Friday, March 30, 2012

Terredora DiPaolo Coda di Volpe 2009

Terredora DiPaolo
Coda di Volpe 2009
Campania, Italy

100% Coda di Volpe

Light golden yellow with a hint of green, like the color of spring forsythia and clear as a bell, here is one unique white.  Lightly floral aromas of orange blossom are followed by fresh, lively citrus fruit, notes of quince and a hint of almond on the palate.  Medium bodied with lovely layers, this tastes like sunshine!  Pour a glass and invite in the lilting breezes of Spring!

Enjoy with fleshy white fish such as halibut, pasta with white clam sauce, a slightly spicy Thai shrimp dish or of course any Mediterranean style cuisine. 

I love this winery (Terredora Di Paolo), and I have met the winemaker Lucio Mastroberardino himself, on two occasions when he was in Portland, an elegant and generous man.   

The story of Terredora di Paolo is exemplified by the ancient story of Campania, located along the eastern coast of Southern Italy.  They are the largest wine producer/vineyard owner in Campania today and retain a worldwide reptutation for the quality of their wines.  The people, family and their passion for the land are central to their lives.  “The land, It represents their soul and the driving force behind the winery, which is why year after year, they consider the harvest their greatest treasure. This is a region that was famous for producing the best wines of the Roman Empire and Terredora Di Paolo is committed to re-establishing itself to its former glory. They have been instrumental in reintroducing ancient grape varieties, promoting modern innovation and training the men and women who will be responsible for carrying their vision into the future.

Some varietals from this winery which you may not have heard of (besides Coda di Volpe) are:  Fiano di Avellino, Falanghina and Greco di Tufo for white varietals, and Aglianico and Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio for reds.  All are available in Greater Portland, and as they are favorites of mine, will no doubt be featured in future articles! 

These wines are brought to us by VIAS Imports through Pine State Beverage Co.  
Coda di Volpe may be found at Rosemont Markets for the incredible price of $12.99 (originally $16.99!) Only 3 more cases in the warehouse here in Greater Portland).
Call Joe Appel @ 774-8129 or email:, for availability at the other stores.

1VIAS Imports

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Florian Brenot for Thunevin Wines

Florian Brenot tasting with Ali Cheevers (MS Walker)
 Florian Brenot for Thunevin Wines

You may recall an earlier article where I was discussing the winemaker Jean-Luc Thunevin and his wines?  Yesterday I had the pleasure of also meeting his new representative, Florian Brenot.  He was articulate and genuine, extremely knowledgeable about the wines with an amazing and discerning palate.  Word is that he comes from very humble beginnings in France and met Jean-Luc Thunevin par chance (by accident!).  Thunevin apparently saw something in him and hired him on the spot, sensing a good partnership.  Two years later he is traveling with Thunevin wines internationally!  Bravo!  We were lucky to have him visit us here in Portland, bringing us closer to the world of wine in Saint-Emilion, France through tasting and hearing the stories of how they were created.
With Jeff Landry (Farmer's Table) & Audie Conrad (Central Dist)
The wines were as elegant and complex as I recalled ... with luxurious mouth feel, subtle layers and much finesse.  Wonderful fruit and spice, herbal and floral qualities as the case may be, all beautifully integrated.  The terroir is truly apparent here ... black schist, limestone, sand, chalk to name a few.  The Calvet Cuvee' Constance 2008 from Cotes du Roussillon has great depth, powerful fruit and elegance, with blueberry and dark cherry.  Velvety.  This is a huge mouthful that completely satisfies but doesn't make you full!  Old vines.  All organic.  60% Grenache Noir, 30% Syrah, 10% Carignan.  Sensual & delicious!  Mauvais Garcon (Bad Boy) 2006 from Bordeaux has anise on the nose with deep bright and dark fruits such as plum and blackberry and a plenty of spice, pepper and earth.  Subtle herbal qualities meander through, with a dry tannic finish.   12 months in new oak.  Gutsy.  This is 95% Merlot!  

Ali Cheevers, sales representative from the supplier MS Walker, was enlisted to take Florian around to the various restaurateurs and retailers that will hopefully carry more of his wines.  For now you can find Chateau Bellevue la Randee (see earlier post), Calvet Constance and Mauvais Garcon at Old Port Wines on Commercial St..  Stay tuned for more wines and availability!  I fell in love with the Domaine des Sabines LaLande de Pomerol 2008.  This one is your deep inner voice.  Gorgeous color, aromatics. Silky mouth feel.  Incredible subtlety with a myriad of layers seamlessly integrated.  Who's going to pick this one up??  Come to think of it, the Domaine Virginie Thunevin 2010, luxurious with huge integrity, is pretty spectacular too ....

Florian & Ali at Petite Jacqueline
We thought we'd take Florian for a spin over to Petite Jacqueline (State St., Portland) for some sustenance and more wine!  Here are Florian and Ali tasting a couple of gorgeous dessert wines ... a glass of Domaine La Tour Vielle Banyuls 2008 and a Chateau La Vaurie Peyraquey Sauterne 2003.  Both delicious!  The Banyuls is an appellation hailing from the Eastern corner of France near the border of Spain.  Garnet, black/purple in color with fig, currant, cherry & cranberries.  Luscious! Sauterne, within the Graves district of Bordeaux region.  This was a gorgeous salmon pink color with orange zest, caramel & cedre (cedar),  Neither are overly sweet. Lovely!

Florian & Lisa Dombek (WINE 24/7)
Thank you Florian ... we look forward to having you again and to enjoying many more wines from Jean-Luc Thunevin!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mas Carlot Les Enfants Terribles

Mas Carlot
Les Enfants Terribles 2010
Costières de Nîmes
Rhone Valley, France

50% Mourvedre.  50% Syrah.

Deep crimson, scarlet is a gorgeous color in the glass.  Fig, cassis and dark fruits are present, along with lush forest floor notes on the nose.  This follows through on the palate, with black and green pepper and earthy spice.  A soft mouth feel is immediately apparent, no doubt from the silky syrah, with spicy notes like exclamation points and slightly tart bing cherry.  A real MOUTHFUL from the Mourvedre!  Nice layers and depth.  Elegant & funky all at once.  I’ve been enjoying this through the winter, and now that we’re back to cooler temps presently, just what the doctor ordered!  

My friend is clearly enjoying this!
 This would pair well with grilled or roasted meats, fresh beet greens and rustic baguette for a simple meal.  Or maybe spicy sausage and couscous with roasted vegetables.  I might also have a small piece of dark chocolate thereafter for dessert.  Luscious!

Winemakers Nathalie & Cyril Marès reside in Costières de Nîmes, located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, southern France.  They have taken inspiration for this special cuvee’ from the “individuality and originality of their children”, Blanche, Eugene, Olympe, Achille & Alexander for this special cuvee’.  Les Enfants Terribles!  The Terrifically Unmanageable Children, so to speak!

This old vine blend was aged for nine months both in tank and oak barrels. 

From SoPo Wine Co., find it at Rosemont Munjoy ($13.99) & Brighton and also at Petite Jacqueline – 190 State St. Portland.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tenuta Olim Bauda Gavi

Tenuta Olim Bauda
Gavi di Gavi 2010
Piedmont, Italy

100% Cortese

So you may be wondering, where are the WHITE wines?!  I know, it’s time, right? ... especially with this spring/summer-like weather we’ve been experiencing!

Here we have a lovely white for such an occasion.  Light straw gold in color, expressing a briny, saline quality on the nose, sipping this wine makes you feel like you’re sitting next to the ocean!  On the palate a touch of lemon meringue and citrus along with light mineral notes.  It is clean and smooth with an elegant, harmonious finish.  For food pairings think shellfish, fresh oysters on the half shell (unadorned), seafood, Caprese salad or a semi soft/creamy cheese like taleggi.  Have a picnic!

This wine is made from 100% Cortese, a grape found in Gavi, a DOCG area located in the Italian province of Asti, Piedmont near the Ligurian Coast and Italian Riviera.  Lovely!  So this is why one feels as if sitting near the sea.  The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel. $13.49 at the Munjoy Rosemont!

Distributed by Wicked Wines out of Bangor, ME, this wine can be found
In Portland at the Rosemont Markets & Vignola Restaurant; Tess’s Market, Brunswick; In Ellsworth at Cleonise; Francine’s in Camden; Wine Cellar in Rockland; Sawyer Specialty in Southwest Harbor; and the Lucerne Inn, between Bangor/Brewer on your way to Bar Harbor.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Local Wine Luminaries visit European Winemakers

How do you imagine we are lucky enough to have these wines available to us?  You may or may not know that they come to us through a multi-tiered system of importers, suppliers and distributors, as well as those responsible for logistics and legal compliance.  We have a dedicated group of wine folks working here locally every day to ensure that this flow of wine to us keeps happening.  It’s an exciting and complex system that essentially begins with the “terroir” of a place (referring to soil and other unique climatic conditions that influence the quality of the wine), to winemakers, until it ends up here in our stores and restaurants.

Let’s talk Europe.  Let’s consider these three individuals who have either gone there recently, are in the process of being there, or getting ready to go ... to taste wines, meet with winemakers, visit the vineyards, even go to a huge wine expo.

Tabitha Blake (front left in photo), principle/co-owner of CRUSH Distributors (along with John Naylor, Rosemont Market, 3rd from left) recently embarked on a trip to Wachau, Austria, exploring a myriad of winemakers - just under a dozen in fact!  To name a few ... Anton Bauer is ranked among the top 10 Austrian white wine producers.  We’re talking Grüner Veltliner and Riesling.  For more info:  One of her other favorites is the Weingut Steininger DAC Grüner Veltliner from the family-run winery Steininger, situated in the wine growing village of Langenlois in the Kamptal Valley.  Grüner Veltliner represents over 50% of their production and is expressed in different styles, from light summer wine to powerful, voluminous and full-bodied wines as well as dessert wines.  She also loved the Tegernseerhof Zweigelt Rose’ from the Tegernseerhof/Mittelbach family, which they describe as “Strawberry and cherry fruits with lively acidity. Smooth and juicy with an amazing dry finish.”  I can’t wait to try them for myself!  There is much more to explore with what she found there.  Stay tuned!

Ned Swain (raising glass to taste), principle of Devenish Wines is currently (this week!) exploring some selected sites in the Loire region of France.  Here we are talking about mainly Cabernet Franc (red varietal) or Chenin Blanc (white varietal).  So far he has met with Jean Francois Rouet (pictured in photo to left), a sixth generation wine maker who farms biodynamically and Bernard Baudry (, considered to be one of the finest producers in Chinon.  He also farms his vines in an environmentally friendly way, using no herbicides or chemical products.  And grapes are hand harvested.  The Devenish Manifesto states, “We believe wines should taste like where they come from —wines that in some way embody the unique climate and environment from which their grapes were produced. To that end, we seek out smaller family owned wineries that take pride in the wines they produce, grow their grapes more naturally, and have a real relationship with the land they work on. The wines we represent are the antithesis of industrially produced homogenized wines.”  I for one, can’t wait to try some of the wines he brings back ... especially the Rose’s!  I remember drinking a Chinon wine when in Paris and literally thought I’d died and gone to heaven! 

For more in depth descriptions from Ned’s trip to the Loire, see his blog:

 Michael Burke, sales representative for VIAS Imports (a small to mid-sized importer based out of New York, although he resides in Portland) travels this week to Italy to attend Vinitaly (a huge wine expo) and touch base with the winemakers and wines he currently represents.  Vinitaly, is the largest wine show in the world, hosted by the beautiful city of Verona.  Thousands of exhibitors are present, with thousands of wines to taste.  Vine-growing, wine making, food & wine pairings, high cuisine and a myriad of wine connections.  Slightly overwhelming?!  We’ll have to wait and see where else his travels lead him this trip, but a couple of the producers of wine available to us that he represents include:  Damilano in the Piedmont region or Terredora di Paolo down in Southern Italy’s Campania.  In this case we’re talking varietals such as Arneis, Barbera, Fiano or Piedirosso as in the wine Lacryma Christi.  Don’t worry ... I’ll break it down for you in coming articles.  You’ll LOVE it!

For more info on VIAS wines (through Pine State distributors here in Maine):

While the Devenish Manifesto articulated well the relationship between winemaker and purveyor of wines, this can equally be applied to both CRUSH Distributors and VIAS Imports.

CHEERS Everyone!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fattoria del Cerro Manero 2009

Fattoria del Cerro
Manero Rosso di Toscana 2009
Toscana, Italy

80% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot.

Rich red in color with undertones of burnt sienna, this wine is earthy, layered and sensual as first aromas arise.  Subtle vanilla notes along with spicy hints of anise continue to please before even taking a first sip!  While lush on the nose, it’s easy on the palate, with dark wild berries, plum and black tea.  Later on the Sangiovese opens up, like the deeper notes of a viola or cello ... (I said to myself, as I was halfway through the bottle!)  Dry, clean finish.  A real crowd pleaser!

From the rolling, winding and magical landscape of Tuscany, in the town of Montalcino, this Sangiovese blend is created under the supervision of world-renowned oenologist Riccardo Cotarella, made from grapes harvested from the Fattoria del Cerro and La Poderina properties. “The name Manero is inspired by the story of a well-known clown, Manero, who relentlessly played practical jokes on the local vintner. One day, he decided to challenge the Vintner by promising to create a wine far superior to his. Not long after when a crowd gathered to taste the clown’s wine, the Vintner, astonished, could not help but proclaim: ”Anyone who can create a blend this fine has my deepest respects, Manero!” And so the wine MANERO was born.”1

Pair with classic pasta and meat sauce, Osso Buco or antipasti of cured meats and aged cheeses. 

Another insane value at $10.99 a bottle! From Vias Imports through Pine State distributors, it can be found in the Portland, ME area at Rosemont Market – Munjoy Hill.  Call Dan at: (207) 846-1234 for availability at Brighton & Yarmouth Rosemont locations.  

Whole Foods will feature a display of it this month.  

On the restaurant side ... also find it (believe it or not) at Cantina el Rayo, York St., Portland.  Try it with the Burger.  Enjoy!

1Vias Importers.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Château La Baume 2007

Château La Baume 2007
Costières de Nîmes
The Andreoletti Family
Rhone Valley, France

50% Carignan, 25% Syrah, 25% Grenache. 

I was excited to revisit this wine recently and found it to be even better than I first recalled!  Deep dark ruby in color, it has brighter red highlights.  An initial whiff brings to mind an earthy gaminess, like the forest floor in autumn.  Spicy notes on the back palate are interwoven with the subtle perfume of violets and a soft mouth feel (most likely from the syrah).  By day two, juicy buoyant red berries mingle with a touch of fig, huckleberry, eucalyptus and even some charred earth.  By that time the wine finds more resolve, integration and weightiness along with a lovely dry finish. 

Background info:  The winemakers, Jean-Francois and Sandrine Andreoletti reside in the Rhone region in southern France, specifically the appellation of Costières de Nîmes near Chateauneuf du Pape.  The sunny, herb scented, lavender and olive rich Mediterranean expresses itself through the terroir, the finesse of the winemakers and thence the wine.  The soil is clay and schist.  Carignan vines are 50-60 years old.  The Bacchus image on the label was originally used in Roman time as a shop sign, while the name “La Baume” means cave.

Food pairing:  On the simple side, you could enjoy this with some French Comte’ cheese, mixed olives and baguette (as I did on the day of tasting).  I could further imagine enjoying it with lamb chop and roasted rosemary potatoes or lamb sausage, falafel and hummous for a real Mediterranean feel.

This is an amazing every day wine at $11.99 a bottle!

It comes to us here in Portland from the illustrious Devenish Wines ( and can be found at Rosemont Market.  I found it at the Munjoy Hill location – 88 Congress St.

For those of you in the New York Metropolitan area, look for T. Edwards Wines (Importer).  Incidentally, here is a brief video from the winemakers:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bordeaux the Region - a Few Thoughts ...

Source photo: Wikipedia

 While we’re speaking of French wine, specifically Bordeaux, I thought it would be good to place it geographically and address some basics.  While this may seem elementary to many, others may appreciate a refresher?

Bordeaux is located in the Southwest region of France, lying along the path of three important rivers.  The mighty Gironde is fed by the Dordogne & Garonne as they all make their way to the Atlantic Ocean.  The name Bordeaux is actually derived from aubord de l’eau or “along the waters”.  How lovely is that?

By law, red Bordeaux wine must be made from one or more of five red grapes:  Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.  Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are the 2 most important.  Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc are used occasionally and in lesser quantities for blending purposes. 

Merlot provides a fleshy, round quality along with a certain elegant expression when used masterfully by winemakers such as Jean-Luc Thunevin (see previous blogs). Indeed, I believe Merlot has been perceived badly as a result of some poor use of the grape.  Mon Dieu!  Cabernet Sauvignon lends texture and structure from tannins, which act as a preservative and also provide great aging potential.  Petit Verdot adds depth of color to the wine, along with spicy/peppery characteristics and tannins.  Malbec is added for dark, rich color and flavor (In Cahors it is used as a primary grape), while Cabernet Franc is aromatic and herbaceous, suggesting perhaps hints of violets!

When we’re speaking of Bordeaux (or possibly any great or quaffable wines) we are talking about “terroir”.  That is, wine deriving its characteristics from the land from which it comes and also the climate from a particular year (vintage).  These areas aubord de l’eau, are organized by Left Bank and Right Bank.  Some names/towns/regions/subregions you may recognize.  From the Left Bank, Medoc and Haut-Medoc, Graves, Pauillac, St.-Estephe, St.-Julien, Listrac and Margaux.  From the Right Bank, Cotes de Blaye, Cotes de Bourg, Fronsac, Pomeral, and St. Emilion. 

As time goes on, we will explore some of these.  Suffice it to say this is a huge simplification of a complex wine area in France ... but hopefully enough to wet your whistle for being adventurous in knowing and experiencing wines!

p.s. Also visit my friend Ned's blog (Devenish Wines) for amazing wines & descriptions!

Source photo: Wikipedia

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jean-Luc Thunevin - Part 2

 Good Morning!  As promised I am including some background info on the winemaker of the wine I highlighted yesterday, Chateau Bellevue La Randee' Bordeaux.

This wine was created by the impassioned husband & wife team of Jean-Luc Thunevin and Murielle Andraud.  In 1989, they bought 1.48 acres (0.6 hectare) of land located in a small valley near Saint Emilion and established Château Valandraud.  They have since expanded their domaine, which now represents a total of 10 hectares (24.71 acres), mainly located in Saint Etienne de Lisse.  Jean-Luc Thunevin became a “star” in the wine world in less than a decade thanks to his world famous Garage Wine, Château Valandraud.  He was nicknamed the “Bad Boy of Bordeaux” by Robert Parker, which then gave them the idea for the wine “Bad Boy” (Mauvais Garçon). 

Château Bellevue La Randée is located on the commune of Galgon.  The winemaking is traditional, fermentation and aging taking place in concrete tanks.  Average age of the vines is 20 years. 
In Sept 2008, I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Jean-Luc Thunevin, during an all day wine seminar/dinner at the Portland Harbor Hotel.  Engaging and entertaining, he relayed his “Bad Boy” story via his rep/interpreter Christian Dalbavie, who incidentally was equally charming himself.  We then proceeded to taste through some amazing and gorgeous wines – first on their own (with accompanying background information from Jean-Luc & Christian), then with another round paired with food.  Heaven on earth! And I can’t wait until they come back!

Incidentally, this wine is available at Old Port Wine Merchants, 223 Commercial St., Portland for $12.99.  An amazing value!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Château Bellevue La Randée 2009

Château Bellevue La Randée 2009
Proprietaire a Galgon
Gironde, France

45% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc.

To begin with, the color of this wine is an astonishingly dense, black garnet.  A burnished, earthy red.  One is immediately treated to spicy plum & licorice on the nose, followed in time with the subtlest undercurrent of caramel.  Excellent red fruits of cassis, currant & plum along with lush fig and truffles create a beautifully soft mouth feel.  As it opens, dark chocolate overtones.  Subtle perfume.  Coffee liqueur.  With generous amounts of earth and well balanced tannins, this 2009 vintage is expressive & powerful, and an amazing value.  I love this wine!

One must always try a wine on day 2 or 3 (if possible!) to see how it holds up. 
La Randée truly opened up even more with time and I suspect this vintage would be a good one for the cellar!  Enjoy with a luscious beef stew ... or boeuf bourguignon in true French style!

This wine may be found at Old Port Wine Merchants, 223 Commercial St., Portland, ME.

Next blog, a little background info about the winemaker, Jean-Luc Thunevin!