Cuma Torrontés ($13.99)
Calchaquí Valley, Argentina
From the producer:
"Sourced entirely from estate vineyards high in Argentina’s northwest Andes. This extreme elevation lends itself perfectly to organic viticulture. Hot days, cool nights, lack of rainfall and a dry shallow soil allow for minimal human interference to the natural growth cycle of the vines.
Vinification: All organic practices are carried over from vineyard to winery where the wines are carefully handled throughout the entire vinification process. Cuma is produced to be drunk young, therefore little oak is used in the winery; instead the wines are aged at cool temperatures in stainless steel tanks in an effort to showcase their natural complexity and deep fruit flavors.
The Cuma Torrontés shows a bright green/yellow color, the wine has aromas of rose petals and hints of jasmine and orange skin. On the palate, the wine exhibits fresh and floral fruit with a refreshing, bracing acidity. The palate flavors include fresh peaches and a floral taste that is typical with this grape."
Torrontés is a wine that flies below most people's radar. When we think of Argentina, Malbec is the grape that comes to mine. Torrontés is the most widely planted white grape there, though, and the wines made from it are aromatic and most appealing when enjoyed young. Cuma comes from some of the highest elevations, and as such, the acidity keeps the fruit in check. This wine shows both fruit and floral notes.
Bodegas La Caña Albariño ($16.99)
Rías Baixas, Spain
From the producer:
"Jorge Ordóñez is the United States’ most important pioneer for the Albariño grape and D.O. Rias Baixas, as he was the first person to introduce this grape and region to the U.S. in 1991. Told he would never sell more than 100 cases of Albariño in New York City, he persevered, and now owns a winery in the Valley of Salnés, the best appellation of D.O. Rias Baixas.
Named for the straw-like canas (reeds or canes) that line the shores of the Atlantic inlets that carve into the granite coast of Galicia, the winery’s philosophy is to produce a traditional, authentic, and serious Albariño, in the style of the artisan wines that Ordóñez discovered when he first arrived in the appellation in 1991.
When Jorge first travelled to Rías Baixas, the D.O. did not officially exist. What he found was a rich culture of family viticulture and winemaking. Most families had small plots of Albariño planted on pergolas built with posts taken from the mother rock – granite. Most of this Albariño was fermented and aged on the lees in large chestnut foudres.
Traditional dry farmed viticulture. Practicing organic pergola trained vines, cultivated completely by hand.
Hand-harvested and stored in small baskets. The grapes are sorted at the winery and pressed after a 12-hour cold soak, which helps prevent oxidation of the must and allows us to reduce the amount of SO2 used in winemaking. Destemmed and whole cluster pressing in a pneumatic press. Fermented 35% in 500L & 600L puncheons and demi-muids (second use through 12 vintages old), 65% in stainless steel. Sur lie ageing for eight months with bi-weekly battonage in both barrel and tank. The resulting profile of the wine is dominated by a saline, maritime, seaweedy quality that is balanced by rich flavors of ripe citrus. The saltiness is the result of the vineyards’ proximity to the ocean.
La Caña is a wine that Jorge Ordóñez and his winemaking team craft to demonstrate the potential that Albariño shows as a high quality, serious varietal. As Jorge was the first person to export this variety, he has a tremendous passion and appreciation for Albariño, and he decries the use of Albariño to make simplistic, mass-produced, and commerical wines.. La Caña demonstrates the complexity, intensity, and longevity Albariño can achieve when sourced from old vineyards and using serious winemaking practices."
If you haven't tried Albariño, this is the one to have first, as it's the most traditional in style. The salinity mentioned above is, in my experience, not so pronounced, but it gives a gentle balance to the fruit that comes through on the palate. This is an elegant, mellow wine that is a great alternative to unoaked Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.
Keush "Origins" Brut Sparkling ($23.99)
From the producer:
"Grapes sourced from Vayots Dzor province in Armenia. The vineyards are un-grafted, 60- 100 years old. Located between 1500- 1800m above sea level.
These are some of the highest elevation vineyards in the northern hemisphere, and at 1800 m, the highest elevation vineyards in the world that produce méthode traditionnelle.
Origins represents the perfect storm of limestone soil and volcanic rock growing idyllic crisp white grapes, ripened by sunlight from high elevation vineyards. A product born from a 6,000 – year- old viticulture history, Origins embodies the bold Armenian soul and its wine loving spirit.
Voskehat 60% and Khatouni 40%
Minimum 22 months on the lees
Voskehat, meaning ‘queen- berry’ thrives in high-altitude, rocky soils. It is known for its vine longevity, easily living up to 100 years. Voskehat is terroir-driven and a native to the Armenian land. It is known to produce elegance and acidity in wines.
Khatouni, is a rare variety that grows well in the Vayots Dzor of Armenia. This variety is highly productive in the region’s terroir and is used to craft wines with a crisp, bright finish."
I have been eager to bring an Armenian wine into the shop, as that area of the world is where grapes were first cultivated to make wine. I tried this sparkler last week, and absolutely fell for it. It drinks super dry, but has an appealing mouthfeel and a beautiful crispness. I can't wait for you to try it!
Scarbolo "Cabernet" ($19.99)
From the producer:
"Gino, a hardworking member of a tenant-farming family, was also responsible for the production of the wine of the estate on which the Scarbolo family lived. Over the seasons he learnt all about the strict rules of nature and gained full understanding of the magic behind winemaking.
Great enthusiasm and passion, in the fifties, Gino moved to Lauzacco with his family, where he had purchased his own fields and had decided to grow grapes among other crops. Indeed, he started producing wines which he sold locally in bulk, and started setting the foundations of the company as we know it today.
In 1982, Valter, who had grown up learning the dedication and passion for winegrowing from his dad, decided to study viticulture and oenology to continue the family business with a further qualitative leap: he planted his first vineyard inspired by the French school, which was characterized by narrow plant density and low yields, and began selling the wine in bottles rather than in bulk. Vintage after vintage, the vineyards grew in number and the Scarbolo brand took up the current profile. The traces of the tractor wheels left behind since 60 years ago, are continued by Valter and Maria Grazia together with Lara and Mattia, who have injected fresh energy and creativity into the family enterprise leading it to a new chapter.
'Logic viticulture,' a philosophy Valter Scarbolo has always followed in his vineyard management. Balance is the key element for the wellbeing of any living thing, including the vines, and any extreme situation undermines their health. This idea lies at the core of 'logic viticulture' which translates into choosing vineyard managing procedures that diminish intervening in the life of the vine. However, as the weather is not always the friendliest of allies, protecting the grapes, especially in the crucial moments of their development, is a logical choice.
It is logical to respect the environment. It is logical to be aware of our responsibilities today and the legacy we leave behind tomorrow. It is logical to preserve the quality of the grapes and make wine that expresses the territory it comes from.
The Cabernet variety was introduced into Friuli Venezia Giulia several decades ago and found a comfortable new home. It adapted very well, probably because it found itself on the same latitude of its original French region, but of course, as every land is different Cabernet from our region is unique in its own way.
Cabernet Franc 70%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%
Aged in oak barrels for 10 months, then bottle aged for an additional four
months before release.
Intense with notes of black pepper and raspberries.
Robust, full bodied with rich, jammy tannins. A perfect wine to pair with roasts, fatty meat, aged cheeses and savory pasta dishes."
This is the third wine I carry from Scarbolo, and that should tell you how highly I regard their products. I tasted this the other day, and was smitten. It drinks somewhere between a light Bordeaux and a Chinon, with a distinct black pepper balance to the raspberry tones. This is a delicious and unexpected wine from the north of Italy.