Friday Feature – December 26, 2009

Happy Holiday’s!

Normally on the last Friday of the month I release my monthly “six for $60” wine sampler.  Due to yesterday being Christmas, I am announcing its availability today!

If you haven’t heard of the “six for $60” it is about time you did!  It is pretty simple, a monthly sampler that I put together based on some favorite wine values I have tasted recently.  Six individual bottles are put together equally $60 (excluding tax).

The “six for $60”  is highly recommend to those learning about wines, trying to stock their wine rack with fun things, or wanting to bring a gift to someone hosting a party.

So how does this work?  To order simply e-mail me back and say “Hey Craig, hook me up.”  To join the devoted legions of fans who receive them every month you can just say “and keep ‘em coming!”  All of the wines are available by the bottle or case, but for total jubilation just do the whole sampler.  Some people are challenged by some of the wines that I put in to my sampler.  If Grenache and Syrah blended together makes you itchy, Pinot Noir from Argentina makes you uncomfortable in public settings, or you just simply hate something I am offering, I will substitute and try to get the sampler as close to $60 as possible.

A suggestion to those folks trying to learn from this as well as get a buzz, print out a copy of the newsletter to keep with your sampler.  That way when you are in the mood for a bottle you have your own mini wine lesson on hand.  So what are you waiting for?  Order yours today!
The sampler is in stock and ready to be picked up or shipped out!

***Tonight, Saturday, December 26th, Perman Wine will close early at 6 PM***

***Hours will be shortened on New Year’s Eve, I will be open from noon-5:30 PM.  I will be closed on New Year’s day to cheer on my very own Oregon Ducks!  Go Ducks!***

Have a great weekend,
Craig

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THIS MONTH’S SIX FOR $60 SELECTIONS
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2007 CHÂTEAU GRANDE CASSAGNE “GRENACHE – SYRAH”
The appellation of Costières de Nîmes is the gateway between the Southern Rhône Valley and the Languedoc region of France.  For a long time it has been a good place to look for wine values.

Year in and year out, Château Grande Cassagne produces a range of excellent values.  The estate lies 25 miles west of Avignon in St. Gilles.  Owned and run by the Dardé brothers, there is a focus on producing wines with great richness and complexity that go beyond the price point.

Their label called “G.S.” is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah.  Overproduction has always been an issue in Costières de Nîmes, but the Dardé’s do practice crop thinning to limit the yields and maximize ripeness.  The Grenache is aged in tank, and part of the Syrah is aged in barrel.

The result in a warm vintage like ’07, is a medium to full-bodied red that oozes with sweet berry fruit, white pepper, and herb notes.  The ripeness and the rich texture make this suitable to big flavor dishes, like one of my favorite wintertime dishes, cassoulet: a mixture of beans, different parts of the pig, garlic, herbs and bread crumbs.
$10.50 BTL. / $126.00 CASE

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2008 CUCAO “PX”
Vote for Pedro! In this case, not the fictitious character from Napoleon Dynamite, rather one of Chile’s oldest grape varieties.

While obscure to many Americans, Pedro Ximenez is a very important white grape varietal in the production of the spirit called Pisco in Chile.  The Elqui Valley is probably the most important production zone for this grape varietal.  It is located to the east of Chile’s second oldest city, La Serena.  A mountainous region, grapes struggle to survive, but luckily the Pedro Ximenez grape with its thick skin is able to.

Very little dry table white wine is made, but in the world of wine something new and interesting is always emerging.  I think this version of Pedro is also going to wine the hearts and taste buds of those who try it!

Fermented and rested in stainless steel tanks, this offers vibrant aromas of citrus peel, passion fruit, and some herbs.  Very fresh and crisp on the palate, this is an ideal aperitif, great with goat cheese, or a versatile accompaniment to simply prepared shellfish and whitefish.
$10.50 BTL. / $126.00 CASE

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2005 ST MARYS “BELLS & WHISTLES”
Looking at the Terra Rossa soil of the Mulligan family’s St Mary’s estate in Penola, Australia, you would think that nothing would be able to grow on that incredibly rocky terrain. Yet the fact is, with Bordeaux varietals, stones are a very good thing!

St Mary’s Wines is located south of Adelaide in South Australia, in an area called the Limestone Coast.  Unlike many large volume Australian wineries, all the fruit for St Mary’s comes from estate vineyards.  Everything is hand picked, fermented in open top vats, and basket pressed.  Total production at the winery is around 3000 cases.

“Bells & Whistles” is composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon,, 20% Shiraz, 11% Cabernet Franc and 4% Merlot.  The grapes are aged in a combination of French and American oak for 12 months.

When I try Aussie wines, I am always looking for wines with some definition and character to them. This wine certainly has a lot going on to it.  Rich nose of blackberries, mint, and spice.  Medium bodied with soft tannins, restrained sweet berry fruit, mineral, and a savory finish.  A good pairing with beef brisket.
$10.50 BTL. / $126.00 CASE

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2008 COLONIA LAS LIEBRES BONARDA
Did you know that it is estimated that 60% of the Argentine population has some degree of Italian ancestry?  It is no wonder then that wine plays such a big role in the lifestyle of the Argentine people. It is also no wonder that grape varietals such as Bonarda made their way from Italy to the mountains of Mendoza.

The grape varietal Bonarda originates from Piedmont and Lombardy in the northwest of Italy. It is a grape that has some similarities to Barbera and at times was blended with that varietal in Italy. It has fallen out of favor in its homeland, but now finds its place in Argentina.

Colonia Las Liebres was a project started by the same group who own and produce the Malbec, Altos Las Hormigas.  Their one wine produced under this label is 100% Bonarda from 30+ year old vines in East Mendoza.   It is vinified in stainless steel tank and sees no oak treatment as the team hopes to preserve the freshness of the grape and maintain a sense of where it comes from.

The wine remains true to what it is supposed to be.  Bright aromas of cherry and strawberry, move into a juicy fruit forward palate with hints of mineral and herbs.  This wine boasts excellent naturally acidity, which helps keep it fresh and easy to pair with foods.  I like this with a Pan-Asian style grilled salmon dish, or even just a good old hamburger.
$8.00 BTL. / $96.00 CASE

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2008 FINCA EL PORTILLO PINOT NOIR
Two Argentinean wines on the sampler and no Malbec?  That’s right, my other happy find of the month is this excellent Pinot Noir value.

Typically those words don’t go together, you know, Pinot Noir and value.  This finicky grape is grown all over the world, and it is no surprise then that Argentina is now looking at various areas within their country to plant the popular grape.

This example comes from the Uco Valley located within the broader region of Mendoza.  Finca El Portillo is owned by Bodegas Salentein.  With several estates and a gravity fed winemaking facility, all the state of the art equipment and technical know how are present to make good wines.

The ’08 Pinot Noir is sourced from a few selected plots that offer the good exposure needed to properly ripen the grape.  The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed, pressed, and before fermentation were allowed to sit on the skins at a cool temperature. After fermentation the juice is racked gently by gravity into stainless steel tanks for resting. The idea is to make a fresh, and fruit forward style of Pinot.

This is going to be a real crowd pleaser with its hints at black cherry, wild strawberry, and spice on the nose and the palate.  A very delicate and subtle style, that has enough fruit and a round quality that makes it easy to enjoy even by itself.  This should cover a wide range of food from chicken to salmon to lamb.
$10.00 BTL. / $120.00 CASE

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2008 BARONE DI VALFORTE PASSERINA
With its hundreds of local varietals, the world of Italian wine is so expansive that even the biggest wine geeks are constantly trying new varietals.  One of my favorite esoteric varietals is the white grape Passerina.  The name is loosely translated to small sparrow, a reference to its loose bunches shaped like the wings of a small sparrow.

The grape varietal is planted mainly in the northern regions of Abruzzi as well as in the region of Le Marche.

This example comes from a producer that I’ve featured on the sampler before, Barone di Valforte. This family winery is located in the northern part of Abruzzi and is well known for both its reds and white wines.  Technically this Passerina comes from the IGT of Colli Aprutini.  The vineyards are largely based in sand and mud.

Vinification is simple, cold maceration with the skins, followed by cool fermentation in stainless steel tank.

There is no oak here to interfere with the vibrant yellow plum and stone fruit aromas.  Its brisk acidity, and fruit character make this an ideal aperitif, as well as a good match for simple grilled calamari. Because it is cold and snowy out this is on a bit of a price break, so it is a real treat to include it in the sampler!
$10.50 BTL. / $126.00 CASE


Craig Perman
Perman Wine Selections
802 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
Phone 312-666-4417
Fax 312-666-4487
craig@permanwine.com

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