Papa Godello ($16.99)
From the Importer:
"Papa is an estate-bottled wine produced by Ladera Sagrada in the Valdeorras DO region, located in northwest Spain. From 2004 to 2010 Papa has sold out every year within three months of release. The Godello grapes that go into it make Papa a jewel of a wine. Able to age similar [sic] to Chardonnay in white Burgundy, Godello is rapidly becoming the most popular white grape in Spain ahead of Albariño and Verdejo. Many top Spanish winemakers and Spanish wine writers believe Godello will be the grape that will put Spanish white wines 'on the map.' A grape that can communicate more than fruit, Godello conveys the geography of its place of origin, the aromas and flavors that the soil imparts to the wine. The vineyards farmed to make Papa are full of slate and granite, and the wine shows assertive aromas of rosemary, thyme, and oregano, underscored by a firm mineral character.
This wine is a superb value made from estate owned, organically grown grapes. Ladera Sagrada has the largest holdings of vineyard land in the Valdeorras appellation, and the bodega makes wine using only the best 20% of its grapes. The rest of the given year's harvest is sold in bulk to other neighboring producers. Ladera Sagrada can source the best quality of grapes in Valdeorras and it has the ability to make the best wine values because it doesn't need to buy grapes from other growers. The mineral character of Papa gives the wine a special identity.
Precise, high-pitched aromas of lime zest, quinine, jasmine and ginger. Juicy, focused and youthfully tight, with bright acidity adding bite to fresh citrus and orchard fruit qualities. Shows a suave blend of power and vivacity, finishing with lingering floral and lime qualities."
This white wine hits all the notes for me: minerality, citrus, offbeat, and good with or without food. The winery only produces 1800 cases of this per year, so it's a great price for a relatively small-batch wine of this kind of quality. Papa comes to us from Ole Imports, whose wines I cannot recommend highly enough. I carry several others from them, and they are all incredible values for the money.
Honoro Vera Organic Monastrell ($8.99)
From the Producer:
"Wine produced under organic regulations established in the European Union norm as well as in the U.S. -NOP certification. The vines are planted on chalky soils without irrigation and very low yields, with an annual rainfall below 300 mm, there is no room for chemical products or synthetic pesticides in our daily work.
It exhibits great aromatic complexity, richness, and length. This mouth-filling Monastrell over-delivers in a big way. Drink it over the next 4 years.
Rice, pasta, (noodles, spaghetti, macaroni), vegetables, mushroom, stewed meat, sausage, pork, roast meat, red and/or white meat with sauces, grilled meat, short or medium cheeses."
Produced by Bodegas Juan Gil, this wine is an entry-level for them, though you wouldn't know that by drinking it. It's smooth and supple, with the slight pepper that I love from this varietal. The winemakers take pains to be true to the grape, and in their efforts they have succeeded. This is a perfect cold-weather wine that pairs wonderfully with comfort food of all kinds.
Torres 5G Garnacha ($13.99)
Campo de Borja
From the producer:
"Five generations seeking the perfect Garnacha. Since Jaime and Miguel Torres founded the winery in 1870, every generation has contributed to building a legacy. Every generation has passed on its passion for winemaking, its knowledge and craft. 5G springs from the inspiration and innovative spirit of five generations well versed in the potential of this variety. Every family has a story. So does every wine.
The 5G Garnachas is fragrant and sensual. Pronounced red fruit aromas (strawberry, red currant, raspberry) on the nose framed by notes of aromatic herbs (thyme and rosemary). Fresh, pleasant and smooth on the palate with good acidity.
Pairs perfectly with traditional Mediterranean and Catalonian recipes such as meat stews, grilled meat, arroces montañeses (hearty rice dishes with meat), and noodle casseroles with spare ribs."
This is a delicious blend of five Garnachas (Grenache) from the Campo de Borja region of north-central Spain. It is fruity and robust, but smooth and easy to drink. It will certainly warm you from the inside on a cold night. The Torres family is dedicated to environmental responsibility, and aims to keep their footprint small, while producing wines that reflect the soil, climate, and delicate craftsmanship of their many generations.
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.
Vignoble Charmet Beaujolais Moulin La Blanche ($19.50)
"I have known the Beaujolais from the Charmet family for as long as my memory dates. Lucien and Jean Baptiste Charmet are just the latest members of a family that started wine making in 1650!
The main focus is around the production of Beaujolais Village (in red and white). Their “Cuvees” Centenaire, Mafraise and Moulin la Blanche have been widely acclaimed by critics in France and most recently in the latest edition of the famous “Guide Hachette”.
Based 100% on the famous Beaujolais region grape, Gamay, this cuvee comes from a small plot in the southern part of the Beaujolais appellation. The vines grow on a soil with a dominance of shale and are over 50 years old. The low yield contributes to give this wine intense aromas and flavors as well as a deep length in the mouth. Only 5,000 bottles are produced on a yearly basis."
Sometimes Beaujolais, which is a wine meant to be enjoyed young, can taste too young and fruity, with an abundance of cranberry on the palate. This one, while expressing bright fruit, also has a slightly earthy balance, which leads to a longer finish and a more elegant presentation. I highly recommend this as an alternative to Pinot Noir if you are looking for a lighter-bodied red.
Clos de l'Amandaie Chat Pitre ($14.50)
"Stephanie and Phillippe Peytavy created Clos de l'Amandaie in 2002, taking over vines from Phillippe's family. They focused on making wine from Estate grown grapes and follow the Organic Farming guidelines. The name comes from the almond tree field that once was on the vineyard before grapes were planted. Today, the wines are featured in all French wine magazines and can be found on many higher-end restaurants' wine lists.
Chat Pitre is a pun that in French both means 'chapter' and 'clown cat.' It is a blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 30% Cinsault. The vineyard is located near the village of Aumelas, a terroir benefiting from a cooler micro climate. The grapes are fully destemmed. The end of the maceration is thermo-regulated to soften the tannins and features pump over and load treading to enhance aromas. The wine is aged for 6 months in tanks. Chat Pitre develops aromas of red berries (wild strawberries and currant) with a white pepper finish."
This wine is both well-crafted and approachable, combining the easy drinking table wine style with a finer complexity. This is a wonderful go-to red that will easily pair with a variety of foods, but that is also nice to sip on its own. The cat on the label is pretty cute, too!
Anthony Road Devonian White ($11.99)
From the producer:
The major grapes for our Devonian White are Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling. The goal is to produce a dry white wine that is intriguing, fruit forward and approachable. Its lighter body, vibrancy and fresh flavors enable it to pair with most cuisines.
Pear, white peach and citrus aromas on the nose. There are flavors of grapefruit, gooseberry, green apple, pineapple and lemon. The acidity is vibrant and helps to invigorate and refresh the flavors on the palate."
This is one of the wines I found on my 2-day, 13-winery tour of the Finger Lakes. I enjoy its fresh and citrus character, and I think it's a good example of how winemaking has improved overall in the region. This is a crisp, dry blend that works well as a table wine. It's easy to drink, but it does not lack complexity. I hope that this wine will demonstrate that there's more to the Finger Lakes than just sweet wines.
Shinn Estate Vineyards Red Blend ($15.99)
Long Island--North Fork
From the producer:
"Our winemaker strives not only to make the best wine but to make it at the best value. This red blend exemplifies a delicious everyday drinking wine that shows bright fruit and acidity with flavors and aromas of red cherries, licorice and spice making this red wine smooth, soft, and elegant."
I spent time last spring tasting wine on Long Island, and although I found most to be quite nice, the pricing was prohibitive. I was thrilled to find Shinn Red Blend because it's a good wine at a good price. It's almost impossible to find a Long Island red for under $20 that is also actually drinkable, so this is a bit of a gem. Shinn also practices sustainable, organic, and biodynamic farming.
65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 9% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec.
Lake George Distilling Adirondack Wildfire Cinnamon Whiskey ($19.99/375ml, $29.99/750ml)
From the producer:
"Much like the engulfing flames of a forest fire scorching everything in its path, this whiskey will leave you with a pleasant burn going down and a warm cinnamon finish. Crack open a bottle, call someone special, and start your own Adirondack Wildfire!!!"
Love the taste of Fireball, but trying to limit the propylene glycol in your diet? This is for you! Snark aside, this 70-proof moonshine made from locally grown, non-GMO corn is flavored with real cinnamon and is incredibly smooth. I don't go in for many flavored drinks, but I have a bottle of this at my house. It really tastes like a candy fireball (spicy and a bit sweet, but not cloying), and it can be enjoyed neat, with ice, or mixed into mulled wine or cider. It will warm you from the inside for sure!
Owen Roe Mirth Chardonnay ($13.99)
From the producer:
"The Mirth is quintessential Chardonnay exhibiting bright tropical notes and excellent purity of flavor and balance unencumbered by oak flavor. The wine is fermented and cellared in stainless steel to preserve its freshness and varietal character."
This unoaked Chardonnay is a good crossover white: while it can be nice in summer because of its fruitiness, its creaminess on the palate makes it a good fall wine, too. The notes of buttery Meyer lemon complement roasted fowl or a meatier fish.
Michel Gassier Nostre Païs Blanc Costières de Nîmes ($19.99)
From the producer:
"Appearance: the pale yellow color tinted in green announces a wine with a great deal of freshness and purity
Nose: the complex nose reveals floral and mineral notes with accents of fresh citrus fruits
Taste: lively and fresh, the aromas of flowers and white fruits, blends with flint. The very soft finish evinces a great deal of minerality."
52% Grenache blanc, 22% Roussanne, 17% Viognier, 7% Clairette & 2% Bourboulenc
Gassier makes outstanding wines with organically farmed grapes, and the Nostre Païs line (white and red) is no exception. This white has body and depth of flavor balanced by mineral undertones. It is soft and smooth on the palate, but has complexity and character. This can be enjoyed now or aged for up to three years. It pairs well with chicken, game fowl, rabbit, strong cheeses, pumpkin, and leeks.
Trimbach Gewurztraminer ($24.99)
From the producer:
"The fruitiest and the spiciest of the varietals – a unique wine. It is in Alsace that this grape variety reaches the height of perfection. Its dry personality makes it ideal as an aperitif and it pairs extremely well with specialty cuisine with pronounced flavors.
Pair with : Gewurztraminer is a fine accompaniment for fish or seasoned meats, spicy and exotic dishes, soft cheeses (such as the famous Munster), and a plethora of desserts.
Ageing Potential : Minimum 5 years
I asked my distribution rep to bring me a traditional Alsatian Gewurztraminer, and he delivered big time. Gewurz can be a polarizing wine--some love it, some hate it--but I've had ones that are great and ones that are undrinkable. Like any varietal, there's a spectrum of quality. What distinguishes Gewurztraminer, I think, is that it has a unique aroma and flavor, and that unfamiliarity can color our reactions to it. The first Gewurztraminer I had was awful, but since then I have had many that are delicious, and of course wines from Alsace, the Finger Lakes, and Oregon will have very different characteristics.
I prefer Gewurztraminer from Alsace, and Trimbach makes me a little weak in the knees, to be honest--it's a great example of the Alsatian style and a clean expression of terroir. This is the wine to consider pairing with your Thanksgiving meal.