Thursday, January 7, 2016


Famille Peillot, Vignerons
Mondeuse 2014
Bugey, Montagnieu, France

100% Mondeuse Noir

Astonishingly black garnet in color with scarlet overtones, this lively wine is spicy & herbaceous on the nose. Bright, spicy/dry fruit follow on the palate with a woody, lean expression. Excitingly fresh in the mouth yet rustic, showing fruit such as cranberry, elderberry and violets. Lilting. Lifting. Juicy. Later some black pepper, maybe spruce? A soft start on the tongue makes its way to a zippy dry finish. One unique wine! 

Reminiscent of Refosco or Pinot Noir, the Mondeuse grape (indigenous to Bugey) is not one we often come across ... I was thrilled to experience it! It truly is a startlingly black garnet color, which in other grapes may translate into seriously saturated fruit. Not so here, as location, climate and terroir most likely have lots to do with its zesty, lean expression. The Bugey wine region is a tiny appellation in Eastern France between Lyons and Geneva near the foothills of the Jura Mountains. The small isolated parcels of vines owned and worked by Franck Peillot, vigneron are in the mountains, mostly on extremely steep hills, surrounded by woods and prairies, meeting the edge of the Rhone River. Peillot describes Mondeuse as such, "To me it's an ancestor, it's a Gaul with a big mustache, and just like our ancestors, they are firmly rooted in the past". His vines are very old, some 100 years, dating back two-three generations. He works everything by hand and uses indigenous yeasts, with little intervention in the cellar.

This wine is a Louis/Dressner Selection, imported by LDM Wines, New York, NY. Only a few cases came to us through Devenish Wines and Maine & Loire Wine Shop in Portland. Hopefully there will still be some available in the shop when it reopens sometime this winter, along with their new wine barDrifter's Wife (located at 63 Washington Ave., Portland, ME.) See you there!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


RAYR - The Wine Shop, 67 Pascal Ave, Rockport ME

On a recent Saturday I motored up to Camden/Rockport for a well overdue visit to two of Maine's Gems in food & wine, RAYR Wines in Rockport and Francine Bistro in Camden. 
Only an hour and 40 minutes or so drive from Portland, it is well worth carving out time for a visit, especially this time of year when the summer season has calmed down and the feel is more low key and local ... just what we love! Nonetheless, both venues were still bustling with energy.

Tasters reveling in the wines at RAYR

The occasion precipitating the trip was a tasting of SoPo Wines (presented by SoPo rep, Heidi Martin) at RAYR Wines. 

I loved the Domain Guerrin & fils Saint Veran Le Clos Vessats 2013. A French Burgundy (therefore 100% Chardonnay), lovely lemon yellow color with floral essences on the nose such as acacia flower. You'll want to drink this not too cold in order to truly experience the luscious rounded fruits ... white peach and pear, along with the soft, creamy mouthfeel. This all balanced by beautiful acidity. The estate is located just west of the Macon in the village of Vergisson. Terroir is decidedly clay/limestone, which truly comes through in this artisanal wine. I am offering this as one of my wine choices on my Thanksgiving table, for those enjoying white with their turkey. And somehow I imagine this will be perfectly exquisite with a savory parsnip/sweet potato dish as well. $22/bottle. A Peter Weygandt Selections, Weygandt - Metzler, Unionville, PA.

Wines from the Vaucluse region of France really float my boat! The Andre Brunel Cotes du Rhone is earthy & herbacious with underlying minerality and great depth of fruit. Old vine grenache blend (75%), with 15% Cinsault, 10% Syrah. Located in Travaillon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, from an estate of 5th generation winemakers, the Brunel family has owned vineyards here since the 17th century. Soil is stony with limestone subsoil. No herbicides or pesticides used. Sustainable farming and companion planting employed around vines. $14/bottle. Robert Kacher Selections, NY, NY
Proprietor Jason Haynes & SoPo rep Heidi Martin
Local French Chef, David Grant
We in Portland are lucky to have so many wonderful venues for wine, however, I can safely say that RAYR would fine itself in a unique niche if located here in our fair city! The milieu at RAYR is artful, warm and tasteful with a truly amazing selection of wines - palate is decidedly Old World, so close to my heart (and tastebuds). That said, Owner Jason Haynes has found a way to represent a broad spectrum of wines for varied palates, in a serenely tasteful way.  One may also find a delicious selection of fine specialty food items here. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Cru Des Agriate 2013

97% Nielluccio, 3% Grenache

This elegant unpretentious Mediterranean table wine expresses a clear, saturated hue of garnet red. Clean briary fruit emerges with underlying steely graphite on the nose. Tinges of anise. Lean, earthy & spicy, this has lots of acidity, along with juicy dark fruits such as blackberry and plum, as well as an herbaceous tenacity. Enjoy this wine with Food!  Perfect with a pizza pie of ricotta, mushrooms and herbs, as I enjoyed here ... all of the marvelous minerals and spice cut through the creaminess of cheese, earthy mushrooms and olive oil. Also try with Charcuterie, Tapas or Pasta with rich sauces!

$22/btl at Maine & Loire on Washington Ave, Portland. 

Domaine Giacometti was founded in 1987 by Christian Giacometti and now assisted by his daughter Sarah and son Simon, who will eventually take the reins. 

While my photograph may illustrate lush origins, this wine actually hails from the Agriate Desert (thus Cru des Agriate) on the island of Corsica in the appellation of Patrimonio. A vast rugged, arid landscape on the northern end of the island. One needs a 4-wheeler to access the estate! Three separate parcels of vines are situated at the foot of Mount Genova, the highest point in the area. The Libecciu, a hot dry wind rolls down off the coast of Italy year round. Such conditions cause the vines of the native Corsican varietal Nielluccio to forage deeply for its nutrients. Cool sea breezes help moderate and prevent disease. Terroir of granite and clay clearly comes through in this unique yet approachable wine. Imagine pouring from a gorgeous pottery pitcher made by hand. Grapes are hand-harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks and aged 10 months on fine lees. 

Enjoy now!

Imported by Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, California and distributed in Maine by National Distributors. Also available at Browne Trading Market on Commercial Street and Union at the Press Hotel by request

Thursday, June 4, 2015

DOMAINE RIBIERA La Croisee des Chemins at MAINE & LOIRE

Domaine Ribiera
La Croisee des Chemins 2012
Aspiran, Languedoc France

80% Grenache, 20% Cinsault

Garnet red in color, with a tinge of sienna bespeaking a certain earthiness, this all-natural wine has deep, wild sweet fruit and earthy spice box on the nose; Brambles, dark cherry, black raspberry  and deep violets on the palate, with notes of eucalyptus, cedar, dark cocoa and graphite. Exotic spices such as star anise make ephemeral appearances ... with rich bright fruit shining through all that funky earthiness and clean dry finish making for one sexy red! $23/btl at Maine & Loire on Washington St. in Portland. 

Unfined, unfiltered with zero added sulfites, grown without pesticides and with natural vinification, here is a tour du force! Some natural wines are extremely mercurial. While I enjoyed many nuances with this one over the course of a couple of days, I found it held together and opened up beautifully. The vines grow on galets roulés and marl, round rocks over lime rich clay and silt. 35 year old vines are hand harvested and de-stemmed before a 3 week fermentation in steel vats. Aged 10 months in tank and demi muid (an oak barrel used for centuries to transport wine by boat, allowing for long aging periods with phases of prolonged reduction. Used generally for Mediterranean varietals such as Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre)

Winemaker Regis Pichon of Domaine Ribiera was originally a sommelier in Paris at one of the world's great cellars at La Tour d'Argent, as well as having worked at the renowned wine shop Hediard where he met his wife Catherine. In 2005, they moved from the city to a small wine village in the Languedoc region of France called Aspiran; located on the western edge of the Hérault Valley between Clermont l'Hérault and Pézenas, amidst a sea of vines, olive, pine and oak trees. While he does have a background in the classics of Bordeaux and Burgundy, the inspiration which drew him to winemaking was tasting a bottle of Pierre Overnoy from the Jura ... a wine made without sulphur that exhibited such freshness and quaffability. He presently leases a small winery, sharing space with fellow independent producer and winemaker David Caer from Clos Mathélisse.  

Peter Hale (Maine & Loire) w/recent line-up of natural wines
Maine & Loire (Wine Shop), opened in the middle of January of 2015 in Portland's East End. Proprietors Orenda and Peter Hale spent many years in New York city restaurants and more recently in Williamsburg, Brooklyn before envisioning a retail space where they might bring together all they love. They've filled a niche here, focusing on wines truly expressive of place, supporting growers and winemakers who work and nurture the land where they grow the grapes. This along with championing wines made with minimal intervention, from vine to cellar to bottle, organically and/or biodynamically farmed, "celebrating wines that are alive and soulful"

Another of my favorites from the day's line-up - Sistema Vina, "Chateau Paquita" 2013. From Felanitx, Mallorca, Spain, this is 40% Callet & Montanegro, 20% Monastrell. This one reminded me of a French Rhone wine with funky, earthy nose, spice and depth of cherry fruit. Grown in red and calcerous clay high in iron oxide and galets roulés. Here is one I will indeed revisit!

Orenda Hale w/Luca!
La Croisee des Chemins is from Zev Rovine Selections, a purveyor of handcrafted wines from Brooklyn, NY. Imported by Fruit of the Vines, Long Island City, NY. Both are and distributed here in Maine by Devenish Wines.

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


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 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.