McPherson MWC Pinot Noir ($16.99)
From the producer:
"Released for the first time in 2014, the MWC wines are made with food in mind. Soft, savoury, earthy styles with a European influence, they are a rustic style full of interesting, complex characters made for those who love great, honest wines. Best Consumed 2019 – 2029
JO’S WINEMAKING / VITICULTURE The grapes for this Pinot Noir were picked from single vineyards located in North Eastern Victoria. Crushed during the cool of night to retain their varietal character, while modern winemaking techniques were employed throughout the winemaking process. Fermentation took place in sweeping arm red fermenters, giving the wine a dense, rich colour and allowing for gentle and maximum flavour extraction.
JO’S HARVEST NOTES Vintage 2017 is best described as a waiting game. The season was very long with fruit slow to ripen and although the urge just to pick it all was there, we had to bide our time until we had optimal flavours and ripeness. Once I made the decision to pick the grapes came in at an orderly pace, although increased yields due to the rain in spring made the juggling game in the winery even more challenging, with tank space at a premium. We made it through our marathon 2017 vintage and are thrilled with the exceptional quality including a number of really extraordinary parcels.
JO’S WINE DESCRIPTION The aroma is enticing with intense plum, cherry and strawberry fruit with a hint of spicy oak. The fresh fruit momentum continues on the palate with vibrant plum and dark stone fruits finishing with some firm acid, beautiful tannins and integrated oak.
JO’S FOOD MATCHES A great match with roast duck, rabbit and other game meats or medium intensity dishes like porcini mushroom risotto or fine cheese.
"Jo" is the winemaker, and she crafts a French style Pinot Noir here, with an earthiness that asks to be paired with a meal--or just some good bread and cheese! The wine is light in body, but the flavor is robust and satisfying. This wine is an excellent value. Organic farming practices.
Tre Monti Campo di Mezzo Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore ($16.99)
From the producer:
"Azienda Agrícola Tre Monti traces its origins back to the early 1960s with the inspiration of Sergio Navacchia and of his wife Thea, who for years was the real driving force behind the winery until her death in 1989. A turning-point came in the 1980s, the result of a revolution that began in the vineyards and carried over into the cellar. Close relationships were established with the best talent in the Italian wine world: a youthful Francesco Spagnolli in the early 1980s, followed by Vittorio Fiore, and afterwards Donato Lanati. The fruit of their expertise underpinned the steady growth of the winery, directed by Vittorio and David and with the help of their father Sergio.
The heart of the winery lies in the center of the farm estate in Imola, where only estate-grown grapes are vinified. All of the vineyards are managed according to the principles of sustainable viticulture, which mandate inter-row cover-cropping and the lowest possible use of unnatural products. The winemaking operations too, watched over thoroughly by the experienced and talented Vittorio Navacchia, are animated by a philosophy of minimal intervention. Every step is carried out with full respect not only for the integrity of the fruit, but for the unique character of each growing year as well. All of this so that the final wine is the perfect expression of everything around its environment. Tre Monti became certified organic in 2014.
Harvest period: Mid september, manual picking
Vinification: 12-day maceration at 28° - 30° C, followed by malolactic fermentation
Maturation: In stainless steel and glass-lined cement vats
Average annual production: 60,000 bottles
Appearance: Ruby red
Bouquet: Crisp dark fruit, with hints of sweets violets
Palate: Well balanced and succulently fruity, with prominent notes of wild and sour cherry
Serving suggestion: Baked pasta with mushrooms or meat sauce, recipes featuring chicken livers, charcuterie"
I had this wine in the shop last fall/winter, and it sold very well, so here we have it again. It's from Emilia-Romagna, which sits northeast of Tuscany, on the other side of the Apennines. This is currently the only wine in the shop from that region, so I'm especially happy to welcome it back. If, like me, you find Tuscan Sangiovese a little too acidic and tannic, do try this as an alternative.
Hedges Family Estate CMS Red Blend ($16.99)
Columbia Valley, Washington
From the producer:
"Led by a passion for authenticity and a deep connection to the land they call home, the Hedges Family epitomizes the modern wine estate. A blend of rich cultural upbringings and a shared love for creating beautiful wine converge at the heart of bucolic Red Mountain, fostering a true homegrown approach to farming and viticulture. Hedges Family Estate unites past and present, evolving tradition for generations to come.
Grapes come from the Columbia Valley vineyards, Wooded Island, Bacchus, Sagemoor, Weinbau and Dionysus (all part of Sagemoor Farms), and the Red Mountain Vineyards of Hedges, Bel’ Villa, Jolet, Les Gosses and Magdalena. Most of the wines were pumped over during alcoholic fermentation for 6 to 10 days while on American Oak. About 40% of the wine was racked to barrel where it completed malo-lactic fermentation and then aged for an additional 15-18 months. The other 60% completed M-L in tank, at the end of which it was racked onto French Oak and had SO2 added. About 60% French oak /40% American oak.
30% Cabernet Sauvignon 58% Merlot 12% Syrah
Such a fun mix of Strawberry and raspberry fruit, cocoa, earthy spices and a bit of red licorice. There is hints of dried sage, cocoa nibs and some pomegranate on the finish. The palate shines with bright acidity followed by a full and rich mid-palate showing flavors of red fruits, and rich, earthy spices. A tinge of vanilla balances out the rustic finish. This a sip and enjoy wine, it’s interesting without being complicated and is a perfect compliment to a variety of foods and situations."
CMS--Cab, Merlot, Syrah--is a medium-bodied wine with a robust flavor profile. The grapes that come from the Red Mountain estate are grown biodynamically, while the grapes that some from the Colombia Valley are farmed sustainably. The overall impression I get is French style, but with riper fruit, smooth, but not overly oaked, and a modest alcohol content of 13.5%. Good for drinking and good for pairing!
Botanica Big Flower Merlot ($19.99)
Stellenbosch, South Africa
From the producer:
"Botanica Wines was founded in 2009 by owner and self-taught winemaker Ginny Povall, an intrepid American who fell in love with the beautiful Cape winelands, purchased Protea Heights farm in Stellenbosch’s Devon Valley and relocated to the southern tip of Africa in 2008. Established in the late 1940s, Protea Heights was the first farm in South Africa to cultivate indigenous protea flowers commercially. Inspired by this horticultural history, it was only natural that Ginny would choose to develop her wine brands and labels with a botanical flair.
On Protea Heights Farm, home of Botanica Wines, we are committed to the principles of regenerative agriculture, a next generation system of organic farming that increases soil fertility, builds biodiversity, improves soil’s water holding capacity and enhances our ecosystem to support healthy vineyards and fields. Key to this agroecological approach is no-till farming, a practice which aims to capture carbon in the soil and aboveground biomass, reversing current trends of atmospheric accumulation in an effort to slow climate change. At the same time, it offers increased yields, reduced disease pressure, greater resilience to drought and climate instability, and higher health and vitality for soils.
The hand-harvested grapes were destemmed, crushed and fermented in stainless steel tanks, with pumpovers performed twice daily. The wine was gently pressed and racked to barrel for malolactic fermentation. It was aged for 11 months in 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill 300L French oak barrels.
Intricate aromas and flavors of plum and dark berry fruit, with a rich, plush mouthfeel and soft, refined tannins. It’s juicy enough for solo sipping yet has enough grip to pair with a nice steak. Vegan friendly
Production: 9176 bottles"
Over a year I taste hundreds of wines, but I don't always have a place for some that I really like, so I put them in my "Maybe +++ when I have room" file. That happened with this Merlot. I tasted it in 2018 and again this spring, and without knowing until now, I had the exact same notes on it both times: the fruit is bold and ripe, with a lovely underlying earthiness and much more tannic structure than I'd expected. It's both surprising and pleasing on the palate. I'm pleased to add this to my little collection of "unexpected Merlots."
Inverroche Gin Verdant ($41.99)
Western Cape, South Africa
From the producer:
"As the pioneers of South African craft gin, Inverroche Distillery was founded by Lorna Scott and her family. Growing from strength to strength in the local community of Still Bay in the Western Cape of Southern Africa. In just 6 years, the distillery has grown from a small home industry to a flourishing and pioneering craft distillery. A distillery that is invested in its community and producing world class gins and spirits.
Infused with fynbos from the mountainous terrain of the Cape Floral Kingdom, Inverroche Gin Verdant is floral and soft with a translucent golden-green hue. Delicate aromas reminiscent of elderflower and chamomile, lead to summer blooms, a touch of spice, subtle juniper, waxy lemon rind and alluring liquorice on the palate."
Fynbos is the name of the shrubland vegetation in the Western Cape. It is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, an area of rich biodiversity, and one of only 6 of its kind in the world. The richness of the botanical life there comes through in the complexity of this Gin. Very different than other botanical Gins, it's absolutely expressive of its terroir.