May 10, 2008

February 2008 Wines of the Month

February 2008 Wines of the Month

Tier One


Colterenzio – Schreckbichl Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2006 (Italy) $14.99 - This is a delicious wine! Crisp, clean, fresh. Dry. Good fruit on the nose and palette. Aromas and flavors of minerals, pears and lemons. Lots of minerals in the aromas and flavors. Round, soft texture at the start and crisp finish. Medium-bodied. Refreshing acidity. Clean finish. This is SERIOUS wine.....this is not a light and fruity Pinot Grigio. Given the limestone base that is the Dolomites, this wine is GEOLOGY in a GLASS! Food pairing - Great as an apéritif and accompanying chicken dishes, other poultry, seafood and rich cheese. Pick up some Raclette, Appenzeller or even Alsatian Meunster (if you like pungent cheese) and pair it with this wine for a special treat!

Italy's northern province of Alto Adige (Südtirol) has been part of many different countries dating back to the Romans....Alto Adige is squeezed up near Austria and Switzerland. It's been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.....part of Austria, part of's part-German, part-Italian....unique! Sometimes, you'll see both Denominazione di Origine Controllata (D.O.C.) and Qualitatswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete on labels to classify wines. This is one of Europe's oldest winemaking areas, dating to 15 B.C. as a winemaking center. This area is so mountainous, that only 15% of the land is cultivated.

In 1960, a group of 28 vineyards, winemakers and estates in the Uberetsch wine area (South of Bolzano) pooled their resources to create the Colterenzio - Schreckbichl Winegrowers Cooperative. They've combined their 320+ hectares of top-notch vineyards and are sharing the production costs (which helps make this and their other wines great values). Their motto is, "United, we are strong." Their vineyard locations are in a unique place combining warmth from the Mediterranean and crisp, cool air from the Alps.

Organic farming. Temperature-controlled fermentation. Gambero Rosso, the classic reference for Italian wines, calls Alto Adige one of the Top 5 winemaking areas in Italy....and Gambero Rosso says about Colterenzio, "Their entire line has few competitors in any part of Italy, and their whites are among the very best of their area."


Caves Velhas Romeira Palmela D.O.C. 2004 (Portugal) Reg. $13.99 Sale $9.99 - This is a wonderful wine for a cool night and hearty food! This was one of the wines at a wine tasting I did for the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society on Friday night – it was a big hit and just delicious! I bought the last 5 cases the Wicked Wines boys had and they gave me a great price - so, I am passing it on to you!

Medium-to-full body. Aromas and flavors of red and dark fruit, a little smoke and earth, ….notes of oak in the aromas and flavors…similar in style to wines from the Southern Rhone valley in France. 100% Castelao (an indigenous grape in Portugal; also known as Periquita). The wine is aged in 3 different types of oak and then the different barrels are blended to make the wine.

This area (Palmela) is in southern Portugal near the Atlantic coast - near Setubal, a little south of Lisbon. The area is bordered by the Tagus and Sado Rivers. The alluvial soil created by these ancient rivers is perfect for this grape. Food pairing – lamb, steak, stews, mushroom dishes, etc.

Tier Two

You've probably seen Concha y Toro's "value" line in many places....this is one of their single vineyard tiers of wines. I just tasted them at the end of January and really liked, the wines were on sale in January....and they took a $3-4 increase in February that is likely permanent given the value of the dollar and energy costs.

This is a family-controlled winery and it's been run by the same family since 1883. Wine Enthusiast magazine named it their "2004 Winery of the Year."


Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay D.O. Pirquie 2006 (Chile) Reg. $21.99 Sale $17.99 - Single vineyard wine from the Santa Isabel Vineyard in the Maipo Valley. 100% Chardonnay. Hand-harvested grapes. Fermented in new and used French Burgundian oak barriques. Aged "sur lie" in the same barrels for 11 months. Aged another 4 months in the bottle before the winery releases the wine.

Aromas of peaches, tropical fruit (mango, pineapple) and nuts. Creamy feel. Medium-bodied. Flavors of peaches, papayas & .subtle oak. Crisp, vibrant acidity. Long, big, pleasing finish.
Food pairing - seafood (see below for a recipe), poultry, cream-based or olive oil-based pasta dishes. Many cheeses, especially Taleggio, Delice de Bourgogne and Pierre Robert (this is from one of France's true GIANTS in terms of double and triple creme cheeses).


Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon D.O. Puente Alto 2005 (Chile) Reg. $21.99 Sale $17.99 - This is a big, rich, lush Cabernet. Velvety feel. Tastes great! Aromas and flavors of cherries, red and dark fruit, dark chocolate, and smoke. Silky texture. Full-bodied. This wine packs a lot of flavor into the bottle at this price!

100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Hand-harvested. Aged 18 months in new (35%) and used (65%) French oak barriques (small barrels). Aged 2 months in the bottle before the winery releases the wine. Single vineyard, Puente Alto in the Maipe Valley. Food pairing - pair with steak, lamb, hearty meals and cheeses such as Piave Vecchio, Aged Gorgonzola and Manchego.

Tier Three:

I want to head to Burgundy for Tier Three because I've found a couple of winners that are real "steals" - I know, it's hard to call a $35-40 bottle a "steal," but Burgundy has gotten pricier and pricier.


Jean-Marie Guffens founded his own negociant business in 1990 after 5 years as a wine broker. He then sought out the best small growers he could find and worked with them to improve growing practices. All of his grapes are hand-harvested. He treats his grapes gently and focuses on making wines that reflect his vineyards and the climate. He doesn't "manipulate" his wines.

Verget Pouilly-Fuisse “Terroir de Solutré” La Mûre 2005 (Bourgogne) $38.99 - Jean-Marie Guffens made a GREAT, GREAT wine! 2005 is a GREAT year for Burgundy! One of the best EVER! Aromas and flavors of lemons, wet stones and honey. Rich. Creamy with notes of vanilla and crème brulee and lemon butter. Medium-bodied. Velvety. Smooth. Excellent minerality. Crisp. Well-balanced acidity. 60-year-old vines. 100 cases made. High altitude vineyard above Vergisson. Partially barrel-fermented. Food pairing - Great wine with lobster and baked chicken; cheeses such as Reblochon, Taleggio, Pierre Robert Triple Cream, etc.


Cote Chalonnaise is just south of the more soft-after Cote de Beaune region of the Cote d'Or (about 10 miles south of Beaune. Mercurey is a part of the Chalonaise, and it produces almost as much wine as its neighbors Givry, Rully and Montagny together. Many critics call Mercurey the best part of the Chalonaise. A premier cru from anywhere in the Cote d'Or will cost a great deal more than $30-40, so the wines from Mercurey, while getting more expensive, represent some of the best values from Burgundy!

Francois Raquillet Mercurey 1er Cru Les Vasees 2005 (Bourgogne) $39.99 - An outstanding Burgundy! This is beautiful Pinot Noir! GREAT year for Burgundy! One of the best vintages EVER! Aromas and flavors of black cherries, red cherries, ripe strawberries & baking spices. The flavors also show nice stony mineral and notes of meat/game. Silky texture. Rich and nice feel to this wine! I’d age this a few years – at least 2-3 and you’ll have a GREAT, GREAT wine! Food pairing – pan-seared meat, mushroom dishes, etc. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 90 points

The Others:

Terre Rouge Muscat a Petits Grains 2004 (California) $18.99 - This is a Beaumes de Venise style dessert wine. This is not overly sweet. Aromas and flavors of flowers, honey, coconut and white stone fruits. This will make a great ending to a memorable meal!

The Muscat grape has many different "clones." Muscat a Petits Grains is the world's finest Muscat grape. Aged 9 months in neutral oak barrels. Fortified with high-proof Muscat brandy (the brandy is made from Muscat grapes from the same vineyard) to stop fermentation. The winery is one that we showcased at our January tasting (Easton Zinfandel and Easton's Terre Rouge Syrah). I really like Bill Easton's wines! He farms organically and practices sustainable agricultre. Food pairing - pear tart, fruit desserts, creme brulee.