Friday feature 2/21/14: The New 6 for $120-Something Sampler

Hello and Happy Friday!


Thanks for tolerating our sending you TWO email newsletters, in that many days.


In the spirit of hastily sent missives, there was an error regarding the day of the week for the Sepia Austrian Winemaker Dinner.


It is Thursday, February 27th, 2014 at 6:30 pm (not Friday as previously stated). Hope that did not trip anyone up.


Again, the number to call to reserve your spot is 312-441-1920.




Thanks for everyone’s interest in the Portuguese Winemaker Dinner at Fat Rice.


The event sold out in just a few minutes.


You will all eventually be able to taste the wines for yourselves as we will be selling them all at the shop in the near future.


Craig & Sheb


6 for $120-Something 


2012 Xavier Clua “El Sola D’En Pol”-Terra Alta, Spain

Xavier Clua is a young winemaker who farms 10 hectares of vines around the village of Vilalba dels Arcs in Catalonia, just south of Montsant.  This is the heart of the up and coming Terra Alta region where there are some impressive wines being made.

Terra Alta forms the southern tip of Catalonia. It is an extremely mountainous zone whose valleys enjoy a mild, Mediterranean climate. Modern winemaking has been slow to come to Terra Alta, and it is people like Clua who are leading the charge.

This wine is composed of 85% Grenache Blanc & 15% Viognier, aged in stainless steel tanks to preserve a marked floral quality and freshness. It is a wine wine made to evoke the pleasures of a Mediterranean landscape; a slow procession of white-sailed boats in an azure sea, their triangular canvases gleaming in the sparkling afternoon sun.

You know, that kind of nonsense we all need a lot more of right now as we steel ourselves for the next chapter of what seems to be an unendingly cruel winter.

$15.00/BTL.- $180.00/CASE OF 12



2008 Dei “Sancta Catharina” IGT-Tuscany, Italy

Cantine Dei has been around since the 1970s, a beautiful Mediterranean farm just outside the village of Montepulciano, whose main exploits have been wine grapes and olive oil. Catherina Dei grew up on this sublime property and in 1992 took over the winemaking. She is a brilliant and gifted winemaker, and the Vino Nobile de Montepulciano’s produced here are benchmark wines for the region.

Catherina makes three classic wines (Vino Nobile, Vino Nobile Reserva & Rosso di Montepulicano) all based, of course, on Sangiovese, called Prugnolo Gentile locally.

However, she also makes two wines that could technically fall in the “Super Tuscan” category, a white called “Martiena” and a red called “Sancta Catherina”, which we are featuring today.

The 2008 is a blend of 30% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah & 10% Petit Verdot. The wines spend a year in new French oak and a year mellowing out in bottle before being released. This wine is a true powerhouse wine, and something you could put away for 10+ years. But there is a copious amount of pleasure in popping a cork on this wine right now, decanting for a few minutes and exploring the darker side of Montepulciano.





2012 Forlorn Hope Tinto Cāo “Dewitt Vineyard”-Amador County, CA

Jancis Robinson, in her epic tome “Wine Grapes” describesTinto Cāo as a, “high quality port variety that occasionally shines in Dão”. That seems like a “meh” description, but one man’s “meh” is another man’s treasure and so here we are faced with yet another one of winemaker Matthew Rorick’s brilliant and rare creatures.

Tinto Cāo is normally part of the blend on his “Mil Amores” bottling. In 2012, Matthew decided to take some of these grapes and ferment them separately. Happy with the results, he was able to produce 45 cases. As with all of Rorick’s wines, traditional techniques were employed; whole-cluster, open-top ferementation, very little racking and elevage in 10+ year old barrels.

Wildly aromatic, this is an unusual wine. It is difficult to find an apt comparison, as even in Portugal this grape is rarely bottled alone. It is medium-bodied, and displays briar-y, high-toned fruits of the early-spring-forest type. As with most of his wines, the natural acids are highly pronounced and intentionally feral.

$28.00/BTL.- $336.00/ CASE OF 12



2006 Alejandro Fernández “Dehesa La Granja”- Castilla y León, Spain

The Dehesa winery has been in existence for hundreds of years, in the town of Zamora. Although this now technically exists outside any of the designated DO zones of today, this was ground zero for Spanish wine production back then. The complex, underground labyrinth where the wine was cellared was carved out in the 1700s using nothing but pick axes.

“La Granja” is the name of the vineyard; a 250 hectare expanse of own-rooted Tempranillo vines planted on the banks of the Guareña River. It is the sand in these soils that allowed these vines to escape the scourge of phylloxera and allowed Alejandro Fernández, the property’s current owner, to continue to propagate this excellent selection massale.

This is traditional Spanish winemaking at it’s best; American Oak is employed and wines are produced in an old-world style with pronounced notes of dill from the cooperage. Dried cherry fruit abounds with firm, ultra-present tannins, courtesy of that old-vine Tempranillo.

$19.00/ BTL.-$228.00/ CASE OF 12



2012 Chateau Grand Traverse Riesling “Whole Cluster” -Old Mission Peninsula, MI.

Although the whole idea of drinking “local” has been appealing to us over the years, we have found much more success in the beer category than in wine. But in recent years, it seems that winemakers in Michigan have been getting their act together, and we are pleased to feature a Riesling that more than exceeds our exacting standards.

I furrowed my brow to the point of needing botox when Craig presented this bottle to me, but upon tasting was pleasantly surprised by its clarity and freshness. And in reading the techniques employed by winemaker Sean O’Keefe, they seem to be doing all the right things.

They leave a bit of residual sugar in order to emulate the palate of a German Kabinett. However, the wine is neither cloying nor sweet. This is a perfect aperitif wine, a Saturdayafternoon kind of thing, to go with light appetizers or salad.

$14.00/BTL.-$168.00/ CASE OF 12



2011 Meinklang Pinot Noir-Burgenland, Austria

In our unending quest to slake the world’s rabid thirst for affordable Pinot Noir, we bring to you another delicious cherry-filled wonder- this time from eastern Austria.

There may be few advantages to the crisis of global climate change. This winter we are experiencing definitely belongs in the disadvantage column; however one small concession is that winemakers in regions once too cold to support certain fickle varieties are now able to add cultivars to their vineyards that would have been unable to ripen 40 years ago. Pinot Noir is one such variety and we are beginning to see great examples come out of Austria & Germany these days.

Meinklang is a large, bio-dynamically farmed property in Burgenland, right on the Hungarian border. A herd of 300 cattle resides on the property, and ancient wheats such as emmer and einkorn are cultivated, as well as apples, maize & sunflowers. If this sounds like some kind of wacked-out, Bavarian hippie utopia feel-good story, well that’s about right. But we are down with it if it means we get to drink this kind of silky, fruit-laden Pinot Noir, supported by zippy acidity. Even if underneath it all, we are really more in line with more dystopian happy endings.

$19.00/BTL.-$228.00/ CASE OF 12


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