We’re headed to Southern France for a couple of grapes better known from Burgundy – Aligote for the white and Pinot Noir for the red.
This estate, Domaine de Régusse, was founded in 1970. It's in the Haute Provence, at the foot of the Luberon mountain at about 1,500 feet. The farm covers about 750 acres, with 640 in vineyard. They grow 20 different grape varieties. In 2004, the estate obtained the certification "Viticulture Raisonnee Controlee." This process aims to (1) improve the wine by improving the grapes; (2) guarantee quality products and food safety to the consumer; (3) respect the environment, the terroir, the heritage and the traditions.
Domaine de Régusse is imported by Fran Kysela. Fran flat out has one of the best noses for outstanding wines. This estate produces rock-solid wines at great prices!
Domaine de Régusse Aligoté 2008 (France) $13.99 – This really impressed us a couple of weeks ago when we tasted it with David from Davine Wines. Excellent wine from an obscure grape from Burgundy! This is refreshing and crisp! It has great acidity (typical for this grape). Flavors and aromas of green apples, lemons and minerals. Food pairing – lobster! Shellfish. Grilled chicken. Salads.
This Vin de Pays de Mediterranée is aged in stainless steel on its lees for 6 months. The lees are the residue in the vat or barrel – leaving the wine in contact with the lees adds richness to the wine.
Aligoté is used to make a dry white wine in Burgundy (specifically in Bourgogne Aligoté AOC). Along with Chardonnay, it’s also used in making Crémant de Bourgogne, Burgundy’s sparkling wine and a great alternative to pricier Champagne! Traditionally, the cocktail Kir is made by adding cassis to an Aligoté white wine. The grape is grown in Bulgaria, Russia, Ukrainia and Moldova – it’s prized for its acidity and ability to withstand cold temperatures.
Domaine de Regussé Pinot Noir 2008 (France) $13.99 – This is not Burgundy, but it is real nice Pinot Noir! Flavors and aromas of cherries, currents, cranberries, baking spices and cedar. Aromas of leather and earth. A rich and darker Pinot Noir that’s meant to be drunk young!
100% Pinot Noir. Barrel aged. A Vin de Pays des Alpes de Haute Provence. Long-winded way of saying this is a wine from the northern part of Southern France. Food pairing – mushroom and meat dishes, grilled or roasted meats. Dishes with Provencal herbs.
Tier 2 and Tier 3
The wines are from two of my favorite little wineries in Italy – Alois Lageder and Tenuta Sant’ Antonio. Both are in Northeastern Italy – the Alto Adige and Veneto areas.
Justin from Wicked Wines goes to Vin Italy - the biggest wine show in Italy each year. He also pokes around at smaller shows while he is there. It was here that he discovered these wineries. Then he showed them to me!
This northeastern part of Italy, the Alto Adige, has varied and complex weather conditions. The valleys are surrounded by the huge Dolomite Mountains (which are a former seabed, so the soil is chock full of limestone, sandstone, chalk and minerals – which makes the wines more minerally in their flavors and aromas).
The winery earned Demeter biodynamic certification in 2007. All the vineyards are biologically and sustainably farmed and have been since 2004 (as Lageder says, “We don’t use biodynamics as commercial or marketing, we do it because it has to be done.”). They built a new winery, using all natural materials. The vineyards and winery have produced 0% emissions from fossil fuels since the 1990’s (they use solar power for 60% of their electricity needs).
They farm 125 acres of vineyards and these are home to 15 grape varietals – many indigenous to Italy.
The Lageder family has been making wine for over 150 years. Alois Lageder’s great-grandfather founded the winery in Bolzano in 1855. In 1934, the family acquired the Löwengang estate in Magrè. In following years, the family continued to purchase vineyards in Alto Adige.
The vineyards here are planted on steep slopes between 750 feet and 3,200 feet in elevation. The vineyards face south, east and west to get as much sun as possible. The area’s soil is loaded with limestone, sandstone, chalk, etc. Precisely the best soil to make the best grapes!
Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco Dolomiti 2007 (Italy) $15.99 – The grapes for this wine are grown at an altitude of 980-1,650 feet. The nights are quite cool with large swings in temperature from night to day. The vines are 5-30 years old. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged on the lees (the residue in the vat from the fermentation) for 3 months. Aging on lees adds richness and complexity to the wines. This is drinking beautifully right now and will aged well for 2-4 years.
Aromas of honey, green apples & peaches. Flavors of tart green apples, white grapefruit, and crisp pears. Dry, crisp and great minerals in the flavors. Medium-bodied and mouth-filling. Refreshing. Nice length on the finish. Zippy, tangy acidity. Food pairing – salads, asparagus, seafood of all kinds, pasta dishes. Wine Spectator, 88 points
Tenuta Sant’ Antonio Monta Garbi Valpolicella Superior DOC Ripasso 2006 (Italy) $22.99 – The grapes for this Ripasso are crushed immediately after harvesting and undergo a 2nd fermentation on the Amarone skins in January. This adds Amarone-like notes and richness to the wine. It is then aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. The “Slow Food” Italian publication raves over this wine and rates it a great value!
Ruby red color. Aromas of red berries and red cherries. Texture is soft and smooth. Spicy finish. Food pairing – pastas with meat sauces, grilled poultry, roasted meats and aged cheeses.
The vines are pruned early in the growing season – reducing the yield and exposing the grape clusters to greater sunshine. The grapes are hand-picked from early Sept. – latter October.
Vineyard is at about 1,000 feet. Vines are 20 years old. Blend of 70% Corvina/Corvinone, 20% Rondinella and 10% Croatina/Oseleta. The wine is stirred in the barrels for the first 9 months – this adds richness and texture to the wine. 15-16 months in 500-litre tonneaux barrels – 30% new and 70% 1 or 2 years old. 12,500 cases made. This will age for 10 years.
The Castagnedi brothers (4 of them) run this winery. Quality is their priority. In the 1980’s, the family bought more vineyards (about doubling in size) and dramatically changed its vineyard practices – opting for much higher quality and lower quantity of grapes. The neighboring height is Monta Garbi, which is also the name of this wine and the cellars. In 2001, they poured out their Amarone – it wasn’t the quality they demand.
As the French saying goes, good wine is obtained in proportion to one vine to one bottle – at Tenuta Sant’ Antonio, it’s 2 vines per bottle!
Alois Lageder Vogelmaier Moscato Giallo 2007 (Italy) $25.99 – This is one of the best dry Muscats made anywhere! From the Vogelmaier vineyard on the northwest side of Lake Caldaro (880 foot altitude).
Fresh, clean aromas with distinct floral notes, tropical fruit, white pepper, coriander, honey and beeswax. Medium-bodied. Dry. Flavors of grapefruit, lemon, tropical fruit and honey. Good “zip” to this wine because of the acidity. Great length on the finish – which has a lot of minerals. 100% Yellow Muscat. Single vineyard from the Vogelmaier vineyard on the northwest side of Lake Caldaro at an altitude of 880 feet. Fermented in stainless steel. Aged on the lees for 4 months (this adds richness and texture to the wine). 1,775 cases made. This will age well for 3-5 years. Food pairing – sausages, patés, grilled fish, Asian food, cheeses.
Alois Lageder Cor Römigberg Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (Italy) $39.99 - Deep, dark color. Aromas of cherries, blackcurrants, mint, tobacco (this is a good aroma – we’re talking curing tobacco, not cigarette smoke), some meatiness and oaky spice. Powerful wine. Rich and big, but also elegant. Lots of dark fruit and spice in the flavors. Big, bold finish. Silkier than most Bordeaux. This doesn’t whimper into the night! Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. From the Römigberg estate vineyard on Lake Caldaro at about 800 feet. The vineyard was planted in 1986. Fermented in stainless steel for 17 days and then aged in French oak (Alliers and Nevers), of which 2/3 is new. 920 cases made. Food pairing – red meat, lamb, venison, aged cheeses.
Chateau de Trinquvedel Tavel Rosé 2008 (France) $22.99 - hey....that's a lotta money for a rosé! Well....this is a WHOLE LOTTA WINE! It's a nice rich salmon color. Aromas of red berries, flowers, minerals, anise, smoke, tea and tobacco (this is a GOOD aroma - it's the smell of curing tobacco, not stale cigarette smoke!). Flavors of cherries, raspberries, spices, dried herbs and anise. Finishes strong and with a bit of a slight bitter tartness - this is not a fruity pink wine! Blend of 44% Grenache, 28% Cinsault, 15% Clairette and small amounts of Grenache Blanc, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Bourboulenc. Food pairing - robust dishes with garlic, Provencal herbs and black olives!
The name of the chateau comes from the Provencal words "tranca" (cut) and "vedel" (calf). Methinks a calf met his/her demise there! Today, the 4th generation of the family is running the winery. Tavel is in the Southern Rhône - it's just to the northwest of Avignon. It's unusual in that it's the only area in France that only permits rosés to be made and named after the appellation. 1,500 cases imported. Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, 90 points