January 2, 2008

January 2008 Wines of the Month

We're into a New Year...and one of my first goals in 2008 is to be more prompt with the "Wines of the Month" than I have been!

So....without further ado....here are the wines for January 2008!

Oh...if you want to know what this "Wines of the Month" thing is....look above!

If you want any wines, and are not yet a member of our "Wines of the Month" club, please e-mail or call and let me know what you want. With a credit card payment over the phone, I can hold the wines indefinitely!

Tier One

Elvira Verdejo 2006 (Rueda, Spain) $13.99 - Delicious! This is a perfectly bright, fresh and crisp wine. Great value! Aromas of grapefruit and herbs such as chives and freshly mown grass. Flavors of tangerines & tropical fruits. Well-balanced & integrated acidity. Finishes crisp, clean & dry.

Bodegas Escudero is a family-owned, multi-generational winery in Rueda. This is from my favorite importer of Spanish wines, Aurelio Cabestrero's "Grapes of Spain."

Rueda is best known for producing dry wines from the Verdejo grape. "Fuente Elvira" is a single vineyard with vines that average 40 years. The grapes are gently crushed and cool-fermented at about 60 degrees F for 28 days. The wine is left in contact with its lees for 28 days, adding weight and richness to the texture. Lightly filtered.

Unfortunately, this wine will see a price jump when we next order it - it's going up a buck - another casualty of the dollar vs. Euro and rising gas prices.

Food pairing – oysters, sharp goat cheeses, green olives, lighter poultry dishes, smoked fish, etc. Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, 89 points


Razor's Edge Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (McClaren Vale, Australia) $11.99 - I thought I was getting the 2005 vintage, but, it is gone. So, I'm tasting the 2006 right now. This is juicy and full of dark, dark fruit. Aromas of mint and eucalyptus (lots of eucalyptus trees in South Australia and the oil from the leaves sticks to the grapes). Aromas and flavors of dark berries, mocha, peppery spice and cassis. Fine-grained tannins late in the taste and at the finish. Hints of mint and eucalyptus and a touch of oak on the finish. Nice length on the finish.

This is really good!

The Razor's Edge wines are a proprietary label of a top importer of Australia wines, Joshua Tree Imports. Joshua Tree also imports Rolf Binder, Chapel Hill, Dutschke, Kilikanoon and more!

Food pairing - grilled meats, roasted meats, pizza, mushrooms. Drinks well on its own! Wine Enthusiast, "Best Buy," 89 points

Tier Two


Jean-Marc Brocard "Chardonnay En Sol Kimmeridgien" 2006 (Burgundy, France) $17.99 - It's hard to find a better white wine than this wine at this price! This is a steely, minerally-driven Chardonnay - the minerals show more than the fruit. Dry white wine with mostly apple, pear and yellow plum aromas and flavors. Aromas of white flowers. On the finish, this reminds me more of a Sauvignon Blanc than most Chardonnays - that's due to the crisp acidity and the minerals in the flavors and aromas.

This wine's quality is possibly because of Jean-Marc Brocard's belief and faith that the best wines are made in the vineyard....and the best vineyards are well-placed and well-planted! Jean-Marc's website has a great photo or diagram of the soil and root system of a vine....this wine is part of Martine's Wines Importers....it's hard to find better wines than she imports!

Kimmeridgien refers to the soil - it's alternating layers of dense chalk and softer, permeable clay, encrusted with marine fossils. Brocard's vineyards are located in the south of Chablis, close to the village of Saint-Cyr les Colons. What does this mean in terms of the wine? The soil adds a strong mineral component to the wine - which is typical of Chablis. Chablis is also "unoaked" - it never sees an oak barrel - so the flavors are not dominated by oak (vanilla, toast, etc.).

Jean-Marc began life as a farmer's son....he wasn't even the son of a humble vigneron. He married his childhood sweetheart, Claudine, a vigneron's daughter from the village of St-Bris-le-Vineux in the valley of Yonne. Starting with a hectare (2.58 acres) of vines from his father-in-law, Emile Petit, Jean-Marc has created an estate of some 180 hectares vineyards in Chablis and Burgundy.

Jean-Marc says, "The truth of wine lies in the soil where it has grown. The technique is an important factor in the wine growing, but it is only an aid, the wine is essentially the product of its soil."

Jean-Marc and his family farm organically and practice sustainable agriculture.
Food pairing - seafood - oysters, lobster, fish, etc. Poultry. Guide Hachette, 1 Star, 2007

Rolf Binder "Halliwell" Grenach Shiraz 2005 (Barossa Valley, Australia) $21.99 - This is awesome! This is purposefully a "juicier" style of red wine - Rolf selects grapes that will give this wine it's juicy texture! Aromas and flavors of blueberries, raspberries, earth, spice, red cherries, a little chocolate and a touch of oak. Full-bodied. Soft tannins and a soft, smooth finish.

60% Shiraz and 40% Grenache. Some barrel aging to this. Drink this over the next 5-7 years.

Rolf Binder was the "Barons of Barossa" Winemaker of the Year in 2005. In 3 of the last 8 years, Rolf Binder Veritas Winery has been named the "Best Small Producer" at the Barossa Wine Show. His wines are big, powerful, elegant and complex.

Food pairing - steak, grilled meats, roasted meats, etc. Drinks well with or without food! Perfect wine for in front of a warm fire! Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 92 points; "One of my favorite Australian wineries;" Robert Parker

Tier Three:


Domaine Jayer-Gilles Aligote 2005 (Burgundy, France) $28.99 - This is a beautifully elegant wine! This has distinct and pronounced mineral aromas and flavors. Aromas and flavors of pears, apples, yellow plums and baking spices. Hints of soft, silky oak. Great length on the crisp, soft finish.

Total amount of this wine in the USA is about 350 cases. Gilles takes the same care with his Aligote as he does for his more famous appellations - Grand Cru and 1er Cru vineyards in Echezeaux and Nuits St. Georges. Most growers of Aligote produce 3 tons per acre. Gilles so severely prunes his vines that he never harvests more than 2.2 tons per acre. The quality of grapes he produces for Aligote is unusual and exemplifies the extent this producer goes to make good wine!

Aligote is the 4th most planted grape varietal in the world. It's the 2nd most popular white grape grown in Burgundy, although it trails a long way behind Chardonnay. It's used to make a sparkling wine in Burgundy, Cremant de Bourgogne. It's also been the traditional wine to make the cocktail, kir (adding cassis to the wine). It has its own appellation in Burgundy, Bourgogne Aligote. It is widely planted in Eastern Europe and Russia - Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Moldavia and along the Black Sea in Russia. In cooler areas, it is prized because it is resistant to cold weather. It's used to make sparkling wine in Russia. The grape is also known as Blanc de Troyes, Vert Blanc, Chaudenet Gris and Plant Gris.

Food pairing - pair this with food you'd pair Chardonnay - poultry, tuna, lobster, salmon, etc!


Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva 2003 (Tuscany, Italy) $28.99 - WOW!!! WOW!!! Doug from SOPO brought this by on Thursday.....WOW! This is GOOD! Real GOOD! Okay....it's STINKIN' GREAT!

Felsina makes deep, dark and powerful wines that have the classic Tuscan notes of soil, earth, subtle oak and Tuscan spices and herbs. This is all of the above! Plus it has dark cherry and dark berry fruit underlying the aromas and flavors. It has nice tannins that are well-integrated into the wine. Finishes with nice minerals that just add to the whole effort. Great wine!

Traditional wine-making - Felsina is not trying to produce "New World" wines. This estate was NOTHING in 1961, when Domenico Poggiali acquired the buildings and the 57 hectares of vineyards.....today...this is one of the best wineries in Chianti Classico! They farm organically. The average age of the Sangiovese vines at Felsina are 30 years for their "normal" Chianti Classico; for this Riserva, the vines average 50 years in age. This is a cellar-worthy wine - it'll age 10-15 years!

This is drinking beautifully right now - this is delicious. I can see it becoming rounder and more velvety as the years pass! This is a classic, great Tuscan red!

This property has an ancient history - that dates to the 1100's!. It was once a roadside hospital manned by Benedictine monks....the monks worked in association with the staff at the Santa Meria della Scala hospital in Siena, opposite the Duomo, Siena's cathedral. This estate is in the most southeastern part of the Chianti Classico zone - just up the road from Castelnuovo Berardenga and just a stone's throw from Siena. You can easily see the Medieval towers of Siena from the Felsina vineyards.

Food pairing - Most any food you'd call Tuscan or Provencal! Lamb, steak, mushrooms, mushroom lasagna, etc. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 91 points

The Others


Alessandro Bocci is the winemaker/owner at Perazzeta. It's located in the Montecucco area of Maremma (south of Montalcino in Tuscany near the coast). 7 hectares of vineyards. Alessandro loves where he works and farms and makes wine. Most of the year, he's a nearly a one-man outfit working the vineyards and olive trees alone - with the help of 15 friends and family at harvest, he makes great wine and olive oil. Alessandro says he throws away twice as many grapes as he ferments!

Perazzeta Syrah 2005 (Tuscany, Italy) $44.99 - 100% Syrah. This is a big, bold rich wine! Never more than 100 cases made in a year. The grapes are hand-sorted multiple times to find only the best grapes. Fermented in open barriques for 15 days and hand-punched down. Aged in oak barriques for 12 months. Bottle aged for 12 months. 80 (that's eighty!) cases made.

Terre del Marchesato

Located near the famous Tuscan town of Bolgheri - GROUND ZERO for famous Super Tuscans such as Sassicaia (if you can even find Sassicaia, it's over $100 - often a lot over!) This estate borders the famed Sassicaia estate - in fact, just after World War II, after leaving the Marche looking for land less ravaged by the war, Emilio Fuselli bought 10 hectares of land from the Marquis Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, who would go on to found Sassicaia! No one at the time knew how valuable and esteemed this land would become!

Maurizio Fuselli (Emilio's grandson) named their first wine after Emilio - "Emilio Primo." Until 3 years ago, this winery never bottled their wine - they sold it to local restaurants who came in buy wine in small casks. They farm sustainably - to the point that they grow and produce their own food.

Maurizio worked at another legendary Super Tuscan producer - Antinori Guado al Tasso for 10 years. Then he quit and built the cellar and winery at his own estate.

Terre del Marchesato 2005 (Tuscany, Italy) $28.99 - If you've ever wanted to try a legendary Super Tuscan, but the Sassicaia prices have scared you off, try this! This has the "sweet tannins" typical of this wine and the Super Tuscans from Bolgheri - "sweet tannins" have nothing to do with sweetness and more to do with the soft mouthfeel of the wine. Aromas and flavors of dark fruit, cooked fruit, plums and more. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 20% Syrah. Aged and fermented in French oak for 10 months. 2,500 cases made. Aged in 2nd and 3rd use French oak barrels. Food pairing - Great with game. Most any meat dishes and big mushroom dishes!