- Discovering the Joys of New Zealand Wine

Special Edition Newsletter

This special edition of the newsletter features the new wine superstore in Montgomery County and the recent Australian Lamb and Wine festival. We also have an advertisement from our first commercial sponsor.

New Wine Superstore Opens in Montgomery County, Maryland!

Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan announced the opening today of WINE-MART, the new county-run wine superstore. "We wanted to build on our position as the only county in the United States with a monopoly on wine distribution to dominate the retail level as well," Duncan explained. The 125,000 square foot store is conveniently located in the heart of Rockville Pike, where more than half of the county's residents are found in rush hour and on the weekends.
Selection and value will be cornerstones of the new enterprise. Duncan stated that "We will try to carry every wine produced in the world. For instance, we carry rarities such as Polish Bilberry wine, Moldavian Pinot Noir, and Japanese Cabernet Sauvignon."
General Manager Mel O'Lactic said that, if there was a wine that the store did not have in stock, they will have it shipped by overnight air express to the customer's door at no extra charge. The store will also have a value-price guarantee. If a customer finds a wine where the Montgomery County price is more than double the regular retail price of any other store, they will get an immediate three percent rebate.
Assistant deputy manager of the Mid-Atlantic wines department Reston Lees said customer service was very important and the government employees at the store will all be required to complete a four hour on-line tasting course from the Manischewitz Wine Academy.

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Australian Lamb and Wine Festival

(This event was originally not part of this newsletter. However, as you will see, it belongs here.)

On March 25th, we attended the Lamb and Wine Festival, an event sponsored by a DC business in conjunction with the Australian Embassy. There were "over 50 wines to taste" along with three lamb dishes and a few other examples of Aussie cuisine. There were probably about 300 tickets sold to this event but it seemed more like 500.
The food was served at an innovative circular buffet table. Imagine several hundred people crowded around a circular buffet with no idea where to start, where the plates were, etc. I must be old-fashioned; I miss the linear lines with the signpost "You are 30 minutes from food at this point." Along with not having a starting point, the circular buffet did not have an end point. Several people were observed to circle continuously as if stuck on the MTA; their speed too slow to break out of orbit. I did manage to get close enough at one point to score a lamb rib which was fairly good. By 8:00, the line had diminished so you could approach the table but by then there were no plates to be seen.
The "over fifty wines to taste" were served at six tables (seven if you count the little-visited white wine table). We were able to taste about eight wines before we gave up on the crowds in front of the tables. One tip we learned: Be wary of the people with the Eddie Bauer backpacks; they intend to camp out in front of tasting table and call it their own.
Two tasting notes we came away with:
Anonymous Pinot Noir* We were immediately struck with the similarities between this Aussie Pinot and a Grand Cru Burgundy- mainly that it was liquid and somewhat red in color. Beyond that, it was an astringent, watery concoction that was less like a Côte de Beaune and more on par with a Hearty Burgundy from the Côte de Modesto.
Anonymous Chardonnay* Having a pre-disposition to Down-Under whites (and since it was the one table you could reasonably approach), we tried a chardonnay. This, too, was eye-opening. I suspect the trees that yielded the wood for the barrels were harvested the same day as the grapes thus giving the wine its unique green, woody taste.
*Names (like the wines) were not to be remembered and thus omitted from the reviews.

And that's the way it is on April 1, 2004.

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