Hello and Happy Friday!
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 have a hard time digesting Zweigelt, Macabeo gives you bad dreams, 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,
2008 WINZERKELLER NECKENMARKT ZWEIGELT
Whatever it takes to get you to drink more Austrian wines, well I’m not above it. Don’t worry Mom, I’m not getting a tattoo of the Danube River, with “Grüner for life” written above it. I’m not planning on filling up a kiddie pool in front of the store with wine and girls in bikinis with signs that say “honk if you love Blaüfrankisch. ”
All of these are good ideas, but not as good of an idea as Winzerkeller Neckenmarkt coming up with a label that almost demands you to pick up the bottle and see what it is all about. Yes, packaging is important, but for me it is what’s in the bottle that really matters.
Winzerkeller Neckenmarkt is a cooperative located in the Mittelburgenland region of Austria. While the winery was started in 1968, it really wasn’t until the last decade that the focus became on quality. Incentives have been put in place to reduce yields, encourage older vines, and promote quality in general.
“zweiGelt” is a delicious, entry level example of the grape varietal Zweigelt, a hybrid varietal that is a cross between Blaüfrankisch and St. Laurent. The grapes are grown in gravel and loess soil from south facing vineyards. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks.
Fresh, nose of red currant, dark cherry, mineral and spice on the nose. Medium weight, with a Pinot–like texture, and excellent balance. This is a really nice summer red, as it is silky and easy to drink even with a slight chill on it. Enjoy this with grilled salmon or chicken.
$10.50 BTL. / $126.00 CASE
2009 ESPELT “VAILET”
Back in High School and Grade School I wasn’t a fan of every subject. Yet looking back my favorite subjects of history, geography, and Spanish all find their way into my daily life.
When recommending wines I often times speak a little bit about the history and geography of the wine, and this time is no exception.
Espelt is a producer located in the appellation of Empordà, which takes its name from the ancient Greek city that once existed called Emporiae. Located south of the Pyrenées mountains and alongside the Mediterranean coastline, the region enjoys great geological and climatic diversity.
With over 500 acres of vineyards, Espelt uses that diversity to its advantage working with a great deal of different grape varietals and soils.
“Vailet” is their entry–level white wine composed of 60% Garnacha Blanca and 40% Macabeo. The soil composition for these vineyards is granite and limestone, grown at about 200 meters above sea level.
Produced and aged in tank, this wine displays lots of fresh pear and spice on the nose. Medium weight on the palate, with orange and lemon peel notes, and a bright, refreshing finish.
This drinks beautifully on its own, but also is a perfect foil for grilled shrimp.
$10.00 BTL. / $120.00 CASE
N.V. COSIMO MARIA MASINI “SINCERO”
If there is one thing that I learned about wine growing from my recent trip to Italy, France and Spain it is if you are farming organically and especially biodynamically, then your production costs are going to be significantly higher.
Any of you business majors out there will know (and I definitely wasn’t ), that the greatest costs of starting and running a wine related business are the initial investments, rent or mortgage, and labor.
Why I bring all this up is because I was pleasantly surprised to taste “Sincero, ” a biodynamically produced value from Tuscan producer Cosimo Maria Masini. Finding good wines in this price point from Tuscany are difficult enough, but what an even bigger bonus that such attention to detail is even given to a wine that retails for $11.
Produced from estate vineyards, it is a blend of primarily young–vine Sangiovese and Cabernet. Only indigenous yeasts are used, and fermentation and aging occurs primarily in tank.
A really terrific expression of Sangiovese, with that classic cherry note leaping out on the nose and palate. Hints of savory herbs, and a silky, smooth mouth feel make it very easy to drink and also enjoy at the dinner table with pasta with red sauce. A delicious value.
$11.00 BTL. / $132.00 CASE
2009 LÓPEZ PANACH TEMPRANILLO
Tempranillo is grown seemingly in every direction in Spain. Aside from Rioja, one of the largest production zones for the grape is in the south central department of Castilla – La Mancha. It’s difficult to believe that I haven’t had a wine from this area in my “Six for $60” given their penchant for being excellent values. Many of them are consumed locally in Spain, many in the bars of Madrid.
I was excited to find this excellent value Tempranillo from López Panach, a winery located outside of the town of Villarrobledo, in the province of Albacete. The climate in this area is quite extreme with really cold winters, and very warm summers. Day / Night temperature are also quite dramatic, sometimes having up to 68 degrees in variance. This has a dramatic impact on the grapes as they get quite ripe in the warmth of the day, and retain acidity because of the cool nights.
López Panach produces this easy drinking Tempranillo that is chock full of aromatics and flavors of dark berry fruits and spices. It is relatively soft in body, and can even be enjoyed with a slight chill on it.
The winery is in the same region that is famous for its production of the cheese Manchego, to which this bottle drinks really well with. It is the type of wine that I would expect to be served in a carafe in a bar in Madrid. Complex, maybe not. Delicious and easy to drink, definitely so.
$10.00 BTL. / $120.00 CASE
2009 CHÂTEAU PEYRUCHET BORDEAUX BLANC
Name the first French appellation that comes to mind when thinking about good values in Sauvignon Blanc? Loire Valley. A Vin de Pay from the Languedoc? Oh, Bordeaux, you and I almost always forget about that.
Sauvignon Blanc plays a prominent role south and east of the city of Bordeaux. It can be found in the great oak aged wines of Graves, or even the famous dessert wine appellation of Sauternes. It also can be found as an unoaked white wine in Entre–deux–Mers or in this case from Loupiac producer Château Peyruchet.
Loupiac is more well–known for its dessert wines, and Peyruchet does produce one. Yet this family run estate, also produces a most delicious dry crisp white composed of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillon. Temperature controlled stainless steel tanks are used for fermentation and aging to preserve the freshness of the fruit.
Aromatic notes of grapefruit, lemon peel and herbs on the nose lead into a dry, crisp refreshing mouth feel with just a little bit of texture from the Semillon. This would make a nice pairing with grilled halibut.
$10.00 BTL. / $120.00 CASE
2008 J. PORTGAL RAMOS “LOIOS” VINHO BRANCO
Do the Portuguese picnic? I’m not so sure, but what I do know is they do produce some wines that are perfect to take on a picnic!
Take this example, a white wine from celebrated winemaker João Portugal Ramos. With his value brand called “Loios” he sources the white grape varietals Rabo de Ovelha and Roupeiro from the Alentejano region in Portugal. The vines are grown on a mixture of limestone clay and schist, and the wine is vinified and aged in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.
Which leads me back to that picnic. As many of us sit outside for concerts at Millennium Park, your local movie in the park, or even Ravinia, we need inexpensive wine that can taste good even out of a plastic cup.
This wine fits the bill with its fresh citrus aromas and flavors of orange, lime and mineral. No brain cells are needed to enjoy, so if you can get the cork out fast enough you will be primed for that picnic.
$8.50 BTL. / $102.00 CASE