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 Garganega makes you gag, Nebbiolo is no longer allowed in your house, 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 LA CAPPUCINA SOAVE
Last week on my “Six for $120” sampler I wrote about the Soave appellation of Northeast Italy. As promised I wanted to also include a wine from this region on my “Six for $60.” So for those getting both samplers this month, you are going to be well versed in Soave!
Garganega is the principal grape variety in Soave, at least 70% must be used to meet D.O.C. requirements. As it has been written in these pages before, the key to quality is to find a small producer with estate vineyards that believe in lower yields and high quality grapes. Cooperatives play a major role in the appellation, but as a rule, these small estates are the leaders in quality.
La Cappucina is a top estate located in Costalunga di Monteforte d’Alpone. This is a family run estate, with the third generation of Tessari’s in charge today. The 66 acres are farmed without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides and great care is taken to encourage the plants to extend their roots deep into the earth.
La Cappucina makes a full range of Soave – and their basic wine, in my opinion, is the best value Soave you can buy for under $15. It is a rarity to see quality Soave at this price point.
100% Garganega from 20-30 year old vines planted in volcanic soil. This displays an aromatic nose of peach skin, white flowers, and lemon. More stone fruit and citrus are on display on the vibrant palate. This does drink well on its own, but is a natural pairing with simple preparations of shellfish.
$10.50 BTL. / $126.00 CASE
2009 CHÂTEAU DE LA TAILLE BORDEAUX
One of the greatest misconceptions in the wine world is that all Bordeaux is expensive. There is no doubt that the greatest examples have reached astronomical prices in recent years, but when you dig deep into the world of Bordeaux you realize the crazy amount of values to be had.
Take this example from Château de la Taille. The Charpentier family owns 23 hectares of vineyards spread out into two different areas, one near Aubie and the other near Blaye. A fourth generation family estate, they focus solely on red wine.
This Bordeaux is a blend of 87% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Malbec. The vinification is done in stainless steel vats and is aged in a combination of steel and cement vats.
Bordeaux fiends have surely heard the clamoring around the ’09 vintage. A warm vintage like this produces great hype. Those who really benefit tend to be little Château like this, who sites can use that extra degree of warmth. The proof is in the taste.
Combining aromas and flavors of plum, cherry, baking spices and fine herbs, with medium weight on the palate, soft tannins, and a long, juicy finish. Just a wonderfully fresh and vibrant bottle of Bordeaux to enjoy with simple grilled meats.
$9.50 BTL. / $114.00 CASE
2008 HANDLEY GEWÜRZTRAMINER
Very few varietals illicit as quick of a reaction than Gewürztraminer. I should begin by clarifying that this is a DRY Gewürztraminer, just like Riesling it is often vinified both ways.
For those learning about wine, tasting a Gewürztraminer can be a great educational experience, which is part of the reason I included this in the Six for $60. Two things jump out when you taste the varietal. Aromatically Gewürztraminer is very floral, almost like putting your face in a bouquet of roses. Second, Gewürztraminer is very textural. A big part of wine tasting is how that wine feels on your palate. Gewürztraminer can have different textures, but many examples will have an oily richness.
The other reason I included this wine is because it is a terrific, textbook example at a really great price. Handley is a family-owned winery located in the Anderson Valley A.V.A. of Mendocino. It was founded in 1982 by its winemaker, Milla Handley. This cool climate area excels at grapes like Pinot Noir and of course Gewürztraminer.
5 different vineyard parcels are blended to make this Gewürztraminer. The grapes are pressed, with one portion fermented in stainless steel tanks and the other in large neutral oak barrels. The barrel fermentation typically happens at a higher temperature and promotes lees stirring which results in a bigger, creamier mouthfeel.
Aromatically complex notes of rose petals, lychee, and peach, are accompanied by a rich mouthfeel which retains enough acidity to balance the wine. This is one of the best matches with Thai curries. There is a dish at Sticky Rice that combines duck, lychee and curry that this would be perfect for!
$9.50 BTL. / $114.00 CASE
2005 STEFANO FARINA “LE BRUME” LANGHE ROSSO
Yes, it’s true – I love the Langhe! On my wine trip in June I had the great opportunity to visit the Langhe, concentrating my “studies” in Barolo.
This area is one of the most special places on earth when it comes to wine and food. I actually think I may still be full from my visit!
Barolo and Barbaresco, the most two famous names of Piedmont are made from the noble grape varietal, Nebbiolo. Barbera and Dolcetto are two other grapes that make their way on to the table on a more daily basis. International varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot also have found their way into certain vineyards and are used for blends such as this.
Stefano Farina has a rich heritage in the Langhe, and his success has led him to other regions in Italy. It is his work in Piedmont that I am most fond of.
Within Diano d’Alba, Farina owns the San Quirico Vineyard. This is the source for the grapes that produce their Langhe Rosso called “Le Brume.” This is a blend of 40% Barbera, 40% Nebbiolo, and 20% Merlot. It is fermented in tank, and spends a short time in small French oak barrels.
This is one of the best value reds I have tasted from Piedmont in some time. Really aromatic with notes of cherries, red licorice and spice. Medium weight on the palate with soft tannins, good acidity, and a long savory finish. It is a phenomenal food wine, great with pastas with full flavored meat sauces, as well as roasted or grilled meats. It is difficult to find this complex of a red wine for the price!
$10.50 BTL. / $126.00 CASE
2003 JANÉ VENTURA “GARBALLÓ”
Another stop on the wine trail this past June was the region of Penedès in Spain. Located directly south of Barcelona, this is a huge appellation that also has sub-appellations within.
In the Baix Penedès, the southern half of the appellation, one of the most important producers of the area is Jané Ventura. There are two cellars for this family estate, one in the center of the small town of El Vendrell which focuses on Cava and white wines, and one a few kilometers away in La Bisbal del Penedès , where the red wines are made. I stayed at the old farmhouse in La Bisbal called Mas Vilella.
It is a special place, a very Mediterranean environment, where almond and olive trees, wild herbs and plants thrive in the porous soil. The aromas of the plants in the vineyards are often captured in the wines.
Aromatics in wine go through different phases, and when a wine has had some years in bottle and is at its maturity, you often get the best glimpse into the terroir. Such is the case with this excellent red wine called Garballó, the Mallorcan word for the type of palm that grows throughout the province of Tarragona.
This is a blend of 60% Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Merlot. Alcoholic fermentation was done in tank, and it was aged for one year in 2nd use French oak barrels.
This wine was bottled almost five years ago, and it is at its evolutionary peak. Intense savory aromatics of wild thyme, mineral, black cherry, and pepper spice. Full-bodied and rustic, this has fine tannins, intense black cherry notes, and a long, spicy finish. It would be great paired alongside roasted lamb or steak.
$10.50 BTL. / $126.00 CASE
2009 PIRCAS NEGRAS CHARDONNAY
For many years I have been swimming through the vast ocean that is Chardonnay. As I’ve mentioned before, it is a misunderstood varietal that causes an instant reaction as soon as the world is muttered.
That is why I enjoy including it on a wine sampler like this, because it gives people an opportunity to explore the many different styles.
Today we focus on a Chardonnay from the Famatina Valley of Argentina. Pircas Negras is a label produced by the cooperative called La Riojana. The focus for this label is on organically grown grapes.
The interesting note about this Chardonnay is that you aren’t going to be able to put it one camp or the other. This isn’t an un-oaked Chardonnay, and it certainly doesn’t qualify as one that is truly “oaky.” The winemaking process features two different fermentation temperatures and 15% of the wine is aged in French oak for six months.
The aromatics feature notes of melon, flowers, and hints at vanilla. The flavors are quite layered with more hints at melon, apricot, citrus, and just an ever so slight hint at butterscotch. The best part about this is that with its weight and richness, the acidity on the back end will keep you coming back for another glass. This can pair well with richer fish dishes, poultry or pork.
$9.50 BTL. / $114.00 CASE