Hello and Happy Friday!
It’s back! The “Six for $120,” my “advanced study” 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 THALVIN-GRAILLOT “SYROCCO”
For two years I have been trying to get this wine to my shop and it is finally here!
What in the world would make me so eager to get a wine from Morocco? One name – Graillot!
For those of you who don’t know Alain Graillot, he is one of the best winemakers in the Northern Rhône Valley of France. Famous for his Crozes-Hermitage, he is a master at crafting cool-climate style Syrah.
A few years back Alain was on one of his many cycling trips, this time in the northern part of Morocco. Stopping by a winery called Domaine des Ouleb Thaleb, he became intrigued with the potential of wines from the Zenatta region.
Starting in 2005, they teamed up to produce a wine called “Syrocco.” It is made of 100% Syrah from the Zenatta region, an area 40km off the coast between Casablanca and Rabat. Because of a lack of natural pests, the vineyards are farmed without herbicide or fungicide treatment.
This wine was fermented in concrete vats, and then moved to a mixture of tank and 225-liter French oak barrels for aging.
A very aromatic red, with notes of ripe red berries and white pepper notes. Typical of a Graillot wine the texture of the wine is soft and silky, with more red fruits, hints at cocoa, and a long juicy finish.
A natural match to be paired with anything lamb, including your rendition of tagine.
$19.00 BTL. / $228.00 CASE
2009 CASA SILVA “COOL COAST” SAUVIGNON BLANC
This is one of the most outstanding Chilean Sauvignon Blanc’s that I have had in quite some time.
It figures that it happens to be from one of my favorite Chilean producers and the leader in quality in Colchagua Valley, Casa Silva.
Most people don’t mention the name of the region when they talk about Chilean wine, but they certainly should. There happens to be quite a bit of differences in the various regions, and yes, even terroir can be talked about in the Southern Hemisphere.
“Cool Coast” is a reference to the newest project of Casa Silva. The Paredones Estate, which produces the grapes for this wine, is a small vineyard recently planted 5.5 miles from the sea. The vineyard has sandy-clay soil which helps with drainage and root development.
Why take the risk of planting in such a cool climate, which never gets above 77 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer or below 48 degrees in the winter? The answer is in the results of this wine.
This wine really jumps out of the glass with classic grapefruit aromas along with a lime-y citrus note and a hint at herbs. Very pure and focused on the palate, this really makes the salivary glands work with its acidity. It will be a terrific match with oysters or shellfish.
Because this is a new project, very little has been produced at the outset. Chicago received only seven cases of this wine! Sauvignon Blanc fans, do not miss this!
$22.00 BTL. / $264.00 CASE
2007 DOMAINE LEON BARRAL FAUGÈRES
One of the highlights of my trip this past June to the Languedoc in the south of France was visiting the estate of Leon Barral in the region of Faugères.
Winemaker Didier Barral is one of the influential figures in the biodynamic movement of France, and I have met very few winemakers more passionate than Didier about his tractors, cows, and vineyard practices. To call the wines of Barral, earth driven is kind of an understatement.
The Barral estate comprises of about 30 hectares of vineyards. Didier’s first vintage was in 1993. His father previously sold the family’s grapes to the cooperative, although his grandfather made wine from some of the vineyards.
Barral is a somewhat controversial figure in the region when it comes to his approach to farming, but I found his practices to be respective of the terroir and a breath of fresh air in what is sometime a too technical wine world.
Faugères, as an overgeneralization, is a very hot area, and the schist soil that Barral farms from produces wines of incredible concentration of fruit. The 2007 is certainly no exception.
A blend of primarily Grenache and Carignan, this wine exudes the classic kirsch notes from the Grenache, with accompanying aromatics and flavors of cocoa, coffee, spice, and notes of smoked meat. No one will ever confuse this with a wine meant as an aperitif, rather this should be enjoyed with some sort of dead animal, from beef to squab to lamb. It really is an exceptional wine for the price.
$25.00 BTL. / $300.00 CASE
2008 MONTARIBALDI “TRE STELLE” LANGHE ROSSO
Yes, I’m in love with Piedmont, but why shouldn’t I be? The region of Northwest Italy is home to the great names of Barbaresco and Barolo. In Italy, it doesn’t get much better than that for red wines right?
I had to include this amazing value in this month’s sampler, and you can thank me for it later.
Montaribaldi is a very good Barbaresco estate run by Luciano and Roberto Tallano. This is not a huge estate with 19 hectares of total vineyards, 9 of which are rented. This producer began estate bottling in the early 90’s, and had previously sold its grapes to producers like Prunotto and Gaja.
Their excellent Langhe Rosso is a blend of equal portions of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto. The fermentation for the wine is done in stainless steel tank, before a short resting period in large Salvonian oak casks.
Classic aromas of flowers, red licorice, cherry and spice. Medium-bodied, with soft tannins, more red fruits and well-balanced acidity. A wine for the table, enjoy with pasta with meat sauce or roasted red meats.
$15.00 BTL. / $180.00 CASE
2005 CHÂTEAU DUTRUCH GRAND POUJEAUX MOULIS-EN-MÉDOC BORDEAUX
There is a reason why Bordeaux is the most famous wine in the world – it happens to produce the most complex, food friendly blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Now I know there are producers in other countries that may argue with that, but I am often reminded of this fact when I taste a great bottle from the region.
Bordeaux doesn’t have to be expensive or have the words “First Growth” on the label to taste good. Instead, if you do your research and taste from various producers you can find some off the beaten path wines that offer tremendous value.
I was introduced to Château Dutruch Grand Poujeaux recently, and have been really impressed with this Cru Bourgeois Supérieur producer located in the appellation of Moulis-en-Médoc. This is an old estate that was purchased by the Cordonnier family in 1967. It has a 30-hectare gravelly vineyard site on the Grand Poujeaux hill.
The wine is vinified in a straight forward manner. Fermentation is done is concrete and stainless steel vats. Aging is done for 18 months, 12 of which in a mixture of new and old oak barrels.
I really recommend decanting this wine an hour or more before drinking. With aeration, the wine really opens up with notes of dark cherry, mineral, tobacco leaf and pepper. The richness of the ’05 vintage is on display in the weight and richness of the wine. The tannins are refined, dusty and build on the long finish. Grilled duck breast, or the classic dish steak au poivre would be excellent matches with this delicious Bordeaux.
$24.00 BTL. / $288.00 CASE
2008 CASA DE ILLANA BLANCO
Aside from Jerez, the Southern half of Spain doesn’t get much love from the American wine market. Northern regions like Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Priorat dominate the wine scene on these shores.
That is slowly changing, led by more well known areas from the south like Jumilla, Yecla, and Alicante, and now lesser known regions like Ribera del Guadiana, Manchuela, and Ribera del Júcar.
Today I have chosen to highlight this fact by introducing you to this really fun little white wine that I found from the region of Ribera del Júcar and producer Casa de Illana.
The region is sandwiched between La Mancha and Manchuela southeast of Madrid and due west of Valencia. The region takes its name from the River Júcar that flows through it. And as you could imagine some of the erosion that is associated with river regions lends itself to providing pebbly vineyards which have good drainage. Both red and white wines are produced there, with Sauvignon Blanc and Moscatel being the permitted white grape varietals.
Casa de Illana Blanco is a blend of equal parts of both of these varietals, and this bright, unoaked white wine is a really fun drink. The Moscatel grano menudo gives that typical floral aroma, and the Sauvignon provides the fresh citrus notes. The wine is bone dry with nice fresh acidity. Seafood is the typical pairing, but to me this screams out for dishes like shrimp Pad Thai or fish tacos.
$15.00 BTL. / $180.00 CASE