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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

CHATEAU de FLAUGERGUES ... Innovation, Style


 Château de Flaugergues Cuvée Sommelière Rouge 2012
Château de Flaugergues 
Cuvée Sommelière Rouge 2012
La Méjanelle
Languedoc France

65% Grenache Noir. 30% Syrah. 5% Mourvèdre.

Deep garnet/black in color with overtones of magenta, an immediate presence. Rich plum, cassis and spice on the nose with earthy fruits, bark and dark cocoa on the palate. Silky mouth feel the moment the juice touches the tongue, no doubt from the syrah. Blackberry and herbaceous spice follow. Given a little more time, hints of mossy forest floor along with plenty of acidity for a certain buoyancy.  An elegant package bursting with vivacious, lush, saucy fruits and a spicy finish balanced beautifully with concentration and length. Terrific! 3-4 years resting in the bottle should bring it to full maturity.

I recently picked up a bottle of the 2012 in a moment of spontaneity, as I had much enjoyed previous vintages. I absolutely loved this one. Little did I know that mere weeks later I would be in a car with Pierre & Marie Colbert, owners of this historic Languedoc Estate, making our way up to Belfast for the Easterly Wine Show! They were special guests that day, on hand and available to speak with buyers of the trade, mostly from the mid-coast region of Maine.

Marie & Pierre Colbert w/tasters at Easterly show, Belfast, ME
Built in the countryside near the city of Montpellior in Mejanelle' (one of the twelve terroirs found in the Côteaux du Languedoc)Château de Flaugergues has been in the Colbert family since 1696. A stunning piece of historic architecture surrounded by gorgeous gardens and home to the Estate grown vineyards, as well as their restaurant, Folia. Grapevines and Olive trees were cultivated here over 2000 years ago by the Romans, and according to Pierre, the Languedoc is the first French area where wine was produced. Terroir consists of galets roulés, or 'les Grés', round pebbles or rocks with alluvial traces from deposits in the Rhone delta. These retain heat from the plentiful Mediterranean sun and release it at night. Vineyards also receive a distinctive Maritime influence, with cooling breezes. 

In addition to grenache noir, syrah, mourvèdre, carignan, cinsault, merlot, cab sauvignon, grenache blanc, marsanne, roussanne, rolle and viognier, Pierre spoke of some new varietals they are working on with L'INRA - all vinifera crosses ... MarselanArinarnoa and Egiodola (Pays Basque) ... these will be small production wines. Stay tuned!

Jack Scully (Easterly Wine) w/Marie & Pierre Colbert (Flaugergues)
Languedoc is near and dear to Pierre's heart. He states that while the Languedoc region has the largest area of vineyards, 250,000 - 300,000 hectares to Bordeaux's 100,000 and Champagne's 10,000 for example, it has a way to go to achieve the notoriety of these regions. It is I believe safe to say, that he would love his region to attain such value and worth. On the other hand, he is not bound by laws that hamper the creation of his wines. In Languedoc, Pierre envisions a new world style, more progressive, less locked in to tradition and not reactive to the market. As he states "Bordeaux is in a straight jacket in terms of winemaking". In his words "tradition is dead".  Instead he sees Change and Innovation as his challenging yet creative tools. I found his wines to have an exciting freshness of the new, with the old world pulsating at the heart. What better combination?

Also tasted at the Easterly show was Château de Flaugergues Languedoc Rose', 2014. Grenache Noir, Cinsault, Syrah. Light salmon chiffon in color with hints of wild strawberry blossoms on the nose. Round, lush, rich and clean on the palate, with purity of fruit. Just enough acidity for freshness. Creamy on the tongue. Delicious wild sweet berries. Acidity in back supporting all that luscious creaminess. Bracingly clean finish. 2-3 months on the lees and late bottled ... but not too late!

Château de Flaugergues Rose' 2014
If you're lucky enough to still find this, (hopefully more will be coming our way in June), try: 

Rayr Wine, Rockport; Francine, Camden; Sawyer's Specialties, SW Harbor; Market Basket, Rockport; 
Treats, Wiscasset; Meridians, Fairfield
Blue Hill Wine Shop, Blue Hill


The Cuvée Sommelière Rouge 2012 can 
be found in Portland at RSVP. Around $16/btl. 

Other venues around the state include: Belfast Co-op, Belfast; BookStacks, Bucksport; Rooster Brother, Global Beverages & John Edwards Market, Ellsworth; French & Brawn, Camden; Now You're Cooking, Bath; Rising Tide Community Market, Damariscotta; Solo Bistro, Bath; Five Islands Farm, Georgetown; Black Sheep Wine & Beer Shop, Harpswell; Wine Cellar & Rockland Food Service, Rockland; Southport General Store, Southport; French Cellar, Machias; Bootleggers, Topsham; Foundation Wine Cellar, Freedom; Meridians, Fairfield; The CLOWN, York

These wines are distributed in Maine by Easterly Wine in Belfast and imported by Ideal Wine & Spirits Co., Medford, MA

Tammy Scully (Easterly Wine, Belfast)



Easterly Wine is a smaller distributor located in mid-coast Maine. You can trust theirs to be a selective, discerning palate, choosing uniques wines of excellent character. Founder Jack Scully is a true vanguard, bringing wine knowledge and great wines to Maine since 2001. His wife Tammy, with her excellent organizational savvy handles the business end. Their team is also extremely knowledgeable. They work with family owned/operated vineyards/wineries and truly know where the wines come from. For more information: 30 Washington St, Belfast, ME 04915. (207) 338-9917. In Maine, look for their label on the back of the bottle!






Friday, May 8, 2015

SOULFUL WINES OF NEW ZEALAND


THE HERMIT RAM
Field Blend 2012 
Skin fermented
Waipara Gorge, New Zealand

Have you had Orange wine?! When my friend Brendon called spontaneously and asked me if I'd like to try some wine later, I said sure! I'll put together some food ... come on over. He made me close my eyes and taste ... ahhh ... Elixir?? What is that?! This Orange wine or wine grown on Limestone in Waipara Gorge, New Zealand was a complete enigma, utterly delightful! Ripe with personality, complexity, balance and approachability, this is a unique blend of Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Semillon, savoury to the tongue and lilting to the Spirit! Notes of orchard fruits, juicy ripe peach and pink grapefruit first come to mind. Later white pepper, orange blossom, nectarine and even essence of watermelon. Beautifully integrated!  

Brendon Pringle with The HERMIT RAM from his native New Zealand

Winemaker is Theo ColesSome time after study and travels, he connected with Gareth Renowden, owner of Limestone Hills Vineyard in the Waipara Gorge and they agreed to make some wine together. The farm where vineyard is located also grows truffles and olive oil. Some thoughts ring true ... Small scale winemaking project. Naturally farmed. Hand-made, bottled & labeled. Labour of Love. Skin fermented orange field blend. Wines on Limestone. The juice spends two months on skins, with time in a concrete barrel after fermentation. Artwork for the label came from an etching he purchased while traveling. Expressive of a unique straightforwardness and individuality in wild and natural terrain. THE HERMIT RAM. Completely fitting!

Brendon Pringle & Ned Swain (DEVENISH Wines) tasting the Hermit Ram & Georgetown Pinot

Single Vineyard Pinot Noir from Georgetown Vineyard
Georgetown Vineyard
Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009
Central Otago, New Zealand

As Brendon continued his search for unique wines from his native New Zealand to bring back to the states, he called upon Ian Dee, Owner of Georgetown Vineyard. He recalls he was a warm, humble man who welcomed him in to his small mud tasting room hut. For this reason, and based on how good the newer vintages were that he had tasted, he was moved to purchase this particular pinot noir, vintage 2009 and had not tasted it until this moment!

A gorgeous, elegant expression of Pinot Noir, deep garnet in color. Voluminous with cherry aromas, smoky cedar and gamey nuances ... soft on the tongue, slightly spicy and ripe balanced fruit. Warm, harmonious, bright yet earthy. Full round luxuriating finish ... 
Fermented with indigenous yeast, only 283 cases made. And this the last bottle in existence for this vintage. Special! 

Georgetown Vineyard is located in the South Island region of New Zealand, near the entrance to Kawarau Gorge next to the Kawarau River in Cromwell, Central Otago. Climate is Continental vs. Maritime, with hot summers and cold winters. This hand crafted, single vineyard wine is a true expression of its terroir, according to viticulturist Ian Dee. Grapes are planted in the tradition of Burgundy, with narrow rows, short trunks and very low yielding vines. 

This particular vintage was made with renown winemaker Duncan Forsyth, from Mount Edward Wines, who uses no chemicals with as little intervention as possible in his wines. He uses organic and biodynamic practices to ensure health of the vineyards. As Central Otago soils consist mostly of schist, loess and alluvial gravels, with little organic matter and low rainfall, the beneficial nutrients and minerals needed to nourish the vines are way down deep in the subsoil. Without the use of synthetic fertilizers and herbicides his vines are much healthier, with roots able to forage deep down for all the nutrients they need ... and I daresay for all that expression of terroir!

As if guided by the Wine Angels that day, I chose some fresh sockeye salmon with salad of mixed arugula greens, herbs, shaved carrot, etc. This paired miraculously with both of the wines.

These are some of the most soulful and stunning wines I've tasted from New Zealand. They are not yet available here. If I were you I would start pestering your local retailers, distributors and importers ... Bring it!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

DOMAINE ANDRE' SCHERER PINOT BLANC

Domaine André Scherer
Pinot Blanc 2013
Vin d'Alsace
Alsace, France

100% Pinot Blanc.

Pale lemon gold in color, with trace soft minerals on the nose, slightly more forward on the palate. Soft, creamy mouth feel. Salinity. Silky. Juicy, luscious clean fruit emerges. Limestone, minerals, shale ... while subtle waves of meyer lemon and lemon chiffon spill over the tongue. Restraint and delivery toute ensemble. Completely delightful and engaging, this wine expresses subtle intricacies and precision with ease and simplicity.
The perfect manifestation of a desire for Spring! 
Under $13/bottle, exclusively at The Farm Stand, South Portland (while supply lasts). Enjoy with an organic pork chop from their excellent butcher shop, asparagus and risotto, par exemple!

Domaine André Scherer is located in Husseren-les-Château, a commune in the Haut-Rhin region of Alsace, in northeastern France. The village runs along "La Route des Vins d'Alsace", a beautifully scenic area of vineyards in the vicinity of the Vosges Mountains. 

Christopher Scherer, taking over from his father André (8th generation winemaker), is bringing rapt attention to the domaine. After wine study in Burgundy, Bordeaux and Australia, he took over the family estate in the 1990's. He presently works entirely with oak for his fermentations, using large tonneau for Pinot Blanc. One tastes the finesse in a glass!

Available presently through Wicked Wines, Bangor, ME. A Peter WEYGANDT Selection, Imported by Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, PA. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

FATTORIA LA RIVOLTA FALANGHINA 2013

Fattoria la Rivolta
Falanghina del Sannio 2013
Taburno, Campania
Italy

100% Falanghina

Brilliant lemon gold in color, shimmering lime green highlights, with one whiff the immediacy of Sea Air transports you to landscapes picturesque!
Liltingly fresh & exciting on the tongue. Sanguine. Notes of chalk, minerals, limestone. Clean acidity.
Ever so subtle tropical fruit such as kiwi emerges, later intimations of white peach, tangerine, nectarine and acacia flowers. Hints of honey when temp warms, meyer lemon on the edge, yet ultimately dry. Some latent distant spice underlying. Beautifully integrated fruit, not overbearingly forward! Lime zest. This may be more atypical of Falanghina, which is precisely why I love it. More presence of clean minerality. A perfect pick for this February day in the northeast, when one longs for a feel more Mediterranean! Paired perhaps with fresh grilled calamari, oysters, tapas with feta, olives, mussels or roasted fish. Enjoy clear through the summer, wherever you are. Delicious ...Treat yourself! $23/btl at Maine & Loire

Fattoria La Rivolta was established in 1997 by third generation farmer, Paolo Cotroneo and his brother Mario. Their vineyards are located in the municipality of Torrecuso, in the province of Beneveto, in one of the smallest DOCs in the region of Campania, namely Taburno. Lands are hilly and mountainous. Soil is limestone and calcerous clay (yes, terroir does shine through!) Their vines are cultivated organically, without use of chemical treatments. Grapes are hand harvested and produce low yields. While their grandparents Giovanni and Teresa maintained and cultivated one of the largest agricultural farms in Benevento at the beginning of the twentieth century, the brothers' approach to cultivating vines and making wine marks a great turning point in their ancestry, with an organic approach. They earned certification from ICEA (Istituto per la Certificazione Etica e Ambientale) in 2001.  As if that were not enough ... the wine sings!

Imported by T. Edward Wines, Ltd., New York, NY and distributed in Maine by Devenish Wines, Portland. Also available at Piccolo Southern Italian Restaurant, Middle St. Portland.

Monday, January 19, 2015

LAGUZELLE MINERVOIS 2013

Domaine Benjamin Taillandier
"Laguzelle" Minervois Languedoc, France 


Blend of Cinsault, Syrah & Carignan. 

Dark garnet in color with scarlet highlights, this is one juicy mouthful and a quintessential French table wine. Earthy/funky on the nose initially, with exotic spice, green & black pepper and hints of wild violets. Luscious and lean blackberry fruit and dark berry undertones on the palate. Later, underlying briar calms down and gets down. Herbaceous, like bay leaf. Unctuous hints of fig on nose resolve ultimately and utterly lean and quaffable. 

This completely natural and authentic wine comes from Domaine Benjamin Taillandier, located in Caunes-Minervois, situated between the ancient city of Carcassone and the Massif Central. Southern exposure and Mediterranean oceanic influences, along with protection by les Montagnes Noir from cold winds make for unique locale. Minervois takes its name from the fortified village of Minerve, built by the Romans and reportedly dedicated to the goddess of wisdom. The region was recognized as AOC in 1985. Diverse soil includes schist, sand, clay and limestone. 

While Benjamin had technical training at winemaking school and worked in conventional wineries, his greatest influence was working alongside natural winemaker Jean-Baptiste Senat, with ideas and techniques that inspired and shaped his current practices in his present Domaine. Grapes are farmed organically and biodynamically, harvested by hand (1-2 weeks before other producers). Short vinification, aged 6 months in stainless steel. Only natural yeasts. Laguzelle Minervois is one lively wine, with much character. Other favorites of mine from Dom. Benjamin Taillandier include VITI VINI BIBI and BUFENTIS. 

If you happen to be in Caunes-Minervois, stop by Cantine du Curé, his terrific wine bar downtown ... open during the summer season.

Here in Portland, ME, we are fortunate to know these wines through Zev Rovine Selections, Brooklyn, NY, Imported by Fruit of the Vines, Long Island City, NY and Distributor Devenish Wines, Portland, ME. Also carried by new Natural Wine Shop, Maine & Loire, Washington Ave; Rosemont Market, Brighton Ave; RSVP, Forest Ave; Aurora Provisions, Pine St, Portland and Oak Hill Beverage, Scarborough. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

TERRY THEISE - READ BETWEEN THE WINES

L. Aubry Fils Champagne Brut Rose' at Hugo's, Portland, ME
Only now in the still of winter, having survived all the bustle, busyness, even pandemonium of the Holiday season, is a moment of silence to remember and recall the visit of a wine virtuoso, a luminary if you will, with us here in Portland, ME ... namely Terry Theise. What a gift! He arrived last November, making himself available both to the trade and the public, in a myriad of experiences: Wine & Champagne tastings, wine dinners, and visits to local retailers and restaurants, bringing with him his signature poetic, soulful and articulate approach to wines from his Champagne, German and Austrian portfolios. His unique way of describing the flavor profile of a wine, of relaying some obscure yet essential detail of technical process or sharing a recollection of time spent with one of his grower producers in their particular terroir was a study in vivacity, brilliance and humor. 

Terry Theise w/Tasters in Greater Portland
I resonate with his views ... In his own words, "There is a schism between two groups of vinters and drinkers: Those who feel wine is "made" and those who feel it is "grown". If a grower believes from his every day experience that flavors are inherent in his land, he will labor to preserve them. This means he does nothing to inhibit, obscure or change them." (from his book, Reading between the Wines). This rings so true for me and I venture to say for many of us here in Maine, where we are keen on the farm to table movement, whether the family table or from the kitchen of one of the many nationally acclaimed restaurants here; not to mention the steadyily emerging underground movement of Natural Wines coming to us from importers, especially France, Italy and Eastern Europe to name a few

Now to some of the wines and a few tasting notes! The Champagnes ... L. Aubry Fils Champagne Rose' Brut - blend of Chardonnay, Petit Meunier and Pinot Noir, mostly from the 2010 vintage. This is toasty and creamy, yet chalky dry and clean, with purity of blackberry fruit coming through. Luscious.

Revelers @ Hugo's Portland w/L.Aubry Fils Champagne Rose' Brut!


                                              Gaston Chiquet Brut 'Tradition' & Vilmart & Cie "Grand Cellier" Champagne                                                  
Gaston Chiquet Brut 'Tradition'A blend of  Pinot Meunier,  Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. Deliciously clean with notes of lemon chiffon and toasted nut. Lovely, focused and elegant. This one made from the base premiere cru vineyard 2009. 8.2 - 8.6% residual sugar. 
Vilmart & Cie Champagne "Grand Cellier", a gorgeous expression of 65% Chardonnay, with Pinot Noir. 10 months in large wood barrels. Here especially, an emphasis on Wine before the bubbles, as is signature of grower producer Champagne. 50% from dominant vintage, 50% previous vintage. Lovely hints of brioche and subtle salinity, with the "homeopathic quality of really old wine" (TT).
Lallement Champagne Brut NV, 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay saw full malolactic fermentation, never touching oak. Also, scrupulous growers, such as those Terry works with, use neutral yeasts rather than innoculating with conventional yeast to control fermentation. Precise and lively, even zesty, this one exudes white exotic flowers, crystalline expression. "An heirloom apple cellar, a silent pond" (TT).  Correct temperature for drinking Champagne he asserts, pour at fridge temp of 40 degrees, thereafter fine!

Dönnhoff Kreuznacher Krötenpfuhl Riesling Kabinett 2011, from the Nahe region of Germany. This one has distinctive petrol/diesel on the nose, yet silky on the tongue making for an angular nose/lyrical palate. Hints of pear and apricot emerge through to an architectural finish. Krötenpfuhl means "frog pond", a delightful little aside! Terroir is sandy marl, alluvial soil. 

Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spatlese 2011, also from the semi-arid Nahe region in Germany. Here the soil is sandy slate (lower volcanic). This expression ... of cherry blossoms, subtle petrol, light honey, grasses and clover. Perhaps not so uncoincidentally, the old name "Kirsche" means cherry, suggesting that wild cherries once grew among the vineyards. Enchanting! The vineyards are located on south facing steep slopes and soil of slate and sandstone.
Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner 'Gobelsburger 2013, Kamptal Austria. According to Terry, 2013 a great year. This wine exhibiting gooseberry and stone fruit, a racy, juicy expression of the 60-70% estate fruit. Schloss Gobelsburg, under the direction of winemaker/cellarmaster Michael Moosbruger, is focused on creating wines with individuality and character rather than an emphasis on the clean, uniform wines of other international cellars.

I encourage you to seek out these unique and beautirul wines and inquire of others from his estate selections that may be available. Brought to us here in greater Portland by SoPo Wine Co and imported by Skurnik Wines, NY, NY. Ask your local retailers and restaurants  up and down the coast ... Rosemont Markets, Browne Trading Co., The Farm Stand, Lolita Vinoteca, Hugo's Restaurant, Fore Street ... to name a few in Portland!

In a nutshell and in his words ...

Beauty is more important than impact.
Harmony is more important than intensity.
The whole of any wine must always be more than the sum of its parts.
Distinctiveness is more important than conventional prettiness.
Soul is more important than anything, and soul is expressed as a trinity of family, soil, and artisanality.

Here Here!  Thank you Terry (and thanks to SoPo Wine Co for bringing him here) ... Come back and see us again soon with more of your exceptional discoveries!


Terry Theise w/Wine 24/7



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

CHATEAU KSARA

Château Ksara
Le Prieuré 2011
Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

30% Carignan, 30% Cinsault, 20% Mourvedre, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon

I love wines from all over the world ... this one from Lebanon has been speaking to me lately! Visualizing a place Mediterranean ... ah yes.

Presence of color - a deep yet brilliant garnet crimson ... glistening in the glass! Wild dark berries are immediately apparent on the nose - later a funky earthiness with exotic spices. Black and red fruits such as blackberry, juicy plum and cranberry emerge on the palate, with underlying hints of anise, licorice & black pepper. Woody herbaceousness. Silky mouthfeel. Tannic dusty finish. Complex & accessible all at once. $11.99/bottle. A wine for every day, at An Extra Ordinary Value

The vineyards of Château Ksara are located in the central and western parts of the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Climate is Mediterranean, with heavy rain/snow in winter and often dry, hot summers. Slopes of the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountains provide plenty of water with their melting snows, as well as a unique micro-climate where night winds provide cooling from hot summer days. A varied terroir of chalk, clay, limestone and stony soil, along with such a variable climate affords distinctiveness and complexity. This Wine truly is indicative of "place"

Tradition in Lebanese wine dates back 5,000 years, when the Phoenicians (ancient inhabitants of Lebanon) began tending vineyards and exporting wine to Egypt, Rome, Greece and Carthage. Here reportedly, is where the miracle of turning Water into Wine took place! Château Ksara is Lebanon's oldest, largest and most visited winery, founded in 1857 by Jesuit priests, who produced the country's first dry red wine.

All vineyards are harvested by hand and the grapes hand sorted. Wine is produced and bottled at the Chateau.

Le Prieuré is distributed in Maine through Devenish Wines, Portland, ME and may be found at Rosemont Markets/Munjoy Hill & Commercial St. - Portland; The Farm Stand - S. Portland; State St. Wine Cellar - Bangor and The Blue Hill Wine Shop - Blue Hill.  Imported by Olive Harvest LLC, Sudbury, MA.