Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

New Arrivals!

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

2003, Champagne Drappier Millesime d’Exception, Cuvee Canicule

Drappier is one of the oldest Champagne producers in the region. The cellars they use to ferment and age their graceful wines have been in activity since 1152. Despite, or maybe because of, this long tradition, this small producer is famous for making controversial choices throughout its history. In the fifties, they planted Pinot Noir in their vineyards decades before it became standard in the region, and were picked on for it. Today they release low to no sulfur cuvees when most big champagne houses are happy to sulfur their wines beyond recognition. A fun fact: Drappier was Charles de Gaulle’s home champagne; he served it to private guests and enjoyed it before dinner. To honor this relationship Drappier releases, on exceptional years, a cuvee General de Gaulle, which has a portrait of the French president on its label. It’s great wine – but let’s be honest, the kitsch value is huge here!

This is Drappier’s Millesime d’Exception bottling – Exceptional Vintage. The house only chooses to release this bottling on years which show enough personality to be released as standalone wines rather than being blended (which is the standard procedure for most champagnes). And god knows 2003 had a personality. As you can tell by the label, which says ‘Millesime canicule’ – heatwave vintage – 2003 was the hottest year in Western Europe since the 19th century, and harvest in Champagne happened absurdly early (August 21st) for the usually late-ripening region. The idea for Drappier here was to release a wine that would express the exceptionnal heat of this vintage, while still making an elegant and balance wine.

We have to say that this is a resounding success! The solar vintage shines through here, and this Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend will delight lovers of juicy, deeply fruited California whites. There is a ton of richness, which comes from the vintage but also from the wine having spent quite a bit of time in oak before bottling. This is definitely Champagne for the table, and would do wonders with a richer fish dish, or poultry with cream and mushrooms. $49.50

Fog’s End “Hand Craft Your Own Rye”

In case you can’t tell from the quaint, not super market friendly name, Fog’s end is a very tiny distilling operation, from California. Craig Pakish the owner of Fog’s End, has been legally  brewing since 2009, after retiring from 24 years working for the Monterey County Sheriff. He’s not much of a publicist, but he sure is a hell of a distiller. Or as he puts it himself: “Making it is a hobby, selling it is work.”

One of Pakish’s highly regarded experiments in micro-distillation is this UFO of a rye – more like a DIY rye, we would say. Here’s how it works: the bottle of this gorgeously tropical, unoaked, straight from the copper pot still rye comes with a side of charred oak. A stick of it, narrow enough to fit through the neck of the bottle. Open your bottle, taste the rye as is, maybe make a cocktail with it. Then put the stick in, and watch as it imparts both color and flavor to your rye. The colour darkens after a few weeks, the finish becomes smoother and spicier after a few months. What will happen if you manage to hold on to this for a few years? We suggest getting one bottle for the short term, to drink over six months or one year. And another one to stash in your basement, and keep it there for as long as you can.

2008 Right Coast Red, Lieb Cellar, Long Island, Bordeaux Blend.

Mark and Kathy Lieb have been farming vines on the North Fork of Long Island since the early 90s – their land is now entirely converted to organic farming, bringing impeccably farmed fruit to their winery year in and year out. This is a blend where Merlot dominates Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, with a little bit of Malbec and Petit Verdot added. The blend helps navigate Long Island’s capricious and cooler weather and produces a stunning cooler climate wine. This is all about elegance and finesse, rather than made in a straightforward ultra-ripe and jammy style. Though this will be delicious right off the blocks, why don’t you give this wine the fancy Bordeaux treatment? Let it age for a couple of years. Get your butcher to butterfly a leg of lamb for you, and throw it on the grill with all the spices you’re in the mood for. Pour right coast red – you’ve got yourself a great night.  $30.75

LUSH Staff Picks 2011

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

All day, every day, the Lushes have been searching and exploring…challenging our palates to expand as we try new grapes, regions, producers, and styles. We have discovered what we adore, what we LOVE and what do not care for. And, we discovered that our tastes have evolved, twisted, turned, and ended up in new places, the same places, and places we never imagined we would go. As a staff, we have a very eclectic, bizarre, and sometimes frightening taste in all things fermented.

Set to task, dedicated to choosing our very most favoritest wines, we set a very strict set of criteria…we want outrageous quality for the cash, of course, but we also require craft winemaking, juice that speaks of where it comes from and that inexplicable, intangible, expression of something extraordinary.Our staff picks of the year are titillating, intellectual stimulating, and definitely remarkable…unforgettable, even. So, we are memorializing our favorites of the year in this year end rewind.

So, without further ado, the LUSH Wines of the Year, 2011. Ha. No, silly, you have to come to the tasting to get a sneak peek and a secret sip…

Geek Alert: Book signing and wine tasting

Friday, September 10th, 2010

The LUSHes are all nerded out…join in the fun, kids! Free.  Educational.  Books. An author. Wine. Winemakers!

Wednesday, September 15th, 7-9pm: Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey, by Robert Camuto.  Book signing with the author and wine tasting with Frank Cornellisen and Alberto Aiello Graci, winemakers from Mount Etna, Sicily.  Discover the flavors, the soil, the passion of the vine in Sicily.  Interactive tasting and education.  Free. Please RSVP to

LUSH West Town – 1412 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60642, 312.666.6900.

Introducing Armagnac

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Everyone has heard of Cognac. Now it’s time to meet Armagnac the lesser know French brandy. Armagnac is located in South West France. There are three delimited regions, Haut- Armagnac, Bas-Armagnac, and Tenareze. Bas-Armagnac is the lowest elevation area, has sand soil, and some of the best producers. Tenareze is where most of the negociants are from. Haut-Armagnac has the least production, but is said to be the most striking area.
Grapey goodness. Eleven different grapes are approved for Armagnac production. For the most part only three grapes are used, the same basic grapes of Cognac. St. Emilion (Ugni Blanc), Folle Blanche (Picpoul), and Colombard are the fabulous three. The grapes are generally harvested mechanically and then made into very acidic wine. With the use of a continuous still the wine is transformed into brandy. The double distillation does not create a product as pure as gin or vodka, but that is a good thing. This is what you want. You want the flavor and character left behind.
Aging happens in black oak casks. This type of oak is sappy so it matures the Armagnac quicker than Cognac would. The casks are purposely no topped off to allow some oxidation. This creates the signature taste of Armagnac. No caramel or sugar is added. The age is indicated on the bottle. *** is aged for a minimum of two years. VO and VSOP spends a minimum of four and a half years in cask. XO, Vieille Relique, Tres Vieille Reserve, and Napolean spend a minimum of five and a half years in cask. Hors d’age spends a minimum of ten years in cask. Something to consider, Armagnac will not continue to age and improve in the bottle. Once it is bottled it is ready to drink. So there is no reason to wait. Open that puppy up and drink.
No special glassware needed. If you have glasses that taper towards the opening, perfect. If not a champagne flute works well. You can put it in a normal rocks glass, but you won’t be able to enjoy the aromas quite as much. Speaking of aromas…WORDS of WARNING…do not directly inhale. You will burn your nose off. First put the glass up to your chest and inhale. Then bring the glass up to your chin and inhale. This way you can smell all the wonderful aromas without assaulting your nose. Armagnac has wonderful aromas of toast, caramel, vanilla, white flowers, spices and more. There is always something delicious and exciting in every bottle.
So Very nice to meet you Armagnac.

Road Trip: Paso Robles, CA

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

A lesson in Wine, a lesson in Driving.

This is the travelogue of a 9-day road trip out West with 5 German guys, a Honda luxury minivan, and three imperatives:

1) Stay one night in a Las Vegas hotel suite

2) See the Grand Canyon & Death Valley Nat’l Parks

3) Visit vineyards in Paso Robles, CA (more…)

TOC Eat Out Awards 2010: Best Wine Shop

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

LUSH Wine and Spirits for the wine! No, wait, the win!

Seriously, though, we are so very thrilled and extremely gracious to all the lushes out there that voted for us.  Thank you!  We heart wine, we heart you.  And TimeOut Chicago, too.  Oh, and Rick Bayless, cause he’s dreamy.

We were in good company with the other nominees, and very much think they do a rockin job with the wine, as well.

LUSH has busted ass and loves our wine drinking, slinging friends.  Please come on by and check out our interactive, put it in your mouth approach to sipping, getting educated, and having fun.  Classes, tastings, and private events are all integral components of the shop, so give us a ring anytime to get in on the action.

Check out for more details, or give the GM a call at 312.666.6900.  Ask for Rachel or chat up a LUSH lady or lad.

Right on.  Thank you!  Bubbles! And Champagne to celebrate!

Upcoming Events…March 2010

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Rock the vote…
LUSH has been nominated as one of the best wine shops in the city. Please excuse us while we fan ourselves and try to remain calm…eeeeee! So exciting. Please share your love and support of all things LUSH by voting. The TimeOut Chicago 2010 EatOut Awards are about indulging in the good and booze, with a close pulse on the city and what is brand spanking new or established and still performing wonders peddling deliciousness. Vote your most bestest favorite restaurant, chefs, bartender, blogger…and wine shop! We heart you!


BYOB: Han 202

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

This Christmas, the three LUSH managers plus our intrepid Employee of the Year[s], Kelly, all decided that in lieu of buying one another gifts, we would spend the money instead on getting together, the four of us, for a shared meal.


LUSH Halsted– come and drink!

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

LUSH on Halsted officially has been graced with a tavern license from the City of Chicago, meaning we’ve set up some stools and are assembling a small, curatorial list of wines to offer by the glass. This is new territory for us, so let’s have fun together and see what we can whip up! Look for new selections coming out on a weekly basis, with a focus on variety and seasonality. Or, just buy a bottle, get cozy at the bar, and sip! We will also feature one draught beer that we hope to switch out regularly for whatever’s fresh, new and fun. So grab some friends and get to sippin’ at LUSH on Halsted!

The Wonderful World of Sherry

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Ah, sherry. So delicious. So diverse. So misunderstood.

A lot of times people want to jump in, and start talking about sherry in terms of the different styles. We’ll get to that. But the first thing that needs to be discussed — the thing that is the basis for all sherry — is the solera system. Sherry wine (‘Vinos de Jerez’) is believed to have the unique property of taking on the characteristics of older wine when blended. In a solera system, older barrels of wine are topped with young wine to create a consistent flavor profile. It usually takes at least 4 years for wine in the solera system to reach the profile of the house style, at which point it can be bottled.

So, while a lot of the wine produced in the world will change from vintage to vintage depending on the weather and conditions that year, the object of Sherry houses is to create a consistent product from year to year. The solera system not only creates this consistent style, it also allows the wine to take on the benefits of both old and young wine: older wine is refreshed by younger juice, and younger wine gains complexity from blending with the old.

Each barrel in the solera system is a 550 liter butt, but is only filled to 500 liters. This takes us to the next important aspect of sherry: the interplay of the wine, oxygen, and a magical substance called flor. Flor is the layer of yeast that develops on top of sherry in each butt. Although the specifics are complicated and somewhat vague, flor grows nowhere else in the world: there is something about the unique conditions of Jerez and Sanlucar in southern Spain that allow this magical film to develop. Flor gives sherry many of its unique characteristics. That nutty, green apple taste you get in a fino sherry is a direct result of the strains of yeast found in flor.

After 3-5 years on average, sherry butts are assessed. If the flor has stayed strong and resilient and the sherry inside is delicate and unoxidized, this wine is slightly fortified and bottled as fino sherry. This is our first style! Delicate, with green apple and nougat notes (now you know where that comes from!), fino sherry is a wonderful food wine. Drink it chilled, with shellfish, tapas, or some of those hard to pair foods like artichokes and asparagus.

Finos that are made in the seaside town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda are called manzanilla sherry. Because of the proximity to the sea, these wines are often more briny and salty than finos, as well as a touch more savory and bitter. Drink chilled with some green olives or marcona almonds. Nom nom.

When a butt is assessed and it is NOT fit to become a fino (i.e. the flor is not still intact, and the flavor is a little too broad and robust), the wine remains in the barrel to become a different type of sherry. Barrels that are not destined to be finos will often be coerced into becoming an amontillado. The flor is deliberately compromised, which allows the wine to become oxidized. Aged for 8 years, this style of sherry is still dry, but much darker,  more nutty and full. Usually fortified to around 17.5% alcohol, and exposed to oxygen in their aging process, amontillados survive longer after being opened than finos and manzanillas do. Great on its own, amontillado also goes quite well with salty, gamey dishes (think: beef stew, duck, and anything wrapped in bacon).

Palo Cortado is a rare kind of sherry, in which the flor dissipates on its own accord (magically!) part way through the aging process. This makes true Palo Cortados quite expensive, because you never quite know when one is going to turn up.

Oloroso sherries develop in the barrel without any sort of oxidative protection (no flor!). These wines — although naturally dry — are robust and nutty, with lots of dried fruit and toasty flavors. Pedro Ximenez wine can be added to Oloroso sherries to make them sweet. Olorosos can be paired with rich cheeses and terrines, as well as venison, veal, and the like.

Welcome to the wide world of sherry. Enjoy.