Compania de Vinos del Atlantico Gordo 2014 ($14.99)
From the producer:
"Gordo is Patrick Mata's affectionate way of calling his father, Jose Mata. For almost four generations, Patrick's family produced wine in Malaga, Montilla, Sanlucar, Rioja and other Spanish regions. These wines were sold in many countries, including the US, before and after prohibition. During the 60s, the demand of Malaga wines suffered greatly, which ultimately resulted in the Mata winery closing its doors in 1972. The wine Gordo pays tribute to the Mata winemaking heritage and, specifically, to Patrick's father. The Gordo label is a replica of one of the family labels from the late 1800s. Today, after a few decades, Patrick and Alberto through Vinos Atlantico are resurrecting their family heritage and producing wines in many regions throughout the Iberian Peninsula, including this rich yet elegant blend of Monastrell and Cabernet from the southeast of Spain.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE?: A personal wine that pays tribute to Patrick's father. Produced from dry farmed vineyards. Vines are tended in chalk soil at 713 m (2,339 ft) elevation. This type of soil and the elevation result in wines that exhibit greater freshness with lifted flavors.
GRAPE: 70% Monastrell, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Vines planted since 1970. Tended in chalk and limestone soil at 713 m (2,339 ft) elevation.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Try Gordo with blue cheese, stews, spicy chili and similar hearty dishes. This wine has the heft on the palate and spice to pair well with BBQ with serious heat, pulled pork sliders and “five alarm” BBQ chicken wings.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: Harvest takes place in the cool, early morning hours. The best bunches are selected and undergo a gentle crush. Whole clusters with stems undergo maceration at a cool temperature (59 F). Each grape variety is fermented separately. After fermentation, the skins and stems are kept together in a post-fermentation extended maceration for seven days. Malolactic fermentation occurs in stainless steel tanks. After ageing for three months in oak barrels that are two years old, the Monastrell and Cabernet are blended. The wine is bottled after one month in the tanks."
This is the new vintage, which I have not yet tried. That said, Gordo is one of the first Spanish wines I ever tried, and I fell in love with it. Monastrell is a grape typical to the southeast and often vinified as a varietal wine. Here it is blended with a little Cabernet, and the balance is just right. I think that the two varietals are vinified and aged separately before blending gives the wine a more complex character. This is a great cross-over wine for people who tend to drink California Cabs.
A Portela Mencia 2014 ($17.99)
From the producer:
"A unique wine produced with the rare Mencía grape (pronounced Men-THEE-ah). Mencía only grows in northwest Spain. In this case, A Portela comes from Valdeorras, which is one of the most inland wine regions of Galicia. During Roman times Valdeorras was known for its gold, hence its name, the valley of Gold. The vines are tended in granite and slate soil. The high elevation of this precious small part of Galicia produces Mencía grapes that are different from other Galician wine regions, flavors tend to be more uplifted, more floral, brighter, and very pretty! A Portela is all unoaked to emphasize the purity and delicate flavors and aromas of this grape. It is produced from estate-owned grapes that are organically grown. A Portela signifies the doorstep to heaven. It is also the name of the high elevation hill of 5 hectares (12 acres) located in the town of Larouco (province of Ourense), where the Mencía vines that make this profound mineral wine come from. A Portela is a joint venture between the Sharon family and CVA.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This wine is a superb value made from estate owned organically grown grapes. All the grapes come from the specific high elevation site of A Portela. A Portela is a joint venture between the Sharon family and CVA. The Sharon family possesses the largest holdings of vineyard land in the Valdeorras appellation. A Portela is made with the best 20% of the vineyard land of the Sharon family. The mineral character of A Portela gives the wine a special identity.
GRAPE: 100% Mencia. Vines planted from 1976 - 1990. Tended in clay, granite and slate soil from 500 - 700 m (1,640 - 2,625 ft) elevation. This is a vegan wine.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Herb-roasted chicken, pork loin or even salmon would be divine. And some sautéed mushrooms...
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: After harvest, the skins mix with the unfermented juice for five days at 45F. This pre-fermentation “cold soak” enhances the wines aromas, color and flavor. Once fermentation has taken place, the skins spend another 10 days in tanks to extract all beneficial colors and tannins. The wine is aged 7 months in stainless steel to emphasize the pure, young flavor of the Mencía grape.
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located in the autonomous region of Galicia, in far northwestern Celtic Spain, within the Valdeorras DO (Zone 1) in Valdeorras district and within Ourense province. The vineyards are in the mountain town of Larouco, at 500 meters (1,640 ft) elevation. The soil is composed of slate and granite topsoil with a thin clay subsoil. This soil profile is poor in organic matter and the vines yield 2.5 kg (about 6 pounds) of grapes per vine, compared to the average of 7.5 kg (around 17 pounds) per vine in Valdeorras. The surface of the granite and slate soil is warmed by sunlight during the day and provides heat to the roots, which encourages the grapes to continue ripening during the cool nights. Lower yields result in more concentrated grapes providing more intense aromas and flavors in the wines. The area's climate has an average temperature from April-October of 64.4F, among the lowest average temperatures in Spain, with 32 inches of yearly rainfall. Being one of the lowest levels of precipitation in the region helps prevent overnight frost. The cool temperatures of this Atlantic-influenced climate (Zone 1) provide a longer ripening period, which results in bright wines with great aromatic expression.
TASTING NOTES: A pure Mencia that exhibits aromas reminiscent of dried flowers and sliced strawberries. The palate is loaded with upfront fruit, plenty of fine tannins, a good backbone of acidity and a clean finish."
My mom recently returned from a walking trip in this area of Spain, and she found Mencia everywhere she went, though in the States it's a fairly esoteric varietal. This wine is a lovely example of the style, has earned high ratings, and is perfect as we transition from summer to fall. On the lighter side of medium-bodied, it features bright red fruit and a mild acidity. This is definitely a wine that I prefer to pair with food.
Inama Soave Classico ($15.99)
From the producer:
"Light yellow colour. Elegant nose of sweet field flowers: camomile, elderflower, iris. Mineral on the palate with sweet almond on the finish.
RECOMMENDED COMBINATION: Risotto and white fish, raw fish, salads."
Soave is a style of dry white wine from Veneto in northeastern Italy. It is 100% Garganega, which the Romans introduced to the area, and which is closely related to Greca, a Sicilian grape. The wine is aromatic, with floral overtones, and though not as crisp as Pinot Grigio, it is much more delicate. Fermentation and aging take place in stainless steel, so there is no oakiness, but malolactic fermentation gives the wine an elegant smoothness. This is one of the lesser known Italian wines that I hope more people will discover.
Yola Mezcal ($44.99)
From the producer:
"Our Mezcal is handcrafted, distilled on our namesake farm, bottled by women, with a recipe passed down from Yola's grandfather.
In 1971, Luis Jimenez purchased a Mezcal farm in San Juan del Rio, Oaxaca.
Today, we still honor his original recipe, abiding by the 300-year-old method of traditional Mezcal making.
We are dedicated to promoting the economic independence of the women of Oaxaca."
Have you tried Mezcal? It's made from espadin agave (rather than the blue agave of Tequila) and the hearts of the plant are smoked, which imparts a very particular flavor. Some people really like that, and others find it too strong, but this Mezcal is ripely fruit-forward enough to win over just about everyone. This is a women-owned company that is empowering its women workforce, while producing a high-end product in a sustainable way. To say that this hits every note for me is an understatement: in short, Yola is swoon-worthy.
High Rock Distilling Pepper Shine ($33.99)
Ballston Spa, New York
High Rock Distilling has closed up shop, which is a real shame, because they were doing some pretty great stuff with un-aged corn whiskey. I have just under a dozen bottles left of their Pepper Shine, and it's some of the last stock available anywhere. This product was made using a corn whiskey base infused with 6 varieties of hot peppers. The result is savory, vegetal, and spicy, and it makes just about the best Bloody Mary you'll ever have! It's versatile for other cocktails, too, such as margaritas or even a spicy martini. I highly recommend giving this a taste!
Beelgara Estate Shiraz ($9.99)
New South Wales, Australia
From the producer:
"The Beelgara Winery and name has a history that dates back over 80 years. Originally situated in the village of Beelbangera, the place name is derived from the local Aboriginal word meaning 'native companion.'
The Brolga, also known as the Aboriginal 'native companion,' is now depicted on our new label, to remind us of our Beelbangera origins and proud Australian heritage.
Shiraz is crushed and fermented on skins for 4-5 days then drained and pressed onto a mixture of French and American oak for maturation.
Plum and blackberry fruit with some vanillin oak aromas. Rich soft style with blackberry fruit and vanilin oak with elegant soft tannins on the finish.
CELLAR: Up to 5 years
SERVE WITH: Enjoy with richer foods such as roast beef or mushroom risotto"
This wine is from New South Wales (southeast Australia), and although it shares some flavor characteristics with more ubiquitous wines from McClaren Vale in Australia (plum and cracked pepper), it is a little lighter in body like Shiraz from Victoria. This is a great introduction to the grape as vinified in Australia, and it's a very good go-to wine for the price.
Corvidae Lenore Syrah ($14.99)
Columbia Valley, Washington
From the Producer:
"Sourced from several vineyards throughout the Yakima Valley and the Horse Heaven Hills, Lenore Syrah shows the more opulent and balanced vintage with its fruit forward attack and rounded, rich mid-palate texture. Aging in predominately neutral French oak maintains the bright berry and savory aromatics of this wild, gamey varietal.
Pair this crowd pleasing wine with barbecued babyback ribs, a hearty lamb stew or your favorite burger."
This wine is super approachable and reminds me a bit of the riper Shiraz wines from Australia, though without much of the peppery note. Super smooth and fuller bodied.
Rudi Wiest Selections Dry Riesling ($13.99)
From the producer:
"In 1890 Carl Gunderloch founded the estate by investing his fortune into the top vineyard sites of the “Rote Hang” area (“red slope area”) in the Rheinhessen appellation. Over the past decade, the 5th generation, Fritz and Agnes Hasselbach, have brought the estate to world class level earning 3 times a perfect 100 point score for the TBA dessert wines of 1992, 1996 and 2001.
Tasting note: You’ve just picked up a delightful Riesling from Germany, carefully selected and blended by importer Rudi Wiest. It features enticing notes of freshly picked white peach, apple and delicate mineral nuances with aromas of grapefruit and lemon. The Rhein Riesling is a refreshing aperitif that also pairs well with diverse flavors, including Asian and Indian cuisine. Your friends will likely covet this refined Riesling, so feel free to share. Cheers!"
Volker Wines von Donabaum Gruner Veltliner ($13.50)
From the producer:
"Grüner Veltliner von Donabaum 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.
Clean and crisp, with a nose of freshly cut grass, green apple, and white peach. Lean and mineral-driven with flavors of slate, lemon peel, and white flowers. Production: 12,000 bottles per year."
Cantine Monfort Blanc de Sers Brut Nature ($21.99)
From the producer:
"New entry in Monfort winery, Blanc de Sers Brut Nature is a sparkling wine produced in according to Metodo Classico method: nine months on the lees obtained from the grapes Valderbara, Vernaza and Nosiola cultivated on the terraced hills of Serso and Viarago. The optimal altitude between 550 and 700 meters a.s.l., the particular acidity of these grapes and their delicate aroma combined with the right period of ageing on the lees provide a quality creamy sparkling with a fresh and enchanting bouquet. Brut nature, zero dosage or pas dosé, the choice of our sparkling wine master to make in the flûte what grapes and terroir have to say.
Colour: pale yellow.
Bouquet: white flowers and a hint of green apple enhanced by a touch of hay.
Perlage: enhances the flavor and length.
Excellent as an aperitif, it goes very well with light appetizers, with dishes based on fresh water fish and seafood, soup and mushrooms."
I carry several wines from Cantine Monfort because they are doing a great job of making high quality wines from lesser known, indigenous grapes. This sparkling wine is elegant and delicious, and is a nice step up from Prosecco.
Cantine Monfort Pinot Grigio Rosé ($16.99)
From the producer:
"Pinot Grigio comes from the French Pinot Gris grape imported into Trentino at the beginning of the 20th century from Germany. Originally the grape and wine were called “Ruländer”, using the German name. In Trentino this variety has found its ideal habitat to the extent that this is the biggest area of production of this grape in Italy. The vineyards which cultivate the grape for the Cantine Monfort winery lie at the foot of the hills near Trento and Lavis in an area that is well ventilated and has a sandy soil. Good ventilation is essential for this variety of grape as it helps preserve it in excellent condition right up until the harvest. The copper color is obtained by the contact of the skins (from classical color “onion skin”) with the must for a night. This is a personal interpretation and reinterpretation of the ancient tradition of making Pinot Grigio in copper version.
Colour: blush wine.
Bouquet: intense, fruity and spicy.
Palate: soft, agreeable and well balanced.
Fish, white meats, thick soups, egg-based dishes and pasta. Excellent as an aperitif."
I am a big proponent of Pinot Grigio in its traditional coppery pink form, as I find it to have more character and to be more complex than the weak whites we've gotten used to. This wine is a lovely, elegant, and smooth rosé that might just become your new go-to. It has a perfect balance of fruitiness and minerality, and the acidity does not overwhelm the palate.
Nifo Sarrapochiello Falanghina del Sannio ($14.99)
From the producer:
"Rooted in Campania for three generations, the winery Nifo Sarrapochiello is located in Ponte, a small town in the Sannio, a pleasant place, already existing in Roman times, which owes its name to the presence of an imposing "pontem lapideum" on which the Via Latina passed that connected Rome to Benevento and thanks to which the Romans supplied themselves with wine and grapes of the highest quality.
Winemaker for passion and cultural heritage is the young owner, Lorenzo Nifo Sarrapochiello, who has decided to combine respect for tradition and scientific innovation, in order to ensure the company the high quality standards that have always been pursued. In fact, since 1998, the Nifo Sarrapochiello grapes are grown and treated with the organic farming method ( bioagricert control organism ). After a strictly manual harvest, the grapes are transformed with production standards that protect the environment and the health of the consumer: this results in perfumed wines, intensely aromatic and with a great personality.
Pale straw-yellow wine with aromas of pear, banana, aromatic herbs, yellow flowers and sweet spices. Taste is very delicate and elegant, persistent. A perfect match with fish steaks, white meat and aged cheese."
Falanghina is one of Italy's better known whites, and is an ancient varietal. This wine is a must with seafood, though it would go well with poultry and pork. Elegant, long finish with ripe fruit undertones.
Cantine Monfort Teroldego Rotaliano ($19.99)
From the producer:
"This wine is unanimously considered the prince of Trentino wines. The vine is native to Trentino and the wine shares certain biochemical characteristics with Marzemino. It takes its name from a village near the town of Mezzolombardo called Teroldeghe. The fundamental characteristic of this variety is that it grows and gives its best only in the Piana Rotaliana area whose soil is the result of alluvial detritus deposited by the River Noce.
WINE MAKING METHOD
Traditional red-wine fermentation on the skins, malolactic fermentation and refining first in stainless steel, then in bottle for some months.
Colour: intense ruby red with purple highlights.
Bouquet: intense, fruity with blackberry and bilberry notes.
Palate: full, warm with a rounded softness.
Roasted red meats, grilled meats and strongly flavoured cheeses."
Teroldego is a fairly obscure indigenous grape, and when you find it, it's rarely as a 100% varietal. This wine is medium bodied, with a racy that comes from the cooler climate in which the vines grow. The flavor profile is somewhere between Pinot Noir and Gamay, but with more depth.
Tenute Soletta Sardo Cannonau ($18.99)
From the producer:
"The 'Tenute Soletta di Umberto Soletta' agricultural holding has a recent history if compared to cellars that are hundreds of years old. However, it has an interesting story of love and passion for the Earth since being launched. The proof? Umberto is still, even today, cultivating a vineyard and an olive grove that he planted with his dad when he was 5. While he was studying, Umberto would spend most of his spare time in the countryside: his big passion together with motorsports (when he was young, he took part in various Rally competitions). After completing his studies, he started working the fields full-time, keeping an important family tradition alive.
This passion later became his job. A 'farmer', as he likes to describe himself. In the mid ‘90s, he created the cellar and planted various vineyards, knowing that the value of a wine also depends on the quality of grapes and of the place where they grow.
Through intense land reclamation, combined with utmost attention to landscape details, he has brought back the traditional typology of the vineyard by creating a harmonious relationship between the human intervention and the surrounding, sometimes wild, natural environment.
The cultivation of vineyards respects the principles of integrated pest control to preserve the environment for future generations we borrowed it from. Today, the company is run by Umberto, his wife Caterina, his sister Pina and the elder father who still work in the vines and cellar every day despite being 95 years old.
Vinification: In red and maceration with skins for 20 days.
Ageing: 24 months in stainless steel on yeasts
Refining in the bottle: 12 Mounths
Colour: Ruby, clear and shine
Flavour: Intense and typical perfume, with mineral and earthy recalls, pomegranate and sweet violet.
Taste: Balanced, warm with glyceric strength well contrasted by round and elegant tannins.
Gastronomic combination: It perfectly matches grilled red meats, pasta with game sauces and aged cheeses."
Cannonau is also known as Grenache (France) and Garnacha (Spain). When the grape comes from Sardinia, though, it has a character all its own. The soil and climate produce wines that are higher in alcohol, but low in acidity, with mineral and tobacco undertones. Sardinian Cannonau is like no other wine, and is a must try. This is a particularly nice example of the style.
Etienne Oudart Champagne--Brut Référence ($50.99)
"Jacques Oudart belongs without any doubt to the upcoming stars of the Champagne area. The Oudart Family has been involved in Champagne making since the late 1950’s. They own 22 acres spread mainly over 2 regions: Vallee de la Marne and the Epernay area. This is definitively a major asset as it gives Jacques the possibility to blend all 3 grape varietals and still have the influence of all the various terroirs.
Jacques Oudart is very meticulous about winemaking and insists on extending his Champagne aging in order to hit the perfect ripeness when the bottle reaches the consumer.
Champagne Oudart’s trademark is to create elegant and fine wines. Most of the cuvee blend uses Chardonnay for its strength, Pinot Meunier for the fruit and Pinot Noir to add personality.
Bright gold color with some note of copper. On the tasting aromas of toast, brioche and hazelnuts appear. Long aromatic persistence in the mouth."
This Champagne is produced sustainably with minimal chemical intervention. The production is relatively small at 25,000 bottles per year. I sometimes find Champagne to be too "yeasty" tasting, but this one strikes a nice balance with the fruit and acidity. I find that it is great value for money, and it's nice to be able to support a smaller winemaker. I would much rather drink Oudart than Moët or Veuve.
Jerome Godon Sancerre ($23.99)
"Every few years the Sancerre area delivers a new upcoming star or young vintner. In 2012 and 2013, it was Jerome! But Jerome is not entirely a newcomer; he is actually the 10th generation of a family that has been strongly involved in the Sancerre region.
Heading the 20 acres estate, he is focusing on transmitting the true expression of the 3 terroir characteristics he cultivates:
Clay and gun flint
White stone and chalk gravel
White clay and shell
Jerome Godon’s Sancerre is a true testimony from what we know from the Sancerre wines: finesse and elegance in the wine with a touch of white peach. The consistency is pure and has just enough boldness to balance the minerality.
This Sancerre reveals great finesse, intensity and much complexity. Aromas of white fruits, citrus, blackcurrant bud and a touch of minerality make up a beautiful bouquet. In the mouth, the powerful aromas settle in with assurance, evoking exotic fruits, before a finish of superb freshness."
Sancerre of this quality at this price is a rare find. What makes this one stand out is the balance; the citrus is perfectly softened, but uplifted by the minerality. There is an elegance to the wine, but it is also fresh and approachable. This is a great introduction to Sancerre, but it might ruin you for others.
Chateau Castenet Entre-Deux-Mers ($15.99)
"This white Bordeaux wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle. This bright pale yellow wine is balanced on the nose between notes of yellow fruit and fresh citrus fruit. On the palate the wine is crisp, mineral with a balanced fruit intensity making it a great with lighter fish dishes and seafood. The Chateau Castenet Entre-Deux-Mers is a good example of how you can find pleasure in the white wines of Bordeaux."
Reasonably priced, high quality white Bordeaux is hard to find, so I was delighted that Thomas brought this one to me. It's a great alternative to the usual summer go-to wines, but it has all the crispness and light body that one wants when it's hot. This is a lovely wine.
Nadine Ferrand Macon Solutre Pouilly ($22.99)
"Nadine is an amazing person and winemaker. She has an energy and determination that is rarely seen. Since 1984, Nadine has continued the family tradition of winemaking established three generations ago. Nadine took over the estate in 2000 when her husband passed away. In a very competitive environment, she managed to increase the size of the estate and bring the quality of her wines to the top, moving her to the spotlights of national television.
Domaine Nadine Ferrand is 22 acres large and produces about 60,000 bottles per year on average. Growing grapes in a sustainable way, she is particularly meticulous in caring for the vines to ensure the highest quality of grapes. The estate produces a great portfolio of wines, ranging from a Macon blanc to a well renowned Pouilly Fuisse. Her feminine and elegant touch is perceivable across all her wines. The wines are usually aged 6 to 12 months in steel tanks or barrels. The influence of wood is very limited, as she wants to keep the full expression of the fruit and the terroir.
Nadine is now assisted by her oldest daughter Marine, who shares the same passion for the family estate and the Maconnais wines.
This wine is clear, bright with a beautiful pale gold dress and green color. The nose is fresh, mineral with candied lemon and honey aromas. This is well balanced thanks to its vivacity and its minerality."
Sustainably produced with limited chemical intervention, Ferrand only releases about 8,000 bottles of this Chardonnay. It is fermented and aged in stainless steel before spending an additional 6 months in the bottle before it's released. The flavor is top-notch, with an elegant mouth-feel. This wine drinks like a bottle twice its price.
Domaine L'Amauve Seguret, Côtes du Rhône Villages "Estelles" ($22.99)
From the producer:
"The appelation area is located on the left bank of the Rhône River, near the city of Vaison La Romaine and the famous villages of Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Rasteau, Beaumes-de-Venise and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Two grapes varieties typically from the Rhône Valley are grown for making our red wine”Estelles”. - Black grenache ( 75% ). - Syrah (25%).
The vine is cultivated according to the rules of reasoned agriculture. The treatments of the vine are limited, and when some are done, it is always with the useful minimal amount copper sulfate and sulfur.
This wine is partially aged in new barrels and old barrels for 12 months. The rest of the wine is stored in tanks, on its fine lees in order to preserve its freshness and fruit. At the end of the ageing, a blend is done between wines aged in barrels and the others stored in tanks. The bottling is done about 18 months after harvest.
Our red wine 'Estelles' can be appreciated as young, but can also be kept for many years. It will be fine around its fourth or fifth year and will be able to keep more depending on the vintage and storage conditions. It is a full bodied wine with tight and soft tannins. The aromatic expression is complex, mainly on spices and overripe black fruit. This wine will perfectly go with grilled meat, wild meat, red meat in sauce and cheeses."
Domaine L'Amauve produces very fine wines at superb prices. Estelles is an excellent Côtes du Rhône that demonstrates both complexity and drinkablility. It is ready to drink now, or you can lay it down. Better yet, buy two so that you can do both!
Marlborough, New Zealand
From the producer:
"Kato Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from Marlborough, New Zealand, the premier New World winegrowing region for this variety. The vineyards are located in the Ataware Valley, where coastal influences protect the fruit from sharp morning frosts. The word Kato means "harvest" in Maori, referring to the unique heritage of the region.
The Kato logo is a representation of three intertwined whale tails and was inspired by the Cook Strait, which separates the North and South Islands of New Zealand, and is a migration route for humpback whales. As a wine company dedicated to sustainable principles in the vineyard, we are also concerned with the protection of all natural environments, including the ocean and the creatures in it.
Exhibiting zesty and aromatic notes of melon, passionfruit and citrus, Kato Sauvignon Blanc is well balanced, vibrant in flavor, persistent in finish and perfect for everyday enjoyment with seafood, pasta, white meats and salads."
New Zealand Sauv Blancs tend to be very grapefruit-forward with high acidity, but Kato has a nice balance of more mellow fruit notes that keep it from being too citric. This is an elegant, but fresh wine that is perfect for summer.
Tres Palacios Reserve ($10.99)
Maipo Valley, Chile
From the producer:
"The Viña Tres Palacios winery and vineyards are located in the Cholqui sector of the Maipo Valley, 16 km (10 miles) from the city of Melipilla. Cholqui is a closed valley 9 km (5.6 miles) south of the Maipo River, although it is separated from it by a chain of hills that surrounds the area to the north, east, and south. The Horcon de Piedra Mountain, one of the highest peaks in the Coastal Mountain Range, lies toward the eastern end of the valley. The western side is open to the influence of the Pacific Ocean 30 km (25 miles) away, and cooling breezes from the sea and inter-mountain circulation refresh the vineyards in the summer. Tres Palacios is the only winery in the Cholqui Valley and all of the wines are estate produced.
The fruit for this Sauvignon Blanc comes from a vineyard planted in the coolest area of the Cholqui Valley, where the breeze coming from the Pacific Ocean enters the valley. Minimal pruning is done to the vines in order to not overexpose the clusters to light and to keep the freshness and the primary aromas of the fruit. The soils are gravely and mineral, and this, accompanied by the cool maritime climate of the valley, allows grapes to be produced with great aromatic expression and abundant freshness.
The nose is fruity with aromas of tropical fruit like pineapple, lime and grapefruit. It is also fresh and herbaceous, with an intense pear perfume. The palate is fresh, lively, and tasty with good acidity due to the maritime influence. Also, the presence of minerals in the soil gives a good balance to the wine, resulting in a lingering, fresh and mouth watering Sauvignon Blanc."
I tend to prefer South American Sauv Blancs because they have a kind of "earthiness" that comes through in their minerality and in the grassy/herbaceous undertones. This is an incredible value for estate grown and bottled wine. You will not find better quality for money.
90+ Cellars Wines:
Dry Rose, Lot 33 ($9.99)
Fruit forward and crisp; especially good for those who are new to dry roses.
Prosecco Brut Lot 50 ($10.99)
Dry and lightly fruity; great on its own or in wine cocktails; this is the go-to for Mimosas.
Pinot Grigio Lot 42 ($9.99/750 $18.99/1.5L)
Crisp, bright, with a slight floral undertone; this is my favorite value Pinot Grigio
Sauvignon Blanc Lot 2 ($9.99/750 $18.99/1.5L)
Marlborough, New Zealand
Citrus and herbal notes are nicely balanced with good minerality; not as acidic as some Sauv Blancs from the same region, but very crisp.
Shiraz Lot 37 ($9.99)
McLaren Vale, Australia
Spicy dark fruit with a smooth body; full bodied and round.
*The last of this lot--get it while it's here!*
What 90+ Cellars does:
"It all started in the spring of 2009. Armed with a copy of the latest Wine Spectator, founder Kevin Mehra set out on a mission to bring higher quality wine to the market for a better price. He started calling wineries with a history of high ratings to ask if they had extra wine for sale. Some told him to get lost, but in the end, he found a handful of wineries that liked his concept. The plan was simple: we put their wine in our bottle, and sell it for less.
But why would wineries want to do that?
You may recall that the economy wasn’t in the best shape in 2009. Demand for wines priced more than $20 a bottle had plummeted and inventories were piling up. Rather than discount their wine and erode the value of their brand, we found that wineries were willing to part with a certain percentage of their production for a reduced price.
It was a win/win scenario. Wineries got to sell more wine, and consumers got access to better wine at lower prices.
The landscape has changed quite a bit since we launched; but our mission and our ability to offer great wine for a great price has not. With our Wine Director, Brett Vankoski, at the helm we continue to seek out the best opportunities in the market and turn those into great values in the bottle for you. We do this because we love great wine, and we know you do too."
Anthony Road Devonian White ($11.99)
Seneca Lake, New York
From the producer:
"Our Devonian series is a series of dry table wines crafted from vinifera varietals. It is named after the Devonian Shale, upon which our vineyards are planted. This propietary blend will change from season to season, depending on the fruit available. It is a very approachable, fruit forward white with a crisp finish, fermented and aged in stainless steel."
30% Pinot Gris
This is a dry table wine that while expressing ample fruitiness from the Riesling and Chard, maintains its balance through a level of acidity common in white wines from the region. This is a great introduction to the dry whites of the Finger Lakes.
Bott-Geyl Points Cardinaux Métiss ($15.99)
From the distibutor:
"The Points Cardinaux is a new label for the wine previously known as Pinot d'Alsace. Legally, they can no longer call this wine Pinot d'Alsace, as it's a blend. The new name hints at the four pinots in the wine - P - O - I - N - T - S, could be shuffled to spell P - I - N - O - T - S. And Cardinaux refers to the four directions of the compass, "cardinal points", suggesting the four Pinots in the blend.
This is the same great wine, made from 40% Pinot Blanc, 40% Pinot Auxerrois, 10% Pinot Gris, and 10% Pinot Noir (vinified white). The fruit comes from 2.5 hectares of vineyards with vines ranging from 20-25 years of age in Béblenheim and Zellenberg. They are planted in clay, marl, and limestone soils. The fermentation starts spontaneously and lasts eight months."
Bott-Geyl uses a 9-point scale for indicating sweetness, and this lands at 2. I would consider this just off-dry with a honeyed tone, but not even close to semi-sweet. The winery uses biodynamic methods of farming and native yeasts, with as little intervention as possible in the winemaking and aging process. This is an elegant wine that expresses its grape blend beautifully.
Innocent Bystander Moscato ($16.99)
From the producer:
"Crafted with Black and Gordo Muscat grapes, with the black grapes giving us that intense watermelon colour.
100% Victorian fruit
Harvested in the cool of night.
Fruit is chilled and crushed with six hours of skin contact to to extract a hint of pink from the Black Muscat.
100% stainless steel ferment.
Natural carbonation is achieved by fermentation
Drink and enjoy now!
Fairy floss, musk, blackcurrant, Turkish delight and mandarin peel
Intense muscat fruit, without relying on the sweetness"
I'm not an avid fan of sweet wines (wines with significant residual sugar), but I can evaluate their quality, and I can say that this Moscato is not only well-made, but is a wine that I will happily drink. It's much more delicate than most big brand Moscatos, in part because the the ripeness of the grapes does the heavy lifting here--there is no sugar added for extra sweetness. It also has a very faint hint of rose, which I think makes it more complex than one might expect from Moscato.
Principe de los Apostoles Mate Gin ($30.99)
From the producer:
"Within the realm of New World Gins, Apóstoles differs greatly from the classic winter flavors of London Dry. We present a nuanced profile that is more tropical and indigenous to the Southern Hemisphere incorporating our Argentine botanicals such as Yerba Mate, Pink Grapefruit, Peppermint and Eucalyptus.
When the Jesuits arrived in the Provence of Misiones they quickly found that the Mate leaf would produce a high quality tea and began to plant hundreds of acres. Mate soon became the national beverage of Argentina with Misiones the original plantings. We honor our land by incorporating fresh Mate leaves into our Gin.
Distilled in 200 liters batches in a German copper still, Apostoles is as craft as it gets. We macerate each botanical separately in a wheat alcohol base. The fresh leaves of Yerba Mate, Eucalyptus and Pink Grapefruit skins are macerated for 24 hours in stainless steel containers. Same for the Juniper and Coriander. The peppermint is macerated only for 2 hours. We then blend all the macerations and distill the blend. The result of the distillation is bottled and numbered by batch."
This is the first premium gin to be made in Latin America, and the ingredients reflect the land, the history, and the culture of Argentina. When I tasted this gin, I knew I had to introduce it in my store. A truly unique spirit, its flavor is nuanced and complex, though mint is clearly present. This makes excellent cocktails, though if I'm having it with tonic, I'm leaving out the lime and adding a little muddled mint or even a touch of mint simple syrup.
Gin Mare ($37.99)
From the producer:
"Gin Mare opens the door to a new variety of gins, with a novel pan-Mediterranean concept that unites the different cultures around this sea representing their botanical stars such as:
Arbequina olives, thyme, basil and rosemary
OUR LIQUID GOLD: THE ARBEQUINA OLIVE
The only one in the world with its own Designation of Origin
OUR MEDITERRANEAN BOTANICALS
Basil from Italy
Thyme from Greece
Rosemary from Turkey
Citrus fruits from Spain
OTHER BOTANICALS THAT MAKE UP THE GIN MARE PERSONALITY
Juniper, Coriander, Green Cardamom (harvested on farms)
Gin Mare also elicits the generational evolution of this category via a family with great weight in this work. Gin Mare is born from a pure Mediterranean environment with our distillery located in an ancient fishing village between the Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada.
Gin Mare is created using Mediterranean crafts and time, in order to obtain an exceptional gin: from a premium barley base, through delicate maceration and distillation which is independent for each botanical (some, like the citrus carry a harmonization process more than one year) to the authentic blending which expresses all the characteristics of each botanical in the final product.
NAMING GIN MARE
The word “Mare” weighs heavily throughout Mediterranean culture, immediately leading us to “Mar” (“sea”) which is the exact translation in Italian. But further research discovers that its meaning in other languages leads to a more familiar meaning, specifically maternal. At the same time, we must remember a universal concept that would include “Mare Nostrum”, the sea of all the communities living under this magical Mediterranean influence which unites the love of gastronomy, the pleasant climate, a way of life with different values where time runs differently than the rest of the world."
I love gin, and have tried all kinds, but none comes close to this gem from Spain. It truly reflects the Mediterranean in its savory, herbal profile, and it will challenge everything you think you know about gin.
Barr Hill Tom Cat Barrel Aged Gin ($48.99)
From the producer:
"Tom Cat Gin is an expedition into uncharted territories. Once distilled, we age the gin in new American oak barrels in search of a bolder expression. The robust character of the new oak barrel mingles with the coniferous quality of the juniper, yielding an enticing aroma. A touch of raw honey leaves this revolutionary spirit remarkably approachable, whether drinking neat or in a cocktail. When the world called for whiskey, we answered resolutely with gin."
From the distributor:
"Barrel aged 4-6 months in new, charred American White Oak, Tom Cat is a completely unique gin with whiskey-like notes of oak, spice and a finish of juniper and raw honey. Tom Cat is the modern day adaption of 18th century England’s most revered spirit, Old Tom gin. After gin was outlawed by the Spirits Act of 1750, rebellious pub owners would hang a wooden plaque shaped like a black cat to inform the passerby of their defiance of the ban. Deposit a few pennies through the cat’s mouth and a bartender would pour a ration of Old Tom to be sipped through a tube between the cat’s paws."
It seems as if everyone is making a barrel-aged gin these days, but Barr Hill was really at the front of that trend with a unique product that reflects Vermont's flora and fauna. The aging softens the spirit and makes it ideal for sipping as well as for cocktails. The touch of honey doesn't sweeten it, but gives it a roundness that you won't find in most other gins. A superior example of the style.
Cardinal Spirits Pride Vodka ($24.99)
From the producer:
"Cardinal Spirits Vodka is fermented and distilled on site in Bloomington, Indiana from white grapes.
This is not your average tasteless, odorless vodka. It has character by design. A very light entry, a full rich body, and a bright floral finish. We distill to 190.5º proof rather than blowing all of the flavor out at 192, leaving some of the grape aroma and flavor in the spirit before its final charcoal filtering.
It's some of the best vodka around, and many people have told us it's the only vodka they'll drink straight.
Here’s the deal with Pride Vodka: 10% of proceeds from each bottle goes to LGBTQ orgs in your community like @lgbtcenternyc and @btown_pride! A bottle of vodka won’t solve the world’s problems, but it will directly support the LGBTQ community, and that’s a damn good start."
This is a special bottling of Cardinal Spirits' signature Vodka, which is distilled from grapes and drinks as smoothly as any I've ever had. It earned 93 points from Wine Enthusiast and Triple Gold at the Micro Liquor Spirits Awards. This vodka is super versatile, and it passes my test: can I sip it neat?
Wild Moon Cucumber Liqueur ($21.99)
From the producer:
"Uniquely flavored, all-natural liqueurs designed for the professional mixologist and home enthusiast alike. Hartford Flavor has revolutionized the traditional liqueur. Wild Moon Liqueurs are flavor forward, have reduced sugars, and no chemicals; there is nothing else like it on the market.
All natural-Gluten Free-GMO Free
Descriptors: Fresh, Clean, Alive, Delicate, Smooth
Uncork and smell the gust of bright green ripeness and sun warmed cucumbers wafting from the bottle. Fresh and sweet aromas of honeydew and Japanese melon candy confront both tongue and nostril simultaneously at the first sip. The mouth-feel is one of diluted honey offering roundness to the clean flavor of cucumber that remains on the palate."
Earlier this year I met the creators/owners of this company, and I was extremely impressed with their dedication to bringing something unique and versatile to the liqueur market. Beyond the incredible flavor profiles, these liqueurs are made in small batches as naturally (and organically) as they can be. The base spirit is made from sugar cane. I am happy to also carry the Cranberry and the Lime, but at this week's tasting we will pour the Cucumber, which is perfect for crisp cocktails. It has just the right amount of sweetness, but is not cloying, and it is great in a vodka drink or a spritz.