Archive for November, 2009

WEST TOWN — it’s official!

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
Mitch proudly holds West Town license

Mitch proudly holds West Town license

Hey y’all,

We’re buried under piles of boxes and paperwork, but just wanted to write a quick note to let you know that our West Town license has finally come through! We plan on opening the doors as soon as possible (this afternoon? tomorrow?), so please stop by and say hello. We might have some bubbles and snacks around for anyone who wants to help us stock…


Jane, Rachel, Erin, Kelly & Mitch


Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Ales Kristancic [courtesy of Food & Wine Magazine]

Ales Kristancic (courtesy of Food and Wine Magazine)

Most of the world tends to think of boundaries in terms of nationality. I’m Portuguese. It’s from Germany. The fox is French. The wine world thinks in this way as well. Restaurant lists, wine stores, and importer’s portfolios are organized and separated by country.

Sometimes, though, these distinctions can be useless.

Take, for example, Movia. The winery is officially nestled in the hills of Slovenia. If you want to send Movia a piece of mail (say, a love note), you would jot down a Slovenian address. But, if you ask Ales Kristancic (pronounced alesh chris-stan-zick), the gregarious and charming proprietor of the estate, Movia’s identity, terroir, and juice is not tied to a particular nation. Instead, it’s tied to an appellation.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Collio? An appellation that straddles the border between Italy and Slovenia, Collio is famous for its crisp, lush, and mineral-driven whites: Tocai Friulano, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Malvasia, Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Giallo.

Ever heard of Brda? Probably not. It is the Slovenian name for Collio. Among the sommelier set, the name has emerged as one of the most promising wine producing regions in the world right now, due in large part to the wines (and the personality) of Ales Kristancic. An outspoken champion of indigenous grape varieties, terroir-driven winemaking, and nothing but the most natural, organic, and biodynamic processes, Kristancic could be called a traditionalist.

He could also, perhaps just as justifiably, be called a radical. He leaves his white wine to age on its lees for up to two years (a looooong time) in 600 liter Slavonian oak casks. He performs his filtering by hand and in a limited manner, as dictated by the atmospheric pressure associated with moon cycles. And — get this — Kristancic bottles one of his sparkling wines undisgorged. This means the bottle arrives in the hands of the consumer with a ball of yeast in its neck. The longer a wine spends with said yeast, the more complexity it is thought to attain; Ales is maximizing this time by releasing bottles that have yet to be disgorged. The consumer must submerge the bottle in water, pop off the cork, and quickly bring the bottle upright. The yeast is released under the water, and the bottle emerges freshly disgorged and ready to be drunk. Oh yeah, you have to store the bottle upside down (try a large mixing glass or something similar) for two days before opening it to condense the yeast.

Crazy? Perhaps. Brilliant? Probably. Effective? Absolutely. The Movia ‘Puro’ (100% Pinot Noir bubbly) is one of the coolest wines the Lushes have tried this year. Yeasty, bready, yet fresh, with piercing minerality, and a mint/ginger spice on the palate. This bottle has not hit the LUSH shelves yet, but look out for ‘Puro’ (and a demo of it being opened!) at our West Town launch party on December 4th.

The Movia wines we have in stock right now include the Quattro Mani ‘Toh-Kai’ 07, a project involving four winemakers making wine from indigenous grapes around the world. I once read this wine described as ‘bizarrely delicious’ and I think nothing could be more apropos. Mint, white chocolate, apricot, menthol, green tea, and lemon peel all intermingle in an odd yet entirely satisfying progression of aromas and flavors. For $13, there may not be a better deal this year.

We also currently have the 04 Veliko Bianco (“Big White”) and the 04 Lunar. Both wines are made with the Ribolla Giallo grape, a native varietal that tends to produce creamy, rich, dry wines with great acidity. In the hands of the right person (ahem, Mr. Kristancic), these wines can be remarkably ageable. The Veliko Bianco is also blended with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and vinified according to the methods I mentioned above. The nose suggests a certain sweetness: honey, after-dinner mints, tangerine. The palate is dry and fierce, yet not without serious richness. This wine is lifted in a way that’s hard to describe: it’s almost like there is a layer of white flowers and menthol that sits between the wine and your tongue. It’s a pretty incredible sensory experience. Weird, yet utterly delicious and drinkable.

The Lunar is a different beast. 100% Ribolla Giallo. As an experiment, Kristancic wanted to make a wine that had no human intervention except at harvest and at bottling. The grapes were hand selected and then left to their own devices until spring in specially designed barrels. No pressing. No added yeasts. At bottling time, the juice is drawn off its skins using a vacuum and bottled with no sulfur dioxide. What emerges is nothing short of glorious (and nothing short of extreme): a wine that pours a rusty orange color, more reminiscent of beer than it is of wine. A bizarre confluence of tannin (from the extended skin contact), slightly oxidized flavors, rich, ripe fruit, piercing acidity, and residual carbon dioxide, this wine is mind-boggling. Cerebral yet still accessible, this wine will undoubtedly evolve for decades to come.

Join us in exploring this frontier of winemaking. We are very excited to offer these wines at LUSH, and hope that you enjoy them as much as we do .



Wine Geek: Tocai, Tokaji, Tokay

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Tokaji, Tocai, Tokay

These all sound the same, so they must be the same, right? Well, not so fast there. While these wines are all pronounced relatively similar, they share hardly any similarities at all. (more…)

Sad Face

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

LUSH West Town has been in the works for quite some time.  From the ground construction takes a bit of time, apparently, and contractors and carpenters, painters, plumbers, and such are a rowdy bunch and take some cajoling to meet deadlines.  Throwing booze at them only helps so much, and my super sad face just didn’t do it.  So, it’s been an intense, battling struggle to restrain our anxiety and overflowing joy to be opening a new shop.  We are nearly spilling over…just waiting for the dear city to bestow the ultimate gift, the golden ticket of a liquor license.  I will absolutely holler at the top of my virtual internet lungs the moment that our status progresses. Oh please, oh please, oh please.

However, in the meantime, alas, I must unfortunately call a halt to our raucuous plans for Friday the 13th and kabosh the launch party until another date.  Do not fear, free wine, beer and snackies will be available when said party commences.  It will be a knee-slapping roof shaking good time.  We’ve got to break the new store in, of course.  So, NO go on the grand opening of Lush West Town this week.  If we do indeed procure said license, I will throw open the doors and welcome the thirsty, the seekers of knowledge and fun.

Please partake in the good times and show your support of our local little wine shop.  We are extremely thrilled to join the West Town neighborhood and the amazing local joints along the way…food, art, and a lively, smart drinking culture.  Pop in and say hi; get to know your Lushes.  And, we LOVE you.

For future reference, all pertinent details below…LUSH West Town, 1412 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL  60642.  312-666-6900.  Holler at with questions.

And, for an alternative party plan, joing LUSH Roscoe 4-6pm for a vertical Goose Island Bourbon County Stout tasting (06, 07, 08, 09) with a little dash of Matilda and Sophie…good historical lesson, ya know…AND, 6-8pm for a wine tasting with Lagniappe founder Andrew Grossman.  We’ll be tasting the great Dexter Lake mustache clad wine, Forlorn Hope, and some Argentinian juice.

Savvy?  LUSH it up.

LUSH hosts New Belgium Brewery

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

LUSH University Village – 1257 South Halsted

Sunday, November 8th


LUSH is teaming up with the Sours projects from New Belgium Brewery for some sweet and sour shindigging. Join us this weekend to continue the celebration of the Barrel Aged Beer Festival. Jesse Katzman and Michael McAvena are joining in the fun, with some pork shoulder, homemade sauerkraut, and sausage to match the three sour beers hosted by the brewery…La Terrior, Fall Wild Ale, and the tart lychee brew. Last pig roast of the season…beer and pork, woot! Extra exclusive and absolutely, extremely, super fun! These three brews are brought in special for this event and are here and gone after this evening. $15 per person. RSVP necessary, good times promised.Open to the industry, open to the public.

Reserve your spot with, or 312-738-1900.

Hum has arrived.

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

The newest local spirit to debut, HUM is the brilliant beverage concocted by Mr. Adam Seger. This spirit is incredibly versatile and extra delicious, bursting with flavor and quite tasty herbs, flowers, and fruits. HUM is essentially a botanical spirit, or, rather, a mingling of a strapping base of rum infused with hibiscus, cardamom, ginger, and kaffir lime. A spirit and a liqueur, HUM is lovely as a twist on classic cocktails, or can pump up your favorites with a burst of flavor. Or, if you like to be told what to do, Mr. Seger has developed an extensive list of tried and true tasty cocktails. Sip it neat, stir, shake, or share.

The odd coupling…

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

The odd couple…
My local European style grocery store pops up random deliciousness on a frequent basis, and last week, there was an overflowing pile of gloriously fresh shittake mushrooms.  Their pungent earthy aroma was so enticing, that I just couldn’t pass it up.  So, I grabbed a good bit of shrooms and scooted on home.  As for prep, I wanted to really focus on bringing out and highlighting the flavors of the shittake mushrooms without too much distraction.  Thus, I dusted them off, snapped the stems, and tossed them in lovely sweet cream butter.  And while the mushrooms sizzled away, the search for a proper wine pairing began.  Luckily, a super awesome closeout on some amazing wine had corresponded with my shroom discovery…and the Zmor Gewurztraminer from the Russian River Valley was already chilling in the fridge.