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.