July 11, 2008

June Wines of the Month

Tier One

The Ruins

This is a family-run winery......it has been so for 7 generations....and they do this RIGHT!

It is in the Bon Cap part of the Eilandia Valley in the Robertson Valley in the extreme Southwestern part of the Cape.

This family has run this winery/vineyard for 7 generations of the du Preez family. They have farmed organically for years and they applied for international certification in 1999. They received full organic status in 2002. Given the odd rules at the USDA regarding organic certification, all you will see on this wine is "made with organic grapes" and "Certified Organic by LACON GmbH." If you add sulfites to a wine, you can't be USDA "Organic." And, if you get a headache or sniffles or a stuffy head from wine, it is not the sulfites (ask me...I've researched this for hours and hours)...it's the histamines, tyramines and other amines......not too mention the "other" stuff" in wine - no truth in labeling on wine - ....it is DOUBTFUL it is the SULFITES - if you are allergic to sulfites, they will likely KILL you.....they won't give you a headache or a stuffy head!.

This family goes to great trouble and expense to obtain natural fertilizers, such as penguin guano (poop) - fertilizer from chicken farms is not permitted. They plant cover crops between the vines to not only be beautiful, these plants also benefit the soil and attract beneficial local wildlife as well! There's another aspect to "organic farming." One can't just run big tractors across the land - those big tractors compact the soil and cause a myriad of problems. This winery uses many methods to minimize any impact on the soil. Preventing soil compaction and using cover crops increases the aeration of the soil. This helps the soil retain moisture and increases the level of organic material in the soil.


The Ruins Chardonnay - Viognier 2007 (Robertson, South Africa) Reg. $11.99 Sale $10.99 - Wonderful summertime white wine! REALLY, REALLY great value, too!

The beauty of blends is that.....well....they make better wine in most cases than a single grape varietal! Blends ACCENTUATE the best of the grapes and that blending process minimizes the weaknesses of any grapes in a given vintage.

So, this has aromas and flavors of citrus (lemon and lime) and green apple from Chardonnay and the Viognier adds peach and apricot notes (what we wine geeks call, "white stone fruit"). Then, you get tropical fruit flavors all over your mouth!!!!......melons, pineapples, mangoes......don't think about it too much.....this is just fun to drink! This has a soft, lush texture. Crisp, vibrant acidity that helps this wine finish clean and crisp!

This wine is a blend of 74% Chardonnay and 26% Viognier. The grape varieties were fermented separately in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. The winemaker used two different yeast strains specially selected to bring out the best in each grape. This wine rocks at this price! Food pairing - Wonderful wine for a party with or without food. Scallops, lobster, shellfish, fish, lighter poultry dishes.


The Ruins Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 2006 (Robertson, South Africa) Reg. $11.99 Sale $10.99 - Superb red for the Summer! Excellent price as well!

Like the white version of this.....well, blends makes better wines most of the time (most wines of Bordeaux are blends).....99% of California Cabernets are blends (do you know that to call a California/Washington/Oregon wine Cabernet Sauvignon, it has to be 75% Cabernet Sauvignon....and, the winemaker doesn't have to tell you what the rest of the wine is? Now....if it is good....do you care about the grapes?).......The beauty of blends is that.....well....they make better wines without needing to "manipulate" the grapes....year-after-year!

Like the white wine above, blending helps make a better wine!

Medium-bodied. Wonderful complexity.....Aromas of black and white pepper and red berry fruits and red cherries.....the Cabernet adds loads of structure and depth.....the Merlot adds rich dark fruit.....this is neither a "fruit-bomb" nor is it an overly earthy "Rhone-style" wine.....like many South African wines, this blends the best of the "New World" and the "Old World!" Nice balance of tannins, fruit and acidity. The finish has rich dark fruit and cleansing acidity. The finish is long and refreshing. GREAT summer wine! Food pairing - Grilled meats. Rip one of these open for your friend that loves red wine on a warm day!

Tier Two


Tim Adams Clare Valley Pinot Gris 2006 (Australia) $18.99 - Fabulous wine from the Clare Valley! The Clare Valley is the place in Australia to grow these Alsatian/German/Northern Italian grapes such as Pinot Gris and Riesling. Why? It's cooler because of the Southern Ocean breezes hitting this part of Australia. The East/West Valleys in this part of "Down Under" sit on a huge peninsula that sticks out into the Southern Ocean (the winds are coming across the Indian Ocean from Antarctica).

The Clare Valley is just the place to grow cool climate Pinot Gris! Clare Valley (this valley lines up west-to-east to receive cool winds from the Southern Sea) is one of Australia's cool-climate grape growing areas.....and Pinot Gris is at its best in cool areas.....we are not talking about thin, fruity, sweet Pinot Grigios from wherever....we are talking about top-notch "serious" wines from the Alto-Adige or Sudtirol in northernmost Italy....or Germany or Alsace or great winemakers in Oregon.....where the climate and soil help make a "serious" wine that has minerality and depth and complexity....plus rich, vibrant fruit. This is such a wine!

Great balance of acidity, fruit, sweetness and alcohol. Aromas of and flavors of peaches, tropical fruit, pears and lemons. Nice full, rich feel halfway. Crisp, vibrant acidity at the finish, which has a nice mineral part to it. Stainless steel fermentation. Bottled immediately after fermenting. Food pairing - Drinks well on its own - I'd also pair this with Asian cuisine, salads and fresh fish. Paul Ippolito, The Five Minute Wine Rush, 91 points


Barnhard Griffin Merlot 2005 (Washington) $16.99 - This is a rich and flavorful Merlot. Barnard Griffin has been making top-notch wines for 25 years.....these wines show why Washington State may just be the true home in the USA to Bordeaux grapes such as Merlot, Cabernet, etc. California just may be too hot.

Aromas and flavors of black cherries, red currants, a little bit of toasty oak and vanilla from the French oak barrels. Big, rich flavors of cherries, cherry pie, coffee, mocha and vanilla. This is well-structured and has nice balance. Moderate tannins and nice acidity. Tasting, smooth finish.

This is drinking well now....and it will benefit from 2-3 years aging.

Rob Griffin and Deborah Barnard founded Barnard Griffin in 1983. They've been winning acclaim ever since. It's located in South-Central Washington, near the confluence of the Yakima, Columbia and Snake rivers - right smack in the middle of Washington's winemaking region.

The Barnhard Griffin wines have only been in Maine for a brief time....we also carry their Fume Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc). Food pairing - red-sauce dishes, steak, beef, lamb, mushroom dishes. Definitely more of a food wine than a "cocktail" wine. "Best of Class, Gold Medal," Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competition

Tier Three


Luigi Bosca Finca Los Nobles Vineyard Reserva Chardonnay 2003 (Argentina) $29.99 - AWESOME Chardonnay!

We love this winery! They just make SUPERB wine!

Familia Arizu has been at the forefront of Argentine winemaking since its start! They helped create the first D.O.C. - Luján de Cuyo – in Argentina and in all of South America. Leoncio Arizu began the family winery in 1901. He married a Spanish woman, Juana Larrea…..together….they and their 5 children built this winery.

This is truly OUTSTANDING! Tropical fruit aromas and flavors. Notes of pineapples, mango & honey. Hints of vanilla. Nice minerality. This has a nice, round, soft feel to it & is a rich, robust Chardonnay! The Wicked Wines boys brought this by at a tasting last winter as an "extra." It was a huge hit...this is AWESOME! Aged in French oak for 12 months, but it is not oaky. They use “older” oak barrels which add subtle oak characteristics without dominating the wine. Unfiltered. Organic farming that borders on biodynamic. Definitely sustainable farming. Food pairing - Great with lobster, crab and seafood. Ditto for roast chicken!


Moillard Beaune-Epenottes 1er Cru 2005 (France) Reg. $39.99 Sale $31.99 - Excellent 1er Cru from a great vintage! Bright, fresh aromas of red berries and black plums. Hints of oak (vanilla and baking spices). Flavors of plums and cherries with notes of peppery spice. This combines the finesse and full taste of wines from Beaune and the intensity of wines from Pommard. Wines from Epenottes drink well young AND age very well. This tiny vineyard is only about 2 acres and produces no more than 200 cases per year! Moillard has converted all of its vineyards to organic farming and production. These are SUPERB wines and great values! Food pairing – white meats, poultry and beef. Roast beef with this wine is a perfect pairing!

The Other

Commanderie de Peyrassol Cotes de Provence Rose 2007 (France) $18.99 - I love this wine! It tastes great! It has a beautiful, pink salmon color. The aromas are bright and fresh! This is SUPERB French rose!

This has aromas of red fruits (strawberry, raspberry and watermelon), minerals, spices and herbs and honeysuckle. The flavors are bright, fresh, popping! Lots of minerals, strawberry and red fruit notes.....definitely dry, but not a dryness driven by tannins....this is lean, crisp and beautiful. Juicy, lingering finish!

Food pairings - garlicky dishes, salmon and other fattier fish, grilled chicken, grilled pork, pretty much....it'll stand up to and compliment a host of foods!

This estate is in the heart of Provence.....near routes traveled by the Crusaders in the Middle Ages. The Knights Templar founded this estate and the first recorded harvest was in 1256. Winemaking has continued uninterrupted ever since. When the King of France, worried about the Templars’ power, moved against them and crushed them in 1311, the Knights of Malta inherited the Commanderie. They maintained these vineyards well....until the French Revolution, when the State took control. The Rigord family purchased the estate in 1870 and it has been in the family since. Francoise Rigord has been making wines here since 1981; her son Francois joined her recently.

The Commanderie is in the backcountry north of St. Tropez and Hyeres near Le Luc. The estate is surrounded by Mediterranean forest. They have 65 hectares (2.58 acres to the hectare) on dry, rocky, clay and limestone soil. They farm sustainably. No pesticides, no fungicides, no herbicides, no synthetic fertilizers. They do use sheep manure!

This wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. The grapes undergo a cold maceration before being pressed. This gives the wine its beautiful color! They control the fermentation temperature (that means they keep it cool) - this makes the wine both fresh, vibrant and fuller-bodied.