A charitable Valentine
Here's a Valentine's Day wine suggestion that reaches out with a touch of love: Enjoy a bottle of Big Tattoo, a decent, affordable red wine from Chile, and know that a portion of the proceeds will benefit cancer research and hospice care in memory of the wine makers' mother, Liliana S. Bartholomaus, who died of breast cancer in 2000.
It's a sweet concept, one that I'm frankly surprised doesn't turn up more often in the world of wine marketing. (The only other similar venture I recall reviewing involved Vinum Cellars in Clarksburg, Calif., which devotes part of the profits from its "Pets" Petite Sirah to a local animal shelter.)
Two Brothers Winery, a Virginia-based company that assembles and imports wines for distribution under its labels, is a partnership between brothers Erik and Alex Bartholomaus. Erik is president of Billington Imports in Springfield, Va. and Erik is a tattoo artist. Alex came up with the wine, from Chile; Erik designed a bold, tattoo-style label featuring a fleur-de-lis, their Mom's favorite design.
The first release of Big Tattoo Red, the 2001 vintage, came out in the autumn of 2002, with 50 cents from every bottle sold pledged to the Hospice of Arlington, Va., and other breast cancer research foundations, in Mrs. Bartholomaus's name. Nearly 14,000 cases were sold, raising $83,010 for research and support.
The 2002 vintage came out the following June, and raised about $300,000, with some of the donations distributed to local organizations in every U.S. state where Big Tattoo has distributors, a move that paid dividends by inspiring matching donations to local charities from regional distributors.
Now, joined by Big Tattoo White, a German Riesling, the 2003 vintage is on the shelves ... and it makes a mighty thoughtful way to celebrate Valentine's Day, or any other day, by enjoying a glass of wine while reaching out a helping hand.
For a complete list of local and national charities that have received benefits from the sale of Big Tattoo wines, click
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2 Brothers 2003 Colchagua "Big Tattoo Red" ($8.49)
This hearty red wine from Chile, a 50-50 blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, shows a very dark blackish garnet in the glass with a bright violet edge. Ripe black and red-fruit aromas add a whiff of anise. Full, warm black-cherry and plum flavors follow the nose, juicy fruit and tart acidity backed by hints of oak and perhaps just a touch of residual sweetness that softens the wine's light tannins. Straightforward, not overly complex, a good food wine; fruit, tannins and good balance suggest that a little cellar time would do it no harm. A portion of the proceeds go to local charities that provide cancer research and support. U.S. importer: Billington Imports Inc., Springfield, Va. (Feb. 13, 2005)
FOOD MATCH: It worked well enough with Italian sausages in a thick winter soup, but its full body and hearty style really want red meat or sharp cheese.
VALUE: Fine value at this under-$10 price, and I've seen it advertised online as low as $6.95. The built-in charitable donation makes it a winner.
WHEN TO DRINK: Ready to drink, but as noted, its full structure, tannins and balance suggest some aging potential for at least a few years.
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Meet me in NYC at the Wine Century Club
There's a new 100 point scale in the wine world: The recently organized Wine Century Club is open to adventurous wine lovers around the world who have tasted wines made from at least 100 different grape varieties, will hold its first annual dinner meeting in New York City next month, and I'm slated to be the guest speaker.
The Wine Century Club was founded by my pals Deborah and Steve De Long, authors of the Wine Grape Varietal Table, in the interest of celebrating diversity in wine and getting to know others who share their passion for offbeat grapes and wines.
The Wine Century Club has already assembled a fair number of applicants from around the world, including wine lovers from Brazil and Russia, and several members of the wine press, including your humble scribe. "The first New York City Marathon had only seven people running in it," Steve De Long says, "so we're already doing much better." Still, even for wine professionals, the application isn't that easy. They've had a number of wine merchants who have come up a few grapes short, but have decided to rise to the challenge. "A lot of very knowledgeable people in the wine world tend to focus on a few regions, so it doesn't surprise me that many of them don't get 100 right away," he said.
The first club meeting will take place in New York City on March 16. Appropriate for the feast of Bacchus, which the ancients celebrated on March 16 and 17, the meeting will be a dinner and wine tasting, currently planned at Lo Scalco, a new Italian restaurant in Tribeca. Deborah and Steve will preside, and they've invited me to serve as guest speaker. All Wine Century Club members are welcome, and all applicants attending and/or admitted before the first meeting will be charter members and given special recognition in the next printing of the Varietal Table.
All adventurous wine lovers are encouraged to join the Wine Century Club. To join, or simply to read the application, visit
If you haven't yet discovered Steve and Deborah's Wine Grape Varietal Table, an innovative and attractive wall chart that organizes the world of wine grapes in a format reminiscent of the familiar Periodic Table of the Elements, you can learn all about it at
This week on WineLoversPage.com
Here are links to some of our recently published articles that I think you'll enjoy:
Nat Decants: Mouton with Your Mickey Meal?
WebWineMan: Wines for Your Sweetie
Reports from our Readers: Cyprus, Island of Paradise
Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: Will that wine age?
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
Bargain French white (Feb. 11, 2004)
A vintage favorite (Feb. 9, 2004)
WT101: Rioja, plus (Feb. 7, 2004)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Who likes liver? (Feb. 10, 2004)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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Monday, Feb. 14, 2005