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