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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.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

TUSCAN WINES in MAINE - with Mirco Biliorsi


We were visited one recent Sunday by Mirco Biliorsi, Export Manager for wines from three Tuscan Estates owned by Elizabetta Gnudi Angelini, with winemaker Massimo Bracalente - namely, Doga delle Clavule (Maremma), Borgo Scopeto (Chianti Classico) and Caparzo (Montalcino). The occasion was a wine dinner presented at the beautiful oceanside setting of Joseph's By The Sea in Old Orchard Beach, ME.

Located a mere 10 miles from the Tyrrhenian sea and nearly due south of the town of Montalcino, the region of Maremma is home to the Estate of Doga delle Clavule, where a vast reserve called the Parco della Maremma located nearby hugs the coastline. Vineyards are influenced mainly by the cool breezes of the Tyrrhenian sea and soil is sandy and clay loam. From the beginning, Mirco pointed out Elizabetta's practice of respecting nature and use of clean energy such as solar panels; as well as the fact that all wines made at her estates truly begin working in the vineyards.  

Doga delle Clavule Vermentino Toscana IGT

We were greeted this beautiful day with a glass of Vermentino Toscana from Doga delle Clavule. A lovely light straw yellow in color, this one had a delicious minerality and salinity with first whiff, reflecting its proximity to the Tyrrhenian sea. With a luscious mid-palate of light tropical fruit and peaches, it finished absolutely clean. Divine as an aperitif as we experienced, but also recommended with white meat, roasted fish and shellfish. 



Sheila McGovern, Vineyard Brands & Terry O'Brien, Nappi Distributors
The Estate of Caparzo, located in Montalcino, a walled medieval village south of Chianti Classico and north of the Maremma was one of the first wineries in Montalcino and also the first to produce single vineyards of Brunello (1977) and Rosso di Montalcino (1991). The only estate bottled producer of Brunello di Montalcino to have estate vineyards on all five sides of the hill, this gives added assurance despite challenges of climate. This vineyard stresses "elegance", from entry level to the top, with tradition and innovation carrying equal weight. Here, says Mirco, one finds precise wines with finesse. 

Mirco Biliorsi sharing his knowledge of the wines and estates
Tasters engrossed in the wines
Line-up of Wines!
The Brunello di Montalcino we tasted, made from Sangiovese Grosso (Brunello) was an autumnal deep sienna red in color. Austere. With notes of wood/cedar on the nose; sweet cider apples and warm hint of chocolate on the palate. Subtly resounding. Aged 2 years in traditional Slavonian oak casks. Serve with roasted meats, such as the lamb chop we tasted with it, or ripe cheeses. 

Mirco also made mention of two small production wines from Caparzo; A white blend worthy of aging, comprised of 75% Chardonnay, 20% Sauvignon Blanc & 5% Gewurtztraminer. This purported to be the first white of quality produced in Montalcino. Also a Burgundy style red called Le Grance. I for one would love to try these as well, as I have a soft spot for small production wines!

The estate producer, Borgo Scopeto is located in the region of Chianti Classico, in the center of Tuscany and considered the heart of the Chianti wine producing region. The name "Borgo" refers to a town center with its own church, post office and residences. They are also known for making straw brooms and olive oil as well as for their vineyards. 

Certain rules and production codes characterize a Chianti Classico such as limited yields, limited yields per vine, minimum aging and refining requirements and release dates not prior to Oct 1 of the year following harvest. The aim is to arrive at a more superior wine. 

Mirco Biliorsi & Lisa Dombek (WINE 24/7)

The Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico is comprised of 90% Sangiovese, (with 80% being the minimum required in Chianti Classico), 5% Merlot & 5% Colorino. Beautifully deep garnet/ruby red in color, this had aromas of plum, wild berries and cherry, with bark/twigs, spice and nicely integrated tannins, later hints of dark cocoa, dry finish. I enjoyed this one a lot, and its distinct expression of terroir. Soil is clay and limestone. Aged 1 year in big barrels, then Slavonian oak.

These wines are brought to us by the Importer Vineyard Brands and distributed through Nappi Distributors, Gorham, ME. You may find the wines at Whole Foods & RSVP in Portland; Bow Street Market, Freeport; The CLOWN, York; The Wine Sellar, Rockport; in some New Hampshire Liquor Stores and upon request at your local retailer.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Château d'Oupia Les Hérétique - Languedoc Red


Château d'Oupia
Les Hérétiques 2013

Vin de Pays de l'Hérault
Minervois, France

100% old vine Carignan.

Deep, brilliant scarlet garnet in color, one is immediately met with cassis, boysenberry and chocolate/bark on the nose. Soft on the tongue at once and then an emergence of spice ... even as the softness stays - with a syrah-like feel. Subtle undercurrants of fig continue on the nose, while a woody herbaceousness lingers on the palate. Lush, clean, stewed fruits appear as velvety notes of black licorice, blackberry, cranberry and bramble, coming through like a galaxy to a long finish. Love this one. And an amazing value ...  at around $10.99.

Located in the Minervois region in Languedoc southwestern France, this wine was made by Le Famille André Iché at the 13th century castle/large estate that was his inheritance. Tending his very old vines, he had always made his own wine but initially sold everything in bulk to local négociants. Further, taking pride in doing all the work himself he never joined the local co-op. However, around fifteen years ago a winemaker from Burgundy tasted Iché's wines par chance, while he was in Oupia. He was so moved by the wine that he convinced Iché to bottle and market production himself. The rest is history!

His daughter Marie-Pierre presently runs the estate, as André passed away in 2007. Further, she has been working with oenologist Laurent Batlle since 2008, continuing to make wine in as he says, "André's way". 

This is bistro wine with depth of soul ... 

Brought to us by LOUIS/DRESSNER SELECTIONS, imported by LDM Wines, New York, NY and locally through Devenish Wines, Portland, ME. 

Available in Greater Portland at Flock and Vine - Cape Elizabeth;  Rosemont Market - Munjoy Hill & Commercial St; In Downeast Maine at Blue Hill Wine Shop - Blue Hill, Great Cranberry General Store, Great Cranberry Island, Wind and Wine - Bar Harbor. In Southern Maine at The Cheese Iron - Scarborough; Morning Glory Natural Foods - Brunswick; Vic and Whit's - Saco.




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.