Yes, we are continually searching for new, “good” wines. Although true standouts are hard to come by, the search & subsequent tastings at least keeps one updated on what’s available out there & its really good fun too.
2012 La Ferme des Sept Lunes St Joseph (Jean Delobre)–100% Syrah from a 5.5 hectare site up in the northern part of the St Joseph appellation of France’s northern Rhone Valley. I have a real thirst for provocative Syrah based red wines from interesting vineyard sites & character seeking wine making. Here was one that was highly recommended to me. The wines was initially too cold when first served, but one could still immediately smell the distinct olive nuances nonetheless, which instantly caused one taster to knee jerk blurt out–Northern Rhone Syrah, despite the wine being quite closed in aroma. As the wine warmed up, brambly, blackberry like qualities opened up along with a dose of black pepper & rustic gaminess. In taste, the wine was tasty, seamless & surprisingly classy. Although the wine was quite dark in color, it still was transparent & thankfully had really good virility & elevated acidity (which could use some bottle age to resolve). I didn’t mind the VA, as it probably added rather than detracted in this case. Yes, the winemaking is pretty good. I liked the wine, especially initially, but liked it less, however, as time went on & the wine had a chance to open up. Sadly, being overly picky, I just wanted more mojo/soul. Still, it was very enjoyable & several of the tasters took pictures of the label, which is always a good sign. FYI–I paid roughly $36 for the bottle in a store in Seattle.
2014 Chateau Feuillet “Cornalin”–Here is a new star from the high altitude vineyards of Valle d’Aosta, 2400 to 3200 feet in elevation—rocky, meager, terraced with shallow, sandy soils, an indigenous grape variety, Cornalin, whose “vine’s roots wriggle in the crevices of solid granite and all kinds of rock underneath. The trump card, however, may be the exposition of the vineyards, which in combination with the chilly climate, high altitude, and drastic diurnal temperature shifts provides the magic charm sought by vignerons everywhere: extremely long hours of gentle sunlight. This gives the grapes an exceptionally long, slow ripening season–so this wine still definitely has an earthy, stony core & masculine mojo, but it doesn’t have a thick viscosity or high glycerine mouthfeel. Certainly not for everyone, but it is VERY intriguing & unique, yet light, delicious & food friendly.
2013 Coudert Fleurie “Clos de la Roilette”–There is no doubt that Alain Coudert is producing some of the most interesting & delicious Cru Beaujolais today. It is curious that the true appellation of Fleurie although on the label, is much smaller in print than the vineyard & the producer’s name. There seems to be stories about why, but to me the more important fact is how assertive, juicy & wonderfully perfumed & delicious this wine really is. OMG. Alain came on board of his family’s domaine in 1984. His father had replanted the vineyard in 1967 & they attribute the character & richness of the resulting wine to their clay-manganese soils & their old vines. I greatly thank Master Sommelier Greg Harrington for sharing this wine with myself & all who attended the Gramercy Cellars dinner we did with him at Sansei in Seattle, this past January!
2012 Kante Malvasia–There is no doubt Edi Kante is one of the vanguard winemakers of contemporary Italy. One of the pioneers of the “orange” wine movement, he has now thankfully settled back into producing wines which feature character & a core of authenticity of what the vineyard, the climate & what the vine wants to say in any given vintage. “Kante was born a contadino in this rugged area of northeastern Italy, at the crossroads of Italian, Slovenian, and Croatian culture today and historically at the crossroads of the Venetian and Austro-Hungarian cultures. In his near-perfect combination of climate and terreno, Edi Kante produces wines that are poised, solid, fresh, and brimming with the character of both the chosen grape and the stark limestone soil of Carso“. I found this 2012 Malvasia so fascinating. This grape’s innate highly aromatic perfume was much more sublime than I anticipated. It seemed to accent the rockiness of the wine rather than be in the forefront, like we frequently see in other renditions. That daring combination was followed by wonderful intensity, structure (not at all overly so) & a seamless, very invigorating buoyancy that really caught my fancy. In thinking about this wine further, I was quite surprised at how fresh & alive this 2012 still was. I really think the additional bottle age in fact greatly helped. Yes, superb winemaking, that’s for sure. And, yes, I would definitely buy some more! I am anxious to try more of his wines.