May 6, 2007

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!