Beelgara Estate Shiraz ($9.99)
New South Wales, Australia
From the producer:
"The Beelgara Winery and name has a history that dates back over 80 years. Originally situated in the village of Beelbangera, the place name is derived from the local Aboriginal word meaning 'native companion.'
The Brolga, also known as the Aboriginal 'native companion,' is now depicted on our new label, to remind us of our Beelbangera origins and proud Australian heritage.
Shiraz is crushed and fermented on skins for 4-5 days then drained and pressed onto a mixture of French and American oak for maturation.
Plum and blackberry fruit with some vanillin oak aromas. Rich soft style with blackberry fruit and vanilin oak with elegant soft tannins on the finish.
CELLAR: Up to 5 years
SERVE WITH: Enjoy with richer foods such as roast beef or mushroom risotto"
This wine is from New South Wales (southeast Australia), and although it shares some flavor characteristics with more ubiquitous wines from McClaren Vale in Australia (plum and cracked pepper), it is a little lighter in body like Shiraz from Victoria. This is a great introduction to the grape as vinified in Australia, and it's a very good go-to wine for the price.
Corvidae Lenore Syrah ($14.99)
Columbia Valley, Washington
From the Producer:
"Sourced from several vineyards throughout the Yakima Valley and the Horse Heaven Hills, Lenore Syrah shows the more opulent and balanced vintage with its fruit forward attack and rounded, rich mid-palate texture. Aging in predominately neutral French oak maintains the bright berry and savory aromatics of this wild, gamey varietal.
Pair this crowd pleasing wine with barbecued babyback ribs, a hearty lamb stew or your favorite burger."
This wine is super approachable and reminds me a bit of the riper Shiraz wines from Australia, though without much of the peppery note. Super smooth and fuller bodied.
Rudi Wiest Selections Dry Riesling ($13.99)
From the producer:
"In 1890 Carl Gunderloch founded the estate by investing his fortune into the top vineyard sites of the “Rote Hang” area (“red slope area”) in the Rheinhessen appellation. Over the past decade, the 5th generation, Fritz and Agnes Hasselbach, have brought the estate to world class level earning 3 times a perfect 100 point score for the TBA dessert wines of 1992, 1996 and 2001.
Tasting note: You’ve just picked up a delightful Riesling from Germany, carefully selected and blended by importer Rudi Wiest. It features enticing notes of freshly picked white peach, apple and delicate mineral nuances with aromas of grapefruit and lemon. The Rhein Riesling is a refreshing aperitif that also pairs well with diverse flavors, including Asian and Indian cuisine. Your friends will likely covet this refined Riesling, so feel free to share. Cheers!"
Volker Wines von Donabaum Gruner Veltliner ($13.50)
From the producer:
"Grüner Veltliner von Donabaum comes from two 25-30 year-old single vineyards in the villages of Halbturn and Andau, which are located between the Danube on the east and the Neusiedlersee on the west. The hand-picked and hand-sorted grapes are destemmed before crushing. The wine then rests for two months on its fine lees after a cool fermentation in stainless steel.
Clean and crisp, with a nose of freshly cut grass, green apple, and white peach. Lean and mineral-driven with flavors of slate, lemon peel, and white flowers. Production: 12,000 bottles per year."
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.
Cantine Monfort Pinot Grigio Rosé ($16.99)
From the producer:
"Pinot Grigio comes from the French Pinot Gris grape imported into Trentino at the beginning of the 20th century from Germany. Originally the grape and wine were called “Ruländer”, using the German name. In Trentino this variety has found its ideal habitat to the extent that this is the biggest area of production of this grape in Italy. The vineyards which cultivate the grape for the Cantine Monfort winery lie at the foot of the hills near Trento and Lavis in an area that is well ventilated and has a sandy soil. Good ventilation is essential for this variety of grape as it helps preserve it in excellent condition right up until the harvest. The copper color is obtained by the contact of the skins (from classical color “onion skin”) with the must for a night. This is a personal interpretation and reinterpretation of the ancient tradition of making Pinot Grigio in copper version.
Colour: blush wine.
Bouquet: intense, fruity and spicy.
Palate: soft, agreeable and well balanced.
Fish, white meats, thick soups, egg-based dishes and pasta. Excellent as an aperitif."
I am a big proponent of Pinot Grigio in its traditional coppery pink form, as I find it to have more character and to be more complex than the weak whites we've gotten used to. This wine is a lovely, elegant, and smooth rosé that might just become your new go-to. It has a perfect balance of fruitiness and minerality, and the acidity does not overwhelm the palate.
Nifo Sarrapochiello Falanghina del Sannio ($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 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 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.
Tenute Soletta Sardo Cannonau ($18.99)
From the producer:
"The 'Tenute Soletta di Umberto Soletta' agricultural holding has a recent history if compared to cellars that are hundreds of years old. However, it has an interesting story of love and passion for the Earth since being launched. The proof? Umberto is still, even today, cultivating a vineyard and an olive grove that he planted with his dad when he was 5. While he was studying, Umberto would spend most of his spare time in the countryside: his big passion together with motorsports (when he was young, he took part in various Rally competitions). After completing his studies, he started working the fields full-time, keeping an important family tradition alive.
This passion later became his job. A 'farmer', as he likes to describe himself. In the mid ‘90s, he created the cellar and planted various vineyards, knowing that the value of a wine also depends on the quality of grapes and of the place where they grow.
Through intense land reclamation, combined with utmost attention to landscape details, he has brought back the traditional typology of the vineyard by creating a harmonious relationship between the human intervention and the surrounding, sometimes wild, natural environment.
The cultivation of vineyards respects the principles of integrated pest control to preserve the environment for future generations we borrowed it from. Today, the company is run by Umberto, his wife Caterina, his sister Pina and the elder father who still work in the vines and cellar every day despite being 95 years old.
Vinification: In red and maceration with skins for 20 days.
Ageing: 24 months in stainless steel on yeasts
Refining in the bottle: 12 Mounths
Colour: Ruby, clear and shine
Flavour: Intense and typical perfume, with mineral and earthy recalls, pomegranate and sweet violet.
Taste: Balanced, warm with glyceric strength well contrasted by round and elegant tannins.
Gastronomic combination: It perfectly matches grilled red meats, pasta with game sauces and aged cheeses."
Cannonau is also known as Grenache (France) and Garnacha (Spain). When the grape comes from Sardinia, though, it has a character all its own. The soil and climate produce wines that are higher in alcohol, but low in acidity, with mineral and tobacco undertones. Sardinian Cannonau is like no other wine, and is a must try. This is a particularly nice example of the style.
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.
Jerome Godon Sancerre ($23.99)
"Every few years the Sancerre area delivers a new upcoming star or young vintner. In 2012 and 2013, it was Jerome! But Jerome is not entirely a newcomer; he is actually the 10th generation of a family that has been strongly involved in the Sancerre region.
Heading the 20 acres estate, he is focusing on transmitting the true expression of the 3 terroir characteristics he cultivates:
Clay and gun flint
White stone and chalk gravel
White clay and shell
Jerome Godon’s Sancerre is a true testimony from what we know from the Sancerre wines: finesse and elegance in the wine with a touch of white peach. The consistency is pure and has just enough boldness to balance the minerality.
This Sancerre reveals great finesse, intensity and much complexity. Aromas of white fruits, citrus, blackcurrant bud and a touch of minerality make up a beautiful bouquet. In the mouth, the powerful aromas settle in with assurance, evoking exotic fruits, before a finish of superb freshness."
Sancerre of this quality at this price is a rare find. What makes this one stand out is the balance; the citrus is perfectly softened, but uplifted by the minerality. There is an elegance to the wine, but it is also fresh and approachable. This is a great introduction to Sancerre, but it might ruin you for others.
Chateau Castenet Entre-Deux-Mers ($15.99)
"This white Bordeaux wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle. This bright pale yellow wine is balanced on the nose between notes of yellow fruit and fresh citrus fruit. On the palate the wine is crisp, mineral with a balanced fruit intensity making it a great with lighter fish dishes and seafood. The Chateau Castenet Entre-Deux-Mers is a good example of how you can find pleasure in the white wines of Bordeaux."
Reasonably priced, high quality white Bordeaux is hard to find, so I was delighted that Thomas brought this one to me. It's a great alternative to the usual summer go-to wines, but it has all the crispness and light body that one wants when it's hot. This is a lovely wine.
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.
Domaine L'Amauve Seguret, Côtes du Rhône Villages "Estelles" ($22.99)
From the producer:
"The appelation area is located on the left bank of the Rhône River, near the city of Vaison La Romaine and the famous villages of Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Rasteau, Beaumes-de-Venise and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Two grapes varieties typically from the Rhône Valley are grown for making our red wine”Estelles”. - Black grenache ( 75% ). - Syrah (25%).
The vine is cultivated according to the rules of reasoned agriculture. The treatments of the vine are limited, and when some are done, it is always with the useful minimal amount copper sulfate and sulfur.
This wine is partially aged in new barrels and old barrels for 12 months. The rest of the wine is stored in tanks, on its fine lees in order to preserve its freshness and fruit. At the end of the ageing, a blend is done between wines aged in barrels and the others stored in tanks. The bottling is done about 18 months after harvest.
Our red wine 'Estelles' can be appreciated as young, but can also be kept for many years. It will be fine around its fourth or fifth year and will be able to keep more depending on the vintage and storage conditions. It is a full bodied wine with tight and soft tannins. The aromatic expression is complex, mainly on spices and overripe black fruit. This wine will perfectly go with grilled meat, wild meat, red meat in sauce and cheeses."
Domaine L'Amauve produces very fine wines at superb prices. Estelles is an excellent Côtes du Rhône that demonstrates both complexity and drinkablility. It is ready to drink now, or you can lay it down. Better yet, buy two so that you can do both!
Marlborough, New Zealand
From the producer:
"Kato Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from Marlborough, New Zealand, the premier New World winegrowing region for this variety. The vineyards are located in the Ataware Valley, where coastal influences protect the fruit from sharp morning frosts. The word Kato means "harvest" in Maori, referring to the unique heritage of the region.
The Kato logo is a representation of three intertwined whale tails and was inspired by the Cook Strait, which separates the North and South Islands of New Zealand, and is a migration route for humpback whales. As a wine company dedicated to sustainable principles in the vineyard, we are also concerned with the protection of all natural environments, including the ocean and the creatures in it.
Exhibiting zesty and aromatic notes of melon, passionfruit and citrus, Kato Sauvignon Blanc is well balanced, vibrant in flavor, persistent in finish and perfect for everyday enjoyment with seafood, pasta, white meats and salads."
New Zealand Sauv Blancs tend to be very grapefruit-forward with high acidity, but Kato has a nice balance of more mellow fruit notes that keep it from being too citric. This is an elegant, but fresh wine that is perfect for summer.
Tres Palacios Reserve ($10.99)
Maipo Valley, Chile
From the producer:
"The Viña Tres Palacios winery and vineyards are located in the Cholqui sector of the Maipo Valley, 16 km (10 miles) from the city of Melipilla. Cholqui is a closed valley 9 km (5.6 miles) south of the Maipo River, although it is separated from it by a chain of hills that surrounds the area to the north, east, and south. The Horcon de Piedra Mountain, one of the highest peaks in the Coastal Mountain Range, lies toward the eastern end of the valley. The western side is open to the influence of the Pacific Ocean 30 km (25 miles) away, and cooling breezes from the sea and inter-mountain circulation refresh the vineyards in the summer. Tres Palacios is the only winery in the Cholqui Valley and all of the wines are estate produced.
The fruit for this Sauvignon Blanc comes from a vineyard planted in the coolest area of the Cholqui Valley, where the breeze coming from the Pacific Ocean enters the valley. Minimal pruning is done to the vines in order to not overexpose the clusters to light and to keep the freshness and the primary aromas of the fruit. The soils are gravely and mineral, and this, accompanied by the cool maritime climate of the valley, allows grapes to be produced with great aromatic expression and abundant freshness.
The nose is fruity with aromas of tropical fruit like pineapple, lime and grapefruit. It is also fresh and herbaceous, with an intense pear perfume. The palate is fresh, lively, and tasty with good acidity due to the maritime influence. Also, the presence of minerals in the soil gives a good balance to the wine, resulting in a lingering, fresh and mouth watering Sauvignon Blanc."
I tend to prefer South American Sauv Blancs because they have a kind of "earthiness" that comes through in their minerality and in the grassy/herbaceous undertones. This is an incredible value for estate grown and bottled wine. You will not find better quality for money.