Translate

Thursday, June 26, 2014

GASPARE BUSCEMI ViNero

GASPARE BUSCEMI
ViNero Cuvee' Classica 
Venezia Giulia
Cormons, Italia

Regal yet earthy scarlet/sienna in color, followed by cedar, musty balsamic and bark moss on the nose, this is one modern wine ... with deep roots! Initially brighter red fruits evolve with air into luscious richer notes of blackberry, racy cherry cola, deep plum and boysenberry. Woody herbs/eucalyptus, sherry aged balsamic, fig, black pepper spice, bayberry and juniper take their turn. Perhaps alpines? Fresh quaffing fruit nonetheless ... or despite a touch of Romantic Funk! Playful, refreshing and completely serious, complex yet unpretentious. Luscious to the end. LOVE! 

A great summer red. Wonderful find/value for $12.99 at Rosemont Munjoy Hill. Also available at the other Rosemont Markets and Aurora Provisions, Portland, ME. 

Located in Fruili-Venezia in northeastern Italy, Gaspare Buscemi began at age 20, working for companies that produced large quantities of "quaffable" wines. Into his 4th year he had already become enotechnician for Marco Felluga in Gradisca d'Isonzo and thereafter technical director of the Consortium of Collio. He was much more interested in working with small higher quality producers and served as wine maker consultant, traveling all over Italy and establishing relationships with other Italian vine-growers. From this experience he settled back in his native Fruili, dedicating himself to both natural and traditional oenology with an emphasis on biodynamic farming and crafting wines naturally, with no manipulation in the cellar. This distinguished him as a creator of "artisan wines", pure expressions of nature, thousand year old farming traditions and artisan culture of his lands. 

Gaspare also retains a bit of mystery where blend of grapes is concerned. He will not reveal! ViNero is a proprietary blend that varies year to year ... but rumor has it this one may have Refosco, Merlot and most certainly (but perhaps not characteristically of the area), Cabernet Franc!  Delizioso!

Brought to us in Maine by Devenish Wines. Imported by Adonna Imports LLC, Waltham, MA.

Monday, May 19, 2014

HERDADE DO ESPORÃO RESERVA WHITE


Esporão Reserva White 2012
ESPORÃO 
RESERVA WHITE 2012
Alentejo, Portugal 

30% Antão Vaz, 30% Arinto, 30% Roupeiro, 10% Semillon

Light golden straw in color like the hot grassy plains ... with nuances of green, this is one complex, mercurial white wine! Flint, minerals, schist, a woody herbaceousness and hint of mint are immediately apparent on nose and palate. Refreshing and zesty with underlying earthy minerality and rich, voluptuous notes of vanilla and butterscotch when the chill comes down ... all the while balanced with plenty of tanginess & acidity. Layers! Green fruits, white peach, spices such as anise and licorice, passion fruit/tropical fruits, lemon honey ... (am I high?!) Racy. Perfume. Spicy, even weighty, yet a bracingly clean finish. 



Wine Notes ...
Illusive somehow and dynamic, slightly austere, truly hard to pin down ... I loved it. I had noticed it for quite some time at my neighborhood market and one winter day, yearning for a white - something with substance, yet not heavy or overly oaked, picked it up. This fit the bill. I found myself retasting it on a number of occasions, always enjoying nuances, shifting between lusciousness and tangy acidity. The grapes are estate grown and aged in steel, with 6 months in new French oak on the lees. Bottled in 2013. Now that it's summer, a perfect pick to acccompany chicken, pork on the grill, Mediterranean faire. Delicious! $16.99 at Rosemont Market on Munjoy Hill in Portland. 

Herdade do Esporão is located in the southeast in Alentejo, Portugal's largest wine region. A typically Mediterranean landscape is home to the estate, where indigenous plants such as lavender, orchids, holm oak and extensive olive groves abound, as well as a myriad of wildlife. No wonder this wine exudes such a myriad of flavors and fragrances. Established in 1975, the Estate is also home to the Tower of Esporão, a piece of architecture expressive of the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern era and the desire to assert a new lineage. 

Esporão wines are considered to be some of Portugal's most respected. They also helped revolutionize their region in part, by employing Portuguese fine artists to create original art for labels for each new vintage, a melding of art forms so to speak - wine and art. Some of Portugal's most important artists including, João Hogan, Júlio Pomar, Manuel Cargaleiro, Julião Sarmento, Pedro Cabrita Reis and Lourdes Castro, have created original works for this project, building a unique collection that tells the story of Esporão, as well as art and wine in Portugal. Fantastic! This vintage was for its 25th anniversary of the Reserva Private Selection, its most emblematic brand and is by artist Felipe Oliveira Baptista. 

This wine is imported by AIDIL Wines & Liquors, Newark, NJ and brought to us through National Distributors, South Portland, ME. Also available at Browne Trading Co. & Whole Foods Market - Portland; Bow Street Market - Freeport; and Food Stop - Cumberland.


Friday, February 7, 2014

SYMINGTON FAMILY ESTATES - A WEALTH OF PORT

1970 & 2011 Vintage Ports from WARRE'S

A WEALTH of PORT is with us in Portland and throughout the state! Here to remind us of that fact recently (and direct from Portugalwas Rui Ribeiro, Market Manager for Symington Family Estates, purveyor of (among others), Warre's Port, Altano wines & Madeira

Port has its origins in northern Portugal's Douro Valley, a land of rocky slopes with a terroir of schist, slate and clay, high altitudes (1400 ft) and extreme temperature shifts. These unique growing conditions and the hearty varietals that grow there create wines that are rich and concentrated; and in the hands of these winemakers, ones with much finesse and elegance.

Brief company history:  Warre & Co., one of the most highly esteemed port shipping firms in the world is also the oldest, established in 1670.  The Warre family continued working in the wine trade at Oporto for over 200 years, during which time one descendant, William Warre also became a lieutenant general, defending Portugal against Napoleon's invasion. Andrew James Symington, from Scotland and a descendant of Warre's current managing director became associated with Warre's in the early 1900's after establishing himself as a well known wine merchant in the port trade. Beatrice Atkinson, whom he married in Oporto was also descended from Port producers. The Symingtons remained in Portugal to manage operations in 1912, while the Warre's returned to England to look after sales.   Hence today's Symington Family Estates.  

There is a lot of process going on to arrive at these beautiful fortified wines. In order to set the stage and give us a feel for where the structure of Port wines come from, Rui first presented two Altano wines from the region. Made from mainly Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional, along with Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca, these grapes are grown in Symington family-owned vineyards and used exclusively to make their wines, including their fine ruby, tawny and vintage ports. For illustration he points out that Touriga Franca has the soft characteristics of Merlot and Touriga Nacional that of Cabernet Sauvignon. 


Altano Douro 2011 w/Vintage Port boxes
With the Altano Douro 2011, the intention is to show the terroir of the Douro region, where they farm sustainably and in sympatico with nature. This one, a field blend, has more saturated fruit on nose with brighter, fresh cherry notes on the palate. The Altano Organic 2009 has ripe cherry on the nose with a softer mouth feel and elegant, well integrated layers of fruit & earth. This is made exclusively from their organically grown grapes, mainly Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional. Aged 10 months in French oak. I liked this one a lot!


With this we move on to the Ports! In a nutshell ... they're made in the Douro Valley and shipped to the town of Vila Nova de Gaia (a "port" town) to their vast lodges where they are bottled and stored. In Douro, grapes are allowed to ferment approximately 48 hours (just a short time to achieve such color and extraction of fruit), until the unfermented sugars in the wine arrive at the desired sweetness. A small amount of brandy (grape spirit/77% alcohol) is added at that point to block the fermentation process. Ruby ports are youthful and vibrant, arrived at by blending young wines from different vintages, then aged an average of 3 years in seasoned oak before being blended, filtered and bottled with a "T" cork, signifying it's ready to drink. Tawny ports are also made from a blend of grapes from several different vintages, but can be aged in wood for as long as 40 years and have the earthy "tawny" color. They're also ready to drink (T cork).  With Warre's tawnys, the profile or taste of the wines stays the same year after year, and they have a dedicated taster to make sure this is so. The blend must also retain a certain amount of young vintage to retain freshness, their signatureVintage ports, generally most sought after, are made from grapes of a single vintage. These come from the best vintages and best sites, and in the case of a late bottled vintage port, on a declared year . A declared year is one with almost perfect growing conditions. Vintage ports are aged in wood for 2 years and remainder of aging time is in the bottle. A traditional cork is used here, signifying aging potential. Vintage ports should also be enjoyed within a few days for optimum experience. Rubys & tawnys may be kept for much longer. On to the wines ... a highlight of what was tasted!

Warre's Fine White Port. An entry level white Port made with white grape varietals. This one exhibits a gorgeous golden color and dare I say retsina-like (in the finest sense) tanginess on the nose. On the palate, almonds and lightly floral. Off-dry. Lovely. In Portugal this is often enjoyed as a "Portini", a cocktail with soda & ice. I for one cannot wait to try that in my garden this summer!


Rui Ribeiro (right) &  Sam Brown, Pine State Beverage Co.
The Heritage Ruby Port has hints of anise or black licorice on the olefactories, with more opulent, lush fruit & spice. This aged 3 yrs. in larger wood vats. 

I will take a moment to interject, that in addition to a broad spectrum of tastes of these fortified wines, the COLOR range was stunning. From gorgeous golden straw (white port), deep but brilliant ruby red (ruby port), earthy woody, sienna brown/reds (tawny ports), salmon color w/ rose overtones (1970 vintage port) and a powerhouse of deep dark burgundy with purple overtones (2011 vintage port).


Warre's OTIMA 20 yr old port


King's Tawny Port expresses itself in light caramel, nutty and honey tones and juicy fruit. Aged in smaller barrels. Recommended pairing with apple pie & vanilla ice cream!

OTIMA 20 year old Tawny Port shows the sienna brown/salmon hue with whiffs of harvest green apple, along with floral, apricot, toffee and vanilla notes on the tongue. Deeper with more subtlety & complexity than the 10 year, it was also silky in texture and breathed finesse. Rui recommends serving the tawny's at cooler temps (55 degrees) to bring forward freshness, elegance and lessen the alcohol taste. The 20-yr is purported to show best the DNA of the Douro and sees a higher influence of wood. The name OTIMA or Optimum/top wine, observed to be a great tawny with a more feminine, elegant approach.
This is a beauty! 




Warre's Warrior, Late Bottled Vintage 2002 & Quinta da Cavadinha
For a rich, ripe more robust experience you may want to try the Warre's Warrior Ruby Range Port. This is a reserve ruby aged 4-5 years in big vats. Velvety soft with deep ripe fruits such as dark cherry & raspberry, along with hint of green pepper & spice. Lush & rich. This port maintains a consistent profile through the years. Enjoy with CHOCOLATE.

2002 LBV Port was another of my favorites and reportedly to be of Best Value. LBV signifies late bottle vintage. This is woodier in color, with hints of fig & licorice on nose and subtler notes of rose petal, violets, plum and white pepper to taste. Luxurious fruit and mouth feel. There is an indigenous herb that grows in the Douro called the "rock rose", which definitely comes through in this wine. Aged 4-6 years in wood, then bottled, this has great potential for aging in your cellar. Unfiltered, it should be decanted through fine cheese cloth. Or ask one of your favorite restaurants if they might have it as a beautiful wine by the glass!


At Top of the East/Westin - tasters pondering !
While not a declared year, the 1998 Quinta da Cavadinha Port was I felt, beautifully integrated and complex. Seriously earthy red in color with caramel & hints of woody perennials on the nose. Unique, even medicinal in quality. Blackberry fruit & cherry. Aged in wood 2 years, then bottled.










Vintage Ports 1980, 1983 & 1985
Warre's Vintage Ports/1980's:  All declared years. 88 and 91 points respectively from Wine Spectator.

1980 Vintage Porto has saturated color, a rich nose of black berries, concentrated fruit like an emperor, stunning, delicious dark cherry. Resonance. Another stand-out

1983 Vintage Porto was lighter in color with a dryer finish, lovely perfume. Concentrated berry flavors. Vintage from a warm year. 

1985 Vintage Porto, ruby color with earthy overtones. Charcoal on the nose. Plum fruit. Chocolate overtones. Nicely balanced. 


Vintage Ports 1994 & 1997
Warre's Vintage Ports/1990's: 95 and 94 points respectively from Wine Spectator.

1994 Vintage Porto was a great year for port wine and this one has great aging potential according to our host, Rui. Deep earthy in color, this exhibits brighter fruit on the nose. Vibrant! With coffee notes, viscose , rich and centered - like a gem in a great fur coat (if that makes any sense ... it's what came to mind!) Full bodied and velvety, long finish. 

1997 Vintage Porto. This one is younger and expresses itself in a less complex way. A little racier. Dark ruby in color, spice. Perhaps a bit more time for this one?







Vintage Ports 1970 & 2011

The last 2 pairings of vintage port tasted were the 1970 & 2011 ... what contrast!

Warre's 1970 Vintage Porto.  This was much more understated and I adored it for that and many other reasons ... its salmon color with rose overtones, seamless apricot fruits, cassis, finesse personified. Silky, heaven. Underlying opulence.  Photo that begins article shows it in glass on the left, where the color actually appeared ligher/more delicate in person. 

Warre's 2011 Vintage Porto. A complete powerhouse and purported to be a Best Year. Same photo shows it in glass on right. Color is deep dark regal burgundy with hues of purple. Bold flavors of dark plum, chocolate and spice waft from the glass. Intensity & structure. Recommended best from 2030 through 2060, if that says anything!

These Vintage ports would make an amazing addition to ones' cellar and are available in a beautiful wooden box 6-pack case (1 each, 1970, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1994 & 1997) through the Importer, Vineyard Brands Selections and through Pine State Beverage Co. here in Maine. Ask your local retailer about this to place your order. 

Sam Brown (Pine State Bev Co) with Rui Ribeiro (Symington Family Estates)
For a highlight of venues where you may find or order these wines: 

Portland: Rosemont Market, Whole Foods, Discount Beverage, Local 188, Petit Jacqueline, Street & Co. & Boones Fish House; 

Freeport:  Bow St. Market, Freeport Trading Co & Conundrum Wine Bistro; Brunswick, Tess's Market

Scarborough: The Cheese Iron, Lois' Natural Marketplace, Oak Hill Beverage

KennebunkDowneast Wine Imports; York, The Clown; Wells, Tully's; Kittery, Golden Harvest; Raymond, Good Life Market

Blue Hill: Blue Hill Wine Shop, Arborvine and Brooklin Inn in Brooklin

Ellsworth: John Edwards Market & Rooster Brother 

Hancock, Crocker House Country Inn; Southwest Harbor, Sawyer's Specialties; Bar Harbor, A & B Naturals

Belfast, The Gothic, Vinolio; Camden, Lily Lupine & Fern; Rockland, The Wine Cellar; Vinalhaven, Island Spirits

Boothbay Harbor, Oak St. Provisions; Wiscasset, Treat's; Bath, Now You're Cooking;

Lewiston, The Vault; Farmington, Upfront Pleasant Gourmet

Seek some of these out and taste for yourself!


Friday, January 3, 2014

Château de Lavernette GRANIT - Sparkling Gamay













GRANIT

Réserve de Lavernette
Brut Nature
Burgundy, France

100% Gamay

Sparkling Gamay??? FABULOUS!  ... Super lively bubbles and the lightest lemon gold in color, this is soft and saline, with hints of anjou pear on the nose and palate. "Schisty", lovely and clean, this sparkler is somehow creamy and yet ultimately bone dry. C'est Magique! A pleasant herbaceousness resounds, along with subtle citrus and oh so clean and minerally. The subtlest hints of green apple and anise emerge with warmer temperature, while a soft playful mouthfeel persists. What a way to start the New Year! $22.99/btl @Aurora Provisions, Pine St., Portland.

Twelve and thirteen generations of winemakers have passed on their passion for wine and knowledge of terroir at the vineyards of Château de Lavernette. Working both organically and biodynamically, they make high quality wines in the most pure and natural way possible, with ultimate respect for nature and the environment. Located in the region of Burgundy, France, where Macon and Beaujolais intersect, Château de Lavernette is owned by the family de Boissieu, descendants of the family de Lavernette.

I was delighted to experience this sparkling wine (blanc de noir) made from a grape usually associated with the still wine Beaujolais. Made in the traditional "méthode Champenois", the grapes are harvested by hand and pressed in whole clusters for the base wine. Yeast & sugar are added for "tirage", then bottled, where it is aged and fermented. No "liqueur de dosage" is added, which is why it is called Brut Nature (Extra Dry Wine), and only the smallest amounts of sulfur dioxide added.

This is perfect for any Celebration and may be enjoyed all by itself. However, paired with seafood such as oysters or shellfish would be a delight. The winemakers also recommend fondue, sushi, tempura, soufflé, crepes or quiche, or perhaps simply accompanying a variety of soft cheeses, hard, salty or soft.

This wine comes to us from CRUSH Distributors, Portland, ME through VINTAGE '59 Imports, Washington, DC. Also available locally at Browne Trading Co., Commercial St., RSVP, Forest Ave. & Rosemont Market/Munjoy, Portland.

In Paris their wines are carried by Cavistes (wine shops), some bistro type. As follows: Le Caviste Bio, Les Domaines qui Montent, La Part des Anges (Bures-sur-Yvetty) and La New Cave. Granit may also be found in cities around the world including Copenhagen, Luxembourg, Tokyo, London, Bruxelles and AmsterdamChâteau de Lavernette is a small domaine with small allocations of wines. In France, wine may be ordered directly from them as well.



Monday, December 9, 2013

POCHI * CHILEAN CUISINE & WINE BAR - Wilmington


Viña Ventisquero Grey Carmenérè with Paila Marina (seafood stew)                       

Just back from a weekend excursion to Wilmington, DE.  If you've never been there (and I hadn't!), the downtown area is a diamond in the rough, with an arts, cultural and culinary scene bubbling just under the surface.  LOMA, referring to the lower Market St. area, has glimpses of architectural renovation along with Art Schools and performing spaces such as the Delaware Art Museum, Grand Opera House, World Cafe' Live at the Queen and Dupont Theatres, to name a few.

My travel companions and I were truly lucky to discover one of Wilmington's Gems, "Pochi", a Chilean restaurant & wine bar.  Owner Patricia and her husband Braulio, also known as “Pochitos” (where I assume the name is derived from), have created a warm, intimate environ, replete with sensational smells, tastes and visual appeal. 

While their generous list included wines from France, Italy, Spain, California, New Zealand and Argentina, I was excited to taste Chilean wines from their selections, paired with their delicious dishes. Pictured above is the Viña Ventisquero Grey Carmenérè Single Block paired with Paila Marina, a seafood stew rife with mussels, clams, scallops and shrimp in a flavorful clear broth of warm earthy spices. Perfectly married here with the Carmenérè, a deep garnet in color with earthy, ripe fruit on the nose and palate, such as plum & blackberry and perhaps an undertone of chocolate/bark/tobacco, and long smooth finish to fill ones senses. A fair amount of complexity and beautifully integrated, this is a modern wine with the old world character that I love. Viña Ventisquero is a relatively new winery established in 2000 in the coastal Maipo Valley, headed by winemaker Felipe Tosso. Other land was later acquired in the Casablanca and Apalta Valleys and the estate grapes come from these "Blocks". Wines are small production and terroir driven ... and characteristic of wines I am continually drawn to! Imported by The Vintner Group, Ashland, VA.


Patricia, owner of Pochi
Our gracious waiter
Patricia and her staff were completely accommodating as I left my dining companions briefly to ponder their dinner choices while I bellied up to the bar to taste a few things. I tried two Sauvignon Blancs, the EQ Matetic and Tabali Reserve. The Tabali was refreshing with distinct grapefruit notes, while the EQ Matetic had a bit more complexity, with hints of tropical fruit and floral essences. Nice structure and elegance. Organic and biodynamically farmed grapes. 

Bar patron enjoying the mussels!

I ultimately started with the Santa Digna Cabernet Rose' 2012 from Miguel Torres, Central Valley.  A brilliant cerise in color and lively berries on the palate such as cherry, cranberry and boysenberry. This one is no shrinking violet! Full-bodied with great acidity and dry finish. I struck up a conversation with another patron at the bar who was having the bucket of mussels and immediately thought ...this rose' would work beautifully with the strong earthy flavors of the mussels, warm with hints of cilantro.  And so it was! 

Santa Digna Cab Rose' 2012
Santa Digna is certified "Fair Trade", and essentially means: pay fair value for raw materials, provide decent working conditions for collaborators and preserve the environment. Values to which Miguel Torres adheres.




I have obviously only touched on a few highlights from my visit here, but hopefully enough to wet your whistle and go see for yourself!  Patricia and her staff are sure to offer you a warm welcome and create an experience custom made for you!
Bucket of Mussels w/Santa Digna Cab Rose'
















CHILEAN CUISINE & WINE BAR 
220 W 9th Street, Wilmington DE 19801
(302) 384-6654

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

TENUTA LA LUMIA CADETTO


TENUTA BARONE NICOLO LA LUMIA
CADETTO NERO D'AVOLA 2010
Sicilia (Licata) IGT, Italy

100% Nero d'Avola

Here is another one for the Fall ... moving into winter months. Deep ruby garnet in color with edges of burnt umber, like the earthy autumnal forest floor. Scent of aged balsamic and cedar, along with hints of incense/ash & anise spice waft from the glass to meet the nose. In a while, raspberry briar, boysenberry and ripe fig become apparent. On the palate, deep bing cherry, plum and dark wild berries, with a powerful yet integrated explosion of fruits and herbaceous woody herbs. Bright and spicy on the mid tongue releasing into warm earthy tones. This one is rich and layered given a little time in the glass, with a lean yet voluptuous finish. Amore! Enjoy with roasted meats, pasta with red sauce and portabello mushrooms, rustic cheeses ... or Chocolate! $17.99/btl. @ Rosemont Market, Yarmouth.


Estate of Barone Nicoló La Lumia
The family estate of Barone Nicoló La Lumia is located in southwest Sicily on the Licata plains overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and Continent of Africa. Indeed, the home around which the farm/vineyards is centered was built in Arab style of architecture by the Lumia family in the 18th century. They use only indigenous estate grown grapes to make their wines, creating such purity and intensity of complex and beautifully integrated flavors. In addition to Nero d'Avola, Inzolia, Nerello, Mascalese and Frappato are grown. Baron Nicolo 'and his son Salvatore are committed to carrying on the ancient traditions and knowledge of their ancestors while being mindful of the need for constant evolution in their winemaking. The unique terroir of this hilly Sicilian land bordering the coast certainly shines through in this wine.

Imported by Tricana Inc., Plainville, NY. Distributed in Maine by Wicked Wines, Bangor, ME.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mas d'Alezon Faugères


Mas d'Alezon 
Faugères 2010
Le Presbytère
Languedoc, France

80% Grenache, 20% blend of Syrah & Mourvèdre

First off to all of my loyal readers, thank you for your patience during this lapse of time between articles!  This does not mean I have not been tasting wines .... au contraire!

This wine from the Languedoc region of southern France is deep black red garnet in color. Autumnal! At first opening, earthy humus with underlying briar and incense (even graphite), along with brighter dark cherry notes on the nose and tongue. Also, hints of rhubarb and eucalyptus, with a distinctive vibrancy on the surface. With time the Syrah and Mourvèdre emerge with a more saturated balsamic, sweet anise and sherry on the nose. Ripening fruits such as blackberry, plum and raisins, along with subtle spice perfume mingle with the resonant barnyard funk, even some black pepper on the palate.  Smooth mouth feel.  Give this one some breathing time and you will experience how it evolves.  Mercurial! Love it with perhaps boeuf bourguignon, duck or even Thanksgiving turkey? $16.99/btl @ Rosemont Market - Yarmouth. 

The property Mas d'Alezon is comprised of 7 hectares located in the high altitudes in the northern corner of Faugères in southern France, with its omnipresent schist and metamorphic rock. "It is believed that these Paleozoic rocks in Faugères give birth to wines of finesse and austerity". I couldn't agree more in this case. Mas d'Alezon was acquired in 1997 by the vigneronne Catherine Roque. She grows plots of 70 year old Grenache and 80 year old Mourvèdre. Grapes ripen very slowly here due to a combination of infertile soils and cool micro-climate. This terroir really comes through the wineHer vineyard is certified organic and she tends them biodynamically to enhance the health of the soil and vines. A winning combination!

Imported by Wine Traditions, Ltd., Falls Church, Virginia; Distributed in Maine by Wicked Wines, Bangor, ME; Find this wine locally at Rosemont Market - Yarmouth & Brighton stores, ME.