserved on the nose and lurking on the edges of the tounge.  I have only had a few wines, and yhis is one, that I could enjoy immediately, and at the same time see so clearly, that in several years, this wine will probably be stellar…so cellar.

We were highly tempted to accept invitations to stick around town for the evening, enjoy some more wine and high quality cigars, but in the end needed to head back north.  We had spit enough wine, and also wanted to make a pit stop at the local wine making supply depot.

Silver Lake Supply is in a residential neighborhood, and if you are following your GPS or Google Maps, you might think the software is joking with you.  Sure enough though, there is a little store front, and inside a room that has got to be only 250 square feet max, packed to the ceiling with all of the basics, plenty of handy gear, filter pumps, you name it.  There is a healthy supply of beer making kits, and a couple dozen R.J. Spagnols wine making kits.  We gathered that a lot of the business stems from local buyers of California grapes in the autumn.  They also have a garage out back that holds excess inventory, and the big stuff like new French and Hungarian oak barrels.  The shop is a small family business that is the go-to place for gear in the Providence area.

So after an uneventful trip home, and a relatively long day, we decided to call it a night.  Wednesday nights are usually what we call Winesday, because we schedule time in the cellar, but this week, it’s just a quiet glass of wine, a book, then dreams of thanks for the vine’s Providence.

Comments (1)


  1. frank miele says:

    great time . thanks for attending

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