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Posted at 6:00 PM ET, 02/ 3/2011

Wine: Leave your cork in San Francisco

By Dave McIntyre
UnCorkedImage_opt.jpg Ditch your corks! (Photo courtesy of SFMOMA)

Put a Cork in It: The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is giving away prizes, such as a week-long tour of Northern California wine country, to visitors who contribute used corks to the museum's recycling effort. The contest runs through March 15 and is a tie-in to SFMOMA's exhibit, "How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now," which runs through April 17.

The contest is sponsored by 100% Cork, the cork industry's counterattack against synthetic stoppers and screw caps. The campaign emphasizes the sustainability of natural cork and the environmental benefits of preserving cork forests. The organization was ridiculed recently for producing some really stupid and insulting videos; the SFMOMA contest would appear to be a more high-brow means of getting the message across.

Only natural corks will get you entered in the contest. Snarky folks who bring plastic corks or screw caps will be eligible for corked wine only. (Not really, I just made that up.)

For contest details, see the SFMOMA release.

Goodbye, Old Friend: The dinner was casual and simple -- a bit of yesterday's oxtail stew as sauce for today's pasta. My wife went downstairs to find an appropriate wine and returned with our last bottle of a favorite Minervois, the 2005 Plaisir des Lys from Khalkhal-Pamiès in the south of France.

We bought several of these $13 gems from Arrowine in Arlington a few years ago, culling a bottle for special occasions or when we wanted to impress a guest with something intriguing after a heavy meal, when not just any wine will satisfy that thirst to keep the evening going. It is a Thomas Calder wine, which is as close to a quality guarantee as one can get these days. Tom Calder, based in Paris, has developed a small-but-exciting portfolio of French producers who offer high-quality wines at reasonable prices. They are not widely available but worth seeking out.

This Plaisir des Lys had turned soft and sweet, as though it had crested the wave of maturity, passed its prime and entered its golden years. The wine was by no means dead, but it had mellowed from what I remembered, content to be an elder statesman and revel in our memories of its earlier glories. It still had fascinating stories to tell, even if the stories were familiar and had lost their edge. I was happy to spend one final evening with it. I didn't regret that this was my last bottle; I was content to say goodbye, knowing that I could look forward to the next vintage and the stories it will tell.

(Thomas Calder wines are distributed locally by Potomac Selections of Landover.)

By Dave McIntyre  | February 3, 2011; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  Wine  | Tags:  Dave McIntyre  
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