H. Blin Brut Champagne ($39.99)
Marne Valley, France
From the producer:
"Champagne H. BLIN embraces the Art of Champagne while remaining true to its remarkable character and style. Located in Vincelles, in the middle of the Marne Valley, Champagne H. BLIN primarily uses one of the most amazing varieties of the region: the Pinot Meunier.
This variety offers a unique and surprising taste with subtle freshness and fruitiness.
80% Pinot Meunier
Dosage 8 g/l
Disgorged 3 months minimum before delivery
Bottle age: 24 months minimum
TASTING NOTES :
Appearance : Golden straw, sparkling clear and transparent. Abundance of fine but persistent bubbles.
Nose : Lively and expressive. Scents of citrus freshness and nuances of freshly baked bread.
Palate : Simple and elegant. Lively aromas of ripe green apples and notes of toasty brioche.
FOOD PAIRING :
Risotto with parmesan
Sweet and sour pork
Vanilla ice cream"
This Champagne is truly unique in its blend of grapes, and it drinks like a wine twice its price. The farming methods are organic, and the aim of the producer is to create a sense of terroir with their wines. This is not the approach of large producers like Veuve and Moët, which source grapes from all over the region of Champagne. The grapes for this Champagne come only from the area around the village of Vincelles.
Scarbolo Il Ramato Pinot Grigio ($19.99)
From the producer:
"Since the birth of the winery, Scarbolo’s philosophy has been very clear: contribute to a wine culture surpassing easy generalizations and fast trends that don’t belong to the world of farming. They have consciously invested in the Grave area of Friuli that for a long time has been considered only capable of ‘quantity’ wines, despite its amazing soil characteristics.
Valter Scarbolo inherited a passion for the vine from his father’s interest in viticulture. They planted their first vineyards in the 80s, in their hometown of Lauzacco. Lauzacco is located in Friuli on the right bank of the river Torre, just south of the Colli Orientali. The Scarbolo family puts immense effort into the vineyards in order to produce structured and elegant wines that represent the distinct characteristics of their native land. Their philosophy includes densely planting the vines and rigorously implementing sustainability practices to help preserve the ecosystem.
Made in the Friulian “Ramato” style, this wine is bright copper in color, with a nose exhibiting apple, wildberries and fresh citrus. Generous and fresh but with a lasting finish."
You know that thin, nearly clear, one-note Pinot Grigio that's mass-produced? This is not that. This is, aesthetically, an "orange wine," which refers to the color that comes from elongated skin contact during the maceration process. While some orange wines can be a little funky, this one retains its freshness, mellowed slightly by lees aging, which also gives it a little richness on the palate. This is an elegant and interesting wine that will give you a new perspective on Pinot Grigio.
Schiopetto Malvasia ($19.99)
From the producer:
"Malvasia Istriana is one of the historic varietals of the hills of Friuli. It grows well in poor soil of marl composition with hot and sunny exposition where the grapes are left for a lengthy maturation. They are then picked by hand, pressed at low temperatures. This is followed by a static decantation in absence of sulphur dioxide and the vinification and ageing take place in stainless steel for 8 months. The wine thus obtained is rich and complex but at the same time fragrant and aromatic.
Bright straw yellow with golden touches.
Fresh and round balance marine aromas that are perfectly balanced with scents of flowers and sweet fruits.
Creamy, rich and warm. Sweet flavors are matched by a refreshing palate with a clean high acidity finish.
Food pairings: Perfect with apetizers and first dishes, both with fish
This is one of the many Italian indigenous grapes with which I've become slightly obsessed. I'm especially keen to have more people taste Italian whites that aren't as well known as the standards. There is so much elegant and complex white wine, and this is certainly an example of that. This would be perfect for a Thanksgiving meal.
Domaine les Evigneaux Rasteau 2016 ($22.99)
Southern Rhône Valley, France
From the producer:
Benoit and Frederic Lavau have always been fans of Rasteau which became a cru in 2010, and they have been making it for many years. Because of their special fondness for these vineyards whose outstanding exposure they recognize and which they consider to be 'atypical,' they decided to acquire 10 ha in the appellation in 2014. their 12 plots are located in Rasteau’s most emblematic terroirs. these are ideal vineyards for their plans to create a wine capable of delivering all the complexity and power of this extraordinary AOC.
The Syrah vines are planted in the gravel and clay soil of the Quaternary terraces of Bellerive. Located in the south of the appellation, these are sunny and early ripening, providing the vines with perfect growing conditions. The Grenaches are planted to the north in cooler soil, accentuating the variance between day and night time temperatures and thereby enhancing the colour and aromatic intensity of the varietal. the pebble and gravel soil mixed with complex clay allows constant, even drainage and water supply.
'The nose is complex and of great depth, a mixture of blackcurrant, raspberry and vanilla extract. The palate is meaty and develops its intensity and power across the entire length of the wine. The tannins are robust and well integrated, promising a spectacular result after 3 to 5 years’ cellar ageing (if you can wait that long!).'"
Blend: Grenache 50% Syrah 30% Carignan 10% Mourvèdre 5% Cinsault 5%
Ageing: 12 months in new 228L barrels"
I've never met a Southern Rhône wine that I didn't like, and if pressed I admit that the region is, globally, my favorite. Rasteau is an appellation with which I was unfamiliar, so I was eager to try this wine. The blend of grapes is typical to the larger region, but the soil and exposure lend unique traits. This Rasteau shows some boldness of flavor, but its complexity makes it compelling. It's a wine to contemplate for a bit as you taste it. You can certainly enjoy it now, but do consider buying a bottle to lay down for a couple of years.
Alois Trebulanum ($34.99)
From the producer:
"Classification: Terre del Volturno IGT
Grape varietal: Casavecchia 100%
Production area: Pontelatone (CE/Italy)
The Casavecchia grape variety has a mysterious origin. There is an old country legend that narrates the discovery of a small grape vine in a 'casa vecchia' that means 'old house' in the township of Pontelatone.
This vine survived the epidemic times of the Phylloxera and the parasite fungus of Oidio dated 1851.
Casavecchia has extraordinary qualities and it is currently studied in the agricultural faculties of the University of Naples and Florence.
There are also some hypothesis that see the Casavecchia as the wine Trebulanum, praised by the Latin writer Pliny in his famous Historia Naturalis (Natural History) as a wine that came from vineyards on the hills surrounding the old town of Tremula Balliensis, an area that now comprehend the townships of Pontelatone, Castel di Sasso Liberi and Formicola.
The propagation started with the cut and the setting of a small branches and the provine, an ancient method that places the vine branch in the soil until it develops its own roots.
To the nose and the mouth, the Casavecchia gives an evocative fruity taste than only a few other fruits can give."
This single vineyard indigenous red is one of the most interesting wines I've yet tasted. My tasting notes on this include the word "perfect." The current vintage is 2012, and it can easily take 5-10 years of cellaring. If you want to enjoy it now, though, expect a bold tannin propping up deep red fruit and mild forest earthiness. This, to me, exemplifies Southern Italian wine at its best.
JB Neufeld Yakima Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($39.99)
Yakima Valley, Washington
From the producer:
"JB Neufeld produced its first vintage in 2008. The winery is the only of its kind in Washington, focusing exclusively on Cabernet Sauvignon within the Yakima Valley AVA. The winery was created by the husband and wife team, Justin and Brooke Neufeld. The goal of the brand is to not only showcase the diversity of the terroir found in the valley through its vineyard designate bottlings, but to use that diversity to build a more complex and balanced Cabernet Sauvignon by blending sites as well.
The Yakima Valley AVA has the most diverse terroir of all the AVAs in Washington. All the vineyards are located on south facing slopes created by a series of ridges that are oriented West to East, which is a geological anomaly unique to eastern Washington.
JB Neufeld's focus is to preserve not only the qualities of the wine, but also the place and time from which they were made. They aim to build a Cabernet Sauvignon that possesses multiple layers of complexity that reveal themselves as the wine opens up in the glass. JB Neufeld achieves this by having a winemaking style that is dedicated, thoughtful and precise to the terroir of their valley.
The nose opens with ripe huckleberry, black currants, and blackberry jam, supported by a backdrop of fennel and basil. Balanced on the palate with ripe tannins and well-integrated acidity. Finishes bright and clean with vibrant fruit.
91% Cabernet Sauvignon 9% Cabernet Franc
Aging: 23 months in 64% new French oak and 36% in neutral French oak Production: 6,000 bottles per year"
I'd had some good Washington Cab before tasting this, but JB Neufeld is in another league entirely. This wine is as bold as a Napa Cab with its own profile that, to me, makes it more compelling. The winemaker, Justin, has visited my shop, and he was a joy to talk to about his technique and approach to his wines. This is the entry level offering, and it drinks like a dream. Especially if you aren't familiar with Washington Cabs, try this!
Scarbolo Campo del Viotto 2013 ($43.99)
Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
From the producer:
"An intense deep ruby red color with pomegranate hues. Ripe notes of marasca cherries, sweet tobacco, dark chocolate and ripe wild berries.
Intense on the palate, with soft sweet tannins and spiced persistent finish.
Grapes: 100% Merlot
Fermentation: The first whole clusters harvested are dried out for about 20 days, then the fermentation occurs in small Oak Barrels. After the
fermentation, barrels are sealed and the wine remains in contact with the skins until mid December.
Aging: 2 Years in small Oak barriques; then 6
Months in the bottle prior to release
Production: 850 Cases"
Another wine from Scarbolo that flips the script. Hate Merlot? Think it's an unimpressive varietal? Try this wine. From the partial raisinating of the grapes to the long aging, this takes Merlot to the next level. Elegant and rich.