May 23, 2008

Memorial Day 6-pack/12-pack

The Wines

The 6-pack: Reg. $78.94 Sale $66.55


Clara Benegas Chardonnay 2006 (Argentina) $12.99 - This is what a moderately priced Chardonnay that is fermented in French oak barrels should taste like! It's subtly oaky with the fruit and acidity still showing through! Aromas of tropical fruits such as pineapple and mango, vanilla and honey. The texture is soft and smooth. Because of the stony, alluvial soil in the vineyards, this wine has nice minerality in the aromas and flavors. The wine shows nice ripe tropical fruit flavors with green apples and pears. The "oakiness" is subtle and integrated with the wine. The Benegas Family pioneered winemaking in Argentina in the late 1800's. Today, Federico Benegas Lynch continues the family tradition. These wines are made with the help of world-famous winemaking consultant, Michel Rolland. Less than 1,200 cases made. Named for Federico's 1st child, Clara. Food pairing - poultry, salmon, tuna, lobster, scallops.

Barnard Griffin Fume Blanc 2006 (Washington) $14.99 - Robert Mondavi renamed Sauvignon Blanc in the USA as Fume Blanc. It's the same grape. One of the things I like about this wine is the alcohol level is 12.6% (much more in the realm of a Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc than a big "New World" high-alcohol wine). This is dry with a nice mouthfeel to it. Aromas of honey, oranges, limes and apples. The flavors combine those and pick up baking spices. The finish is crisp. The wine has really vibrant acidity that will help it pair up with richer food such as lobster. Food pairing - excellent with seafood, especially lobster, shellfish and heartier fish such as tuna. Drinks nicely as a cocktail wine.


Domaine André Brunel Vin de Pays de Vaucluse Grenache 2005 (France) Reg. $11.99 Sale $9.99 - This is an awesome wine from a winemaker whose Châteauneuf-de-Pape commands big dollars. André Brunel is one of the world’s truly great winemakers. His wines are legendary, award-winning, powerful wines. Aromas of herbs (rosemary, sage, Provence), peppery spice, black cherries, plums, blackberries. Deep, dark clear color. Juicy, big, spicy mid-palate. Soft, chewy tannins at finish. Unfiltered. Hand-picked & destemmed. 90% Grenache & 10% Carignane. Stainless steel fermentation and aging. Food pairing - Great wine with grilled or roasted meats, hearty stews, etc. Decant to open up more rapidly.

Castillo de Almansa Garnacha Tintorera 2005 (Spain) Reg. $10.99 Sale $7.99 - I bought the last 5+ cases of this in Maine and got a GREAT price! Garnacha Tintorera is better known as Alicante Bouchet (yes, I know, that's pretty obscure as well!). Medium-bodied with soft tannins. This has great dark berry fruit aromas and flavors. It almost has a little "bacony" flavor halfway through. Nice length on the finish. Good acidity. Stainless steel fermentation. Al Mansa means "the fortress." The Piqueras family has owned vineyards for almost 100 years at the 2,500 foot elevation outside the gorgeous hilltop fortress town of Almansa. This family was the driving for behind creating the D.O. of Almansa. Food pairing - wonderful wine for grilling or a party! Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 87 points

Castell del Remei Gotim Bru 2005 (Spain) $15.99 - Excellent wine and a great value. We love this wine with grilled foods - it will go well with most hearty foods (stews, rich dishes with root vegetables, roasts, etc.). Great fruit (black cherry, blackberry, cassis) in the nose and mouth, along with aromas of melted chocolate, roasted coffee beans, good spiciness and just the right touch of oak. Nice long & smooth finish. Blend of 60% Tempranillo, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and Grenache. Aged 10 months in French and American oak. “One of the great values in the marketplace, even with the frighteningly weak dollar…” Robert Parker, Wine Advocate

Chateau Le Lucat Grand Vin de Bordeaux 2005 (France) $11.99 - A wonderfully rich Merlot-based red from a tiny producer in Bordeaux. Smooth, round and rich! Excellent fruit (cherries, currants and dark berries) and dark chocolate aromas and flavors. Additional flavors of dried herbs. Long, well-integrated and balanced finish. Medium-bodied. 2/3’s Merlot, with the rest being Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This is one of those little-known gems that we just wouldn't find without Jack Scully at Easterly Wines! Food pairing - Great with roasts, steak, grilled meats or just sipping.

The 12-pack: Reg. $156.88 Sale $136.69

The 6-pack wines PLUS....


Elderton Unwooded Chardonnay 2007 (Australia) $14.99 - This is a pretty, bright and fresh white! HUGE hit at our December tasting! Aromas of bright, ripe tropical fruits, orchard fruits, mint and stony minerals. Flavors of green apple, pears & melons. Juicy feel to the wine. Clean at the finish! Unoaked Chardonnay. Bottle fresh, young and crisp! 100% Chardonnay. Stainless steel fermentation. Food pairing – lighter poultry dishes, seafood, salads, etc. Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, 88 points

In Fine White 2007 (France) $11.99 - BRAND-NEW to Maine! We showed this at our May tasting and I like it so much (so must some of you, because I keep having to re-order it!), I want it in a 6-pack/12-pack. Wonderful SUMMERTIME white! Full-bodied white from the Cotes du Ventoux (Northern part of the Rhone Valley). Clairette, Ugni Blanc, Grenache Blanc and Bourboulenc grapes. Yes....we all drink these grape varietals daily! Okay - we don't! However, these are outstanding grape varieties in Southern France. This has nice aromas of minerals, white stone fruits (peaches and nectarines) and flowers. The flavors combine the white stone fruits with lemon/lime citrus, minerals and a nice freshness and "zip." Nice acidity. Crisp and refreshing. Fermented in concrete tanks (they line the concrete - the mass of the tanks keeps the fermentation cool - which helps keep the wine's flavors fresher). Sustainable agriculture. Food pairing - goat cheese, fish, shellfish, Asian or Creole food. Wonderful wine for just sipping on a warm day!


Luna Benegas Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Argentina) $12.99 - This has dark, dark fruit aromas and flavors. The aromas start with minerals and flowers and then move into the darker fruit scents. Black currants, figs, blackberries. The flavors are dark fruits and sweet tannins (that's the hint of oak in the wine). It has a peppery note part way through the wine. It also has a smoky finish to it that is medium-long. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Single vineyard grapes. 3,300 cases made. Aged in French oak barriques. The wine is named after Federico's 5th child. The Benegas Family pioneered winemaking in Argentina in the late 1800's. Today, Federico Benegas Lynch continues the family tradition. These wines are made with the help of world-famous winemaking consultant, Michel Rolland. Food pairing - grilled meats (remember, they eat a lot of beef in Argentina!). Aged cheeses such as Midnight Moon or Piave Vecchio.

Sacred Stone "Master's Blend" Red (California) $10.99 - This is a California "field-blend." That just means a lot of different grapes! Dating back to the early days of winemaking in California, when a lot of European immigrants planted "backyard" vineyards, field blends were a common way to produce tasty wine! The wine is "ripe and juicy." Flavors of cherries, red plums, spices and soft earth. The texture is soft and smooth. Nice finish. The winery is Pietra Santa. It's family-owned. They resurrected vineyards dating back to the 1800's. The vineyards are in the San Andreas Fault part of the Central Coast near Monterey. Due to the fault, the soil is littered with rock and gravel, adding a nice minerality to the wine. Blend of 26% Merlot, 24% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Syrah and little amounts of Zinfandel, Carignane and Grenache. Barrel aged for 24 months in French and American oak. Food pairing - excellent wine for a party or whenever you are grilling!

Wall Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California) $14.99 - It's rare to find a Napa County Cabernet in this price range! This is real good! Why's it so inexpensive? I don't really know! Aromas of blackberries, plums, black currants, smoke and green pepper. Flavors of black cherries, herbs, black currants, vanilla and toast. This has a lush, soft mouthfeel. This has creamy notes of vanilla halfway and at the finish. The tannis are soft and short and "sweet" - that doesn't mean sugary, it means hints of oak - vanilla, spice and toast. Good length on the finish. Food pairing - Drinks well on its own! Wonderful with steak or lamb.

In Fine Rouge Cotes du Ventoux 2006 (France) $11.99 - BRAND-NEW to Maine! Another hit at our May tasting! Full-bodied red from the Cotes du Ventoux. The Grenache packs a lot of spicy, red fruit. The Syrah balances the Grenache fruit with a little dark earth and meatiness. This has nice length on the finish and soft tannins. 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah. Fermented in concrete tanks (they line the concrete - the mass of the tanks keeps the fermentation cool - which helps keep the wine's flavors fresher). Sustainable agriculture. Food pairing - great with grilled meats, red sauce pasta dishes and just drinking at a party. On a warm day, I'd chill this for 15-20 minutes and knock the temperature down to the high 50's. Perfect summertime red!

May Wines We Love

May Wines We Love!!!


Three Young Punks "Naked On Roller Skates" Sparkling Shiraz 2006 (Australia) $19.99 - the husband, wife and 3rd Young Punk at Adelina are at it again! Drink -n- Stick, Quickie, Passion Has Red Lips, The Fire in her Eyes......all are their wines....all are Pulp Fiction novels....and slightly racy wine labels. Fortunately, the wine inside is REALLY good! BTW, the Some Young Punks have Ph.D's in subjects such as yeast strains. Their primary winery is Adelina.

White wines

Meibo Yowanotsuki Sake (Japan) $16.99 - I know next to nothing about Sake! Doug and Cat are excited to have this line-up of has A LOT to do with how finely the rice grain is milled.

In Fine White 2007 (France) $11.99 - BRAND-NEW to Maine! Full-bodied white from the Cotes du Ventoux. Clairette, Ugni Blanc, Grenache Blanc and Bourboulenc grapes. Yes....we all drink these grape varietals daily!

Chilensis Chardonnay 2006 (Chile) $7.99 - Yes, $7.99. I've done this at an event for the Freeport Conservation Trust, a tasting at Cole Haan, and a tasting at H.G. Beausoleil. Huge hit at all.....

Crinella Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (California) $19.99 - This is EXCELLENT! Aromas and flavors of lemon grass, hay, tropical fruit and mint. Soft feel at the start. Wonderful acidity. Crisp, LONG finish! Elegant wine with some oomph! 100% cold-fermented in stainless steel. Aged for 3 months “sur-lie” adding a soft feel. 814 cases made. 50% of the grapes from the same clone as grown at Chateau d’Yquem. Brand-new to Maine! Sustainably farmed. Food pairing - An ultimate seafood wine! Also, lighter poultry dishes, etc.

Rose Wine

Chateau Grande Cassagne Rose 2007 (France) $11.99 - This winery is well-known for their superb reds, but their best-kept secret is this rose! Blend of 60% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre. Vines are 40+ years old. Just a little time on the skins for color! Their white was a HUGE hit as a wine of the month a couple months ago!

Red Wines

In Fine Rouge Cotes du Ventoux 2006 (France) $11.99 - BRAND-NEW to Maine! Full-bodied red from the Cotes du Ventoux. 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah.

Danjean-Berthoux Givry 1er Cru 2004 (France) $24.99 - This is stunningly AWESOME! Quite possibly the best wine to linger over for 2-3 hours I've had in the last year! Goes to show you that Burgundy produces some GREAT wine in non-2005 years!

Vriesenhof Kallista 2001 (South Africa) $14.99 - I need to visit here! This wine will STICK to your glass! It has weight and depth. You have to try this!

May 2008 Wines of the Month

Tier One


Aresti Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Chile) $11.99 - This is a cross between a big, pink grapefruit/gooseberry New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a more lemon citrus, freshly mown grass, tropical fruit Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc! Great value as well!

Aresti is a family-owned winery in Chile's Curico Valley (120 miles south of Santiago) created in 1951. At first, they grew grapes for other winemakers - in the 1990's, they started making wine themselves. The Sauvignon Blanc comes from 50-year-old vines that are ungrafted (that means the root-stock is Sauvignon Blanc - little known factoid - most wines are made from "grafted" vines - i.e.; a Chardonnay vine is grafted to a Cabernet Sauvignon root). The grapes are hand-harvested. The vines are low-yielding in sandy, loamy soils.

Medium-bodied wine with subtle white stone fruit (peach) and melon aromas. The flavors show a lot of peach, melon, tropical fruit, some minerals and a little herbaceousness and pepper. The finish is dry, with a slight peppery spice to it that has hints of nuts. Food pairing - Wonderful wine for a party with or without food. Scallops, lobster, shellfish, fish, lighter poultry dishes.


Castillo de Fuendejalon "Campo de Borja" D.O. Crianza 2003 (Spain) $11.99 - Great value wine from Spain and it comes in a really cool paper-wrapped bottle!

A note on some of these odd words in a wine's name:

"Campo de Borja" - wine area in Spain. In Northeastern Spain. Just southeast of Rioja. This is one of the best maps of Spanish winemaking areas I've seen!

Crianza - refers to the amount of aging in oak and aging in the bottle before the wine is released from the winery.

D.O. - You see these unusual initials on wines from Italy, (DOC, DOCG or IGT), Spain (D.O.), Portugal (D.O.C.), France (Appellation Controlee for wine or A.O.C. for cheese), etc. In Spain, D.O. means "Denominacion de Origen." Basically, these initials tell you that a wine (or cheese) is made according to the traditional standards and methods of an area. It doesn't guarantee you that a wine (or cheese) is well-made - it "certifies" that it is made according to traditional methods.

This wine has this beautiful ruby garnet color. Since it is mostly Grenache (or in Spanish, Garnacha), it's dominated by rich cherry (both black and red) notes and this subtle earthy characteristic (this is NOT funky earth).....think about a forest on a damp fall day. It also shows nice raspberry flavors. The fruit in it is bright and fresh. The oak adds a nice, soft toasty characteristic and just smoothes out the wine (as does the amount of age). It has a soft, creamy feel to it. This has nice underlying acidity that helps this pair well with food, but no reason not to use this as a "party wine." It drinks well without food as well. This is moderately tannic, but it is not just a fruit-forward wine.

This winery is located in the foothills of the Cordillero Iberico, south of Rioja. The vineyards are between 1,300 and 1,475 feet and face southeast. This "winery" also grows 10,000 acres of olive and almond trees and has another 10,000 acres of open land or forest). 75% Grenache and 25% Tempranillo. The Grenache vineyards were planted as much as 100 years ago. Aged a minimum of 6 months in American oak barrels. Rich, dark color. Soft, pleasing finish.

Food pairing - Wonderful red for these warmer days! Serve this at 60 degrees (which is really what is meant by "room temperature"). Even this wine will benefit from decanting 30 minutes or so before drinking.

Tier Two


AIA dei Colombi Fiano di Avellino D.O.C. 2006 (Campania, Italy) $18.99 - We just love this wine!

In Campania, the grape Falanghina is more common.....Fiano is the lesser known sibling. It's equally delicious and obscure.....although as time passes, you will taste many more wines from this area around Naples! In her Oxford Companion to Wine, Jancis Robinson, states that "[i]n the ancient world, Campania was home to some of the most renowned wines of Italy, if not the whole of the Mediterranean basin." This area around Mt. Vesuvius produces fabulous minerally-driven wines such as Falanghina and Fiano.

Medium-to-full bodied wine. Wonderful mineral, smoky and citrus aromas and flavors. Flavors of herbs, pignolias (pine nuts) and minerals at the finish. This wine is both rich and crisp. It's a pleasure to sit and sip because each moment, the new corner around the curve shows a new characteristic. Sit and sip this in no hurry!

The winery is run by 2 brothers. From the Sannio region of Campania, north of Naples. Ancient winemaking region – it’s favorably mentioned in the works of Pliny, Cato and Horace.

Food pairing - shellfish, lobster, calamari, seafood and lighter dishes, fried clams, calamari or fried fish.


Tenuta di Gracciano Rosso di Montepulciano 2005 (Tuscany, Italy) $16.99 - This reminds me of a really good Chianti Classico at a fraction of the price! This is another gem that Jack Scully from Easterly found!

This is a full-bodied, yet elegant wine from Tuscany! It has that clear, translucent color of Chianti. Those dusty, red berry aromas and flavors with that dusty, soft tannic quality of Chianti Classico. Bright, fresh fruit with the acidity and well-integrated tannic backbone that is typical of a Chianti Classico - at a much lower price! Nice length on the finish!

Tenuta di Gracciano is a family-owned winery in the Gracciano hills (1,000 feet above sea-level). The Della Seta Ferrari Corbelli family owns the winery. The combination of micro-climate (due to the elevation), southern exposure of the vineyards, and the clay and limestone soils combine to make this one of the best vineyard sites in the area.

80% Prugnolo Gentile (a Sangiovese clone) and 20% Canaiolo - traditional Chianti grapes. Spends time in neutral oak barrels.

Food pairing - red-sauce dishes, steak, beef, lamb, mushroom dishes. Definitely more of a food wine than a "cocktail" wine.

Tier Three


Frederic Gueguen Chablis 2006 (France) $27.99 - Jack Scully of Easterly Wines discovered this when he was in Burgundy this January (Jack has a HUGE fondness for French wines and a great nose and palate for finding excellent ones!). This is an elegant, outstanding example of Chardonnay from Chablis! This shows the crisp minerality for which Chablis is famous!

100% un-oaked Chardonnay. For me, good Chablis is the purest form of Chardonnay. The limestone vineyards of Chablis express the minerals in the soil. This wine has that minerally "cut" that typifies Chablis. "Cut isn't biting, but it brings a sharp crispness to the wine. Add in lime and lemon citrus and subtle floral notes and you just have a delicious, elegant wine! Excellent length on the finish.

Frederic Gueguen is the son-in-law of Chablis superstar, Jean-Marc Brocard (we sell Brocard's Kimmeridgien Chardonnay from Burgundy - a great value at $17.99!). In 2002, he managed the vineyards at his father-in-law's winery. In 2003, Bernard et Lucette Trembaly of Domaine des Chenevières retired and asked Frederic to take over their winery. He started his own domain in 2005, when he purchased a collection of superbly situated old-vine plots, with excellent parcels of village-level Chablis as well as the 1er Crus Cote de Lechet, Fourchaume and the rare l'Homme Mort.

Frederic makes his wines at the Brocard winery. As is typical in Chablis, the wines are fermented and aged in 100% stainless steel, with absolutely no oak used. From a vineyard with a full-southern exposure. He farms naturally, using no chemicals.

Chablis is France's northernmost "still" wine producing region. North of Chablis is Champagne and other sparkling wine areas.

Food pairing - Allow this to open (i.e.; DECANT this!) to open up the aromas and flavors more fully! Lobster, shellfish, smoked fish, poultry, etc.


Spann Vineyards Mo Jo 2004 (Sonoma, California) $34.99 - I love the Spann wines! Mo Zin is one of my favorite reds! This is its BIG BROTHER! This is a Super Tuscan-style red from California. And, this, too, is one of my favorite wines! This is Spann's biggest, most decadent wine!

"I Got My Mo Jo Working"

I got my mojo workin' but it just don't work on you
I got my mojo workin' but it just don't work on you
I wanna love you so bad, child, but I don't know what to do

This classic song, written by Preston Foster and first recorded by Ann Cole in 1956, was made famous by Muddy Waters. In Robert Johnson's, "little Queen of Spades, he sang about a gambling woman whose mojo helped her win at cards. It's thought that the word, mojo, originates in an African dialect or is just short for magic. It's the name of this wine!

The idea with this blend is to show the characteristics of each of these wonderful grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon adds the long, endless, smooth finish of California Cabernet, Sangiovese adds great natural acidity to give structure, depth and dusty red fruit to the wine, Merlot adds a silky texture and red fruit; Syrah adds black licorice aromas and spice; Cabernet Franc adds a peppery quality). No grape varietal overpowers the others - each adds to the blend!

This wine packs finesse, depth and power. Well-balanced and soft this combines dark fruit (black cherries, blackberries, black plums), vanilla, lots of red fruits and numerous spices into a powerhouse wine that is not overly tannic. That said, this is not a "simple" fruit bomb. Lots and lots going on in this wine! Velvety texture. Smooth wine in the mouth. Great length on the finish! I love this!

Blend of 46%, Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 20% Sangiovese, 8% Syrah and 3% Cabernet Franc. Spann farms organically. Peter and Betsy Spann just represent what a "family-owned" winery should be! 577 cases made. Aged 18 months in oak barrels. 20% new and 80% old French oak the oak doesn't dominate the wine. Hand-harvested, destemmed and crushed by foot treading. They dry farm (no irrigation) - so yields per vine are it low as 1 ton per acre.

Food pairing – Italian red sauce-based dishes, grilled meat, osso buco, mushroom dishes, richly flavored cheese such as Piave Vecchio, Langa La Tur, Midnight Moon, etc. Sitting in a nice room with a good friend would work as well! International Wine Review, 90 points

May 11, 2008

April Wines We Love!

April Wines We Love!!!

We're featuring wines from 2 importers that we really love!

Eric Solomon Selections - we've sold Eric's wines since we first opened - his wines are just superlative! We focused on wines from Spain with Eric's wines.

Jon-David Headrick Selections - JD worked for Eric Solomon for a number of years, heading up the French part of the Solomon portfolio and then branched on his own recently, Jon-David Headrick Selections (Solomon helped JD set up his company - they are still great friends and colleagues. Most of these wines are organic; some are also biodynamic. These wines are all BRAND NEW to Maine! All the wines are from France!

The Wines!!!


Jean-Francois Merieau Sparkling Traditionnelle "Bulles" Chenin Blanc Sauvignon Blanc (Touraine, Loire, France) $21.99 - BRAND-NEW to Maine! This is delicious! "Bulles" means bubbles. Aromas and flavors of white peaches & green apples. This is bright, fresh and clean. Nice acidity. Just a pleasure to drink on a warm day! Or....any day! This sparkling wine is produced in a way similar to Champagne - it is aged 18-20 months sure lie for 18-20 months. Jean-Francois Merieau returned to his family's farm in Touraine, just east of Tours. He'd wandered the world working at wineries in South Africa and elsewhere. Jean-Francois is one of the young, rising stars of this area - revolutionizing the winemaking and helping this area dramatically improve the quality of wine being produced! This area (Touraine) is often called the "Garden of France." This is the area of the Loire Valley that you think about when you think about gorgeous chateaus! They farm organically. Wine & Spirits, 88 points

White Wines

La Piece Sous le Bras Chardonnay/Viognier/Roussanne 2005 (France) $13.99 - This GREAT VALUE wine is the result of a joint venture between importer Eric Solomon, famed Southern Rhone winemaker Philippe Cambie and grower & negociant Michael Tardieu. Aromas and flavors of honeysuckle, apricots, pears, tropical fruits and more. This is crisp and medium-bodied. Perfect summertime white! The grapes for this wine come from the Southern Rhone valley and from farther south in L'Herault. 90% Chardonnay, 5% Roussanne, 5% Viognier. 60% tank fermented in stainless steel and 40% aged in neutral oak barrels. Food pairing – poultry, seafood, lighter pasta dishes. Drinks well with or without food. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 88 points

Con Class Rueda 2006 (Spain) $12.99 - Fabulous white, great with seafood! Aromas and flavors of minerals, lime, lemon and grapefruit. Blend of 80% Verdejo, with 10% Viura and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. Soft, supple texture with a minerally-driven finish. The vineyards are literally planted on chalk. Rueda is about 100 miles northwest of Madrid. Food pairing - seafood, pasta dishes with a lemon sauce, chicken. Drinks well on its own. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 88 points

Domaine Claude Riffault "Les Boucauds" Sancerre (Loire, France) $29.99 - BRAND-NEW to Maine! Delicious! A fabulous Sancerre from a wonderful little producer! Great value! Aromas of grapefruit & citrus and herbs and freshly mown grass and a subtle smoky note. Flavors of minerals, lemony citrus, white stone fruits such as peaches and tropical fruits. Well-balanced & integrated acidity. Finishes crisp, clean & dry with a refreshing "cut" from the acidity. Sancerre is a region in the Loire Valley and it produces Sauvignon Blanc. The soil in Sancerre is limestone and flint (called "silex") - this soil produces Sauvignon Blanc that is distinctive! Family-owned and operated for 5 generations. Stephane, the family member now working the vineyards is moving the family to organic farming. 100% stainless steel to maintain the freshness of the wine. Food pairing – oysters, sharp goat cheeses, green olives, lighter poultry dishes, smoked fish, etc. Wine & Spirits, 90 points

Red Wines

Vinedos de El Seque 2006 (Alicante, Spain) $11.99 - This is a wine you should buy by the case and just load up on for an every day red! This has enough depth and structure to age well for a number of years - but, at this price, why bother! Aromas and flavors of figs, red raspberries, rich leather, smoke, dark berries and more. Nice length on the finish. El Seque is a project of Juan Carlos Lopez de la Calle, owner and winemaker at Artadi in Spain's famed Rioja. He had the idea that he could produce world-class wines in Alicante if more care was taken in the vineyard and in the winery. He began in 1999 and the wines keep getting better. Alicante benefits from a Mediterranean climate - warm days and nights in the summer make this a perfect home for Monastrell (Mourvedre in France). Blend of 80% Monastrell, with smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Syrah. Aged 6-8 months in stainless steel before bottling. Food pairing - grill some meat or a Portabello mushroom!

Le Paradou Cotes du Libernon Rouge 2005 (France) $13.99 - BRAND-NEW to Maine! Blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah. Frederic Chaudiere produces some of the best wines in the Cotes du Ventoux. This is the only wine outside of the Loire Valley in Jon-David Headrick's portfolio. All the grapes are from estate-grown fruit. The grapes see no wood - so these are bright and fresh wines. They are tank-aged for about 6 months before bottling. The Grenache gives this wine bright, fresh red berry aromas and flavors. The Syrah chimes in with peppery spices and some darker fruit flavor aromas and flavors and just adds layers to the wine! It also has nice aromas and flavors of baking spices and herbs. The acidity keeps the wine bright and fresh! This farm is certified for sustainable, organic farming! Food pairing - excellent summertime red for grilling and parties!

Castell del Remei Gotim Bru 2004 (Spain) $14.99 - Excellent wine and a great value. We love this wine with grilled foods - it will go well with most hearty foods (stews, rich dishes with root vegetables, roasts, etc.). Great fruit (black cherry, blackberry, cassis) in the nose and mouth, along with aromas of melted chocolate, roasted coffee beans, good spiciness and just the right touch of oak. Nice long & smooth finish. Blend of 60% Tempranillo, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. Aged 10 months in French and American oak. “One of the great values in the marketplace, even with the frighteningly weak dollar…” Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 90 points

Domaine de la Noblaie "Les Chiens-Chiens" Chinon 2004 (Loire, France) $19.99 - BRAND-NEW to Maine! Yes, the label has 2 dogs (chiens) on it! 100% Cabernet Franc from a single "block" of vines. This wine carefully balances power and elegance, "fat" and acidity, pepper spiciness and fruit! Aged 12 months in 2-5 year old barrels after partially fermenting in a chalk vat from completely destemmed grapes. The house at this winery dates to the 12th century. The chalk fermentation vat was dug in the 17th century. Today, though, nothing is old-fashioned about this winery! The grapes are hand-harvested. They use oak in a restrained fashion - often mixing in barrels of varying ages and toasting. The young and talented Jerome Billard (he should be - most of the Loire's best winemakers learned from his respected father, Francois, including the renowned Vincent Ogereau) spent 6 months learning at Chateau Petrus in Bordeaux and then at Dominus in California. Back on his home turf in the Loire Valley, he's started applying what he learned at these legendary wineries to his family's own wines! Food pairing – salmon, duck, roasted chicken, grilled pork, mushroom dishes, etc. Drinks well on its own!

Jimenez-Landi Mentrida 2004 (Mentrida, Spain) Reg. $21.99 Sale $19.99 - Mentrida is near Toledo, Spain! This is Bordeaux-based blend that is both old-world and new world and really shouldn't be here in Maine! A few cases came into the state for a high-end restaurant in Portland that will go nameless and I bought them for the tasting. This wine is both powerful and layered.....lots of flavors and aromas.


Louis de Grenelle Saumur Brut Rose (Saumur, Loire, France) $22.99 - BRAND-NEW to Maine! This is not a sparkling wine made from "leftover" juice as it is in the case of many Loire producers - this is hand-harvested from low-yielding vines. The grapes produce richly textured wines that are indicative of the varietal - 100% Cabernet Franc. This is crisp, bright and has nice red fruit aromas and flavors and a touch of pepperiness that is typical of Cabernet Franc. This ancient town in the Loire Valley actually has more miles of roads underground than it does above! Centuries ago, prison laborers dug miles and miles of caves in the chalk caves below the town (ordered to do so by the French king). Two-and-a-half kilometers of these caves belong to the Cave of Louis de Grenelle. This is the last remaining family-owned property of the major Saumur sparkling prodcers. They practice sustainable agriculture. All of their wine is aged for several years in these quiet caves. The chalky soil of this area helps produce distinctive, flavorful Cabernet Franc! Wine & Spirits, 88 points

April 2008 Wines of the Month

Tier One


Branko Chardonnay Collio D.O.C. 2004 (Friuli, Italy) Reg. $22.99 Sale $14.99 - If you are looking for a big, oaky, fruit-forward Chardonnay, please look for another wine. This is not that type of Chardonnay. This is much more like a minerally-driven Chablis or Saint-Veran from Burgundy than a California Chardonnay. This is from an small producer in Friuli (the extreme northeastern part of Italy - it's capital is Trieste).

Why the price reduction? It's a $20+ Chardonnay from Friuli in Italy. It's a tough sell at $20+. It's good. So, I bought it.

This is much more nutty (think almonds) with stony minerals than it is fruit-driven. The aromas and flavors have the nuts and minerals and subtle notes of white peaches, unripe green pears and green apples. This is not oaky nor is it buttery/creamy. It's crisp and dry.

Food pairing - seafood, oysters, lobster, mussels, smoked fish. This softens up immensely 15 minutes after opening.


Caves Salgueirao Andreza Reserva Douro D.O.C. (Douro Valley, Portugal) Reg. $17.99 Sale $13.99 - The Douro River is better known in Portugal as the home of Port (the mouth of the river is at Oporto). In Spain, the famous wine area, Ribera del Duero, is along this river.

In recent years, the young "guns" in Port have started making a new style of "still" wine. I have no idea why they call it "still" wine - Port doesn't sparkle! This new style isn't "New World" Spain, much less "New World" Aussie or California. What it is big flavors, still with nice tannins and subtle earthiness. How is the wine different from their grandfather's wine? Gramps was making a VERY earthy, rustic wine.

Touriga Franca gives intense blueberry, blackberry and black cherry aromas and flavors to the wine. The Tinta Roriz adds red berries and spices. The oak barrel aging adds subtle vanilla notes. Rich, concentrated wine with nice tannins that balance the flavors. Excellent length and smoothness on the finish. Blend of Tinta Roriz (what the Spanish call Tempranillo - THE Rioja grape and the dominant grape in Ribero del Duero) and Touriga Franca (one of the dominant Portuguese grapes). Aged 12 months in new American oak. Food pairings - steak, lamb, big, flavorful mushroom dishes, etc. Decant this - you'll thank me for taking time to "open" up the wine by decanting it - the flavors will emerge more rapidly.

Tier Two

Sineann Gewurztraminer Oak Ridge Vineyard Columbia Gorge 2006 (Oregon) $19.99 - Peter Rosback, owner and winemaker at this tiny winery, has built a reputation for being one of Oregon’s best winemakers – producing bright, rich, elegant, bold wines!

This has a beautiful floral aroma that is typical of this grape (call it Gewurz for short – the “w” is a “v”), with notes of tropical fruits and exotic spices. Flavors of apples, pears, pineapple and subtle rose petals. Lush and rich! Nice acidity and balance to this wine!

Food pairing – sautéed scallops, lobster, tuna, risotto with truffle oil, curry dishes. Drinks nicely without food.

Peter Rosback, winemaker and founder of Sineann, may make more different wines at his small winery than almost anyone else in Oregon! At least 25 different wines! While he makes a lot of different wines, he doesn't make much of any wine!

He says that, "One of the reasons I moved to Oregon was because I liked the quality of the soft fruits. The strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries were the best I've had on earth - they were just tremendous things. Little did I know that soft fruits would become my livelihood!"

Peter began making wine as an amateur in 1985 - it was a fluke that he started making wine. Where he picked peaches each summer was at an orchard who had 1/4 acre of old pinot noir vines. Together with another friend who had some winemaking equipment, Peter made his first Pinot Noir. The first year he made 5 gallons, 30 gallons the 2nd year, 100 gallons the next and then 170 gallons - near the legal limit for home winemaking. "You know how great the grapes taste in their raw, native state? The juice is so incredible! Then it turns into this raw, alcoholic thing, and then that tart raw things goes through malolactic fermentation and mellows out and turns into beautiful Pinot Noir.....I was hooked!"

In the early 1990's Peter was using his vacations from his job as an engineer and working the harvests and helping in the cellars at Elk Cove Vineyards. At Elk Cove, he met David O'Reilly, who thought Peter's wines were really good and his story unique. So, in 1994 they partnered to make Peter's first commercial wine - 125 cases of the Sineann Old Vine Zinfandel (which is still Peter's best selling wine).

The Vineyard Matters

Peter has continually bought grapes from the best growers - he does this by searching out the grower whenever he has a locally-made wine he likes. Early in his career demand was less for grapes than it is today, so he found he could get great grapes if he worked with the growers - especially since he was willing to pay top dollar for high quality grapes. This has paid off as he still has access to vineyards that have developed huge reputations over the years - Champoux in Washington (both the Old Block and the "Baby Poux" Vineyards - formerly known as Mercer Ranch Vineyard) is just one of the top vineyards he uses; Resonance Vineyard is another - the Oak Ridge used for this Gewurztraminer is another. Peter continues to find and stick with growers that produce great fruit. He'll go anywhere he can reach in his 2-ton truck and still be able to return and destem the grapes in a single day.

Peter pays top price for his fruit and honors the vineyard for each by putting the name on his label. Together with his growers, he's trying to build a business that helps all of them be successful and that produces the best wine possible!


Zaccagnini Lacrima di Morro d'Alba D.O.C. 2004 (Italy) $16.99 - This is an unusual grape from Italy. It borders on unique!

This wine is made by a long-time family-owned winery (poke around on the site and see the photos and look at the family! - this is a REAL farm that makes REAL wine!) on the same hillsides this grape has been grown for THOUSANDS of years. That said, this is one of Italy's and the Marche's newest D.O.C. (what does that mean, anyway....I'm gonna write that up soon!) areas.

This reminds me of a dusty, red-berried Chianti Classico. It has that bright red fruit characteristic of Sangiovese along with the dusty, tannins that true Chianti Classico has for me! This wine speaks of a PLACE! Aromas of red cherries, raspberries and dusty earth. Hints also of dark fruit such as blueberries and blackberries. Nice aromas of flowers - subtle, yet nice and inviting. I like this so much because it REMINDS me of a well-made Chianti Classico at a fraction of the price!

The name translates literally as "the tears of Alba." that truly the name of the grape? I don't know. Neither do the Italians. It's an ANCIENT grape varietal in Italy. It's origins? Still unknown. The central Adriatic Coast of Italy and parts more south still are home to grapes we don't know.

The grapes are hand-harvested and pressed in mid-October. They destem by hand, crush and ferment the grapes at lower temperatures for a smoother wine. After fermentation in LARGE French oak casks, the Lacrima is then aged in stainless steel vats and in the bottle before releasing it.

Bond Imports brings this wine to the United States. This importer has close family ties to Maine - to an extent that most of their retailers and restaurants are in Maine.

Food pairing - beef, lamb, the Fra'Mani meats (best salamis in the WORLD) we sell, pates and cheeses such as Reblochon, Taleggio, Piave Vecchio, Parmesan Reggiano (the KING of cheese). This IS a food wine - pair it with food to bring out its best characteristics and the best of your food. Decant this to open it up.

Tier Three

Albarino do Ferreiro Rias Baixas D.O. 2006 (Spain) $28.99 - Albrarino is the grape. It is fast becoming one of the most sought-after wine wines in the world!

This winery, founded in 1973, is tiny. It only has 5 hectares of vineyards in the famed Rias Baixas (REE-us BUY-shass) - the best place in the world to grow Albarino! Out of these 5 hectares, 3 hectares are 50+ years-old vineyards and 1 hectare is 200+ years. The vineyards are in 8 plots in the subregion of Salnes - an area close to the ocean that is protected by mountain ranges. This Albarino is made from grapes from each of the 8 plots. Each plot is fermented separately and aged on lees for approximately 6 months. Then, they blend the 8 different lots of wine into this wonderful Ablation. Owner and winemaker, Gerardo Mendez, farms organically and only uses indigenous grapes. He believes that these local yeasts help his wines show the true qualities of his "terruño" ("terroir").

Rias Baixas is in the extreme Northwestern corner of Spain in Galicia. Rias Baixas takes its name craggy inlets or estuaries that make up this part of Spain - in many ways this area looks more like parts of Ireland and England than it does Spain. The residents are descendents of Celts. This is a major fishing area and they make their wine to pair with rich North Atlantic seafood.

Pretty light yellow color. Aromas of herbs, lemons, limes, flowers, white pepper and anise. Tart and tangy lemon and lime flavors with hints of peppery spice. Notes of stone fruits (peaches, nectarines) & honey. Long, crisp finish with a lot of weight and smoothness. Supple texture to the wine. Crisp, bracing acidity. Food pairing - rich seafood dishes, duck, rich poultry dishes, lobster, pork, veal, etc. Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, 90 points


Myuge Napa Valley Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (California) $34.99 - Ned Swain of Devenish Wines came to me with this wine.....I love it when Ned comes to me with obscure wines he loves.......I taste A LOT of wine. Ned tastes a SCARY HUGE amount of wine. And, he calls a bad wine a bad wine and he RAVES about a really good wine....and he doesn't use geeky wine words (Ned and I have talked about wine for nearly 4 years and we've never gone "wine word geeky" - the big phrase is, "This is good - I like this!). Ned has an e-mail newsletter and he even recommends wines he doesn't sell (that's a BANKABLE recommendation, right there!).

Abe Schoener, a professor of Ancient Greek Philosophy, started making wine in 1998 by interning at the Stag's Leap Winery when he was on sabbatical. Then he became the winemaker at Luna for a few years before starting this very special and specialized project. Everything Abe makes is made in TINY quantities. Less than 100 cases per wine as a rule. He makes everything at his new winery in the Suison Valley just east of Napa. The Suison Valley is listed on the Myuge label. Now we know this wine is from Rutherford.....beyond that, we don't know much - we've asked the broker who sells it to Ned. They don't know. We've tried tracking down luck, yet on that one. So, we don't know the particulars - aside from this is a side project of Abe's AND it tastes really good!

The wine is dark, dark ruby to nearly black in the center. It looks unfiltered - so DECANT this both for sediment reasons and to open up the wine's aromas and flavors!

This is powerful and full-bodied - it's really a mouthful of wine! It opens with black cherry fruit that blends into the mid-palate and picks up hints of juicy plums and cinnamon along the way. At the back are notes of cedar. The finish is long and smooth. There are definitely tannins in this wine - they are dry and dusty in the way Rutherford Cabs are supposed to be, but they are integrated into the wine. This is a young Napa Cabernet with a lot of structure and depth to it. The aromas are seductive and the complex flavors are well-integrated.

I am in love with this wine and think it's a steal at $35 or so. It drinks like a much better Napa Cabernet, in fact all the online websites I've found list it for over $40. Regardless, I'm excited to have found this because so many Napa Cabernets are either really expensive or just simple and don't have the structure Napa is famous for. This wine is really a gem! As another wine merchant said, "Wherever this comes from there is some serious wine making behind it!"

Food pairing – steak, lamb, big foods. DECANT this wine when you drink it!

May 10, 2008

March Wines We Love!!!

March Wines We Love!!!
The Wines!!!

Finca La Linda Extra Brut $14.99 - Blend of Chardonnay and Semillon from one of our favorite Argentine wineries, Luigi Bosca! Aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, honey and apricots. Charmant method for creating the bubbles. Tropical fruit, honey, apricots. This is a tasty sparkling wine from the Southern Hemisphere - perfect for Easter!

White wines

Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Noble House Riesling 2006 (Germany) $13.99 - New vintage of an old favorite! This is just delicious! has a sweet side to it...but that is balanced by this finishes clean and fresh! This has an unusual, almost pink flesh layer on the top of the wine & it smells buttery, which to me is unusual in a Riesling. Aromas of white rice, apricots, ripe peaches, honeysuckle & melons. Flavors of pineapple, peaches, apricots & minerals. Food pairing – Ham if you are having it for Easter Dinner! Rieslings are about the most food-friendly wines on the planet! Also goes well with smoked fish, spicy Asian fare, etc.

Jelu Torrontes 2007 (Argentina) $12.99 - BRAND-NEW to Maine! I'm pretty certain we've never done a Torrontes at a tasting.....that's the grape and it is the dominant white grape in Argentina! This is really floral, kind of muscat or viognier like aroma. Lots of apricot and some pineapple. That fruit is the first thing you taste, but then you get a hint of spice midway a la gewurztraminer and then the finish is very clean and dry. Totally not what you expect from that first smell. Really cool.

Ermita de Nieve Verdejo 2006 (Spain) $12.99 - 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. Rueda is best known for producing dry wines from the Verdejo grape. Food pairing – oysters, sharp goat cheeses, green olives, lighter poultry dishes, smoked fish, etc.

Manifesto Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (California) $15.99 - BRAND-NEW to Maine! This is made by Jamie Whetstone who used to work with Helen Turley (one of the "CULT" winemakers in California!). Mid-thirties, good guy, talented wine maker. He's trying to make a great wine for the money that's easy to drink and good with food. Plus he's plowing some of the profits back into charities. It's bright, stainless steel and one of the best and freshest California Sauvignon Blancs I've had. Kind of grassy, but, not as tropical and grapefruity as a New Zealand one. More "Old World," strangely, given that it is from California!

Vincent Raimbault Vouvray Sec 2005 (France) $17.99 - New vintage of an old favorite! Great vintage. Intense acidity and minerality balanced by the rich Chenin Blanc mouth-feel. Really tastes like moist stones and limestone with intense aromas of green apple, white flowers & a touch of vanilla. First sensation is bright young peach & apple fruit followed by a citrusy mineral dominated mid-palate & a big limestone sort of finish. Some similarities to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. A faint hint of sweetness that softens the wine a bit & makes the mid-palate & finish a little bigger. Food pairing - A big mouthfull of Loire that screams for Maine shrimp. Just the perfect shellfish and seafood wine! Fun wine to drink. 100% Chenin Blanc.

Red Wines

Chateau la Baume Costieres de Nimes 2005 (France) $12.99 - A dense powerhouse of a Rhone blend (25% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 50% Carignan). Fifth generation wine maker. Lots of concentrated dark fruit with some moist earth and wood. Also, this definitely has that Southern French garrigue thing going on on the mid-palette. This wine is just opening up because of the power of the vintage, but is a gem that was worth waiting for. Not at this price forever - what with the Euro. Moderate-priced wines like this will soon be a fond memory.

Echeverria Cabernet Family Reserve 2004 (Chile) $17.99 - BRAND-NEW to Maine! Really big and intense. Just a hint of Carmenere in the blend. Very juicy and polished lush wine. Drinks way better than the price. Hand harvested into small wooden crates to protect the fruit. Echeverria family's best parcels. Vinified in small batches and aged in oak. This is a SERIOUSLY big Cabernet at a modest price!

Bodegas Olarra* Cerro Anon Rioja Crianza 2004 (Spain) $15.99 - This is a delicious wine! We just tasted it recently…It’s Jessica’s favorite Rioja under $20. Great value! Aromatic. Notes of red and dark berries and spices. Soft. Smooth. Round. Long, pleasing finish. 80% old vine Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, 10% Graciano. Aged for 14 months in American oak …the oak helps soften the wine, doesn’t dominate the flavors. Bottle aged for at least 8 months at the winery. Organic farming. Food pairing - Excellent sipping wine and with grilled meats, chorizo, roasted duck, chicken or pork.

Lange Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2005 (Oregon) $24.99 - A wonderful, lovely, pretty wine from a small family-owned winery! Organic, sustainable farming. Bright fruit & spice aromas & flavors – black cherries, raspberries and spice. A hit of loamy earth. Plus, an unusual & pleasant bacon fat note in the flavors. Well-integrated and balanced. Medium- bodied, this is a classic Oregon Pinot Noir! Lange makes rich and dark Pinot Noirs. This is a great example of their work! Food pairing – salmon, duck, roasted chicken, grilled pork, mushroom dishes, etc. Drinks well on its own!

San Savino Collemura Rosso Piceno D.O.C. 2005 (Italy) Reg. $12.99 Sale $10.99 - This is a wine that needs to open up and BREATH! Right out of the bottle, if you just open it, it'll be tart and you open it up and decant it and get it some air....well....this is an awfully good $10 bottle of wine! Red berry, red cherry to black cherry aromas.....with some notes of spice and pepper....rock-solid pizza or lasagna wine!

Tay's Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (Chile) $9.99 - BRAND-NEW to Maine! I really thought this was more expensive when I tasted it. I'm not sure how they packed this much flavor into a bottle at this price! Come try it! Dark fruit, plums, vanilla, spice, mocha, chocolate and a wonderful texture!

Pulmary* Donaria Malbec 2005 (Argentina) $22.99 - We love this wine! The winemaker was at our October ’06 tasting! She makes fantastic wines! Full-bodied. Loaded with flavors and aromas. Aromas of red fruit & herbs. Flavors of red and dark berries, black cherries, herbs and spice. Nice balance of tannins, acidity and fruit. 817 cases made. Organic. Food pairing – harder cheeses, beef, lamb, pork. Drinks well on its own, but a better food wine.

Belle Vallee Cellars Southern Oregon Red 2005 (Oregon) $14.99 - BRAND-NEW to Maine! We just tasted this a couple of weeks ago with the family that owns this winery! Blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. 2,950 cases made. Barrel aged in 60% new oak for 15 months. This has wonderful dark cherry and dark berry fruit with nice spice at the finish (that'd be the Cab. Franc). Food pairing – Drinks well on its own! Excellent with grilled meats and with harder cheeses and mushroom dishes.


El Maestro Sierra Pedro Ximenez Sherry (Spain) $16.99 - Max Trietler says, "Wow, this is a Pedro Ximenez with cut!" Ned asked me to include that comment in this description because Max is actully a bigger wine geek than Ned! And, he's been in the business longer. It's a much deeper PX with better acicity and a beautiful complex hazelnut finish. Sweetness not the first thing you notice, not syrupy or cloying. Best I've tasted and at a great price.

March 2008 Wines of the Month

Tier One


Chateau Grande Cassagne Cassanus Costieres de Nimes 2006 (France) $13.99 - This is a wonderful white blend from one of my favorite importers, Bobby Kacher. Even with the dollar getting just killed by the Euro, Southern France is still home to many great values.....especially if you step away from pricier areas such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Hermitage and Cote Rotie......the Costieres de Nimes is one such place on the western edge of the Rhone Valley.

Blend of 60% Roussanne and 40% Marsanne. 80% is stainless steel fermented and 20% is done in French oak barriques (small barrels). This gives the wine a tingle of oak that is definitely a backdrop to the bright floral (lavendar and white flowers) aromas, the citrus and green Provencal olive aromas with hints of honey. This is crisp AND rich! This wine SPEAKS of the South of France! Flavors of tart and sweet green apples, lemons, plenty of minerals and notes of herbs. Nice balance to the acidity and fruit. Nice finish. This may be my summer wine!

Chateau Grande Cassagne is a small estate run by the Dardé brothers, whose first vintage was in 1988. They ripped out the cheap table wine vines planted on the family estate (80 acres) and replanted with traditional Rhone Valley varietals, including Roussanne and Marsanne. The property is near the village of Saint-Gilles, where the land rises to expose a boulder-riddled plateau much like the one at Chateauneuf-du-Pape. They produce wonderful Rhone-style wines at great prices! Hand-made, hand-farmed, organically-grown.

Food pairing - Great as an apéritif and accompanying simple fish and chicken dishes with herb seasonings. Drinks well without food. Wonderful wine for a party!


Bonny Doon Vineyard Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato D.O.C. (Piedmont, Italy) Reg. $18.99 Sale $9.99 - This is an EXCELLENT wine from a truly OBSCURE grape – Ruché (I‘d never heard of the grape as of February). It's at this great price because no one knows what Ruché is and that makes it a tough sell at nearly $20/bottle!

This is what I call a "TWO PERSON" bottle of wine! What I mean by that is this wine will really evolve and change over a couple of you want to drink this slowly and enjoy it! Less than 100 acres of Ruché are planted in Piedmont (this is the only place it is grown).....this makes it one of Italy's smallest produced grape varietals. Some same Ruché vines were imported from France 100 years ago; others say it is indigenous to the Monferrato hills around the city of Asti.... I don't have a clue! It's only been produced commercially for a few decades and less than 10,000 cases are made from the entire area (about 35 different producers).

This wine starts with nice rose petal aromas….then, it really evolves over the next 90 minutes plus – that’s one of the things we really like about this! Medium-bodied. Distinct notes of pepper and wild berries. Soft tannins and nice acidity. I really like this A LOT! Jessica liked it enough to take home 6 bottles. Food pairing - Goes well with beef, lamb, grilled meats, truffles or mushrooms and cheeses such as Piave Vecchio or Gorgonzola.

Tier Two


Spann Vineyards Betsy's Backacher "Bottle Blond" 2006 (California) $17.99 - I love the Spann wines! Mo Zin is one of my favorite reds! This is one of my favorite whites! Blend of 67% Chardonnay, 22% Semillon and 11% Viognier. Spann farms organically. Peter and Betsy Spann just represent what a "family-owned" winery should be!

Aromas of crisp, ripe apples and anise. The flavors are creamy, soft and rich with no one varietal dominating the others. The Semillon and the malolactic fermentation help create the rich, soft, lush texture. Flavors of apricots, green apples and anise. This has such a rich and pleasing textural quality to it. Nice length on the finish.

The Chardonnay is from the Yorkville Highlands in Mendocino County. The Semillon and Viognier are from Dry Creek Valley. 75% of each varietal is barrel-fermented in French oak and 25% in stainless steel. 50% of the Chardonnay and all of the Viognier and Semillon complete malolactic fermentation. Each varietal is aged in neutral French oak barrels for 6 months. 448 cases made. Food pairing - lighter seafood or poultry dishes. Drinks great without food as well!


Potel-Aviron Côte de Brouilly Vielles Vignes Cru Beaujolais 2004 (France) Reg. $16.99 Sale $13.99 - I'm a little under the price threshhold for Tier 2 for this month - the distributor had a deal on this wine and I had to take it! Like most of the big distributors in Maine, this one just doesn't sell "Cru Beaujolais" well - most of their sales reps don't know what it is.....I do....and I appreciate their value, their flavors and their aromas!

I LOVE "Cru Beaujolais." It's one of the truly undervalued areas in the world. People hear "Beaujolais" and immediately think, "Beaujolais Nouveau." This couldn't be even compared to Beaujolais Nouveau. This is much more like a Burgundy than it is the candied fruit of Nouveau. Cote de Brouilly is predominantly granite soil. Up on the hill of Mont de Brouilly you can kneel down and pray at Notre Dame du Raisin ("Our Lady of the Grape"). "Cru Beaujolais" designates the 10 villages in Northearn Beaujolais that comprise the best growing areas - Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Saint-Amour, Chenas, Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Moulin-a-Vent, Julienas and the "new kid on the block," Regnie. These areas are hillier than the rest of Beaujolais and have much rockier soils.

I love this wine! This is not like a “fruity” Beaujolais Nouveau – this is much more like a good Pinot Noir! Great fruit, great flavor, loads of black cherries, violets, and dark fruit in the nose and mouth. Notes of chocolate throughout. Nice, long, rich finish. This is not quite medium-bodied, but it has a depth and elegance and length that make for an impressively rich wine!

Cote de Brouilly has distinctive "blue-hued" stones in its soil. Only about 80 producers. Potel-Aviron farms organically. What sets Potel-Aviron apart from most Beaujolais producers is that they DON"T use carbonic maceration - carbonic maceration means the grapes are tossed into the vats in whole clusters and not crushed....the weight of the grapes starts to crush them....this gives Beaujolais a unique flavor (candied fruit). Potel-Aviron applies Burgundy production standards (they crush, manual harvest, oak barrels for up to 10+ months - 6 months longer than most, but they never use more than 20% new oak).

Food pairing - Outstanding wine for Thanksgiving Dinner type meals, with roasted poultry, pork and similar meals. More Burgundy/Pinot Noir-like than Beaujolais (Gamay).

Tier Three

Richard Partridge Chardonnay 2005 (California) $48.99 - This is a big, rich and elegant California Chardonnay that is mind-bogglingly good! Beautiful golden color. This is a complex, layered wine with lots going on....while it has "big" flavors and aromas, it is also elegant and refined. This has floral and tropical fruit flavors and aromas and a hint of minerals. Additional aromas of honeysuckle, baking spices, lemons and oranges. Flavors of pineapples, lemons, stone fruits, green apples and melons with nice minerality and spices.

This is a small winery - focusing on only Chardonnay and Cabernet. They make less than 1,000 cases of wine each year. The winemaker, Jeff Fontanella, has worked at such major California "cult" wineries as Opus One, ZD and Saddleback Cellars. At Saddleback, Jeff work under the tutelage of Nils Venge, whom Robert Parker called "one of the 20 most influential winemakers in the world." Jeff knows his way around both the vineyard and the winery!

All of the 2005 Chardonnay grapes come from the State Lane Vineyards in the Yountville District of Napa Valley. Barrel fermented in new and one-year Allier oak. Aged "sur lees" for six months. Uses a Burgundian yeast. 286 cases made. This is only sold in 20 states! Food pairing - duck, chicken, salmon.....keep it good and simple.....I wouldn't do wild, spicy sauces with this wine....let its elegance and complexity help your good, simple food really shine!

Tir na N'og (Land of Youth) Old Vines Grenache 2005 (Australia ) $26.99 - Doug from SOPO brought this around and I knew I'd found the wine of the month for Tier 3!

This is big and deep, dark purple! Aromas of spices, black cherries, dark berries and dark chocolate. It's ripe, lush and full-bodied in the mouth! Velvety texture. Lots of layers and complexity to this. Notes of strawberries and raspberries in the flavors with dark chocolate. This has a silky finish to it with notes of black pepper and dark chocolate. This should age well for at least 10 years, but it is drinking darn good right now! This wine comes with a wonderful Gaelic legend - Oisin. The wine's name is a tribute to importer John Larchet's Irish/Gaelic heritage! Tir na N'og (Tier nah Nohg) is Gaelic for "Land of the Youth." Irish legends and myths tell of a land where mortal time was suspended and everyone was young and beautiful. Aged 18 months in oak barrels. 20% new and 80% old French oak the oak doesn't dominate the wine. Food pairing – grilled meat, mushroom dishes, etc. Sitting in a nice room with a good friend would work as well! Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 91 points; Wine Spectator, 91 points; Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, 91 points

The Other

Dutschke Old Codger Fine Old Tawny Port (Australia) $19.99 - This is a blend of wines from a slew of grapes from Langhorne Creek and the Barossa Valley. The wines average age is 8 years. This shows wonderful depth and complexity. It has butterscotch flavors with hints of molasses and red berry (strawberry & raspberry) that makes this uniquely different from many tawny ports. This is delicious and a GREAT value at $20! Made using a Solera system, this results in consistent quality from year-to-year. Blend of Verdelho, Grenache, Shiraz, Palomino, Frontignac and Muscadelle.

February Wines We Love!!!

February Wines We Love!!!

Von Schleinitz Sekt 2005 (Germany) $31.99 - this is a cool, DRY sparkling riesling! Fresh baked bread, yeast, floral, hints of wine! We may run out of this one (only 12 bottles available)....if we do....we have another sparkling up our sleeves.

Domaine Betrand Ambroise Cremant de Bourgogne (France) $19.99 - Wonderful floral and citrus aromas. Round and soft feel. 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. Hand-harvested grapes. Bottle aged for 20 months before the bottles are placed head-down to gather the sediment and deposits. Bottles are uncorked and the sediment removed. Champagne-style wine from Burgundy. Food pairing - great as a cocktail or toasting wine. This will pair well with red berry desserts.

White Wines

Quinta do Alqueve Fernao Pires 2006 (Portugal) $11.99 - Bobby Kacher (the importer) - this is the ONLY non-French wine he imports; the grape is Fernao Pires. We've sold this for a while, and we are on a new vintage we, we decided to do this! It's a little nutty and minerally while still having nice fruit! We love this wine! Beautiful pale straw color. Aromas of ripe apples, freshly mown grass, pears & honey. Flavors of apples & pears with hints of minerals & subtle floral notes that resemble Viognier. Crisp feeling & well-balanced acidity. Flat-out delicious. 82% Fernao Pires. 100% destemmed & fermented in stainless steel, ....then it is blended with Chardonnay....the Chard is aged & fermented in oak (this in NOT an oaky wine). Food pairing - lobster, shellfish, smoked fish, lighter poultry dishes...drinks well on its own.

Vinum Cellars "White Elephant" 2006 (California) $17.99 - only 90 cases made of this Chenin Blanc/Roussanne//Viognier blend from one of our favorite little wineries in California! The winemakers, Richard Bruno and Chris Condos, loudly and proudly exclaim that they'll "Work for Chenin!" Vinum Cellars is distinctive!

Red Wines

Sleight of Hand "Spellbinder" Red Blend (Washington) $19.99 - Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese blend from Cat's current favorite winemaker, Trey Busch. Sleight of Hand is a wonderful little winery in Walla Walla!

Avondale Unwooded Pinotage 2006 (South Africa) $11.99 - Big and dark....unique....Pinotage is a hybrid cross of Pinot Noir and Hermitage (a.k.a.; Cinsault). Avondale is a pioneer in organic and bio-diversity farming in South Africa.

X Winery Syrahtica (California) $14.99 - This is a rocking good wine! HUGE hit at a private tasting I did! Aromas and flavors of dark berries, black currants, blueberries, mocha, and a hint of licorice and black pepper. Soft, integrated tannins that fit into the wine. Just a hint oak. A unique blend of Paso Robles & Napa Valley Carneros grapes - Syrah, Petite Sirah & Cabernet Sauvignon.

Mas Carlot Les Enfants Terribles Costières de Nimes Syrah & Mourvèdre 2006 (France) $14.99 - NEW VINTAGE of an old favorite! I LOVE this! Complex, robust, tasty! Aromas & flavors of rocky, mineral soil, leather, dark berries, dark plums, black cherries, anise, earth, smoke. Layers & layers - that's probably why it speaks to me so! Everything is well-put-together. Well-balanced. Medium-to-full-bodied. This screams & defines "terroir" - that sense of place that we think wine should have! Half is aged in new oak. Will drink well thru 20011-12. Food pairing - lamb with rosemary, beef, rich mushroom dishes, etc.

Hill of Content Sparkling Shiraz (Australia) $16.99 - Doug and I were trying to think of a great tasting, fun sparkling wine to pair with chocolate on Valentine's Day! We both went, "Sparkling Shiraz!" This is a non-vintage wine made from mostly Shiraz, with a large amount of Cabernet Sauvignon added in for depth and oomph! Aromas and flavors of red and dark berries are made more "interesting" and exotic by the "sparkle." This is "zesty" because of the sparkle and adds to the festivity of any event! ....even a day when you are grilling burgers or chicken.... Pair this with marinated meatballs for a real treat! Great as a cocktail wine when your guests first arrive! Excellent with chocolate.

Dessert Wine

Elderton Botrytis Semillon 2005 (Australia) $19.99 - if the Sparkling Riesling isn't the coolest wine in this line-up, this is! This is scary good - and for all you who say, "I don't like sweet wines...." I DARE you, DOUBLE DARE you, to say that about this! Pairing for a dessert - Creme Brulee!

January Wines We Love!!!

January Wines We Love!!!

This month we feature wines from Jack Sculley of Easterly Wines. Jack is the "patron saint" of the independent, niche distributors in Maine. Jack pioneered the road that has seen SOPO, Wicked, Devenish, DaVine and Mariner join the field in the last 3 years.

Ask any wine sales rep (we're talking about reps from competing distributors) in Maine about Jack's portfolio of wines....each rep will say, "Jack's got some GOOD wines!"

Jack's wines definitively come from smaller, lesser-knownn producers. Jack has a superb palate - you can be assured that everything with the "Easterly" redemption sticker on it is a good version of what it is! Jack's wines are all over the wine lists at leading Maine restuarants such as Fore Street, Hugo's, Primo's, Street & Co. and more. Because Jack deals with such small producers, quite often these wines are not reviewed by publications such as Wine Spectator, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, etc. This helps keep a lid on the prices of many of these wines!

The Wines!!!


DeFaveri Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut $24.99 - this is definitely the best Prosecco in Maine and the best I have ever had! It comes in a fabulous, distinctive black bottle!

Lucio De Faveri produces elegant wines from the highest quality grapes! Aromas and flavors of green apples, white peaches, pears, white flowers and hazelnuts. This has a mouth-filling texture. Piercing, vibrant acidity. Nice length on the finish.

White Wines

Domaine Saint-Peyre Picpoul de Pinet 2006 (France) $11.99 - This is one of our favorite white wines! Has HUGE wow factor for a $12 wine! Refreshing! Floral & fruity nose…if you didn’t know any better, you might think this is a sweet wine. My Mom won’t go near a sweet wine - she loved this one – it’s dry and fruity. Melon, lemon, & grapefruit flavors. Food pairing - Terrific drinking on its own! All shellfish & seafood – from simple steamed mussels to a tomato-infused fish stew, plus flavorful white-meat dishes, cheeses & cured meats. One of the best values in the store! The name is poetic – “Picpoul de Pinet.”

AIA dei Colombi Falanghina 2006 (Italy) $17.99 - We just love this wine! It has great pear, peach & pineapple aromas and flavors with a hint of green apple. Juicy & round in the mouth. Medium bodied. Well-balanced acidity. Wonderful mouth feel – crisp and soft.
Long, smooth & soft finish. Dry. 100% Falanghina. No oak. The winery is run by 2 brothers. From the Sannio region of Campania, north of Naples. Ancient winemaking region – it’s favorbably mention in the works of Pliny, Cato and Horace. Food pairing - seafood and lighter dishes, fried clams or fried fish.

Warwick Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (S. Africa) $18.99 - This is just a wonderful wine! Pale, light color. Aromas of pear, lime, gooseberry and herbs. Dense and rich in the mouth. Dry. Flavors of pink grapefruit, lime and spices. Done entirely in stainless steel, the wine is clean, crisp and fresh. Finishes crisply with nice mineral notes. Warwick is a fabulous winery - we've sold their "Three Cape Ladies" since we opened. Food pairing - Great with fresh goat cheeses, salads made with goat cheese, grilled fish, shellfish and lobster.


Bodegas Aragonesas Campo de Borja Coto de Hayas Tinto 2006 (Spain) $9.99 - This is a wonderful wine - a great choice if you are on "Wine Probation" following the holidays (Wine Probation is a spending restriction after the holidays). Aromas and flavors of cherries, plums, chocolate and baking spices. A little pepper spice as well! Soft, rich texture. Tannins are soft and light. Nice acidity. Pretty finish. Blend of 50% Grenache, 20% Tempranillo, 20% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Campo de Borja is just south of Rioja, in the Cordillero Iberico foothills (this area is near the Pyrenees Mountains). The altitude is about 1,500 feet. Wine Spectator, "Best Buy"

Easton Amador County Zinfandel 2006 (California) $17.99 - This is the perfect mouthful of Zinfandel - we love it! Aromas of stewed dark and red berries & spices. This has a big, rich feel in the mouth! It's juicy. Has a creamy texture due to 10 months aging in French oak barrels. Well-balanced. Easton is a tiny family owned winery - Hugh Johnson & the Wine Spectator's James Laube rate it the best winery in the Sierra Foothills! Sustainable agricultural practices. Solar-powered winery. This is drinking well now and you can also age it for a couple of years. It'll add complexity as it ages. Food pairing - grilled meats, foods with blue cheese, roasted meats, really good pizza. Drinks great on its own!

Cascina Ballarin Cino Langhe Rosso 2004 (Piedmont, Italy) $15.99 - This is a blend of Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Barbera. This is medium-bodied and delicious. Brilliant ruby color. Aromas of ripe raspberries, cherries, plums, fresh herbs and flowers. This has rich flavors and smooth, lush texture. Flavors that are similar to the aromas. This has nice length on the finish. Ballarin is a specialty producer who works its vineyards by hand - from the pruning to the "green harvest" to the harvest. Stainless steel fermentation (6 months) and bottle aged for 6 months. The vineyards are mostly in the villages of La Morra and Monforte d'Alba. Food pairing - chicken, poultry, lamb, mushroom dishes. etc.

Domaine de la Terre Rouge Syrah "Les Cotes de L'Ouest" 2006 (California) $18.99 - This may be the best California Syrah under $20! This is a Northern Rhone style Syrah - St. Joseph-like. Deep, dark, inky color. Loaded with raspberry, pepper, gamey, baking spices, smoke and Provencal herbs in the aromas and flavors. The texture is soft and smooth. This drinks well young and will age for a few years. Easton is a tiny family owned winery - Hugh Johnson & the Wine Spectator's James Laube rate it the best winery in the Sierra Foothills! Sustainable agricultural practices. Solar-powered winery. Terre Rouge means "Red Earth" - the soil here in these Amador County foothills is quite red in color - lots of iron in this volcanic soil - this adds minerality and depth to the wine. Food pairing - Drinks great on its own without food! Pair this with hearty meals - pasta, steak, lamb, grilled meats, mushroom dishes, etc.


Quinta do Crasto Late Bottle Vintage Port $26.99 - we'll also have this available in half-bottles for $14.99! This Port is a treasure! Beautiful wine! Great gift - even if for yourself! Aromas of ripe plums and dark fruit. Flavors of dark chocolate, hints of spice, pleasant herbs, hint of licorice (and, yes, I don't like licorice, but in this wine it's nice!). Long, elegant finish. Quinto do Crasto is probably the best winemaker in the Douro Valley. Made from hand-picked grapes from 45-65 year-old vines. This wine will improve with age, but it is drinking well now! Food pairing - great either on its own or paired with strong cheese, almonds & dried fruit.

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.