Cost: Average price $16.99
Where buy now: Zipp's $14.99
Grapes: 22% Syrah, 21% Tempranillo, 15% Malbec, 14% Grenache, 12% Mourvèdre, 8% Petite Sirah, 8% Zinfandel
I haven't been in Zipp's Liquor store in a long time. In fact, I think the last time I was Just 21, buying a case of Icehouse and a forty of O.E. Ice. Ah, remember that "ice" phase of the early 90s? Me neither. Well folks, this is a very different store than I remember and it may just become my new favorite.
First, the place is huge, with brightly lit bottles and booze displays a-blazing! Immediately upon entering, I noticed a rather large display of Buffalo Trace whiskey, a newly discovered fave (Thanks, Doug). Um, that's awesome! I was a kid in a candy store
Second, the wine buyer Jeff couldn't be a nicer guy! Perhaps "nice" isn’t good enough, and never has a completely positive connotation (in Minnesota, at least). He was quite personable, knew a lot about wine, and took his time with me. What's cool is that he often buys cases of wine from distributors who need to unload a limited stock at low cost, then sells them to us at a great price! He showed me to a special section that contains odd, unique and rare bottles.
I asked him what he's into right now and what he recommends. He immediately pointed me toward “Eruption”, a red wine from Volcano Ridge Vineyard in Lake County, California. The grapes are grown on Round Mountain right on the mouth of an extinct volcano. Who knew that a volcano once inhabited this area just north of San Francisco? Jeff explained how volcanic soils are quite ideal for grape growing since it creates vine stress. Unlike the stress of a root canal where your mouth is essentially raped and left for dead, vine stress=good stress. Vine stress is good because that is where the concentrated flavor and complexity of a grape is derived. I could not wait to try this wine that blends some of my favorite reds. Would it be just a “kitchen sink” with some hype.
I don’t know how we did it but we waited until the weekend to unleash the “Eruption.” Earlier that day, I bought a bottle of Fig & Vanilla Balsamic vinegar from Marshall’s [I'm telling you, there are some good food finds there]. I crafted a quick spinach salad with fresh, local goat cheese, red onion and this fig/vanilla balsamic. Also, Lund’s had porterhouse steaks on sale, so we grilled ‘em up with some baby portabellas (gotta have mushrooms with steak!).
I was almost too giddy to sit down and dig in. I took a bite of the porterhouse, medium rare, along with some mushrooms. I swirled the wine and took a sip. This gush of flavor truly was an "Eruption" in my mouth. It was all working and very well at that. This Cali blend was deep red in color with aromas of dark red fruit and a hint of sandalwood. The vine stress does create an intense flavor, but this wine is quite well-balanced. No strong tannic flavors although it is a little jammy, likely due to the Zinfandel present in the ample finish. Mouth party, indeed.
What I love about this wine is that it paired with our dinner of porterhouse and spinach salad wonderfully. However, I’d totally drink this alone (*ahem* without food present). Although, come to think about it, I would drink this alone. As much as I love to share, sometimes a swiller just gots to go solo. Jeff steered me well. So well in fact, I took pics and thanked him on Twitter.
Zipp's not only has a bountiful wine, booze & beer selection but they offer tons of tastings and classes. And PS - most are *free*. In fact, there is a wine & cheese pairing class coming up on April 25th from 6-7:30pm where Zipp’s is partnering with the Seward Co-op. And again, the class is free – F-R-E-E. I spent $40 to take my last wine tasting class, folks. In March, they are having whiskey and gluten-free beer tastings, plus classes on both wine AND aged liquor. All FREE! Zero dollars. Zilch. Zip(p)! For further details check out their website www.zippsliquors.com/ZippsLiquors
I think you may consider Zipp's one of your favorite Minneapolis wine destinations. But don’t worry, if you are jonesing for some Icehouse, they still carry that, too.