Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Line-up of wines from Zev Rovine, presented at Rosemont Market Cellar!
I recently had the opportunity to taste some exciting, unique and cutting edge wines, alive with character and multiplicity.  These are the Wines of Zev Rovine. Based in Brooklyn, NY but also spending an equal amount of time in Paris, he is committed to representing wines that express a strong sense of place or terroir, created by winemakers who practice a completely hands-on approach in the vineyard, far from any sort of industrialization and with usually very small production/low yields. He represents wines that are produced in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Argentina, and the US.    His selections have found an harmonious partnership here in Maine with Devenish Wines and Rosemont Market, to be sure! This particular evening we were privy to some of these wines, along with a glimpse at Rosemont's Cellar ... "Les Cave Domaine du Rosemont" peut-être?

Zev Rovine & Ned Swain (Devenish) w/tasters @Rosemont
Strongly aligned with the Natural Wine movement with his vins naturels, Zev prefaced our tasting by saying that these wines are just wine - nothing added.  No sulphur (preservative), no yeast (only that produced naturally), no sugar, additives, fillers or stabilizers, no fining or filtration.  Emphasis is on winemaking in the vineyard rather than the winery and on creating a diverse and harmonious ecology in which grapes can grow - no chemicals or pesticides.  Some of you may find this a no doubt radical approach ... I say taste these wines with a curious and open mind and allow your senses and taste buds to be moved in unexpected, even mercurial ways! 

Jean Pierre Robinot Bistrologie Chenin Blanc 2010
Let's get to the wines.  

Jean Pierre Robinot 
Les Vignes de l'Anges 2010
Vin cuvee' Bistrologie 
Loire Valley, France

100% Chenin Blanc.  This wine was made from 90 year old vines. With oxidized/crystalized tropical fruit on the palate, crisp acidity and underlying earthiness, this was clean and youthful. High strung, with a fair amount of vibrant tension, this one was great for opening up the palate. However I am advised, that this one is beautifully suited to aging! $25.99/btl.   Robinot makes wines in the heart of the Loire Valley in France and center of the natural wine movement.  Again, he uses organic, hand-harvested grapes without industrially manufactured yeasts, additives or sulphur dioxide.   We also tasted his pineau d'aunis toward the end of the evening, which was vibrant, an absolute delight and in that moment, defied classification.  I love his name for the wines, "Les Vignes de l'Anges", Vines of the Angels!

Domaine la Roche Buissière
Petit Jo 2011
Cotes du Rhone, France

100% Grenache.  Ruby red garnet in color, this was earthy, pungeant forest floor and a touch of barnyard on the nose. Untamed and lively with pepper, spice box and dark cherry on the palate.  While lighter to medium in weight, this had plenty of depth and funk, but on the cool with a dry finish.  Vivacious value @$14.99/btl.  La Roche Buissière is situated near Vaison-la-Romaine, in the southern part of Côtes-du-Rhône. They've been practicing organic farming since 1975.

Serious tasters ...
Azienda Agricola Cirelli
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2010
Abruzzi, Italy

100% Montepulciano.  Deep dark magenta in color, I immediately sensed "Italy" on the nose, with that dusty scent of earth.  A soft mouthfeel and round fruit follow.  Hints of tobacco and light smoke weave their way through. Another great value @ $14.99/btl.  

Located near the Adriatic Sea in the town of Abruzzi, Agricola Cirelli is a certified organic farm, home not only to the vineyard but also also olive trees, other horticultural crops and farm animals, as well as woods and National parks.  Rotation of crops allows land to rest and fertilization takes place as a result of the free ranging animals.  An ancient variety of the Montepulciano grape is harvested during the 2nd or 3rd week in October when the grape is fully ripe.  

Domaine Benjamin Taillandier
Minervois "Bufentis" 2010
Languedoc-Roussilon, France

80% Syrah, w/Grenache and Cinsault.  This was one of my favorites of the evening!  At first delicate on the nose ... then lively deep, unctuous fruit emerge, such as deep, dark plum - earthy, tannic and initially dry, even rustic.  As the evening progresses I revisit, finding the syrah coming through with characteristic silkiness, complexity and depth.  Speaking of the mercurial/evolving nature of these wines, this one speaks leagues.  $22.99/btl.  I'm bringing this to a family holiday celebration!

John Naylor/Rosemont w/Ned & tasters
Benjamin Taillandier is a young winemaker who established his domaine in 2007.  He grows organic grapes making wine without added yeasts or filters and only a little sulfites. He uses only grape varietals from the Languedoc:  Syrah, Grenache noir, Carignan, Cinsault and Terret gris.  As he puts it, he wants to make accessible wines "with a lot of French in the mouth".  Bien sure!

Cornelissen Rosso del Contadino No. 9

Frank Cornelissen 2011
Rosso del Contadino No. 9
Sicily, Italy

Field blend:  Nerello Mascalese w/25% local red varietals - Allicante, Minella Nera, Uva Francese, Nerello Capuccio & 5% Inzolia

Here was another favorite of the evening. This wine is made from grapes grown on high altitude/terraced 60-110 year old vines on a still active volcano on Mt. Etna, Sicily.  Hard rock and black sand is the growing medium.  A dynamic polyculture surrounds the vineyard.  
Dark sienna garnet red in color, flavors of deep bing cherry greet the palate.  Sherry-like notes emerge. Later layers of cedar and incense follow ....  mysterious, inexplicable, amorous ... delicious.  $25.99/btl  

The Muniebel Rosso No. 8 was a complete surprise.  Light earthy red in color, with suggestions of stewed red cabbage on the palate creating an integration of sweet/sour.  Hints of white/black pepper.  Tannic dusty finish.  Eccentric.  Untamed.  $42.99/btl.

Frank Cornelissen takes an even more radical approach to growing and winemaking in as he says, "avoiding all possible interventions on the land we cultivate, including any treatments, whether chemical, organic, biodynamic, as these are all a mere reflection of the inability of man to accept nature as she is and will be".   His products are, "the result of this philosophy and our hands, with team." 

The wines of Zev Rovine are the antithesis of static or constant.  Rather they are alive and vital - not complacent, ever-evolving.  And how could I forget? These are meant to be enjoyed with food! For starters try Rosemont's homemade sausage (turkish or duck perhaps?) with sauteed garlic & onions, mushroom risotto and braised greens along with my favorite Taillandier Minervois "Bufentis"!  Parfait!

Joe Appel - Rosemont Market

Rosemont Market was a gracious host to its guests on that evening, giving us a glimpse at its burgeoning cellar!  Burgundy, Bordeaux, Brunello, Barolo, Barbaresco, as well as more esoteric bottles, Lirac, Champagne signed by the winemaker, etc, etc,!  

Make inquiries to Joe Appel for unique purchases for the Holidays! 

Joe Appel - Rosemont Wine Cellar
2005 Barbaresco - Rosemont Wine Cellar

Zev Rovine Selections distributed in Maine by Devenish Wines.  Available at Rosemont Markets and Bier Cellar, Portland.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

DAMILANO Marghe Nebbiolo d'Alba 2009

                                                                        DOMBEK photo © 2012
Marghe 2009
Nebbiolo d'Alba 
Piedmont, Italy

100% Nebbiolo

Here is another wine I've been enjoying for quite some time and finally getting around to sharing my thoughts on, especially since we're on the eve of Thanksgiving Holidays. This would be a unique and fabulous choice!

I've loved other wines from this producer and may now add this one to the list!  I've found the DAMILANO wines to be unique in character, with subtlety, depth and of course always food friendly.

This wine is burnt sienna in color with highlights of garnet, like the forest floor in autumn.  On the nose, heady aromas of aged balsamic, mossy earth, star anise, clove and spicy fruit, along with hints of cedar and light perfume of violets;  One can almost drink the nose!  On the palate plum, cranberry, dark bing cherry and a hint of dusty cocoa as well as red/black licorice.  This is well integrated, having a smooth harmonious mouth feel and dry finish. It comes alive when paired with food.  As well as your Holiday turkey, enjoy with roasts and braised meats, along with rustic cheeses.  Aging potential (2011-2017). A great value @ $14.99 (Whole Foods).

The region of Piedmont is located in the northwestern part of Italy.  Red wines are the favorites here, where Nebbiolo is the premier grape varietal as well as the oldest and most noble.  It is also used also to make the great Barolo and Barbaresco wines.   Thought to have taken its name from the Italian word for fog, "nebbia", a common site in the hills of Alba in early to mid-October when this late-ripening variety is harvest, it's often called the "queen of black grapes" due to the meticulous and laborious care taken in the process.

DAMILANO winery, one of the historic cellars from Barolo, has ancient traditions.  Four generations of winemakers in the family date back to 1890, when Giuseppe Borgogno, great-grandfather to today's generation, began to grow and vinify vines.  Their traditions continue today, producing the classical Langhe wines.  

The 2009 vintage of this wine features a label celebrating the memory of Margherita Damilano, a beloved family member.

This wine comes to us through VIAS Imports, Ltd., NY, NY. via Pine State Beverage Co., ME. Find it at Whole Foods (ask Colleen!) and Rosemont Markets (Yarmouth & Brighton) in Portland. Also available at the Wine Cellar in Rockland.  ENJOY!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wine Seminar w/Laurent Bonnois at LFK

Laurent Bonnois (left) here from France for wine seminar @ LFK
One of those moments we are so fortunate to experience on a more than frequent basis here in Portland is when a winemaker or wine importer comes to town to speak about and share first hand the wines he/she either makes or represents.  In this case Laurent Bonnois, the importer behind Maximilien Selections was here recently giving a wine seminar at LFK, a local hotspot in the West End of Portland, (which incidentally provided an excellent space for an intimate tasting seminar).  Laurent hails from the Loire Region of France and thanks to Devenish Wines (Ned Swain & Brendon Pringle - local afficionados), we are now able to experience his wines directly.  He is truly at the forefront of the Natural wine movement, representing natural, organic, sustainably farmed and biodynamic wines.  As Ned states, "his local connections allow him access to smaller production off the beaten path wines and limited releases of older vintages that wouldn't normally make it into the US". In a few cases, Devenish has releases available no where else in the US!

Laurent has been around wines and winemaking since a young boy, when at age 8 he recalls working on the harvest.  His family also owned wine property.  Later on he found himself in the US, working in New York city restaurants and then opening his own wine shop, Blanc et Rouge in Brooklyn.  He, his wife and children moved back to France in 2007, to Bourgueil in the Loire.  This enables him to stay close with family and also to be more intimately connected with the winemakers and wines that he loves.

We tasted a unique selection of wines including some obscure grapes from the terroir of the Loire. Have you heard of Tressalier?  Trousseau?  Or tasted a sparkling Cabernet Franc?  Here's some of what went down!  These are beautifully well crafted, subtle wines.  Don't expect big fruit bombs here!

The Line-up!

The Laurent St. Pourcain 2011 Tressalier/Chardonnay was first on the list.  This white blend is racy and minerally with perhaps a touch of chalkiness, along with a hint of pear.  The Tressalier is a local grape and brings liveliness and acidity to the blend.  Clean, Refreshing, Simply Complex, Delightful!

Terres Blanches Chenin Blanc
Domaine des Terres Blanches 2010 Chenin Blanc was one of my favorites.  Aged on lees for 6-9 months, this wine has a rich golden yellow color with hints of citrus on the palate, more in terms of the acidity and clarity present rather than a lemony flavor. Fleshy yet dry, it made me think of sea air and oysters on the halfshell ... yet also weighty enough to entertain a nice goat cheese!  This is biodynamically grown with corn and sunflowers raised nearby. Esoteric and Rambunctious!

The winery itself (Domaine de Terres Blanches), owned by Benoit & Céline Blet is located in the historic village of Oiron next to a centuries old Abbey. They came upon the property previously owned by a single man in his 60's who was reluctantly starting to consider selling, and ended up moving in for a half year to get to know each other.  Thereafter, the man decided they would be excellent caretakers of the vineyard and agreed to sell.  They immediately began farming biodynamically, as Benoit was so accustomed as a young person.  His family grew seasonal crops and tended livestock as well as a small vineyard.  Biodynamic is where everything grows in concert with nature - insects, other plants, and with cycles and seasons.  

Tasters reveling in the wines!

Laurent poured the Alexandre Monmousseau Vouvray Sec "Ammonite", to illustrate how the Chenin Blanc grape can be expressed differently.  This one had a subtle vein of sweet that lightly touched center of tongue, like nectar (and incidently was served to President Obama last spring when he was here at the Portland Museum of Art!) ...  medium dry (sec); In contrast to the dry very clean finish of the Terres Blanches Chenin Blanc.  

Domaine Grand Cotes du Jura Trousseau 2010.  Trousseau is the varietal, rare indeed!  This one exhibits much restraint and subtlety. The region of Jura from whence it comes is located East of Burgundy, near to Switzerland.  With a distinctive earthiness on the nose, like twigs on the forest floor (see earthy sienna red color below), it has a light perfume and sherry on the palate.  A dry, light red.  Lovely.  For a more in-depth review, see my previous article back in August:

Cotes du Jura Trousseau

Dom. Terre Blanches Ancestral Rouge
I think my absolute favorite was Domaine Terres Blanches Ancestral Rouge, sparkling Cabernet Franc!! (same winery as mentioned above).  The color is a brighter, lively red (see photo right).  With red licorice on the nose along with a hint of anise, immediately followed by lively juicy red and black fruits such as red raspberry and cassis, this has fine sparkly bubbles and was absolutely delicious!    No added yeast is used here.  This is completely natural fermentation in the bottle (and completely fun!)  

This would be splendid at Thanksgiving, either as an aperitif or with the bird itself!  Serve it with your meal or bring it as a gift ... and Enjoy!

Dom. Terre Blanches Ancestral Rouge

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the two other Cabernet Francs presented that evening.  Again, very unique and individual expressions here.  Domaine des Terres Blanches Anjou Demon 2010.  A very new world label ... playful and a play on words *Angel (Anjou)/Demon (Demon).  With much depth and earth on the nose, even herbaceous, this was ever lighter on the palate.  Understated restraint alongside pungeant earth.

Chevalerie Bourgueil Galichet

Domaine de la Chevalerie Bourgueil Galichet 2009.  This Cabernet Franc is deep red garnet in color, with funky/musty aromas, slightly spicy with ripe fruit on the palate.  Dry finish.  Austere in every elegant sense of the word.  

This winery is located in Bourgueil, the appellation in the central Loire Valley of France that's focused on red wines.  Part of the Touraine region, Bourgueil is often associated with its neighbors Chinon and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil.  For more info on the winemakers and vineyard itself, read Ned's blog about his trip there last spring:

Laurent with inquisitive & happy tasters!

These wines range in price from $12.99 - $17.99 a bottle.  Reasonable prices for a rare experience! And as Laurent says, they are truly meant to be enjoyed with food in the most down to earth way. Distributed here in Maine through Devenish Wines and available at the Rosemont Markets, The Bier Cellar and Brown Trading Co. in Portland; Blue Hill Wine Shop in Blue Hill (and perhaps other venues ... I'll be checking and let you know!)

All photos by Lisa Dombek  © 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chateau Barrail Meyney Bordeaux

Chateau Barrail Meyney 
Bordeaux 2010
Bordeaux, France

80% Merlot. 15% Cabernet Franc. 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.

I've been wanting to write about this wine for MONTHS. Yet every time I bought a bottle, before you knew it ... POOF, il a disparu! Whether enjoying with friends or oneself this is one fabulous affordable Bordeaux!

Deep, rich, sienna red garnet in color, this wine has a pronounced earthiness on the nose.  You could even say funky/musty earth, like moss or humous on the forest floor.  I detected some herbaceous qualities ... Mysterious notes of anise and fennel, like red/black licorice make their way through as the wine opens up. Flavors of dark cherry and spice emerge on the palate, accentuated by a silky mouthfeel.  Medium bodied, this is still weighty without being heavy, with a long, dry, elegant finish.  This is the perfect wine to enjoy on an autmnal rainy (or otherwise) day!  Pair with roasted harvest vegetables such as parsnips, garlic, squashes, potatoes, beets, etc., and roasted chicken or beef.  $13.99/btl at Downeast Beverage Co.

The estate of Barrail Meyney is located in Génissacbetween the two major rivers of Bordeaux, i.e., the Garonne and Dordogne.  Approximately 5 miles from St.-Emilion, the Chateau lies just outside the appellation (or designated growing area). However, one definitely experiences the influence of area and terroir in the glass!

You can find this lovely bottle mainly in  midcoast Maine at the Belfast Coop in Belfast, French & Brawn in Camden and Rayr Wines in Rockport.  I was shocked to learn of only one purveyor in the Portland area, that is Downeast Beverage Co., located at 79 Commercial St.  Bravo to them!  Other retailers include:  Ampersand in Orono, State Street Wine Cellar, Bangor; The Claremont Inn, Southwest Harbor; The Country Store, Trenton; John Edwards Market, Ellsworth; Rising Tide Natural Foods, Damariscotta and Treats in Wiscasset.  

This wine comes to us via Easterly Wine in Belfast and through the importer Ideal Wine & Spirits Co., Inc., Medford, MA.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

RUBY WINES at The Harvard Club - Boston

                                                                     Harvard Hall - DOMBEK photo 2012

I recently had the opportunity to go to the Ruby Wines 29th Annual Wine Tasting at The Harvard Club in Boston.  Opulent surroundings made for a lush experience.  Five rooms on two floors and seventy-five tables of International suppliers and wineries shared their wines and spirits, along with food by the Harvard Club.  

Wines from France, Italy, Spain, Austria and Portugal (even one from Napa Valley USA) were among my favorites.  While of course there was not enough time to get into in-depth conversations with all, here are a few highlights:  From Blason de Bourgogne representing wines from Burgundy, France, Cédric Martineau poured Bailly LaPierre Cremant de Bourgogne "Reserve", a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay, aligote' and gamay.  A lovely blend of grapes, with balance and richness, yet straightforward and clean.  Delicious and refreshing!

Cédric Martineau  & Assoc.-Blasons de Bourgogne
I also enjoyed La Chablisienne Chablis "1er Cru Forchaumes" 2010 - precise, elegant.  And from Cave des Vignerons de Buxy, the 2009 Mercurey "Buissonnier" - classic Burgundy, earthy, subtle perfumes.

Blason de Bourgogne represents 800 winegrowing families throughout the region, from Chablis in the north, through Beaune and south to Mâcon, all taking great care to craft wine that lets the terroir shine through.  

Cédric coincidentally had just been to Portland (ME) and spoken with a colleague of mine. Being a burgeoning food and wine town that Portland is, we look forward to seeing some of these wines show up there!

Cédric Martineau (Blasons de Bourgogne), Lisa Dombek (WINE 24/7)

Sariya Jarasviroj Brown (R) of CIRCO VINO - DOMBEK photo 2012
I also had the pleasure of speaking with Sariyaj Jarasviroj Brown, Owner of the fine wine importer CIRCO VINO, Tuscon, AZ.  They specialize in wines from unique terroirs, specifically in Austria, crafted by winemakers who grow their own grapes and essentially tend to each part of the process - vineyard to table.  We love that!  

And we are lucky to have some of their wines here in Portland, ME through local distributor SoPo Wine Co.  At the Ruby Wines tasting I especially enjoyed the Weingut Markus Huber Grüner Veltliner "Traisental".  Spicy, aromatic, lush, clean and sumptuous! Incidentally, "Traisental" means small but mighty!

Professional tasters also enjoying some food!   DOMBEK photo 2012

I came across the table for Angelini Selection, and our friend Rick Pignataro representing Italian wines.  Some of you who read this column may remember the article I did about the sparkling Kerner?  ( This was from Angelini Selection.  

At this tasting I was especially fond of the Piazzo 2004 Barbaresco Riserva from the Piedmont region.   100% Nebbiolo, this was deep & rich, full bodied with silky tannins and beautiful depth of fruit.  

From the Veneto region, the 2011 Corte Rugolin Valpolicella Classico had wonderful spice and resonant cherry on the palate.  While the 2007 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico "Crosara de la Strie" was silky with powerfully ripe fruit.  

Roy Cloud, Vintage '59 Imports - DOMBEK photo 2012
Roy Cloud, President of Vintage '59 Imports, Washington DC was showing a beautiful selection of French wines from Champagne, Loire Valley, Languedoc, Burgundy and Provence.  First off, the Barnaut NV Brut "Grand Reserve": from Bouzy, Champagne is the original cuvee', with its reserve wine coming from the original batch first made by Edmond Barnaut.  A blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, this was absolutely gorgeous & elegant with toasty notes.  The 2011 Domaine Merlin-Cherrier Sancerre from Loire Valley.  Stony/flinty yet generous, perfumed, finesse!  From Côte de Beaune, Burgundy, 2009 Joseph Voillot Volnay 1er Cru "Champans".  This was lovely, subtle and powerful all at once, with aire of violets.  And also from Chateau Haut Monplaisir, the very approachable 2009 Cahors "Tradition".  100% malbec, rich fruit finishing long and dry.  Great.  

Vintage '59 Imports focuses on representing cutting edge wines from France, working with vignerons whose "wholistic approach requires a great deal of work in the vineyard, but it is work that is embraced because the rewards sought are as much personal and spiritual as they are financial.  The aim is to let the wine and vineyard site speak as much as the man, and more than the marketplace." Thank you Roy ... Beautiful wines!  Would love to see some of these wines show up in Maine.

Michel Moulene - Jean Baptiste Audy Wines
I tasted some excellent and affordable Bordeaux wines from Jean Baptiste Audy, here presented by Michel Moulene.   

The 2010 Chateau Cabanes Graves Bordeaux Blanc was perfectly quaffable.  And the 2009 Chateau La Fleur Boireau Montagne St. Emilion had beautifully rich fruit, a gorgeous value!  
Licinia - Madrid (Ole' Imports)

I was excited to find Ole' Imports, an importer of Spanish wines at this tasting.  When writing a wine list for a local Latin style restaurant last winter, I was happy to include the A Portela Mencia from Valdeorras.  This approachable red is earthy & spicy, with cherry/currant notes.  See my review from last April:  Also on that list from Ole' were the Baron de Magana from Navara, with spice box, graphite and currant, as well as the Licinia from Madrid, a deep/silky blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.  Other stand-outs included Rugvino "Exopto" 2009 from Rioja, complex and full-bodied this is a blend of Graciano & Garnacha.  Also Vinyes Domenech "Furvus" 2008 from Montsant, a Priorat-style red - full bodied, smoky, blueberry, volcanic.  

I would love to revisit some others on their list, as I found them very unique indeed.  They represent over 100 Spanish wines in their portfolio and have in common with the others I have cited here today that hand-crafted terroir-driven approach to winemaking.  Ole' Imports is brought to us in Maine through National Distributors.  

Winding down ... DOMBEK photo 2012
From Portugal and J.M. Cazes Selection, Roguette & Cazes 2008 Douro Red.  A blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz & Touriga Francesca, this was balanced and elegant.

As with the other importers that I've mentioned here, their mission statement reflects the quality hands-on approach that is truly commendable.  As follows:  "Both in France and abroad, the Cazes family’s mission is to produce great wines respecting the terroir and the character of the local grape varieties".

And lastly, from here in the USA (Napa Valley), Ladera Vineyards.  The "Howell Mountain" 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, with estate grown fruit this was beautifully composed with complex flavors of dark cherry, blackberry and cocoa and a smooth, long finish.  Thanks to SoPo Wine Co., we do have this one in Portland!  

So many wonderful wines ... so little time!  Cheers!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Domaine Les Chardons Touraine Gamay

                                                        Dombek PHOTO 2012
Domaine Les Chardons Touraine
Gamay 2011
Thierry Chardon - Vigneron
Loire, France

100% Gamay

I have been enjoying this wine all summer but too busy to sit myself down to computer to let you know about it!  Many of you perhaps already do, but for those who have not tried it, it’s not too late.  Luckily we’re still experiencing summer-like weather in the midst of September, perhaps an even more perfect time to drink this lively, light, yet vivid red wine as we segue into Fall

Ruby red, magenta/garnet in color, this wine has a distinctive funky earthiness on the nose.  Aromas of fresh bright fruit such as cranberry, elderberry and boysenberry along with dark currant, mingle with perfume and spice.  Notes of dark cherry, twigs from the forest floor and black and white pepper provide depth, minus any heaviness whatsoever.  This is completely fun, refreshing and dry to the finish.  Serving with a chill on it made an excellent summer red, which holds equally true now!  Serve with prosciutto & melon, comte’ cheese and fresh crusty french baguette.  Have a picnic while you still can!  $12.99/btl @ Rosemont Market.

                            Dombek PHOTO 2012
Gamay is the grape most associated with the region of Beaujolais, located in the southern part of Burgundy.  This Gamay wine comes from Domaine Les Chardons, an organic family winery located in Touraine, in the middle of the Loire Valley, and an area known for its castles.  This past March, Ned from Devenish Wines took a trip and discovered with his Importer Laurent this unique gem of a winery owned by Thierry and Sophie Chardon.  Clay, limestone and flint comprises the terroir from which this Gamay comes.  Check out his blog below for more detailed information!

I love their wines and had also reviewed their sauvignon blanc back in May.  Check it out:

These wines are brought to us here in the states by Devenish Wines through the importer, Laurent Bonnois of Maximilien Selections.  Available at Rosemont Market-Munjoy, Downeast Beverage and Browne Trading Co. in Portland as well as The Blue Hill Wine Shop in Blue Hill, ME.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fontezoppa Verdicchio di Matelica

                                     DOMBEK photo © 2012

Canale di Cantine Fontezzoppa
Verdicchio di Matelica 2011
Civitanova Marche, Italy

100% Verdicchio

Light chiffon yellow in color with faint citrus, golden apple notes and subtle saline on the nose, this refreshing white wine is clean and zesty, with a hint of lemon creme.  Slightly floral with traces of jasmine, ever so subtle juniper & herbs, essence of tropical fruit, and even a little unctuous honey when first chill wears off, this has great balance and acidity, a fair amount of structure and nice long finish.  So quaffable, it shines in simplicity yet with such sophisticated taste.  Loved it!  Great with sushi, shellfish or light pasta dishes, or try with grilled fresh wild salmon and asparagus spears.  Delectable! 
$13/btl at Browne Trading Co.

Fontezoppa Vineyards are located in Civitanova between the towns of Serrapetrona and San Severino in the Marche region on the east coast of Italy, close to the Adriatic Sea.  This area is considered to be one of the best spots in the Marche to grow grapes, being both warmer in the day and cooler at night.  Owner/winemaker Giovanni Basso has 20 years experience as a grower and produces wines of traditional character with great respect to terroir and "Burgundian levels of quality control (double sorting tables anyone)?"  This truly comes through in the wine. 

Take a look at this video.  You will get a sense of terroir/natural environment and soul of the region and vineyard ... even if you don’t understand Italian!

This wine comes to us from Easterly Wine, Belfast, ME.  Importer is Ideal Wine, Medford, MA.  Also available at Whole Foods, Rosemont Markets and Pai Men Miyake Restaurant, Portland.   

Monday, August 6, 2012

Trousseau, Assyrtiko, Cru Muscadet ... Why not?

                                                                         DOMBEK photo © 2012

Domaine Grand Côtes du Jura
Trousseau 2010
Jura, France

100% Trousseau.

Earthy and light/bright ruby in color, with overtones of light brown suggesting twigs on a forest floor, this wonderfully unique wine has a subtle floral perfume of violets, along with wild berries such as strawberries, raspberries and cranberries on the nose.  Light bodied and distinctly herbaceous, with cherries, rhubarb and spice on the palate, this wine has subtle yet complex flavors.  Completely lean and dry, this is a fabulous summer red!  Brendon from Devenish wines recommends putting a slight chill on it before serving.  Perfect!  $15.99/btl at The Bier Cellar.

Jura is a region east of Burgundy, France named after the Jura MountainsSwitzerland and the Swiss Alps are to the west.  The climate of the region has many similarities to Burgundy but is reportedly colder in winter.  Harvest levels are often delayed as long as possible to achieve the highest levels.  Vines are often pruned to the Guyot system, a method of trellising grapes (“cane pruning”) to allow for greatest exposure to sun and therefore ripening.  The Trousseau grape has characteristics that remind one of Pinot Noir, the primary red grape of the Burgundy region. Elegance, subtlety and balance are characteristics ringing true for me here.

The Grand family has been farming Organicly for Domaine Grand since the 80’s and they’ve been farming the estate since 1692!

 BIER CELLAR - 299 ForestAve, Portland, ME  
 Greg Norton (Bier Cellar) & Brendon Pringle (Devenish)  
I had this wine some time ago but was reminded how delicious it is recently at an excellent new Beer/Wine store in town – BIER CELLAR, located at 299 Forest Ave., just after the entrance to Hannaford.  

Their inaugural wine tasting was hosted by Devenish Wines and included the Jura Trousseau along with an excellent line-up of wines.  

Wine Tasting at Bier Cellar
Other stand-out pics included:  

Hatzidakis Assyrtiko 2011Santorini, Greece

Blend of Assyrtiko/Aidani /Athiri grapes.

Light straw yellow in color, this has briny air and aromas of wildflower fields on the nose.  This clearly speaks of “terroir” considering the vineyard is located on an island in the Aegean surrounded by the elements of wind, water and sun that literally pour through the wine!  White peaches, juicy honeydew melon and steely minerality follow on the palate for a wonderful, luminescent acidity.  Unique and delicious, this is Happiness in a glass!  $16.99/btl at Bier Cellar.  

 Hatzidakis Assyrtiko and Moriniere Muscadet Cuvee  
Assyrtiko grapes are trained in a “bird nest/basket shape” called 'stefani' to shield grapes from the hot Meltemi winds, also trapping precious dew from the night air to bring the vines much needed moisture.  

Stefani vine/dormant season

Stefani Vine taking shape
Soil is porous/pumice/volcanic. The Hatzidakis Winery was founded in 1996 by Haridimos and Konstantina Hatzidakis.  The vineyards were owned by Konstantina’s family but they had not been cared for since 1956, when they fled Santorini for Athens due to an earthquake.  “Haridimos may well represent the future of the wine industry on the picturesque Greek island of Santorini. He is the newest producer but many consider him the most talented enologist.”  I found this wine to be enchanting indeed!

For our third hightlight of the tasting, Chateau de la Moriniere Cuvee M Vallet Cru Muscadet 2009, Loire Valley, France.  This was subtle, elegant, rich, light and lovely all at once.  A true pleasure to experience.  Only 15 cases of this Cru Muscadet came into the country.  $19.99/btl at Bier Cellar.  

Ned (Devenish Wines) found this when visiting the Loire Valley last spring. Apparently growers haven’t quite settled on rules for cru designation yet (akin to Beaujolais), but Moriniere is already making this special reserve Muscadet from a very old vine vineyard in one of the zones to be eventually cru designated, The Vallet Vineyard. For more explicit info on this one and a taste of Ned’s adventure with it see his blog:

All wines featured today brought to us from Devenish Wines and tasted at Bier Cellar, 299 Forest Ave. Portland; A fantastic new retail establishment offering an amazing selection of craft beer, unique wines, cider and mead.

Also available at the following venues:

Côtes du Jura Trousseau:  Rosemont Markets & Browne Trading (Portland), Blue Hill Wine Shop (Blue Hill)

Hatzidakis Assyrtiko:  Rosemont Markets, Whole Foods, Browne Trading, Emilitsa (Portland), Niky's Restaurant (Lewiston), Bel Cibo da Cherie's (Kennebunk), Trattoria Athena (Brunswick), Mckean and Charles (Waldoboro), and The Wine Seller (Rockland).

Moriniere Cuvee M Vallet Cru Muscadet:  Rosemont Markets, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Browne Trading & Caiola’s (Portland), Lilly Lupine and Fern (Camden), Old Vines Wine Bar (Kennebunkport)

Find these in venues near you and experience them for yourself!