September 9, 2007

September Wines of the Month - 2007

It's time for the....

September Wines of the month!

If you are wondering about the details of our wine of the month club, scroll down to find the particular post on our blog....or e-mail me.

Being a member of our “Wines of the Month” program provides the following benefits:
  1. earns you a 10% discount on all wine purchases (if you are not a member, you still get a 10% discount on case purchases - 12 bottles of wine; mixed or full).
  2. “Wines of the Month” members also get a 15% discount when buying a complete case (12 bottles of the same wine).
  3. 15% off on the "Mixed 12-pack" wines we offer!

September's Wines

We are working with David Joseph, owner of DaVine Wines. DaVine is one of the 2 newest, specialty distributors in Maine – we really love their wines and importers – a great note at this link on the value of paying attention to the importer!

Tier 1 - $9-15/bottle

We're off to Southern France (red) and Chile (white) this month. What they have in common is that both are made by masterful French winemakers.

The White:

Viña William Fèvre La Misión del Clarillo Chardonnay 2005 (Chile) $11.99 – Can you imagine selling off Grand and Premier Cru vineyards in Chablis in the 1990's and searching the world for better winemaking areas? Well, that is just what William Fèvre did!

This is a beautiful wine! Aromas and flavors of pears, white peaches, green apples, melons, pineapple, minerals and hints of smoke. It has a round, smooth mouthfeel. Nice length on the crisp finish. The hint of smoke is characteristic of some vines from the Pirque area in the Maipo Valley. Unoaked Chardonnay – fermented and aged in stainless steel. Food pairing – seafood, poultry, dishes with a cream sauce. Drinks well without food.

At the end of the 18th century, French missionaries arrived in Chile. They settled near the Clarillo River, in the Maipo Valley. They discovered that the area had great potential for winemaking.

William Fèvre has been one of the most important Chablis Grand Cru producers of the last 30 years! In the 1990's, he sold his holdings in Burgundy and moved his winemaking to Chile.

The La Misión Chardonnay vines are from the highest elevations in Pirque’s vineyards, smack dab in the middle of the Maipo Valley, about 2,000 feet above sea level. The altitude moderates the temperatures – Chardonnay is, after all, a grape that enjoys the cool climate of Burgundy! The grapes are pressed in the “Champagne” method - this involves gently pressing the grapes in entire bunches. Hand-harvested grapes. Fermented in stainless steel. Approximately 3,500 cases made.

The Red:

Domaine de la Mordorée Renaissance Merlot Marselan 2005 (France) $14.99 – Mordorée translates “woodcock” – this winery practices sustainable agriculture. The "woodcock" is their emblem and trademark because this wonderful gamebird is a symbol of well-preserved, almost wild areas....and it is a gamebird that takes perseverance and work and thought to bag. The Delorme brothers apply the same approach to making wine - bear in mind, they believe the best wines are made in the vineyard, not the winery, so they work their X's off in the vineyards!

This is a fabulous Southern French blend made from a grape many of us have never known – Marselan. Marselan is a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. This has a deep red color. Loads of blackberries, raspberries and flowers (violets) on the nose. In terms of flavors, this is rich and big and has the same red and dark berries from the aromas. Well-balanced tannins and acidity. Food pairing – most any grilled and/or red meats. Awesome with game birds! Rich mushroom dishes. Hearty stews.

Importer Fran Kysela says this is “arguably the top estate in his Portfolio.” Domaine de la Mordorée is in the town of Tavel, in the Southern Rhône Valley. It’s owned and operated by the brothers Christophe and Fabrice Delorme. They farm by “culture raisonnée,” which is very close to organic farming (they only intervene in the vineyard when necessary – think of it as going to the doctor when you have strep throat or a broken bone).

Tier 2 - $16-24/bottle

We’re off to the Italian peninsula and the island of Sardinia. Many of you have heard me talk about the importance of the importer. To me, it’s a critical aspect in terms of any wine. I’ll let a couple of wine writers make their comments on the same subject!

These wines are imported by John Given. Robin Garr, of Wine Lover’s Page, writes about John Given, “is a New York-based importer who's earned my strong trust with a narrow focus on just that sort of thing: All Italian, all the time, cherry-picking a few very good producers who've escaped the attention of larger importers. He's never failed me yet.”

"The list of noteworthy Italian wine importers is a long one, but some of the important names to remember are ....John Given Wines." Joseph Bastianich & David Lynch, Vino Italiano

John Given, the importer has this to say about his wines, ““As someone who really loves wine, what I look for are wines that not only taste good, but, whenever possible, are interesting as well,” he said. “Put those two qualities together -- along with the right price -- and wine can become something more than just a beverage, but something fun! That’s what I want my wines to be.”

The White:

Cantina di Marrubiu “Anei” Vermentino di Sardegna 2006 (Sardinia, Italy) $17.99 – I’ve fallen in love with the Vermentino grape over the last 3 years and this is a classic version of Vermentino! It has a beautiful straw yellow color. Aromas of lemons, citrus, tropical fruit, almonds and fresh clean salty sea air! It’s dry, crisp, clean and fresh. The flavors mirror the aromas. Crisp, soft texture. Nice length on the finish. Crisp acidity balances the wine. “Anei” means sand in the western Sardinian dialect and the name pays tribute to the sandy soil that helps make this wine so distinctive. Stainless steel fermentation. 916 cases made. Food pairing – shellfish, fish and lighter poultry dishes. Drink young! Nice cocktail wine!

The Red:

Strade del Sole Varrone Lazio Rosso 2000 (Italy) $22.99 – This is a unique blend from a tiny family-owned winery. This wine is truly “old school” Italian. It may even be “old school” Roman! When drinking this, I picture myself drinking with the Caesars and Flavians, Livy, even Spartacus!

Aromas and flavors of dark berries, anise and licorice. Additional aromas of baking spices and flowers. Classic Italian dustiness. At the same time, this red wine has some notes I just can't place (they keep changing and evolving), but I LIKE 'EM!

60% Sangiovese Nobile and 40% Tor De’ Passeri. Aged 6 months in oak barriques. From Lazio (near Rome). This estate was founded in 1704 by Paolo Cugini. It is still run by the Cugini family (7th generation – Alessandro and Antonio Cugini). This winery is located south of Rome in the Castelli Romani area. Antonio has dedicated his life to rediscovering ancient Roman vines that disappeared centuries ago – Tor de’ Passeri is one such vine. 1,250 cases made. Food pairing – steak, duck, lamb, rich mushroom dishes, etc.

Tier 3 - $25-50/bottle

Wills Domain
Margaret River, Western Australia

Wills Domain is a tiny producer in the highly regarded, but little known Margaret River area in Western Australia. Darren & Michelle Haunold own the winery. Bruce Dukes is the winemaker.

Darren Haunold is unusual in the wine world. He is a paraplegic – at age 13, he had an unfortunate accident – he fell off the family’s roof and he’s been in a wheelchair ever since. He spends hours each day in his vineyards and winery. He’s always positive and upbeat. Being a winemaker is a physically demanding job – Darren’s wife says he is so active and positive and effective that she often forgets he is in a wheelchair.

"Darren Haunold doesn't let the fact that he's been a paraplegic since the age of 13 hold him back - whether he's pruning the vines from his wheelchair or working at the sparkling new Cellar Door with his wife, Michelle, Haunold's zest for life & enthusiasm for his wines are infectious."
Gourmet Traveller Magazine 2006

The White:

Wills Domain Semillon 2002 (Australia) $32.99 – This is a unique and fabulous Australian White! Beautiful golden yellow color. Aromas of gooseberries, toast, lemons, limes, butter, cream, minerals & subtle hints of oak. Medium-bodied with a lot of elegance and a lot going on! Flavors of apples, apple pie spices, peaches, gooseberries, lemons and limes. Bright, crisp acidity. This will age well through 2014. Food pairing – seafood, lobster, chicken, pasta dishes, spicy foods – the wine’s acidity will slice through the heat and cleanse your palate.
James Halliday, 96 points, Australian Wine Companion (Halliday is Australia’s most prominent wine writer).

The Red:

Wills Domain Shiraz 2004 (Australia) $31.99 – Wonderful, big Aussie red that shows signs of being both an Aussie wine and one with Old World Syrah characteristics. This big Aussie Shiraz has flavors and aromas of dark fruit, red fruit, smoked meats, baking spices, earth and vanilla. It has refreshing acidity and loads of flavors! The tannins are there, but not too big – so either lay this down for a little while or pair it up with a big meal! Lots of big, dark rich fruit in the wine! Long finish. You can lay this down for a few years – or you can drink it now! Food pairings – beef, steak, lamb, roasted meats and grilled meats, bold mushroom dishes, etc.

The Others:

Domaine de la Mordorée Renaissance Merlot Marselan Rosé 2006 (France) $14.99 – Mordorée translates “woodcock.” A tasty rosé blend made in part from an obscure grape – Marselan. Marselan is a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. This is a rich and full-bodied rosé! Aromas and flavors of strawberries, flowers, raspberries and a little pepper. It’ll certainly hold up to the richer and heartier foods we’ll be eating as the weather cools – at the same time, when you are tossing some chicken or salmon on the grill, reach for this! Food pairing – poultry, pork, spicy Asian foods. This will pair well with Thanksgiving Dinner. Drinks well as a cocktail wine!

Importer Fran Kysela says this is “arguably the top estate in his Portfolio.” Domaine de la Mordorée is in the town of Tavel, in the Southern Rhône Valley. It’s owned and operated by the brothers Christophe and Fabrice Delorme. They farm by “culture raisonnée,” which is very close to organic farming (they only intervene in the vineyard when necessary – think of it as going to the doctor when you have strep throat or a broken bone).

The coolest wine I’ve tasted in a LONG time!

Clos Uroulat Jurançon 2004 (France) $33.99

From the wine’s name - Jurançon to the obscure and remote area in France that is its home to the history of the area and winemaking there to the aromas and flavors of this wine – I just love this entire story, wine and the winery and winemaker!

This just ROCKS!

This is a Vin Moelleux – it’s lush, round, soft with moderate sweetness and nice acidity. The color is a deep, beautiful golden yellow. Flavors of almonds and tropical fruit. It starts sweet and it finishes dry and crisp – that’s one of the things I love about it! It has this richness and fullness the entire time you are tasting it and smelling it. It lasts and lingers. You don’t rush through this wine! You savor it!

Even if you CLAIM to not like sweeter wines, I DARE you to not enjoy this wine!

I showed this as part of a tasting I donated to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (if you don't know this botanical garden in Boothbay, you must! We support this each year by being members and donating a wine tasting) fundraising auction. The tasting was over Labor Day Weekend. Doug from SOPO had brought this by earlier in the week. As soon as I tasted it, I knew I was taking this to the tasting with me! It was the runaway hit of the evening – and everyone there was saying, “I don’t usually like sweet wines, but I LOVE this;” or, they were asking, “Do you have more of that unusual wine from France?”

The French poet Colette loved this wine – “When I was a teenager, I met a passionate prince, imperious traitor, like any great seducer, the Jurançon.”

This winery and region in Pau in the Pyrénées mountains is nearly in Spain. This area introduced the “Appellation Controllee” system to France – this is the system that determines whether an area is worthy of having a named “appellation” and it holds winemakers to the production standards traditional to that area. In the 14th century, The Princes of Béarn and the parliament of Navarre also introduced the concept of “Cru” to winemaking by identifying and valuing specific vineyards sites as being superior. Legend has it that a drop of Jurançon Moelleux wine moistened the lips of infant Henry IV at his baptism in 1553.

Charles Hours is the winemaker and owner. Look at this guy! I'd love to sit down at a table with him and enjoy his wines and the food of the area! The grape is Petite Manseng. The grapes partially dry on the vine – the same as is done with Sauternes or Amarone, etc. They hand-harvest the grapes and it takes multiple passes through the vineyard to complete the harvest because they are looking for grapes of a specific ripeness. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels (25% new). The vines are Espalier-trained – this is a special trellising system – you need to see the picture in this link. Look at the middle of the page. They trellis the grapes in this fashion to minimize mold and rot.

Food pairing - Goes crab cakes, Beef Wellington, grilled poultry, pork, smoked fish, freshwater fish, seafood & ham. Also goes well with spicy Asian fare, such as Thai food. Spicy mustard sauce. This will pair well with paté. It drinks well on its own and it paired up well with chocolate-covered strawberries.