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What's New in Wine

Feeling Frisky for Spring

Chateau de Rochemarin Pessac-Leognan 2005
$29.99/$23.99 by case
Overlooked in a huge warehouse as new vintages rolled in and recently discovered during a move, this classy Bordeaux from the much-ballyhooed 2005 vintage is quite a find. Bordeaux is a wine that almost always benefits from bottle age, a fact deliciously apparent in this eight year-old beauty. Rochemarin is located just south of Bordeaux proper in the best section of Graves, a region whose reds display an elegance and fine-boned minerality. Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant, this bottling offers mellow black fruit notes, dusty plum and dried black cherry and a wealth of earthy secondary flavors: savory, even mildly exotic spice, dried tobacco and a light smokiness. Silky upfront, long on the palate, a dappled soft finish...these are descriptions not commonly associated with young Bordeaux, but so nice to experience in older bottles. Not much available, but just enough to share.

Walter Scott Clos des Oiseaux Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir 2012
$38.99/$31.20 by the case
The husband-wife team (and newish parents!) Ken Pahlow & Erica Landon just debuted their 2012 single-vineyard Pinots and while stylistically consistent, each wine has its own unique personality - plus they're all really good. Forced to pick one to feature, we're going with Clos des Oiseaux since it's drinking great right now and we loved the beautiful aromatics and complex flavors. A tiny vineyard next to Cristom's Jessie block, Ken leased it all and took on farming as a labor of love, using tricks learned while working at Evening Land with Burgundy star Dominique Lafon. The Oiseaux charms you with an elegant palette of flavors: fruit that deftly rides the line between red and blue (baking spice dark cherry/raspberry meets blue-flowered blueberry/marionberry), deepened by splashes of cola, savory underbrush, warm earth and mellow toasty oak. Perfectly mid-weight, this Pinot's texture is smooth and silky with bright acidity that keeps it lively all the way to a long clean finish. Delicious now but it'll be even better with age, so stash some away. p.s. - Like a darker, slightly richer style? Try Walter Scott's Dumb Ox or Freedom Hill bottlings, also available in the shop.

La Quercia Aglianico Puglia 2011
$13.50/$10.80 by the case
While we're waiting for the new batch of Small Vineyards Italians to arrive in June, we'll happily settle for a bottle of this past favorite, a monster red from Italy's high heel. Displaying traits that make this importer so successful, this is bargain-priced, flavor-packed and comes with a little story. The La Quercia estate is in Abruzzo but winemaker Antonio Lamona also makes a wine from a small family property farther south in Puglia. Less than seven acres in size, it doesn't produce much wine. S.V. didn't know about it for years; after finally tasting it, they now buy most of it. Aglianico (an old varietal) is not widely planted in Puglia and is most often seen in Campania (Italy's lower shin).  The volcanic soil and cooling winds there typically produce Aglianico that are structured, tannic and very long-lived often with a pronounced peppery note. This bottling from Puglia is still plenty dense and chewy yet offers a more sunny open personality: ripe, mouthfillingly soft and ready to drink now. Clearly touched by the sun, this offers a pool of dark plum fruit with slight raisin notes on the finish and Campania's biting black pepper spice is replaced by warmer softer tones of licorice and tobacco. Layered with a milk chocolate creaminess and studded with tiny pops of cranberry and raspberry, this wine is a pretty tasty deal.

Amezola Rioja Reserva 2007
$19.99/$15.99 by the case (Regularly $25)
Hmmm...the charms of a good, nicely aged Rioja Reserva; sometimes hard to say precisely why one jumps out over another but when it does, your palate can tell. Longtime local importer P-S wines has a stable of quality Rioja including last year's favorite Olabarri Reserva. Looking to pare down inventory, he offered up this perfect Olabarri replacement at a discount. Amezola Crianza has been imported by P-S for many years but not this Reserva. Big and bold yet still traditional, it has a core of lively intensity that keeps the surrounding subtle flavors circling the palate and provides lift to the soft juicy texture. The fruit is mellow, smoky blue to preserved black cherry, and the influence of mostly American oak is obvious but in a good way; sandalwood and brown spice notes perk up the fruit flavors as they all roll into the long creamy vanilla-tinged finish.

Abacela Estate Albariño 2013
$18.99/$15.20 by the case
You know it's spring when bright fresh Northwest white wines begin to appear alongside the darker more serious winter reds, and one of our favorites is always Abacela's exuberant Albariño. Earl and Hilda Jones and crew down in the Umpqua Valley have been working wonders with this Spanish varietal for almost 15 years and they always deliver the goods. Citrus blossom and tropical fruit aromas herald a blast of flavors to come: lip-smacking lemon/lime, a touch of pink grapefruit, fresh red apple and ripe bosc pear, pineapple plus a hint of sweet thyme to keep it interesting. Creamy-textured and elegant underneath but with a steely hit of brisk acidity up top, this is a well-balanced wine that becomes the life of the party - fun, flavorful and guaranteed to put a smile on your face even if it's raining.

Two From the Growing World of Petit Monde
This small local importer still focuses on the back roads of France but has recently added some Italian wines in the same spirit. Here are two new arrivals that caught our eye.

Chateau de Breze Saumur Blanc 2011
$17.99/$14.40 by the case
We featured the Breze rouge last year but had never tasted the blanc. Glad we finally did because it's delicious! Olivier (He of Petit Monde) sums it up quite well: Chenin Blanc that is both true to character and approachable and a lot of wine for the money. Round and fleshy, the white peach and Asian pear fruit is shot through with a spine of minerally acidity, finishing dry and peppery. This minerality, even slight earthiness, is thanks to the mass of limestone that forms the region's subsoil; with such great terroir, winemaker Arnault Lambert tries not to interfere. Through organic viticulture, hand-harvesting, natural yeast and stainless steel vessels, he is able to maintain purity and freshness.

Vino del Popolo (Eugenio Bocchino Langhe Rosso) 2012
$15.99/$12.80 by the case
We sold the wines of Eugenio Bocchino back when Small Vineyards imported them and are happy to see them again. Not only does Eugenio make tremendous (and high-scoring) Barolo, he has a touch with daily-drinker priced blends, notably his "Tom" bottling which has a long red wiener dog on the blue label (anyone remember that one?) This bottling is new, a blend of 50% Nebbiolo, 30% Dolcetto and 20% Barbera and tastes like something you might have at lunch or a casual dinner while traveling in Piedmont. Punchy, juicy and bright, the flavors are pure Piedmont yet delivered in an open-knit drink-now package. Tangy blackberry, wet earth and clove-y spice slide crispy across the palate while light tannins gently grip on the finish. The saturated flavors are kept buoyant by refreshing acidity, the perfect foil for that next bite of truffle-flecked salumi.

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