September 19, 2008

September 2008 Wines of the Month

Freeport Cheese & Wine
Wines of the Month
September, 2008

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! So, even if you are from "away," I can hold the wine!

You are going to notice a theme with this month - 4 of the wines are from Abruzzo and ALL of the wines are from Italy. Back in April or May, I tasted several wines with a young woman from Valle Reale (her family's winery) and with the importer, Mary Bridge of Winebow. Winebow is one of my favorite importers in the USA - spin a bottle around and if it says, "Imported by Winebow," you know it is a good version of what it is supposed to be.....worst case scenario is you may not like that case or normal case - you just found a new wine you like!

I bought 4 of the Valle Reale (there own website is excellent!) wines......the good news is they taste great! The bad news is the supply is limited.....I thought these wines would be here in late June for July....they arrived in September......the other good news is these are not "warm weather" wines.....these will excel with cooler weather dishes and just ROCK with Thanksgiving Dinner!

Given that Winebow imports the Valle Reale wines and I liked many of those and that I like the Winebow wines as a whole, I decided to poke around and see what we could add for September to round out the selections!

Tier One

Azienda Agricola Valle Reale is a family-owned winery and farm. The Pizzolo family owns the winery and the farm and makes the wine.

This winery and farm is located in the center of Abruzzo - smack in the middle of one of Italy's most beautiful national parks! This area was carved by glaciers. It has crystal clear springs. The flora and fauna are wild and diverse! Valle Reale sits in the midst of this Eden!

The vineyards have a soil unique to this part of Italy and the climate is dominated by the Gran Sasso mountain range - so the temperatures widely fluctuate from day to night. The cool breezes ensure good ventilation and reduce the humidity in the vineyards. The red grapes ripen late in the fall - when the first snows whiten Mount Morrone.

The result of this unique climate - fully mature grapes with rich aromas and complex flavors.

The hallmark area for this family is in the cru San Calisto - which is setting the standard for Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.


Azienda Agricola Valle Reale Vigne Nuove Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2007 (Italy) $13.99 - Trebbiano is produced all over Italy. Not all Trebbiano is alike. This certainly isn't!

This has rich, fragrant aromas. Aromas of citrus, white pepper and flowers. In the mouth this is zesty and crisp and pops! It's full-bodied and just fills your mouth! Well-balanced acidity.

100% Trebbiano. Stainless steel fermentation at cool temperatures to make sure the fruit is bright and fresh! I bought the only cases coming into Maine!

Food pairing - poultry, sushi, shellfish, lobster and olive oil pasta dishes.


Azienda Agricola Valle Reale Vigne Nuove Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2006 (Italy) $14.99 - Juicy, soft, loaded with fruit and easy to drink! This is calling for a summer night when you are grilling or chillin'!

This vineyard benefits from the cold currents of "Gorges of Popoli" - roaring down from Mount Morrone along the Pescara River - the winds help cool the vineyards in the summer and lower the humidity. This helps the grapes ripen slowly and helps the fruit fully develop its flavors and aromas.

The name of this wine, "Vigne Nuove," comes from the first fruits harvested in the Popoli.

This is pure 100% Montepulciano fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fresh fruit aromas and flavors. Hand-harvested grapes.

This wine sees no oak and just explodes with red berries, sour cherries, wild blackberries and ripe strawberries. The tannins are there and help balance the does the acidity. Medium-bodied. Loads of flavor. Easy-going wine - a pleasure to drink! Versatile, authentic Italian red!

Food pairing - eggplant parmigiana, chicken parmigiana, meat-based pasta dishes, etc.

Tier Two


Allegrini Soave 2006 (Veneto, Italy) $18.99 - If there is a more misunderstood and disparaged white wine from Italy than Soave, I don't know it!

Remember those Soave Bolla ads from the early '80's?

Well, that's what everyone remembers about Soave.

Well, real Soave, true Soave, isn't that nasty wine! It's one of Northeastern Italy's LANDMARK white wines! And, Allegrini is one of Italy's greatest wineries!

Blend of 80% Garganega - a grape local to the area - and 20% Chardonnay. Hand-harvested grapes. 25 year-old vines. Cold-temperature fermentation to preserve the fresh fruit. Stainless steel fermentation. Aged in bottle for a few months before release.

Aromas of herbs and flowers and citrus. Flavors of lemon/lime citrus with great acidity and minerals. Medium-to-full-bodied. Lush and rich wine! Delicious!

Food pairing - seafood, shellfish, poultry and risotto. Wine Spectator, 87 points (you know what's funny about this score - 87 points - WS and Robert Parker and the rest put this in the Very Good category, between 85-89 points.....lots of people think this is a mediocre score.


Azienda Agricola Valle Reale Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005 (Italy) $19.99 - Excellent, excellent, smooth and lush wine from this family-owned winery!

Aromas and flavors of dark berries, spices, smoke, licorice and more. Silky smooth tannins. Full-bodied, and still it is soft and smooth. Long, long finish.

100% Montelpulciano from this estate's oldest vineyards planted back in 1975. Hand-harvested in latter October. Aged 12 months in used French oak barriques. Aged in bottle for 8-12 months before the winery sells it.

Food pairing – rich and hearty pasta dishes, roasted or grilled meats, lamb, beef, mushrooms, etc. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 88 points

PS - 88-89 points is my favorite wine score from reviewers (and remember, these guys don't drink wines the way you do....they "power taste" through 200-500 wines a day)! Why? Same score as 90 for all real purposes and it doesn't cause a feeding frenzy!

Tier Three


Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo D.O.C.G. 2007 (Italy) $27.99 - Campania's most renowned winery and the winery that put this part of Italy on the modern map in terms of wines such as Aglianico, Fiano, Falanghina, Greco di Tufo, Piedirosso and Coda di Volpe. Pietri di Mastro Berardino is the founder of this esteemed family of winemakers back in the 1750's - he earned the "Mastro" part of the family name!

One of Campania's signature wines and just a great white wine! Aromas and flavors of apricots, peaches, pears and this mean streak of minerality that sets the wines of Campania apart from most others! The flavors also have zippy, zesty, refreshing acidity! The finish is long and rich!

Greco di Tufo is the grape; the grapes are from the Montefusco vineyard. Stainless steel fermentation.

This wine has rich aromas of stone fruits, pears, tropical fruit and it follows through with strong minerals (remember, this is near Pompeii and Vesuvius - so, lots of minerals were blown into the air not long ago in geologic terms!). Excellent acidity that makes this wine refreshing and crisp while it is quite full and rich feeling with each sip!

Food pairing - grilled fish, seafood, chicken salad, lobster, lobster roll, shellfish, etc.


Librandi Gravello Val di Neto 2003 (Italy) $34.99 - from the toe of the boot (in Calabria) comes one of Italy's truly great wineries and wines! Calabria!

This winery is located right on the Ionian coastline. The location - pinned between the sea and the mountains - is perfect in terms of temperature for these grapes. Since the 1950's, after growing grapes for 4 generations, the Librandis started making wines. All the wines and olive oils are estate-grown and produced. The vineyards are planted with local grapes (Gaglioppo, Magliocco and Manonico) and international varietals. Librandi is also experimenting with ancient local grape varietals.

This is a "Super Calabrian." Remember, "Super Tuscans" are wines made from non-traditional grapes or non-traditional blends.....well.....that is what a "Super Calabrian" is as well! It's 60% Gaglioppo and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is aged for 3 years; one of those years is in Allier oak barriques.

Aromas and flavors of coffee, cassis, cherries.....this is kinda jammy.....but, more "stewed fruit" jammy......velvety, rich wine with a smooth and long finish. The tannins are soft. Great wine!
Food pairing - Pastas with meat sauces, Piave Vecchio, Aged Provolone, veal, beef, lamb, meat stews, roasted or grilled meats! International Wine Review, 90 points

The "Other"

Azienda Agricola Valle Reale Vigne Nuove Cerasuolo Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Rose 2006 (Italy) $14.99 - The 4th wine from Ville Real!

An AWESOME Italian Rosé! Unique and delicious rosé that is different from your typical Provencal French rosés! Spicy, peppery and light-to-medium bodied. Not a fruit bomb - this has bright, fresh strawberry aromas and flavors coupled with flowers, earth and minerals. Just a gorgeous wine that is a beautiful salmon pink color and a pleasure to drink!

100% Montepulciano. Aged in stainless steel. Bottled young and meant to be drunk young!

Food pairing - salmon, tuna, grilled chicken or pork, spicy Asian dishes, spicy Tex-Mex dishes. Drinks well sitting with friends! PERFECT, I mean PERFECT, with Thanksgiving Dinner! Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 89 points

That's September!

Eric Fullagar

Freeport Cheese & Wine

27 Bow StreetFreeport, ME 04032

(207) 865-3993