Casinova di Neri Irrosso ($21.99)
From the producer:
"We believe that wines are the fruit of the vineyard and of man's labour.
The care and passion in working the land has to take into account the characteristics of the land, the microclimate and the variety so as to produce a unique distinct wine able to express its territory. For over forty years our evolution has been marked by careful targeted choices that have distinguished our estate and the wines we produce creating their own style.
A constant search for particular soils that exalt the quality and uniqueness of our wines and farming practices that respect the land and the vines are followed by attentive care in the making of the wine. Our wines are the fruit of exceptional combinations of soils and microclimates together with passionate and meticulous work enabling us to obtain constant results and to enhance the distinct features of the grapes throughout the different vintages.
This wine is born from the grapes of the 'Cetine' vineyards to the south of Montalcino where our Brunello Tenuta Nuova and our Rosso di Montalcino come from. It is obtained from Sangiovese Grosso and Colorino grapes (the plants are reproductions of old varieties that we found in our oldest vineyards). We tried to produce a wine typical of our land and closely linked to it but with the style and characteristics of Casanova di Neri wines. It can be drunk at once or kept for some years giving even greater satisfaction.
Vinification: selection table for bunches, de-stemming, selection table for individual grapes. Vats filled by gravity. Fermentation without use of yeast additives and maceration in open conical vats at controlled temperatures for ¾ weeks Aged in oak barrels for around 15 months and 6 months in bottle.
Tasting notes: Intense ruby red, hints of wild cherry, violets and red fruits ample and easy to drink with excellent persistence. Serve at a temperature of 16° - 17° opening the bottle a few hours previously or decant delicately.
Accompaniments: Tuscan cold cuts, pasta with tomato sauce, roast white meats."
Brunello di Montalcino is considered one of the top Italian wines, but even a "bargain" bottle will cost you upwards of $30. This is in part because the production area allowed is small, and because Brunellos must comply with a longer aging requirement. The other two Montalicino wines produced from Sangiovese demand less aging (Rosso di Montalcino) or can be both younger and blended with other grapes (Sant'Antimo). Irrosso is a fine example of the latter, though it has quite a bit of barrel age on it. This one is a very good alternative to higher priced wine from the area, and it still gives you an idea of the style and terroir of Montalcino.
San Marzano Primitivo di Manduria ($15.99)
From the producer:
San Marzano, Salento, Puglia. The area is about 100 meters above sea level, with high average temperatures and medium-low rainfall. The soft soil layer is clayey and quite thin, with a good presence of rocks.
In French and American wood barrels for 6 months.
A wine that preserves its organoleptic characteristics for 5 years.
Ruby red colour enriched with violet reflections; generous bouquet, which recalls ripe cherries and plums, with pleasant notes of cocoa and vanilla. This wine has a velvety texture, softened by the warmth of the Primitivo grapes; the finish offers notes of persistent sweetness.
Best served with:
Savoury first courses, lamb and game with rich sauces, hard cheeses."
Primitivo is genetically very similar to Zinfandel (they are both clones of the same Croatian grape), and it produces a round, fruit-forward, and smooth wine. While many Italian reds are noted for their strong tannins, Primitivos are a bit more mellow and approachable. This is a great example of wines from the "heel" of Italy, where the climate and soil lend bold ripeness and light earthiness.
Les Vignobles de Jacques Blanquette de Limoux ($15.99)
From the producer:
"Blanquette de Limoux was created in 1531 in the cellars of the Benedictine Saint Hilaire Abbey when a monk discovered that the wine that he had bottled and carefully corked formed bubbles, after a second fermentation. The first sparkling wine in the world had just been invented in this splendid abbey.
Known as BLANQUETTE for the fine white coating which forms on its leaves, the Mauzac of the Blanquette appellation is the traditional grape variety of the Limoux vineyard. It distinguishes itself by its aromas of green apple, acacia flowers and apricot with toasted nuances. This Blanquette is perfect as an aperitif or with an entrée like marinated salmon.
Grapes : 90 % Mauzac, 10% Chardonnay
We realize that protecting the landscape is very important as well as respecting the biological diversity and we always tried to minimize the treatments. For each of our vines we apply the method of reasoned agriculture by observing the vineyard every day and with the help of a professional technician we know how to use treatments only if it’s really necessary. On the other hand we choose only products that help in protecting the soil : for example we only use organic fertilizer."
I love the idea that this is the original sparkling wine in France, but that it's a fraction of the cost of Champagne. This Blanquette de Limoux is one more wine in the shop that represents my interest in indigenous varietals and in winemakers who seek to explore older styles and techniques. The wine is fresh, bright, and perfect for a New Year's toast.
Champagne Rene Marie Catel Blanc de Noirs ($30.99)
From the importer:
"Varieties : Pinot Noir 100%
Vinification : Traditional
Aging Bottle: 24-month
Radiant nose, revealing white-fleshed fruits (apple, pear, peach white), citrus (lemon) and floral nuances. Ample in the mouth, combining generosity and subtlety. Full, fresh and crisp.
Coming from families who have been growing grapes in Champagne since 1710, René and Marie-Noelle Dautel started producing their own champagne in 1971. Sylvain Dautel, their son, is now in charge of the vineyard located in Loches-Sur-Ource, a small village in the heart of Côte des Bars. Sylvain is perpetuating the tradition of his ancestors, using environmental friendly practices to create the most delicate, yet intense Champagnes. Cuvée René-Marie Catel is a rare Brut Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Noir), aged for two years on lees before disgorgement."
This wine is incredible value for money. It's a grower Champagne (the people who own the vineyards make the wine), it's 100% Pinot Noir, it drinks like a dream, and it's under $35. This kind of bargain is very hard to find in Champagne, and it is thanks to the source of this product: Côte des Bars in the far south of the region. This used to be considered a second-rate area of Champagne, but in the last decade it has become more prominent, and a place in which winemakers aren't afraid to think outside the box. Read Wine Folly's excellent blurb about it here.
Wines of Illyria Stone Cuvee ($20.99)
Bosnia & Herzegovina
From the producer:
"Indira Bayer, originally from the Former Yugoslavia, immigrated to the United States in 1996. Since becoming a US citizen, she worked seven years as an Assistant Vice President of Bank of America's Small Business Banking, six years as an Assistance Coordinator and other roles with the US Department of State in the Balkans, and a year as an Adjunct Lecturer of Accounting at the American University in Bosnia and Hercegovina.
In January 2015, Indira founded Wines of Illyria, a wine import company in Austria, dedicated to bringing wines from the former Yugoslavia to European Union consumers. Her goal was to create jobs for unemployed youth in Bosnia-Herzegovina and stop the brain drain, one of the biggest issues the country was facing at that time. In addition, Indira wanted to create a positive image of Bosnia-Herzegovina and add it to the list of world’s well known wine producing counties, as the long history of wine making warrants it. In March 2016, she expanded the business to the US. Indira continues to work with both large and small wineries throughout the Balkan Peninsula sourcing and bringing to consumers premium quality wines made of native varieties: Vranac, Blatina, Plavac Mali, Zilavka, Malvazija, Posip and others.
This wine is made of 90% ZILAVKA and 10% BENA, indigenous grapes of the sun washed Herzegovina region. Clean and refreshing, showing elegance and flavors of green apples, lychee and honey, scents of chamomile and verbena with a slight mineral tone. The ripe, warm flavors of apricot, star fruit and a hint of anise are coddled by juicy acidity, fine minerality and a long herbal-toned finish. Best paired with white meat dishes and seafood."
As most of you know, I love unusual wines from unexpected places. The Stone Cuvee is a wonderful example of indigenous wine from Eastern Europe, though the flavor profile is reminiscent of Gewürztraminer, with its distinct notes of lychee. I find this to be an elegant wine that, while ripely fruity, has a nice acid balance and mineral lift to keep it light. This is a must try.
Wines of Illyria Plavac Mali ($20.99)
Bosnia & Herzegovina
From the producer:
"This wine is made of 100% Plavac Mali, a grape variety of the Herzegovina wine region which has a Mediterranean climate and a limestone rich soil. This very tasty and elegant wine exhibits ripe pomegranate, plum and almonds, currants, and other dark red fruit flavors. Authentic, pure and very well balanced, with wonderful tannin and acidity integration. A lovely wine to pair with vegetarian dishes."
Let's get this out of the way: Plah-vatz Mah-lee.
This wine is from the same company that makes the Stone Cuvee. This is also an indigenous grape, but one that is a little more well-known. One of Palvac Mali's parent grapes is Zinfandel, and the wine produced from it shares a dark fruit flavor profile. There is also mild spice and richness on the palate. I think this is a very elegant and interesting red.
Mas Becha Roussillon ($19.99)
From the producer:
"This cuvee is based on a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre, which has gone through extended berry maceration to give it a more powerful structure. Depending on the vintage requirement, it is aged in oak barrels for 8 to 10 months. This period of maturation in barrel softens the tannins to their silky texture and makes for a richer structure. The color and its intensity are always relatively pronounced. This wine features a very deep violet red color with a few blue notes in its youth.
The nose shows a beautiful complexity, showing its grape maturity through notes of very ripe black fruits, blueberry and blackcurrant jam, while allying the complexity obtained from its barrel aging through highlighting touches of vanilla, and elegant, lingering wood. The mouth is generous and full, and relatively well concentrated, under- lined by a touch of nerve, which raises fruity notes such as strawberries and ripe raspberries. The natural generosity from its Mediterranean origin gives a beautiful dimension and roundness in the mouth. The ageing softens its tannins, giving them a sweet dimension and making the wine explosive as well as pleasing to drink.
Wine & food pairing : Its aromatic spontaneity and its generous mouth are a sensation to enchant your friends around a glass of wine, but its capabilities are just as able to rejoice your guests with beautiful meat cuts. I favor duck with a cherry jam, a long cooked lamb leg confit or simply a grilled T-bone. Serving temperature : 15 to 17°C
Ageing potential : Even if the pleasure this wine gives is immediate, this cuvee offers a real ageing potential. It should delight your palate for 7 to 10 years.
I was lucky to welcome Charles Perez, the winemaker, to the store a few months ago. He is young and interested in making wines with little intervention that express the terroir of Rousillon in southern France. This wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenach, and Mourvedre, and it has a wonderful earthy balance to the dark red fruit tones.
West Cork Distillers Glengarriff Bog Oak Cask Whiskey ($39.99)
From the producer:
"West Cork Distillers’ Glengarriff Collection of Irish whiskeys are single malts aged for 4 years in sherry casks before being finished in barrels that have been charred using natural fuel sources obtained from the iconic Glengarriff Forest in Southern Ireland. Each barrel is prepared using a proprietary charring device that was hand-built by West Cork Distillers with the guidance of a local fifth-generation blacksmith. Each of these special release whiskeys delivers a unique flavor profile that embodies the innovative spirit of West Cork Distillers.
Bog Oak Charred Cask:
Aroma - Spice, dried leather with a sweet dried fruit undertone
Taste - Intense spice, malt and cracked pepper
Finish - Spice, nutmeg and long lasting malt"
This will be the most unusual Irish Whiskey you'll taste. There's an earthy depth to the flavor that I find really compelling, and there's more smoke than you might be used to from Ireland. I would call this the wine drinker's/Scotch lover's/cigar smoker's Irish Whiskey.
Etienne Oudart Champagne--Brut Référence ($50.99)
"Jacques Oudart belongs without any doubt to the upcoming stars of the Champagne area. The Oudart Family has been involved in Champagne making since the late 1950’s. They own 22 acres spread mainly over 2 regions: Vallee de la Marne and the Epernay area. This is definitively a major asset as it gives Jacques the possibility to blend all 3 grape varietals and still have the influence of all the various terroirs.
Jacques Oudart is very meticulous about winemaking and insists on extending his Champagne aging in order to hit the perfect ripeness when the bottle reaches the consumer.
Champagne Oudart’s trademark is to create elegant and fine wines. Most of the cuvee blend uses Chardonnay for its strength, Pinot Meunier for the fruit and Pinot Noir to add personality.
Bright gold color with some note of copper. On the tasting aromas of toast, brioche and hazelnuts appear. Long aromatic persistence in the mouth."
This Champagne is produced sustainably with minimal chemical intervention. The production is relatively small at 25,000 bottles per year. I sometimes find Champagne to be too "yeasty" tasting, but this one strikes a nice balance with the fruit and acidity. I find that it is great value for money, and it's nice to be able to support a smaller winemaker. I would much rather drink Oudart than Moët or Veuve.
Nadine Ferrand Macon Solutre Pouilly ($22.99)
"Nadine is an amazing person and winemaker. She has an energy and determination that is rarely seen. Since 1984, Nadine has continued the family tradition of winemaking established three generations ago. Nadine took over the estate in 2000 when her husband passed away. In a very competitive environment, she managed to increase the size of the estate and bring the quality of her wines to the top, moving her to the spotlights of national television.
Domaine Nadine Ferrand is 22 acres large and produces about 60,000 bottles per year on average. Growing grapes in a sustainable way, she is particularly meticulous in caring for the vines to ensure the highest quality of grapes. The estate produces a great portfolio of wines, ranging from a Macon blanc to a well renowned Pouilly Fuisse. Her feminine and elegant touch is perceivable across all her wines. The wines are usually aged 6 to 12 months in steel tanks or barrels. The influence of wood is very limited, as she wants to keep the full expression of the fruit and the terroir.
Nadine is now assisted by her oldest daughter Marine, who shares the same passion for the family estate and the Maconnais wines.
This wine is clear, bright with a beautiful pale gold dress and green color. The nose is fresh, mineral with candied lemon and honey aromas. This is well balanced thanks to its vivacity and its minerality."
Sustainably produced with limited chemical intervention, Ferrand only releases about 8,000 bottles of this Chardonnay. It is fermented and aged in stainless steel before spending an additional 6 months in the bottle before it's released. The flavor is top-notch, with an elegant mouth-feel. This wine drinks like a bottle twice its price.
Chateau Haut-Blanville Grande Réserve Pinot Noir ($14.99)
From the producer:
"Educated by the Burgundy model of “Climats”, we dreamed of crafting single parcel wines. Captivated by the beauty and variety of terroirs around Pézenas, a 16th Century village near to Montpellier, this is where we decided to settle. To make our dream come true, we decided in 1995 not to buy an existing Domaine but rather to create our own Wine Estate, parcel by parcel, to create single parcel wines, from vine to bottle.
Today, Château Haut-Blanville is the outcome of 20 years of investment and work of a beautiful team to give our vision of origin a tangible reality by proposing a selection of cuvées revealing the personality and diversity of the terroirs of vineyards of Château Haut-Blanville.
Grande Réserve is from a north facing mid-altitude vineyard in the Gres de Montpellier appellation. The limestone soil brings finesse to the wine. Grapes are destemmed and aged for 9 months in stainless steel tanks. The low yield and the appropriate harvest date give this Pinot Noir freshness and a moderate alcohol level. The nose expresses notes of spices, berries and tobacco. On the palate, the wine features soft tannins, delicate fruit and an elegant structure."
This is a perfect example of how you can find excellent value for money (especially in French wines) if you look at regions that are less popular. Burgundies generally fetch a pretty penny, but here you have a winemaker who is using the philosophy of Burgundian production in an appellation that has less cache, so the wine is less expensive. Languedoc is home to some great values, and recently Gres de Montpellier in particular has become a more highly regarded sub-appellation. This wine is a must-try for Pinot drinkers, and a good first Pinot for those who are new to the varietal.
Clos de Cazaux Gigondas 2014 ($31.99)
"The Clos des Cazaux domaine was founded in 1905 by Gabriel Archimbaud. The Archimbaud and Vache families are among the oldest ones in Vacqueyras, dating back to 1635. The 98 acre estate is currently run by Jean Michel and Frederic Vache. The vines are cultivated with utmost respect to the environment. Only Bordeaux mixture (antifungal agent consisting of a solution of copper sulfate and quicklime) and sulfur are used in the phytosanitary (pertaining to the health of plant) and vineyard treatment. At all times, the vineyards are manually tended, including manual harvest. To ensure optimal quality, only the best grapes are selected during a green harvest in Summer which eliminates at least 20% of the production. Each grape variety is picked at its optimum maturity and vinified separately. The whole clusters are placed into specially equipped bins with a screw in the bottom that allow the grapes to fall into the tanks without any crushing. This near-carbonic fermentation period depends on the grape varieties and the conditions. The maturation takes place first in stainless steel tanks for the juice to settle, then in concrete or enamel tanks. The wines mature in the cellars for at least 2 years before bottling in order to offer the optimum ripeness to the consumer.
This strong, warm wine comes from a selection of grapes on exceptional land. In fact our vineyards in Gigondas are situated on the arid hills of the Dentelles de Montmirail.
The Mistral blows regularly on these slopes which limits the amount of treatment needed to the vines. The vines grow in stony fields, which is rare, and produce wine that can be kept easily for 10 yrs. Aromas of pepper, red fruits, are intense and persistent; very interesting to discover young. Its robe is steady, stable, the tannins silky, some say feminine compared to the more rustic Vacqueyras. Strong dishes such as deer and wild boar can subdue this prestigious wine. If perchance this wine is not finished with game, it remains incomparable with Reblochon, St Nectaire, and other strong cheeses."
If you are not familiar with wines from the Southern Rhône, you will feel lucky for this to be your introduction. If you enjoy Châteauneuf, but don't want to spend so much, Gigondas is the answer. This blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre is elegant, well-balanced, and an excellent example of the style. I am very pleased to present this wine.
Cantine Monfort Blanc de Sers Brut Nature ($21.99)
From the producer:
"New entry in Monfort winery, Blanc de Sers Brut Nature is a sparkling wine produced in according to Metodo Classico method: nine months on the lees obtained from the grapes Valderbara, Vernaza and Nosiola cultivated on the terraced hills of Serso and Viarago. The optimal altitude between 550 and 700 meters a.s.l., the particular acidity of these grapes and their delicate aroma combined with the right period of ageing on the lees provide a quality creamy sparkling with a fresh and enchanting bouquet. Brut nature, zero dosage or pas dosé, the choice of our sparkling wine master to make in the flûte what grapes and terroir have to say.
Colour: pale yellow.
Bouquet: white flowers and a hint of green apple enhanced by a touch of hay.
Perlage: enhances the flavor and length.
Excellent as an aperitif, it goes very well with light appetizers, with dishes based on fresh water fish and seafood, soup and mushrooms."
I carry several wines from Cantine Monfort because they are doing a great job of making high quality wines from lesser known, indigenous grapes. This sparkling wine is elegant and delicious, and is a nice step up from Prosecco. Perfect for a toast on New Year's Eve!
Querciavalle Chianti Classico Riserva ($24.99)
From the producer:
"Since the year of the wine estate establishment in 1954, the Riserva Querciavalle has always been considered as one of the most representative wine of the Losi family’s production. Appreciated also by the most demanding customers for its excellent quality, this wine represents the real authentic expression of Chianti Classico appellation.
Wine making: Fermentation in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature lower than 27° for about 15-20 days, which is the average suitable time for extraction from the skin of colour, polyphenols, tannins and other typical features of Chianti Classico. After alcoholic fermentation, the wine is placed in cement-vitrified tanks for the second fermentation, until the malic acid gets totally exhausted. Only at this moment, the wine will be ready for ageing in wood Aging: 24-30 months in 53 hl Slavonian oak casks Refining: an additional rest in bottles for 3-6 months before merchandising further enhances Chianti Classico aromas and flavours.
Bottles produced: 15,000
Colour: brilliant deep ruby red, tending to garnet with aging
Bouquet: intense, fine and charming, recalling ripen fruit, berries and vanilla;
Flavour: warm and harmonious; elegant noble tannins, dry, complex and with long-lasting finish
Serving Suggestions: T-bone steak, lamb, wild boar and wild game"
The first time I tasted this wine, I didn't have strong feelings about it. Chianti is not my favorite, so I struggle a little with choosing which to sell in the shop. The second time I tried it, I was lucky enough to be dining with Francesco and Valeria Losi (daughter of the winemaking family and head of international sales). Over several courses we tried all of the brand's wines, and when I had the Chianti Riserva paired with food (specifically pork osso bucco), it was a revelation. It's no secret that a great pairing will bring out the best of the food and the wine, but this Chianti really demands to be enjoyed with a meal. You can appreciate it on its own, but a hearty, fatty, rich dish will really let it shine.
Bodegas Bleda Pino Doncel 12 Meses ($22.99)
From the producer:
"Made with a selection of Monastrell and Syrah grapes from our vineyards, this wine is aged at least twelve months in select French and American oak barrels. It has great aromatic intensity, complex on the nose and balanced on the palate. It is fruity and fresh, with mature tannins that give it volume and richness, as well as a long finish. A wine that always leaves you wanting more!
Monastrell (red-wine grapes with small, tightly bunched clusters) is the variety that best adapts to the conditions in Jumilla, as it needs a warm climate to ripen properly and tolerates the lack of rain very well. It ripens very well, given the ease with which both sunlight and air can penetrate its scarce foliage. The many hours of sunlight and abrupt temperature changes, with hot summer days and cool nights plus intensely cold winters with temperatures often dropping below freezing at night, give the Monastrell grapes a high concentration of essential components, allowing us to make powerful, deeply coloured wines with great structure and aromatic complexity.
Monastrell vines are not irrigated and require large swaths of land, as it is a low-yield grape that is harvested by hand in a “back-breaking” process.
Monastrell, in general, doesn’t need phytosanitary treatment, as it is highly resistant to cryptogams. The dry, arid climate of the region also helps in this regard. So, we can grow the grapes organically without any of the much-feared infestations vines are prone to in damper areas.
Color: deep cherry. Aroma: Sweet spice, ripe fruit. In mouth: Complex, ripe tannins, long finish."
If you are a California Cab or Old Vine Zin drinker, try this wine. It's big and bold, smooth on the palate, rich, and long-lasting. This wine is more elegant than others that I've had from the area, perhaps due to the addition of the Syrah, which gives it some backbones and keeps it from being a fruit bomb.
Goretti L'Arringatore ($41.99)
From the producer:
"60% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot and 10% Ciliegiolo
MATURATION: about 14/16 months in barrique
REFINING: about 12/14 months in bottle
AGEING POTENTIAL: 10 or more years depending on the vintage
COLOUR: intense ruby red with violet hues
BOUQUET: complex and very intense, with notes of mature, exotic fruit and honey
TASTE: aromatic, elegant with fine notes, long and lingering
SERVE WITH: roast and grilled meats, excellent with mature cheeses and pasta dishes with tomato sauce."
This just landed at the shop, and I'm very excited to have another Umbrian wine to offer. L'Arringatore is bold and rich, though not really full-bodied. There's quite a bit of dark fruit balanced by firm tannins. I think a California Cab drinker will be especially drawn to this.
Fattoi Brunello di Montalcino 2007 ($69.99)
From the producer:
"A life and a passion devoted to agriculture …A life that has its roots in a strong and generous territory, the territory of Montalcino.
…A life that the Fattoi family has always dedicated with absolute self-denial, enthusiasm and professionalism, to the production of wine and olive oil that have made Montalcino famous world-wide.
Ageing: 4 years total, 2 in oak casks and tonneauxBottle ageing: 4 months at least
Average yearly production: 20.000 bottles of 0,750 lt.
The wine is visibly limpid, brilliant, an intense ruby red color, with reflections of garnet.
intense, persistent, full and ethereal, revealing the aromas of spices, forest floor, small red fruit and rich perfumed roses.
The wine is elegant, harmonious, with long aromatic persistence, balanced tannins and well rounded, with a dry and persistent finish
18° C. It is advisable to uncork the bottle at least 2 — 3 hours before serving. The wine benefits from being decanted in order to aerate the wine. Serve in crystal balloon glasses.
Recommended food accompaniment:
Red meats, game, mushroom and truffle dishes, aged cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano and Tuscan Pecorino. An excellent wine for meditation."
The pricing on this wine reflects that it is a 2007 (a very good vintage for Montalcino), but at the same time, the age and quality make this a fair bargain. This wine is approachable now, but will drink well over the next five years, though I am partial to opening now and enjoying it! Elegant, soft tannins prevail, but there is enough structure here to balance the dark red fruit and mild baking spices. A subtle earthiness underlies the fruit. This is a beautiful wine.
F.E.W American Whiskey ($45.99)
This is a blend of F.E.W's Bourbon, Rye, and Single Malt, and it's a limited release. At 93 proof it can pack a punch, but the smoothness on the palate really balances the strength. It does not drink hot, but it's strong enough to be great in a cocktail or with an ice cube. I prefer it neat.
Middle West OYO 100% Red Wheat Whiskey ($45.99)
"Middle West’s flagship wheat whiskey is a unique addition to the crowded field of corn-, rye-, and barley-based (blended) dark spirits. Made from 100% Ohio soft red winter wheat, OYO Whiskey is produced and aged in small batches and offers a one-of-a-kind flavor profile distinctive to its Ohio origins. The distillery uses single-source Ohio grains to emphasize regional “terroir,” and barrel-ages the whiskey in white American oak cooperage sealed with beeswax."
Catoctin Creek Straight Rye ($49.99)
"Only one in every ten barrels gets selected to be in the Roundstone Rye "92 Proof" whisky.
This whisky is the culmination of several years of planning. 'For a few years now, we've been putting whisky away for storage,' remarked Becky Harris, Chief Distiller and President of Catoctin Creek Distilling Company. 'We pulled some of the more interesting barrels from the back of the barn and decided to release these at a higher proof: a whisky specially curated for flavor, while still being remarkably smooth, as is our existing 80 proof Roundstone.'"
Cotswolds Dry Gin ($40.99)
"A delectable blend of nine carefully considered botanicals, including lavender from here in the Cotswolds. Our IWSC Gold Award winning gin is clean and balanced with juniper and citrus notes. Great served with tonic or on ice."
Bloomery Ginger Liqueur ($24.99)
Word is, Bloomery won't be making their liqueurs anymore, so this is your chance to grab one of these beauties. Just sweet enough, but with a little heat from the real ginger, this is a great cocktail ingredient. You can up your "Jack and Ginger" game, or add it to gin with a squeeze of lemon. Or just put some in your hot tea!
Naked Flock Cider ($11.99/4-pack)
This semi-sweet cider is sweetened with just a touch of maple syrup. Perfect for the season when you want something cold and light to balance out all of those heavy meals.
Terre del Fohn Müller Thurgau ($12.99)
From the producer:
"Named after the grape variety form which it comes and which was bred by the Swiss researcher Doctor Hermann Müller in 1882. This is a white-grape variety which comes from the crossing of Riesling with Madeleine Royal. It is adaptable to the cold climate of mountain areas and ripens early. For these reasons cultivation is widespread in Trentino, where it has found an ideal habitat on the slopes at an altitude of 500-700 metres a.s.l. where the microclimate conveys special organoleptic qualities to a 'high-flying' wine.
Colour: pale yellow with greenish tints.
Bouquet: fruity and floral with notes of sage, slightly aromatic.
Palate: dry and pleasantly acidulous.
Elegant starters, fish, first-courses with vegetable and seafood. It is exceptional as aperitif.
As most of you know, I like to introduce you to lesser-known wines, and this varietal is certainly one of them. This is a mineral, light, bright wine that has undertones of green fruit. It's tart, but has low acidity, so it's not cheek-puckering. If you like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, I suspect you will like this wine.
Nifo Sarrapochiello Falanghina del Sannio ($12.99--was $14.99)
From the producer:
"Rooted in Campania for three generations, the winery Nifo Sarrapochiello is located in Ponte, a small town in the Sannio, a pleasant place, already existing in Roman times, which owes its name to the presence of an imposing "pontem lapideum" on which the Via Latina passed that connected Rome to Benevento and thanks to which the Romans supplied themselves with wine and grapes of the highest quality.
Winemaker for passion and cultural heritage is the young owner, Lorenzo Nifo Sarrapochiello, who has decided to combine respect for tradition and scientific innovation, in order to ensure the company the high quality standards that have always been pursued. In fact, since 1998, the Nifo Sarrapochiello grapes are grown and treated with the organic farming method ( bioagricert control organism ). After a strictly manual harvest, the grapes are transformed with production standards that protect the environment and the health of the consumer: this results in perfumed wines, intensely aromatic and with a great personality.
Pale straw-yellow wine with aromas of pear, banana, aromatic herbs, yellow flowers and sweet spices. Taste is very delicate and elegant, persistent. A perfect match with fish steaks, white meat and aged cheese."
Falanghina is one of Italy's better known whites, and is an ancient varietal. This wine is a must with seafood, though it would go well with poultry and pork. Elegant, long finish with ripe fruit undertones.
Cantine Monfort Terre del Föhn Marzemino ($12.99)
From the producer:
"The Marzemino grape occupies a prominent place in the wine growing world in Trentino thanks to its excellent quality. The origins of the vine are lost in history but it is likely that it comes from Marzemin, a village in Carinthia. Currently Marzemino is cultivated in particular on the right bank of the river Adige and, especially in the foothills of Nomi, Pomarolo, Isera and Mori. In the Vallagarina the variety has found ideal soil and climate conditions which lend it its unmistakable organoleptic characteristics. To distinguish it from other similar wines it is called 'Marzemino Gentile' where 'gentile' (gentle) is justified by the matchless delicacy of the wine.
WINE MAKING METHOD
Brief red wine fermentation on the skins, malolactic fermentation and refining in stainless steel vats. Brief ageing in bottle.
Colour: bright ruby red .
Bouquet: delicately fruity (fruits of the forest) with floral notes of sweet violet
Palate: dry, harmonious, pleasing for its fruity notes and slight almond finish.
First courses with meat sauces, white meats, poultry, cheeses.
This wine is famous for its fruity taste. It is an indigenous wine mentioned in the Opera 'Don Giovanni' of Mozart."
I'm really into indigenous grapes and wines that are off the beaten path, so for me this is a really compelling one. It drinks a bit like a Pinot Noir in that it's light-bodied and brightly fruit-forward. I think at $12.99 it's a great alternative to Pinot, but it also stands on its own as a cool climate red. Organic.
Cantine Monfort Teroldego Rotaliano ($19.99)
From the producer:
"This wine is unanimously considered the prince of Trentino wines. The vine is native to Trentino and the wine shares certain biochemical characteristics with Marzemino. It takes its name from a village near the town of Mezzolombardo called Teroldeghe. The fundamental characteristic of this variety is that it grows and gives its best only in the Piana Rotaliana area whose soil is the result of alluvial detritus deposited by the River Noce.
WINE MAKING METHOD
Traditional red-wine fermentation on the skins, malolactic fermentation and refining first in stainless steel, then in bottle for some months.
Colour: intense ruby red with purple highlights.
Bouquet: intense, fruity with blackberry and bilberry notes.
Palate: full, warm with a rounded softness.
Roasted red meats, grilled meats and strongly flavoured cheeses."
Teroldego is a fairly obscure indigenous grape, and when you find it, it's rarely as a 100% varietal. This wine is medium bodied, with a racy acidity that comes from the cooler climate in which the vines grow. The flavor profile is somewhere between Pinot Noir and Gamay, but with more depth.
All wines from Hermann J. Wiemer on Seneca Lake, NY:
"Located in the heart of the Finger Lakes Wine Country, Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard stands on the western shores of Seneca Lake. The New York State winery – producing approximately 17,000 cases each year – was designed in 1982 by an award-winning team of Cornell architects. Enclosed within the shell of a 90-year-old scissor-trussed barn, the structure accommodates a full wine production area and tasting facility. Its unique white cathedral-like interior balances the bare wooden walls and sleek Italian stainless steel tanks.
Our winemaking processes pay homage to the ancient winemaking tradition and winemaking history of Hermann’s ancestry while incorporating the best of modern practices. We craft our wines in very small lots to focus on subtle differences between site blocks within vineyards and even clones within varieties. We utilize up to 25 different fermentation tanks within the winery to isolate vineyard sections and pickings dates to best showcase the varietal’s characteristics. Our small lot production allows for more control of the final product and is extremely labor intensive.
Our signature long fermentation on indigenous yeast is made possible by the ecologically balanced viticultural methods in our vineyards. We seek lower and balanced yields per vine, ensuring healthy vines that reflect the character of the soils in which they are deeply rooted."
"Our signature Riesling is vibrant and aromatic, featuring the distinctive minerality that has become our trademark. Fragrant essence of spring blossoms sets the stage for a succulent palate of early fruit, balanced with a refreshing crispness, revealing the true qualities of the Riesling grape. A brilliant texture carries into a lingering finish, in a wine that accommodates a wide range of food.
Food Pairing: Asian cuisine, Poultry, Shellfish"
"This wine draws from a 1967 plot in our Josef Vineyard, one of the oldest plantings of vinifera in the region, which produces grapes with exceptional depth and maturity. Much like Riesling, Gewürztraminer is a strain that is ideally placed in the cool climate of the Finger Lakes. Vivid, flowery aromas, accompanied by hints of fruit and spice showcase the distinctive characteristics of the varietal. Limited skin contact during fermentation fully accentuates these traits while producing a lean and focused style. A vigorous play of fruit and spice leads into a long, zesty finish, a perfect accompaniment to earthy or spicy food.
Food Pairing: Asian Cuisine, Pork, Aromatic Cheeses"
"Chardonnay is a cornerstone varietal at Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard. Hermann first planted these vines in 1978 and produced an estate Chardonnay every year from 1981 onward. Those vines are still in production in our HJW Vineyard, providing mineral and acid backbone.
Aged in stainless steel and barrel, the result is a lean wine with a broad mid-palate and clean finish."
Tres Palacios ($12.99)
From the producer:
"This is a nice golden yellow wine. The nose is filled with ripe tropical fruit such as pineapple, mango and banana.
The mouth is nice and fruity with fresh acidity and some mineral notes. It is mouth-filling, tasty, with good acidity due to the maritime influence, and long-lasting.
It is ideal as an aperitif and to accompany salmon, sea-bass, white meats and Chinese food."
Chilean wines represent great values across the board. This Chard has nice fruit that is well balanced by both judicious oak aging and a maritime climate. Excellent wine for the money.
Mer Soleil Silver ($21.99)
From the producer:
"Never seeing the inside of an oak barrel, our Mer Soleil Silver is a pure, clean expression of Chardonnay. Our wine is fermented and aged in a combination of stainless steel and small concrete tanks that are imported from Burgundy, France. We keep fermentation temperatures stable while allowing a small amount of oxygen contact. The result: enhanced flavor development that is similar to aging in an oak barrel - but without the oak.
A pale yellow hue, the wine is well balanced with Fair in color and fresh from start to finish, the 2014 vintage opens up with aromas of flower blossoms, crisp pears and a hint of honeysuckle. Bright citrus evokes the clean taste of Meyer lemons, which grow amidst our estate vineyards, where a portion of this wine is sourced. On the palate, the wine is round and layered, with an acidity and depth that belie its unoaked character. The finish brings a lingering freshness that creates a perfect complement to salads, grilled seafood, tomato-based dishes and fresh oysters - and leaves a brightness in the mouth that leaves you wanting another sip."
I prefer concrete aging over other methods, because while micro-oxoidation can occur, developing the flavor and body of the wine, it picks up no flavors from the oak. You get a beautiful expression of the grape itself. If you haven't had an unoaked Chard, or if the ones you've had lacked character, do try this wine.
Copain "Tous Ensemble" ($27.99)
Sonoma Coast, California
From the producer:
"Perched on a hillside overlooking the bucolic Russian River Valley, Copain specializes in vineyard designate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.
Founded in 1999, Copain, meaning ‘friend’ or ‘buddy’ in French, embodies our philosophy that wine enhances life’s most joyous occasions, and is an experience best shared with friends and family. Sourced from cool climate vineyards in Mendocino County, the Anderson Valley and the Sonoma Coast, the Copain portfolio consists of three distinct collections—Tous Ensemble, Les Voisins, and the vineyard designate wines. These wines have been long inspired by France’s Rhone Valley wine region resulting in Copain’s signature style of restrained, and elegant wines.
Floral aromatics of honeysuckle, jasmine, white blossom, and pineapple mix with lively acidity, Fuji Apple and Asian Pear flavors."
Copain was one of the wineries that I was lucky enough to visit last winter, and they could not have been more welcoming. The view over the valley was magnificent, and I was treated to a delicious wine and food pairing. "Tous Ensemble" is actually the company's entry-level wine, so its quality should give you a sense of the winemaker's skill. I think this is a lovely Chard, and one that really offers a sense of terroir of the Sonoma Coast. This is an example of restrained use of oak in order to elevate, rather than to overwhelm the grape.
H. Blin Brut Champagne ($39.99)
Marne Valley, France
From the producer:
"Champagne H. BLIN embraces the Art of Champagne while remaining true to its remarkable character and style. Located in Vincelles, in the middle of the Marne Valley, Champagne H. BLIN primarily uses one of the most amazing varieties of the region: the Pinot Meunier.
This variety offers a unique and surprising taste with subtle freshness and fruitiness.
80% Pinot Meunier
Dosage 8 g/l
Disgorged 3 months minimum before delivery
Bottle age: 24 months minimum
TASTING NOTES :
Appearance : Golden straw, sparkling clear and transparent. Abundance of fine but persistent bubbles.
Nose : Lively and expressive. Scents of citrus freshness and nuances of freshly baked bread.
Palate : Simple and elegant. Lively aromas of ripe green apples and notes of toasty brioche.
FOOD PAIRING :
Risotto with parmesan
Sweet and sour pork
Vanilla ice cream"
This Champagne is truly unique in its blend of grapes, and it drinks like a wine twice its price. The farming methods are organic, and the aim of the producer is to create a sense of terroir with their wines. This is not the approach of large producers like Veuve and Moët, which source grapes from all over the region of Champagne. The grapes for this Champagne come only from the area around the village of Vincelles.
Scarbolo Il Ramato Pinot Grigio ($19.99)
From the producer:
"Since the birth of the winery, Scarbolo’s philosophy has been very clear: contribute to a wine culture surpassing easy generalizations and fast trends that don’t belong to the world of farming. They have consciously invested in the Grave area of Friuli that for a long time has been considered only capable of ‘quantity’ wines, despite its amazing soil characteristics.
Valter Scarbolo inherited a passion for the vine from his father’s interest in viticulture. They planted their first vineyards in the 80s, in their hometown of Lauzacco. Lauzacco is located in Friuli on the right bank of the river Torre, just south of the Colli Orientali. The Scarbolo family puts immense effort into the vineyards in order to produce structured and elegant wines that represent the distinct characteristics of their native land. Their philosophy includes densely planting the vines and rigorously implementing sustainability practices to help preserve the ecosystem.
Made in the Friulian “Ramato” style, this wine is bright copper in color, with a nose exhibiting apple, wildberries and fresh citrus. Generous and fresh but with a lasting finish."
You know that thin, nearly clear, one-note Pinot Grigio that's mass-produced? This is not that. This is, aesthetically, an "orange wine," which refers to the color that comes from elongated skin contact during the maceration process. While some orange wines can be a little funky, this one retains its freshness, mellowed slightly by lees aging, which also gives it a little richness on the palate. This is an elegant and interesting wine that will give you a new perspective on Pinot Grigio.
Schiopetto Malvasia ($19.99)
From the producer:
"Malvasia Istriana is one of the historic varietals of the hills of Friuli. It grows well in poor soil of marl composition with hot and sunny exposition where the grapes are left for a lengthy maturation. They are then picked by hand, pressed at low temperatures. This is followed by a static decantation in absence of sulphur dioxide and the vinification and ageing take place in stainless steel for 8 months. The wine thus obtained is rich and complex but at the same time fragrant and aromatic.
Bright straw yellow with golden touches.
Fresh and round balance marine aromas that are perfectly balanced with scents of flowers and sweet fruits.
Creamy, rich and warm. Sweet flavors are matched by a refreshing palate with a clean high acidity finish.
Food pairings: Perfect with apetizers and first dishes, both with fish
This is one of the many Italian indigenous grapes with which I've become slightly obsessed. I'm especially keen to have more people taste Italian whites that aren't as well known as the standards. There is so much elegant and complex white wine, and this is certainly an example of that. This would be perfect for a Thanksgiving meal.
Domaine les Evigneaux Rasteau 2016 ($22.99)
Southern Rhône Valley, France
From the producer:
Benoit and Frederic Lavau have always been fans of Rasteau which became a cru in 2010, and they have been making it for many years. Because of their special fondness for these vineyards whose outstanding exposure they recognize and which they consider to be 'atypical,' they decided to acquire 10 ha in the appellation in 2014. their 12 plots are located in Rasteau’s most emblematic terroirs. these are ideal vineyards for their plans to create a wine capable of delivering all the complexity and power of this extraordinary AOC.
The Syrah vines are planted in the gravel and clay soil of the Quaternary terraces of Bellerive. Located in the south of the appellation, these are sunny and early ripening, providing the vines with perfect growing conditions. The Grenaches are planted to the north in cooler soil, accentuating the variance between day and night time temperatures and thereby enhancing the colour and aromatic intensity of the varietal. the pebble and gravel soil mixed with complex clay allows constant, even drainage and water supply.
'The nose is complex and of great depth, a mixture of blackcurrant, raspberry and vanilla extract. The palate is meaty and develops its intensity and power across the entire length of the wine. The tannins are robust and well integrated, promising a spectacular result after 3 to 5 years’ cellar ageing (if you can wait that long!).'"
Blend: Grenache 50% Syrah 30% Carignan 10% Mourvèdre 5% Cinsault 5%
Ageing: 12 months in new 228L barrels"
I've never met a Southern Rhône wine that I didn't like, and if pressed I admit that the region is, globally, my favorite. Rasteau is an appellation with which I was unfamiliar, so I was eager to try this wine. The blend of grapes is typical to the larger region, but the soil and exposure lend unique traits. This Rasteau shows some boldness of flavor, but its complexity makes it compelling. It's a wine to contemplate for a bit as you taste it. You can certainly enjoy it now, but do consider buying a bottle to lay down for a couple of years.
Alois Trebulanum ($34.99)
From the producer:
"Classification: Terre del Volturno IGT
Grape varietal: Casavecchia 100%
Production area: Pontelatone (CE/Italy)
The Casavecchia grape variety has a mysterious origin. There is an old country legend that narrates the discovery of a small grape vine in a 'casa vecchia' that means 'old house' in the township of Pontelatone.
This vine survived the epidemic times of the Phylloxera and the parasite fungus of Oidio dated 1851.
Casavecchia has extraordinary qualities and it is currently studied in the agricultural faculties of the University of Naples and Florence.
There are also some hypothesis that see the Casavecchia as the wine Trebulanum, praised by the Latin writer Pliny in his famous Historia Naturalis (Natural History) as a wine that came from vineyards on the hills surrounding the old town of Tremula Balliensis, an area that now comprehend the townships of Pontelatone, Castel di Sasso Liberi and Formicola.
The propagation started with the cut and the setting of a small branches and the provine, an ancient method that places the vine branch in the soil until it develops its own roots.
To the nose and the mouth, the Casavecchia gives an evocative fruity taste than only a few other fruits can give."
This single vineyard indigenous red is one of the most interesting wines I've yet tasted. My tasting notes on this include the word "perfect." The current vintage is 2012, and it can easily take 5-10 years of cellaring. If you want to enjoy it now, though, expect a bold tannin propping up deep red fruit and mild forest earthiness. This, to me, exemplifies Southern Italian wine at its best.
JB Neufeld Yakima Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($39.99)
Yakima Valley, Washington
From the producer:
"JB Neufeld produced its first vintage in 2008. The winery is the only of its kind in Washington, focusing exclusively on Cabernet Sauvignon within the Yakima Valley AVA. The winery was created by the husband and wife team, Justin and Brooke Neufeld. The goal of the brand is to not only showcase the diversity of the terroir found in the valley through its vineyard designate bottlings, but to use that diversity to build a more complex and balanced Cabernet Sauvignon by blending sites as well.
The Yakima Valley AVA has the most diverse terroir of all the AVAs in Washington. All the vineyards are located on south facing slopes created by a series of ridges that are oriented West to East, which is a geological anomaly unique to eastern Washington.
JB Neufeld's focus is to preserve not only the qualities of the wine, but also the place and time from which they were made. They aim to build a Cabernet Sauvignon that possesses multiple layers of complexity that reveal themselves as the wine opens up in the glass. JB Neufeld achieves this by having a winemaking style that is dedicated, thoughtful and precise to the terroir of their valley.
The nose opens with ripe huckleberry, black currants, and blackberry jam, supported by a backdrop of fennel and basil. Balanced on the palate with ripe tannins and well-integrated acidity. Finishes bright and clean with vibrant fruit.
91% Cabernet Sauvignon 9% Cabernet Franc
Aging: 23 months in 64% new French oak and 36% in neutral French oak Production: 6,000 bottles per year"
I'd had some good Washington Cab before tasting this, but JB Neufeld is in another league entirely. This wine is as bold as a Napa Cab with its own profile that, to me, makes it more compelling. The winemaker, Justin, has visited my shop, and he was a joy to talk to about his technique and approach to his wines. This is the entry level offering, and it drinks like a dream. Especially if you aren't familiar with Washington Cabs, try this!
Scarbolo Campo del Viotto 2013 ($43.99)
Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
From the producer:
"An intense deep ruby red color with pomegranate hues. Ripe notes of marasca cherries, sweet tobacco, dark chocolate and ripe wild berries.
Intense on the palate, with soft sweet tannins and spiced persistent finish.
Grapes: 100% Merlot
Fermentation: The first whole clusters harvested are dried out for about 20 days, then the fermentation occurs in small Oak Barrels. After the
fermentation, barrels are sealed and the wine remains in contact with the skins until mid December.
Aging: 2 Years in small Oak barriques; then 6
Months in the bottle prior to release
Production: 850 Cases"
Another wine from Scarbolo that flips the script. Hate Merlot? Think it's an unimpressive varietal? Try this wine. From the partial raisinating of the grapes to the long aging, this takes Merlot to the next level. Elegant and rich.