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.