April 15, 2007

March Wines of the Month

March's Wines!

Tier 1 - $9-15/bottle

For Tier I this month, we are headed to 2 somewhat obscure, yet rapidly emerging wine areas in Spain - Rueda in the north for the white and Jumilla in the southwest for the red. Both of these wines are BRAND NEW in the state of Maine....the importer is Aurelio Cabestrero...who has quickly built a powerhouse line-up of Spanish wines....Michael Franz...writer for the WineReviewOnline (and former wine writer for the Washington Post), says of Cabestrero....

"I'd like to propose another name for consideration in the ranks of America's
most significant importers: Aurelio Cabestrero, president and owner of Grapes of
Spain, Inc., based in Lorton, Virginia. Cabestrero started his company
quite recently, in 2002. Yet, in this brief span he has assembled a lineup
of wines that seems impossibly strong."

The White: Bodegas Pedro Escudero Valdelainos Rueda Verdejo 2005 (Spain) $9.99 - This is a fabulous wine from Central Spain! Aromas of apples, pears, nectarines, lime and freshly mown grass. Fresh, bright citrus flavors combined with hints of green apples, grass and straw and minerals. Juicy feel in the mouth. Crisp, spicy, long finish. Blend of 97% Verdejo and 3% Viura. Aged in stainless steel on its lees for 2 months. Hand-harvested grapes. Cold maceration and a cool temperature slow-fermentation. Rueda is northwest of Madrid and just southwest of the legendary Ribera del Duero red wine region. One might think this area is too hot to grow good white wine grapes, but the desert's cool night-time temperatures make it a perfect place the Verdejo grape. Food pairing - the perfect match for a slew of seafood meals. Great as a cocktail wine....think of this as similar to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc....with less pink grapefruit and no gooseberry elements. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 88 points; Wine Review Online, "It may be the best wine of its type available for less than $12; International Wine Cellar, 88 points, "This offers the complexity of Rias Baixas Verdejos costing twice as much."

The Red: Bodegas Silvano Garcia Vinahonda 2005 (Spain) $12.99 - Aromas of red berries, minerals, cherries and rich, wet dark earth. Medium-bodied....with a nice, rich feel in the mouth. Flavors of red berries....Soft tannins and nice acidity. Blend of 85% Monastrell and 15% Tempranillo. The grapes are fermented separately and then blended. Average age of the vines is 35 years (Monastrell) and 20 years (Tempranillo). Unoaked. From Jumilla in the Southeast of Spain....between Valencia and Murcia. This family estate was founded in 1925....Today, Silvano Garcia is the winemaker. Food pairing - roasted or grilled meats, harder cheeses such as Manchego or Piave Vecchio, rich vegetarian dishes, etc. Drinks nicely on its own. You might want to toss this in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to enhance its freshness. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 89 points.

Tier 2 - $16-24/bottle

The White: Josef Leitz Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Riesling Spatlese 2005 (Germany) $21.99 - This wine just shows how good of a wine Riesling can make when it is in the hands of a skilled winemaker....Josef Leitz is such a skilled winemaker. This just has huge aromas - stony minerals, pears, baked apples, honey, vanilla, mint and pineapple. This shows that classic Rheingau minerality. 2005 is an outstanding Riesling vintage....this will age well for another 8-10 years. Flavors of peaches, pears, melon, ginger, apples and minerals. Bright, fresh, crisp acidity. This has great weight to it....coupled with power and finesse. Long, long, lingering finish. Only 8.5% alcohol. Brand new to Maine! (Arrived on Thursday). 681 cases imported. The importer is the highly respected Terry Theise. The Josef Leitz estate is widely regarded as one of the 3 rising stars in the new generation of Rheingau winemakers (along with Kunstler and Weil). This is a small estate of 5.8 hectares (about 2.5 acres to a hectare). This winemaker never racks his wines (separating the wine from the "lees")....he bottles his wines off the gross lees from the casks in which they are fermented.....this adds a lot of richness to the wine and unique characteristics to the aromas and flavors. Leitz spent his early career at the Johannishof estate of Hans Hermann Eser. Food pairing - Serve cold! Traditional German dishes, spicy foods, seafood dishes, smoked fish, ham and more! Great wine to sit and sip when enjoying a long conversation with good friends. Wine Spectator, 93 points, "Smart Buy."

The Red: Meinert Devon Crest 2003 (South Africa) Reg. $27.99 Sale $23.99 - Deep, dark red color. Aromas of red berries, leather & mint. Flavors of red berries, cherries & minerals....Well-balanced, fresh acidity. Hints of minerals, Provencal herbs and cedar on the finish. While it is still young, the 18 months in oak have given it a smooth and velvety feel. Long, lingering finish that blends red berries and minerals. Blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon & 31% Merlot. 450 cases imported. Devon Valley is a tiny part of Stellenbosch. No yeast added to the grapes....fermentation begins spontaneously in closed stainless steel tanks. Then the wine was aged separately in new French oak barrels for 12 months, and then the wine is blended and returned to the barrel for 6 more months. Bottled in May 2005. Should age well for another 3-5 years. Not quite brand new to Maine, it's been here since December or so! Food pairing - lamb, prime rib, steak, meat dishes, especially ones with rosemary and garlic, duck. If you like bigger wines without food, you'll love this....but, I prefer it with a steak or stew! Wine Spectator, 89 points

Tier 3 - $25-45/bottle

Vinum Cellars is a small producer in Napa Valley. They buy great grapes from the best vineyards and they make wine that tastes of a place and is great. They believe the best wines are made in the vineyard.....they used older French oak barrels so that the wood doesn't overpower the wines. We love their wines! The wines arrived in Maine last week....so they are new!


The White: Vinum Cellars VIO Viognier 2005 (California) $28.99 - This is both a big, bold wine and one with subtlety to it! Aromas of honeydew melon, white flowers & vanilla. Flavors of lemons, pears, peaches, tart apples and baking spices (nutmeg and cloves). Long, lingering finish of fresh, ripe pears and minerals. Grapes are hand-picked, whole-cluster pressed and cold-fermented. The grapes are from the Vista Verde Vineyard just north of the Pinnacles in San Benito County (San Benito is southwest of San Francisco and has rapidly emerged as a Central Coast appellation of note). This is a cool climate growing area. Same vineyards as some of the famed William Salem wines. Aged "sur lies" for 9 months in small French oak barrels (50% are 2-year old barrels and 50% are 3-year-old barrels). 10% of the wine undergoes "malo-lactic" fermentation. Only 501 cases made. Food pairing - lobster, shellfish, poultry, creamy or olive oil-based pasta dishes, spicy Asian food, some Tex-Mex dishes. Drinks well on its own. Wine Enthusiast, 90 points

The Red: Vinum Cellars Red Dirt Red 2004 (California) $34.99 - This is a wonderful Chateauneuf-de-Pape-style blend from California. Aromas of ripe dark cherries, licorice, vanilla and spice. Huge red berry, cherry, mocha, cocoa flavors.....notes of plums, figs, pepper and vanilla. Nice balance of tannins, fruit and acidity. Dry. Long finish with dusty tannins. Chateauneuf-du-Pape style wine - blend of 48% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre and 22% Grenache. Aged and fermented in small French oak barrels (90% are 2-3 years old and 10% are new). Bottled unfiltered. 589 cases made. It comes in a 6-bottle case....so if you love it, you can buy it at a case discount getting only 6 bottles. From El Dorado County - this is in the Sierra Foothills to the east of San Francisco and Sacramento. Food pairing - beef stew, steak, lamb, lamb stew, a big pot of good chili.