After running a few errands in downtown Milwaukee, I found that I had a little time on my hands. It had been a while since I visited the Public Market so I decided to stop in at the Thief Wine Shop & Bar and sample a few wines. With several hours before the start of Gallery Night (our local quarterly art review), the owners, Phil and Aimee were already busy serving patrons. Once I found a spot to settle down, I selected a few interesting wines from their wide assortment of wines by the glass, flight, or bottle.
The first wine I tried was a young, but elegant pinot noir from New Zealand’s Marlborough region. The 2008 Oyster Bay Pinot Noir ($17.50) has everything you would expect from a cool climate pinot noir with its bright acidity and tart red fruit flavors. Hidden in the pale ruby color are fragrant flavors of ripe cranberries, cherries and pomegranate with the softest hints of tannin. Don’t let the light color fool you. This pinot noir has a pleasant body and mouthfeel with a generous backbone of crisp acidity.
Next up was a Chilean carménère born in the foothills of the Andes mountains. The 2007 Terra Andina Reserva Carménère ($11.50) was a world apart from the delicate kiwi pinot noir. Terra Andina makes this wine from 100% carménère grown in the Rapel Valley near Santiago. With deep red and violet hues, its aromas are alive with plums, black currants and blackberries, backed up with layers of cedar and spice. Its balanced flavors and rich body are enhanced by soft tannins that build throughout the lengthy finish.
The third wine on the list is from Napa Valley. Madrigal’s 2006 Zinfandel ($17.50) is even bigger and bolder than the previous two wines. Located in Calistoga at the northern tip of Napa Valley, the winemakers at Madrigal get their grapes from some of the best zinfandel vineyards in the valley. In true zinfandel style, this is a juicy, fruit-forward powerhouse! Heady aromas of black raspberries and dark cherries fold into rich layers of vanilla and spice. The flavors are full-bodied, delivering a punch of spicy red berries wrapped in vanilla and caramel following up with a generous finish of pepper and cocoa.
To finish out the quartet, I selected a Spanish sherry from González Byass. “Solera 1847″ Oloroso Dulce ($11.95) is a sweet sherry made from Palomino and Pedro Ximénez (sometimes called “PX”). The name of this sherry comes from original solera laid down in 1847 by González and Byass in Jerez, Spain. Within its golden brown, coffee-like tones are alluring scents of raisins, figs, and orange peel blended with a myriad of woody spices. Creamy flavors of toffee, vanilla and dried fruits are balanced with soft acidity that ties it all together. Perfect for a cold January afternoon!