Favorite Featured Wines From The Newsletter
WINES OF WINTER
Monte Zovo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011
$33.99/$26.99 by the case
Monte Zovo Valpolicella Ripasso 2013
$17.99/$14.40 by the case
When it comes to full-flavored wintertime Italian reds, Amarone is right up there at the top. Made by drying the grapes for several months before fermentation, the resulting wine is heady, concentrated and full-bodied since much of the grapes’ water content has evaporated. Of course this extra work and liquid loss costs money which makes the Monte Zovo a nice opportunity. Made by an organic family winery and imported directly to Portland, this delivers classic Amarone flavors in a somewhat more medium-bodied style thanks to the winery’s higher elevation vineyards. Soft dark plum and dried black cherry fruit mingles with notes of bitter chocolate, licorice and old wood, lightly funky in a good old world way.
Also a great value is their Ripasso, a sort of halfway-to-Amarone bottling, that offers similar flavors in a more easy-going open-knit style. Ripe but balanced with pretty rosy and cinnamon aromatics and complex layers of dried fruits (cherry, currant, blackberry) and savory spices on the palate.
Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses 2010
$23.99/$19.20 by the case
One of our favorite go-to old world reds this past fall, it was sold out but more just became available, news that’s worth sharing. Olga Raffault is for many the benchmark for Chinon. Very traditional, the farming is organic and grapes are hand-harvested with minimal intervention in the cellar: no added yeasts, neutral oak barrels and very little sulfur added at bottling. On one hand the wines offer a pure distillation of Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, on the other they have an imprint all their own. Legendary for their age-worthiness, the occasional library releases are snapped up immediately. We recently had the 1985 and 1989 in the shop but not for long; I heard the ’85 was amazing. Although worth exploring not matter what the vintage, this 2010 is one of the best in the last decade. Classy, refined and confident, it is perfumed and expressive with a buoyant freshness, just the right counterpoint to its of-the-earth flavors. On the palate red mingles with black, from pomegranate and red currant to black plum. Although peppery and savory with whiffs of tobacco, its personality is clean and precise, unmuddled yet complex.
Sardus Pater Carignano del Sulcis Sardegna 2015
$15.99/$12.80 by the case
Hearty enough to warm your belly but open and cheerful enough to drink with a variety of dishes, this Sardinian red is a welcome wintertime companion. The nose is inviting and woodsy with a dusting of clove and mixed peppercorn while the palate offers a slow-moving flow of dark plum, dried blueberry and cherry fruit. A clay earthiness and light tannins give it a rustic feel but flashes of baker’s cocoa and caramel soften the edges and add an appealing coziness.
Ostertag Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes Alsace 2015
$20.99/$16.80 by the case
Although winter wine drinking is dominated by reds, some dishes (or moods) cry out for white and this is where Alsatian whites shine. Typically fuller-bodied with light earthy/mineral notes, they pair well with richer (and spicy) dishes and provide a satisfying fleshiness. The varietal Sylvaner is an underdog of Alsace and not much seen in the US, but in the right hands it offers plenty to like and Andre Ostertag has the right hands. Biodynamic for almost twenty years and a leader in the natural wine movement in France, every wine he makes is done with seriousness and intention. This new arrival from the celebrated 2015 vintage sparkles with personality; its slightly exotic aromatics offer a green fruit freshness, brown spice hints and light smokiness. The texture is creamy, peachy and seamless with a burst of tangerine on the finish that keeps the flavors humming along. Interesting yet easily quaffed, this is a welcome alternative to yet another Pinot Gris; pair with Indian food or a variety of pork and onion dishes and watch it shine.
Acústic Montsant 2014
$19.99/$15.99 by the case
Eric Asimov in the New York Times recently wrote an article about Montsant and how the wines are often underrated (and better values) when compared to their neighbor, Priorat. Reader feedback included comments such as playful, happy, unpretentious and fun to drink, a nice reminder that old world reds can be just as sloppily exuberant as a California Zinfandel. This old vine “unplugged” bottling is serious and respectful but still offers a juicy blast of happy black fruit and peppery spice. Saturated and dense but airy and lifted, the sweet floral perfume aromatics roll into macerated plum and balsamic on the palate, finishing with an exotic twist as cocoa powder and cayenne echo on the finish.
Marqués de Legarda Rioja 1920 !!
Yes, 1920. As in 97 years ago! When our rep called and said “I have a sample bottle of a Rioja that we’re thinking of bringing in, it’s from 1920”, we were like “whaat?” Then we tasted it and were like “whaaaaaat? How is this still so good?” Bodegas de Real Divisa dates from at least 1367, making it one of the oldest wineries in all of Europe. Still small and limited in production, they only uses fruit from their own vineyards and most of their wines never leave Spain. In no hurry, they release wines when they think they’re ready; we currently have a 2002 Reserva for under $20. The winery’s cellars are deep, cool, dark and humid- perfect cellar conditions - and that is where this has been slumbering for almost 100 years. So, what did it taste like? Our quick snapshot showed it to be remarkably intact and alive with lovely aromatics of dried flowers, spicy sandalwood and blond tobacco. The plummy fruit is mellow and lightly tangy and the finish long and s-i-l-k-y. Bottom line, a pleasure to drink as a wine, and an even bigger pleasure to drink as history.
$250. Very limited, arrives in March. Order and pre-payment required.
Hot Wines From December
La Roquete Châteauneuf du Pape 2009
$31.99/$25.60 by the case, normally $52
Here’s a wine to put the Happy in your Holidays: a nicely-aged CdP from the sister winery of Vieux Télégraphe at a crazy price. Tasting this was a wild ride, reminding us of the specialness of Châteauneuf du Pape. Immediately after pulling the cork, this was surprisingly fresh, lively and agile on the palate with soaring wild herb floral aromatics and tangy red-fruited acidity. Returning to it 30 minutes later was like tasting a completely different wine. Broad and fleshy, there was layer after layer of complexity and most of it from the dark side: roasted chestnuts, soft black plum, licorice, warm brown spice and a damp forest floor earthiness. It’s as if you can almost taste the heat off those famous Châteauneuf stones. I wrote that it tastes medieval; not sure exactly what that means but a wine that inspires a comment like that deserves a second glass.
Côte Bonneville DuBrul Carriage House Red 2007
Normally $50, now $39.99/$31.99 by the case
Amazingly we were able to get more of this, a huge favorite last December. As I wrote last year: luscious, opulent, complex, smooth…the accolades quickly pile up for this exciting northwest deal. The Shiels family that owns and manages DuBrul Vineyard like their wines aged to perfection and aren’t afraid to hold on until they are just that. DuBrul Vineyard is probably best known via Owen Roe’s majestic Cabernet Sauvignon but the Côte Bonneville wines are mighty impressive in their own right, but since they are released at a snail’s pace, they don’t attract as much attention. A 93 point Wine Advocate review from 2011 sums the wine up nicely: “… a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, and 14% Cabernet Franc. Aromas of toasty oak, Asian spices, earthy minerals, tobacco, violets, and black fruits lead to a still tightly wound but well-balanced, lengthy wine that will benefit from another 4-5 years of cellaring.” Let’s see, 5 years from 2011 is right about now!
Belle Pente Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton 2014
$27.99/$22.40 by the case
Belle Pente makes lovely, expressive Pinot Noir, and thanks to the largesse and quality of the 2014 vintage we have this beauty to offer: 100% declassified Belle Pente Estate fruit made in a more drink-now style that still conveys the nuance and character of the vineyard. Its texture is remarkable, soft and languorous one sip, supple and pliant the next, with flashes of plush sappiness. Although elegant and airy, the fresh cherry, pomegranate and strawberry flavors are deep and long on the palate, finishing with a mixed peppercorn spiciness. A clear favorite at a recent tasting, this is more serious and ageworthy than the price suggests; let it breathe and watch those flavors come alive.
Burle Gigondas 2014
$23.99/$19.20 by the case
When the weather turns wet, cold and gloomy I find my wine thoughts turn to the hearty primal reds of this southern Rhône village. Although lovely to visit in the summer with its sunny Provençal joie de vivre, autumn and winter is when its wines really shine. Now run by the two Burle brothers, Damien and Florent, the reds from this tiny winery have been favorites here for over twenty years. Uncompromisingly made in the traditional style from 60 year-old vines, their wines can aromatically transport you to the fields and farm where they were made with rustic gamy notes and an unvarnished authentic wholesomeness. This drinks like a favorite Côtes du Rhône but amplified: denser, more layered and powerful with flavors of chewy black fruit, roasted meat and peppery herbes de Provence.