Hello and Happy Friday!
Why am I so excited this Friday! The “Six for $120” is back!
This sampler, aims to bring you some of the best wines I’ve recently tasted in and around the $20 range. All of these are available by the bottle or case, but for maximum pleasure you should take the whole sampler!
For those folks waiting for the “Six for $60-something,” I will have a brand new one for you next Friday.
Have a great Easter weekend!
2009 ALICE & OLIVIER DE MOOR ALIGOTÉ
For some the grape varietal Aligoté is the Prosecco of France. A wine that is often innocuous and therefore used as a base to blend into crème de cassis.
It is always impressive to find a producer that really cares about their Aligoté. One such specialist of the varietal is the estate of Alice & Olivier De Moor. All the cool kids are drinking Chablis from De Moor, and you get super street cred if you drink their Aligoté!
De Moor is insistent on carefully farming and hand picking grapes from their small estate. This is a minimal interventionist estate that emphasized terroir above all.
Aligoté has such a special place in their hearts that more than the standard one bottling is made. As a lesson into the freshness and deliciousness that this varietal can achieve I am offering their base cuvée on this month’s “Six for $120” sampler!
Pure and racy fruit, that is intensely citric with a wisp of mineral goodness – this was raised in equal parts tank and old barrel. Aligoté is classic as an aperitif, but it goes great with all things shellfish. Try this now on the sampler, because it won’t be around for long!
$19.00 BTL. / $228.00 CASE
2008 BETTS & SCHOLL “THE O.G.” GRENACHE
This is a seriously complex bottle of Grenache from Master Sommelier Richard Betts and his business partner Dennis Scholl. Richard is one of the good guys in the business, and has a great palate and understanding for what makes great wine.
What drew Richard Betts to South Australia and specifically Barossa Valley, was the incredible amount of old-vines that were available to source fruit from. For “The O.G.” Grenache, Richard sources dry-grown, bush-vine Grenache, some of the vines are over 100 years-old!
The wine is fermented and aged in old oak. Stylistically, the is a Grenache that avoids over extraction, and focuses on showing the mixture of fruit and spice that naturally radiates from these old vines.
Lighter in color but packed with aromatics and flavors of raspberry, wild strawberry, wild herbs and spice. One can seemingly smell the aromatics of the vineyard in bloom. This manages to tow the line between bold and elegant.
This is a ridiculously good value, and will be great with simply prepared duck.
$21.00 BTL. / $252.00 CASE
2009 DOMAINE DU GRAND CRÈS “LE BLANC”
When done the proper way, Rhône varietal whites can be some of the most exciting and food friendly white wine on earth. The key is the “done the proper way” line because grapes like Roussanne and Viognier are among the most difficult to work with.
Here is not only a fantastic example of a Rhône varietal white wine, but also one at a price point rarely seen for this quality.
Domaine du Grand Crès is a fantastic estate in the Corbières region of the Western Languedoc. Hervé Leferrer and his wife Pascaline acquired their property in Corbières in 1988. Hervé had previously been the vineyard manager at France’s most prestigious Burgundian estate, Domaine de la Romanée Conti.
Working with local varietals in Corbières really excites Hervé, and his vineyards are quite special, well situated on hillsides, with good exposure, elevation and cooling nighttime breezes.
This is especially important when it comes to grapes like Roussanne and Viognier. These two varietals can become quite blowsy if they lack the freshness that altitude and dramatic temperature change can bring.
His ’09 “Le Blanc” is quite a special wine, a blend of 60% Roussanne and 40% Viognier from those aforementioned vineyards planted on clay and chalk soils at 300 meters. Yields for these vines are very low at 30 hl/ha.
Hervé likes to keep the skins and juice in contact for a short time to add to the aromatics and richness of the wine. Malo-lactic fermentation is blocked, and the wine is kept on its fine lees for 9 months before bottling.
An aromatic explosion of ripe apricot and peach notes, white flowers, and spice. This has some weight on the palate but never feels heavy. It finishes long and fresh, with the same delicacy of all the Grand Crès wines.
This is easy drinking on its own, but also works well with North African cuisine, scallops or lobster or various cows milk cheeses.
It is an exceptional value, similar wines of its category often cost two or three times more!
$19.00 BTL. / $228.00 CASE
2008 KENNETH VOLK NEGRETTE “CALERI VINEYARD”
It was unintentional, but apparently the theme of this newsletter is “off the beaten path varietals.” If that’s the case, this wine is the mascot of the newsletter.
Negrette is a little known French varietal that comes from the Southwest of France and the appellation of Côtes du Frontonnais. Somehow it found its way to California, and used to be called Pinot St. George. A new labeling law forced the few that were using it to call it by its original name.
There’s not much love for Negrette from enologists as it can be one of the more difficult varietals to work with. It is very thin skinned and susceptible to all kinds of issues during the growing season and harvest.
The great thing about wine is the fascination of growers to stick with a varietal, nurture it, and not get frustrated and rip out the vines. Kenneth Volk, a long time producer in the Central Coast of California sources his Negrette from the Caleri Vineyard in San Benito County.
Great care was taken in the harvesting of these grapes. They are hand harvested, with an initial selection of grapes in the field. They are sent to the winery in refrigerated trucks and dry ice is used to make sure that they remain fresh through the point where they are crushed and fermented with indigenous yeasts in open top bins. The wine is aged in French oak, a small percentage of which is new.
The resulting wine is a really interesting interpretation of the varietal. The trademark spice and earth notes leap from the glass. The palate combines dark and red berry fruit, with a silky texture and soft tannins. Complex and most importantly delicious.
This is a very versatile food red, have it with different preparation of chicken.
$21.00 BTL. / $252.00 CASE
2008 RAVINES WINE CELLARS CABERNET FRANC
A Perman Wine Selections first today – a wine being offered from the Finger Lakes appellation of upstate New York!
It is not that I haven’t tasted wine from the region – there are a few producers offered in Chicago. Yet this is the first time one has met my strict criteria, displaying high quality coupled with a fair price point.
Ravines Wine Cellars makes some really good wine, and good values at that. The estate began in 2000 when its owners, Morten and Lisa Hallgren purchased 17 acres on Keuka Lake. From those vineyards a variety of grapes are grown from Riesling and Chardonnay to Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Morten Hallgren gained experience with Cabernet Franc having worked for a brief period in Bordeaux. Hallgren grew up in Provence and attended enology school in Montpellier. His experience in the Finger Lakes region is noted by his former job as winemaker for perhaps the most famous Finger Lakes producer Dr. Konstantin Frank’s.
This Cabernet Franc is a very good, elegant interpretation of the grape. It offers a suggestion of ripe plum and cherry fruit, classic Cabernet Franc spice notes, and a soft, well-balanced finish. No confusing this with Loire Cabernet Franc, but this is a wine that will be broadly appreciated.
A nice pairing for a leg or rack of lamb.
$17.00 BTL. / $204.00 CASE
2009 ARGYROS ESTATE “ASSYRTIKO” SANTORINI
Sometime choosing wine to drink requires a “think outside the box” kind of mentality. That kind of outside the box mentality is omnipresent at Perman Wine Selections, and in full effect on this month’s Six for $120.
Thinking about the wines of Greece, very few customers ever ask for varietals like Assyrtiko or Xinomavro. Very often customers do pair wines with Mediterranean cuisine and are often looking for white wine that offers fresh citrus and mineral notes.
A wine like the Argyros Estate “Assyrtiko” Santorini is perfect for those willing to break out of the box to try something different. You will be rewarded with an incredibly complex white wine with a unique sense of identity yet grounded in flavors you have had in the past.
Argyros Estate has been recognized as on the top wineries of Greece. Located on the island of Santorini, the estate is over 100 years-old. With 65 acres on volcanic soil, Yiannis Argyros makes a range of white wines from the local Assyrtiko grape varietal. The grapes come from the Episcopi Gonia region of the island. The naturally low yielding vineyards produce Assyrtiko fo great intensity.
This cuvée is made from 100% Assyrtiko that has been fully destemmend, gently pressed in a pneumatic press, and fermented and aged in tank.
The resulting wine offers an aromatic freshness that is reminiscent of sea air, mineral, citrus and herbs. Assyrtiko offers great freshness on the palate, with bright acidity, more hints at citrus fruit and a long, clean finish.
Simply prepared whole roasted fish is the ideal match, but it will also work well with grilled shrimp or octopus.
$23.00 CASE / $138.00 SIX-PACK CASE