This past Sunday my partner and our pals Sarah and Katy, participated in the Andersonville Wine Walk here in Chicago, in you guessed it, the formerly Swedish now just cool and queer neighborhood of Andersonville. Or A-ville, as some abbreviate it, which makes me feel weird, like I am saying a dirty word. Anyhow, Andersonville is remarkably adorable with a plethora of shops and restaurants along Clark from Foster to Bryn Mawr-ish, give or take. There is much wine to be had in the vicinity and a few excellent wine shops to boot. This day however, is all about engaging with the businesses that don't sell/serve wine, to get the winos to come in...and people, it works!
Why you should wine-walk.
The Walk is in its 9th year (next year is 10! woot!) and is sponsored by The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce and In Fine Spirits, one of the stellar wine shops in the neighborhood. As a wine walker, you receive a handy lil’ booklet with your route. We elected for the North Route. There are only 2: North and South. The aforementioned booklet contains something even better than the map: a list of each of the 3 wines poured at each stop! Yes! I personally love this feature. As we all know, one can have the best of intentions to take accurate and legible notes but wine consumption may compromise that effort. Well-played Andersonville Wine Walk, well-played. Also a good business move.
Lastly, In Fine Spirits, the wine shop that co-sponsors, includes an in-store-coupon in the booklet, for 15% off a purchase of 6 bottles or more, redeemable for a full two weeks post wine walk. Um, genius. Think about it. You cannot and do not wish to schlep your 6 bottles (or more!) on that day and that gives you time to reflect soberly on what you really want to purchase. In Fine Spirits also commits to carrying all of the wines sampled. Experience has taught them well.
Another facet of the wine walk, which is a win-win, is having a diversity of businesses as hosts. We had 11 stops and none of them typically sell wine, including a fine jewelry store, a physical therapy facility and a furniture/interior design business. This is a way to explore a neighborhood and get yourself inside of some these store-fronts that you maybe would not patronize otherwise. The wine walk commenced at The Swedish American Museum, an Andersonville landmark, for check-in, receiving the "booklet", the commemorative wine glass, and golf pencils for taking notes, if you want them. I have attended a few other wine walks in Chicago, but none as well organized as Andersonville's.
How much wine can a wine-walker drink?
If you have been following along, you have gleaned that we tasted 3 different wines at 11 different stops. Your math is correct. 33 pours. Now, these are not full glasses of course, but enough to warrant some care. Snacks. We brought our own and some places had a bit to nosh on out. Water. Same deal. We brought our own water bottles and some places had some available. The walk is on Clark though, in the thick of Andersonville, so there are an abundance of places to get your needs met.
It would be too daunting to try and comment on EACH of the 33 wines, which were a mix of white, red, pink and sparkling. Thus I will list the stops and wines that particularly stood out for me.
The stops and the sips
Our very first stop was City Olive and they poured: Light Horse 2013 Chardonnay ($15) which is refreshing and crisp as an apple. It is only oaked about half the time that most California Chardonnay is. They also have a neat story, so check them out. I have since purchased and enjoyed their Pinot Noir.
Next up was Ty Caton 2013 enTycement ($18.50) which is comprised of the following: 39% Zinfandel, 27% Syrah, 12% Carignane, 8% Petite Sirah, 6% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 4% Barbera. Loved it! Lots of tart fruit and balanced tannins. You could have it with food or just sip and chat. Yum!
Third stop was Room Service which is one of those places I had passed a bazillion times but never gone in. It is an adorable shop! They were pouring the Domaine La Blaque 2014 Rosé ($16) which I found quite delicate and refined. I love a nice rosé and this one is from Provence, representing that characteristic acidity brought about by the altitude and climate. I will definitely snatch some up for the warmer weather we have been promised. Next up at this same stop was Aragosta 2014 Vermentino ($15). So light and refreshing! My tasting note was simply: beach. There is a picture of a lobster on the label, which just about sums it up: drink it seaside or close your eyes and imagine you are seaside. This wine is best consumed young. It has some fruit, dried herbs and a bit of that saline minerality. I'll say it again. Beach.
In the spirit of summer, whites, rose´ and all things beach-like, I shall skip to stop #5, which was at Mercantile M. They were pouring the Figueirasse 2014 Rosé ($14) or as their label describes it, "Gris de Gris", a nod to the grenache gris grape that it is made from. This wine is exhilarating! It has a stone-fruit aroma and balanced minerality. It was perfect on the warm day of the wine-walk.
All that glitters is not gold.
For stop #7, we cued up on the sidewalk to get into Sparkles, a fine jewelry shop. I was particularly excited because they were pouring a sparkling Malbec. Right? To drink sparkles at Sparkles? Unfortunately, it was not what I wanted it to be. The real show-stopper was the Kobal 2012 Blaufrankish ($19.50) from Slovenia. The wine is 100% Blaufrankish, which is also known as Lemberger in Austria. It is a red which has notes of berries and chocolate, with a finish of woodsy qualities. The pourer recommended that we chill it a bit before serving. It has a small production, only 750 cases per year, and each bottle is numbered. I could not find their website, but there has been much written about this fun wine and should be easy enough to locate yourself a bottle, or a case.
Can I get that to go?
At our 8th tasting destination, GreenSky, a favorite of mine in Andersonville, we discovered a wine that was yummy and also has some useful packaging options. The Fiction 2014 Pinot Gris ($10.50) comes in 500ml can! How fun is that? The winery Field Recordings produces it, and a few other canned wines. I do not have it pictured here because they were actually pouring from a bottle but that $10.50 price reflects the cost of a can. It is rather aromatic with notes of honeydew and peach. Very lovely on a hot day, lounging at an outdoor concert, nibbling on some chilled marinated veggies. I am already planning my next trip to Ravinia!
For our 10th stop, we arrived at Norcross and Scott Home and were very happy to see that the wine rep was one of our favorites, whom we have tasted with a few times before. The Wine Walk was scheduled from 3-6 p.m. and by then it was 5:30 so she had run out of one that I really wanted to try: Firelands 2013 Gewürztraminer ($13). My interest was inspired by a tasting we had done with her several months back when we tried the Firelands Pinot Noir. It was actually one of my very first posts when I was just getting going on the blog (i feel like i am still "getting going" BTW). I was so impressed that the wine was from Ohio and then very enthralled once I read about the island that their grapes grow on, in Lake Eerie. I hope to visit the winery some day!
Txakolina to the rescue!
Despite the Gewürztraminer being out, she still had a showpiece on hand: Gorrondona 2014 Txakolina ($21.50). I had always wanted to try a Txakoli, which is a white wine from the Basque region. This wine is juicy! It has citrus and stone-fruit and is just delightful on it's own. It is rare to see it at a wine-shop or in a restaurant so I implore you to "getcha some"! I plan to.
Lastly, at this same stop, I would be remiss not to mention one of my tried and true favorites: Dexter Lake 2013 Red Blend ($16.50). This wine is a project from Matthew Rorick, the winemaker at Forlorn Hope. It is a drinkable red, with many different grapes involved, including petite verdot, syrah, zinfandel and a few more. Wha?? Sounds kinda crazy but try it! I mean, c'mon, this wine has it's own blog.
Photo Gallery Break!
I have a thing for Rosé.
I do. I had a cat named Rosé once, R.I.P. I just have a quite a fondness for the real-deal rosé, old world style. Our very last stop, was at another chosen haunt of mine, The Andersonville Galleria. The tasting was conducted all the way up on the 3rd floor and the atmosphere, 20 min before the conclusion of the walk, was starting to feel like a "bar". We hung in there and some of the rowdier ones moved on. I felt for the wine rep. Anyhow, she was offering the Presqu'ile 2014 Rosé ($22), which was so luscious. It is 100% Pinot Noir from the Santa Maria Valley in California and has classic strawberry nose. It is fruit forward with an acidity to stand up to hearty meals, such as Thanksgiving. Or just sip on the porch and feel gratitude for the moment.
That was a wrap! We were hungry, even with some intermittent nibbling. The day had been warm so we rounded it out with a cooling dinner of sushi. However you go about it, food is a must on all that grape juice. So much fun! I hope you will all consider doing wine walks in your area (if not this one!) and if you don't have one, go to your Chamber of Commerce with the idea. If done well, as exemplified by Andersonville, it has the potential to be spectacular! Cheers!