By Sue Shelden   |   Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 4:09 pm   |   Leave a Comment »

Be ready to have your world rocked, Bloomington shoppers! The Eastside Bloomington Kroger’s store on College Mall Avenue has expanded–making this the largest Kroger’s store in Indiana, and, along with that, the new liquor department is the largest of any of their stores, as well. Not only is this big, it is also very well thought out, with a large area of already chilled wines, and wines from the best vineyards.

And while you are there, be sure to try out the “destination restaurants” such as the Starbucks, the “sit down” sushi bar, the expanded deli, with indoor and outdoor seating, and my favorite, the “sit down” Murray’s Cheese counter, touting “the finest cheese in the U.S.!”

And along with bringing together the best cheese from around the world, what else can you expect from Murray’s but the best mac and cheese dishes (according to the New York Times, USA Today, Food and Wine Magazine, etc.) and the best grilled cheese “Melt.”

Expect to find lots of events and tastings with all of these new food and beverage offerings. And, since they also offer free wi-fi, I can just imagine some of our readers may never leave!

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By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 11:26 am   |   Leave a Comment »

Though I don’t do much with social media, I do try to observe the consensus celebration of events honoring my favorite beverage — wine. I cannot even find the origins of many of these events, especially the one I celebrated last night, International Cabernet Day. One source dated it August 28; most say it’s August 30. My solution is to honor it both days, though why the Cabernet advocates chose the hottest season in the northern hemisphere for Cabernet beats me. (I hasten to add that the day is called Cabernet, not Cabernet Sauvignon, so perhaps the intent was to name it Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc, but that nice white wine is such a step child of the great varietals that that seems highly unlikely.)

Cabernet Sauvignon certainly deserves a day or more in its honor. Without doubt it is the most prestigious of red wine grapes (apologies to Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir) and is ambassador of two of the world’s most prestigious wine regions — Bordeaux and Napa Valley. It is unparalleled in its ability to age well and graciously and to produce wines of immense power combined with elegance and finesse.

Last night I chose a 2007 Meyer Vineyard Cabernet from the revered Hestan Estate in Napa. Most of the Hestan vineyards face sunrise and bask in the sun most of the day. They are farmed in individual blocks to allow for specific attention to the Cabernets, Merlots, and other Bordeaux blends. This bottle presented all the character one likes in a Cabernet, including a lingering finish. While my Old World palate still slightly prefers the suggestive and pleasantly muted tannins of a grand Bordeaux, I find the fruity, aromatic Napa finish very appealing.

I also wanted to feel supportive of the Napa community because of the devastating earthquake this month. I haven’t heard anything specific about Hestan, but the reports I have seen and heard suggest that most wineries fared fairly well though very few are insured against earthquake damage. I also admit that while most of us reacted with concern about the vineyards and wineries, I remain very aware that a great many people sustained losses that have little or nothing to do with the wine business. So last night we drank to all the citizens of  earthquake-damaged Napa, Sonoma, and environs.

August 28 or August 30? Or 29th? I hope that whoever established the original date isn’t overly concerned about exactness. After all, there is a half-day time difference between the two principal Cabernet regions, and I don’t think a second observance would offend anybody.

Coming soon: Merlot Day is November 7; Chardonnay Day is May 23. For those who can’t decide, on February 18 you can observe Drink Wine Day. And don’t forget the last Saturday in February to Drink That Bottle Night, the wine you almost forgot or which you recently re-discovered in your cellar.


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By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 1:44 pm   |   2 Comments »

As we mixed and matched our wines and cheeses the other evening, I recalled English food writer Edward Bunyan’s generalization: “It has been noted that the native cheese is usually the perfect complement to the native drink.” He adds that these “essences” seem to rejoice at their meeting.

He also pointed out that most of the fine wine producing regions in France don’t produce much cheese but allows that if we interpret “local” broadly enough, we can accept this generalization as true. So I do so.

We enjoy the Capriole cheeses from that happy goat farm in Greenville near the Ohio River. Sixty-some miles away at the Oliver and Butler wineries in Bloomington, we can find a pleasant Sauvignon Blanc or Chambercin to work very well with those Caprioles. We have found a cheese farm in Osceola Missouri and complementary wines in St. James, Missouri. I admit to not knowing the wineries in Wisconsin, but I’d bet that with all the cheeses coming out of Wisconsin, it would be fairly easy to make a pleasant match from one of those Badger State wineries. California has become the nation’s biggest producer of cheeses, and we all know that the Golden State is the Promised Land of wine production. As in politics, then, all “cheeses is local.”

In matching the products of the cow, the goat, the sheep, and the vine, there are no rules — and should not be — but experience  indicates that white wines generally go better with most cheeses than red, but with one of those rustic Caprioles, I would welcome one of Oliver’s Syrahs. Those  Roqueforts really like a sweet white, especially a Sauternes. One is always safe with a Rhine or an Alsace or a Meursault or a Pinot Grigio  with almost any cheese. On the other hand, have you ever tried a Port with Stilton or a Beaujolais with Camembert? Isn’t it foolish to speculate so much? Just do it.

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