Keush "Origins" Brut Sparkling ($23.99)
From the producer:
"Grapes sourced from Vayots Dzor province in Armenia. The vineyards are un-grafted, 60- 100 years old. Located between 1500- 1800m above sea level.
These are some of the highest elevation vineyards in the northern hemisphere, and at 1800 m, the highest elevation vineyards in the world that produce méthode traditionnelle.
Origins represents the perfect storm of limestone soil and volcanic rock growing idyllic crisp white grapes, ripened by sunlight from high elevation vineyards. A product born from a 6,000 – year- old viticulture history, Origins embodies the bold Armenian soul and its wine loving spirit.
Voskehat 60% and Khatouni 40%
Minimum 22 months on the lees
Voskehat, meaning ‘queen- berry’ thrives in high-altitude, rocky soils. It is known for its vine longevity, easily living up to 100 years. Voskehat is terroir-driven and a native to the Armenian land. It is known to produce elegance and acidity in wines.
Khatouni, is a rare variety that grows well in the Vayots Dzor of Armenia. This variety is highly productive in the region’s terroir and is used to craft wines with a crisp, bright finish."
I have been eager to bring an Armenian wine into the shop, as that area of the world is where grapes were first cultivated to make wine. I tried this sparkler last week, and absolutely fell for it. It drinks super dry, but has an appealing mouthfeel and a beautiful crispness. I can't wait for you to try it!
Scarbolo "Cabernet" ($19.99)
From the producer:
"Gino, a hardworking member of a tenant-farming family, was also responsible for the production of the wine of the estate on which the Scarbolo family lived. Over the seasons he learnt all about the strict rules of nature and gained full understanding of the magic behind winemaking.
Great enthusiasm and passion, in the fifties, Gino moved to Lauzacco with his family, where he had purchased his own fields and had decided to grow grapes among other crops. Indeed, he started producing wines which he sold locally in bulk, and started setting the foundations of the company as we know it today.
In 1982, Valter, who had grown up learning the dedication and passion for winegrowing from his dad, decided to study viticulture and oenology to continue the family business with a further qualitative leap: he planted his first vineyard inspired by the French school, which was characterized by narrow plant density and low yields, and began selling the wine in bottles rather than in bulk. Vintage after vintage, the vineyards grew in number and the Scarbolo brand took up the current profile. The traces of the tractor wheels left behind since 60 years ago, are continued by Valter and Maria Grazia together with Lara and Mattia, who have injected fresh energy and creativity into the family enterprise leading it to a new chapter.
'Logic viticulture,' a philosophy Valter Scarbolo has always followed in his vineyard management. Balance is the key element for the wellbeing of any living thing, including the vines, and any extreme situation undermines their health. This idea lies at the core of 'logic viticulture' which translates into choosing vineyard managing procedures that diminish intervening in the life of the vine. However, as the weather is not always the friendliest of allies, protecting the grapes, especially in the crucial moments of their development, is a logical choice.
It is logical to respect the environment. It is logical to be aware of our responsibilities today and the legacy we leave behind tomorrow. It is logical to preserve the quality of the grapes and make wine that expresses the territory it comes from.
The Cabernet variety was introduced into Friuli Venezia Giulia several decades ago and found a comfortable new home. It adapted very well, probably because it found itself on the same latitude of its original French region, but of course, as every land is different Cabernet from our region is unique in its own way.
Cabernet Franc 70%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%
Aged in oak barrels for 10 months, then bottle aged for an additional four
months before release.
Intense with notes of black pepper and raspberries.
Robust, full bodied with rich, jammy tannins. A perfect wine to pair with roasts, fatty meat, aged cheeses and savory pasta dishes."
This is the third wine I carry from Scarbolo, and that should tell you how highly I regard their products. I tasted this the other day, and was smitten. It drinks somewhere between a light Bordeaux and a Chinon, with a distinct black pepper balance to the raspberry tones. This is a delicious and unexpected wine from the north of Italy.
Naveran Brut Nature Cava ($16.99)
From the producer:
"Naveran is the surname of a family dedicated to cultivating its vineyards and producing its own artisanal wines and cavas. Its cellars are located in the estate of Can Parellada (Torrelavit), in the center of the Alt Penedés. The fact that it’s run by grape growers and wine producers, allowing them to be intimately involved in the cultivation and production process, to oversee the growth and quality of the grapes and to create innovative cuttings of their own vines, sets this winery apart from the majority of wineries in this region.
Naveran cultivates its vines using purely ecological methods: no pesticides or herbicides, all fertilizers are organic. In the event of heavy rains, the grapes are allowed to fall to ensure a quality harvest.
Macabeo, Xarel.lo, Parellada , Chardonnay
Collection, pressing and fermentation of the four varieties takes place separately in stainless steel vats at a low temperature, coupage in November, tirage and second fermentation in bottles typical of the méthode champenoise for a minimum of two years followed by riddling, disgorging, corking and labeling before it arrives in your hands.
Pale and luminous yellow, regular and good detachment of small bubbles that form a crown on the surface.
First impression is pleasant, refined and light aromas, secondary aromas characteristic of ageing in bottles with hints of fruit, flowers and spice.
Exquisite in the mouth, full and creamy, very dry and refreshing at the same time, with balanced acidity and elegant, fruity and long-lasting after-taste.
Good balance, with a pleasant after-taste and a good presence."
Brut Nature is a style, and it means that after disgorgement and before corking no dosage (base wine + sugar) is added to the final product. That means that this is the driest of the sparkling wines. Brut Nature wines can be a little harsh, but I don't find that to be the case at all with Naveran. This is a well-made, bright wine that has just enough creaminess to balance the dryness.
Cantine Monfort Blanc de Sers Brut Nature ($21.99)
From the producer:
"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 hot summer evening's celebrations!
Domaine Mittnacht Freres Crémant d'Alsace ($23.99)
From the producer:
"It is at the foot of the fortified church of Hunawihr, that since three generations, the Mittnacht family elaborates wines of high expression.
Paul, the grandfather, passed on his know-how to his two sons, André and Louis. The latter, combining their efforts, created the Domaine Mittnacht Frères in 1963. The Mittnacht family currently has 23 hectares of vineyards spread over the best terroirs of Hunawihr, Ribeauvillé and Mittelwihr.
Marc, creator of the wine and son of André, and Christophe, commercial and son of Louis, have since 1995 given a new impetus to the company. The two cousins have been conducting their vineyards in respect of the environment for several years. No synthetic products in the vineyard, a great respect for the natural cycle of the vine and its soil, grape harvesting and sorting entirely manual, a minimum of interventions in cellar and no use of oenological products (except for one minimum sulfur content) in order to better respect the quality of the grapes. This philosophy naturally pushes them to engage their domain, since 1999, in organic and biodynamic culture, that which respects the environment, the health of the consumers and especially the personality and the identity of the wines resulting from the great Appellations of Origin Controlled. This approach is certified by Ecocert and Demeter, certification bodies approved by the French Ministry of Agriculture.
Demeter certified biodynamic
60% Pinot Auxerrois, 10% Pinot Blanc, 10% Riesling, 10% Pinot Gris, 10% Pinot Noir
25+ year old vines
High density plantings
Aged on the lees for 18 months"
This is one of my very favorite sparkling wines. The term "Crémant" simply denotes that this is a sparkling wine made in France, in the Champagne method, but outside of the boundaries of the Champagne area. It is from Alsace, where the Pinots of all varieties thrive, and it's partly the unusual blend of all of them that I find compelling and delicious. This is an "extra brut," which means that unlike brut nature, there is dosage, but with a smaller measure of sugar than you'd find in a brut. This is a beautiful and unique wine, worthy of attention.