Von Kisel Grüner Veltliner ($13.99)
From the distributor:
"Grüner Veltliner Von Kisel comes from two 25-30 year-old single vineyards in the villages of Halbturn and Andau, which are located between the Danube on the east and the Neusiedlersee on the west. The hand-picked and hand-sorted grapes are destemmed before crushing. The wine then rests for two months on its fine lees after a cool fermentation in stainless steel.
A green and yellow color with notes of green apple and lemon. The palate develops a little spice of white pepper and an exotic aroma of well supporting, fresh acid and round body is carried.
Aging: 7 years
Production: 15,000 bottles per year"
Grüner Veltliner mostly comes from Austria, and is a great alternative to either Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. This one is very dry with green apple on the nose and stony lemon on the palate, undercut by white floral notes. It is a zesty and refreshing wine that is perfect as an aperitif. This wine was formerly branded as Von Donabaum, so this is the new vintage of the same wine, with new packaging.
Vignoble Francois Boyer Costières de Nîmes Rosé ($13.99)
Rhône Valley, France
From the producer:
"The origins of this estate can be traced back to the 13th Century, when the Cistercian monks of the Franquevaux Abbey discovered this ideal terroir in the French countryside and proceeded to clear the forest for planting vines and olive trees.
Francois Boyer and his sister Fanny represent the 4th generation of their family to run the winery and the vineyards, continuing the family tradition of making high quality wines and growing of the legacy of this great estate.
In 2009, François began converting the 51 Ha vineyard to organic farming. They are a certified organic estate dedicated to preserving the beauty and health of this unique terroir. They also use vegan winemaking practices and minimal sulfur in producing the wines.
60% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Cinsault
Clear pale pink in color with a fine nose of peach, raspberries, red currants and pomelo. Lively and full on the palate with aromas of fresh red berries.
Refreshing and expressive with a clean finish."
This wine is more complex than many of the Provençal wines that have a similar blend of grapes and light pink hue, and it has a really elegant mouthfeel with a crisp finish. Light, but with a solid flavor profile that makes this less of a porch-pounder and more of a "sipper with a light meal." But I'm not going to tell you how to live your life. Just enjoy this wine!
Saveurs du Temps Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.99)
From the producer:
"Vignerons Propriétés Associés is set on the right bank of the Rhône, a few steps from the historic site of the Pont du Gard. The vineyards are located in a triangle between the famous commune of St Hilaire d’Ozilhan at the heart of the southern slice of land bordering the Gard region and the Côtes du Rhône, then head westward towards Sommières, to the edge of the Camargue Region. VPA includes 620 Hectares spread out over the 4 communes of Saint Hilaire d’Ozilhan, Castillon du Gard, Valliguieres and Laudun. 930 Hectares of Costières land in six communes, Générac, Nimes, Saint Gilles, Milhaud, Bernis, Aubord and Beauvoisin. 1112 hectares of Oc and Coteaux du Languedoc land in Calvisson. All of these terroirs make up the vineyards and the diversity of their production.
Bold red cherries and red licorice on the nose. Flavors of black pepper and chocolate with subtle notes of baking spice and grippy tannins."
VPA is basically a collective of growers and winemakers. This Cab is one of the largest production wines at Sage, coming in at about 120,000 bottles per year. That's still tiny compared to large labels that produce by the millions. The wine is approachable and easy, and because it doesn't see any oak, the fruit is really prominent. This is a great summer red, and it can take a bit of a chill if you prefer.
Jean-Louis la Grande Réserve Côtes du Rhône ($13.99)
Rhône Valley, France
From the distributor:
"This wine is the creation of Jean Louis Canto, owner of the great Châteauneuf-du-Pape estate Domaine de la Roncière. Jean-Louis produces this “Grande Réserve” from Plan-de-Dieu, a region which now covers an area of 1,500 hectares at an altitude of 100 meters. The vines grow on a bed of red clay packed to a depth of 10 metres with a mass of smooth-rolled pebbles. Given this stony foundation, the skimpy soils yield little: some barely have enough grapes to produce one bottle of wine per vinestock. The wines are all reds, made from three of the Côtes du Rhône’s leading grape varieties: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. From this soil, they produce wines that are high in color, dense and concentrated. The nose is reminiscent of the surrounding garrigue, with scents of thyme and bay laurel.
Juicy yet structured Côtes du Rhône displaying aromas of red berries and black fruit, hints of earthy undertones and fine tannins. This wine will seduce your senses and bring a touch of elegance to hors d’œuvres, pork and roasted meats.
Grapes: 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre
Fermentation: 60% whole cluster, 40% destemmed in concrete for 18 days Aging: 12 months in concrete vats"
This wine represents excellent value for money. Round, deep, and rich, it rolls smoothly over the palate. The balance of fruit, earth, and tannins is executed with the kind of artistry one would expect of a seasoned crafter of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This is my go-to, mid-level Côtes du Rhône.
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.