Hello and Happy Friday!
It’s back! The “Six for $120,” my brand new sampler that offers six exciting wine values for $120.
In May I introduced this new sampler to all you out their in e–mail land. The feedback has been really great, and I’m excited to keep it going with some new finds.
As with the “Six for $60,” sampler, this is a tremendous way to learn about wine you may not normally pick off the shelf. Order your “Six for $120” today by simply telling me “hey Craig, really hook me up.”
All of these wines are also available by the bottle or case, but for maximum pleasure you should be trying the whole sampler. As always, I am willing to sub something out if you really can’t stand it, but c’mon, how do you know you don’t like it if you didn’t try it?
For maximum wine learning print out the descriptions below, and keep it with your wine. You will have a mini–wine lesson on your hands every month.
These are in stock and ready to go!
Have a great weekend,
2007 DOMAINE GAUBY CÔTES DU ROUSILLON “LES CALCINAIRES”
The most inspirational award goes to Rousillon producer Gerard Gauby of Domaine Gauby!
Handing out my post trip awards is somewhat of a difficult task. I don’t really like saying the word best, and favorite can also be troublesome. Each of the 40 producers that I visited last month in France, Italy and Spain offered a unique and interesting perspective on winegrowing in their region.
Yet, a few things really stood out.
Without a doubt my visit with Gerard Gauby in the Rousillon region of Southern France had me pondering several things.
The best sites of the Rousillon – are clearly the highest elevation sites that offer some coolness in what is a hot region. Most of these sites also offer schist and chalk in the soil. Gauby is located on the outskirts of Calce in the hills of the Rousillon, and own parcels with these attributes.
Work in the vineyard – Over the years Gauby has worked hard to find out what grapes and practices help produce elegant wines, his fundamental goal. Farming biodynamically and organically helps develop the root structure so that while some other producers vines shut down from the extreme heat, Gauby’s vines ripen more even resulting in lower overall phenolic ripeness. Gerard also talked a bit about looking to the past to discover the right way to grow grapes. His red vines are interspersed with white vines. If disease comes to the vineyard, the interspersing of vines acts as a stop–gap of sorts and avoids the potential catastrophe that can happen when farming naturally. This is not a new idea, they have done this for hundreds of years in the area.
Pricing – is something we often talk about in terms of something being too expensive or not worth it. But as consumers do we really know what the costs are in the production of wine? Gerard Gauby made a decision to make the best wines he can regardless of price. Make no mistakes, the man is not rolling with an entourage, and I didn’t see a bunch of luxury vehicles outside the winery. When you pay $26+ for his first wine, and over $100 for his top wines, there are several factors. Yields are tiny in the Rousillon. Reinvestment in the winery, through different types of barrels and tanks, experimentation with grapes, happens every year. Last but definitely not least, it takes a nation, or seemingly so to constantly tend to the vineyards. Biodynamic means hard work. Spraying and treating vineyards like crap was created for the sole purpose of make money and working less. Sure Gauby could go that route considering he has built a reputation, but he is more inspired today to work even harder in the vineyard than ever before. This is something as consumers we should support.
I don’t want to make this Tolstoy’s War and Peace, so I will wrap it up by saying that for this month’s sampler it was pertinent that I introduce you to the ’07 “Les Calcinaire.” A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, and Mourvèdre, aged and vinified in a mixture of tank and big old barrels.
Look for notes of dark berry fruit, plum, herbs, and lots of the trademark mineral note. I’m looking forward to having this with a nice grilled steak.
$26.00 BTL. / $312.00 CASE
2009 QUINTA DO CRASTO BRANCO
How does a wine region that is over 250 years old get better? The answer lies in the Douro region of Portugal. One could argue that this is the most historically important wine region in the world given that it was the first, way back in 1756.
Long known for the fortified wine Port, it has now taken an even bigger step forward by also focusing on dry wines. Red grapes, may seem as more of a natural for this region given its history with Port. Yet white varietals also are very exciting, and can show the minerality of the schist soil.
Quinta do Crasto is one of the top wineries in Portugal when it comes to dry wines. The Quinta sits in the center of the Douro, along the river midway between Pêso da Régua and Pinhão. Owned by the Roquette family for over a hundred years, 70 of the 130 hectare estate is devoted to vines.
The highest elevation vineyards are often left for the production of white wines. Local varieties are used, as their ability to stand up to the extreme heat has been proven over the years. This wine s a blend of Gouveio, Roupeiro and Rabigato. The vine age average is a healthy twenty years, with the vineyards facing both east and south.
The vinification is pretty straightforward, with gently pressing, cool fermentation in tank, and aging in stainless steel vats.
The results are really impressive. Bright notes of orange and lemon citrus on the nose. Rich with good depth on the palate. Tropical fruits interplay with mineral undertones. A great food wine, with the ability to stand up to oily fishes, and yes, my favorite animal, pig.
$16.00 BTL. / $192.00 CASE
2008 DOMAINE PIRON–LAMELOISE CHÉNAS “QUARTZ”
Consumers are slowly but surely getting over their fear of Beaujolais. They realize that there is a big difference between the unexciting tradition of Beaujolais Nouveau, the over–cropped crappy large scale producers found on the shelves of supermarkets, and the sometimes brilliant examples of Beaujolais coming from the various Cru’s of the region.
To help keep the positive vibes going, I offer a incredibly delicious and yes, complex bottle from the smallest Cru of Beaujolais, Chénas.
The man behind the wine is none other than the irreverent Dominique Piron, someone I have had the pleasure of visiting in a previous trip to France. This man knows Beaujolais, farming several appellations in the region.
Just a few years back he acquired ten hectares of continues vines in Chénas. This impressive vineyard sits on granite based clay with streaks of quartz running through it. That quartz not only gives this wine its name, but it shows its terroir in the aromas and flavors of the wine. Chénas, is located on the northwest border of Moulin–à–Vent, and just south of Juliénas. It is the highest elevation Cru in Beaujolais.
Part of the reason Dominique was so excited to get this vineyard is its rarity to have that size of a continuous vineyard, and the fact that the vines here have an average age of over 35 years.
Patience is a virtue, and it has paid off, as his ’08 Chénas “Quartz” is one of the most delicious Beaujolais I have tried this year. Yes this wine has great minerality, but it also offers beautifully defined notes of wild strawberry, raspberry, and citrus zest.
A perfect summer red, to have with grilled salmon or smoke–roasted chicken.
$20.00 BTL. / $240.00 CASE
2009 DOMAINE GUIBERTEAU SAUMUR BLANC
I’m very excited to include a beautiful dry Chenin Blanc in this month’s sampler.
Romain Guiberteau is one of the rising stars in the Loire Valley of France. A small producer, about 30,000 bottles annually, his focus is on Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc from the appellation of Saumur.
Romain didn’t grow up in a wine making family, his father is a well–known doctor. Romain went to university to study law, and about mid way through he had a change of heart. He was caught by the wine bug, and in 1996 began working with vineyards that were purchased by his grandfather, who produced wine from these vines up until the mid ’70’s. His grandfather was a shrewd vigneron, buying up some of the top vineyard sites in Saumur.
Today, Romain is benefiting from those insights working with the same plots of exceptional vines. One big change since the old days of vineyard practices is Romain’s insistence on being organic. He began the vineyard conversion to organics in 1999, and has been certified since 2002. His friends, the Foucault brothers of Clos Rougeard fame, helped convince him that the only way to make truly great wine is by treating the vines in this manner.
Romain makes some brilliant white wines, and his Domaine white comes from vines between 3 and 50 years old. The wine is aged on its lees in Inox for six months.
Slightly muted nose with hints at orchard fruit and orange zest. In the mouth it offers medium to full weight with some of the same suggestions of fruit, and a very good snap of acidity on the finish. Don’t serve this ice cold, and give it a little air in a big glass or in a decanter.
Another very flexible food wine with its ability to match with bold flavored foods, not to mention poultry and meat.
$17.00 BTL. / $204.00 CASE
2009 KELLER RIESLANER SPÅTLESE
Much has been written on these pages about the great wines of Klaus–Peter and Julia Keller in the Rheinhessen of Germany. This is one of the five greatest estates of Germany.
Klaus–Peter produces a staggering amount of wines, and even for my wine brain, I have a hard time keeping up with the variety. At Perman Wines I have often featured his great Pinot Noir’s and focused on his dry Rieslings. But yet there is more, and this recent discovery has me very excited.
Rieslaner is a rare and slowly dying grape varietal in Germany. A cross–bred varietal it comes from the Silvaner and Riesling grapes. It is a late–ripening grape, and often is seen more as an Auslese or dessert wine.
Keller has produced a really fascinating and amazing example of Rieslaner in 2009, a much heralded vintage. I could smell this all day! Aromas of grapefruit, pear, talc and lime zest. On the palate this absolutely dances with more lime, grapefruit, and hints at wild strawberry on the finish. This finishes with bright and well–balanced acidity, and really it is hard to believe this has any residual sugar at all. Amazing clarity, and very long.
Let’s put all the wine geeky–ness aside here. This just tastes damn good! Since I’m always thinking about food, this could work with so many things. Whether it be the most delicate fish dishes, fatty foods like pork belly (and I mean fatty in the positive sense), or really spicy Asian inspired dishes. Very few other wines are more refreshing!
$23.00 BTL. / $276.00 CASE
2006 MAS MARTINET “MENUT” PRIORAT
Perhaps one of the most visually stunning wine regions in the world is that of Priorat in the province of Tarragona and the department of Catalunya. While this is no Napa Valley in terms of its ability to host tourism, it is a must for any of you going to Barcelona to make the drive down to the region of Priorat.
The city of Tarragona alongside the Mediterranean Sea was an important Roman city. Their local wine supply came from high up in the hills to the west, where varietals like Carignan and Grenache thrive.
In just a little over the last twenty years an explosion of activity has taken place in Priorat and neighboring Montsant. Old vineyards have been resurrected, and mountains have been terraced and transformed into spectacular vineyards.
One of the original families that is credited with helping resurrect the appellation is the Perez family. Josep Lluís Perez, was among the first group to re–discover the region and begin the process of planting and producing wine from existing and new grapes.
Today, his daughter Sarah has become the face of Clos Martinet, and continues to achieve the great success of her father.
A recent addition to the line–up of wines at Clos Martinet is this value wine called “Menut. ” This wine is a blend of 50% Garnacha, 30% Merlot, and 20% Syrah. Much of it is young vine fruit from a vineyard planted across the road from the winery. The Merlot comes from a bit older vines, and finds its way into this wine because the family doesn’t use the grape for their more expensive wines.
“Menut” is aged in 3, 4, and 5th use barrels for 15 months before being moved to tank. It offers really pretty aromatics of dark cherry, blackberry, cocoa, and mineral. Medium bodied, but very silky with well–defined fruit, and subtle spice. It remains very fresh and easy to drink.
The wines of Priorat are almost never inexpensive, and that is why I was shocked at the quality of this wine given its price. This is a must try for folks that love the bolder side of Spanish reds. I don’t think there is any Priorat out there right now that offers as good of a value.
$18.00 BTL. / $216.00 CASE