Didn’t think wine night could get any more fun? Think again.
Checkered Past Winery, located in the Southside on Lamar building, is making sure your wine night is never boring. Their $20/person Wine & Magic nights happen once a month, and let me tell you, this isn’t your ordinary magic show.
I’m glad Susie sent me (because magic makes her uncomfortable), and I’m glad she did. The magic host, Trigg Watson, puts on a modern and entertaining (dare I say frustrating?) magic show. His tricks kept us on the edge of our seats and scratching our heads in awe.
With over 60 wines and 20 local craft beers, the last thing you’ll be worried about is running out of options. To compliment the wine, Checkered Past offers an array of spreads (all made in house), charcuterie, and pizzas. Don’t forget to end your evening with one of their delicious desserts!
Upcoming Wine & Magic nights are March 10 and April 14. Stay tuned to Checkered Past’s website or wineandmagicdallas.com for other events and future Wine & Magic nights.
If ever you’ve felt like your wine needed a heartfelt backstory, Montes Alpha and Kaiken Ultra wineries have one for you.
Aurelio Montes Sr. and Aurelio Montes Jr. are the father and son of the century with their love for good wine as well as their heritage. The chilean duo not only have a namesake winery with a special commitment to the Chilean community, most notably a study scholarship given to the winery workers and their children alongside complimentary health and life insurance, but also like father, like son, Aurelio Montes Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps and opened up his own winery, Kaiken, in order to experiment with new terroirs and other winemaking practices such as biodynamics. Fun fact: the Kaiken Ultra Winery was the second winery in the world to be awarded the Sustainable Certificate. Good for the community AND good for the earth? I don’t know what more you could want but they probably have it.
At Salum, a group of wine enthusiasts were treated to a tasting of wines from both wineries, as well as a paired luncheon. As we tasted the wines, Montes Sr. and Montes Jr. explained the back story of each wine and how they vary between the two wineries.
Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2014 Alcohol – 13.9% SRP – $19.90 Tasting notes: Shy in node expression.
Kaiken Ultra Chardonnay 2014 Alcohol – 14% SRP – $20 Tasting notes: Bigger and deeper expression of oak and fruit.
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Alcohol – 14% SRP – $19.90 Tasting notes: Fruity expression with red berries, blackberries, chocolate, and mint.
Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Alcohol – 14.8% SRP – $20 Tasting notes: Tastes of strawberries with a round mouth and soft tannins.
Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2014 Alcohol – 14.5% SRP – $20 Tasting notes: Riper with a wide mouth, gentle tannins, and tastes of dark fruit.
Montes Outer Limits CGM 2015 Alcohol – 14.5% SRP – $24.90 Tasting notes: Velvety texture. Montes Sr. described this as “a wine for the younger generations who want to drink something different than their parents.”
Kaiken Obertura Cabernet Franc 2014 Alcohol – 14.7% SRP – $35 Tasting notes: Best paired with light meals, salads, cheese.
Montes Alpha M Red Wine 2012 Alcohol – 14.7% SRP – $98 Tasting notes: A Bordeaux blend with a bouquet that comes along elegantly.
Kaiken Mai Malbec 2013 Alcohol – 14.8% SRP – $70 Tasting notes: considered a real taste of Argentina.
Montes Taita Cabernet Sauvignon 2007/2009/2010 Alcohol – 15% SRP – $249 Tasting notes: “Taita” describes the emotion of speaking of your father with devotion and admiration and he gives back his wisdom with loving care. This wine spends 18 months in barrels and then 4 years in bottles before being released.
Salmon and scallop crudo with Texas grapefruit, orange blossom oil, pea shoots, and parmesan crisps Paired with the Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2016 and the Kaiken Terroir Series Torrontes 2016
Braised lamb, rosemary puree with plum gastrique Paired with the Montes Purple Angel 2013 and the Kaiken Obertura 2014
Bittersweet chocolate and sticky date pudding with stewed red fruits and Mexican vanilla chantilly Paired with the Montes Alpha M 2012
A winemaker, farmer, and a designer walk into a bar …
Well, actually, they built the bar. Namely, Checkered Past Winery, the newly opened urban winery nestled into a basement in South Side on Lamar in the booming Cedars neighborhood. Partners Scott Relyea (founder and designer), Sandro DiSanto (winemaker), and Carolynne Chancellor (vineyard owner and farmer) came together in 2008 to dream up this Texas-centric “wine pub”, and their plan … succeeded.
Housed in the formerly dimly lit Absinthe Lounge location, the space is nearly unrecognizable–light, galvanized metal, and vespas fill Checkered Past now. Who knew the space even had windows?
So … let’s talk wine now, y’all. Checkered Past stocks wines from “their friends”–wines from other wineries around Texas that the staff loves, and from the rest of the world. (Because it’s Texas vs. the rest of the world, right?) They have bottles, glasses, and even draft wines available along with local beers.
They don’t stop there. They’re making their own wine with two currently available and three more promised before the end of 2016. (Bring it, Sandro.)
Even better than just having a damn good (local) wine list, the food at Checkered Past is perty good. Sandro a first-generation American from his Sicilian family, and the menu reflects that. Simple, but delicious, the items on the menu were carefully crafted using local ingredients when possible, but they won’t compromise quality for the sake of staying local. Not to be missed: their flatbreads, namely Rudi’s Double Meat (made with meats hand-picked from the best purveyors available and no sauce — novel), the Goat Cheese Pappadew Skewers, the Smoked Salmon & Herb Goat Cheese Bruschetta (I detest smoked salmon and ate one of these … and enjoyed it), and the Kalamata Tapenade (because sometimes the most delicious things are the simplest).
To make me love this place even more … they don’t f**k around with their post-meal goodies. I’m talking about their pairing of dessert wines with their gluten-free Warm Double Chocolate Cake. Even if you’re not a fan of dessert wines, let them make some recommendations–my favorite was the Jacquez Maderia from Haak Winery in Galveston. You may become a believer yet.
Stop by Checkered Past for some good local wine, good eats, and ska music. I mean, at least stop in to see what the innards of Absinthe Lounge really looked like.
Wine is an absolutely incredible thing. For me, wine has been present on some the most memorable nights of my life and I’ve always been intrigued by the uncanny ability for wine to take me back to past experiences. Since studying abroad in Paris during college, French wines have been one of those memory-joggers–from picking up a bottle to drink to drink with a baguette in the bois between classes with friends to the bottle I shared one evening with my dad on a road trip through the French countryside.
When talking about French wines, it’s impossible not to bring up Bordeaux. The Bordeaux region of France is a well-known wine-producing region famous for its reds and has been producing some of the best wines in the world for many years thanks to its rich soil and moderate temperatures. Here are some quick facts about the region:
89% of the wines produced in Bordeaux are reds.
The region is the largest wine-producing region in France covering 460 square miles and producing up to 700 million bottles of wine per year!
While “Bordeaux” is the general name for wines from this region, there are actually 54 appellations* that are produced there.
There are three main regions of the Bordeaux region–the Right Bank, Entre-Deux-Mers (between the oceans), and the Left Bank.
The “Bordeaux Blend” is the typical mix of grapes in the region’s wines–70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot.
I had the pleasure of spending the evening with some of Dallas’ most talented sommeliers* to try some Bordeaux wines and explore the incredibly diverse options that come from the region. Paired with some cheese et autres choses, we had a pretty incredible evening tasting around the region–five wines from five regions.
The wines we tasted that evening included the following, and are in order of preference:
TOP TASTING: Château Beau-Séjour Bécot – 2008 Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
Purchased at Goody Goody for $53 (value: ~$55)
The group’s favorite wine of the evening by a landslide, its dark berry and rhubarb notes made this an incredibly complex wine that would pair nearly perfectly with lamb.While some of the wines from Bordeaux can cost you a pretty penny, we decided to splurge on one from Saint Émilion as wines from this region age very nicely. “In my humble opinion, Saint Émilion is one of the most underrated regions in Bordeaux because they don’t have a clear classification system” – Roxanna C. from Raven Wine Management Systems
#2: Château Cantenac Brown – 2012 Margaux Grand Cru Classé
Purchased at Total Wine for $52 (value: ~$48)
We tasted this bottle last as we expected it to be the “biggest” of the wines. Let’s just say that it really was “plus grand” than expected and was incredibly mouth filling. With notes like honeysuckle, caramel, and vanilla bean and a violet nose, it was almost like dessert in a glass. The acidity was about medium plus and the finish was incredibly long … the caramel flavors lingered until the end.
This wine was my personal favorite of the evening.
#3: Château Le Crock – 2008 Saint-Estèphe Grand Vin de Bordeaux
49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot
Purchased at Spec’s for $24 (value: ~$26)
We saved this bottle for our fourth taste.. The fruity flavor had hints of dark fruits, coffee, caramel, and dark cocoa balanced with a little “barnyard” grit. This wine paired perfectly with the Roomano cow’s milk cheese from The Netherlands on the table. (Pick some up at Molto Formaggio in Highland Park Village.)
#4: Jean-Louis Trocard Chateau La Croix Bellevue – 2005 Pomerol
50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon
Purchased at Spec’s for $23.99 (value: ~$17)
This Pomerol wine was another big one with a very aggressive flavor. The flavor had fruits that changed on the tongue and an almost “barnyard” bite. You could definitely tell that it was an older wine, but it was even bigger than expected for a 10-year wine. This bottle wasn’t our favorite of the evening thanks to the gritty flavor.
WHITE TASTING (NOT RANKED): Clarendelle – 2011 Bordeaux (inspired by Haut-Brion)
76% Semillion Blanc, 24% Sauvignon Blanc
Dry White Wine
Purchased at Goody Goody for $18.99 (value: ~$22)
While 89% of the wines produced in Bordeaux are reds, we wanted to include a white option and we’re damn glad we did. This while was delightful and we all would admittedly not only drink this again, but purchase it again as it was the least complex and most “approachable” of the five we tasted.
The story behind this white’s inspiration (Haut-Brion) is a sketchy legend. Apparently the O’Brions, an Irish family and one of the original Grand Cru producing vineyards, settled in the Bordeaux region and decided to change their name to Haut-Brion so the name would be more respected in the region.