6 for $120-Something – February 17th, 2012

Hello and Happy Friday!

For those of you that haven’t had a chance to check out the newly designed website, it is time you did!  Those that check it frequently will see the new weekly offerings in The Wine Wire section.  My goal is to offer even more outstanding and diverse selections each week.

In other news, I’ve updated my Calendar of Events with a new collaborative dinner with Vera, one of Chicago’s most talked about new restaurants.  People around the world are rediscovering Sherry, and its diverse styles.  Vera, De Maison Selections and Perman Wine Selections hope to share the “Sherry Revolution” with you.  There is a group of small producers called “Almacenistas” who supply the major Sherry houses with stocks of older wines for blending—  this is very similar to the concept of grower Champagne houses.  Vera and De Maison Selections have paired several of these Almacenistas Sherry’s with a delicious array of food.  Reserve your spot today by contacting Vera directly. Hope to see you there on Monday, March 5th!

I’m excited to announce the release of the newest “6 for $120-Something” Sampler!  I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus with this sampler, but I return with what I think is the best group of wines I’ve ever offered!  The concept is simple, in the course of my tastings each month, I put together a mix of what I think are the best wines I’ve tasted in that $20-ish dollar range.  It is true that I used to simply call this the “Six for $120,” but in the interest of me having more flexibility, I’ve decided to not be so exact.  All of these wines are available by the bottle as well as the case, but the idea here is to give you a selection of wines that you will want to have stocked in your wine rack at home!  So email me to order your sampler, and pick it up at your convenience.  They are in stock and ready to go!

Finally, a quick scheduling note.  I will be closed this coming Tuesday, February 21st so that I can attend the Tre Bicchieri Italian Wine Tasting followed by the sold-out Franco Massolino Barolo Dinner at Piccolo Sogno.  I will of course, report back my findings!

Have a great weekend,



Back in the day, I lived in Oregon, working a retail job in Portland.  It was there that I became well aware of the multifaceted Pinot Noir grape.  The concept of terroir certainly exists in Oregon, yet producer mindset and style is as equally important to understand when shopping for a bottle.

For my personal palate, I have always had a great deal of respect for the wines of McKinlay Vineyards.  Matt Kinne is known locally for producing elegantly-styled Pinot Noir, some say almost “Burgundian.”  While I tend to shy away from that label, it is important to note that Matt’s wines have great finesse, and almost always have the lowest alcohol levels out of producers in the region.

The 2009 McKinlay Pinot Noir is a really pretty, ethereal style.  Matt uses his experience from his days at famed Sonoma County producer Hanzell as well as his 20+ years of experience in Oregon, to craft wines based on fruit from the Chehalem Mountain AVA.  He only uses native yeasts, a minimal amount of new oak, and bottles unfined and unfiltered.

This is a fantastic value, and really suitable to lots of food at the dinner table such as simple roasted chicken.

$20.00 BTL. / $240.00 CASE


There are many reasons why I think that Italy is presently making the greatest white wines in the world, and one of them is this amazing wine from Sergio Mottura of Lazio.

Located in the hills near Civitella d’Agliano, the estates history goes back to 1933.  The 1960’s became a time of experimentation, researching the best methods for farming. Those results can be tasted today.

The vineyards are composed largely of volcanic soil, and planted there are a variety of grapes, of which the Mottura family is most proud of their Grechetto.  That local variety shines bright in “Poggio della Costa,” a wine made entirely of Grechetto from the single vineyard of that name.  Extremely low yields, strict selection of the best grapes, and an emphasis on retention of fruit and soil characteristic all should be, and are, lauded.

This is a tank fermented wine that is aged on its lees till the end of March.  The aromas and flavors are so clear and so bright that this is truly a wine you can’t stop drinking.  Flowers, mineral, citrus peel, they all explode from the glass.

The man himself, Sergio Mottura is in town this coming week, to present this wine at the Tre Bicchiere show.  This exceptional value was awarded this high honor by the Italian publication, Gambero Rosso, for the third year in a row.  Bravo!

$20.00 BTL. / $240.00 BTL.


This is becoming a regular thing around these parts – the inclusion of a Portuguese table wine on my newsletter.  That’s because there are some ridiculously good values coming out of the country today, and in particular the Douro region, which is also famous for Port.

Quinta de la Rosa is a family owned winery located in the prime growing region of Cima Corgo, just one kilometer from Pinhão.  The vineyards are located right along the Douro River, situated on South and Southwest facing terraced hillsides.  The region is known for its schist soil that can also be found in other growing regions around the world such as Priorat and the Roussillon.

“La Rosa” is a fantastic value from the winery composed of 40% Touriga Nacional, 30% Touriga Franca and 30% Tinta Roriz.  The beauty of Portuguese reds is their complexity due to blending, and the way these local grapes display their terroir.  This wine is fermented in stainless steel vats and aged for a year in Allier French oak barrels.

It is a readily approachable style, with a softer extraction of tannins than some other wines from this producer.  Wonderfully aromatic and flavorful with dark fruits, distinctive mineral notes, and a little spice to boot.  Great for winter dishes, particularly braised short ribs.  Don’t miss this!

$21.00 BTL. / $126.00 SIX-PACK CASE


Warwick Estate is a historic family owned property in the Simonsberg district of the Stellenbosch region in South Africa.  While the estate dates back to the late 1700’s, the first commercial release from the winery was in 1984.  Ever since it has become one of the most famous producers in the country.

“Three Cape Ladies” is a blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Pinotage, 27% Syrah and 4% Merlot.  It was aged for 32 months in French oak, 40% of which was new.

This is a lot of wine for the money.  Complex aromas of plum, cherry, cigar box and spice lead into ripe but balanced red and black fruits, licorice notes and hints of chocolate on the long finish.  The tannins on the wine are well-framed by its fruit and overall balance.

The winery suggests pairing this alongside oxtail stew or peppered venison, and hey, who am I to argue!?

South Africa gets a lot of flack, as some of the red wines from this country can be challenging.  But those are the bad examples, and this, a great example that should show you that this country can make world-class wines, and at a terrific price!

$19.00 BTL. / $228.00 CASE


Hey fans of Spanish white wine, I’ve got a deal for you that you must not miss!

Godello is one of the most exciting emerging grape varietals of Northwest Spain.  Found in regions like Valdeorras and in this case the appellation of Monterrei, it is a grape that offers thirst-quenching and aromatic wines that go down the hatch easier than water!

This wine is being offered at such a ridiculously low price that you should be loading up on this by the case.  Amizade is made by one of Spain’s greatest winemakers, Gerardo Mendez.  He owns and operates Do Ferreiro, an Albariño producer located in Sanxenxo, in the Val do Salnés subzone of Galicia.

He was asked by his importer to collaborate on this venture in the D.O. of Monterrei, located just on the border of Spain and Portugal.  Gerardo secured fruit from a friend who had been selling off his grapes.  Sourced from a single vineyard in a cool valley in the heart of the appellation, the soil is predominantly sand and slate.

The idea of this wine was to present a really refreshing, varietal and regional specific wine.  Like all of his wines, Gerardo ferments the grapes in stainless steel tanks and only uses indigenous yeasts.  The wine spent six months on its lees.

Did I mention how refreshing this is?  Bright lemon and orange citrus notes can be found on the nose and palate.  A little bit of mineral and herb notes make this really complex.  There is almost no better wine pairing than this with very simply prepared shellfish.  Get this while it lasts!

$15.00 BTL. / $180.00 CASE


North of Treiso in the hamlet of Rombone lies the Ada Nada estate.  With just under 10 hectares of vines, this is a very small family owned and operated producer.

Last week I tasted two offerings from this producer that really impressed me.  These included a single vineyard Barbaresco and this impressive Barbera d’Alba.  The tasting got me to thinking about what wines tasted like in this region 50 years ago.

I can tell you this – Barbera has completely been transformed.  The climate has certainly changed in Piedmont, yielding riper than ever grapes.  Couple that with producers that are looking for more phenolic ripeness in their Barbera and you have completely different material to work with.  Ada Nada ferments this Barbera in stainless steel, something that wasn’t around then.  They also break up the cap during the fermentation and control the temperature.  The wine is racked into smaller oak casks where it is aged for a year.

The Vigna d’Pierin Barbera clearly shows the exciting transformation of the grape from everyday table grape to a more “serious” age-worthy wine.  I can tell you from my tasting that it goes down easily now, showing bright red and blue fruits, and just the right hint of tannin.  Enjoy it with roasted meats, or for further complexity lay it down for a few years.  Only 6,000 bottles produced, and I might try and drink them all myself!

$24.00 BTL. / $288.00 CASE

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