Hello and Happy Friday!
Hope you are getting ready for a fun holiday weekend! I know I am – and as a result, I will be closed this Monday, May 31st for Memorial Day. I will return to my regular schedule on Tuesday.
Also as a reminder, this coming week will be my last full week in the shop for some time as I get prepared to take a work trip that will last from Sunday, June 6th to Monday, June 28th. The store will have limited hours during that time. Next week I will send an e-mail with my hours of operation while I am gone.
Now, back to business. It is the last Friday of the month, and most of you out there in e–land know what that means! It is “six for $60” time! Don’t know what that means? It is pretty simple, a monthly sampler featuring six recently tasted and Craig approved wine values. Together these six individual bottles cost only $60 (excluding tax).
The “six for $60” is highly recommend to those learning about wines, trying to stock their wine rack with affordable and tasty adult beverages, 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 you do not drink Bianchello during June, Ugni Blanc brings back bad memories, 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!
Have a great weekend,
2009 EL COTO RIOJA ROSADO
Who doesn’t drink pink? Seemingly every wine region in the world makes rosé, and that includes one of my favorite Spanish wine regions, Rioja.
Remember, the Rioja region grows more than just the Tempranillo varietal. Red grapes like Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo are all present, and some times dominant in certain areas like Rioja Baja.
So it shouldn’t surprise you then when I tell you that this delicious Rosado is a blend of equal part of Tempranillo and Garnacha from the Rioja Alavesa sub–region. Two days of skin maceration follow harvest, then on to clarification and fermentation in stainless steel tanks.
Quite simply this is a remarkably refreshing Rosado that strikes a great balance between fruity and rich. Very dominant red berry notes like strawberry and raspberry are joined with light pepper spice and floral notes. This will definitely get the party started!
$10.50 BTL. / $126.00 CASE
2007 DOMAINE DE PIAUGIER “LES RAMIÈRES” VDP DE VAUCLUSE
This was one of the easiest decisions ever for inclusion in the sampler!
I love the wines of Domaine de Piaugier, who many of you know for their work in the village of Sablet in the Southern Rhône Valley. Jean–Marc Autran is a fourth generation wine grower, and a very talented one to boot.
While the winery is based in the village of Sablet, on the foothills of the Dentelles de Montmirail, his vineyards come from many areas within the Vaucluse. As most of you know by know, quite a bit of Merlot is grown in the South of France, and many good producers are able to use it for their Vin de Pays.
The 2007 “Les Ramières” is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Merlot. Some of these vines are 45 years–old. This has been hand–picked, completely destemmed and aged in cement vat.
What a fun wine with plenty of briary red and black fruits, the typical herbs and garrigue that you find from the wines of the South, and a long, somewhat spicy finish. What a wine for the grill. It is soft enough tannin wise to pair with grilled birds like quail, and flavorful enough to handle grilled lamb chops. Delicious!
$10.00 BTL. / $120.00 CASE
2008 ROSSINI BIANCHELLO DEL METAURO
The Gumbo went to the Marche and discovered Bianchello! Ok, so many of you don’t know who The Gumbo is, but he is a friend of mine who knows quite a bit about the wines of Italy. On his recent trip to Italy he came back excited about Bianchello del Metauro. My reaction – Bian–what?
That is what I love about Italian wine, there is always something new to learn! Bianchello del Metauro it turns out is a DOC in the northern part of the Le Marche region surrounding the town of Pesaro. While Verdicchio is the most talked about white varietal in Le Marche, the 18 communes in the Metauro river basin, grow Bianchello and pretty much consume most of it locally.
Bianchello also goes by the name Biancame and it is thought that this is related to the very common Trebbiano grape. Regardless where it comes from it makes for a very fresh, aromatic style of white wine that is a perfect sipper on a warm day.
Rossini is a cooperative in the Metauro river basin. Their interpretation of Bianchello is crisp, delicious, and so easy to drink. Lots of bright citrus notes, along with some hints of pear, almonds and flowers. A good wine to drink on its own or with mussels on the grill.
$11.50 BTL. / $138.00 CASE
2007 CASTELLO DELLE REGINE “POGGIO DELLE REGINE”
For those of you with siblings out there, maybe you can relate to Umbria’s “family rivalry” situation. The central Italian wine region sits right next to its brother Tuscany. Yet for some reason it doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves.
As an optimist, I tend to believe that the due respect will come in time. In the meantime it is my job to show you some examples of why you should drink wines from Umbria!
Castello delle Regine is a very important estate in the hillsides between the small towns of Narni and Amelia. This is a big estate, 400 hectares, planted to vines and olive trees, teeming with cattle and wildlife. It is owned by a lawyer from Milan named Paolo Nodari. He has really transformed this estate into one of the gems of the region with the help of notable enologist Franco Bernabei and cellar master, Fabio Bussetti.
“Poggio delle Regine” is a simple but delicious red wine made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% each Syrah and Merlot. It’s fermentation is done in stainless steel tanks, and it is aged for a short time in larger oak barrels. It has elegant red and dark berry fruit tones, with soft spice notes, and a hint of tannin.
You can really imagine this being enjoyed at the Regine estate in Umbria with a grilled steak from their private cattle stock. Maybe you don’t have cows at your house, but you can always head down to Gepperth’s Meat Market and grab a big t–bone steak to grill!
$11.00 BTL. / $132.00 CASE
2009 COLOMBELLE VDP DES CÔTES DE GASCOGNE
One of the tricky parts of putting the “Six for $60” together is finding that extra inexpensive wine to throw in to help defray some of the more expensive bottles. When I’m searching for a wine in the $8 price category I know I can only go safely to a few places. Gascogny in Southwest France is one of them.
If you have had Armagnac before, then you have had an adult beverage from the region. In the early 1980’s, producers in the region started to produce dry white wines from the local grapes Colombard and Ugni Blanc. These are the same grapes that went into their spirit, so it made a lot of sense to also vinify wine from them.
With the relatively flat farmland, mechanization can be used in the vineyards. Yields also can be relatively high and still make for tasty wine. So all is in place to make easy drinking, simple wine at very low price point.
This example comes from the winery Producteurs Plaimont. A cooperative of growers in several southwestern appellations that are producing local varieties true to their roots. These are clearly farmers first judging from the horrible packaging of the bottle. But the goods deliver, with a very glugable quality, bright citrus notes, and a hint at herbs to keep it interesting.
The screwtop suggests easy access for picnics and bbq’s in the park. No need to drink this with anything in particular, it will work on its own or with simple salads and seafood prepartions.
$7.50 BTL. / $90.00 CASE
2008 ALBERTO FURQUE MALBEC
It has been a little while since I’ve thrown a Malbec in the sampler. A lot of recent tastings have revealed super fruity, almost candied styles that may taste good coming out of a Jello mold, but not my wine glass.
Recently I tasted this very delicious Malbec from Alberto Furque in Mendoza. Savory is the word I used, as its quintessential Malbec fruit is complimented by a savory quality that makes it easy to drink and fun to have at a dinner table.
Alberto Furque established his winery in the Uco Valley in 1995. Located in the village of La Consulta, Carolina Furque is in charge of the 74 hectares of vineyards. Carolina is a late–harvester, and leaves the grapes on its skins for 15 to 20 days before being aged in concrete tanks. That could have something to do with the fact that this Malbec has some really nice structure.
Look for notes of dark cherry, black currant, plenty of spice, and a nice balanced attack on the back of the palate. Two words – red meat!
$9.50 BTL. / $114.00 CASE