A jam packed newsletter for you today that includes four great Spanish values, a top notch Napa Cabernet, a very special Roter Veltliner from Austria, even a double “collector’s corner” with two world class wines from Italy and Spain. Hope you have some time on your hands to read!
For many of you reading this today, this will be your first newsletter. Please keep in mind these wines are not all in the store at this time. I will bring them in based on your orders. Turn around time on everything is usually very quick. I do this because it is my goal to sell my clients what they want and not what I need to push out the door. The big stores often buy large quantities of wine and focus on selling what is in the store not necessarily what you are asking for. My focus is your palate and finding the right wine for it!
That being said, what I feature on the newsletters is the best of the best of what I taste. These are some strong recommendations, and I always encourage you to e-mail me back and ask if a particular wine is the right one for you!
Happy wine hunting.
FOUR CAN’T MISS SPANISH WINE VALUES
As a huge fan of Spanish wine I have been searching lately for a value that really excites me. What do you know, but I weeded through a bunch, and came up with four excellent values for today’s newsletter in an assortment of styles. So here it goes…
2006 TOMÀS CUSINÉ “VILOSELL” COSTERS DEL SEGRE
Tomàs Cusiné is one of Spain’s best enologists. For many years he was at the helm of Castel del Remei and Celler de Cantonella, two wineries that helped put the appellation of Costers del Segre on the map (along with Raimat). Speaking of maps, you are going to need one to try and find this appellation because it is basically in the middle of nowhere!
If you travel west from Barcelona, and keep going, eventually you will find your way to the city of Lleida. North and west of that city is where the vineyards of Costers del Segre lie. This is an extremely dry region, with large fluctuations in season and daily temperature. It can be ice cold in winter and then scorching warm and in summer. Not an easy place to make wine!
With twenty plus years of enological experience in the region, Tomàs Cusiné knows his way around. With that knowledge, he set up his on project , which he currently makes three wines from. What grows well in Costers del Segre? An amazingly wide range of varietals can be found. Tomàs Cusiné grows eleven varietals, six whites and six reds.
For “Vilosell” Cusiné blends 65% Tempranillo with 17% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Syrah. This sees a nine-month aging period in French oak, with a secondary fermentation in primarily stainless steel and some barrel.
This is not a heavy handed, oaky style of red. This has fruit, but it is so well balanced with red fruits, hints at tobacco and plenty of spice. It is a really impressive value for its quality!
$13.99 BTL. / $167.88 CASE
2007 PAZO DE ARRIBI BIERZO
If you go just a few years back, everyone that followed Spanish wine was clamoring about the promise of the region of Bierzo. Located in the northwestern part of Spain, this region boasts a ton of old-vine Mencía fruit.
Superstar winemaker Alvaro Palacios and his nephew Ricardo made a huge splash with their wines labeled under Descendientes de José Palacios. There certainly were some impressive wines from the region, although many carried way too much oak, and seemed a little too burly. Maybe that turned consumers off because Bierzo seems today like a relatively dead category.
I think it will make a come back though, and it should start with this absolutely amazing value. Mencía often tastes like a cross between Syrah and Pinot Noir. Got your attention?
It has my attention because as I write this, I am having a glass of this delicious value from Pazo de Arribi. I’ve drunk a lot of Crozes-Hermitage (the famous appellation of the Northern Rhône that grows Syrah), and this wine is a dead on ringer for a warm vintage of a good wine from that appellation. I’m serious. I usually hate comparing polar opposite wines like that, but this absolutely has some similarities!
If you want some insider scoop, Classical Wines, a great Spanish importer used to have a Bierzo winery called Dominio de Tares. That producer loved their oak, I mean those wines are absolutely whacked! Philosophically, Classical Wines wanted to find a producer with a more restrained style, and they certainly found that in Pazo de Arribi.
The ’07 Mencía is aged in some French and American oak, but it is second and third use barrel. Pour this is a big Pinot glass and it jumps out of the glass with violets, that Syrah like bacony / green olive note, and red fruits. Silky on the palate with medium weight this really lingers on the palate and has great balance. This just screams for some duck or lamb! An awesome value.
$12.99 BTL. / $155.88 CASE
2007 BODEGAS CARCHELO “C”
If that Pazo de Arribi reminded me of a Northern Rhône wine, this great value smacks of the South of France. Pop open a bottle of Carchelo “C” and a big “garrigue” or Mediterranean herb note almost fills the room.
Here is a red wine for those that love them full-bodied! Bodegas Carchelo is a producer that was founded in the early ‘80’s in the region of Jumilla. This area sits on the southern Mediterranean coast of Spain, northwest of Murcia. While it is very dry and warm, its inland and hilly location, with altitudes between 2000 and 35000 feet means that the nighttime temperatures are drastically lower that its hot days.
For Carchelo “C” they blend 40% Monastrell (same grape as Mourvèdre that you see in the south of France) with 40% Syrah and 20% Tempranillo. Each varietal is elaborated separately and then blended.
This is a real mouthful of wine with notes of blackberries, fig, lots of pepper spice, licorice and herbs. There is plenty of structure hiding underneath its ripe fruit on the palate. This may not be the most complex wine on earth, but it really packs in some flavor for the price!
$11.99 BTL. / $143.88 CASE
2008 JANÉ VENTURA BLANC SELECCIÓ
First there was Albariño, then came Verdejo, and know those that have fallen in love with Spanish whites should try some of the delicious white blends that are coming from Catalunya. Those of you on the newsletter list for a bit may remember that Friday Feature where I boasted about the perennial value called Can Feixes? Well here is another can’t miss value from just to the south of Barcelona. It just arrived to Chicago and it is oh so lip-smackingly good!
Jané Ventura is a very important estate in the appellation of Penedès. This is a longtime family operation to which I have visited several times. Everything is done by hand in small lots, and the quality across the board is excellent.
The 2008 Blanc Selecció is a selection of four grapes from 15 different vineyards. Including in the blend is the local varieties Xarel-lo and Malvasia de Sitges, as well as Chardonnay and Muscat. This is fermented and rested in stainless steel tank, and is produced in a dry, crisp and refreshing style without the use of oak.
Floral on the nose with notes of melon and lemon peel. Very fresh and juicy on the palate with tangerine, grapefruit peel and mineral. I’ve already taste tested this with some sushi and it was delicious. It’s a rough job but someone has to do it!
$13.99 BTL. / $83.94 SIX-PACK CASE
IT’S TIME TO LEARN ABOUT GREECE
2008 GENTILINI ROBOLA OF CEPHALONIA
Years ago when I used to buy wine in Portland, Oregon there was a distributor whose owner was Greek. Self proclaimed “Famous” Dino was a really good guy, and he also was really enthusiastic about the wines of his homeland. 10 years ago, the consumer didn’t meet that level of enthusiasm of Greek wine that Dino had.
My eyes were opened at the time to the terrific quality that Greece can achieve. Today, I think many consumers are more enthusiastic about the wines of Greece, in part due to more “serious” Greek restaurants emerging in cities like New York and finally Chicago. I’m a big fan of the restaurant Taxim in Chicago because they take classic Greek recipes and use really fresh and good ingredients to recreate it. Eating there a few weeks ago reminded me of my love for this wine from the island of Cephalonia in Greece.
Gentilini is the top winery on the largest of the Ionian islands of Greece. Spiro Cosmetatos returned to his native island in 1978 after some years learning how to make wine in places like South Africa, California, and Australia. He built a modern winery and starting to produce his first wine in 1984.
Besides the attention to detail, what I like about this winery is that Spiro planted both international varieties as well as working with local varieties with a long history on the island. It is one of those local varietals that I have decided to highlight today.
This 100% Robola is grown on high altitude vineyards in a mixture of limestone and gravel. The grapes are gently pressed, put into tank by gravity where they are cold fermented till dry. The result is very fresh and intense citrus notes on the nose and palate, along with mineral, flowers and refreshing acidity. Traditionally this would be enjoyed with very simply prepared shellfish or perhaps a whole roasted fish. I’m hungry and thirsty just thinking about it.
$15.99 BTL. / $191.98 CASE
OUTRAGEOUS NAPA CABERNET
2006 DRINKWARD PESCHON CABERNET SAUVIGNON “ENTRE DEUX MÈRES”
I was never cool enough to get a back stage pass at a concert. Yet there was always hope for me when it came to the wine equivalent. From time to time, I’m wine geeky enough to land something so rare that I’m the only retailer to get a chance to offer it to the consumers of Chicago.
Such is the case with this super limited, and highly coveted bottle from Napa Valley producer Drinkward Peschon. “Entre Deux Mères” refers to the winemaking team of Lisa Drinkward and Francoise Peschon.
Lisa is the famous vineyard manager for Behrens & Hitchcock and Francoise is the consulting winemaker for Napa legend, Araujo Estate. To buy any wines from those other producers would force you to shell out triple digits. While it is kind of difficult to call anything that is $77.99 a good value, in the expensive world of top Napa Cabernet, this is
One single wine is made by this dynamic duo, about 500 cases of this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. While they are serious winemakers, they kind of just do this project for fun. Most of the wine goes to friends, and stays in California.
Chicago received seven cases of this wine, six will go to restaurants and one to me.
Tasting this wine last week I was struck with how this wine has that traditional Napa boldness, but yet it also stays true to what Cabernet should be about. Classic notes of dark cherry, plum, cassis, dried herbs and dark chocolate notes. This finish with dusty and savory tannins. An excellent Napa Cabernet Sauvignon!
$77.99 BTL. / ONLY 12 BOTTLES AVAILABLE
DOES IT GET ANY BETTER THAN ROTER VELTLINER? – NOT FOR ME!
2008 WIMMER CZERNY ROTER VELTLINER
For months I’ve been begging to get this very small production wine from Wimmer Czerny, a top producer in the Wagram region of Austria. Over 250 years old, the winery is currently run by Hans Czerny. This is a Demeter certified biodynamic estate, and much of the food as well as drink that finds its way to the Czerny’s dinner table is grown on site. But back to the matter at hand…
Every since my taste buds first encountered Roter Veltliner, the darker skinned mutation of Grüner Veltliner, I’ve been stalking it. But this stuff isn’t easy to get your hands on! It is a specialty of the small region of the Wagram, and rarely is shipped outside of Austria. Frankly the Austrians keep most of it for themselves.
But after a little pleading I was able to snag the only 60 bottles of this wonderful wine to come into Chicago! Not bad considering only around 8,000 bottles are produced annually.
Aside from its rarity, Roter Veltliner is a great wine for the dinner table as its acidity and light herbal elements work great with opening courses like salads and shellfish. Weighing in at only 12% alcohol by volume, this is so light on its feet with racy citrus notes, an underlying mineral component and bright acidity! In a word, this is delicious!
$19.99 BTL. / $239.88 CASE
A RETURN TO BANDOL
2005 DOMAINE DE L’HERMITAGE BANDOL
Someone needed to put out an “A.P.B.” on Bandol. I mean really, this was a much talked about A.O.C. in the South of France in the eighties and nineties, but recently, you don’t hear much about it.
Part of that has come from the fact that the wines of Bandol had become inaccessible, both in terms of price and even drinkability in their youth.
It is my belief that you will hear more about Bandol again in the coming years. Considering the appellation was granted its status in 1941, and has historically been one of the most important regions in France, I expect the world to rediscover this great region.
Bandol is part of Provence. The workhorse varietal of the region is Mourvèdre, although Grenache does often find its way into many Bandol in small proportions. Yields must not exceed 40 hl/ha, and this means production in this relatively small region is very low.
What makes the region so great is its poor soil, proximity to the water, arid temperatures, and long growing season. Mourvèdre is typically harvested in late October, as it is a slow ripening varietal.
Domaine de l’Hermitage has become a very exciting discovery for me in the world of Bandol. Owned by the Duffort family who purchased their estate in 1974. The estate consists of a couple of different terroir, which help them to produce both top notch Grenache to blend, and Mourvèdre for the main portion of the blend.
The grapes are destemmed and crushed before being fermented in large French tonneaux. There is a post fermentation maceration to add structure, and then the wine is aged in these barrels for 18 months.
Here is a Bandol that you can drink in its youth, or sock away in the cellar. Intense notes of red berries, provencal spices, and hints at licorice. Not in the least bit jammy despite being cropped at 26 hl/ ha, this has plenty of layers of flavor and great length. If you do drink it now, decant for an hour or hold in your cellar till 2022.
$29.99 BTL. / $359.88 CASE / ONLY 2 CASES AVAILABLE
A NEW ZEALAND SAUVIGNON BLANC NOT TO BE MISSED
2008 CHURTON SAUVIGNON BLANC
If you’re one of those folks that thinks that all Sauvignon Blanc’s taste the same, then it is time to try Churton. This producer located in Marlborough is crafting some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand.
What makes Churton different? It starts in the vineyard for Churton, with organic and biodynamic principles being practiced. Healthy vineyards and lower yields are primary concerns to Sam and Mandy Weaver, the owners of Churton. Their vineyards are exceptionally positioned to offer cool climate fruit.
Yet one of the most noticeable differences in the winemaking is the fact that Weaver ferments two batches in different ways. One is whole-pressed grapes that go under a fast warm ferment in 500 liter French oak barrels, and then matured on its fine lees for 5 months. Another portion of the grapes is treated in a more conventional manner with cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks. This helps promote a more fruit forward style. There is a final blending in August before it is bottled.
This is a much finer, elegant version of Sauvignon Blanc than what you might normally be used to. It still has those typical notes of grapefruit, gooseberry, and fine herbs, but with layered texture, less obvious up front fruit, and a long, mineral and bone dry finish. Overall this is an excellent value, and is a must buy for the Sauvignon Blanc fan!
$17.99 BTL. / $215.88 CASE
2008 WURTZ RIESLING TROCKEN
Bag in a box, the Australians invented it, and well, no one has perfected it until now.
The fact remains, there are great advantages to a wine that comes in a blatter in a box. Take my life for an example. I work everyday except for Sunday. At the same time I have a thirsty wife at home. She likes to unwind with a glass or two when she gets home. Often times she would open a bottle of white wine, only to see half go unused and oxidize overnight. That’s where the box comes in. White wine (and red) stays fresh in that magical box for around 6-8 weeks. Frankly this is a great solution to all our wine wasting at home.
The problem has always been getting good quality wine in those boxes. So I was very excited when I discovered this delicious dry Riesling from Dirk Wurtz and Hubertus Weinmann of Wurtz-Weinmann, a producer founded in the Rheinhessen in 2000.
Dirk Wurtz is kind of a big deal in the German wine world as he was winemaker at the very famous (and deservedly expensive) Rheingau producer, Robert Weil. In the Rheinhessen some very exciting wine is being produced these days, but since the secret isn’t quite out of the bag, one can still find some excellent values.
This Riesling “bag in box” is the perfect example of an excellent value from the region. Coming from loam and limestone soil, this dry Riesling carries only 12% alcohol making it pretty light on its feet. Hints of flint and spiced pear on the nose lead into a zingy palate full of red apple and lemon peel. This is fresh and very easy to drink.
Each box contains 3 liters of wine, or four bottles total. Considering that breaks down to $7.50 a bottle, I would consider this an excellent value. Buy this because you want a nice white wine around the house for those nights when you just feel like a sip.
$24.99 PER 3-LITER BOX / ONLY 6 BOXES AVAILABLE
COLLECTOR’S CORNER PART 1
2006 MAS DOIX PRIORAT “COSTERS DE VINYES VELLES”
One of the top wines of Spain year in and year out is this brilliant Priorat from Mas Doix. This historical winery can trace its roots back to the 1800’s. It is located near the village of Poboleda, which is an area where Carignan (a.k.a. Cariñena) excels.
The winery produces two wines, Salanques, which is a terrific wine in itself from “only” 20-80 year old vines (please inquire as I have a small allocation of this, also highly rated and a fraction of the price). Yet the gem of the estate, and one of Spain’s most collectable wines is the “Costers de Vinyes Velles.” This old vine plot has 100 +-year-old Cariñena vines, and 80-90 year old Grenache vines in it. 2006 is a blend of 48% Garnacha, 50% Cariñena, and 2% Merlot.
Each year I only get one six-pack case allocated to my shop. So if you are a wine collector, you may not want to miss this incredible wine!
“The 2006 Costers de Vinyes Velles amps it up considerably. It yields an enthralling, sexy/kinky bouquet of toasty new oak, liquid minerality, lavender, incense, and wild berries. Complex, elegant, and La Tache-like, it appeals to both the senses and the intellect. It is a remarkable effort that should evolve for 5-7 years but is difficult to resist now.
97 Points, Jay Miller, The Wine Advocate.”
$118.99 BTL. / $713.94 SIX-PACK CASE – ONLY 1 CASE AVAILABLE
COLLECTOR’S CORNER PART 2
2005 VALENTINI TREBBIANO D’ABRUZZO
The one thing I know from my wine exploration over the last decade is that the truly “epic” wines of the world you know when you taste them. There is another level, dimension and breadth of complexity to them as soon as you stick your nose in the glass and the wine glides across your palate.
The other thing I know is that these truly great wines of the world come in a multitude of varietals, some which may surprise you.
One of Italy’s greatest wines is this white wine made from the Trebbiano grape in Abruzzo. The late Edoardo Valentini was secretive in his production methods at his estate, which traces its history back as far as the mid 1600’s. The family was known to estate bottle their wine as early as the beginning of the 1800’s.
When Edoardo Valentini took over the estate in the 1950’s, he maintained a tight-lipped stance about his production methods and wines. Edoardo never spoke to the media or submitted samples. He simply wanted to make his wine on his own terms. Around Italy, and soon after in the best restaurants around the world, a badge of honor was to be able to get a small allocation of Valentini Trebbiano.
Edoardo Valentini passed away in 2006. His last full vintage of producing wine was with the ’05 vintage. His son Francesco Paolo Valentini has taken over, and is not changing a thing.
I’ve only had a chance to taste a Valentini wine twice in my career, and each time it was clear the level that these wines are at. Any fan of unique white wines owe it to themselves to try a Valentini Trebbiano d’Abrruzo. Trust me, it’s worth every penny!
“Bright, pale yellow. Deep but still closed nose hints at lemon, green apple and crushed stone, with a distinctly herbal element. Then broader in the mouth but high in acid, dry and not yet filled in, only hinting at the intensely concentrated lemon, chlorophyll, quince and honeyed stone fruit flavors. Finishes with wonderful purity and outstanding length. More backward and minerally than just about any other Italian white wine at a similar stage of development: I suggest cellaring this for a couple of years, then enjoying it for a decade after that. 92(+), Ian D’Agata, International Wine Cellar.”
$112.99 BTL./ $1355.88 CASE- THIS WINE IS BEING OFFERED ON A PRE-ARRIVAL BASIS , IT WILL ARRIVE IN 3-4 WEEKS
Perman Wine Selections
802 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607