January 28, 2009

January Wines We Love, #2

Freeport Cheese & Wine

Wines that are "too good and too cheap not to buy!"

These are wines about to go into vintage changes and Tim at Mariner Beverages wants to move these out so he can open up space and money to bring in the new wines. These are rock-solid wines - the vintages are fine....it's just that 2-10 cases of a wine don't do a distributor much good - so, it's better to drop the price and move 'em out! Lots of these are from the Small Vineyards portfolio from Italy that we just LOVE!


Schoenheitz Gewurztraminer 2005 (Alsace, France) - Reg. $22.99, Sale $14.99, By the Case $11.99 - drier style Gewurz from a wonderful little producer in Alsace.


Sanguineti Rosso di Montepulciano 2004 (Italy) - Reg. $17.99, Sale $12.99, By the Case $9.99 - This is the classic "little brother" of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano! Made by Tuscan wine guru Antonio Sanguineti from grapes from the famous Lombardo estate of Montepulciano! This Rosso is full of dried cherry aromas and flavors...deep and dark.....Antonio makes bold, rich wines.....this is a STEAL! Wonderful Italian wine! Tuscan blend of 90% Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese) and 10% Merlot. Aged in 2nd or 3rd use French oak barrels (big ones) for 4-6 months. 500 cases made.

Terre del Grico Salice Salentino 2001 (Italy) - Reg. $21.99, Sale $13.99, By the Case $11.99 - Elegant and powerful! Dense, almost raisin-like fruits. Classic Mediterranean spice aromas - sage, anise, rosemary, etc. Blend of Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera (Negroamaro means "blackest of the black" - it's a dark, dark grape. Aged 1 year in American oak barriques and then aged in the bottle. Unfiltered. From Apulgia in Southern Italy. The vines are 37-72 years old. Made by Massimiliano and Marcello Apollonio (brothers) - they also own Forte Canto, whose Primitivo we are tasting! 850 cases made. At it's normal price, this is not an everyday red, but at this price.....make pizza....put a lasagna in the oven! It is an everyday red!

Monte Oliveto Maggiore Toscana Rosso 2006 (Italy) Reg. $26.99 Sale $14.99 - This is a delicious blend from Sienna in Tuscany! Aromas & flavors of red berries (raspberries and cherries), black fruits such as blueberries & black cherries, vanilla, cocoa, mocha and a little earth. Smooth texture. Wonderful wine that could age for another 3-5 years. 60% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet & 15% Merlot. Organic farming. Monte Oliveto is a HUGE monastery dating to 1313. One of the cool things about this area is the terrain - it's unique! It's the Badlands of Italy - the Crete Senesi! The wine is distinctly Italian and we'll have some salami and/or cheese to go with it! Food pairing - roasted meats, pasta dishes, mushroom dishes, etc. Meals such as Thanksgiving Dinner (poultry and lots of side dishes).

Cantine La Quercia Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2006 (Italy) Reg. 15.99, Sale $11.99, By the Case $9.99 - Delicious wine from Italy! Medium-bodied with lush, ripe red and dark berries in the aromas and flavors. Spicy notes in the flavors. Smooth and soft drinking! Dusty tannins that don’t overwhelm the flavors. 100% Montepulciano. 4-6 months bottle aging and 4-6 months barrel aging in 10 year-old oak barrels. 2,000 cases made. Organic farming. Food pairing – meats, roasts and pasta dishes.

Forte Canto Primitivo 2004 (Puglia, Italy) Reg. $15.99, Sale $12.99, By the Case, $10.99 - Excellent wine from Southern Italy and a great deal! Aromas and flavors of dark, ripe cherries and berries, baking spices and herbs. Great long finish that lingers and is “just” dry……not too dry and certainly not sweet! 100% Primitivo. Primitivo is the same grape as Zinfandel, but the wine is different! 3 months bottle aging and 12 months barrel aging in 5-to-10 year-old oak barrels. 3,200 cases made. Organic farming. Food pairing – meats, roasts and pasta dishes.

We'll have 9-10 wines at comparable savings....these are excellent wines that you get buy at a great savings!

Freeport Cheese & Wine
27 Bow Street
Freeport, ME 04032
(207) 865-3993

January 25, 2009

Pinot Noir Tasting with Rob Stuart of R. Stuart & Co.


You need to e-mail me (efullagar@verizon.net) or call (865-3993) to reserve a place at this tasting and you really should!

Wine Tasting
Featuring winemaker Rob Stuart of R. Stuart & Co. from Oregon.
Wednesday, Jan. 28th
Hilton Garden Inn, 5 Park Street, Freeport
(the Hilton is just around the corner from my store - going away from LL Bean on Bow Street, cross the railroad tracks and turn left onto Park Street and there is the Hilton!)

$10/person to taste a flight of these wonderful wines
Please call the store (865-3993) or e-mail me
to register and reserve a place!

Remember, this is not a seminar. You may come at any time between 5:30 and 7:00pm.

Also, we are doing this tasting outside of the store because Maine law limits retailers to 1 wine tasting in the store per month.

We have to charge a small fee (and $10 to taste these 6 wines, especially these wines, is a pittance!) to cover the costs at the Hilton. Many thanks to Jeanne Carpentier and her awesome staff at the Hilton Garden Inn for making this happen!

The What and the Who:

Doug and Cat from SOPO (South Portland Wine Company) have Rob Stuart, owner, founder and winemaker at R. Stuart & Co. coming to Maine on Wednesday and we get to do a tasting with Rob.

Rob Stuart, a longtime veteran of the Oregon wine world, was formerly the winemaker at Erath Vineyards. He started his own winery in early 2002. Two of the wines Rob will be sharing with us that evening had less than a two barrel production (the Goldschmidt Vineyard and Temperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noirs) - that's about 600 bottles each.

Rob has a degree in biochemistry from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute in New York. He worked in chemistry briefly and then started in the wine industry at Hans Kornell (one of the California pioneer winemakers) in Napa valley. Then he joined Valley View Vineyards (Southern Oregon's original winery in the 1850's) and after that on to Staton Hills in Yakima, Washington where he made wine for ten years. Finally, Rob returned to Oregon in 1994 as the winemaker at Erath Vineyards - working for and with Oregon legend AND PIONEER Dick Erath. Now, he makes the wines he loves: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and sparkling wine!

The Wines

R. Stuart & Company Rosé d'Or (Oregon) $49.99 - This sparkler has a captivating rosy pink color, easy caramelized sugar smell and subtle sweet flavor. Full-bodied and dry. Yeasty, fresh bread aromas. Elegant red fruit flavors. Crisp sweet apple. I think it is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Food pairing - It’s creamy lush texture accompanies everything from breakfast in bed to dessert on the deck! Smoked salmon, Sushi, Eggs Benedict, lobster, scallops and more!

R. Stuart & Company Big Fire Pinot Gris 2006 (Oregon) $13.99 - Yum! This wine is crisp and delicious with flavors of pears, apples and delicate blossoms. Aromas of honeysuckle. Finish is big and crisp! Food pairing - Wonderful wine with Maine shellfish! Thai food, sushi, salads, spicy grilled shrimp.....Wine Enthusiast, "Best Value Oregon Pinot Gris"

The Big Fire series comes with a poem on the back label - this changes over time:

"For there, in the homey night,
Was no thought else that mattered,
And nothing else was true,
But the white fire of moonlight,
And a white dream of you." Rupert Brooke

R. Stuart & Company Big Fire Pinot Noir 2007 (Oregon) $19.99 - Rob says this wine is like a ripe plum -- juicy, fruity, and very very drinkable. Delicious red fruits - wild raspberry, cherry, strawberry and red plum. Cinnamon and maybe even leather. Medium bodied. Smooth texture with something to grip! Grapes are from the Temperance Hill, Erath, Brunker Hall, Melrose and Arcus vineyards. Aged 10 months in oak barrels (10% new French). Food pairing - jambalaya, pasta with tomatoes and garlic, mushroom and/or sausage pizza, a grilled burger....

"But you are more than love
the fiery kiss,
the heart of fire,
more than the wine of life." Pablo Keruda

R. Stuart & Company Autograph Pinot Noir 2006 (Oregon) Reg. $39.99 Sale $31.99 - The wine Rob Stuart calls his favorite! Intensely flavored and yet, still restrained. Aromas & flavors of black cherry, chocolate, dusty earth, violets, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, lavender, ginger & baking spices. Grapes blended from 5 vineyards – Daffodil Hill, Temperance Hill, Elkhorn Ridge, Goldschmidt and Weber. Unfiltered and unfined. Aged 10 months in new to 5th use oak barrels. When to drink – now through 2012. Food pairing – salmon, duck, tuna, lamb, beef, etc. Decant for an hour.

R. Stuart & Company Temperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 (Oregon) $49.99 - This wine shines with beautiful finesse and amazing rich flavors of red fruits, plums, and raspberries. The structure of the wine is defined and elegant with a long and luscious finish.

Temperance Hill is one of Oregon's best vineyards for Pinot Noir. It's also not that big - 73 acres. The soil is the product of an ancient volcano - each slope is part of the collapsed volcanic cone - the caldera. The slopes are rocky. It's full of gigantic basalt boulders. The soil is thin - this makes the vines struggle more - which means the fruit is better. At 700-800 feet, Temperance Hill is at an unusually high elevation (most vineyards in the area are at 300-500 feet). This means the temperatures are lower and the harvests later. The Willamette Valley harvests about 2 weeks earlier; even areas to the north in Chehalem and the Dundee Hills harvest earlier than Temperance Hill. Because of the late harvest, this is a riskier area to plant; but, in good years, the risk is rewarded with beautiful aromas and flavors. Vineyard manager Dai Crisp says that the difference between a good wine and a great one is 5 more days on the vine.

Temperance Hill produces grapes with darker fruit, dark cherry, black current, minerals, an earthy character....more acidity and structure than from the Dundee Hills.....lilac aromas. Spicy, classic aromas.

Temperance Hill farms organically. Dai Crisp began farming grapes in his parents backyard in the mid-'80's.

R. Stuart & Company Goldschmidt Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 (Oregon) $49.99 -

Oregon wine's Gold Coast is usually called the Dundee Hills or the "Red Hills of Dundee." It is know for its red volcanic Jory soil and is home to over 50 vineyards, including Goldschmidt (which was renamed Winderlea recently). These vineyards along Worden Hill Road are among the most prized in Oregon - Goldschmidt, Maresh, Bergstrom, Erath, Weber, Ana, Cameron's Clos de Bess and Electrique. Most recently, it has been a select few in Oregon who have been able to buy Goldschmidt grapes - Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, Patricia Green Cellars, Adelsheim Vineyard and R. Stuart & Co.

Goldschmidt Vineyard has some of the oldest vines in the Willamette Valley. The vineyard is at about 440-560 feet in elevation. The Pinot Noir vines include Pommard, Wadenswil and the so-called Coury Clones. These have been supplemented with Dijon clones. The vines are densely planted to stress them and produce more Burgundian-style Pinot Noir. The vineyard comprises 13 blocks entirely devoted to Pinot Noir. It's small - 17 acres.

Goldschmidt grapes have a unique dried cherry character. It also brings a ripe red pear texture to the wine. The wines are red-fruit and rich. Lush, rich wines!

Winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash says, "Goldschmidt Vineyard is an awesome site form Pinot Noir....and near and dear to my heart in terms of quality.....it has a high YUMM factor!" Penner-Ash makes Pinot Noir from Goldschmidt for the Dusky Goose label and her own Penner-Ash Wine Cellars; she's worked with grapes from this vineyard since 1988.

That's the line-up. Rarely do we get a winemaker of Rob's skill and experience in Maine who is available for a public tasting!

Eric Fullagar
Freeport Cheese & Wine
27 Bow StreetFreeport, ME 04032
(207) 865-3993

January 12, 2009

January Wines and Cheeses That We Love, #1

Wine and Cheese We Love
Freeport Cheese & Wine

The Wines

One set of these wines (the ones from Spain - Altozano and Bodega Beronia Rioja) are all from the same family. Gonzalez Byass was founded in 1835 in the town of Jerez, Andalusia, in Southern Spain. Still in the hands of the founding family (now, the 5th generation), it has always produced excellent wines and grapes.

  • 1835 - founded
  • 1844 - Tio Pepe first sold in Great Britain
  • 1855 - the first cellars inaugurated
  • 1870 - Opening of the Bodega "La Concha" inspired in the designs of Gustave Eifeel
  • 1936 - Tio Pepe logo launched

The Whites

Bodegas Gonzalez Byass Altozano Verdejo-Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Spain) $9.99 - Brand new to Maine! Intense aromas of citrus, grapefruit, orange peel, tangerine and flowers. Flavors are fresh and full with good acidity. The finish is long with a touch of bitterness to balance the fruit. 70% Verdejo and 30% Sauvignon Blanc. Food pairing - fish, seafood, etc.

Dancing Coyote Chenin Blanc 2007 (California) $11.99 - Brand new to Maine! Crisp, clean white with flavors of pears, apples and limes. Nice acidity. 84% Chenin Blanc, 11% Gewurztraminer and 5% Orange Muscat. Stainless steel fermentation. Sees no oak or malolactic fermentation. Aged on lees for months to add richness and complexity. 413 cases made. Food pairings - grilled fish or other seafood. Chinese or Thai food. Cheeses.

The Reds

Bodegas Gonzalez Byass Altozano Tempranill-Shiraz 2006 (Spain) $9.99 - Aromas of ripe red fruits, stewed cherries and plums with hints of balsamic. Flavors that are full-bodied with a touch of oak. Brand new to Maine! 70% Tempranillo and 30% Shiraz. 25% is aged 5 months in French and American oak. Food pairing - cheeses, red meats and game.

Arido Malbec 2006 (Argentina) $9.99 - Arido (AH-ree-doh) means "arid" in English. Nice red fruit and violet aromas and classic Malbec spiciness. Soft and round flavors that match up with the aromas. Well-balanced acidity. The tannins are "sweet" - that means the tannins are there, but not overpowering or "drying" - it does not mean the wine is sweet! From the Finca Los Alamos vineyard in the Upper Uco Valley of Mendoza. This is a high desert that is at 3,500 feet above sea level with less than 4 inches of rain per year. During the growing season the temperature differential between night and day is 60 degrees. Blend of 90% Malbec and 10% Merlot. Manual harvest.

Bodega Beronia Rioja Crianza 2005 (Spain) $14.99 - Brand new to Maine! Beronia is named after the "Berones," a group of people who inhabited the area in the 3rd century BC. 82% Tempranillo, 14% Garnacha and 4% Mazuelo. Aged 12 months in French and American oak. 2005 is an excellent vintage. Flavors and aromas of raspberries, blackberries, dark herbs and ruby red grapefruit. Tannins are soft and integrated. Food pairing - pasta, lamb, steak, etc. 89 points, Wine & Spirits, 2008 "Year's Best Rioja - Best Buy"

Vistalba Corte C 2005 (Argentina) $13.99 - Violet red color. Rich aromas and flavors of red fruits and dried fruits. Notes of eucalyptus. In the mouth, this wine is soft and round with balanced tannins and a nice long finish. Carlos Pulenta's family estate is located in the center of Vistalba within the Lujan de Cuyo region of Argentina. The vineyard sits at the foot of the magnificent Cordon del Plata within the Andes Mountains. The characteristics of the poor soil in this area makes it the perfect home for many grapes, especially Malbec. 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot. From the Finca Vistalba vineyard in the Lujan de Cuyo. The large temperature swings from day to night during the growing season help develop color and tannins. Hand-harvested. 20% is aged in new French oak barrels for 12 months. Food pairing - steak, lamb - this is from Argentina afterall!

Tomero Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Argentina) $13.99 - Doug and Cat feel that some of the best wines to come out of Argentina today and in the future are Cabernet! Great value in a Cabernet! Aromas and flavors of jammy dark berry fruit, red berries, baking spices, black cherries and more.....easy to drink. Medium-to-full bodied with softer tannins that kind of have an Italian dustiness to them if you know what I mean (I don't mean dirty earth). Juicy and ripe fruit on the finish. 20% is aged in French oak barrels for 8 months. Bottle aged for 6-12 months at winery. Hand-harvested grapes. Also from the Finca Los Alamos vineyard in the Upper Uco Valley of Mendoza. This is a high desert that is at 3,500 feet above sea level with less than 4 inches of rain per year. During the growing season the temperature differential between night and day is 60 degrees. Food pairing - grill up a steak. Roast a chicken. Sauté a bunch of mushrooms.

The Dessert

Tobin James "Liquid Love"Late Harvest Zinfandel 2006 (California) $21.99 - It's not too early to start thinking about Valentine's Day (29 days from Friday)! Plus, who can't use a litlle love?! Deep and dark with rich dark berry and dark plum flavors. Vanilla aromas. Flavors of dark chocolate and orange. Not as heavy as a Port. Single vineyard that is picked very late in the season. This wine comes with a disclaimer: "Beware! Drink in moderation. We take no responsibility for what happens once this bottle is uncorked!"

The Cheeses

These are all rare, hand-crafted cheeses from the mountains in Switzerland (with one exception, the Abondance is from France).

The first 3 cheeses are all $22.99 a pound (elsewhere, they are $30/lb. and up). I don't think they'll sell at $30+/lb., especially in these economic times. I want to carry them.....so, I'm selling them for a lot less.

Bergkäse Selun - The name Bergkäse identifies these as mountain cheeses. From the village of Toggenburg in St. Gallen. This is a raw milk cheese from grass fed cows. This family broke away from the Tilsiter consortium and created their own new, unique cheeses. Organic farming and production. Based on the French cheese of the St. Néctaire. Creamy. Semi-firm. Small wheel about 12 inches in diameter and 1 1/2 inches high. Washed rind. Medium-strong in flavor. Strong, earthy aroma. Flavor is big and complex. Pairs well with ale style beers and a red wine such as Zweigelt or Cabernet Franc.

Försterkäse - a classic "lumberjack's" cheese from the region of Krummenswil in Northern Switzerland. So-called because of wooden fir bark band wrapping the cheese. Washed rind - washed with white wine. This is a "stinky" cheese. The combination of the white wine wash and fir bark creates a spicy, full flavor and a smooth, velvety texture. The fir adds flavors that penetrate the cheese as it ages. This is a raw milk cheese from grass fed cows. Organic farming and production. Only made in one place by one cheesemaker. More aromatic and flavorful than Vacherin Mont d'Or. About 9 inches in diameter and about an inch thick. Pairs well with Alsatian whites and a big red such as Amarone. Also, works with a strong beer. Fig cake and hazelnuts will work well with this cheese.

Vacherin Mont d'Or - A classic, soft, gooey cheese from Switzerland! From the Canton of Vaud. Earthy and salty. Pungent. This cheese originated as a Fall/Winter cheese because milk production wasn't sufficient to produce the large cheeses such as Gruyere. It's season runs from September to April. Wrapped in wood as is the Forsterskase. This is so creamy you can eat it with a spoon. You can also bake this! Made from "thermised" milk - the milk is gently heat treated to reduce harmful bacteria and preserve the milk's flavor. So, it isn't raw milk, but it isn't pasteurized, either. Pairs well with Gruner Veltliner.

Abondance - This is a high mountain cheese from the Haute-Savoie in France (near the border with Italy and Switzerland). Sharpness and tingle on the tongue. Nuttiness on the finish. Creamy, rich texture. Strong aromas. Flavors that are complex - from nutty to fruity. Hand-made cow's milk cheese from the Savoie in France. Firm texture and medium strength in flavor. Really rich! Similar to Comte or Beaufort. The wheel is about 15-18 inches across and about 3 inches high. It weigs about 22 lbs. It takes about 18 gallons of milk to make one wheel! Great melting cheese. Pair with crisp white wines or earthy reds. $19.99/lb.

Freeport Wine & Cheese
27 Bow Street
Freeport, ME 04032
(207) 865-3993

January 5, 2009

January 2009 Wines of the Month

January Wines of the Month
January brings us a new month and renewed awareness that the economic world still isn't quite healthy!
Yet, most of us get up and head to work each morning.....so, we earn our rewards.....but, we might want or need to watch what we spend!
To that end, I'm looking for excellent wines at better-than-excellent prices!
That's this month theme - it may seem scattershot, but it is what I've tasted in the last couple of weeks that is just really good and a great value!
Tier One
Molino a Vento Pinot Grigio Catarratto 2007 (Sicily, Italy) Reg. $16.99 Sale $10.99 – An importer based in Maine brought 100+ cases of this wine in solely for a distributor in another state; that distributor had tasted it at Vin Italy earlier in the year and loved it and place a large order. Fast forward to the minor little economic mess we are having, and the distributor cancelled the order. So, the importer was looking to make a deal and Tim at Mariner and I tasted this….we loved it and I committed to buying a bunch and so did Tim, so we received a nice discount from the importer!

One of the things that makes this wine different is that it is mostly Pinot Grigio from Sicily – most Pinot Grigio is grown in northern parts of Italy. It also has Catarratto in it – a grape from Sicily. What is Catarratto? It’s Italy’s most widely planted white grape and only Sangiovese (the Chianti grape) is more planted. Who would have known? Not me before yesterday!

Big, lush, rich Pinot Grigio! This is not a thin or light Pinot Grigio! Growing in hotter Sicily makes this wine “bigger” than it is in Northern Italy! Medium-bodied with a lush texture. Lots of fresh apples & ripe pears in the aromas & flavors with hints of honey & baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice). Also, has apricots in the flavors. Well-balanced acidity and a touch of baking spices on the finish. Food pairing – seafood, duck, poultry. Decanter Award, Decanter World Wine Awards 2008, United Kingdom

Domaine de Fenouillet Vin de Pays de Vaucluse 2006 (France) $11.99 – New vintage from an old favorite! This is a wonderful value from Southern France – one of the best we’ve had at this price! This wine is from the Neil Rosenthal portfolio – Neil may be the best importer going – certainly, when it comes to France, he can’t be topped! His wines are top-notch & it’s rare to find one at $12.

Domaine de Fenouillet has been in the family for generations. Early in the 20th century, the family couldn’t make a living producing wine, so the current owners’ maternal great grandfather, Casimir, made use of the large number of olive trees on the property and apricots – producing olives, olive oil and tins of apricots. The current owners’ father felt the time had come to make wine, but he became sick in 1978 and the winemaking plans fell by the wayside. In 1988, encouraged by their mother, Nicole, Vincent and Patrick Soard made preparations to start making wine. 1989 was their first vintage!

This has nice fruit in the aromas and flavors. It drinks soft and smooth. It also has nice minerality, a touch of earth and soft tannins. Blend of mostly Grenache with some Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvèdre. Food pairing – Drinks well with or without food. Pair this with poultry, pork, salmon, mushroom dishes, etc.

Tier Two
Château Vessière Costières de Nîmes Grenache Blanc – Roussanne 2007 (France) $16.99 - Wonderful blend from Southern France! Chateau Vessiere has been in the same family since 1703! Sustainable agriculture and a commitment to quality, the Teulon family continues to care for this estate in a way that implies they'll be looking after it in 2303 and beyond!

I love white wines from Southern France! Aside from great white Burgundies, great Rieslings and great white Bordeaux, wines just don't get better! And, in terms of "bang for the buck," they definitely don't get better! This is SUPERB!

Aromas and flavors of peaches, citrus, white flowers, minerals and honey. On the finish, there is grapefruit and honeysuckle (that honey/honeysuckle is the Roussanne). Round, soft, rich wine. Great acidity that balances the fruit. 85% Roussanne and 15% Grenache Blanc. 7th generation winery. The Ancient Greeks revered wines from this site….as did the Romans. Food pairing - seafood, shellfish, salads, creamy pasta dishes. Avoid salty dishes.

Pontual Touriga Nacional – Trincadeira 2004 (Portugal) Reg. $25.99 Sale $16.99 - One of the better wines I’ve tasted in ages! Big red! Deep tannins that are tamed and softened with some age. Aromas and flavors of black plums and flowers and notes of spices and vanilla. 65% Touriga Nacional (Portugal’s noble grape) & 35% Trincadeira. 12 months in French & American oak. From Alentejano in Southern Portugal. Food pairing - Great with hearty foods such as beef or lamb stews and roasted meats.

Tier Three

Domaine Saumaize-Michelin Saint-Véran “Les Crèches” 2006 (Bourgogne) Reg. $29.99 Sale $27.99 - Excellent wine – racy!

According to Anthony Dias Blue's "Pocket Guide to Wine 2006," Roger Saumaize's wines are more like great "Cote de Beaunes than Macons."

Scroll down through the link and you'll see what wine geeks like me are talking about when we talk about wine being on the "lees;" and what stirring up those lees means....

Saumaize-Michelin has emerged as one of the best producers in the Pouilly-Fuisse/Saint-Veran area. Barrel aged and 100% malolactic fermentation. The calcaire limestone soils in the vineyard help make this wine!

Aromas of apples, pears, oranges, baking spices and lemon zest. Crisp green apple, Round, rich texture. Well-balanced. Fresh. Long, zesty finish. The wine really opens up with air, so, I’d decant this! Food pairing - Great wine with lobster and baked chicken. Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, 89 points

Allegrini Veronese IGT Villa Giona 2003 (Italy) Reg. $99.99 Sale $49.99 - I love this winery and this wine! It only dates to the 1500's in the Allegrini family!

Allegrini is one of those landmark wineries in the world! They make great wines. They push the boundaries. They elevate standards. They are leaders and they are great!

According to Gambero Rosso, Italy's most important wine publication, Allegrini is a "STAR" winery because it produces great wines across many vintages.

Why is this wine marked down so much in price? Have you seen the economic news? Do you want to try and sell the 12 bottles of a $100 wine in Maine that isn't Opus One or a First Growth Bordeaux or Penfolds' "The Grange?" Neither did the distributor....so they cut the price in half. So, I bought them after tasting one (hey, someone has to take one for the team!).

Full-bodied red. Lots of stewed black fruit – plums, blackberries, cherries. Provencal herbs, vanilla, baking spices, leather and dark chocolate. Big, rich wine with lots of layers and complexity. Silky texture. Long finish. Blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot & 10% Syrah. Aged 18 months in medium toast oak barriques & 10 months in bottle before release. Food pairing – roasted and grilled meats, stews, etc. Wine Spectator, 89 points

Freeport Cheese & Wine
27 Bow Street
Freeport, ME 04032
(207) 865-3993

December 2008 Wines of the Month

December Wines of the Month

December is much like November in that I wanted to stay "home" as much as I could.....do you know how hard it is to find good wine that is unusual under $15 that is from the United States?

It's really hard....especially whites (I'm convinced it is easier to make good inexpensive reds than it is to make good inexpensive whites).

So, I strayed for the Tier One white!

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! 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, poultry dishes.

Easton* Amador County “H” House Red Lot # 0102 (California) $9.99 - Tasty little everyday red! Blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Smooth and easy with lots of ripe dark fruit. Not tannic. Drinks soft and easy. Perfect wine to just relax with and enjoy. A tiny family owned winery. The Wine Spectator & Hugh Johnson rate it the Sierra Foothills’ best winery! Sustainable agricultural. Solar-powered winery. Food pairing - grilled meats, pizza, a picnic, etc. Drinks great on its own!

Tier Two

Benton Lane* Pinot Gris Williamette Valley 2007 (OR) $18.99 - FABULOUS - one of Oregon’s best!
Family-owned and started winery! Steve and Carol Girard set out in 1988 to make the best Pinot Noir they could....being from California, they started there and quickly realized that it was too warm....so, they headed north to Oregon! They bought the land that became Benton Lane.....along the way, they planted Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc.....I'm glad they did!

Aromas of pears, apples, minerals, vanilla & nutmeg. Flavors of pears, minerals and Granny Smith apples. Refreshing. Rich. Tasty. Long, clean, pleasing finish. Certified sustainable agriculture. Certified Salmon Safe winery – drink their wines & help preserve the Pacific Northwest salmon fishery! 2,912 cases made. Family-owned. Food pairing - shellfish, creamy pasta dishes, light appetizers, spicier foods & sipping on its own. Food & Wine, “Best Buy”

Spann Vineyards Charbono* 2005 (California) $23.99 - Another fabulous, rock-solid wine from Peter and Betsy Spann!
Spann Vineyards is one of these little wineries that without people like Jack Scully at Easterly Wines in Belfast and yours truly at Freeport Cheese and Wine, you just wouldn't know!
Full-bodied, rich, well-balanced. Aromas and flavors of blackberries, plums and herbs. Lots of similarities to the Piedmont grape Dolcetto in terms of flavors (lots of fruit), but this is a much BIGGER wine than Dolcetto. Somewhat rustic in texture with firm tannins and bright acidity.
If you lay this down for a few years (3-4), you'll have a PRIZE!
Charbono is the grape. One of the rarest grapes in California, Charbono is only grown on a handful of acres, mostly in Napa. Long thought to be related to Dolcetto Nero, DNA testing shows it is the minor French grape, Charbonneau, from the Savoie region near the border with Piedmont. Aged 30 months in neutral French oak. Organically farmed. 150 cases made. Food pairing – Goes well with big, rich dishes – lamb, steak, roast beef, hearty mushroom dishes, etc.
Tier Three
St. Innocent is one of the best wineries in Oregon! Period!
This winery helps set trends and standards not only in Oregon and the USA, but across the globe. Great, great winery! Hand-made wines - total capacity is about 6,500 cases a year. Sustainable farming practices. Dedication. You can't get any better!

St. Innocent* Chardonnay Freedom Hill Vineyard 2006 (Oregon) $26.99 - A knockdead “Burgundian” Chardonnay from Oregon. I love this wine! This is GREAT Chardonnay! Aromas that definitely showcase minerals….paired up with ripe pears, green apples and honeydew melons. The flavors mirror the aromas. The wine is lush in texture and feel. It’s just beautiful. You can drink this now and it tastes great, but this is a wine you should buy a few bottles and hold them for 4-6 years – it’ll gain complexity and depth (and it is already pretty complex and deep!). The vines are a Dijon clone, #76. In early years in Oregon, the wineries planted the “Wente” clone from California and it just did not produce good wine in Oregon’s cooler climate – so in the 1990’s, St. Innocent and others replaced the “Wente” clone with several Dijon clones. This clone produces a Meursault-like Chardonnay – darker fruit with lots of minerality and soft, velvety textures in the mouth. The winemaker really believes this clone captures the “terroir” of the Freedom Hill Vineyard – showing the wines minerality and fruit without hiding it behind toasty oak. The grapes are whole cluster pressed. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation (with this wine, the impact of malolactic fermentation is small, because the wine doesn’t have a lot of malic acid present at the beginning, so this is not a hugely “buttery and creamy” Chardonnay) and is aged “sur lees” for 12 months in used French oak barrels (used barrels impart little-to-no “oakiness” to the wine). The “lees” are the yeasty residue given off by fermentation that precipitates and settles on the bottom of the barrel – it adds richness and softness to the wine. 336 cases made. Drink through 2013.

St. Innocent* Seven Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 (Oregon) $47.99 - This is just a superb wine – this is Oregon Pinot Noir at its best! Wonderful aromas of cherries, black raspberries, baking spices, dark wet earth & violets. Medium-to-full-bodied. This is a deep, rich, refined, elegant wine. Flavors of red & dark berries, a touch of spice & brambles. Drink now through 2018. Worthy of aging – flavors will evolve. This tiny winery specializes in single vineyard wines that show the distinctive terroir of the area. 1,288 cases made. Food pairing - Great with poultry, game, rich mushroom dishes & meals with wild berries & earthy flavors. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 92 points

January 4, 2009

November 2008 Wines of the Month

November Wines of the Month
It's November....so we are focused on American winemakers......in fact....we are focused on only 2 of them.....

One from Washington and one from California. The Washington winemaker, the infamous bad boy of Washington (and maybe American) winemaking....the one and only Charles Smith, many of you know from his well-regarded K Vintners. You've seen some of these wines before, but not these vintages. Also, 2 of these are from his new label, Charles Smith Wines (ignore the "under construction" note - the links on the site work).

The reds....all from Tobin James from Paso Robles in California. For years, Tobin James has been a "cult" wine from Paso Robles....hard-to-find outside of California. Well.....now they are here!

Tobin James started....well....when Tobin James (yes, he's a real person), was a low-level worker in a winery (that would be an "assistant" winemaker - those guys move hoses, barrels, rinse out tanks, etc.). The winery couldn't accept 6 tons of grapes that were arriving....and the owner rejected them....Toby James asked if he could have them......the answer was, "Yes." The result....18 months later....gold medals and accolades for Toby's first Zinfandel, the 1985 "Blue Moon" Zin.

Praise has been coming in ever since!

Tier One

K Vintners Holy Cow Chardonnay 2006 (Washington) $12.99
- Excellent Chardonnay that bridges Old World and New! Aromas and flavors of Granny Smith apples, limes, quinine, No oak and no residual sugar – clean, crisp, fresh and medium-bodied. Vibrant, balanced acidity. More like a Burgundy than a “fat” Californian. When to drink – now. Not a candidate for long-term cellaring, but the modern screw-cap will help keep this bright and fresh for a year or 2! Food pairing – Fish such as mahi mahi, tuna, spicy Asian dishes with soy sauce, sesame, peanuts, black and red peppers, poultry, etc.

Tobin James Paso Robles Chateau Le Cacheflo Syrah-Sangiovese-Barbera 2006 (California) $11.99 - Yes....the name of the wine is "Le Cacheflo" - spelling by phonics....that is "Le Cash Flow." Goofy name.....really good wine at $12!

Medium-dry red that is medium-bodied. Easy drinking! Aromas of red fruit, a little dusty earth and peppery spice. The tannins are medium and help balance the ripe fruit flavors. Along with the ripe red fruit, this has some subtle baking spices and chocolate. Blend of Syrah, Barbera and Sangiovese – so this definitely has a Mediterranean flair to it. Call it a California “Rhone-clone” Italian-style! Food pairing – awesome wine for cookouts, pizza, spaghetti, etc!

Tier Two

K Vintners Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2007 (Washington) $13.99 - Excellent!!! We tasted this at a recent tasting – great! Beautiful aromas of minerals, pears, citrus. Crisp, bright & fresh drinking. Dry, but not tannic (that feeling of your mouth being coated). Huge, long finish of pears, apples & minerals. Charles Smith, winemaker, calls this “Kung Fu Girl” Riesling, because he says, “both girls & Riesling kick ***!” Food pairing - This will be awesome with shellfish, salmon – grilled, smoked or baked, Thai food, ham and more! Drinks great on its own!

Tobin James Paso Robles Ballistic Zinfandel 2006 (California) $17.99 - A wonderful wine and a great value in a Zinfandel from a “cult” winery! Gobs of dark peppery fruit in the aromas and flavors. Hints of Provencal herbs, black cherries & black pepper. Great acidity. Soft tannins. Full-bodied. 100% Zinfandel from 27 different Paso Robles old-vine vineyards (60-75 years), including the famed Dusi Vineyard. This will drink well for the next 3-4 years. Food pairing – ribs, beef, steak, lamb, lasagna, pizza….

Tier Three

K Vintners Viognier 2007 (Washington) $22.99 - This is a big, bold and beautiful wine! The only thing bigger than this winemaker’s ego are the flavors and aromas in his wines! Beautiful aromas of minerals, peaches, pears, flowers and apples. Rich and velvety in the mouth. Excellent acidity and minerality in the flavors. Huge, long finish of pears and minerals. Food pairing - This will absolutely be smokin’ with roasted chicken or pork tenderloin with root vegetables. Great with salmon. Awesome shellfish wine! Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 91 points

Tobin James Paso Robles James Gang Reserve Zinfandel 2006 (California) $29.99 - The big blockbuster from the James Gang! Big, rich and bold! Long, long finish. Aromas and flavors of blackberries, blueberries, black cherries, dark chocolate, pepper, subtle hints of oak and vanilla. While the alcohol is high, you don’t notice it. This wine is “jammy” rich! Nicely balanced tannins and acidity. The cream of the crop from the barrels at the James Gang. This will drink well for the next 3-4 years. Food pairing – great with grilled foods.

The Other

Tobin James "Dreamweaver" "California Champagne" (California) $11.99 - (1) this is sparkling wine; (2) it is NOT champagne; (3) I think Tobin James is poking fun at the "name czars" in the wine world; (4) I'm certain Toby James knows it is wrong to call this "Champage;" (5) this is really good, light and fun to drink!

Blend of Chardonnay, Muscat and Chenin Blanc. This is light, bubbly, fruity, easy-to-drink and tasty!


October 2008 Wines of the Month

October 2008 Wines of the Month

We are off to Italy for this entire month......lots of lesser known grapes and producers from lesser known areas!

Three of these 6 wines are made by one young man, Marco Cecchini. Marco was studying economics at University and quit - to take over his grandfather's wine "estate." That estate was one hectare (that's 2.5 acres - that's 2 and a half acres - you saw the decimal in the correct place!). His mother was not happy! Today, he is farming many more acres and his mother is much happier! So are we - we love his wines!

Tier One

Conti di Buscareto* Verdicchio Dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2007 (Italy) $14.99 - Delicious white from the Marche in eastern Italy! Wonderful floral, mineral and anise aromas. Medium-bodied. Light citrus, saline, anise and mineral flavors. Pretty wine! Crisp, bright and fresh. Clean finish! 100% Verdicchio. Stainless steel fermentation. Low-yield vineyards producing great grapes. Organic Farming. Food pairing – grilled or roasted fish, seafood cream sauces, artichokes, asparagus, prosciutto….most anything Italian!

D’Orsaria Cabernet Franc 2007 (Italy) $14.99 - Excellent wine from Northeastern Italy! Aromas of plums, violets, peppery spice, cherries and bell peppers. Flavors of cherries, raspberries and subtle black pepper. Soft tannins. Nice length on the finish. Marco Cecchini is the winemaker - he dropped out of college in 1998 when he inherited his grandfather's 1 hectare (2.58 acres) vineyard to the dismay of his mother. He became a winemaker and he has never looked back! He always strives to make sure as little oxygen as possible contacts his wines - so, they are bright and fresh. Food pairing - Lighter foods, seafood, shellfish - drinks well on its own!

Tier Two
These next 2 wines are probably Marco's flagship wines! If your Italian and/or web skills are better than mine, you can read more about Marco and his wines on his website!
Marco Cecchini Tové 2006 (Italy) $21.99 - This wine bursts with fresh fruit flavors and aromas! Apricots and melons, white flowers and smells of Spring! Tangy, refreshing and loaded with fruit in the mouth. Long, subtle finish....just a fascinating and tasty wine! Aside from just tasting wonderful, what we love about this wine is that it holds up for a couple of days after opening!

90% Tocai Friulano & 10% Verduzzo. Both of these are grapes local to the Friuli area. Tocai Friuli is not to be confused with the Hungarian Tokay.....not the same grape. Oenologists and DNA types are still trying to learn its origins. Verduzzo is also an obscure grape.

From Marco's vineyards near the Slovenian border in NE Italy....half of the vineyard has 40+ year-old vines. All the vineyard work is done by hand. Organic Farming

Marco Cecchini Refosco 2006 (Italy) $22.99 - This is a fabulous wine! A knock-dead wonderful wine from a grape we doubt you know, Refosco! It's similar to Pinot Noir from Burgundy (nice fruit, but it is not fruit-driven - with earth, spice & minerals). The grape is native to the Friuli area - almost Yugoslavia or Hungary/Austria - a cool weather wine area, more like Burgundy than Italy! From Marco's vineyards near the Slovenian border in NE Italy....half of the vineyard has 40+ year-old vines. All the vineyard work is done by hand. Organic farming. Food pairing - Excellent with rich meals, grilled meats, etc.

Tier Three

The winery for Tier Three is located in Campania - southwestern Italy near Vesuvius, Naples, Pompeii and Herculaneum. This area is home to the earliest Greek colonies and settlements in Italy. Campania, more than any other region in Italy, is home to ANCIENT grape varietals - Agliancio, Falanghina, Fiano, Falernum and Asprinio. We are tasting 2 of them this month.

This winery, Fattoria La Rivolta, is family-owned. They farm organically. They produce wines from the local grapes - Fiano, Falanghina, Aglianico, Piedirosso, Greco di Tufo and Coda di Volpe.

Fattoria La Rivolta* Sannio DOC Fiano 2007 (Italy) $28.99 - Excellent wine from Southern Italy! Full-bodied with lemon citrus, honey, apples and pears in the aromas and flavors. Bright, crisp acidity on the long finish. Serve cool, not cold – the flavors gain strength as the wine warms in the glass. Family-run farm. Stainless-steel fermentation. Hand-harvested. 100% Fiano. Organic farming. When to drink – ready to drink now. This will take on subtle hazelnut or almond aromas with 2-3 years aging. Food pairing – veal, pork, poultry, richer fish or seafood. Meat wrapped in prosciutto.

Fattoria La Rivolta* Taburno DOC Aglianico del Taburno 2005 (Italy) $34.99 - Excellent red from Campania – grown in a vineyard near Vesuvius – so this has a lot of minerality from the volcanic soil! Aromas of cherries, plums, curing tobacco, spices, violets and mushrooms. Flavors of plums, cherries, smoked meat, pepper and subtle licorice (I don’t like licorice, but I like the subtle notes in this wine). Hand-harvested. 100% Falanghina. A Family-run farm. Aged in 2nd and 3rd passage oak barrels. 4,000 cases. Organic farming. Food pairing – game, beef, lamb, rich dishes, etc.

The Other

This isn't another wine....it's another SIZE of the same red wine as is in Tier Two....magnums are great to pull out for a big dinner (Thanksgiving, Christmas, an anniversary or a graduation, etc...). The larger bottle is just more festive, impressive, ELABORATE!

Marco Cecchini Refosco 2006 (Italy) $49.99 - This is a fabulous wine! A knock-dead wonderful wine from a grape we doubt you know - it's similar to Pinot Noir from Burgundy (nice fruit, but it is not fruit-driven - with earth, spice & minerals). The grape is native to the Friuli area - almost Yugoslavia or Hungary/Austria - a cool weather wine area, more like Burgundy than Italy! From Marco's vineyards near the Slovenian border in NE Italy....half of the vineyard has 40+ year-old vines. All the vineyard work is done by hand. Organic farming. Food pairing - Excellent with rich meals, grilled meats, etc.