February 19, 2009

February 2009 Wine Tasting

Wine and Cheese Tasting
Freeport Cheese & Wine
Friday, Feb. 20th

We'll have Mary Bridge from Winebow and Art Gonyea from National Distributors (which sells the Winebow wines in Maine). We have sold Winebow wines since we opened - focusing on their superb Italian portfolio. For this tasting, we are looking at their equally wonderful wines from Spain, Chile and Argentina.

For the cheeses, we'll have Christine Dupuy. Her father owns a cheese and meats company in Maine, Nova Foods. We'll be tasting some handmade cheese spreads from Cafe Miranda in Rockland! Maine-made - need to help keep dollars in Maine in this economy!

The Wines

The Whites

Monjardin Chardonnay 2007 (Spain) $14.99 - Tasty...yummy....a big "Wow!"! This is a fresh, crisp, clean wine. Completely unoaked. No malolactic fermentation...preserving the freshness of the grapes. Wonderful pear and apple fruit aromas & flavors. Interesting floral notes in the nose. The grapes are night-harvested to preserve the delicate fruit and firmness of the grapes. Less than 3,000 cases made. Single vineyard fruit. Food pairing - Great for sipping…excellent with seafood, salads and lighter foods. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 87 Points

Terrenoble Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Chile) $9.99 - Wonderful tropical fruits - more pineapple and mango than citrus. Crisp. Clean. Really nice wine! 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Stainless steel fermentation. Aged 3 months in stainless steel and 3 months in the bottle. Food pairing - fish, seafood, etc. Great as a cocktail wine - which means it drinks well without food!

Licia Albarino Estate 2007 (Spain) $17.99 - Great value in an Albarino! Flavors and aromas of green apples, minerals and honey. Hints of lemon on the finish. 100% Albarino. Stainless steel fermentation. Food pairings – shellfish, seafood, chicken.

The Reds

Almira Los Dos Grenache/Syrah "Campo de Borja" 2007 (Spain) $8.99 - This is a 3-star...may be a 4-star, WOOOOEEEE!!!! wine...we were guessing $12-14 when we tasted it. This is fun, complex & tasty. Soft in the mouth. Soft tannins. Wonderful red & dark berry fruit. It gets even better tomorrow, so don’t hesitate to open it when you want a glass or two. It's 93% Garnacha & 7% Syrah from old-vine grapes. The Syrah adds ripe strawberries to the nose & flavors. The wine has what the Spanish call, "Soto bosque" = forest floor herbs. Unoaked. This is a great wine for a party, whether you are having food with it or not. Food pairing - Great with grilled poultry, roasted pork or poultry.

Nieto Senetiner Malbec 2006 (Argentina) $12.99 - The winemaking consultant for this wine is Italy's legendary winemaker, Alberton Antonini. This is a big rich Malbec - lots of plums, figs and dried fruit. Full-bodied. Definite notes of vanilla. Aged one year in French oak barrels and 6 months in the bottle. Food pairing - lamb, steak, beef or lamb stews.

Rioja Vega - this winery dates to 1882. It's old enough that it pre-dates the formation of the D.O., Rioja. So, it is able to use Rioja in the name of the winery. We are trying two Riojas - a Joven (or younger Rioja) and a Crianza (refers to being aged in oak for a certain regulated minimum time and then in the bottle). This is a great opportunity to compare and contrast 2 styles of a similar wine!

Rioja Vega Joven 2007 (Spain) $9.99 - Fresh, young ripe fruit! Jovens are meant to drink young & easy - and this does! Nice structure and balance! Aromas and flavors of cherries, strawberries and a little earthy mushroomishness on the finish! Blend of mostly Tempranillo (90%) with a little Garnacha. Fermented in stainless steel tanks. Minimally aged before the winery releases this wine - this is meant to drink young! Food pairing - grilled chicken, pasta dishes, great for a party!

Rioja Vega Crianza 2005 (Spain) $14.99 – Wonderful, classic Rioja! Aromas of baking spices, currants, red berries & black raspberries. Medium-bodied and soft - this is how I think Rioja should be - more about elegance and less about power. Blend of 50% Tempranillo, 25% Mazuelo and 25% Garnacha. Aged 12 months in 4th use oak barrels and then 6 months in the bottle. This will drink well for 5-6 years. Food pairing - poultry, pork, mushrooms, etc.

Terranoble Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Chile) $13.99 - Wonderful rich texture and fullness to this wine! Red berries, smoke, chocolate and ripe fruit dominate the aromas and flavors. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 8 months in 50% new and 50% used oak barrels and for 9 months and then 8 months in the bottle. 5,500 cases made. Food pairing - red meat, duck, pork or venison.

Anima Negra AN2 2005 (Mallorca, Spain) $24.99 – This is a great story! Three young men from Mallorca revolutionized the winemaking on Mallorca focusing on the indigenous grapes found on the island. They contracted with 135 tiny vineyards to acquire the rights to vines that are 50-to-85 years old! Then, they started making outstanding wines! This is their "entry-level" wine.

Beautiful, big rich Spanish red! Aromas of toast, baking spices, raspberries and black cherries! Silky, elegant texture. Long, long finish. Blend of 65% Callet, 20% Mantonegre-Fogoneu and 15% Syrah. Aged 12 months in 70% new French and American oak. This will drink well for 4-6 years. Food pairing - beef, steak, lamb, etc. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 91 Points

The Cheeses:

  1. Roasted Sweet Red Pepper Davesin Cheese - It's a dip! It's spreadable! It's makes a great grilled cheese sandwich! Or, on a steak!
  2. Fire Roasted Garlic Davesin Cheese - It's a dip! It's spreadable! It's makes a great grilled cheese sandwich! Or, on a steak!
  3. The Original Davesin Cheese - Think handmade Borusin - herbs & garlic! It's a dip! It's spreadable! It's makes a great grilled cheese sandwich! Or, on a steak!
  4. Et Tu Brutus "Kills A Caesar" Creamy Romano Cheese, Garlic & Basil Dressing & Dip - great on a salad, bread or a spoon!

February Wines of the Month

February Wines of the Month

I'm still looking for great buys and great deals - lots of good wine out there and sometimes the distributors are looking to move some of it at a reduced price - we're still tasting before we buy! So, these are wonderful wines at great prices!

To that end, I'm looking for excellent wines at better-than-excellent prices!

Tier One


Cambas Chardonnay 2006 (Peloponnesus, Greece) Reg. $9.99 Sale $8.99 – Definitely NOT an oaky Chardonnay. This is clean, crisp with nice lemon and honey aromas and flavors. It also has hints of nuts. Medium-bodied. Nice acidity. Food pairing – richer fish such as tuna, salmon, halibut, etc. Lobster. Rich cheeses.

In many ways, Greece popularized wine in the Mediterranean - its production dates to the island of Crete as far back as the Minoans (2,600-1,100 BC). Greek colonies spread vines throughout Europe, the Black Sea and even into Northern Europe. This laid the foundation for modern viticulture throughout Europe. Greek wines were a valuable trading product through the Byzantine Empire, but when the Ottoman Turks occupied Greece, production fell and never recovered. When the Turks left Greece and the modern Greek state was founded in 1913, most farms and vineyards were destroyed.

Until recently, Greece was known for making Retsina (that pine resiny drink) and bulk wines that were popular because they were cheap. There were a few exceptions - this winery is one of them. Founded it 1882, Cambas Winery is unusual in that it grows both traditional Greek grapes as well as grapes such as Chardonnay. Greece's entry into the European Union in 1981 helped open markets to Greek wines and bring in needed investment dollars - at the same time, the EU was floating on a veritable sea of jug wine. So, the focus was on increasing quality. Greece is following the path that revolutionized winemaking in Italy and Spain in the 20th century - focus on quality first and foremost.

Cambas Winery was established in 1882. Today, it is one of the Greek wineries leading the Greek wine renaissance!


Celler La Bollidora Terra Alta D.O. "CLB" 2006 (Spain) Reg. $21.99 Sale $14.99 – Excellent! Dark, purple color. Aromas of blueberries, black cherries and spices. Big, rich, spicy....lots of big, dark ripe fruit. Tannins and acidity backing up the fruit. Long, long finish....Blend of 50% Garnacha Negra, 40% Syrah and 10% Samso (Carinena). Unoaked. This will drink real well over the next 2-3 years and drink well through 2015.

Terra Alta is a Designation of Origin (D.O.) wine-growing area in Spain - that's what the D.O. means on a bottle. This is an area we are just beginning to discover in the US. The area is in Catalonia, near Tarragona. This is the part of Spain closest to France along the Mediterranean Sea. It's about 17,000 acres in size. Winds, El Cierzo, up the Ebro River Valley help reduce the humidity in the area - protecting the vines from disease. The climate is a mixture of Mediterranean and Continental - long, hot, dry summers and cold, cold winters. Terra Alta has been a D.O. since 1972 and they've made wine there since the 13th century. In ancient times, the Romans built a road from Saragossa to Tortosa - they probably introduced grapes to the area (they did everywhere else!). In the Middle Ages, the Knights Templar planted vines, but the remoteness of the area made it impossible to make money from the wines, so they converted most vineyards to olive groves. Picasso features a great many local scenes in his paintings.

Food pairing – Pair this with lamb, steak, poultry, pork, salmon, mushroom dishes, etc. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 90 points

Tier Two


Branko Collio D.O.C. Tocai Friulano 2005 (Friuli, Italy) Reg. $24.99 Sale $17.99 - Tocai Friulano is a grape that is local to northeastern Italy! Friuli, tucked next to Slovenia, north of Venice, produces Italy's greatest white wines.

The wine is minerally and spicy more than fruity. The fruits are green apples, pears and white peaches. The minerals, spices and apples dominate the flavors and aromas. This has a real lush texture at the front - it's real soft and round in its feel. The finish is dry with a nice crispness to it. This is aging nicely and will age for several more years.

What really defines and distinguishes Friuli from the rest of Italy is its emphasis on quirky, unusual local grape varieties. 100+ grape varieties are grown in this area. These growers are not planting the currently popular grapes - they keep plugging away at their traditional grapes! Also, this area focuses on quality to a degree that is rare in the world.

This is a Venetian wine - the grape may be native to Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. There is speculation that it is from Hungary, but it has zero resemblance to any Hungarian variety. Tocai Friulano was documented in Friuli in 1771. It's also called Sauvignonasse (which is not Sauvignon Blanc, despite the name). It's the most widely planted white wine in Friuli (and planted widely in the Veneto and eastern Lombardy. Where is Friuli? Here!

This is not to be confused with Tokay, Tokaji or Tokay d'Alsace . And, Tocai Friulano will soon be known merely as "Friulano" after a fight with Hungary (Hungary won the battle for the name in the European Union). This is a shame because Friulano is made from Tocai grapes and Tokay or Tokaji is made from Furmint and Harslevelu grapes and Tokay/Tokaji is the name of a wine style, not a grape. France's "Tokay d'Alsace" is made from Pinot Gris (which is what the Alsatians and Germans call Pinot Grigio).

This is a cool climate grape - it buds late and ripens late. It really likes the deep, gravelly soils found in Friuli, especially the Collio area. Food pairing - smoked fish, smoked shellfish, ham, lobster, scallops, duck, poultry, etc.


"In Situ" Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Chile) Reg. $25.99 Sale $18.99 - Deep, rich red color. Aromas of ripe red berries, eucalyptus, spices, rosemary, dried fruit and vanilla. Flavors of plums, raspberries, cola and mint. The tannins are smooth, mature and well-integrated. The finish is nice and long.

Almost all (90% ) Cabernet Sauvignon with a little Cabernet Franc and Carmenere to round things out. Hand-harvested grapes. Fermented in stainless steel tanks and then 100% of the wine goes into French and American oak barrels for 12 months aging - mixture of new and older oak barrels, so this is not "oaky." Bottle aged for 6 months. The vineyards are in the Aconcagua Valley (that's the Western Hemisphere's highest mountain).

Vina San Esteban is a family-owned winery. They farm sustainably. This is drinking nicely today and will aged well for 3-6 years. Food pairing - steak, beef, lamb, rich cheeses.

Tier Three


Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2007 (Australia) $21.99 - Excellent Viognier! I love this grape and Yalumba does it as well as anyone in the world! In fact, they are pioneers of this grape in Australia and this vintage includes a couple of new clones they've developed.

The wine is a pale color (golden-green) with aromas of stone fruits (apricots and nectarines), honeysuckle, orange rind and white flowers. The tastes are long-lasting - long, rich and luscious. Stone fruits with bracing citrus acidity.
After harvest, 60% of the fruit in put into oak barrels and the rest into stainless steel tanks. They use indigenous yeasts, which are natural to the vineyard. The wine is left on its "lees" (residue at the bottom) for 10 months with regular "batonage" (stirring the lees into the wine) - this adds complexity and richness and adding a voluptuous texture to the wine.

Yalumba is Australia's oldest family-owned winery. Founded in 1849! Samuel Smith, a brewer, emigrated to Australia and put his knowledge of fermentation to work after planting vineyards. Today, six generations and 160 years later, his descendents continue his work! 1,600 cases imported. Drink now through 2011. Food pairing - salads, poultry, fish, seafood. Wine Spectator, 91 points, Top 100 2008 Wines, #55


Stanley Lambert “Silent Partner” Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Australia) Reg. $49.99 Sale $29.99 - Yes, that price is correct....that's a $20 savings on a great wine!

Lindsay Stanley, the winemaker was here in September and we did a tasting with him. This was a huge hit at the higher price - now it's a steal!

Delicious! This winery’s FLAGSHIP wine & a HUGE hit at a recent tasting! Rich and elegant wine. This rivals the best Cabernets from California! Dark, rich fruit – black currants, black cherries and vanilla. Smooth, lush finish that LASTS! Hand-picked grapes. Single vineyard with low-yielding vines. Aged in fine-grained American oak hogsheads for 18 months. 1,000 cases made. Food pairing - rich foods. Drinking with friends who know good wine!

February 6, 2009

Wine Tasting, Flavors of Freeport

Wine, Beer & Spirits Tasting
Flavors of Freeport
Hilton Garden Inn
5 Park Street, Freeport
(207) 865-1433
Saturday, Feb. 7th

This is the 2nd Annual Flavors of Freeport (link).

Who is there?
  • Cold River Vodka
  • Gritty's (you should see the moveable wooden bar they have for events!) - try their new 21 IPA (its their 21st year!) and a Red Ale made especially for this event!
  • SOPO Wines
  • Wicked Wines and Beers
  • Mariner Beverages (wines and beers)
  • National Distributors

There will be a dozen or more beers, 25+ wines, a cider or 2 and Cold River Vodka to taste.

Tickets are $15/person.

The Wines: (I'll update this with info through the night)

Sparkling Wines:
  • Scagliola Moscato D'asti "Primo Baci" (means "First Kiss")
  • Villa Cornaro Prosecco

  • Sun Garden Riesling 2007 (Germany)
  • Marchetti Verdicchio Dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2006 (Marche, Italy) $13.99 - This is one of the best Mediterranean whites under $15 I've ever tasted! Wonderful citrus and mineral flavors and aromas. This also has notes of green apples and tropical fruits. Vibrant acidity and loads of minerality throughout the wine. Picks up a little nuttiness (almonds?) on the finish. Long, crisp finish! Maurizio Marchetti, the winemaker, only uses the best grapes (most years he gets no more than 1/2 a bottle from a single vine). 2,100 cases. Food pairing - seafood, shellfish, swordfish, etc. Great with poultry. Organic Farming
  • Touraine Sauvignon Blanc (France)
  • Joseph Drouhin La Foret Blanc (France)
  • Peter Lehman “Layers” (Australia) - brand new to Maine!
  • Franciscan Chardonnay (California)
  • White Oak Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (California) Reg. $16.99 Sale $13.99 - This is AWESOME! A tasty, yummy, aromatic wine from the Russian River Valley. Aromas and flavors of nectarines, grapefruit and melons. Just a touch of vanilla on the finish which is clean and crisp with hints of citrus. 100% cold-fermented in stainless steel. Aged “sur-lie” to add complexity & roundness. 5,838 cases made. This is White Oak’s Flagship wine! Food pairing - Great choice with shellfish, lobster, fish, lighter chicken dishes, etc.
  • 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"


  • Pietra Santa Winery Sacred Stone Master’s Red Blend Cask #4 (California) $10.99 - Delicious! Smooth! Rich! Soft! Juicy! Loads of ripe plums and cherries. Dark and lush! Crisp acidity and a rich, soft finish! Blend of Merlot, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and Dolcetto. 18,088 cases made. 24 months in French and American oak. Food pairing – great wine for a party – your guests will thank you for serving this! Drinks well with or without food. Grilled foods! Barbecue. Pizza. Pasta. Poultry. Mushrooms. Etc.
  • 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.
  • Maestre de Campo Malbec 2004 (Argentina) $14.99 - Well-balanced wine with real nice tannins (they've smoothed out) and dark fruit with notes of mocha and chocolate. 100% Malbec. Aged 12 months in French and American oak barrels. Vinedos Los Maitenes is the work of 2 close friends with a background in winemaking. They founded this estate in 2001. One characteristic of this winery is that they hold wine at the winery until it is ready to drink - so you can pull the cork on this and be confident is has sufficient barrel/tank and bottle aging! Food pairing - steak, beef, lamb, pasta dishes, lasagna, etc. Luigi Bosca Malbec (Argentina)
  • Olympic Cellars Handyman Red (Washington)
  • Moillard “Les Violettes” Côtes du Rhône 2007 (France) $11.99 - An AWESOME wine & a great value! It’s hard to think of a wine that gives you more “bang for the buck!” Aromas of dried cherries, berries, pepper & herbs. Flavors of plums, red & dark berries & peppery spice. Subtle minerality. It has a warm, soft feel in the mouth. Bright, fresh smooth finish. Soft tannins. Food pairing – Mushroom dishes, grilled or roasted meats, pizza, hearty meals. Drinks well on its own, too! Organic Farming
  • Michael Pozzan Annabella Cabernet Sauvignon (California)
  • Joseph Drouhin La Foret Rouge (France)
  • Angeline Pinot Noir (California)
  • Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz 2005 (Australia) Reg. $17.99 Sale $14.99 - A “killer” Shiraz at this price! Aromas of berries, cherries, toffee and herbs. Flavors of intense plums, bittersweet chocolate, Moderate tannins. Clean finish with nice length. Aged in French and American oak hogsheads for 12 months. Not an “oaky” wine – the time in oak just softens the wine! Food pairing - Excellent choice for just drinking, a good steak, lamb chops & aged cheddar! Wine Spectator, 91 points
  • X Winery Red X (California)
  • X Winery Syrahtica (California)
  • The Red One (Australia)


  • Trentadue Chocolate Amore (California)

Beers & Cider:

  • Fuller’s London Porter (England) - Brand new to Maine!
  • O’Hara’s Irish Stout (Ireland) - Brand new to Maine!
  • Erdinger HefeWeizen Dark (Germany) - Brand new to Maine!
  • J.K. Scrumpy Cider (USA)
  • Kwak (Belgium)
  • Lion Stout (Sri Lanka)

Freeport Cheese & Wine

Freeport, ME 04032

(207) 865-3993