6 for $120-Something – March 23rd, 2012

Hello and Happy Friday!

I’m excited to announce the release of the newest “Six for $120-Something” Sampler! The concept is simple; in the course of my tastings each month, I put together a mix of what I think are the best wines I’ve tasted in that $20-ish dollar range. It is true that I used to simply call this the “6 for $120,” but in the interest of me having more flexibility, I’ve decided to not be so exact.

All of these wines are available by the bottle as well as the case, but the idea here is to give you a selection of wines that you will want to have stocked in your wine rack at home!

So email me to order your sampler, and pick it up at your convenience. They are in stock and ready to go!

Have a great weekend,
Craig


6 for $120-Something

2010 D. VENTURA RIBEIRA SACRA “VIÑA CANEIRO”
Just when you think you’ve got the hang of it, you realize you haven’t. That is how I feel every day about wine! Sure I eat, sleep and breathe wine, and have done so for the last 14 years, but yet the excitement over new discoveries never stops.

Ever heard of Ribeira Scara? This Spanish appellation located in Galicia in the Northwest is a must try.

Ventura is a winery I have featured in the store over the last couple years. If you are
going to discover the region of Ribeira Sacra, you should start by trying the wines of Ramón Losada and his family. His wines are the most stunningly pure expressions of Ribeira Sacra, with amazing clarity due to fermentation and aging only in stainless steel.

Let me paint a quick picture of the region. Incredibly steep hillside terraced vineyards perched over the Sil River contain very old Mencía vines deeply rooted into the slate soil. The Losada family owns prized vineyards in the area called Amandi. “Viña Caneiro,” his top wine, comes from 80+ year-old vines. The grapes are organically grown and only natural yeasts are used in fermentation in tank. The wine is rested a short period in tank before bottling.

Please decant this bottle, opening for a half hour to hour beforehand. What will emerge is a deeply scented wine, full of mineral, wild berry and smoked meat notes. Syrah, Pinot Noir, Blaufränkisch all come to mind when I drink this. A perfect compliment to squab or grilled duck breast.

After you’ve drunk your bottle, come back and buy a half-case to age in your cellar. This should be interesting to watch over a decade!

$24.00 BTL. / $288.00 CASE

 
2010 EDMUNDS ST. JOHN “HEART OF GOLD”
With this unprecedented Spring weather, I had to go big on white wines for this Six for $120-Something. I’m very excited about the white wine choices on this newsletter because they all are quite divergent in style.

Steve Edmunds is the kind of winemaker that you want to buy from. His engine runs on pure passion, and his sincerity to produce wines with balance, based on the European ideals of drinkability and food friendliness, should be praised. Among wine geeks, he is well-known, having produced his first vintage over 25 years-ago.

Steve sources fruit from various regions throughout California, most of which are lesser known. This wine called “Heart of Gold” comes from El Dorado County. An area where growers took a chance at planting varietals like Vermentino and Grenache Blanc. Grown by Ron Mansfield for over a decade, this is the third bottling of this wine, a co-fermented blend of 72% Vermentino and 28% Grenache Blanc. The grapes were whole-cluster pressed into stainless steel tank and fermented at a cool temperature. Kept on their gross lees till February, 2011 it was bottled in March.

This wine has a lot of character. Bright citrus and tropical notes on the nose, lead into a rich mouthfeel that finishes fresh and vibrant. The texture of this wine makes it so versatile when pairing it with food. Whether it be shellfish, or white meats like pork or chicken, have fun pairing this with a variety of food. Only 260 cases of this was produced, so hurry because it won’t be around very long.

$20.00 BTL. / $240.00 BTL.

 

 

2010 ELIO GRASSO DOLCETTO D’ALBA “DEI GRASSI”
Everyone knows Perman Wine is down with Piemonte! It is one of my favorite regions in the world for red wine. This is definitely a Barolo-centric shop, but yet there is so much more in Piedmont, with some seriously delicious and affordable Dolcetto’s coming from the region. This is one of the most impressive bottles of Dolcetto that I’ve had in a long time.

I met with Gianluca Grasso, winemaker of Elio Grasso a couple weeks ago at the store. Tasting through his line-up reminded me of the fact that he happens to be one of the elite producers of the region. The family owns some magnificent vineyards located in the commune of Monforte d’Alba. Piedmont is not a huge region, and to have the vineyards that the Grasso family owns is like hitting the lottery, think Powerball not scratch-off tickets.

This Dolcetto comes from a 1.5 hectare vineyard located in Monforte d’Alba. The vine age is an impressive 30 years-old average. Southeast-facing vines on a loose-packed calcareous soil yield grapes with incredible freshness. The vinification and aging is in tank, which preserves the fruit and freshness.

Dolcetto is a wine of the table. Pastas and meats are an ideal match, perhaps take a try at making your own Tajarin with a ragù of rabbit and artichokes. The wines bright berry notes, hints at anise and spice will marry together perfectly.

$17.00 BTL. / $204.00 CASE

2010 DOMAINE DE LA LOUVETRIE MUSCADET “LE FIEF DU BREIL”
It’s official – I don’t get it. How can a white wine from France, one of the best in its category, age worthy, and oodles of fun to drink only cost $20 a bottle?

Since I don’t have the answer to that question, I might as well tell you about this excellent Muscadet from Jo Landron of Domaine de la Louvetrie. Muscadet Sèvre et Maine is an appellation on the western, Atlantic edge of the Loire Valley in France. Melon de Bourgogne is the workhorse grape of the appellation, a cousin of the Chardonnay grape. The handful of top producers, including Jo Landron work hard in the vineyard, farming organically, keeping yields low, and focusing on the terroir of specific areas or soils.

“Le Fief du Breil” is year in and year out among the best and most age worthy wines of the region. It comes from a south facing vineyard with good exposure on a soil composed of clay, flint and orthogneiss.

The 2010 is a brilliant vintage, one with great clarity and intensity of flavor. This seafood-centric wine has bright aromas of oyster shell, lemon and spice. It is razor sharp on the palate with well defined citrus and mineral flavors along with its typical underlying richness. Drink this young with oysters or uni, age it for several years and it can pair with poultry or fish with richer sauces. Most excellent juice!

$19.00 BTL. / $228.00 CASE

 

 
2006 VIÑA PILAR RIBERA DEL DUERO CRIANZA
Maybe it is a little early to say that grilling season is back, but what the heck, time to introduce a great wine for grilled meats.

Ribera del Duero is a large appellation, with a dizzying array of wineries focusing primarily on the Tinto Fino varietal, which you know as Tempranillo. Having had a chance to travel through the region, one particular area that I was most impressed by was the vineyards surrounding Sotilla de la Ribera.

This is where Bodegas Félix Callejo was established in 1989. The Callejo family has been growing grapes in the area for 4 generations. They own 100 hectares of vineyards, most of which are at 850 meters altitude. The harvest is on average a week or two later than other parts of Ribera del Duero. That is one of the noticeable difference with the Callejo wines.

“Viña Pilar” is a second label of Callejo, coming from 20 year-old Tinto Fino vines. The same care goes into this wine as the rest of the wines. It is vinified in tank and aged in third-use French oak barrels.

This has really pretty floral and both red and dark berry fruits on the nose and palate. The underlying earthiness really comes out when paired with grilled meats like lamb or steak.

$20.00 BTL. / $240.00 CASE

 

 

2009 BERTHENET MONTAGNY 1ER CRU “VIEILLES VIGNES”
Any fan of White Burgundy should stock up on this outstanding value from Jean-Pierre Berthenet, wine grower based in Montagny. The rolling hills of the Côte Challonais is a place one can look to find excellent values in what is normally the high priced world of White Burgundy.

Take the Montagny challenge – put this wine next to a more expensive Chardonnay from Chassagne-Montrachet or Sonoma Coast, and you will be amazed at the complexity and richness for the price. This comes from the Berthenet’s oldest plots of vines in Premier Cru vineyards in Montagny. It is fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in a mixture of both tank and oak barrels.

This has really pretty aromatics of toasted almonds, citrus and spice. Texturally it has medium weight with a long, balanced finish. A classic match for simple roasted chicken.

A steal at this price!

$20.00 BTL. / $240.00 CASE

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