April 21, 2011

Masciarelli Wine Tasting

Wine Tasting

Tuesday, April 26th


10% off the lowest price listed for the tasting.

Featuring wines from one of Italy’s great wine estates – Masciarelli. We’ll also have wines from France, Austria and South America on another table.

Prior to his untimely death in 2008, Gianni Masciarelli helped usher in a new level of internationally-oriented winemaking techniques in Abruzzo. His death was a big loss for the region, which has been hit hard recently, especially with the devastating earthquake of April 2009. Masciarelli made fat, soft, pleasing Montepulciano. The impressive Villa Gemma will appeal to those who like huge, superconcentrated wines.

In 1984, his Villa Gemma Montepulciano created a new benchmark for wines from Abruzzo…..and he kept raising the bar throughout his life.

Gianni Masciarelli aimed for and often achieved levels of quality that both encouraged and forced other winemakers to follow suit. His achievements and accomplishments helped raise the quality of wine from Abruzzo and all of Italy.

Gianni’s wife, Marina Cvetic, is also a winemaker and she shares the passion AND skill for producing great wines that Gianni exhibited throughout his life.

Abruzzo is one of the least populated and most natural parts of Europe. Abruzzo is home to 3 national parks…….Masciarelli farms all of its vineyards and olive orchards organically and sustainably.

The Wines

The Whites:

Villa Gemma Bianco 2009 (Abruzzo, Italy) Reg. $21.99, Sale $18.99 – This is a pale straw color. It has aromas and flavors of white flowers, apples, green bananas and jasmine. 80% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, 15% Cococciola and 5% Chardonnay. Aged 5 months before bottling. Stainless steel production. This goes through 100% malolactic fermentation giving the wine more weight and a softer feel than most Italian whites, but it is not buttery or creamy. Food pairing – fish and seafood dishes. Lighter poultry dishes.

The Rosé:

Villa Gemma Cerusola 2009 (Abruzzo, Italy) Reg. $21.99, Sale $18.99 – this is more akin to a red wine with the freshness of a white wine than it is to a rosé. It’s significantly darker than a Provencal rosé (Italian ones tend to be so). It sees much longer skin contact (30 hours) than most Provencal rosés do. This definitely has aromas and flavors of fresh, ripe cherries, pomegranates, lilacs and violets. 100% Montepulciano fermented and aged in stainless steel. Hand-harvested and destemmed. Food pairing – charcuterie, cold cuts, pizzas, grilled chicken, seafood soups such as Brodetto or Vasto.

The Reds:

Marina Cvetic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2006 (Abruzzo, Italy) Reg.$31.99, Sale $28.99 – The Marina Cvetic Vineyard is located at San Martino in the coolest part of the DOC. It is adjacent to the Villa Gemma Vineyard. This is where the Abruzzo grape-growing Renaissance began. Gianni Masciarelli converted the vineyards from low-density, Pergola Abruzzese planting to high-density, low-pruning that is similar to Burgundian vineyards. The old style in Abruzzo was 185 vines per acre; this vineyard is 7,000 vines per acre and the vines are pruned weekly. Gianni Masciarelli was heard to say, “”I couldn’t grow the old way – I feel the pain of the vines.”

This transformation of the vineyard transformed Montepulciano wine. The Marina Cvetic vineyard yields 2 tons of fruit per acre….just over ½ a pound of grapes per vine (typically one bunch per vine). Fermented in 100% new Vicard Prestige oak barrels (500 gallons – these are huge) and aged in new French oak barriques.

This is distinctly an Italian wine, but with great roundness and lots of fruit. The rich fruit is balanced with the natural aromas of the San Martino area – wildflowers, wild herbs, dusty soil, minerals, truffles and herbs. The Masciarelli vineyards are surrounded with woods, forests, shrubs, herbs and more and these plants influence the flavors and aromas of the wines. The wine shows bright dark cherry aromas and flavors. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 90 points

Marina Cvetic Iskra Rosso Colli Aprutini 2004 (Abruzzo, Italy) $52.99 – This is a big, rich red! Aromas and flavors of blackberries, dark fruit (black cherries, plums), black truffles, dark mushrooms, smoke, new leather, baking spices and dusty minerals. Iskra – “The Spark.” This is from Contraguerra, about 65 miles from Masciarelli’s home area near Monte Amaro. It’s home to Abruzzo’s biggest, boldest and ripest reds; as well as being Italy’s newest red wine DOCG. Aged one year in new French oak barriques and 2 years in the bottle before release. This will peak from 2012-2024. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 90 points; Gambero Rosso, “Due Bicchieri,” 2 glasses

Marina Cvetic Merlot 2007 (Abruzzo, Italy) Reg. $42.99, Sale $32.99 – this smells like Abruzzo (according to the winemaker who was here a couple of months ago). This has fine tannins and a velvety feel (which, Merlot should have). It’s a dark, dark color. It has aromas and flavors of dark chocolate, dark berries and a peppery spiciness midway. 100% Merlot. Aged one year in French oak. Food pairing – lamb, grilled meat, aged cheeses, game.

Villa Gemma Riserva di Montepulciano 2004 (Abruzzo, Italy) $84.99 – This is a full-bodied red that is loaded with aromas and flavors. Ripe red fruits, blackberries, vanilla, cocoa, leather, forest floor, peonies, roses and eucalyptus. 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Aged 18-24 months in new French oak barriques and at least 12 months in the bottle before release. This will drink well through 2024 and is just beginning to mature. Food pairing – wild boar, roast lamb, game, roasted meats, dark chocolate, strong cheese. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 91 points

The second table will feature wines from the importer, Frederick Wildman & Sons.

The Wines

The Whites:

Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2009 (Loire Valley, France) $27.99 – This is a pale color. It has aromas of limes, green herbs, black currants and minerals. Flavor wise this is racy and fresh. It’s clean and youthful. This is a dry and elegant wine. Pascal Jolivet’s style is to make natural wines that pair well with food. This Sancerre is from 3 vineyards in the heart of the appellation – 50% from “Les Caillottes” and its chalky soil, 30% from the hillside vineyard “Les Terres Blanches” and 20% from the flint and limestone riddled vineyard of “Silex.” 100% made in stainless steel.

Forstreiter Grooner 2009 (Neiderosterreich, Austria) $11.99 – People have made wine in this part of Europe since Roman days; the Forstreiter family has made wine here since 1868. Recently, they decided to named their Grüner Veltliner “Grooner” and their Zweigelt “Zvy Gelt” in an effort to help those of us who are often confused by many grape and/or wine names.

This is fresh, dry and zippy. It pops with acidity and makes one think of summer. Aromas and flavors of citrus and green apples.

Michel Torino “Don David” Torrontes Reserve 2009 (Cafayette Valley, Argentina) Reg. $19.99, Sale $16.99 – Cafayete Valley is in northernmost Argentina at an elevation of about 5,500 feet. It’s a dry, arid area and home to the best Torrentes in Argentina. Michel Torino practices sustainable agriculture. The winery dates to 1892 when brothers Salvador and David Michel founded it. This Torrontes has bright, piercing acidity with tight flavors and aromas of orange and grapefruit. It also has subtle lychee and rose petal aromas that are characteristic of Torrontes. This has a nice roundess to the texture and a clean, crisp finish.

The Reds:

Don David Malbec Reserve 2008 (Calchaques, Argentina) Reg. $18.99, Sale $15.99 – Cafayate Valley shares a desert-like climate with Mendoza – lack of rain, need for irrigation, warm days and cool nights. Those cool nights are key because they slow down the ripening process allowing the acidity to fully develop. This has great aromas and flavors plums, red fruits, black cherries, cassis and toasted oak. The tannins are ripe and soft. This has spice, pepper and nutty notes on the long finish. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 90 points

Melini La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva 2006 (Tuscany, Italy) $27.99 – La Selvanella was the 1st wine made from a single vineyard in Chianti in 1969 (and one of the 1st in Italy). Gambero Rosso has declared La Selvanella a “crowning glory” and the “standard-bearer of the zone’s most traditional style.”

What makes Chianti (and Chianti Classico in particular) so suited to growing Sangiovese is the soil. It’s a limestone-clay rocky marl that is called galestro and albarese (albarese is sandier and is at higher elevations). Fattoria La Selvanella’s vineyard is at over 1,200 in elevation, with a southwest-facing orientation. It’’s one of the highest cultivated hills in Chianti Classico’s Radda commune, where it benefits from long, sunny days and cool nights. The vines are densely planted and yield no more than 2 pounds of grapes each.

This is a clear, dark color. Complex aromas of raspberries, leather, vanilla, baking spices, plums and licorice. Flavors that are full of ripe red raspberries, baking spices, underbrush, vanilla and more. This has great breadth and complexity. Long, lingering finish. Everything is well-balanced.

100% Sangiovese Grosso is hand-harvested. The wine is aged in Limousin oak casks for 30 months. This will easily age 10 more years, and it is drinking nicely now. Gambero Rosso, “Tre Bicchieri,” 3 glasses (Italy’s highest wine award)

Nino Negre “5 Stella Sfursat 2005 (Lombardy, Italy) $89.99 – Think of this as an Amarone-style Barolo.

“Nino Negri has confirmed itself a star of first magnitude.” – Gambero Rosso (Italy’s highest wine authority).

This winery dates to 1897. It’s the premier estate in the Valtellina DOCG. In 2007, Gambero Rosso named Nino Negri’s winemaker, “Casimiro Maule, its “winemaker of the Year.”

Lombardia sits in the center of northern Italy bordering the Alps with Piedmont to the west and Trentino in the east. The region is known for a vast array of wine styles, which include the Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo) based reds from Valtellina, often made in the style of Amarone. Nino Negri represents the top wines of this region.

The Valtellina region, located at the base of the pre-Alps on Italy’s border with Switzerland, is extremely challenging terroir. A narrow, 25 mile-long amphitheater of terraced vineyards that line the north bank of the Adda river, it forms a deep gorge amid mountainous terrain. This is Italy’s largest terraced area of viticulture: an impressive 1,500 miles of dry walls that support the terraces are distributed over the 25-mile strip. Working this land is monumental, back breaking toil.

Steep, nearly vertical vineyards from 2,400 to 3,000 feet elevation rule out the use of any mechanical equipment. All work, from removing soil to harvesting grapes is done by hand. The star and primary varietal here is Chiavennasca, the local name for Nebbiolo. The variety has been cultivated here for over 1,000 years and it is said that it was brought from here to neighboring Piedmont in the 14th Century.

This is Nino Negri’s flagship wine and it is only produced in the best years. It’s made from their finest parcels of Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo). This is from the best vineyards at the higher elevations sitting over 1,200 feet in height. The vineyards face south-east. The vines are densely planted to reduce yields.

Only the best 25% of the grapes are harvested for this wine.

After harvest, the grapes are sorted into wooden crates where they dry until December 12th. The grapes are then crushed and the wine is aged in Allier oak for 16 months.

This is full-bodied with solid, fruit-coated tannins and a fresh, firm, fruity finish. Big, brooding. This has dried Nebbiolo character – so, it will remind you some ways of a Barolo or a Barbaresco, but, not completely. Leather, dark ripe fruit, tar, smoke, licorice, toasted oak and more round out the flavors and aromas. This has an impressive richness and vibrancy. Gambero Rosso, “Due Bicchieri,” 2 glasses; Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 91 points; Wine Spectator, 90 points

April 14, 2011

April Wine Tasting with Crush

Wine Tasting

Friday, April 15th


Wines from Austria, California and more!

Tabitha Blake of Crush Wines was just in Austria and has brought back some gems – including a Sparkling Pinot Noir! We’ll also taste our 1st rosé of the year.

The Wines

The Sparkling:

Hillinger “Pink Ribbon” Sparkling Pinot Noir (Burgenland, Austria) $19.99 -

100% Pinot Noir crafted into a sparkling rosé wine made in the Prosecco style. It has delicate aromas of fresh strawberries and red berries which follow through on the palate. The flavors are beautifully balanced with a vibrant and refreshingly dry finish. Food pairing - Wonderful as an aperitif, start of a great dinner and evening, pairs very will with Sushi or serve after dinner with fresh strawberries – the Secco makes a perfect toast! 1 Euro per bottle goes to the Austrian Cancer Aid program. Brand new to Maine.

The Whites:

Steininger “Young” White Blend 2009 ( Kamptal, Austria ) $13.99 - Acclaimed by the New York Times as one of the best buys under $20. The Steininger “Young” has to be one of the BEST patio wines we've come across in a long time. The wine is fun, fresh and had great fruit. Aromas of soft orange blossom curl out of the glass, along with a note of spiced white pineapple. Flavors of lemon zest and tart melon are on the palate, along with a refreshing acidity, making this a great wine for the Spring and Summer months. Blend of 70% Grüner Veltliner, 20% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Musktaller. Food pairing - The wine is also a perfect match for pan-seared fish dishes. Brand new to Maine.

“Paul D” Grüner Veltliner 2009 (Wagram, Austria) $13.99 – This is not named after “Paulie D” of Jersey Shore infamy (MTV “reality” show). Winemaker Paul Direder is only 21 years old, but his wine hints at a great future for him. It is dry, yet impressively ripe, with vibrant lime zest flavors and an appealing richness in the mouth feel, and it should be a perfect wine for late summer patio dining. It is new to this market, but look for it everywhere soon!!! A great liter value – liter bottles are great because it means you have an additional 2 glasses in the bottle! Food pairing – seafood, poultry sausages, grilled or roasted chicken, Thai food or sushi. Brand new to Maine.

The Rosé:

Vieux Clocher Côtes du Rhône Rosé (France) $12.99Brand new to Maine. We tasted their Côtes du Rhône Rouge last year at a tasting and it was a huge hit. Now that Spring is here, it’s time to start breaking out the crisp, dry rosés! Nice aromas of strawberries on the nose. Flavors of strawberries, cream and ends with a nice acidity that cleans the palate. From the oldest family winery in France, 1717 - the Count François de Castellanne, de Lauris, de Vassadel, de Gérard, Chevalier Marquis d’Ampuis, de Lagnetoux, universal landlord of the place called Vacqueyras, donated a parcel of vines to an acestor of the Arnoux family. To this day, the Arnoux family farms this land and makes wonderful wines. Food pairing – sipping on a warm day. Grilled chicken or pork. Spicy dishes. Perfect for a picnic. Great with ham for Easter Dinner. Great with turkey and all the trimmings for Thanksgiving Dinner.

The Reds:

Carnuntina Red Blend 2008 (Carnuntum, Austria) $14.99 - From Austria’s premier red region. Oh my deliciousness! 40% Zweigelt, 40% Blaufränkisch, 20% Merlot. For many generations, the Netzl winery has been engaged in viniculture. The family business owns some of the best vineyards in the area of Carnuntum. The knowledge of making great red wine has been passed from generation-to-generation. Combined with a modern, technical know-how, the love for nature and a fine marketing strategy, Netzl has become one of the finest Austrian wineries. Especially the reds. An easy drinking red blend with ruby garnet and youthful reflexes, red berries in the nose and herbal nuances, fresh and pleasing palate, smooth and ripe tannins. Food pairing - Excellent with meat- dishes like pork and chicken, Italian style pasta Bolognese or with a creamy sauce.

"Paul D” Zweigelt 2009 (Wagram, Austria) $13.99 – This is not named after “Paulie D” of Jersey Shore infamy (MTV “reality” show). Winemaker Paul Direder is only 21 years old, but his wine hints at a great future for him. This is very clean with bright, crisp acidity through to the finish. Very aromatic. It’s like a good, young Morgon or Brouilly except more fruit and tannins. Red raspberries, violets and red berries upfront. More brambly berries at the finish! A great liter value – liter bottles are great because it means you have an additional 2 glasses in the bottle! Food pairing – comfort meals, meatloaf, casseroles. Brand new to Maine.

Jelly Jar Zinfandel 2009 (Lake County, California) $26.99 - No, this is not implying an over ripe jam of a wine. This is one of CA's cult Zinfandels, that is only 730 case production. It is incredibly pretty and well-made. The wine is medium-bodied, silky and well-balanced with polished tannins. Aromas and flavors of bright, red fruits with hints of vanilla and spice. An excellent food friendly wine to enjoy with your next meal. Tabitha says, “One of my favorite vineyards to view, the vines are like lil' ol' men.” The organically farmed Nova Vineyard lies on a gradual slope of benchland in the Kelseyville area of Lake County. For more than 40 years, these head-trained, dry-farmed Zinfandel vines have taken deep root in the site’s volcanic soils. The wine is a tribute Italian Families in California who drank good red wine out of jelly jars. Jelly Jar marks a return to early California winemaking, when Italian immigrants crafted food-friendly wines to enjoy around the family table – most often out of jelly jars. Long before Napa Valley became the wine destination we know today, these winemakers planted backyard vineyards and enlisted family members to harvest and crush grapes.

Big Vine Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Napa Valley, California) $19.99 – This is a SPECTACULAR wine and a GREAT value! All the components of a $40 Napa Cabernet. This is a big, rich, full-bodied Cabernet. The story is that the guy making it makes really high end California wines, especially Napa Cabs. Well, the economy isn’t exactly setting records and high end wines are not selling fast. So, he’s using his contacts and contracts to make really good moderately-priced Napa Cab! This has all of those characteristics people love in a Napa Cab – aromas and flavors of black cherries, black currants, cassis, vanilla, baking spices, a wet forest floor, blueberries and blackberries. Excellent acidity and well-intergrated, soft tannins. It’s nicely ripe, but not jammy. Food pairing - a nice roast, coq au vin, pork tenderloin, steak, lamb, stews, ripe, harder cheeses such as Piave Vecchio.

The Sparkling Finale:

Neirano “Pitula” Moscato d’Asti 2010 (Italy) $12.99The perfect holiday dessert wine - see why below. At the end of a long, filling Thanksgiving meal, steer clear of high alcohol, heavy dessert wines. Instead, pick up an always-affordable, slightly fizzy Moscato d’Asti. The light effervescence will balance the fried crust while significant fruit and floral flavors enhance the delicious filling. This wine is all about the honeysuckle and peach nectar. YUM.

April 7, 2011

Oregon Wine Tasting!

Wayne’s Way Cool

Wine Tasting


Saturday, April 9th


Featuring Wines from Oregon

From SMALL family wineries

Brought to Us

By a Mainer

Who has moved to Oregon

Wayne Clark

A Wine tasting featuring small Pacific Northwest wineries you likely have never seen before – and certainly wines that have never been sold in Maine before today.

Wayne Clark has been a customer and became a friend over the years. He moved to Oregon a couple of years ago and on his return trips he’d bring these treasures from unknown wineries in Oregon. I loved the wines. He started asking me how to get them in Maine. So, I put Wayne and Ned Swain of Devenish Wines together.

Let’s just say Wayne knows his way around a good bottle of wine AND he knows how to avoid a poor bottle as well. Life is too short to drink bad wine is a motto that Wayne and I share along with Ned from Devenish Wines.

Wayne is a former full-time Maine resident. He now lives in Oregon, but he still has a home here and he returns often……and he wanted some of his favorite unknown Oregon gems to be available in Maine. His ORWA (Oregon and Washington abbreviated and merged) wine brokerage is bringing wines from small family wineries in Oregon and Washington to Maine, with distribution handled through Devenish Wines. For more information, visit the ORWA website at orwawine.com.

This is what Wayne does in his own words:

“First, what is this all about? When I moved to Oregon, I knew very little about Oregon wines. I remember sitting in a place called Oregon Wines on Broadway, which had about 16 wines on “tap.” I was blown away by the depth and breadth of them, and how very good they were. Then I discovered that I was only about 35 minutes from wine country. I spent many weekends exploring. Imagine Napa at a kinder, gentler time in its history. You’re on a country road, and then there are several blue signs at an intersection. Along with easel signs: “Tasting Today”. Heaven.

Pinot Noir is the signature grape in Oregon, and what it is NOT is California Pinot. The highest expression of Pinot Noir in Oregon is an elegant, silky wine with a balanced alcohol content. The wine may be bigger or smaller, lean to black fruits or red berries, be lighter or heavier, but the best ones are silky and elegant. Burgundian, if you will.

I came to have a real yen for the smaller, family owned wineries. In fact for our business model, if we visit a tasting room a couple of times and haven’t met the owner or the winemaker, we’re not likely to include it in our portfolio.”

The Wines:

The Whites:

Illahe Vineyards is a small producer in Upper Willamette Valley.

Wayne and Kim found Illahe at the end of a long weekend of tasting this past Thanksgiving Weekend (the other major tasting weekend in the Willamette Valley). It is at the far southern end of the upper Willamette Valley, and the approach is spectacular, through seeming miles of vineyards, then up a long, curvy road through the vines to arrive at the hilltop winery. Not usually open, a makeshift tasting room had been set up in the building. Our palates were fried, but we liked what we tasted. We were met in the driveway by Logan the black lab, and at the door of winery by Lowell Ford, the long-time farmer for the family property. He explained that “Illahe” is a Chinook word describing “place”. His son Brad is the winemaker, and the National Sales Manager is Bethany, Brad’s wife.

We wanted to taste the wines again with fresh palates before including them in our portfolio, so we called Bethany. She agreed to meet us on a Sunday afternoon and pour them all for us. At 8 months pregnant, no small feat!

Illahe Viognier 2009 (Oregon) $15.99Brand new to Maine. This is how I prefer Viognier – lower in alcohol, refreshing and delicious. This is a grape that is not commonly grown in Oregon. This is a very aromatic wine – citrus peel, citrus fruit, honeysuckle, melons and pineapple. This is juicy due to its nice acidity. Flavors of citrus that lean to grapefruit, honeysuckle and tropical fruit. Nice, clean, long finish. Stainless steel fermentation and aging. LIVE-certified Salmon Safe vineyard. Wine Enthusiast, “Best Buy,” 91 points

Illahe Gruner Veltliner 2009 (Oregon) $15.99Brand new to Maine. Why not an Oregon Gruner? Another grape that is not commonly grown in Oregon. This has nice minerality. Wonderful fruit – pineapple, melon and just a hint of grapefruit. Hints of black pepper. Stainless steel fermentation. 0.3% residual sugar – so it is bone dry. LIVE-certified Salmon Safe vineyard. Wine Enthusiast, “Best Buy,” 90 points

Illahe Riesling 2009 (Oregon) $15.99Brand new to Maine. This is a bone-dry Riesling (it’s only 0.5% residual sugar). This might be Illahe’s driest white. Aromas and flavors of honey and apples. 90 cases made. Stainless steel fermentation and aging. Made from 2 clones of Riesling, one of which entered Oregon in the ‘70’s. Brand new to Maine. LIVE-certified Salmon Safe vineyard.

ArborBrook Pinot Gris Croft Vineyard 2010 (Oregon) $15.99 – This is a beautiful example of a hand-crafted wine from a small producer in the coastal range of Oregon. The grapes are from the Croft Vineyard. This has bright, fresh aromas of pears, tropical fruit, subtle lemon, honeysuckle and minerals. This has flavors of pears, white peaches and apricots, minerals and vibrant acidity. 100% Pinot Gris. Stainless steel fermentation and aging. 450 cases made. All organic farming, “Salmon Safe.” 20 year-old vines. Food pairing – fish with a white wine sauce, mussels, albacore salad, ham, quiche. Brand new to Maine.

The Reds:

Dewey Kelly Pinot Noir 2007 (Oregon) $16.99 – These are Wayne’s notes about the winery and wine.

“The Dewey Kelley label is actually Dewey’s second label. He makes Ribbon Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir that is premium priced and quite nice, but honestly I like the Dewey Kelly better at the price point.

I discovered this small (~1,100 cases) operation by accident. I was out solo on a Memorial Day weekend, which in the Willamette Valley is when many places are open for tasting that aren’t usually open. It wasn’t on my itinerary, but I was intrigued and turned in by the easel sign. I bumped half a mile up a wet dirt road, so rough that my GPS bounced off the dash and hit the floor and broke. My reward was a pole building with an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven and Dewey himself. The makeshift tasting room was pure Willamette Valley: unpretensious and fun. Dewey also makes a dessert wine that is killer, but we’re not going there yet.

This vineyard has been producing fruit for a long time. Dewey is both farmer and winemaker, and he still holds onto his day job as well. He holds his wine a bit longer than most. While many vineyards are sold out of their 2008s and are pouring 2009s, he won’t release his 2008 until Thanksgiving 2011. Given the stellar year that 2008 was, I can’t wait.

Ribbon Ridge is one of my favorite AVAs. It’s the smallest in Oregon, and it differs significantly from Chehalem Mountains, which it borders. The marine sedimentary soil is younger, and less disturbed by faults and floods. The Chehalem Mountains block severe weather from the Columbia Gorge, and the Eola Hills to the south block the cold winter marine winds of the Van Duzer Corridor – a pass through the Coast Range to the Pacific.

2007 Pinot Noir

This is a light, bright wine, with pleasant red fruit and an elegant finish. 2007 was to put it mildly a challenging year. Some have called it a winemaker’s year, because it separated the men from the boys, so to speak. Late season rain had people guessing when to harvest. Those who waited were rewarded with riper fruit. Even the best 2007s didn’t really come into their own until they’d been in bottle about 6 months. With much longer than that, Dewey’s are very nice.” Brand new to Maine.

Illahe Pinot Noir 2008 (Oregon) $22.99Brand new to Maine. Light and spicy, with a cinnamon note ringing in the ears of the raspberry and cherry fruit. Long, delicate finish. Drink now through 2016. 1,500 cases made. LIVE-certified Salmon Safe vineyard. Wine & Spirits, 92 points

ArborBrook Pinot Noir 2009 (Oregon) $39.99 – As beautiful as their Pinot Gris is, their Pinot Noir is as well. The highest expression of Oregon Pinot Noir is an elegance and silkiness that you just don’t get in the bigger, higher-alcohol California Pinot Noirs. This is one of the best examples. The grapes are from the Chehalem Mountains AVA (American Viticultural Area). Aromas of black currants, dark, ripe raspberries, black berries and leather. Firm acidity and a juicy mouthfeel. This has flavors of black cherries, plums, currants, anise, cola, subtle oak and a hint of the forest floor. 100% Pinot Noir from the Dijon 777 clone. Aged 10 months in 30% new French oak and 70% of the barrels are 2nd and 3rd year. 536 cases made. Food pairing – roasted or grilled game, duck, steak au poivre, grilled Portobello mushrooms, meals with a wine reduction sauce. Brand new to Maine.

Angel Vine Zinfandel 2008 (Washington) $21.99 – These are Wayne’s notes.

“I met Ed Fus and two of his angels at Carlton Wine Cellars, a winemaking co-op where he turns Washington grapes into Oregon wine. I had tried one of his Zinfandels at a restaurant some months earlier, so when I saw the name I had to check it out. A side note: Ed’s label was originally Three Angels (his wife and two daughters), but a trademark challenge from a much bigger California winery caused him to change it to Angel Vine. Ed is a director of LIVE (Low Input Viniculture & Enology), which certifies sustainable practices.

2008 Columbia Valley Zinfandel

Columbia Valley is the largest AVA in Washington. These grapes were from the sub-AVAs of Walla Walla Valley, Horse Heaven Hills, and Wahluke Slope. It was barrelled in a mixture of mostly second-use French and Hungarian oak for 18 months.

This is everything you want in a Zinfandel. The secret is a bit of Primitivo and Petit Syrah to balance it out and add some oomph. It’s fruit forward, and has noticeable but not overwhelming tannins, nice raspberry and blackberry notes, and spice. An approachable everyday wine. Brand new to Maine.

Wilbur's Tasting

Wilbur’s Tasting

April 7th, 2010

Any of these wines that you purchase from Freeport Cheese & Wine will be 10% off!

The Wines

The White Wines:

Wishing Tree Unoaked Chardonnay 2009 (Australia) $12.99 - This wine tastes just like you plucked a chardonnay grape right off the vine and popped it in your mouth! I know we describe a lot of wines as clean and crisp, but never have I tasted one that tastes as PURE as this one….there’s no oak anywhere near this wine, which lets the fruit come through beautifully. Exceptional nose with just a hint of spice and vanilla…this wine is a gem and a true value at this price! Wine Spectator, 88 points

Domaine Lafage Côté Est Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes 2009 (France) $11.99 - This is a tasty white – perfect for entertaining! Huge hit at a tasting! Great pear, peach and apricot aromas and flavors. Big flavors in a $12 wine! Clean, crisp, refreshing! Soft & lush. Ripe & full without being heavy like many oaky Chardonnays. Competely unoaked. Blend of 60% Grenache Blanc, 30% Grenache Gris, and 10% Marsanne. Food pairing - Great wine with salads and appetizers and on its own!

The Red Wines:

Château de Flaugergues Côteaux de Languedoc, La Méjanelle 2007 (France) $17.99 - One of our favorites!!! Outstanding! Unfortunately, Wine Spectator found this & awarded this a whopping score a few years ago. Why is this unfortunate? B/C people who care more about “points” than wine, now know this wine. Not many cases are made. Deep ruby color. Blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache & Syrah. Wonderful berry fruit in the nose. Nice balance between the tannins and fruit. Well balanced. Nice white pepper on the finish. This wine is worth getting a case or two – it’ll age well for 3-5 years, but it is drinking GREAT right now! Food pairing - Goes well with hearty meals, grilled meats & just on its own! Wine Spectator, 91 points, #50 Top 100 Wines, 2010

El Portillo Malbec 2009 (Argentina) Reg. $10.99, Sale $8.99 - Excellent wine! Easy drinking and soft…..just a pleasure! Medium-weight, with a slightly jammy core of red cherries & plum backed by baking spices on the soft finish. 100% Malbec. Stainless steel fermentation. Food pairing - Enjoy with grilled steaks, roasts and pasta in richly-flavored sauces.

Leese-Fitch Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (California) $10.99 - This packs a lot of flavor into a moderate-priced wine. This is smooth and lush! Aromas and flavors of dark cherries, figs, currants, dark chocolate, blueberries, toast and vanilla. The tannins are soft. Rich, good tasting finish. This Cabernet is very complex, with integrated French oak and layered sweet fruit and savory nuances. Food pairing - hearty fare such as seared flank steak with a port reduction sauce, roasted venison or a good beef burger topped with cheddar cheese and caramelized onions. It also closes with a ZORK! The Zork is a stopper that opens easily and then reseals the bottle.

Misfit Wine Company By Some Young Punks Brujeria Shiraz/Cab/Grenache/Tempranillo 2007 (Australia) $15.99 - An Aussie take on a wine from Ribera del Duero (hence the Shiraz in the wine!). Aromas & flavors of baking spices & ripe red berries. SMOOTH! This is a big, bodacious wine! Not a wimpy wine! Blend of 66% Shiraz, 17% Cabernet, 11% Garnacha and 6% Tempranillo. Aged in older oak hogheads and stainless steel vats for 13 months. 1,400 cases made. Aromas and flavors of baking spices and ripe red berries. This is a big, bodacious wine! Not a wimpy wine! "Brujeria" is the Spanish word for witchcraft and it also refers to a mystical group of male witches in southernmost Argentina.

The Dessert Wine:

Chocovine Chocolate Liqueur $12.99 - If you like Bailey’s Irish Cream, give this a shot! Tastes like a rich chocolate sauce with a little kick! Rich dark chocolate from Holland blended with good Cabernet Sauvignon from France. Rich and chocolaty. Drink over ice or use it to make a chocolate martini! Or, come up with your own drink with it!

CHAMBERS Rutherglen Muscat NV (Australia) $17.99 - Ohhhh…my goodness…this is good…nectar of the gods good…Truly great…wonderful, HEART-WARMING to drink! Wonderful aromas…silky, supple feel… it goes down as smooth as it smells and starts. Often a dessert wine; try it as an aperitif, particularly on a cool day. A small glass goes a long way – warming the soul as well as the stomach. This wine will keep for months after opening, providing you recork it after each serving. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 93 points