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!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Château Coupe Roses "Champ du Roy" Blanc

Château Coupe Roses 
"Champ du Roy" Blanc 2011
Vin de Pays des Côtes de Brian
Languedoc, France

Muscat & Viognier (roughly equal parts), with 5% Marsanne, 5% Grenache Blanc.

Light white gold in color, this wine has briny minerals on the nose with lime/citrus on nose and palate. Elegant and rustic all at once, yet completely unpretentious, there is plenty to get excited about! Muscat and Viognier impart lovely aromatics, perfume and acidity. Floral notes of light orange blossom and edelweiss give way to stone fruit and white peaches. Marsanne and Grenache Blanc provide the body and richness. Clean, dry, refreshing finish. This bottle is seriously gone before you know it! Perfect summer enjoyment ... better get two! (around $15/bottle at Browne Trading Co. in Portland).

Château Coupe Roses' vineyards are located in the Minervois appellation of the Languedoc region of France (south near the Mediterranean) on an arid windswept, plateau above a cliff at 750 - 1,350 ft. above sea level.  These vineyards reside in the two highest zones in the Minervois, Le Causse and Le Petit Causse, names that refer to exposed rock and garrigue, calcified limestone to be exact. The name "Champ du Roy" means field of the king. Winemakers Françoise Le Calvez and her enologist husband Pascal Frissant are hands-on and passionate about their wines. "At Coupe Roses, the sum total of high-tech wizardry is confined to the modern winery press and the narrow gauge Lamborghini vineyard tractor" (Vintage '59). 

The Vin de Pays designation is only because Viognier is not allowed in Minervois AOC wines and in no way reflects the quality or sophistication of this wine. In fact, François Serre, a friend, colleage and consulting enologist at Château Rayas in Châteauneuf-du-Pape is also consulting enologist at Coupe Roses.  Tres Bien!

Brought to us in the northeast by CRUSH Distributors through Vintage '59 Importers, Washington, DC.  Ask your local market or restaurant to carry it!


Sunday, June 23, 2013


Steininger Cabernet Sauvignon Sekt, Sparkling Rose' 2010

One of my absolute FAVORITE places to enjoy wonderful wines, tapas and great company is at Old Vines Wine Bar in lower village, Kennebunk.  It's not unusual to find a fellow artist or compatriot there and always a pleasure to sit with a super gracious bar staff.  Thanks Scott & Ben!

WINES for the evening ... I am loving the Steininger Cabernet Sauvignon Sekt, sparkling Rose' from Kamptal, Austria, distributed here in Maine through CRUSH Distributors.  Have you ever tried a sparkling Cabernet Sauvignon?? I had the opportunity of tasting it this past spring and was so happy to be reunited with it again at Old Vines. It's not what you might imagine, given the varietal. This is the loveliest light salmon pink color, not unlike a provencale rose'.  Wild berries such as raspberries, strawberries, faint wild roses and perhaps some herbaceousness, along with a creamy mouthfeel make this a lively and elegant experience ... a little racy with a sparkly dry finish!  Enjoy with some marcona almonds or selection of cheeses & arugula salad.

Bartender Scott Doherty pouring Steininger sparkling Cab Rose'

Compatriots enjoying the Steininger Cabernet Sparkling Rose!
The Steininger Winery is family-owned and run, located in the wine growing village of Langenlois in the Kamptal Valley, Lower Austria. Best known for making wine from Grüner Veltliner, Austria's most important grape, they are also well know for producing exceptional sparkling wines, produced according to the traditional bottle fermenting method. Bravo!
Available in retail locations: Browne Trading Co. & Whole Foods, Portland.

Friends Deborah and Marc generously shared their bottle with me!

Domaine du Bel Air Bourueil - Cabernet Franc
Next up was Domaine du Bel Air Bourgueil 2010, from Loire Valley, France.  100% Cabernet Franc.  On the nose hints of violets & light tobacco, with violets, cassis and earthy bark on the palate.  A light, dry red. Fun fruit, very approachable! And it's organic to boot. Pair with one of their French Cheeses, perhaps the Bucheron or even the Castelinhos, a soft cow's milk cheese from Portugal.   This comes to us from Devenish Wines.  Look for it at Rosemont Markets or Aurora Provisions

Bourgueil is an appellation in the Loire Valley located in the region of Touraine and one of the few areas in the Loire focused on red wines.  

Radio Coteau Syrah 2011
Radio-Coteau Syrah 2011 from Las Colinas, Sonoma Coast, California was a real pleasure!  Stunningly deep burgundy/black magenta in color, with luscious aromas of dark fruits such as blackberry, plum and cherry lulling the nose and palate.  Notes of black pepper and spice. Silky smooth on the tongue, with a beautifully balanced and integrated finish.  This was a Wow. Paired with their house-made duck prosciutto on flatbread pizza ... stop the press! This little beauty comes to us from CRUSH Distributors.  It is highly allocated and not even available retail. The folks at Old Vines were wise to snap some of this up.  Go Taste!

Old Vines Owner Mike Farrell
Old Vines Wine bar is the brainchild of Mike and Jodie Farrell.  With many years in the hospitality industry, including stints at some of New York's top kitchens, Mike decided to relocate to Maine and open a place of his own. Located in an old renovated barn, full of warmth and atmosphere, it's within easy walking distance to Dock Square in historic Kennebunkport. I actually like that it's situated away from the fray however. To me all the more inviting, with time and space to relax and enjoy a glass and a plate of something delicious with a few friends.  Enjoy!

Old Vines Wine Bar 
173 Port Road, Kennebunk, ME
Guests enjoying

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

El Pájaro Rojo Mencía

Losada Vinos de Finca
El Pájaro Rojo Mencía 2011
Castilla y León, El Bierzo, Spain

100% old vine Mencía

Burgundy black in color, this wine has deep, mystical, musty/earthy fruit on the nose ... with pepper and bark. Soft mouth feel immediately present with herbaceous, sensuous dark cherry and cranberry on the palate. This one is complex without being overbearing, expressing elegance, depth and earthy, integrated fruit. Cherry cola berry. On day 2, blueberry/huckleberry on nose and palate, black currant. Spicebox, luscious fruit, hint of eucalyptus ... incredibly silky mouthfeel and ultimately dry finish. LOVE 

... okay, now that I've collected myself ... we are talking northwest Spain, in the region of Castilla and  León.  This vineyard spans more than 2,600 hectares, located in a valley and bordered by mountains. To the north by the Montes de León, to the south by the Azuilianos. Terroir consists of shale, sandstone and loam, in a semi-humid, Continental climate.  Yes, this makes sense!

Established by Bierzo winemaking veterans in 2004, Losada Vinos de Finca was established in 2004, an ultra-modern facilty in the midst of old Mencía vines. The vines are farmed organically and undergo malolactic fermentation in French oak, with low yields. Winemaker Amancio Fernández.

Imported by Classical Wines, Seattle, WA., distributed through Dendor Wine Management. Not presently in greater Portland area, however ... if you inquire at your local vendors, they may procure it through SoPo Wine Co., South Portland, ME.  Around $17.99/btl. Yes, Please!

Monday, May 20, 2013

CAN FEIXES Blanc Selecció 2011

Huguet de Can Feixes
Blanc Selecció 2011
Penedes, Catalunya, Spain

Grapes:  40% Parellada, 36% Macabeo, 18% Chardonnay, with a touch of Malvasía de Sitges. 

I've been dying for some fabulous Spanish whites for summer.  The Can Feixes
Blanc Selecció satisfies that yen! Light straw yellow in color, like lemon chiffon or light golden champagne, this wine has lemon schist on the nose, even the slightest touch of petrol, imbuing it with a serious minerality. Crisp and clean (even rich) with lively/zesty acidity and notes of green apple, stone fruit, lime citrus and white pepper, it's like a limeade surf wave (if there is such a thing!).  I Love it! Enjoy with scallop ceviche and of course oysters on the half shell!

The family-run estate of Huguet de Can Feixes is located in the foothills of the Upper Penedès, within the region of Catalunya in northeastern Spain.  An historic estate, it was originally founded in 1768 by Don Jaime Feixes and later acquired by the Huguet family in the 19th century, who continue to steward their lands with great care and respect for the environment and terroir, producing wines of high quality and limited production.  Vineyards are located at high altitudes on gravelly mountainside slopes.  Rocky and chalk clay soil, along with extremes in temperatures result in slower ripening and yields, but with greater concentration of both fruit and character.

Parellada (locally known as Montonec, or "grape of the mountain") and Macabeo are the major grapes in Cava, Spain's sparkling wine. The lively quality definitely comes through in this wine. Malvasia de Sitges offers that touch of richness and the Chardonnay a certain finesse.

This wine is brought to us by Classical Wines, Seattle, WA., Importer of quality, individual family vineyards in Spain & Germany; Marketed/managed by Dendor Wine Management; and while not yet available in Maine, it would be represented/distributed by SoPo Wine Co. in the event they choose to do so. Yes please! Suggested retail price: $15.99. Ask your local wine store or restaurant to bring this in this summer!  

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Evolúció Furmint

Furmint 2011
Tokaj, Hungary

100% Furmint.

I've been meaning to highlight this wine for quite some time.  Now seems a fitting occasion, as it truly celebrates the spring that is finally upon us, fresh, exhuberant, lively!  Light straw yellow in color with refreshing honeydew melon, tropical fruit and minerality on the nose, it has a smooth yet sassy mouth feel.  Notes of peaches, quince, stone fruit and pear appear as well ... round and clean with a moment of sweetness, a little bit floral, great acidity, finishing ultimately dry and clean.  A festive, delightful wine.  Excellent value!  Have a case on hand for drop-by guests in summer to enjoy on the patio, porch, picnic or beach!  I love this!  Generally around $8.99/btl!

This wine is made from the white furmint grape mostly grown in the region of Tokaj, in northeast Hungary and often known for producing a sweeter wine.  In fact, furmint is used to produce a range of wines, from bone dry to very sweet.  Evolúció is of course an example of dry furmint. Tokaji vineyards are located near the border of Slovakia and Ukraine, mostly planted on south facing slopes.  The Bodrog and Tisza rivers are highly influential and create ideal ripening conditions for the furmint grapes.  This is a continental climate with relatively high temperature variations.  It was also in this region of Hungary, that in 1730 had the distinction of developing the classification system of wine on the basis of quality.  This was several decades before Port and 120 years before Bordeaux! Grapes are hand-harvested from various vineyards in the region.  Some terroir consists of volcanic stone and ash.

Enjoy with white fish, chicken dishes or perhaps a plate of cheeses, especially goat cheese.

Imported by Boutique Wine Collection, Philadelphia, PA and distributed here by Central Distributors, Lewiston, ME.  Available at RSVP, Whole Foods, Old Port Wine Merchants and Miyake Restaurant - Portland; Pineland Farms Market - New Gloucester; Forage Market - Lewiston; Oak Hill Beverage - Scarborough and Downeast Wines in Kennebunkport.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cepas Antiguas Selección Privada

Bodegas y viñedos Martínez Corta
Cepasantiguas Selección Privada 2010
Uruñuela Rioja, Spain

100% Tempranillo.

With a chill yet upon us and as we're yearning for spring, I for one am feeling in the mood for a nice RED to transport me from these cooler climes! This tempranillo from the region of Rioja in northern Spain fits the bill.  

This is brilliant, deep scarlet black in color, most regal.  On the nose an earthy perfume of spicy wild fruit such as plum, cherry and blackberry, essence of violets along with stony earth and bark. Dark berries of huckleberry and tart blueberry follow on the palate with the subtlest of smoky char. Sensuous, silky mouth feel and balanced tannins are beautifully integrated. Deep fruit like fig comes alive with some time in the glass, while remaining fresh and exuding a touch of balsamic. Finish is dusty, even bright .. yet sleek and youthful. Complexity without heaviness. Delicious and affordable too at around $13/btl! Excellent value. Pair with rustics cheeses, meats, tapas and crusty breads or any straightforward, hearty dish. Awarded a Bronze medal by the International Wine Guide.

The winery, Bodegas y viñedos Martínez Corta was established 50 years ago in Uruñuela, in the heart of Rioja Alta. Rioja's reds are often thought of as "Spain's Bordeaux", although these wines additionally possess characteristics reminiscent of Burgundy (this is apparent with regard to a certain restraint and clarity I experienced with the Cepasantiguas).  In the 60's and 70's, Grandfather and four sons were the major producers of wine in the Spanish village of Uruñuela.  At that time there was no fancy machinery, only manual labor and simple machinery with the help mules was used.  There has been modernization since that time with a state-of-the-art facility, however a hands-on approach is maintained.  Terroir consists of stony soil, with little organic material. This does allow for excellent drainage and imparts an elegance and minerality to the wines, in this indigenous cool-climate viticulture. 

I could actually imagine drinking this one during any season at all!  

Available in Maine through SoPo Wine Co, at Browne Trading Co. RSVP and Rosemont Market, Portland; Oakhill Beverage in Scarborough.  Importer is Classical Wines, Seattle, WA.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Domaine Porto Carras - Malagouzia 2011

Still feeling the glow and residual effects of tasting the Athenee Importers Greek Wines at the beginning of March. There were truly many outstanding wines worthy of the spotlight. For today, let's talk about Malagouzia.

Domaine Porto Carras
Malagouzia 2011
Chalkidiki, Cotes de Meliton, Macedonia

100% Malagouzia (ancient varietal)

Briny, pale golden yellow in color, this wine expresses the sunshine we're yearning for! Like the lean light of winter moving into a fuller expression of spring and playful ebullience of summer. On the nose, minerality ... limestone, schist.  Clean.  Sea air.  Tropical fruit such as pineapple, white peaches and apricot follow on the palate, fleshy and lean all at once.  In time a hint of orange peel, with fennel, herbaceousness and light lime citrus.  Excellent balanced acidity and weight give way to a luscious, calcerous, ultimately dry finish.  Elegant and smooth. Needless to say, I love this wine! Presently available at RSVP in Portland for $16.99/btl.  Also find it at Trattoria Athena in Brunswick.  

In northern Greece, Domaine Porto Carras is located in Central Macedonia, on the peninsula of Sithonia, Chalkidkiki in the Cotes de Meliton appellation (see map below).  Bordered by the Gulf of Torone in the North Aegean Sea and Mount Meliton to the north, vineyards are planted on steep, terraced slopes covering 1,170 acres of beautiful hillsides with distinct microclimates.  The first vineyards were planted in 1967, with the first vintage available in 1972. The winery is certified organic by DIO and is the only winery in this appellation.  Noting the particular geography and climate, it's not hard to see where all the minerality and characteristics of this wine come from!

Malagouzia is a varietal that originated in Nafpaktia, central Greece but is mostly grown in Central Macedonia and Attiki.  Recently it has been planted in northern Greek regions.  It has also been characterized as "the mysterious and elegant Greek lady" ... yes, indeed!

This wine would of course pair gorgeously with any sort of fresh seafood.  But I'm thinking this may also prove to be a brilliant choice for your Easter celebration!  Ham, asparagas, leeks, spring potato salad, hot crossed buns ... or Greek braided easter bread or phyllo pie!

Available through Athenee Importers, Hempstead, NY and SoPo Wine Co., South Portland, ME.