Domaine la Terre de Lune Côtes du Rhône Rosé ($11.99)
Rhône Valley, France
From the producer:
"Vine growing : the vines are planted with a density of 4000 per hectare. The number of treatments is limited to a minimum and depends on the weather. Limited amounts of fertilizers are used, only to maintain a balance in the soil, and when required by the vines. This is based on soil and leaf analysis. The yield is kept at a low level in order to have a high quality of grape. This is done by hedging, leaf-thinning and green harvesting.
40% Cinsault 30% Grenache 20% Syrah 10% Mourvedre
A rosé wine with a light and bright pink colour. A fruity nose of red berries and a fleshy character of peach. Elegant in the mouth with a pleasant freshness and final notes of red currants."
The high Cinsault content of this wine really sets it apart from others in the region, which contain mostly Grenache. In this case the result is a little more delicate floral note to set off the fruit. If you usually drink rosés from Provence, do try this one; there's a little more elegance and character present, and it pairs really well with ham, pasta, salads, tuna, salmon, and spicier foods.
Dominio de Punctum Vaiven Blanc de Noir Tempranillo ($15.99)
Castilla-La Mancha, Spain
From the producer:
"Vaiven Blanc de Noir is made from organically grown grapes in our Estate. We harvest our grapes at night for optimal temperature before pressing. Vaiven is produced by quickly removing the skins from the juice after the grapes have been pressed.
Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, organic and biodynamic wine.
Bright yellow color with pearly iridescence at first sight. Fresh and floral bouquet mixed with red berries aromas. Good acidity, gentle, tasty and full body.
Pairings: salads, all white meat such as chicken with garlic, pork, etc."
Tempranillo is usually vinified as a red wine (if you've had Rioja, you've had Tempranillo), but here we have a unique Blanc de Noir that keeps some of the red fruit notes while also exhibiting floral overtones. It is full-bodied, with just enough acidity to create good balance. This is one of the more unique wines you'll find.
Tzora Vineyards Judean Hills Red 2014 ($33.50)
Judean Hills, Israel
From the producer:
"The Judean Hills rise sharply from the coastal plain, and exhibit ideal growing conditions for growing wine grapes. Man made terraces cling to this rugged area in a multitude of directions as they follow the contours of the steep slopes. Cold winters, sharp temperature drop during the short summer nights and early morning summer mists, as well as variations in soils from rocky limestone outcrops to ones rich in minerals, all contribute to the character, the balance and the great longevity of the wines.
This wine is made from selected plots of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Merlot grown on old terraces with top-soil of limestone rich in minerals.
Aged for 12 months in French oak barrels, this wine has wonderful texture and complex aromatic profile of black fruit and hint of earthiness. The finish is fine and fairly long."
Kosher wine has a bit of a bad rap, but there are many fine examples, of which this is one. Israel has some stunningly good areas for wine growing, and Tzora takes advantage of their geography to create really beautiful products. This is their entry-level wine, and it is an excellent example from the region. The vintage I'm selling is 2014, so it should be at peak right now.
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.
Compania de Vinos del Atlantico Gordo 2014 ($14.99)
From the producer:
"Gordo is Patrick Mata's affectionate way of calling his father, Jose Mata. For almost four generations, Patrick's family produced wine in Malaga, Montilla, Sanlucar, Rioja and other Spanish regions. These wines were sold in many countries, including the US, before and after prohibition. During the 60s, the demand of Malaga wines suffered greatly, which ultimately resulted in the Mata winery closing its doors in 1972. The wine Gordo pays tribute to the Mata winemaking heritage and, specifically, to Patrick's father. The Gordo label is a replica of one of the family labels from the late 1800s. Today, after a few decades, Patrick and Alberto through Vinos Atlantico are resurrecting their family heritage and producing wines in many regions throughout the Iberian Peninsula, including this rich yet elegant blend of Monastrell and Cabernet from the southeast of Spain.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE?: A personal wine that pays tribute to Patrick's father. Produced from dry farmed vineyards. Vines are tended in chalk soil at 713 m (2,339 ft) elevation. This type of soil and the elevation result in wines that exhibit greater freshness with lifted flavors.
GRAPE: 70% Monastrell, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Vines planted since 1970. Tended in chalk and limestone soil at 713 m (2,339 ft) elevation.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Try Gordo with blue cheese, stews, spicy chili and similar hearty dishes. This wine has the heft on the palate and spice to pair well with BBQ with serious heat, pulled pork sliders and “five alarm” BBQ chicken wings.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: Harvest takes place in the cool, early morning hours. The best bunches are selected and undergo a gentle crush. Whole clusters with stems undergo maceration at a cool temperature (59 F). Each grape variety is fermented separately. After fermentation, the skins and stems are kept together in a post-fermentation extended maceration for seven days. Malolactic fermentation occurs in stainless steel tanks. After ageing for three months in oak barrels that are two years old, the Monastrell and Cabernet are blended. The wine is bottled after one month in the tanks."
This is the new vintage, which I have not yet tried. That said, Gordo is one of the first Spanish wines I ever tried, and I fell in love with it. Monastrell is a grape typical to the southeast and often vinified as a varietal wine. Here it is blended with a little Cabernet, and the balance is just right. I think that the two varietals are vinified and aged separately before blending gives the wine a more complex character. This is a great cross-over wine for people who tend to drink California Cabs.
A Portela Mencia 2014 ($17.99)
From the producer:
"A unique wine produced with the rare Mencía grape (pronounced Men-THEE-ah). Mencía only grows in northwest Spain. In this case, A Portela comes from Valdeorras, which is one of the most inland wine regions of Galicia. During Roman times Valdeorras was known for its gold, hence its name, the valley of Gold. The vines are tended in granite and slate soil. The high elevation of this precious small part of Galicia produces Mencía grapes that are different from other Galician wine regions, flavors tend to be more uplifted, more floral, brighter, and very pretty! A Portela is all unoaked to emphasize the purity and delicate flavors and aromas of this grape. It is produced from estate-owned grapes that are organically grown. A Portela signifies the doorstep to heaven. It is also the name of the high elevation hill of 5 hectares (12 acres) located in the town of Larouco (province of Ourense), where the Mencía vines that make this profound mineral wine come from. A Portela is a joint venture between the Sharon family and CVA.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This wine is a superb value made from estate owned organically grown grapes. All the grapes come from the specific high elevation site of A Portela. A Portela is a joint venture between the Sharon family and CVA. The Sharon family possesses the largest holdings of vineyard land in the Valdeorras appellation. A Portela is made with the best 20% of the vineyard land of the Sharon family. The mineral character of A Portela gives the wine a special identity.
GRAPE: 100% Mencia. Vines planted from 1976 - 1990. Tended in clay, granite and slate soil from 500 - 700 m (1,640 - 2,625 ft) elevation. This is a vegan wine.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Herb-roasted chicken, pork loin or even salmon would be divine. And some sautéed mushrooms...
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: After harvest, the skins mix with the unfermented juice for five days at 45F. This pre-fermentation “cold soak” enhances the wines aromas, color and flavor. Once fermentation has taken place, the skins spend another 10 days in tanks to extract all beneficial colors and tannins. The wine is aged 7 months in stainless steel to emphasize the pure, young flavor of the Mencía grape.
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located in the autonomous region of Galicia, in far northwestern Celtic Spain, within the Valdeorras DO (Zone 1) in Valdeorras district and within Ourense province. The vineyards are in the mountain town of Larouco, at 500 meters (1,640 ft) elevation. The soil is composed of slate and granite topsoil with a thin clay subsoil. This soil profile is poor in organic matter and the vines yield 2.5 kg (about 6 pounds) of grapes per vine, compared to the average of 7.5 kg (around 17 pounds) per vine in Valdeorras. The surface of the granite and slate soil is warmed by sunlight during the day and provides heat to the roots, which encourages the grapes to continue ripening during the cool nights. Lower yields result in more concentrated grapes providing more intense aromas and flavors in the wines. The area's climate has an average temperature from April-October of 64.4F, among the lowest average temperatures in Spain, with 32 inches of yearly rainfall. Being one of the lowest levels of precipitation in the region helps prevent overnight frost. The cool temperatures of this Atlantic-influenced climate (Zone 1) provide a longer ripening period, which results in bright wines with great aromatic expression.
TASTING NOTES: A pure Mencia that exhibits aromas reminiscent of dried flowers and sliced strawberries. The palate is loaded with upfront fruit, plenty of fine tannins, a good backbone of acidity and a clean finish."
My mom recently returned from a walking trip in this area of Spain, and she found Mencia everywhere she went, though in the States it's a fairly esoteric varietal. This wine is a lovely example of the style, has earned high ratings, and is perfect as we transition from summer to fall. On the lighter side of medium-bodied, it features bright red fruit and a mild acidity. This is definitely a wine that I prefer to pair with food.