Benoit Gautier "Argilex" Dry Vouvray ($15.99)
From the producer:
Temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel vats.
Use of indigenous yeast.
Ageing in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats.
APPEARANCE : Straw yellow colour.
NOSE : Fresh, fruity, hawthorn blossom aromas, quince aromas.
PALATE : Mineral
AGING : Ageing from 2017 to 2023
FOOD MATCHES : For the aperitif, Crab, Scallop carpaccio, Fish with cream"
People often assume that Vouvray will be semi-sweet or sweet, but this is not always the case. This is Vouvray Sec, which means that it is dry. The residual sugar is at about .4%, which isn't the driest of white wines, but isn't close to off-dry (1% RS). What you do get is a lot of juicy fruit in this wine: pear, apple, and quince. The minerality and acidity keep the wine bright on the palate. This pairs well with seafood, especially oysters and sushi. It can also be enjoyed as an aperitif. Get this wine before it disappears for the season!
Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Estate Chardonnay ($24.99)
Anderson Valley, California
From the producer:
"Handley Cellars is a small family-owned winery in California’s Mendocino County. Bonded in 1982, we produce around 12,000 cases of wine a year. Our quality starts with our Estate Vineyards in Anderson Valley.
At Handley Cellars, we offer a wide variety of wines that complement today’s diverse cuisines. Founding Winemaker Milla Handley sought to make balanced wines that possess distinctive varietal characteristics, wines that reflect the soil and climate in which they were grown.
All the grapes for this wine come from our organically farmed estate vineyard. Our new Chardonnay blocks planted in 2010 with clones 17 and 76 have come into full production adding ripe fruit characters to the blend. These newer blocks ripen about a month earlier than our old blocks that continue to add the acidity and structure the benchmark of our Estate Chardonnay. This wine shows aromas of apple blossoms, poached pear, toasted coconut, and hints of spicy oak. Flavors of pear, stone fruit, and citrus swirl on the palate. It is medium bodied with a creamy mouthfeel finishing with notes of crème fraiche and toasted almond. Approximately one-third of the blend went thorough malolactic fermentation. Aged 8 months in French oak barrels 20% new. No animal derived fining compounds were used in the production of this wine. Sterile filtered before bottling. Pair this wine with roast chicken and fettucine with chanterelle mushrooms in a cream sauce or a corn chowder."
Ever since I visited Anderson Valley in 2017, I've been eager to stock wines from that area. Unfortunately there aren't that many in the market, and the ones that are available can be a little pricier than I'd like. Meet the exception. Handley Chard is a lovely example of the cooler climate wines that I enjoyed there, the grower practices organic farming methods, the price is reasonable, and most importantly, the wine is delicious. I'm very happy to welcome it to the store.
Broadley Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2017 ($24.99)
Willamette Valley, Oregon
From the producer:
"The 1st phase of the estate vineyard was planted in 1981. Our family has been hand crafting wines since 1986. Craig & Claudia were the founders of the winery, and their son, Morgan and his wife Jessica are the 2nd generation continuing with their passion in the wine business.
Our estate vineyard is farmed using sustainable farming practices including using sheep to mow our vineyard's ground cover & weeds when appropriate. We also use organic material to promote healthy growth in our vines. Sustainability is a part of our daily life and we believe it is essential for our future.
Our goal is to consistently produce dynamic and outstanding wines that are true expressions of the place where they are grown. We want to make wines that make you stop and think.
We believe that good wine is first made in the vineyard. At Broadley, Pinot Noir grapes are harvested from several designated blocks on the estate vineyard including, Claudia's Choice, Marcile Lorraine & the Jessica block. More Pinot Noir (and occasionally Chardonnay grapes) are sourced from hand selected vineyards that also use meticulous farming methods in order to harvest the healthiest fruit the vintage can bring.
Wooden fermenters impart unique qualities to our wine. When wine is fermented in wood, it gives a richer and deeper complexity to the finished wine. We also use whole clusters in fermentation when the vintage ripens the fruit's stems and the flavor and intensity of the fruit is there. This adds structure and character to the wine."
This is Broadley's entry-level Pinot, but it really shines at this price point. It is both elegant and structured, a little spicy on the nose with just a hint of cedar on the palate to underscore the ripe red fruit. Organic farming practices and the use of indigenous yeast.
Casinova di Neri Irrosso ($21.99)
From the producer:
"We believe that wines are the fruit of the vineyard and of man's labour.
The care and passion in working the land has to take into account the characteristics of the land, the microclimate and the variety so as to produce a unique distinct wine able to express its territory. For over forty years our evolution has been marked by careful targeted choices that have distinguished our estate and the wines we produce creating their own style.
A constant search for particular soils that exalt the quality and uniqueness of our wines and farming practices that respect the land and the vines are followed by attentive care in the making of the wine. Our wines are the fruit of exceptional combinations of soils and microclimates together with passionate and meticulous work enabling us to obtain constant results and to enhance the distinct features of the grapes throughout the different vintages.
This wine is born from the grapes of the 'Cetine' vineyards to the south of Montalcino where our Brunello Tenuta Nuova and our Rosso di Montalcino come from. It is obtained from Sangiovese Grosso and Colorino grapes (the plants are reproductions of old varieties that we found in our oldest vineyards). We tried to produce a wine typical of our land and closely linked to it but with the style and characteristics of Casanova di Neri wines. It can be drunk at once or kept for some years giving even greater satisfaction.
Vinification: selection table for bunches, de-stemming, selection table for individual grapes. Vats filled by gravity. Fermentation without use of yeast additives and maceration in open conical vats at controlled temperatures for ¾ weeks Aged in oak barrels for around 15 months and 6 months in bottle.
Tasting notes: Intense ruby red, hints of wild cherry, violets and red fruits ample and easy to drink with excellent persistence. Serve at a temperature of 16° - 17° opening the bottle a few hours previously or decant delicately.
Accompaniments: Tuscan cold cuts, pasta with tomato sauce, roast white meats."
Brunello di Montalcino is considered one of the top Italian wines, but even a "bargain" bottle will cost you upwards of $30. This is in part because the production area allowed is small, and because Brunellos must comply with a longer aging requirement. The other two Montalicino wines produced from Sangiovese demand less aging (Rosso di Montalcino) or can be both younger and blended with other grapes (Sant'Antimo). Irrosso is a fine example of the latter, though it has quite a bit of barrel age on it. This one is a very good alternative to higher priced wine from the area, and it still gives you an idea of the style and terroir of Montalcino.
Li Veli "Orion" Primitivo ($14.99)
From the producer:
"This variety owes its name to its precocity in the growth cycle and therefore to the average harvesting period. It is considered a high-quality variety. Almost certainly it originated from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was subsequently exported to California. Recent DNA studies have shown it is related to Zinfandel (or Crjenak Kastelianski).
Dense ruby red with a purplish rim, it is immediately intense on the nose with marked aromas of ripe and fleshy red fruits, notably cherries followed by spicy notes of cinnamon and nutmeg; in the mouth it is full, powerful, smooth and very long, with a well defined acid streak which makes it fresh and pleasing."
This brand is new to the shop, and Zin and Cab lovers should rejoice! Full bodied, dark and rich with a lasting finish, this can be enjoyed on its own or with a hearty meal.