Archive for September, 2016
It is still Summertime & it has been hot! Translation–a very we bottle of delicious rosé please.
2014 Ravaille Ermitage du Pic St Loup Rosé–Not that long ago, the Languedoc winegrowing region of southern France was considered by many to be a sea of mediocre wine. Over the past 25 or so years, however, very determined wine importers, such as the iconic Kermit Lynch, have been searching out & finding a growing number of small family wine estates who own & farm some very interesting parcels & produce some very interesting wines. Such is the case here. The Ravaille family, for example, have resided in this nook for well over 1,000 years & it was by no accident therefore that they selected their specific parcels to start their wine adventure. “The unique soils from the Ravaille’s higher-altitude vineyard slopes on the Pic St Loup is a collision of soils between the dominant marly limestone and dolomite; red and white clay, sand, schist, and round galets, which has happened over the eons”. Although I had been a fan of their fascinating red “country” wines for quite some time, it really is their rosé which recently really caught our full attention. The 2014 is 30% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 10% Cinsault. All making for a very unique, yet wonderfully delicious pink wine.
2015 Clos Sainte Magdeleine Cassis Rosé–Cassis is a seaport village located on the coast of Provence, France. Clos Ste. Magdeleine. Founded in 1860, the Sack-Zafiropulos family have been running this estate for 4 generations. This winery first came on my radar screen because of its iconic white wine, which many insiders would say is the quintessential pairing with bouillabaisse, the world renown regional fish stew/soup of Cassis & elsewhere throughout southern France. On at least 2 separate visits to the domaine, while we did taste the white & the rosé, we would only buy the white. Only in the past few years has the family really stepped up their game to produce a standout rosé, so much so, the wine is now apparently quite allocated. In fact, in just a short time, I now think this has become one of our absolute favorites PINK wines from anywhere in the world–because of its deliciousness & remarkable ethereal-ness, which creates interesting, mesmerizing minerality & buoyancy in the resulting wine. I also like how despite its limestone crispness, this wine additionally has a roundness & interesting viscosity that I love. Yes, this is a wine well worth seeking out! By the way, the 2015 is 40% Grenache, 40% Cinsault, 20% Mourvèdre, fermented & aged in stainless steel with NO ML whatsoever. Here is one of the best quotes aptly coined for this estate & its wines–“Clos Sainte Magdeleine’s success lies in an uncanny ability to capture a dichotomous nerve and sun-kissed unctuousness in their wines, making them both incredibly food-friendly and delicious entirely on their own“.
2013 Yves Leccia Rosé “Ile de Beaute”–Here is a VERY masculine style of Corsican rosé , produced from a heritage massale selection of Niellucciu, direct pressed & sees NO ML. Throughout the Corsican challenging, rugged terrain, we have seen & tasted quite a few really good, hearty, rugged Niellucciu based red wines. It is therefore quite understandable then that a Niellucciu based rosé would be masculine in its profile. While that may true, thankfully the combination of chalk & schist bedrock soils the vines grown in gives the wine a mesmerizing minerality & Yves Leccia’s masterful winemaking results in a wine that has surprising elegance, class & refinement. As the importer recently noted–“Yves Leccia has a certain presence and noble bearing to him, much like his wines, which are often referred to as the “Rolls-Royce” of Corsican wines, a reputation earned after nearly 30 years of making consistently elegant and sophisticated wines. Yves decided to branch off on his own in 2004 and focus on the single terroir he felt was the top in Patrimonio. This terroir, “E Croce,” sits on a thin chalk soil above a thick bedrock of pure schist, facing the gulf of St. Florent”.
2014 Chateau d”Esclans Rosé “Rock Angel”–One of the world’s true superstar PINK wine producers, under the direction of Sasha Lichine & long time superstar Bordeaux enologist Patrick Leon with a almost rock star kind of status & therefore following. Imagine, for instance, a rosé getting a 98 point rating? Yes, this rosé project has certainly created quite a splash on to the world wine scene with their multiple bottlings of Provencal pink wines. I thought the first few vintages I tasted of their “go to wine”, “Whispering Angel”, was much better than the current bottlings. I also thought their crown jewel bottling, “Garrus”, was just too much for me, both in amplification & in price ($80 a bottle). The “Rock Angel” bottling has settled into quite a sweet spot, although still seemingly quite pricey at $38 or so a bottle). When one considers however, top level Californian Chardonnays sell for even more dollars, then this wine certainly over delivers for the dollar. Mainly Grenache with some Rolle blended in (although I think there is some Cinsault too)—just the free run juice with some slight first press is used—then aged in demi muids (600 liter) & stainless steel.
Here is yet another quartet of interesting red wines from Italy…..
La Basia–here is a small, interesting, family owned winery whose vineyards are located up to 900 feet elevation in the hills on the western shores of Lake Garda in Lombardy. These wines are not grand, nor do they have any aspirations of grandeur. They are instead, thankfully, more about regionality, authenticity & typicity created by a very hard working family. We tasted 2 of their red wines, which are now proudly featured at our VINO restaurant, 1 by the glass & the other on the bottle list. The core of the Valtenesi “La Botte Piena” bottling is the indigenous Gropello grape variety to which some Barbera, Sangiovese & Marzemino is added. Eventhough it is heralded as a light, fruity wine, I think most every day palates would find the wine has a dark, masculine, hearty character, deceivingly intense & structured with a surprising grip & mojo & quite a bit of tannins/astringency, albeit fine, in the finish. I find this wine even more intriguing & compelling the more I smell & taste this wine. It has red fruit, blueberry, mulberry nuances with German licorice, bay leaf & some kind of Indian spice intricasies. There is also an underlying earthy component which is so very different from limestone or schist in nature……& very well integrated. Where there are so many “correct” wines out there, this one has much more to offer & is therefore worth seeking out to try! We readily serve this wine with our Roasted Organic Chicken with a Tuscan bean stew. This is really an interesting drink with or without food. The Marzemino “Le Morene” bottling, on the other hand, is 100% Marzemino (grape variety) & “Le Moraine” refers to the glacial soils the vines grow in. This wine is much darker in color, has more body & more viscosity. There is both red & black fruit, as well as a stoniness prevalent. I think it has a wider appeal than the previous wine, just because of its richness, wonderful texture which also hides the tannins more.
Nanni Cope Terre del Volturno “Sabbie di Sopra Il Bosco” 2012–from Castel Campagnano, in the upper region of Caserta of Campania. The roughly 6.2 acre Sopra Il Bosco vineyard is located at approximately 700 feet in elevation. The grape mix for this bottling is mainly Pallagrello Nero with some Aglianico & a dollop of very old vine, ungrafted Casavecchia. The 2012 is dark, black chocolate color with some browning on the rim. Chinese preserved plums, licorice, saddle leather nuances with a dark abyss core. A friend who specializes in plants once gave me what he called a “curry” plant. It smelled somewhat of curry but with a more vegetal edge. This wine has that same kind of scent. On the palate, this wine is masculine, mega concentrated & well structured with astringent, puckering though surprisingly refined rather than coarse tannins. This wine definitely has mojo & certainly needs some time to resolve itself. Still, it is an interesting drink nonetheless.
Oasi Degli Angeli “Kurni” 2009–this is a very fascinating red from Marche, Italy, one that took a bit to understand & appreciate. The main challenge for me intially was the noticeably sweet, ripe fruit, which reminded me of Amarone from the Veneto in style, but instead produced from 100% Montepulciano (grape variety)–50 or so year old vines. Still, the wine has balance, superb flow on the palate & lots to say, just in a VERY different way. The Oasi Degli Angeli estate dates back three generations, starting with a small farm in the Marche Cupra Marittima (Ascoli Piceno), 24 acres in size, 330-820 feet in elevation, southfacing, soils–loose, pebbly, sandy, silty, with chalk. The family does NOT use any chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. the wine is fermented in 60% vertical barriques & 40% stainless steel (without temperature control) & then aged in French barriques (20% of which is new) for 20-22 months & then bottled unfiltered, unfined.
Last night a friend came into VINO & had two 2006 red Burgundies–2006 DeVillaine Bourgogne “La Digoine” & the 2006 Robert Chevillon Nuits St Georges. Both wines were stunning in a very transparent, ethereal style. I remember when they were first released, the 2006’s were quite overshadowed by the hype & high acclaim of the 2005’s. Still, I chose to buy more 2006 than 2005, partly because of the price difference, but also because I thought the ’06’s would be so glorious & more “classic” with some bottle age. (The 2005’s, in comparison, would take considerable amount of bottle age to come out of its cocoon).
The 2006 La Digoine was so sheer (like lace), pure & pretty. The color was lighter hued & very transparent. The perfume was enticing, alluring & so refined…..qualities I could have only hoped would evolve. I was so mesmerized with each whiff as the wine opened up with air. I wish I had bought more.
The 2006 Chevillon Nuits St Georges had a much more meaty, musky, autumn humus smell to it, more masculine with more pedigree & “meat on the bones”. The muskiness was compelling, quite beguiling & I kept wanting to dive back in for more. (This wine also made it clearer to me, how so remarkably sheer & ethereal the “La Digoine” was.)
Yes, these 2006 wines were something to behold & are just now opening up again.