Friday, February 7, 2014


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


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


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'

220 W 9th Street, Wilmington DE 19801
(302) 384-6654

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


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. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

SUMMER ROSE' - French . Italian . Greek . Spanish!

Here it is the end of summer, and I'm just now getting to review some fun and fabulous Rosé. There is still plenty of time to enjoy these lovely and festive wines ... into the autumn and beyond! Being a colorist as well, I've lined them up from lighter to more saturated palette, which perhaps not uncoincidentally also translates into tasting palate

Domaine Houchart Cotes de Provence rosé
Domaine Houchart
Cotes de Provence Rosé 2012
Aix-en-Provence, France 

Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon & Mourvedre.

Lovely light salmon pink in color, this rosé is clean, refreshing and surprisingly light given such a blend of varietals! Subtly floral with hints of raspberry fruit and minerality on the nose, along with a quiet explosion of fresh berries and cream on the tongue. Expressively pleasant, creamy, lush and lean. Classic Provençal Rose'. 

Domaine Houchart is owned by Geneviève Quiot. Located at the foot of Mont Sainte Victoire near Aix-en-Provence, it was acquired originally in the 1850's by her great-grandfather Aurelien Houchart, friends with the famous French painter Paul Cézanne, who often came to visit and to no doubt share a few glasses of wine!

Available for under $14/btl at all Rosemont Markets, RSVPBoones Fish House & Oyster Room and Downeast Beverage, Portland. Perkins & Perkins, Ogunquit. Cape Porpoise Kitchen, Kennebunkport. Black Sheep in Harpswell. From Devenish Wines. Imported by USA Wine Imports, New York.

Terredora DiPaolo Rosaenovae Rosato
Terredora DiPaolo
Rosaenovae Rosato 2012
Irpinia D.O.C. 
Campania, Italia

100% Aglianico

A brighter steely salmon pink in color, this wine is understated and elegant, even a little racy! A mix of minerals and earth, this is clean and refreshing with calcite & schist on the nose, wild strawberries, apricot, white peaches and essence of roses on the palate. Very beautiful modern style made with a very old world varietal, "Aglianico". This is the same used in making the wine of that name, only with brief contact with the skins of the grapes.

The winery is owned by the Mastroberardino Family since 1978. They have been instrumental in rediscovering and reviving Campania's ancient grape varietals (one of which is Aglianico). I was honored to meet Daniela Mastroberardino recently at a tasting of their wines at Rosemont Market (see photos below), an articulate and passionate spokesperson for their wines. Look for a more in-depth article of the Terradora wines in a future article!

The Rosaenovae Rosato is available exclusively at Rosemont Markets for under $14/btl . They loved it so much they bought it all! Imported by VIAS Imports, New York. Distributed by Pine State Beverage Co., Gardiner, ME

Domaine Skouras ZOE ro
Domaine Skouras
ZOE Rosé 2012
Argos, Greece

70% Aghiorghitiko, 30% Moscofilero

Deep brilliant cerise in color ... not unlike Dorothy's ruby slippers, this wine is OCEAN on the nose, lively and vibrant. With candied fruit, this is completely crisp and refreshing on the palate with juicy wild berries, watermelon and hint of lime citrus for acidity. Such a mouthful! So lush with a bit of spice, yet so lean, easy and clean. Celebrate with friends, enjoy with Paella or a soft, creamy cheese!

Established in 1986 by Dijon-trained winemaker George Skouras, Domaine Skouras is located in the village of Argos, in the region of Nemea in Peloponnese, Greece. They source their grapes from their own vineyards as well as dedicated growers in the region. Estate bottled and terroir-driven, these wines are enjoyed in Greece and around the world. Printed on the bottle ... "ZOE = LIFE = HAPPINESS"!

From Central Distributors, Lewiston, ME. and MS Walker, Fine Wines & Spirits. Imported by Diamond Wine Selections, Chicago, IL. Available for under $14/btl at RSVP and Old Port Wine Merchants, Portland. Trattorina Athena in Brunswick. 

Abadia de la Oliva Rosado
Bodega Abadia de la Oliva
Rosado 2012
Navarre, Spain

100% Garnacha

Bright deep cherry in color, with apple and watermelon on the nose, here is a huge mouthful of juicy fruits such as bing cherry and kiwi with cherry cola and earthy bark underneath. Completely clean and dry on the finish, brisk and refreshing. Perfect for barbecue or picnic!

The winery was originally the Monastery of La Oliva, located in northern Spain near the Pyrenees, housing an order of Cistercian monks who were dedicated to agriculture, making bread and wine used in liturgies, as well as olive oil. Motifs on the ancient architecture depict their daily work - labors of the grape harvest and vine imagery. 

From Wicked Wines, Bangor, ME. Imported by C&P Wines, New York. Available for under $12/btl at Rosemont Markets/Yarmouth & Brighton in Portland, Bangor Wine & Cheese, Shephard's Pie in Camden and Vic & Wits, Saco. 

Daniela Mastroberardino of Terredora DiPaolo & Michael Burke, VIAS Imports

Daniela Masterberardino of Terradora di Paolo Winery (with a bottle of Fiano) and Michael Burke, representative for VIAS Imports (with Rosaenovae Rosato) before a recent tasting of her wines at Rosemont Market/Brighton in Portland.

Daniela Mastroberardino of Terredora DiPaolo

Domaine Skouras ZOE rosé with Morbiere cheese
A glass of the ZOE rosé in outside garden setting ... with some morbiere cheese and late summer light!  Enjoy them all!

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Clos Cibonne Tibouren Rose' 2011


Last Sunday afternoon was one of those gorgeous days of summer, perfect for a wine tasting at our local Rosemont Market (Munjoy Hill) - Portland, and hosted by the illustrious Ned Swain of DEVENISH Wines. And such a fabulous and unique line-up ... wines from France, Italy, California and Slovenia!

I had been excited to try the Cru Classe' (top rated chateau/growth) Clos Cibonne Tibouren Rose' 2011 from Côtes de Provence.  What a treat!  Made from 100% Tibouren, a rare/indigenous grape from Provence on the Mediterranean, this was exquisite in every way.  Amazing salmon pink in color, this wine had blossoms, wild berries and sherry on the nose and palate, possessing that "old World" depth that I love.  Lush yet ultimately clean/austere mouth feel. Heavenly. Herbaceous, one might say eucalyptus in the back. Sexy & understated, you feel like you're sipping sherry with a refreshingly lively illusiveness!  Aged in 100 year old oak barrels, which explains those sherry tones. Imported by De Maison Selections, IncNot inexpensive but worth it. $26.99/btl. Available at Rosemont Munjoy Hill

Tasting DEVENISH Wines at Rosemont Market - Munjoy Hill, Portland

Cantina de Srobara "Nicchia" NV Lambrusco
Cantina di Sorbara "Nicchia" NV Lambrusco from Emilia Romagna, Italy is a super fun, lively sparkling red with mixed bright berry flavors of raspberry, blackberry, black cherry. Subtly sweet with great acidity and clean, vibrant, zingy finish. Lambrusco is the grape and the wine is named for Virginia Oldoini, the Countess of Castiglione, fondly nicknamed "Nicchia". She is apparently credited with having surprising political power, in the 19th centured hailed as unifying Italy and helping prevent "post-Franco-Prussian was occupation of Paris".  Well okay! This is completely affordable and delicious at $11.99/btl. Wine to share and celebrate! Imported by T. Edwards Wines, New York.

Ned Swain (DEVENISH Wines) pouring Nicchia Lambrusco

Also featured, from  Matthew Rorick Wines Valdiguie 2012. Slightly tannic in a youthful sense, with notes of twig, forest floor, blackberry & raspberry followed. Refreshing and quaffable. Valdiguie is a rare grape varietal grown by Matthew Rorick at his vineyards in Fairfield, California (located midway between San Francisco and Sacramento). $18.99/btl. Available at Rosemont Munjoy and Vignola Restaurant.

Matthew Rorick Valdiguie & Terminus Cotes du Rhone

The Terminus Côtes du Rhone 2011 was earthy, with dark fruit and elderberry. Classic peppery notes. A red Rhone blend, mainly with Grenache. This is completely approachable in terms of palate and pocketbook. $10.99/btl. Imported by T. Edwards Wines, New York.

The tasting actually began with  Črnko Jarenincan 2012 from Stajerska, Slovenia (here pictured back at the abode!) This is a blend of Laski Rizling (Riesling), Sauvignon Blanc and Ravenec. Light lemon in color with minerals and lightly aromatic on the nose, it had hints of lush, rich fruit. Gooseberry, apricot, melon. Smooth mouth feel. Clean, delightful finish. This is considered the village white wine, and in summer the locals of Jarenincan mix it with sparkling water and drink through the day! Only 11% alcohol. $14.99/1L btl. 

Produced and bottled by Silvo Črnko. Imported by Blue Danube Wine Company, Los Altos Hills, CA. Available in Portland at Rosemont Munjoy Hill & Brighton, Aurora Provisions, Le Roux Kitchen, Oh No Cafe; in Brunswick at Local; also at Bow St. Market, Freeport, Treats, Wiscasset, Rising Tide Market, Damariscotta and Rockland Food Service.

Enjoy the rest of summer!