2015 Sassotondo Ciliegiolo–in Umbria, the Ciliegiolo grape variety is used mainly to make lighter, more café styled red wines. In Tuscany Ciliegiolo has very different character, eventhough it is also used more for blending. This bottling is 100% Ciliegiolo grown on the Tuscan Coast in Maremma, seemingly riper, not as much apparent acidity in the middle & perhaps a little more “fur” to it than Sangiovese? In any case, this wine still has deliciousness, is tasty, interesting & quite enjoyable with a wide range of VINO styled foods.
2015 Planeta Frappato–our search for tasty, interesting, well balanced Sicilian Frappato has been a long journey. We have found several with profuse, charming, enticing perfume, but they are often coupled with hollow middles, high alcohol & bitterness levels. Here is an interesting one to help fill the niche. The 2015 is grown in the red sands of Vittoria, Sicily. They say, the Frappato grape vines does its best work in the red sand. I don’t know if that is true, but we love this wine’s wonderful, exotic perfume & its seamless flow on the palate, its innate savoriness & warm balance. The innate aromatics creates a very different & interesting dynamic when pairing with foods.
2014 Domaine de Durban Beaumes de Venise–2014 was the first vintage we purchased this wine. It just caught our attention because of its wonderfully, surprisingly low keyed savoriness & its warm, velvety like texture. I have previously been a HUGE fan of this estate & especially their dessert styled, vin doux naturel white wine–Muscat Beaumes de Venise–which many consider to be the finest example of what this wine can be. This red wine comes from the same village, its higher altitude & white limestone looking “chips” scattered throughout the vineyards, bordered by a wild countryside with pine trees, shrub & herbs. The blend is typically a blend of mainly Grenache, Syrah & a dollop of Mourvedre. I would also have to add the price tag is way under priced, making this a truly SENSATIONAL VALUE, especially if you like more traditionally styled French “country” red wines.
2012 Les Milles Vignes “Cadette”–located in the Fitou AOC (granted in 1948–the first for Languedoc), this winery has just skyrocketed to fame under the direction of winemaking phenom Valérie Guerin. It is really amazing how their wines are now the “toast” of Paris & its progressive wine bar scene. I love this wine’s enchanting charm, surprising elegance & refinement, which is so different than most Languedocien typically showcase. The 2012 is roughly 1/3 each of Grenache, Carignane & Mourvedre (50 year old vines, grown in clay-limestone-schist soils). This is a winery well worth seeking out as the wines are standout, interesting & can add to the dinner table experience.
2012 Gallety “Côtes du Vivarais”–Cheryle & I first visited this estate in 2007. It is located on the western flank of the northern area of the southern Rhone, an area not so highly regarded for so many years. Well, this estate will help change that perception. The vineyards & countryside looks to be semi-arid (though it is said to be cooler & wetter, & therefore longer to ripen than the vineyards across the river) with all kinds of soil fragments–gravel, stones, sand, limestone chips. This particular bottling is typically 50% Grenache (45 to 60 year old vines) % 50% Syrah (25 year old vines). I love how different this rustic & provocative Grenache-Syrah wine is year in & year out. To that end, the vines are organically farmed & the wines are aged in older Burgundy barrels to contribute more purity & finesse to the resulting wines, unlike the more opulent, brooding, high glycerin reds produced across the river.
1999 Chateau Pegasus Xinomavro “Naoussa”–this was highly recommended to us by a small, husband/wife wine specialty wine store in Athens, Greece. They noted this bottling is one of the best out of their country AND this was a 1999 the winery recently re-released. The grape variety is Xinomavro & comes from the Naoussa appellation. I was excited to pop this wine open for all to taste, having carried it all the way from Greece in our suitcase for that purpose. The wine, right off the bat, had a musky wood kind of smell–kind of like sandalwood meets cherry wood with licorice, sweet pipe tobacco, wet li hing mui cherry & a VERY savory, pungent core. It was not like any wine I had had before. On the palate it was dried fruit, actually quite tight knit with charcoal, cedar, sweet tobacco undertones. It was also quite layered & the wine unveiled more & more layers as the wine sat open. Certainly was an interesting wine.
Gregoletto Prosecco “Sui Lieviti”–a relatively new discovery for us. This producer is making quite a splash with its sur lie Prosecco–“Sui Lieviti”. “The sui lieviti bottlings represent the history of this region before the Champagne method was invented. Primary fermentation in stainless steel, then bottled by hand along with a small amount of natural liqueur made from their own grapes that triggers fermentation in bottle. The secondary fermentation continues in bottle over an indeterminable amount of time, in fact each bottle is slightly different. Vino vivente! Living wine!” This wine is capped & therefore cannot be DOCG.
2015 Domaine Skouras Moschofilero–Giorgio Skouras is Burgundy trained & is undoubtedly one of those leading Greece into a modern era of wines through his expertise. This is one of his Moschofilero white wines, grown in the Peloponnese of southern Greece at higher altitudes. Since the Moschofilero grape variety has color (& therefore potential bitterness), 53% of this is produced from free run juice. It still has the wonderful aromatics, which creates a very different dynamic with foods & a surprisingly somewhat thick, viscosity, despite being still light, refreshing & tasty.
2014 Domaine Skouras Moschofilero “Salto”–in comparison, this bottling is a produced from a single vineyard, 100% Mavrofilero (a unique, highly aromatic Moschofilero vine selection), from Martinia at roughly 1800 feet in elevation. This wine is wild yeast fermented & displays a much more high toned, lime skin perfume & leaner, crisper, fresher on the palate. What an amazing difference!
2015 Sigalas Assyrtiko–having just gotten back from Greece, I wanted participants to compare the difference between Moschofilero & Assyrtiko, two of Greece’s finest indigenous white wine grape varieties. Assyrtiko is indigenous to Santorini where it is trained koulara (bird nest looking) to protect the grapes from the light volcanic pumice that is whipped around by the strong, gusting ocean breezes AND to give it some shade from the hot Summer sun. Paris Sigalas is without a doubt the most notable internationally recognized wine producer name from the Island & deservedly so. He experiments so much both in the vineyard & in the winery in search of producing better wine. This is his standout wine for me–masculine, stony, masculine & very savory with quite a assertive, somewhat bitter finish. one can see, when tasting his wines, why he & his wines are held in such reverence.
2013 Hatzidakis Assyrtiko de Mylos ”Vieilles Vignes”–the winemaking turk of the Island & amongst those growing & producing the Assyrtiko grape variety was Haridimos Hatzidakis. having tasted his wines a little while back I was anxious to taste his wines again, shake his hand & hopefully walk his vineyards. I was saddened to hear he had passed away only a couple of months before we got there. His grape growing & winemaking was totally “out of the box” not only for Santorini, but anywhere else for that matter. His wines were therefore also unlike any other. His Mylos bottling comes from a single, organically farmed vineyard of 80 plus year old vines in the village of Pyrgos Kallistis, VERY matured grapes, wild yeast fermented & spent 8 months on the lees & bottled unfiltered with very minimal sulfur. Where Sigalas is more clean & vibrant Hatzidakis is taking a trip on the wild side–a wine unbridled & unapologetic for its attitude & rustic, “on the edge” style.
2002 Dönnhoff Spätlese “Norheimer Delchen”–Helmut Dönnhoff has made quite the international reputation for his estate & his world-class Rieslings. TOTALLY deservedly so! This wine clearly reminded all of the tasters why. The 2002 displayed such profound character, structure & mojo with a real majestic presence, pedigree, incredible balance & masterful precision. I remember tasting this wine upon release & then thinking it was too much. 2002 was that kind of vintage, especially back then. 15 years later….OMG….though still quite the youngster & somewhat still hiding some of its glory, the transparency, clarity & minerality is definitely back out. This is some kind of wine! Thank you Brent & Helen for sharing!
1980 Quintarelli Recioto della Valpolicella Classico–Thank you Mike for sharing! Only a wine crazy guy like you would come armed with a heavyweight like this to a BYOB to share. This bottling was typically produced only 3 or 4 times in a decade. Giuseppe took so much effort to meticulously produce one of his favorite children. (Insiders estimate–it takes 30 pounds of grapes & 10 years worth of care & coddling to produce one bottle). Now, 37 years young. Yes, young. It is true the once youthful unctuality/sweetness had changed considerably. It is still so powerful, virile & vinous–a true beast–still showing, however, some class & intrigue. What a bottle of wine this is!!!!!