May 14, 2007

K Vintners Wine Tasting

Wine Tasting!
The Wines of

K Vintners
Charles Smith, Winemaker
Monday, May 14th

I'm so psyched about this that I can't stand still!

These are some of the best and truly unique wines made in the US! These wines vary from vineyard-to-vineyard - exhibiting what the French call "terroir" - wines that taste of a place!

We are hosting a tasting for idiosyncratic winemaker, Charles Smith! Charles is one of Washington state's most distinctive and best winemakers.

"K Vintners rocks with Washington Syrah."Wine Spectator
"Top ten Syrah in America."Wine and Spirits
Jancis Robinson, one of the world's most esteemed wine reviewers and writers, said this about K Vintners,
"One of the most inspiring to have come my way was K Vintners, a modest ranch in Walla Walla, Washington's most prestigious red wine region - both the Cougar Hills 2002 and The Boy 2002 are truly stunning wines with a real sense of place that California would be hard-pushed to match at 30 to 35 dollars a bottle. This 4,000-case operation opened its doors only in 2001."

Some of you may remember my first encounter with Charles. To read it, please see my "blog" entry - I just posted the e-mail I sent 2 years ago after meeting Charles for the 1st time and tasting his wines. First Encounter of a Close Kind with Charles Smith

The Wines:

The K Vintners Wines are made in 108-1,200 case amounts. Doug & Cat at SOPO are receiving 7-10 cases of most of these wines. That's all of them we will see in Maine! They won't last long.

The Whites:

The Magnificent Wine Company House Wine White 2006 $10.99
- Fabulous wine! Yummy! Tasty! Fun-to-drink! If you are moving away from Chardonnay b/c you are tired of a lot of toasted oakiness, try this! If you love the bright flavors many Chards have, try this! Just a tasty white wine! Wonderful bright green apple and pear aromas and flavors. Notes of citrus. Wonderful clean minerality. Just a vibrant, refreshing wine! Fresher, crisper and cleaner than a big oaky Chardonnay. Food pairing - Great choice as a sipping wine, with lighter seafood & shellfish, lighter poultry dishes & more!
K Vintners Kung Fu Reisling 2006 $13.99 - This is brand-new to the state and to me....I've never tried it....I'm looking forward to trying it, though!
K Vintners Viognier 2006 $22.99 - Wow! What a wine! Absolutely a killer wine! I find this just a unique and stunning wine! The only thing bigger than this winemaker's ego are the flavors and aromas in his wines! Beautiful nose of pears, flowers, orange blossoms, anise and apples. Rich and velvety in the mouth. Huge, long finish of pears and minerals. 645 cases made. Food pairing - This will absolutely be smokin' with a roasted chicken dinner or roasted pork tenderloin with root vegetables. Great with salmon - grilled smoked or baked. Awesome shellfish wine!

The Reds:

· The Magnificent Wine Company House Wine Red 2005 $10.99 - This is a killer wine...a STEAL at this price! Cabernet Sauvignon (54%), Merlot (30%), Syrah (11%), Malbec (3%) and Cabernet Franc (1%). Big, bodacious, silky smooth, rich, chewy, substantial, long, lingering, pleasing finish. Put away the price tag & I guarantee you'll think you're drinking a more expensive wine. Please decant - it'll open up the fruit! Loads of big berries, smokiness, leather, pepper, earthiness, meaty bacon fat. Good acidity, well-integrated tannins. Food pairing - steak, pork tenderloin, big, robust tomato sauces, and it will also just sip well on your back deck on a sunny day or in front of a fire.
· K Vintners The Beautiful Syrah 2005 - $49.99 - Charles has only made this wine once before and he only made made 108 cases of it this time around! Velvety, elegant and full of flavor! Charles says of this wine, "It is so gorgeous, it is pure crushed velvet!"
· K Vintners Cougar Hills Syrah 2005 $44.99 - Aromas of baked or stewed fruits, salty air, minerals and olives. Flavors of dark berries, raspberries, minerals and more. Powerful wine that still has elegance! This grows the more you taste it! Nicely balanced tannins and fruit on the long finish. 580 cases made.
· K Vintners Morrison Lane Syrah 2003 $45.99 - Fabulous medium-to-full bodied Syrah that reminds me of a Cote Rotie. Aromas of dark berries, black currants, meat and more. Lots of complex flavors - dark and red berries, licorice, peppery spice, some stewed fruit and cassis. Long,long finish. This should hold up well through 2012-14. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 93 points.
· K Vintners Milbrandt Syrah 2004 $34.99 - This is a WOW wine! This is an elegant Syrah & a POWERHOUSE! Big, huge flavors & aromas, yet smooth & soft. Aromas of dark berries, bacon fat, smoked meats, espresso, pepper, minerals and rich dark earth. Similar flavors. Well-integrated tannins. Decant this - just pour it into a pitcher or large measuring cup and pour it back into the bottle - if you don't, you'll wish, while you're drinking that last glass, that you had! This wine will make you sing! WOW! An ULTIMATE date night wine! This wine Rocks! 1,200 cases made.
· K Vintners Lucky #7 Syrah 2003 $35.99 - This is just a really nice wine! Soft. Elegant. Intense. Smooth. Complex. Big, huge flavors & aromas. Mocha, cocoa and chocolate aromas and flavors mingling with dark and red berries and herbs and peppery spice! Long, rich smooth finish. This wine shows a lot of minerality and spice. From the Seven Hills. 800 cases made. Jancis Robinson, "Truly stunning wine!"

We hope to see you Monday!

Eric Fullagar

May 6, 2007

First Encounter with K Vintners and winemaker, Charles Smith

I've pulled up an e-mail I sent on April 28th, 2005 after tasting many of the K Vintner Wines for the first time!

It was quite the night!


One of the curses of my job is I have to taste wines. Yes, it's hard work...but, someone has to do it and keep you from tasting plonk. I wade through a lot of grape juice before I find the wines we want to carry (and a lot of this plonk is expensive stuff).

Occasionally, I get to taste some unique wines...even rarer I get to do it with the winemaker.

Well, Wednesday was one of those nights.

Doug Watts and Cat Oster, owners of South Portland Wine Company (Maine's newest and best wine distributor), called and said that Charles Smith from K Vintners would be in town and asked if I wanted to swing by and taste some wines (turns out that we tasted wine and then went and ate buckets of steamers, mussels, oysters and a lobster or two or twelve at J's in Portland and then caroused a bit - please keep that quiet...I told Aly it was a hard night's work!).

Twist my arm! I decided to take one for the was tough...hard work...but, someone had to do it...and that someone was me...

Charles Smith is an iconoclast...he's a unique person (he's the Honorable Charles Smith - his brother is the president of a prestigious Cambridge College and a member of the House of Charles is the "Honorable...")...former rock-and-roller...think Ozzy Osbourne, Neil Young and Bob Marley...full of bluster...full of opinions....full of a head of hair that the guys on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" would scream, "Product, product...needs hair product..." and full of ability to make great, unique, one-of-a-kind wines. Charles is not trying to make wines for the masses...he's making wines for people that love wines that "taste like they are from somewhere." We are lucky to have these wines in Maine. They are in extremely limited supply. They are powerhouses today (and, with decanting will drink well tonight) and they'll age well for 7-12 years.

What's unique about Charles' wines - they are not made for everyone. They are unique, complex, interesting...wines you sit around and drink over a long evening with great friends.

They are not simplistic...they are not summer-time "quaffing" wines. They are robust, complex...."Wow" wines!

This is what I tasted and like and is available:

The Boy 2003 - $44.99 (less than 6 bottles) - This is a Big Wine. Robust. It's not for the faint of heart. Mind-boggling intensity of flavors and aromas. This is single vineyard wine from the famous Cayuse "En Cerisse" Vineyard - famous for its stone and gravel makeup - remember, the best grapes often come from the worst land. It's a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo and more! Layers and layers of complexity. Wonderful fruit and spice. Crystal clear, but still a rich color. Deep. Rich. Well-integrated tannins. This is a wine you're friends will fight over to finish. By the has the most unusual label on a bottle...period! The label is as plain as possible!

Milbrandt 2003 - $29.99 (less than 30 bottles) - This is an elegant Syrah. Wow! Big, huge flavors and aromas, but still soft and smooth. Notes of bacon fat and smoked meats. Espresso in the nose. Minerals and earth from the soil. Well-integrated, soft, fine-grained tannins. Silky, soft, long finish. From the Wahluke Slope Vineyard, Columbia Valley.

Cougar Hills Syrah 2003 - $44.99 (less than 12 bottles in Maine) - Ooooh, is just a really nice wine. Mocha, cocoa and chocolate aromas and flavors. Soft. Elegant. Smooth. Complex. Huge variety of flavors and aromas. A whopping 1920 bottles made....worldwide.

These are just brilliant wines. They are not widely available. They are not for everyone.

But, if you like unique wines that taste like they are from somewhere...that taste like a unique person laid hands on them...then you should call us and ask us to set aside a bottle or two or so.

These wines are worth your hard-earned money. If you want any, let us know ASAP.

May 2007 Wines of the Month

May's Wines!

We are working with Ned Swain, of Devenish Wines, for this month. Ned helps run one of the smaller, truly specialized distributors in Maine.
As usual, Ned has some wonderful wines - from small producers....several of these wines are brand-new to Maine or they are brand-new vintages!

Tier 1 - $9-15/bottle

We love this tiny winery in France. It sits near Mont Ventoux (if you follow the Tour de France, you'll recognize Mont Ventoux as the home to one of that race's most difficult mountain stages - the race is often won or lost on this mountain). This is a desolate, arid, almost lunar landscape....remember, the best grapes come from vines grown in horrible areas in terms of soil quality. Vines under stress produce fewer, but better grapes than vines in fertile soil.

Mont Ventoux is in the Northern Rhone valley, so this wine is similar in style to many Rhone-wine blends. The volcanic soil and harsh climate in this area make the wines distinct.

Young winemaker Paul Vendran is putting his stamp on this region, making superb wines from Grenache and Syrah. These wines are fermented in stainless steel and you should drink them when they are young and fresh.

The rosé is actually made from the "first run" juice when Vendran makes his Côtes du Ventoux Rouge. The juice of most grapes runs "clear." The color comes from the skin. So, this rosé is a blend of Grenache and Syrah and it is faintly colored "pink" by the grape skins. Don't "freak" at the thought of drinking a "pink" wine. This is NOT a white zinfandel. This is a PERFECT wine for drinking with grilled foods!

The White: La Ferme Saint Pierre Côtes du Ventoux Rosé 2006 (France) $12.99 - This is a lovely, dry rosé. We just love it! Easy-drinking. Tastes great! Clean, dry, refreshing. Flavors of raspberry and strawberry. Crisp and vibrant acidity. Soft in the mouth. Nice weight to the wine. Vendran makes no more than 300 cases of his rosé each year....we always hope the "world" doesn't discover that it will last through Thanksgiving! Food pairing - The perfect wine with grilled chicken, or chilled grilled chicken salad. Great with roasted poultry, salad nicoise, light seafood dishes including soups, duck, etc. Goes well with spicy Asian food. Put it this way - a dry rosé is one of the most food friendly wines made!.

The Red: La Ferme Saint Pierre Côtes du Ventoux Rouge 2005 (France) $12.99 - This is one of my favorite wines. This is just good drinking, right here! Similar in style to many Côtes du Rhones - loads of dark cherry & black berry fruit aromas & flavors. Full-bodied. Notes of rich earth from the volcanic soil that covers Mount Ventoux with a peppery, dry finish. Half Syrah and half Grenache. Food pairing - Great grilling wine. Great with roasts. Toss it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes on a hot day! (reds are best at 55-60 degrees, not at room temperature).

Tier 2 - $16-24/bottle

The White: Ameztoi Txakolina 2006 (Spain) $17.99 - A young importer, André Tamers, found this wine in the Basque part of Spain. André lives in my hometown, Chapel Hill, NC. His wine importing company is De Maison Selections. We carry several of their wines.

He found this unusual wine in San Sebastian. The Basques call the wine Txakolina (CHOC-oh-lee); it is made from an indigenous Basque grape called Hondaribbi Zurri. The Basque language sure is a mouthful!

The wine is also a mouthful! It is vibrant, fresh, zesty and has a mild spritzyness to it! It really explodes out of the glass and grabs your attention! Aromas of kiwi, green apples and citrus. It has flavors of fresh citrus, green apples and a nice salinity that tells you this is made for seafood! This is nice and juicy and fresh at the start and throughout; and, it finishes with a crisp acidity.
Food pairing - This just screams for seafood, shellfish and spicy food (spicy shrimp would be great). If you are a sushi fan, you must buy this! This would be great with sardines (they eat a lot of them in Spain).

The Red: Abando Rioja Crianza 2001 (Spain) $24.99 - This is a classic Rioja with just the right amount of age to it!

It's showing just a hint of brick color in the glass. Aromas of cherries, raspberries and roses. Lots of complexity and texture to the wine! Flavors that are packed with red berry fruit, dry earth, cedar, vanilla & tobacco (we're talking drying tobacco and not cigarette smoke....leaf tobacco drying is a very pleasant aroma and a classic aroma in red wine). Well-structured and integrated tannins and acidity.

Santiago Ijalba is the winemaker & one of Rioja's creative geniuses & pioneers who has helped lead the resurgence in Rioja! Most of his wines are organic & all are moving that way. Aged & fermented in American & French oak for 16 months. Bottled unfiltered. Food pairing - meat dishes, paella, grilled or roasted meats, Manchego cheese and similar harder cheeses.

Tier 3 - $25-45/bottle

The White: Zenato "Sergio" Lugana 2004 (Italy) $31.99 - this is the flagship wine from one of my favorite wineries from my favorite Italian importer, Winebow!

The Zenato family has long established the quality and INNOVATIVE standard in Lake Garda (northeastern Italy)....and this is their flagship wine! Founded by Sergio Zenato, his daughter, Nadia, now runs the winery.....that makes her an exception....a female head of a winery....and she happens to be the head of one of the best wineries in Italy!

Wine Spectator "only" drops 89 points on this wine....most reviewers don't know what to do with this's quirky 0 it's not Chardonnay, it's not Pinot Gris, it's not Sauvignon Blanc.....89 points is actually my favorite score....a score that lets you know it's a really good wine, but it doesn't cause a "feeding frenzy" like a 90+ point score does.

It's 100% Trebbiano di Lugana from Santa Cristina. Some Trebbiano is a "so-so" grape until you head into Zenato's vineyards and similar vineyards in northeastern Italy.....there you find this "clone" of Trebbiano (bear in mind, most grapes have many, even dozens of clones). Then, you see vineyard practices that are reminiscent of the best areas in Burgundy.....lots of hands-on attention, low-yield...."green harvesting" to get rid of grapes....and more....aged 6 months in oak and another 6 months in the bottle before releasing the wine. 1,250 cases made.

The wine!!!!

Pale straw color. Aromas of flowers, peaches, subtle is full-bodied and has a soft, smooth texture that is slightly viscous or oily. Flavors of ripe peaches, almonds, minerals and lemon. Long, long finish. Nice acidity and weight to this wine. Food pairing - poultry dishes, seafood, appetizers. Wine Spectator, 89 points

The Red: Jaffurs Santa Barbara County Syrah 2005 (California) $29.99 - We just love this Syrah! Craig Jaffurs is one of the best winemakers going in California! Deep, dark, almost inky garnet in color. Rich nose. Dark sweet berry aromas. Rich earth. Soft, supple texture. Flavors of fresh dark berries and plums, mineral and spice. Soft tannins. Powerful, rich, complex wine. Long, full finish.

100% Syrah. Thompson (28%), Larner (34%) and Melville-Verna's (38%) vineyards. Fruit was destemmed, but not crushed. Fermentation was with whole berries in small bins. Aged in less than 1/3 new oak barrels (half American, half French). Unfined and only lightly filtered. 1,164 cases made. Drink now through 2012. Food pairing - Enjoy with lamb, beef, etc. Great with a Syrah reduction sauce. Drinks well on its own! Wine Spectator, 90 points

Those are the wines.

As always, if something interests you, please call or e-mail and ask us to set some aside for you.

We can hold it for quite some time for you!

Wines of the Month Club

WINES of the Month Club

Freeport Cheese & Wine
27 Bow Street, Freeport, ME 04032
(207) 865-3993

Each month we pick 3 sets of distinctive wines at a 3 different price levels.
Each month you will receive an e-mail describing this month's wines.
This is the perfect gift for a wine lover (or someone new to wine who wants to learn more!).

Why should you join? 3 reasons…

  1. Selection. We carefully select distinctive, unusual and hard-to-find wines.
  2. Education. Wine is as complicated as you want to make it. We want to make it simpler. It’s also a fun topic to study – I love the history and culture of wine areas. Being a part of our wine club will let you learn about wine gradually by trying different wines. The best way to learn is to taste different things. We’ll also include background information about the winery and area.
  3. Support Small Family Wineries…the wines we pick will come from small, family-owned and operated wineries, many of which practice sustainable agriculture. Taste is most important – with the wealth of wines out there, it’s also nice to support small producers who are doing it the right way!

We will pick two wines for you – 1 white & 1 red. Some months, we'll offer an optional bottle, an "other" (say a dessert wine or a sparkling wine or a dry rosé).

We have Three Tiers for our Wines of the Month Club (you may sign-up for one, two or all three). You can pick-and-choose from the wines. The cost each month will fall roughly in the middle of each tier (for example, Tier 1 will have an average cost/bottle at about $12-13).

  • Tier 1 - $9-15/bottle
  • Tier 2 - $16-24/bottle
  • Tier 3 - $25-45/bottle

This is a great way for you to try something new. This also makes a great gift - either for a wine lover or someone new to wine (the gift can be for a month, 2 or 3 months, a year, you decide).

How do you pay? Join the club and we will charge your credit card when the wines arrive.

The wines will be available within the 1st 7 days of each month; and, we will hold them in the store for you until you can pick them up.

You will receive an e-mail describing the wines.

Unfortunately, Maine law does not let us ship wine.