Bottom of the Barrel Smooth Sicilian serves a superb summer swan song
Bottom of the Barrel Flaco Tempranillo 2014 serves as second-best option to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
Bottom of the Barrel Everybody hurts sometimes when sipping Falkenburg Riesling 2014
Bottom of the Barrel YOUnity incorporates local flavors in ‘Maine’s House Wine’
Bottom of the Barrel Myx Moscato and calamari is our summer diet
Bottom of the Barrel: Hungover Sunday in Woodstock is as magical as you would imagine
Have you ever woken up in a bunk-bed in a Vermont cabin accompanied by great friends and a pain in your head? Well your esteemed columnists sure have. A couple weekends back we ventured over to the Green Mountain State for no real reason at all and found ourselves in the picturesque town of Woodstock, Vermont. Per the recommendation of a dear friend and Woodstock regular, we stopped in at the famed FH Gillingham & Sons general store to see what they had to offer. Gillingham did not disappoint in its wine selection, containing delightful bottles both Old World and New. We thought, to commemorate our Grand Excursion, that we ought to get something that reflected the local terroir.
Putney’s Apple Maple Wine presented itself as a truly Vermont vino. When one who has spent relatively little time in the state thinks of Vermont, he thinks of apples and maple. Rumor has it that some who spend lots of time in the state think of apples and maple when they think of Vermont. While the verdict isn’t out on what makes this wine a wine and not a cider (many of the options stoked at Gillingham were marketed as ciders), your reviewers were very excited to try this bev and look back on our idyllic weekend spent slightly south of where we currently are.
We uncorked the bottle on a calm, unseasonably warm Monday night, dreaming of cross-country skiing, taking the kids on a sleigh ride and chopping pine on a Saturday afternoon. The wine pours clear and looks like a golden, grape-only white wine. We believe this color is almost certainly derived from the apples. Apple cider is sort of golden, right? There isn’t much of a nose to the wine, but the legs show just from the pour. Not able to smell a whole-heck-of-a-lot, we dove right into our tasting.
This wine does not taste like a grape-only wine. This wine is, upon initial contact between beverage and tongue, dry. This wine, seconds after this initial contact between b and t, tastes spicy. This wine has a kick. This wine probably has a kick from the maple. These reviewers question whether the maple was added before or after fermentation. The kick may derive from a spicy post-fermentation addition of maple. The kick may derive from the fermentation of honey producing a drying-out quality. Interestingly enough, this wine is mild in the booze department, clocking in at a calm and tender 10 percent. This kick, this spice, is mysterious.
In theory: we are fond of this wine. It is an interesting application of local resources to create a product representative of a space and time. It is clear from visiting the winery’s website that the vintners are passionate about producing a quality product in a place that they love. At the end of the day, that’s a great thing. While the wine may not be to our tastes, were we to open a bottle shop (currently seeking investors), it’s a product we’d proudly sell.
Tonight's Soundtrack: Phish, live: August 20, 1993 - Red Rocks, Morrison, Colorado
Justin: "Vermon is cool, not quite Maine cool, but in my live ranking of New England states it has surpassed Rhode Island. Also Boston—it was always cooler than Boston. “
Will: “It’s foolhardy to talk about the Vermont beverage industry without making reference to its incredible craft brewing scene. Speaking of beer, if Jae-Yeon Yoo [’18] and Nick Benson [’17] of the Orient’s Tapped Out column want to review my homebrew, I wouldn’t stop them."
Bottom of the Barrel: Zum Martin Sepp Rosé 2012 proves to be a 'cool guy' wine
Schweller: Moulton Light Room breakfaster, grew a mustache all summer, has a pretentious major, has worn his beanies super far back on his head, doesn’t eat meat, brews his own beer, the little-known Bowdoin Don Dada of the Birkenstock clog, lives in Cleave
Ramos: Sneaky theater guy, listened to Vampire Weekend in ’07, thinks La La Land is straight hype, macaroni art enthusiast, not as crunchy as Will, lives in Cleave
A lot of the time, we sacrifice for you folks. We drink duds so that we can create amusing musings tangentially related to said duds so that you can read them out of sympathy for us, but you never leave the exchange between author and reader feeling like you want to go out and buy the duds and drink them and share in our experience. This week your columnists were feeling like ~cool guys~, and ~cool guys~ don’t buy just any old dud. So we made a trip towards Tess’ Market over on Pleasant Street for some ~cool guy~ wine.
And ~cool guy~ wine did we find in the Zum Martin Sepp Rosé 2012.
This pale, pale, pale, rosé wine is mysterious. Elusive. Found covered in dust on the floor of a narrow row in the back of Tess’ Market, the bottle is shaped weirdly relative to your standard Hanny’s fare. The bottle is squat, probably a 1-liter. Instead of a cork, it had a beer cap, which to Will suggests some sort of small-time, back-alley secret—like this wine was quickly bottled and then hidden away. The label is simple, slightly faded and torn. The wine is advertised as an Austrian rosé, and the label bears a street address in Vienna. Perhaps that of the vintner who so carefully stashed this bottle on Pleasant Street for us to find. Described on the back of the bottle as a dry red wine reminiscent of Pinot Noir, the Zweigelt grapes promised to create a wine complex, spicy, suggestive of times spent discussing Das holländische Gruppenporträt with Riegl before the War. The fact that the wine was called simply Rosé should have been a suggestion that we were in for light fare, but regardless we were surprised as all get-out when we poured a liquid the color of a pinkish-yellow fit for a nursery.
We first tasted the wine very lightly chilled. It smelled big. In your face. JNCO jean big. It tastes, upon first sip, like a summer spent in Brunswick Apartment K3. It tastes like keeping the windows open at night even though folks are outside milling about, making all kinds of noise. It tastes like jumping into Sewell Pond from the rope swing and stopping at DQ on the way back. But, FR FR, it only tastes like this for like a millisecond. Then it tastes dry. Like licking a dog’s bone two seasons after it buried it dry. Clean. Like straight booze, sucking the moisture out of your mouth. But in a good way. It makes you think. Several friends who sipped this sweet (sweet only in the sense of “sweet juice” being a common turn-of-phrase, and common turns-of-phrase [not to mention overly complex sentences] [or semi-niche hip-hop references] being our bread and butter [see what we mean]) juice commented on their fondness for it.
Public Service Announcement: wine is good. Being sick is bad. One of the reasons being sick is bad is that it makes wine, which is good, taste bad. For our sniffling and sneezing columnist, Justin, this ~cool guy~ wine had a lot of anticipation. But ultimately it tasted like dry water with a boozy after taste. So, for those afflicted with the common cold, leave the ~cool guy~ wine for another time.
Tonight's Soundtrack: "LOL :-)" by Trey Zongz feat. Gucci Mane and Soulja Boy Tell 'Em
Justin: "Hot take: being sick is not a ~cool guy~ move."
Will: "This is honestly the first wine that I want to buy multiple bottles of to drink. Really, genuinely, liked it, no poorly conceived jokes needed."
Bottom of the Barrel: Ellis "La Forza" Palmieri '17 joins us to uncork a taste of Italy
Senior year is all about friendships—and crippling stress but I digress—so what better way to start our first wine column of the year than to invite our dear friend and housemate Ellis “La Forza” Palmieri ’17, co-captain emeritus of the much-vaunted Bowdoin Rugby Football Club, to join us. Ellis spent all of winter break in Italy, and that mere fact alone means he already knows more about wine than either of us.
With our internationally travelled friend on the mind, we selected a Bell’Agio Chianti 2015, proudly bearing both the wicker-basketted bottle oft associated with wines of its kind and the candles used at the Cub Scout Spaghetti Dinner fundraisers at which Will used to work. A wine that displays its national and regional origins so proudly is perfect for this, we thought, seeing as such a wine must truly try its best to represent its roots well. We hoped to impress La Forza with our eye for fine Italian vintages, knowing that his potential disappointment in it would leave us in the lowest of spirits.
This wine smells of dust despite its young age. Smelling this wine dims the lights of whatever room you’re in to the luminosity of a single lit taper. All sounds take on the din of quiet conversation. Suspense lingers on every sniff. The taste reveals the wine to be a heavy hitting red, reminiscent of certain boxed varietals found in regions across our great nation. Tasting reveals a change in equation. Nuance is not on the table. Justin was quick to note that the wine tastes like what he imagined wine tasting like when he was at the table with his parents at various Italian eateries. You’d think the buttery grapes would glide you to the hill towns of central Tuscany. However, upon second and third sip, it appears your journey has been redirected to somewhere of a different tone. Tuscaloosa, perhaps? Or could we be detecting notes of Happy Valley, Pennsylvania? The mouthfeel left by the bev was vinous, to say the least. Seconds after the garnet liquid passes down your throat the taste of what one can only identify as wine lingers.
With that, we’ll leave you with this:
The Palmieri Review
Many thanks to Big Billy Schweller and JJ “Drama” Ramos for the feature in this week’s article. As they’ve already informed you, I spent my winter traversing the wine country of my homeland experiencing only the finest of this succulent red fruit. The aforementioned journey across Italy became a sort of spirit quest to reestablish my innate connection to the grapevine.
If I learned anything from my dear mother (Hi Mom!) who was more than generous, and more than quite insistent, that I partake in the tasting of fine Italian wines, I would say that the Chianti proves underwhelming among the ranks of its peers. While the Chianti is able to pose as a good wine to the lesser-versed wine drinkers that sit to my right and left, the true Italian wines of Amarone and Brunello are the heavyweight fighters when it comes to Italian wines. To settle the long standing family debate over which carries more weight, I’ll use this credible and well established wine forum to be the first to publish the final verdict—Amarone is a better wine than a Brunello. Chianti is nice if you like grape juice, but the real wine drinkers won’t go wrong with an Amarone.
Tonight's Soundtrack: "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?"-Frankie Lyman & The Teenagers
Justin: "This wine would gain a full star rating if I had an Italian delicacy to pair it with. RIP to the ball Scamorza left home over break 1/21/17-1/22/17."
Will: "I can't say I'd buy this wine to drink again, but I can say I'd buy this wine to keep a few bottles in my room for the aesthetic."
Bottom of the Barrel: Everybody hurts sometimes when sipping Falkenburg Riesling 2014
Wednesday December 25, 2002: Chevy Chase, Maryland
It was a still morning, 36 degrees Fahrenheit, and the smell of my mother’s mahogany balsam 3-Wick Candle filled the air. Christmas morning, bitches. Few moments in life are filled with more excitement and anticipation than the Christmas mornings of your youth. But this year was different. This year there was a craze sweeping the nation. This year Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire hit stores. I had sent St. Nick an analytical paper detailing why exactly I deserved a spot on the nice list. It was perhaps my greatest work. In return I had asked for one of the two games. Truthfully I had a preference for Ruby but I was in no position to be picky. So that morning, filled to the brim with enthusiasm, I immediately ran towards the Christmas tree. Within moments of shredding the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer wrapping paper, I knew. Underneath that exceptionally crafted exterior laid a brand new Easy Bake Oven. Underneath that exceptionally crafted exterior laid disappointment.
Sunday, August 25, 2013: Dewey Beach, Delaware
The surf is soft as you wake Sunday morning, mouth tasting like crab cakes, heart heavy. You’re two weeks from starting your freshman year of college—you applied early to Dartmouth, but bygones...The broken air conditioner of your family’s timeshare, two blocks from the beach, clangs. Its noise is not why you slept poorly the night before. Love, or rather love lost is why you slept poorly the night before. Erica. Hell, did you ever love Erica? It sure seemed like it just two nights ago when you shared a Marlboro Gold with her under the boardwalk, enjoying the relaxed curfew earned at age 18. She was back in town from her freshman year at The New School, grown up, sophisticated, cultured. You thought this was your break. That’s when you asked the question, “So, how do you feel about long distance?” For three summers you talked with her at beachside barbeques, yearning for stolen kisses, late night confidences. There was an awkward silence in the air, each second feeling like an eternity, and then she responded “Sorry kiddo, I’ve got a man in the city.”
Monday, November 28, 2016: Brunswick, Maine
It’s past starting to get cold. It’s downright chilly. It’s dark. Our guts are heavy from a week of binge eating. However, our spirits are high. We arrived at Bootleggers, over in Topsham, with dreams of finding the perfect pre-final paper mood elevator. Copping a bottle of something toasty to cuddle up with. We were prepared to fork over more than the standard $10 for something special. We were overjoyed to find that for $12 we could get something exciting, though slightly a-seasonal: an ostentatiously packaged Falkenburg Riesling from 2014.
As wine columnists we’ve striven to toe the party line: wine is a pretty dang good thing. We’ve waxed poetic on how it can help set the atmosphere on a melancholy evening alone, how it makes you want to sit in the back of a Wraith with the starlights on the ceiling, how it is simply tasty and an object worth enjoying. We expected, when purchasing the Falkenburg ’14, to be stunned. The German wine comes in a 1.5L bottle stretched to resemble a cross between the majesty of the Saturn V rocket and the modernist je ne sais quoi of Brancusi’s Bird in Space. Loyal readers of the column will know that empirically, the cooler the bottle, the better the wine. Well, now we can say that’s not always the case. The ol’ Falkenburg is gross. A disappointment greater than that of Easy Bake Ovens or unrequited love. It is hardly worth noting flavor profiles. There isn’t much to say other than: were we you, we would not buy this wine.
Tonight's Soundtrack: "Everybody Hurts"-R.E.M.
Justin: "I'd like to thank my parents for getting me all the Pokemon paraphernalia you could possibly imagine."
Will: "I feel like Yu-Gi-Oh! doesn't get as much shine as it deserves these days."
Bottom of the Barrel: YOUnity incorporates local flavors in ‘Maine’s House Wine’
Have you ever noticed that Bowdoin College is in Maine?
The valleys of Bordeaux. The dusty shores of Portugal. Napa. Great wine often conjures up Mediterranean climates, small plated meals, big price tags. Cheap wine often aspires to Mediterranean climates and small plated meals through fancy looking labels and overly complex names. Buyers may grab a bottle thinking they will escape to a small village in the foothills of Vesuvius only to find themselves still very much in the foothills of suburban New Jersey.
Well, folks, guess what? We may have found a reasonably priced bottle that aspires not for the Old World, but for our dear old Pine Tree State.
Our selection this week, YOUnity Winery’s House Wine, is unabashedly Maine in it’s branding. In fact, there are nine references to the state of Maine on the label alone. The bottle’s description speaks of “wicked-good pasta” and “wicked-good times” with family and friends. YOUnity’s branding is unpretentious, fun and whimsical. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but the wine is awesome. The bottle is even more awesome. No irony here—merely appreciation for a charming, New England graphic.
Upon uncorking, the wine pours pinkish-red. Think back to the mushed blueberries on your face during the summer of your fifth year. That color. The nose is distinctly sweet. The legs longer than a NASCAR race.
The initial taste was semi-dry and distinctly sweet. Our mouths were initially confused; blueberry wine serves as a distinct tasting experience from more traditional grapes. You often hear of berry notes in wine, but this is a berry symphony. Owner Clem Blakney emphasizes, “This IS NOT a blend with grape but 100% Blueberry from our supplier in Stockton Springs.” Blueberries are really truly the prime fruit. It’s impossible to name something that isn’t improved by the addition of blueberries. Pancakes, salsa, motor oil.
This is an adult complex wine for non-wine drinkers and wine drinkers alike. It is complex without being biting. It’s sweet without being Pixie Stix. It’s certainly a more delightful conversation than any talk anyone has ever had with our mutual friend Allen. This wine makes you feel good, and we sincerely think it is more than just the hefty 13.5 percent ABV.
Tonight's Soundtrack: John Cougar Mellencamp's Greatest Hits
Justin: "I feel like this wine is giving me a hug."
Will: "While drinking this wine, I really wish I were back home, scouring my old man's closet for some ratty Brooks Bros. polos."
Bottom of the Barrel: Myx Moscato and calamari is our summer diet
The hip-hop hot takes expressed in this column do not reflect the opinions of the Bowdoin Orient or Bowdoin College. However, hopefully, they do coincidentally coincide with those of President Clayton Rose.
Hip-hop and grapes are inexorably linked. Rappers have been discussing wine in their tracks for decades—from Drake’s tweet on October 1, 2012: “Dropped my phone in a glass of wine…just to give you an idea of where my life is at these days,”—to Drake’s line from 2013’s Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2: “Afterhours at Il Mulino/Or Sotto Sotto, just talkin’ women and vino.” Heck, rappers (one in particular, it seems) even cite their love of wine in print publications. Take Claire Hoffman’s April 2012 profile on Drake for GQ Magazine as a prime example: “At the ready are a bottle of chilled white wine and a pitcher of ice, for tonight we shall drink wine spritzers, his favorite beverage and also mine.”
Your intrepid columnists do indeed love wine. They also do indeed love hip-hop. Therefore, it is not without coincidence that the wine that they choose to review this week is doubly inexorably linked to hip-hop. Myx Moscato is Nicki Minaj’s wine. She raps about it. She appears in advertisements for it. She co-owns the company that produces it. The wine does not come packaged in a traditional, 750-milliliter wine bottle. Rather, it is sold as a four-pack of 11.2-ounce, capped bottles. Stylized like a curvier, sleeker bottle of Bud Light Platinum, complete with twist-off bottle cap, Myx Moscato promises to be a treat. This was not a wine selected on a whim. This was a wine pursued.
Poured into a standard 18-ounce wine glass, Myx Moscato is clear and lightly effervescent. It looks like water and smells like sugar water. Butterflies would try and drink Myx Moscato if you placed an open bottle in a meadow. Justin immediately thought of his summer evenings spent at the esteemed NYC institution, La Marina. Myx Moscato tastes like fruit juice, perhaps because it is wine mixed quite literally with fruit juice. Myx Moscato will—full guarantee—be the only moscato that these two wine reviewers will ever consume on nightclub couches. Myx Moscato is smooth. Myx Moscato is tasty. Myx Moscato comes in four small bottles. This is pretty cool. Porsche Panameras have four doors. This is pretty cool.
Perhaps our only complaint is that Myx Moscato does not come in a larger bottle. The size of the Myx Moscato bottle prevents it from being shared with friends at table. Myx Moscato is worth purchasing. Myx Moscato is worth bragging about purchasing.
Tonight's Soundtrack: "Truffle Butter" (2014) by Nicki Minaj feat. Drake and Lil Wayne (as if it could be anything else)
Justin: "This is a Socratic wine."
Will: "This is a moscato that would inspire me to write favorable comments on this column's online edition."
Bottom of the Barrel: Flaco Tempranillo 2014 serves as second-best option to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
Rough estimates suggest that there is a great variety of wine available to a curious, of-age Bowdoin student. A quick trip to the Hannaford snack aisle to buy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (which all seasoned Hannaford patrons know the store fails to stock), and one can see wines of all colors, prices and brands. This breadth of options, when paired with the shocking disappointment derived from a lack of red-powdered, spicy snacks is dizzying. The wrong purchase—a bad bottle of wine—can lead to a particularly sour night. Choose the right wine, however, and the evening’s proceedings can be magical.
It’s oft best to rely on the advice of others. Hell, even the Orient’s most seasoned wine-reviewers need help. This week, we looked to the wizened Somms of Hannaford’s Limited Reserve. Justin knew what to get the moment he saw it: The Flaco Tempranillo 2014. Doubly enticing were the wine’s association to hip-hop legend and pioneer, A$AP Rocky a.k.a. Lord FLACkO Jodye. Will was hooked as soon as he saw a cork.Before starting the tasting, we let the Tempranillo breathe for an hour. In the meantime, we prepared accordingly—decorating the table with a fresh ball of mozz and letting 1997 Diddy aerate the room.
The only way to describe the nose of this Spanish red is “boozy.” Red fruits dominate initial taste—a touch of spice. Will detects hints of dates and brown sugar. Thin mouthfeel, kinda light but not Natty Light. We want to drink this in a red velvet chair in a fur coat.
This wine is like a fake Rolex.
This wine makes you wish it was 10 degrees warmer.
This wine pairs well with fresh mozzarella.
This wine complains about taxes.
This wine thinks Dean Martin is better than Frankie.
This wine stays draped in Vines.
As with all research, it turned out as we set about writing our review that our esteemed predecessors at “Bottom of the Barrel,” Bryce Ervin ’15 and Brandon Oullette ’15 had already reviewed an earlier vintage of this wine on September 12, 2014. In their words: “This wine would be excellent if you wanted boxed-wine quality at a bottle-wine price.” It appears we drank a very different wine.
Highly recommend you snag the pretty Flaco while it’s around. Highly recommend you write positive things in the online comments of this article.
Tonight's Soundtrack: "No Way Out" by Puff Dadd & the Family (1997).
Justin: "Anytime I drink red wine I would rather be wearing a khaki linen suit."
Will: "I'm strictly trying to cop those colassal sized Picasso's."
Nose: 3 out of 5 stars
Body: 1 out of 5 stars
Taste: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Overall: 3 out of 5 stars
Bottom of the Barrel: Smooth Sicilian serves a superb summer swan song
Old World grapes always conjure up images of summer nights on the Continent. Tender evenings spent with a loved one in a petite café. Bulls dodged in narrow alleys. Verses writ.Your dear columnists, once the College’s most prominent Ladd-campus-wide-couch-stander-onners, are now seeking to live the good life. This year we will be sampling the finest wines purveyed by our fair town’s finest purveyor of groceries: Hannaford grocery. By finest wines purveyed by our fair town’s finest purveyor of groceries, Hannaford grocery, we mean the finest wines 10 American dollars can buy.
Will—whose notions of wine and wine-drinking have been most unfortunately informed by his reading of Hemingway while too young —initially balked at the idea of buying wine not corked. But as we made our way down the vino aisle, it was almost as if we heard a faint whisper of a Sicilian ciaramedda in the distance when we came across the 2014 Belmondo. The bottle was unassuming with “Terre Siciliane” emblazoned on the front, indicating its origin from the island’s wine region. Overcome with excitement we made our way home to begin the drinking process. In the hallowed halls of our happy home, 17 Cleaveland Street, amidst clouds of man’s best friends —fruit flies—we began our tasting.
The initial opening of the bottle had Justin questioning whether he lacked a sense of smell, but after pouring into our surprisingly adequate stemware (thanks Old Cleave), an aroma arose.
Half the taste of wine comes from its smell, or so we’ve been told. Needless to say, it’s a lot of fun to swirl the wine in the glass before taking a wee sniff. This particular vintage smells of scratch-and-sniff, generic, what’s-the-first-thing-that-comes-to-mind-when-you-think-of-white-wine white wine. This is not a bad thing. The wine smells like white Concord grape juice poured over playground wood chips. This is not a bad thing. The initial taste matches the nose. Flavor comes seconds after the sip. Slightly sweet like a crisp, October apple. Eminently palatable, this 2014 Grigio is more than just a little reminiscent of elementary school cafeterias and Juicy Juice 100% Juice. Vague notions of apricot kick around in the back. Dry, but who doesn’t like their Grigio dry? Against a dark background the wine is clear. Don’t be deterred by the screw top. This beverage is worth buying for those who want to dip their toes into drinking wine, but don’t want to mess up their pedicures.
As the wine flows, our conversation turns inward. It’s weird being a senior. Don’t recommend it. It’s easy to sit in your kitchen and feel weird about your past, present and future while your friends play NBA 2K16 in the living room. Wine pairs well with nostalgia.