Paul Mas Estate Single Vineyard Carignan ($12.99)
From the producer:
"Jean-Claude Mas, independent winemaker, fourth generation grape grower, first generation winemaker and owner of Domaines Paul Mas, is a leader in fine winemaking in the Languedoc region of the South of France. Since taking the helm of the family winery in 2000, he has prioritized sourcing the highest quality grapes from twelve privately owned estates and premier growers in the Languedoc to make wines of authenticity and refinement. The result is a collection of magnificently charming wines that burst forward with the warmth and stunning beauty of the Languedoc. Named after the original Mas family home, Château Paul Mas and Paul Mas Estate wines showcase the terroir, complexity and style of Languedoc estate superior winemaking.
VARIETAL COMPOSITION 100% Carignan
WINEMAKING & VINTAGE NOTES Located on the hillsides of the Hérault overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the Savignac vineyard is the ideal growing location for Carignan grapes. These mature vines, some over 50 years old, have reached a perfect natural balance.
TASTING NOTES Intense deep purple color with ruby red tints. At first you smell spices and blackberry on the nose, the second nose develops underwood and cocoa aromas finishing on toasted oak notes. Full bodied rich and mellow with velvety tannins. Complex flavors on the middle palate, licorice flavors on the finish. Long lasting. Best served at 63°F. Will go well with meat pies, game and grilled red meat, beef stews, medium flavored and hard cheeses."
Paul Mas is a prolific wine producer, and some of their offerings are bigger production than I ordinarily prefer for this store. On the other hand, despite the size of the operation, the quality is high and the value is excellent. This wine is one of the smaller lots, and is meant to express terroir and to demonstrate the skill of the winemaker. Carignan is, historically, a blending grape that originated in Spain, and came to France through the Algerian wine market. Now it's found around the Mediterranean and in California, but it's still rare to see a varietal wine made from it. This particular example is well blended between juice that's been aged in oak and steel, and the result is a smooth wine with a bold flavor.
Broadside Margarita Vineyard Merlot ($15.99)
Paso Robles, California
From the producer:
"Broadside produces wines focused on purity and true varietal expression. We favor balance and simplicity, giving consumers a window to the promise of the central coast and varietal character.. Our winemaking employs a natural approach in that our wines are minimally handled to best express the grape, site and vintage. We harvest at lower sugars and use little to no new oak to create wines of balance and finesse that make sense on the dinner table.
Vineyard Sourcing: Sourced from sustainably farmed, SIP [Sustainability in Practice] certified vineyards in San Luis Obispo County (Margarita Vineyard within the Santa Margarita Ranch AVA)
Winemaker Notes: A wet winter helped fill up reservoirs and bring new life to cover crops, then to the vines. Even temperatures throughout the growing season wrapped up in an earlier than average harvest.
Maturation: 14 months in French Oak
Tasting Notes: Vivid ruby. Cherry, cassis and succulent herbs on the fragrant nose, joined by a slowly building tobacco nuance. Plush and supple in texture, showing good depth to the lively bitter cherry and black currant flavors. A smoky note appears on the finish with velvety tannins and lingering dark berry character."
This is a big wine with bold flavor, but not made without care for the expression of the grape. Merlot is emerging from a couple of decades of perceived disfavor, and this is a nice example of why you shouldn't dismiss the grape. The winemaker's hand tends toward low intervention and elegant strength in the wine. Furthermore, the winery is dedicated to sustainable practices from vine to bottle, and their co-founder and vineyard manager, Stephanie Terrizzi, is active in the push toward "bio-organic viticulture" in the area. I'm very pleased to add this to the shop.
Vignoble Francois Boyer Costières de Nîmes Rosé ($13.99)
Rhône Valley, France
From the producer:
"The origins of this estate can be traced back to the 13th Century, when the Cistercian monks of the Franquevaux Abbey discovered this ideal terroir in the French countryside and proceeded to clear the forest for planting vines and olive trees.
Francois Boyer and his sister Fanny represent the 4th generation of their family to run the winery and the vineyards, continuing the family tradition of making high quality wines and growing of the legacy of this great estate.
In 2009, François began converting the 51 Ha vineyard to organic farming. They are a certified organic estate dedicated to preserving the beauty and health of this unique terroir. They also use vegan winemaking practices and minimal sulfur in producing the wines.
60% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Cinsault
Clear pale pink in color with a fine nose of peach, raspberries, red currants and pomelo. Lively and full on the palate with aromas of fresh red berries.
Refreshing and expressive with a clean finish."
This wine is more complex than many of the Provençal wines that have a similar blend of grapes and light pink hue, and it has a really elegant mouthfeel with a crisp finish. Light, but with a solid flavor profile that makes this less of a porch-pounder and more of a "sipper with a light meal." It straddles the seasons, so enjoy it through the fall and into the holidays.
Poderi Vaiot "Franco" Arneis ($17.99)
From the producer:
"In 2001 after years of learning the family secrets from their father, Franco, Daniele and Walter Casetta began forging their own path in the wine world using their father’s vision as a guide. By studying, experimenting and combining passion with innovation, they have found a unique and distinctive style.
The vineyards and hills of the Roero where Poderi Vaiot is located stretch out as far as the eye can see, alternating with picturesque ravines, castles and old villages. This historic region of Piedmont straddles the provinces of Cuneo, Asti and Torino, and was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014.
The history of this area is inextricably linked to the important role played in its past by its namesake, the House of Roero, a noble family renowned as early as the XII century for its enterprise and power. The twenty-four small towns and villages which compose the region have remained almost unchanged and continue to live side-by-side, just as they did under the Roero family centuries ago.
Safeguarding this historic land and environment is important to Poderi Vaiot, where winegrowing traditions have always sought to establish equilibrium between man and nature. Treatments in the vineyard are limited as much as possible and carried out with the utmost care and attention. Most of the work is done by hand to preserve the land’s natural biodiversity. Many wild herbs grow in Poderi Vaiot’s estate vineyards. They are beneficial to the ecosystem and to health, and the intention is to protect them, rediscovering their uses and properties.
Fresh and delicate with fragrant chamomile and white peach on the nose. The palate follows through with flavors of lemon curd and pear balanced by vibrant acidity.
Grapes: 100% Arneis
Fermentation: Spontaneous fermentation with ambient yeasts in stainless steel tanks
Aging: 6 months on the lees in stainless steel and 2 months in bottle
Production: 30,000 bottles per year
Appearance: deep straw yellow with green hues.
Nose: fresh, delicate and tempting with a well-balanced fragrance of chamomile and white flesh fruit, an indelible remembrance of this kind of grape.
Palate: smooth and pronounced, slightly sharp for a fresh and lingering wine.
Gastronomic matching: it is excellent with the typical Piedmontese starters, cooked with white meat too. However, it also accompanies fish and first dishes, prepared with vegetable sauces, very well."
Arneis is the Italian white that i never knew I needed until I tasted it. This is one of several indigenous wines that I introduced to the store this season, and I hope that you love it as much as I do. It's both elegant and refreshing, fruity and floral.
Jean-Louis la Grande Réserve Côtes du Rhône ($13.99)
Rhône Valley, France
From the distributor:
"This wine is the creation of Jean Louis Canto, owner of the great Châteauneuf-du-Pape estate Domaine de la Roncière. Jean-Louis produces this “Grande Réserve” from Plan-de-Dieu, a region which now covers an area of 1,500 hectares at an altitude of 100 meters. The vines grow on a bed of red clay packed to a depth of 10 metres with a mass of smooth-rolled pebbles. Given this stony foundation, the skimpy soils yield little: some barely have enough grapes to produce one bottle of wine per vinestock. The wines are all reds, made from three of the Côtes du Rhône’s leading grape varieties: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. From this soil, they produce wines that are high in color, dense and concentrated. The nose is reminiscent of the surrounding garrigue, with scents of thyme and bay laurel.
Juicy yet structured Côtes du Rhône displaying aromas of red berries and black fruit, hints of earthy undertones and fine tannins. This wine will seduce your senses and bring a touch of elegance to hors d’œuvres, pork and roasted meats.
Grapes: 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre
Fermentation: 60% whole cluster, 40% destemmed in concrete for 18 days Aging: 12 months in concrete vats"
This wine represents excellent value for money. Round, deep, and rich, it rolls smoothly over the palate. The balance of fruit, earth, and tannins is executed with the kind of artistry one would expect of a seasoned crafter of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This is my go-to, mid-level Côtes du Rhône.
Tenute Rubino Salento Rosso Oltreme Susumaniello ($16.99)
From the producer:
"Susumaniello, the most typical variety of the Brindisi area, in purity. It matures only in stainless steel vats allowing the primary flavours to fully express themselves. It enchants with simplicity through its fruity and spicy flavours.
Colour: Intense ruby red with purple tinges.
Bouquet: Fragrant fresh notes of red fruit: cherries, pomegranate, raspberries and mature plums.
Taste: Sapid, mineral and round, with pleasantly soft tannins.
Characteristics: A balanced and velvety wine, with an elegant texture; its harmony and persistence are truly enchanting. Its varietal notes stand out clearly.
Food matches: It goes well with savoury dishes such as stuffed aubergines and peppers, orecchiette with tomato sauce, risotto with porcini mushrooms. It pairs well with cold cuts, semi-cured cheeses and grilled meats."
As many of you already know, this is one of my favorite wines in the shop. Southern Italian wines are really up my alley; I love the full body, the rusticity, the ripeness, the earthiness, and the boldness. Susumaniello has become one of my favorite grapes, and I love that it is indigenous to the area where this wine is made. This is a must-try.
Tenute Rubino Torre Testa Susumaniello ($47.99)
From the producer:
"Susumaniello is the grape variety which best identifies Tenute Rubino. Black grape variety of Dalmatian origin, it is named after its abundant production in the early years. This important productivity strongly decreases harvest by harvest, down to an average of less than one kilo per plant.
This is why Susumaniello was slowly abandoned by the local vintners, since the main productive philosophy was to maximise the total production. Tenute Rubino grows Susumaniello in the Jaddico estate. The vines are the outcome of an accurate selection made on a wide collection of very old plants (75 years old) espalier-trained. The limestone terrain of the estate contains a large amount of sand which allows vigorous root growth. The project kicks off in the year 2000 with the appearance on the market of Torre Testa, the first Susumaniello in purity. A red wine that remains to this day the emblem of Tenute Rubino. Just few years after its birth, Torre Testa is already considered one of the pearls of Apulian oenology.
CLASSIFICATION Red · IGT Salento
GRAPE VARIETY Susumaniello
ALCOHOL LEVEL 15,5% vol.
ALTITUDE OF VINEYARDS Sea level
SOIL CHARACTERISTICS Sandy
HARVEST Manual, first [week] of October, with subsequent drying for 2-3 weeks.
MACERATION 16 days at controlled temperature
MALOLACTIC FERMENTATION Totally carried out
AGEING 5-6 months in steel tanks; minimum 12 months
in French oak barrique; 12 months in the bottle
PRODUCTION VINTAGE 12.000 bottles
COLOUR Dark garnet red with violet reflections
BOUQUET Clear, elegant, ethereal and complex notes of black cherries and plums in brandy, blackcurrant and blackberry jam, hints of chocolate, juniper, nutmeg, liquorice, cinnamon and ink.
TASTE Classy and harmonious, intense with a long finish, the result of strong and fragrant fruit, powerful acidity and incomparable fine tannins, noble and defined.
CHARACTERISTICS It’s a real gift from Puglia, a rare and precious wine, a milestone of the Italian oenology, firm and gentle, aristocratic and generous.
FOOD MATCHES It needs structured dishes such as pappardelle with meat sauce, grilled or roasted meat. Very good the match with seasoned cheeses such as Canestrato Pugliese DOP."
I've had my eye on this wine for two years, and just decided to introduce it to the shop. Oltreme has done so well, and so many customers have now experienced Susumaniello, that I thought it was time to take you to the next level. This is it. This represents an ideal of southern Italian winemaking, and a commitment to honoring the traditions of viticulture in Salento. This is also an excellent example of how an IGT wine can compare to a DOCG one in terms of quality. You must try this wine!
Benoit Gautier "Argilex" Dry Vouvray ($15.99)
From the producer:
Temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel vats.
Use of indigenous yeast.
Ageing in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats.
APPEARANCE : Straw yellow colour.
NOSE : Fresh, fruity, hawthorn blossom aromas, quince aromas.
PALATE : Mineral
AGING : Ageing from 2017 to 2023
FOOD MATCHES : For the aperitif, Crab, Scallop carpaccio, Fish with cream"
People often assume that Vouvray will be semi-sweet or sweet, but this is not always the case. This is Vouvray Sec, which means that it is dry. The residual sugar is at about .4%, which isn't the driest of white wines, but isn't close to off-dry (1% RS). What you do get is a lot of juicy fruit in this wine: pear, apple, and quince. The minerality and acidity keep the wine bright on the palate. This pairs well with seafood, especially oysters and sushi. It can also be enjoyed as an aperitif. Get this wine before it disappears for the season!
Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Estate Chardonnay ($24.99)
Anderson Valley, California
From the producer:
"Handley Cellars is a small family-owned winery in California’s Mendocino County. Bonded in 1982, we produce around 12,000 cases of wine a year. Our quality starts with our Estate Vineyards in Anderson Valley.
At Handley Cellars, we offer a wide variety of wines that complement today’s diverse cuisines. Founding Winemaker Milla Handley sought to make balanced wines that possess distinctive varietal characteristics, wines that reflect the soil and climate in which they were grown.
All the grapes for this wine come from our organically farmed estate vineyard. Our new Chardonnay blocks planted in 2010 with clones 17 and 76 have come into full production adding ripe fruit characters to the blend. These newer blocks ripen about a month earlier than our old blocks that continue to add the acidity and structure the benchmark of our Estate Chardonnay. This wine shows aromas of apple blossoms, poached pear, toasted coconut, and hints of spicy oak. Flavors of pear, stone fruit, and citrus swirl on the palate. It is medium bodied with a creamy mouthfeel finishing with notes of crème fraiche and toasted almond. Approximately one-third of the blend went thorough malolactic fermentation. Aged 8 months in French oak barrels 20% new. No animal derived fining compounds were used in the production of this wine. Sterile filtered before bottling. Pair this wine with roast chicken and fettucine with chanterelle mushrooms in a cream sauce or a corn chowder."
Ever since I visited Anderson Valley in 2017, I've been eager to stock wines from that area. Unfortunately there aren't that many in the market, and the ones that are available can be a little pricier than I'd like. Meet the exception. Handley Chard is a lovely example of the cooler climate wines that I enjoyed there, the grower practices organic farming methods, the price is reasonable, and most importantly, the wine is delicious. I'm very happy to welcome it to the store.
Broadley Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2017 ($24.99)
Willamette Valley, Oregon
From the producer:
"The 1st phase of the estate vineyard was planted in 1981. Our family has been hand crafting wines since 1986. Craig & Claudia were the founders of the winery, and their son, Morgan and his wife Jessica are the 2nd generation continuing with their passion in the wine business.
Our estate vineyard is farmed using sustainable farming practices including using sheep to mow our vineyard's ground cover & weeds when appropriate. We also use organic material to promote healthy growth in our vines. Sustainability is a part of our daily life and we believe it is essential for our future.
Our goal is to consistently produce dynamic and outstanding wines that are true expressions of the place where they are grown. We want to make wines that make you stop and think.
We believe that good wine is first made in the vineyard. At Broadley, Pinot Noir grapes are harvested from several designated blocks on the estate vineyard including, Claudia's Choice, Marcile Lorraine & the Jessica block. More Pinot Noir (and occasionally Chardonnay grapes) are sourced from hand selected vineyards that also use meticulous farming methods in order to harvest the healthiest fruit the vintage can bring.
Wooden fermenters impart unique qualities to our wine. When wine is fermented in wood, it gives a richer and deeper complexity to the finished wine. We also use whole clusters in fermentation when the vintage ripens the fruit's stems and the flavor and intensity of the fruit is there. This adds structure and character to the wine."
This is Broadley's entry-level Pinot, but it really shines at this price point. It is both elegant and structured, a little spicy on the nose with just a hint of cedar on the palate to underscore the ripe red fruit. Organic farming practices and the use of indigenous yeast.
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.
Li Veli "Orion" Primitivo ($14.99)
From the producer:
"This variety owes its name to its precocity in the growth cycle and therefore to the average harvesting period. It is considered a high-quality variety. Almost certainly it originated from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was subsequently exported to California. Recent DNA studies have shown it is related to Zinfandel (or Crjenak Kastelianski).
Dense ruby red with a purplish rim, it is immediately intense on the nose with marked aromas of ripe and fleshy red fruits, notably cherries followed by spicy notes of cinnamon and nutmeg; in the mouth it is full, powerful, smooth and very long, with a well defined acid streak which makes it fresh and pleasing."
This brand is new to the shop, and Zin and Cab lovers should rejoice! Full bodied, dark and rich with a lasting finish, this can be enjoyed on its own or with a hearty meal.