Gianni Gagliardo Fallegro Langhe Favorita ($16.99)
From the producer:
"Our family cultivates our own vineyards in the villages of La Morra, Barolo, Monforte, Serralunga and Monticello d'Alba, using the natural methods of integrated agriculture. We vinify and refine respecting the traditions, looking for finesse and elegance.
Fallegro was born in 1974 and it’s one of the first wines made from Favorita grapes. It’s the Piemonte version of Vermentino grapes, the only one grown far from the sea in a continental climate which gives lot of character and makes it fresh and fragrant. Ideal as an aperitif and easily served with food."
A nearly forgotten grape, most Favorita grows on the left bank of the Tanaro River in northwestern Italy, but some, like in this wine, comes from the right bank. The wine is fruit-forward and smooth, with a medium body. It is very drinkable, though it will pair well with food, and in particular with hard cheeses. Gagliardo is the premier producer of Favorita.
Shinn Estate Vineyards Red Blend ($15.99)
Long Island--North Fork, New York
From the producer:
"Our winemaker strives not only to make the best wine but to make it at the best value. This red blend exemplifies a delicious everyday drinking wine that shows bright fruit and acidity with flavors and aromas of red cherries, licorice and spice making this red wine smooth, soft, and elegant."
I spent time last spring tasting wine on Long Island, and although I found most to be quite nice, the pricing was prohibitive. I was thrilled to find Shinn Red Blend because it's a good wine at a good price. It's almost impossible to find a Long Island red for under $20 that is also actually drinkable, so this is a bit of a gem. Shinn also practices sustainable, organic, and biodynamic farming.
65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 9% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec.
Bott-Geyl Points Cardinaux Métiss ($15.99)
From the producer:
"It is wishful thinking to suppose that you can significantly improve the intrinsic quality of the juice or of the wines during the vinification, or later: one can only try to retain the potential of the grapes. To go further in the search for the expression of aromas, fruit and terroir, we have adopted, in addition to organic culture, the principles of biodynamic agriculture.
Formerly called Pinot d'Alsace.
The fruit is elegant and complex, on the palate, it is broad and fresh.
The broadness of this wine matches strong dishes.
Designation: Alsace Contrôlée
A blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir vinified as white wine
Ageing potential: 5 to 8 years"
This is an unusual and elegant wine that possesses a touch of honey on the nose, while the palate suggests tropical fruit. The smooth, fuller body and complexity of this white really delights me. It's a beautiful wine that is unexpected and satisfying. Do check out the producer's website, as they have been very thorough in explaining their farming and winemaking processes.
Viñátigo Gual ($25.99)
From the producer:
"The Canary Islands is the only region in the world entirely exempt from the terrible phylloxera plague. As a result, all of the vineyards are ungrafted, allowing for a complete interaction between plant and soil, which in part, explains the marked minerality of the Canarian wines.
Grape Variety: 100 % Gual
Production: Fermentation in stainless steel at 16ºC, and aged on its fine lees in the same tank.
Service and food pairing: Serve at 9ºC; combines with fish in sauce, white meats.
Appearance: Straw-like yellow, clear and brilliant.
Aroma: High aromatic intensity, smoky, jasmine, melon and tropical pineapple.
Taste: Intense, extraordinarily buttery and persistent."
This is another geeky wine that I immediately fell in love with. While it certainly has the body of a wine aged on the lees, I'm not struck as much with its butteriness (totally a word) as with its salinity. It has a beautiful briney, green, floral character that is completely different from anything I've tasted. I think this would be brilliant with oysters and other seafood.
Domaine Saint Préfert Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2014 ($43.99)
From the importer:
"Isabel Ferrando’s reputation for outstanding wines has grown every vintage since her first release in 2003. She purchased Domaine Saint-Préfert from the Serre family, who was one of the first to estate-bottle in the appellation in the 1930’s; at that point, the domaine was 13.2 hectares, all in the Les Serres lieux-dit, south of the village of Châteauneuf. In 2004, she purchased more land and started making the 100% Grenache cuvée Colombis, primarily from the lieux-dit of Colombis, with sandy soil; she bottles this wine as Domaine Isabel Ferrando.
Ferrando has always farmed organically. She has very old vines in her holdings: the Grenache vines average more than 70 years old, and she still has some of the original Mourvèdre that was planted in the 1920’s. Throughout each parcel, all thirteen varieties are co-planted, something that Henri Bonneau told her is, “the beginning of the complexity [of her wines.]”
There is not a secret formula here to making great wines. Ferrando has a young team and she is open to new ideas; she relies on tradition without being trapped by it. Starting in the 2009 vintage, Isabel started working with whole-cluster fermentations (without added yeasts,) finding that it increased freshness in the wines and lowered alcohol, giving the wines vibrance. Aging happens in a mix of concrete and 600L used barrels for up to 18 months. We are truly excited to be working with Ferrando.
From the youngest vines (30 years and younger) in the Serres lieux-dit, 85% Grenache, 5% Cinsault, 5% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre. 100% whole-cluster fermentation."
I was very hesitant to bring a Châteauneuf to stock because while they are notoriously wonderful, they are also notoriously expensive. It took me a while to find one that is good value for the money, and that will be as delicious to drink immediately as it will be after several years in your wine rack. This is that wine. It is wonderfully expressive, with red fruit and herbal undertones balanced by a bit of spice, it is smooth and lasting on the palate. It is a slightly more delicate example of the style, but only insomuch that it doesn't overwhelm the palate with any extremes. In my opinion, this wine is worth every penny.