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.
Poderi Vaiot "Franco" Arneis ($17.99)
From the producer:
"In 2001 after years of learning the family secrets from their father, Franco, Daniele and Walter Casetta began forging their own path in the wine world using their father’s vision as a guide. By studying, experimenting and combining passion with innovation, they have found a unique and distinctive style.
The vineyards and hills of the Roero where Poderi Vaiot is located stretch out as far as the eye can see, alternating with picturesque ravines, castles and old villages. This historic region of Piedmont straddles the provinces of Cuneo, Asti and Torino, and was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014.
The history of this area is inextricably linked to the important role played in its past by its namesake, the House of Roero, a noble family renowned as early as the XII century for its enterprise and power. The twenty-four small towns and villages which compose the region have remained almost unchanged and continue to live side-by-side, just as they did under the Roero family centuries ago.
Safeguarding this historic land and environment is important to Poderi Vaiot, where winegrowing traditions have always sought to establish equilibrium between man and nature. Treatments in the vineyard are limited as much as possible and carried out with the utmost care and attention. Most of the work is done by hand to preserve the land’s natural biodiversity. Many wild herbs grow in Poderi Vaiot’s estate vineyards. They are beneficial to the ecosystem and to health, and the intention is to protect them, rediscovering their uses and properties.
Fresh and delicate with fragrant chamomile and white peach on the nose. The palate follows through with flavors of lemon curd and pear balanced by vibrant acidity.
Grapes: 100% Arneis
Fermentation: Spontaneous fermentation with ambient yeasts in stainless steel tanks
Aging: 6 months on the lees in stainless steel and 2 months in bottle
Production: 30,000 bottles per year
Appearance: deep straw yellow with green hues.
Nose: fresh, delicate and tempting with a well-balanced fragrance of chamomile and white flesh fruit, an indelible remembrance of this kind of grape.
Palate: smooth and pronounced, slightly sharp for a fresh and lingering wine.
Gastronomic matching: it is excellent with the typical Piedmontese starters, cooked with white meat too. However, it also accompanies fish and first dishes, prepared with vegetable sauces, very well."
Arneis is the Italian white that I never knew I needed until I tasted it, and I hope that you love it as much as I do. It's both elegant and refreshing, fruity and floral. It's got enough body to make it a four-season wine.
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.
Poderi Vaiot Barbera d'Alba "Lupestre" ($19.99)
From the producer:
The Piedmontese wine par excellence, it reaches its absolute peak after 2/3 years of ageing.
Ageing: in apricot wood casks passed down through the generations.
Colour: bright, intense ruby red with purplish highlights.
Nose: delicate, ethereal, intense, expansive and persistent, featuring fruity plum, blackberry and cherry overtones, slightly spicy.
Taste: full-bodied and mouth-filling, varietal acidity, nicely balanced. The taste is dry, fresh and fragrant, very long.
Food pairings: particularly recommended with first courses, grilled or oven-roast red meat, and briefly/medium-matured soft cheeses."
This wine is new to the shop, though I've been eyeing it for a while. This is the same winery that produces the Arneis, and I think they do a spectacular job with their wines. Barbera is a little more approachable and robust than Nebbiolo, so I wanted to have this on hand for the winter. The apricot wood ageing is novel, but it does add a layer of complexity that you will not have found in other wines of the region.
Montalbera Ruché 'Laccento' 2015 ($33.99)
From the producer:
"The Montalbera Winery was founded at the beginning of the 20th century in the townships of Grana, Castagnole Monferrato, and Montemagno. In the mid-1980s, the Morando family began expanding their property by purchasing land in adjacent territories and planting it with new grapevines, mainly Ruchè. Today, a continuous stretch of vineyard encircles the winery. The vineyards are planted entirely on hillsides, supplying the vines with different expositions and soils, from clay to limestone. A unique aspect that has always distinguished Montalbera in the Piedmontese winemaking landscape is that the winery sits astride two of the region’s most important winemaking zones: the Monferrato and the Langhe.
For generations, the Morando family has believed and invested in Piedmontese viticulture. For years, they have passionately dedicated themselves to the development of the native variety Ruchè.
Because of their ongoing commitment, Montalbera arises as one of the great wineries of Piedmont. The foundation of their success lies in solid, recognizable values that translate very clearly in the wines they produce. Through rigor and planning, interpretation and terroir, Montalbera consistently creates 230,000 bottles per year of extraordinary quality. Each wine is interpreted in different ways, from stainless steel to wood, from overripe to withering, in order to best showcase the multifaceted personality of each varietal.
Intense ruby in red color, with slight purple notes. Extended, aromatic nose with fruity aromas of wild berry and jam. Warm on the palate, with a pleasant and rare silkiness on the finish.
Grapes: 100% Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato
Fermentation: In Stainless Steel Tanks using 95% overripe grapes, with 12-14 days of skin contact.
Aging: At least 6 Months in the bottle
Production: 54,000 bottles per year"
I tend to struggle with wines from Piemonte--well, with anything made from Nebbiolo anyway--because the lightness of the wine and the firmness of the tannin is too much for my palate. This for sure puts me in the minority of Italian wine drinkers, most of whom adore Barolo. I have been working on this weakness, and at the same time I've been exploring other grapes, including the indigenous and lesser-known Ruchè. This wine was a revelation to me: intense color, depth of flavor without too much weight on the palate, a slight jammy cranberry note, and enough structure without being overly tannic or acidic. Just a beautiful wine from an exquisite vintage.
Scarbolo Campo del Viotto 2015 ($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. This is one of the only shops in NY to have this vintage.