September 25, 2010

Beers We Like

The Beers (and a couple of ciders):

1 - William's Sir Perry Pear Cider (England) $7.99 - This is crisp and refreshing! It uses varieties of pears that are less sweet than our traditional eating pears. The earliest reference to pears being used to make cider is Pliny. Named for Sir Geoffrey Perry, the man responsible for bringing pear cider to England in the 1500's. 4-pack, 16.9 oz. cans. 6% alcohol.

2 - Blackthorn Fermented Apple Cider (England) $7.99 - Crisp, dry and refreshing! Made from traditional cider apples - which are not as sweet as eating apples. Before Prohibition, 80% of the apples grown in the USA were used to make hard cider. 4-pack, 16.9 oz. can. 6% alcohol.

3 - Erdinger Hefe-Weizen (Germany) $9.99/6-pack, $3.99/16.9 oz bottle - This is a lighter wheat beer. It has a pretty white head and a coppery/orange color. The flavors and aromas are a little lemon citrus, orange peel, wheat and banana. It has a creamy mouthfeel. 5.3% alcohol.

4 - Rock Art Pumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout (Vermont) $3.99 – this is an unusual beer! It uses spruce tips rather than hops (our colonial forefathers did this when hops weren’t handy – which they often weren’t). This does not taste like pumpkin pie. It’s big and dark! 22 oz bottle. 8% alcohol.

5 - Red Racer IPA (British Columbia) $10.99 – This comes in cans. More and more microbreweries are turning to cans. They’re the perfect way to package beer – no light and no oxygen inside the can! Hops, hops and more hops! 6-pack, 12 oz. cans. 6.5% alcohol. 98 points,

6 - North Coast ACME IPA (Northern California) $9.99/6-pack – Golden orange color with a thick, creamy head. Aromas and flavors of hops, lemon/lime citrus, barley, bread and more. Medium weight. 6.5% alcohol.

7 - North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout (Northern California) $7.99/4-pack - Like motor oil in color, only darker. Dark tan head with good lacing. Aromas and flavors of caramel, toffee, malt, chocolate, dark fruits and more. Medium dense in weight. 9% alcohol. 100 points,

8 - Thomas Hooker Oktoberfest Lager (Connecticut) $9.99/6-pack - This is a hoppy Octoberfest! Definitely has that hoppy taste upfront. Then you get the malty sweetness to balance out the hops. Amber color with a white head. 6.1% alcohol.

9 - Thomas Hooker Liberator Doppelbock Lager (Connecticut) $9.99/4-pack - This has a beautiful brown color….nicely dark without being stout-dark. Off-white head with good lacing. Aromas and flavors of molasses, chocolate, dark fruits and more! 8.0% alcohol. 98 points,; "Top 10 Beer in America," Beer Advocate

10 - North Coast Le Merle Ale (California) $ 9.99 - a Belgian-style Saison Ale. This has a golden color with an off-white head. Aromas of lighter malts, earth, lemon peel and something sweet. Flavors of lemon, fresh bread, earth, herbs and more. Nice combination of sweet and sour. 25.4 oz. bottle. 7.9% alcohol.

11 - North Coast Brewing "Brother Thelonius" Belgian Strong Ale (California) $9.99 - This is a dark brownish red. Aromas of apples, cherries, figs, brown sugar, molasses and alcohol. Flavors of caramel, toffee, raisins, bread and more. Not overly hoppy. Proceeds from this beer go to support jazz musicians. 25.4 oz. bottle. 9.4% alcohol.

12 - Serafijn Tripel Golden Abbey Ale (Belgium) $12.99 – This is a pale, blond ale with nice malty flavors and a good hoppy, slightly bitter finish. It’s refreshing! No idea why they call this a Tripel? 25.4 oz. bottle. 8% alcohol.

September 15, 2010

September Wines We Like


Several great things about wines from Devenish:

1 – you won’t taste the “tried and true.”

2 – he will expose you to the new.

3 – he’s as passionate and honest as they come!

The wines are from Lebanon and Uruguay and Argentina and a Pinot Noir from the Germanic part of Italy…..and more!

The Whites:

Clos St. Thomas “Les Gourmets Blanc” 2008 (Lebanon) $11.99 – this is a crisp, delicious white wine from a French family in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Tropical fruit. Sauvignon Blanc acidity and crispness up front and at the end. The mid-part is all Chardonnay – fuller, rounder, green apple and pear. Unoaked. Clean. Fresh. Vibrant. Brand new to Maine!

Anne Pichon Trotinette Ventoux Blanc 2009 (France) Reg. $17.99, Sale $16.99 – Organic farming. 100% hand-picked grapes and all the grapes are destemmed before the crush. This means the wine is clean and fresh. 50% Grenache Blanc and 50% old-vine Clairette. The Grenache Blanc spends 3 months in lightly toasted French oak. The Clairette adds fresh, crisp, bright acidity.

The Reds:

Erste & Neue Pinot Nero 2009 (Italy) $19.99 – Beautiful Pinot Noir that is popping with raspberry and blackberry fruit, earth, and it has some spiciness underlying the whole thing. Good Fall wine! Food pairing – roasted chicken, filet, and grilled strip steak.

Kaleido Bonarda “Vista Flores” 2009 (Argentina) $17.99 - Excellent wine! Beautiful, dark purple color with hints of blue. Nice berries in the nose with a touch of anise/licorice (I hate licorice candy, but I like subtle, judicious hints of it in wine). Flavors of red & dark berries & touches of peppery spice & earth. It's juicy with hints of mint. Medium long finish with nice berry fruit. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 800 cases made. Organic farming. Food pairing - grilled meats, roasts, mushroom dishes, Thanksgiving Dinner, drinks well on its own!

St. Thomas “Les Gourmets Rouge” 2007 (Lebanon) $11.99 – This has that great combination of fruit and earth! Spicy. A little earth. Very Mediterranean. Ripe fruit. A little dried fruit to the wine! I love this! Blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Cinsault! The vineyard is 3,000 feet above sea-level. Brand new to Maine!

Tensley Syrah “Tierra Alta” 2008 (California) $44.99 – Each year, Joey Tensley keeps making some of the biggest, best, most exuberant wines from the Santa Barbara area. This is no exception. When the reviews get around to it….it will garner 93-95 points. It’s big, lush, dark and rich. Not for the faint of heart.

The Dessert:

Ned manages to ferret out the most obscure and best dessert wines! If for no other reason – when Ned is involved, you should come and buy the dessert wine!

Vinedo de los Vientos “Alcyone” Tannat Dessert Wine (Uruguay) $34.99 – this is one odd, obscure whacked-out idea for a dessert wine! Tannat….from Uruguay! My first thought was, “What?” Then, “Why?” Then, “Wait….this is cool……wait….WOW!” Up at Doug’s from SOPO we soaked marshmallows in good bourbon. Then we roasted them over the fire….slowly….no burning…..THEN we stuck said marshmallows in really good chocolate sauce made by a pastry chef…..then we ate them! If we could have added a little raspberry and fig to the taste…….that would be this wine!

September 4, 2010

September Wines of the Month

September Wines of the Month

Portugal is where we are headed!

Portugal is home to over 200 indigenous grape varieties – the vast majority of which are not grown anywhere else in the world. Like many countries, they have multiple names for the same grape – Tempranillo is called Aragonês and Tinta Roriz; Castelão and Periquita are the same grape.

Portuguese wines are often named after the region (similar to France, Spain and Italy) and not by the grape’s name (which is common in the US and other New World countries). Wine is made in all parts of Portugal.

Prior to 1990, many grape growers in Portugal were required to sell their grapes to winemaking cooperatives that were substandard and poor in their winemaking techniques and skills. When Portugal joined the European Union in 1990, cooperatives were forced to loosen their stranglehold on growers, so more and more wineries opened. Both grape growing practices and winemaking methods were improved and the quality of the wine began to go up-and-up.

Portuguese wines are coming on strong in the US and Maine markets. They are well-made and great values!

Tier One

Quinta da Alorna is an old property. It’s located in the Ribatejo area near the Tagus River.

The Ribatejo area is the agricultural heartland of Portugal that is on either side of the Tagus River inland from Lisbon. This area is one of the wealthier ones in all of Portugal. The grape varieties include
Fernão Pires, Arinto and Talia (all white grapes) and Castelão Francês, Alfrocheiro, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are the red grapes.

Quinta da Alorna was founded in 1723 by Pedro de Almeida, who was a Viceroy in India at the time and the 1st Marquis of Alorna. Today, the winery has 500 acres of grapes planted.

The White

Quinta da Alorna Arintho 2008 (Ribatejo, Portugal) $10.99 – This is crisp and bright. 100% Arinto. Stainless steel fermentation. Aromas and flavors of ripe pears, melons and apricots. Lots of fruit balanced by the grape’s natural acidity. It’s lush in the middle. Nice combination of smoothness and crispness.

Arinto is unknown outside of Portugal. Its home is a small appellation, Bucelas, which is in the Lisbon suburbs. Shakespeare mentioned a wine, “Charneco,” in “Henry VI.” Charneco is a small village within Bucelas. The Duke of Wellington enjoyed Bucelas wine and helped it gain a good reputation in the England of his day. Bucelas wine is high in acidity, so the English referred to it as “Portuguese Hock” (Rhine Riesling).

Food pairing – Thai dishes, spicy Mexican food. Sushi. Spicy Chinese food.

The Red

Quinta da Alorna Vinho Tinto 2008 (Ribatejo, Portugal) $10.99 – This pops with red fruit – strawberries, raspberries and cherries. The wine is soft and smooth. Perfect for a cookout! Blend of Tinta Roriz, Castelao, Syrah and Alicante Bouschet.

Alicante Bouschet is a grape developed by a father and son. In 1824, Louis Bouschet crossed Aramon with another obscure grape, an ancient red-juiced variety, Teinturier du Cher, and named the grape Petit Bouschet. In 1865, Louis’ son, Henri, crossed Petit Bouschet with Grenache and created Alicante Bouschet.

Food pairing – roasted meats, grilled meats, pasta dishes, mushroom dishes, ripe cheese.

Tier Two

Dona Maria is a winery that dates to 1718. The Portuguese king, Dom Joao V, gave the Quinta to a courtesan he’d fallen madly in love with. This wine is named after her.

The winery is in the Alentejo plain to the South and East of Lisbon. This area is literally the “bread basket” of Portugal. Alentejo covers about 1/3 of the entire country and virtually all of the land south of the Tagus River. It’s sparsely populated and has been emerging as a more and more important wine area over the last decade or so.

The White

Dona Maria Vinho Branco 2008 (Alentejo, Portugal) Reg. $19.99 – This starts clean and refreshing. Aromas of lemons/limes, green apples and tropical fruits. It is medium-to-full bodied. Weighty. Creamy. Fleshy. Flavors of pears, green apples, tropical fruits all balanced with good acidity. This has a good, long, lingering finish. Blend of 60% Roupeiro, 20% Arinto, 20% Antao Vaz. Stainless steel fermentation and aging. Food pairing – sautéed chicken dishes, roasted pork tenderloin, lighter appetizers. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 89 points

The Red

Dona Maria Vinho Tinto 2006 (Alentejo, Portugal) Reg. $21.99 – This has a soft, plush texture. Aromas of red berries, red cherries, toast and vanilla. A little earthiness right when you open the bottle that fades with air. Flavors of red fruits, spices and vanilla. Soft edges – nothing hard or harsh about this. Blend of Aragonês (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon, Alicante Bouschet & Syrah Food pairing – grilled meat, pasta dishes with mushrooms.

Tier Three

The White

Anselmo Mendes Andreza Alvarinho Vinho Branco 2006 (Vinho Verde, Portugal) $19.99 – This is bright, fresh and pleasing as one would expect a wine from Vinho Verde. But, if you are expecting a light quaffer, you’d be shocked. This is a bigger, more complex white wine than most. It’s intense and bold. This is mouth-coating. Aromas and flavors of grapefruit and grass, but this doesn’t taste like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It also has notes of green apples and minerals in the flavors. Dry finish.

Vinho Verde is best-known for light white wines that are a little spritzy and inexpensive. Vinho Verde also produces excellent, bigger white wines – which makes sense given its proximity to the Rias Baixas area in Spain that produces Albariño. Vinho Verde is in the far northwestern corner of Portugal. This wine is from the sub-region of Monção, where Alvarinho is the dominant grape.

This area, Vinho Verde, is the largest wine-making area in Portugal and the best-known throughout the world. The area has some of the oldest manor houses in Portugal and the “noble” families in the area date back to the 11th and 12th centuries. It’s a mountainous, green area with mild winters and warm, pleasant summers.

Food pairing – Seafood, poultry, chicken sausages, lobster. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 89 points

The Red

Casa de Santar Dão Reserva 2005 (Dão, Portugal) $29.99 - We loved this when we tasted it last month. This is big, bold, balanced and delicious! Aromas and flavors of dark cherries, blueberries, dark plums, dark chocolate, spices and more. A little earthiness in the aromas. The texture is big and lush. The lushness continues to the finish. Wines are a blend of elegance & finesse rather than power. Blend of Touriga-Nacional, Alfrocheiro & Tinta-Roriz. Tinta-Roriz is Tempranillo. Unfiltered, so this might have some sediment.

Dão is a rapidly emerging wine area – it’s in the heart of Portugal in the Beira region. Beira is divided into 3 parts, the Beira Litoral (coastal), the Beira Alta (upper mountainous region, which is where Dão comes from) and the Beira Baixa (lower region). This Beira Alta is almost completely surrounded by mountains. This protects the area from storms from the Atlantic and the extreme continental weather to the east. It has long, warm summers, cool nights and plenty of winter rainfall. Over 2/3’s of all wine produced in the Dao are red and are made from up to 9 approved grapes; 20% of any red mush be Touriga Nacional. Wine has been made at Casa de Santar since 1616.

Food pairing – a really good steak! Grilled meats. Roasts. Drinks well without food. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 90 points

September 3, 2010

August Wines of the Month

Tier One

For the month, we are headed to South America for a couple of delicious wines from two of my favorite wineries.

The White

Echeverria* Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Chile) $11.99 - This is a wonderful Sauvignon Blanc and a great value from Chile! We really like it! Great value. Loads of tropical fruit on the nose and in the mouth. Lemon, grapefruit, green apples, peaches and pineapple. Quite dry and the fruit is balanced by the acidity. Lots of fruit on the dry finish. Food pairing - Goes well with fish, shellfish, lighter foods and quaffing on a warm day! Great white wine for a party! Organic Farming.

The Red

Aresti Estate Selection Pinot Noir 2009 (Chile) Reg. $13.99, Sale $11.99 - Aresti has been growing grapes since 1951. In the '90's they started making wine.....and they've been making excellent wines with great values! The Aresti Pinot Noir has vibrant strawberry jam aromas with anise and cinnamon. This has a nice amount of good “earthiness.” The aromas carrying over to the flavors, easy-drinking and yet complex, with a nice, long finish. Food pairing - grilled meats, mushroom risotto.

The “Other”

Petit Cochon Bronzé Rosé 2009 (France) $13.99 – This is a dry rosé from Saint Chinian that is made from Cinsault, so that makes it pretty unusual. This is a pretty dry rosé and the color truly is more of a bronze one than pick. This is more of a food wine than just a cocktail one – so, when supper is a light one, grab this “little pig.” Food pairing – with most any fish, poultry, softer cheese and cold cuts.

Tier Two

Domaine Gayda is Southeast of Carcassonne in the Languedoc region of Southwestern France. Some of their vineyards are in the shadows of Queribus, the famous Cathar castle.

The White

Domaine Gayda L’Archet Cuvée Occitane Blanc 2006 (France) Reg. $16.99, Sale $15.99 – I love Southern French whites – especially this time of year! This is a crisp, full white with lots of white stone and apple flavors. It’s spicy with great minerality. The finish is creamy and rich. Blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc. Barrel-aged for 9 months in neutral French oak. Food pairing – seafood, grilled chicken, chicken salad.

The Red

Domaine Gayda L’Archet Cuvée Occitane Rouge 2006 (France) Reg. $16.99, Sale $15.99 – Lots of complexity – but, it should be with this blend of grapes - 45% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre and 10% Carignan. Barrel-aged for 9 months in neutral French oak. Aromas of red berries, pepper, baking spices and Provencal herbs. Full-bodied. Flavors of dark plums, blueberries, black currants and spice. Great length on a smooth, silky finish. Hints of dark chocolate at the finish. Medium tannins. Food pairing – grilled meat, pasta dishes with mushrooms.

Tier Three

The White

Domaine Roger Perrin Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2007 (France) $39.99 - This is so good it's not funny! Aromas & flavors honeysuckle, honey, lavender, peaches, green apples, flowers, minerals. Well-balanced & structured. Excellent acidity balancing the fruit. 50% Grenache Blanc, 20% Roussanne (aged in new oak), 20% Clairette, 10% Bourboulenc. Vines are at least 55 years old. Domaine Roger Perrin is a small estate near Beaucastel. The winemaker, Luc Perrin worked at Beaucastel. Food pairing - pork, poultry, lighter game...this will do well with heartier fish....great with spicy Mexican or Thai food! Drinks great on its own!

The Red

Novy Family Winery Syrah Parsons’ Vineyard 2007 (California) $36.99 – This is a big, rich, full-bodied intense Syrah! This has lots of ripe dark berries, blueberries and more in the aromas and flavors. 140 cases made. Also, notes of earth, smoke, pepper and spices. Medium-big tannins, so let this one open up. Drink now through 2017. Food pairing – leg of lamb with mushrooms, bouillabaisse, grilled steak. Wine Enthusiast, 94 points; Wine Spectator, 92 points

Labor Day 6-pack/12-pack

Labor Day Weekend

Get a 12-pack and you receive a free marinade/grilling sauce!

Here’s how this works - we put together a selection of delicious wines and you just have to dash in and pick them up! If you want to make a substitution, please feel free to do so.

You may choose to get a 6-pack. You may want a 12-pack. You may want to pick-and-choose and put together your own selection.

The 6-pack:

Reg. $78.94, Sale $67.39…’re saving 15%!

The Whites:

Broadbent Vinho Verde 2009 (Portugal) $10.99 - Wonderful wine for warm days! Delicious, easy to drink, fresh, crisp, light! Slightly spritzy – you really won't notice bubbles in the glass, but you will notice it in the mouth. Clean, good citrus (lime) aromas and flavors. Well-balanced. Many in Portugal refer to Vinho Verde as "mother's milk" - traditionally low in alcohol & meant to be consumed young & fresh....This wine is 9% alcohol - most whites & reds are 12-13.5% alcohol. Food pairing - Great with shellfish, fish and lighter poultry dishes. Great for just drinking!

Domaine Gayda L’Archet Cuvée Occitane Blanc 2006 (France) Reg. $16.99, Sale $15.99 – I love Southern French whites – especially this time of year! This is a crisp, full white with lots of white stone and apple flavors. It’s spicy with great minerality. The finish is creamy and rich. Blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc. Barrel-aged for 9 months in neutral French oak. Food pairing – seafood, grilled chicken, chicken salad.

The Reds:

Dehesa de Rubiales Alaia 2006 (Spain) Reg. $11.99, Sale $8.99 - This is a wonderful red....perfect for summer days! Aromas of dark berries, blueberries, currants, minerals and smoke. Flavors that are rich with lots of dark and red fruit. Juicy texture. Great value. Drink over the next 1-2 years. Blend of 50% Prieto Picudo, 45% Tempranillo and 5% Merlot. Food pairing – grilled meats, harder cheeses, mushroom dishes, etc. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, Great values under $25…”

Tola Syrah 2008 (Sicily, Italy) Reg. $11.99, Sale $8.99 – The Tola family has grown grapes and made wine for over 150 years on their farm 10 miles west of Palermo. Mimmo Tola is the son of the estate’s owners. They encouraged him to purse a degree in wine-making. He did. He returned to the estate and set about improving vineyard practices and winemaking. He also planted grapes such as Syrah. This is one of his wines. It is spicy with great dark and red fruit and softer tannins. Food pairing – meat dishes, grilled meat, game.

Domaine Gayda L’Archet Cuvée Occitane Rouge 2006 (France) Reg. $16.99, Sale $15.99 – Lots of complexity – but, it should be with this blend of grapes - 45% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre and 10% Carignan. Barrel-aged for 9 months in neutral French oak. Aromas of red berries, pepper, baking spices and Provencal herbs. Full-bodied. Flavors of dark plums, blueberries, black currants and spice. Great length on a smooth, silky finish. Hints of dark chocolate at the finish. Medium tannins. Food pairing – grilled meat, pasta dishes with mushrooms.

Venta Morales Tempranillo 2008 (La Mancha, Spain) $9.99 – This is a great value from one of the leading importer’s of Spanish wines, Jorge Ordonez. Stainless steel fermentation and aging. This has great aromas of black cherries, smoked, dark berries and spices. Flavors of dark berries and cherries. This is not a fruit-bomb. Rather it is dusty with great length and nicely balanced fruit. This delivers a lot of bang for the buck! Food pairing – grill some chicken or pork. Make a pizza! Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 88 points

The 12-pack (including a free marinade grilling sauce):

Reg. $157.38, Sale $123.19…’re saving over 20%!

The Whites:

Ken Forrester Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2009 (South Africa) $9.99 - Great summertime white wine! Aromas of limes, lemons & light crisp fruits that I just can’t place – but, they are tasty! Flavors of limes, lemons, almonds and melons. Light, fresh-tasting wine! Dry with nice crisp fruit and a clean finish. This is a perfect white for a warm summer day! Stainless-steel fermentation. 100% Chenin Blanc. Food pairing – Drinking on a hot summer day! Pair this with lighter foods.

MontAsolo Pinot Grigio 2008 (Veneto, Italy) $8.99 – Great value in a good-tasting Pinot Grigio! Great choice for summer! Light, clean with refreshing citrus flavors and aromas. A hint of fresh bread in the aromas. The MontAsolo wines are produced by Cantina Montelliana e dei Colli Asolani, which was established in 1965. Montelliana is a cooperative of which the 1,100 members are the owners and supplier of the grapes. Food pairing – seafood, poultry, salads and lighter soups.

The Reds:

Il Bacio Negroamaro 2008 (Puglia, Italy) $9.99
– The deep dark color made me think I was going to get a lot of dark berries in the aromas. Instead, the wine is mostly red cherries and plums in the aromas. The flavors continue with the cherries and plums with a little earth. 100% Negroamaro – this is a grape indigenous to Puglia. Stainless steel aging. Food pairing – pizza, pasta, grilled/roasted meats and strong cheeses.

Hewitson “Ned & Henry’s” Shiraz 2007 (Barossa Valley, Australia) Reg. $22.99, Sale $15.99 – This is a big, rich lush Aussie red! Aromas of blackberries, raspberries and blueberries and licorice. Flavors of red and dark berries with lots of good minerality. Finish is loaded with plums and cherries. Food pairing – grilled meats. Drinks well with or without food. Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, 90 points

Arenal Carmenère 2009 (Chile) $9.99 – We just tasted this with Doug from SOPO and loved it! Carmenère is the “lost Bordeaux” grape. It’s barely produced in France anymore and for generations in Chile, they thought they were growing Merlot. Turns out, it was Carmenère! Often, poorer Carmenères are too green and vegetal – almost dominated by green bell peppers. This one is ripe and rich and full-bodied. Delicious, soft dark fruit with subtle herbal notes. Food pairing – Great pizza and/or pasta wine! Grilled meats & other hearty dishes go well with this wine. Drinks well with or without food!

Novy Family Cellars Four Mile Creek Red 2008 (California) $10.99 - I love these California “field blends” because they pack a lot of flavor into a bottle for NOT a lot of $$$! Peppery, big and rich. Lots of tart cherries, stewed plums and roasted herbs in the flavors and aromas. Nice long finish. Blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Grenache, Nebbiolo and Viognier. This is a “classic” California “field blend!” Food pairing - Grilled meats & other hearty dishes go well with this wine. Great pizza wine! Wine Spectator, “Best Buy”