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Cru Crew – March 2018 – Oregon

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Welcome to Oregon, March’s Wine of the Month.  These selections grew out of a slew of tastings we have had over the last six weeks.  It is no surprise that we are featuring two Pinot Noirs – 64% of all grapevines in Oregon are Pinot.  The quality of Oregon Pinot is constantly on the rise as producers fine-tune site selection and clonal material.  Stylistically, these Pinots often exist between leaner, finer-grained red Burgundies and richer, fruit-forward California Pinots.  One thing to remember is that Pinot Noir in Oregon is young, and quality will undoubtedly continue to climb.  The first vineyards were established in 1967 by David Lett at Eyrie Vineyards!

Pinot Noir’s primacy of place in Oregon is nonparallel, but there are exciting developments in Syrah, Riesling & Chardonnay.  The Syrahs show lots of savory elements (reminiscent of Syrah’s home in the northern Rhone, France) to counter-balance the grapes inherent berry-inflected fruit.  Riesling is starting to show real promise, especially the dry versions.  (Dry is a wine-geek term we use to describe a wine that doesn’t have any sugar left in it after fermentation is complete.  A wine can be fruity, or fruit-forward, in its taste profile while still being dry.)  Chardonnay is really on the upswing also – stylistically emphasizing freshness & precision.

Ovum ‘Base Line’ Riesling 2016 

Ovum is quickly making a name as one of the best white wine producers in Oregon, established in 2011 & led by husband & wife team John & Ksenija.  The wines are über-artisanal: hand-harvested & minimal intervention.  Only native, wild yeasts.  No additives or preservatives other than a tiny amount of sulphur at bottling.  A great example of a rich Riesling that is profoundly & resolutely dry.

Grapes: 100% Riesling

Region: Umpqua Valley

Soils: Silt loam, Gray clay, Sedimentary rock

Farming: Sustainable

Aging: 8 to 9 months in concrete egg & neutral barrels

Maison Noir ‘Horseshoes & Handgrenades’ v12

Maison Noir is the brainchild of André Hueston Mack, one-time banker turned sommelier turned winemaker.  Mack recognizes that the wine world revolves around tradition – and seeks to upset that tradition at every turn.  His labels are very tongue-in-cheek (one wine is labeled ‘O.P.P.’!)  ‘Horseshoes & Handgrenades’ exemplifies this daring attitude – it’s mainly Oregon Syrah with a touch of Merlot & Cabernet.  Look for a lush, full-bodied & silky red.

Grapes: Mainly Syrah with some Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: southern Willamette Valley, Oregon & Klipsun Vineyard, Washington State

Soils: Loam & loess

Farming: Sustainable

Aging: 10 months in neutral oak barrels

 

Evesham Wood Pinot Noir 2016

Evesham was founded in 1986 but has really taken off since Erin Nuccio took over in 2011. Nuccio emphasizes elegance & delicacy in Pinot Noir.  Production is simple, letting the grapes & vineyard speak: farm organically, dry-farm, only native yeasts, minimal amounts of suphur added, very small percentage of new barrels for aging.  This is Oregon Pinot we love – fresh dark berries, peppery spice with hints of dried herbs.

Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir

Region: Mix of vineyard across the northern Willamette Valley

Soils: Mainly volcanic

Farming: Organic

Aging: 10 months in barrel, 10% of which are new French

 

 

Cru Crew – February 2018 Rosenthal Wine Merchants

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White/Red:

Domaine La Manarine Le Carignan- Rhone Valley, France

This “petite” domaine was created by Gilles Gasq in April 2001. The vineyards are located within the commune of Travaillan, on a plateau northeast of Orange in the southern Rhone. Gilles is a talented vigneron who has honed his skills working as an assistant to Paul Jeune, the proprietor of Domaine Monpertuis in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This 100% Carignan offers incredible value from a unique varietal most often times seen blended with grenache or syrah. Good red and dark fruits with a fresh savory undertone. Easy drinking on the palate with low tannins and easily paired with roasted meats or on its own!

Bisson Bianco delle Venezie- Veneto, Italy

Enoteca Bisson was born in 1978 when Pierluigi Lugano fell in love with the wines of the Ligurian coastline. He began as a trader in small lots of bulk wine, later became a wine merchant and finally a grower in his own right. He now splits his time between his busy wine shop in Chiavari, the wine cellar and his vineyards.

For the grapes he purchases, he works hand in hand with local growers from pruning to harvest, then carefully vinifies the different lots of grapes. Lugano is a serious student of oenology and is an expert on the local grape varieties. His passion extends to the preservation of local traditions and this is reflected in the distinctive character and personality of his large range of wines from the Cinque Terre region.

In the glass you’ll find a racy, vivid, beautifully brisk, and thirst-quenching bubbly. In a sea of vapid, overly sweet Prosecco, this frizzante stands out proudly. Absolute perfect pairing with sushi!

Red/Red:

Domaine La Manarine Le Carignan- Rhone Valley, France

This “petite” domaine was created by Gilles Gasq in April 2001. The vineyards are located within the commune of Travaillan, on a plateau northeast of Orange in the southern Rhone. Gilles is a talented vigneron who has honed his skills working as an assistant to Paul Jeune, the proprietor of Domaine Monpertuis in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This 100% Carignan offers incredible value from a unique varietal most often times seen blended with grenache or syrah. Good red and dark fruits with a fresh savory undertone. Easy drinking on the palate with low tannins and easily paired with roasted meats or on its own!

Monsecco Colline Navaresi- Piedmond, Italy

There is almost a religious reverence in the Alto Piemonte for Monte Rosa, the mountain that hovers over the region, the grand eminence that protects and nurtures this region. The soils of these hills are marked by the mineral salts and the glacial moraine from millennia of geological movement. Further, sitting in the foothills of this part of the Alps and neighboring the great lakes of Orta and Maggiore, the vines are exposed to large variations in temperature, warm days married to cool nights: an ideal ambience for the noble Nebbiolo and the other local varieties, all of which benefit from the long growing season to reach proper ripeness while maintaining a lively acidity. The Zanetta family gives this wine a shorter maceration then the wine is aged in large (15 hectoliter) “botte” for two years before bottling and then left to age an additional year before being released to the market. It is a fine and elegant wine with subtle tannins, bright cherry flavors and a persistent finish that again emphasizes the complex mineral composition of the underlying soils.

 

Cru Crew – December 2017 – Old World Wines for the Holidays!

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La Kiuva Arnad Montjovet- Valee d’Aosta, Italy

The DOC of Arnad-Montjovet is named for two small villages in the Vallee d’Aoste where the main grape grown is Picotendro, the local clone of Nebbiolo, which yields small bunches of tiny, ripe grapes that mature well in these northern climates and give intense fruit and depth to the local wines.The La Kiuva co-op produced its first wine in 1979. The co-op buys enough grapes to crank out 70-100,000 bottles annually. Forever struggling to improve, since 2008 the La Kiuva co-op has employed a consultant who visits the vines bi-weekly and offers advice to growers in order to avoid usage of chemical pesticides. They’ve also relied on indigenous yeasts for fermentation since 2009. This wine is 75% Nebbiolo plus a range of the local grapes including Gros Vien, Neyret, Cornalin and Fumin. It’s a lighter-bodied wine with fresh, black cherry/raspberry flavors melded with an alluring spiciness and refreshing acidity. This is a rustic yet delicious, classic high elevation, Northern Italian red. Pair with any mushroom dish, chicken or medium-intensity cheese like Fontina from the Valee d’Aosta!

 

Domaine des 2 Anes Fontanilles- Corbieres, France

          Magali and Dominique Terrier have worked in diverse wine-growing regions throughout France. Over a decade ago, they began seeking out a terroir where they could freely express their passion for making extraordinary organic wine and that search led them to the Languedoc. A decade ago Magali and Dominique Terrier first set eyes on Peyriac de mer, a diamond in the rough with a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean Sea, and it was love at first sight. Far from the world of global winemaking, they seek the simple pleasures of life in which wine reflects their identities and is a focus of friendship. This desire to follow their own convictions means they are always questioning attitudes and practices, but get enormous satisfaction and pleasure from it. It is that pleasure that they would like to share with you through these wines. In the glass, beautiful scents of red currant, ultra-ripe pomegranate flesh, crushed plums and warm pear skins. The palate delivers loads of red & black fruit flavors backed by a pretty dusting of mineral-infused garrigue. This wine is an outstanding value. Works well with a wide variety of red & white meats right off the grill, aged sheep’s & goat’s milk cheeses and spicy sausag

 

 

  La Scarpetta- Prosecco

         Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Patterson are two Friuli-obsessed restaurateurs and          you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone else who shares the same affinity for this region (home of typically lack luster Pinot Grigio). After working together at The French Laundry, Bobby as a Master Sommelier and Lachlan as a chef de partie, they moved to Boulder Colorado with the dream of opening a neighborhood restaurant. One fateful trip to Friuli, complete with carsickness from the winding roads of the Alps, traditional Friulian fare, and lots and lots of amazing local wine was enough to seal their fate. They came back to Boulder and opened Frasca Food and Wine, a restaurant dedicated to the cuisine and culture of Friuli. Floral-accented peach and orchard fruit aromas are enhanced by scents of ripe melon and white flowers. Pliant lemon and green apple flavors are lifted by zingy acid. The palate extends nicely with a drier than expected finish. Your better-than-mimosa quality prosecco!

 

 

 

Cru Krewe – July 2017

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Pinot Envy

Pinot Noir: everyone’s favorite grape variety next to Cabernet Sauvignon. Its bright red fruity aromas and flavors, low tannin profile, paired with a little French oak and you have a crowd-pleasing red begging for any scenario. Pinot Noir is the chameleon of wines in that you can pair it with an array of food including salmon or duck or enjoy on its own! The one downfall: unattractive price point. Luckily for you, this wine of month is focusing on other varieties related to this noble grape that also come at a more everyday-drinking price tag.

Egly-Ouriet Brut- Ambonnay, Champagne
Egly Ouriet has around twelve hectares of vineyards, the majority of which lie in Ambonnay, mainly planted with Pinot Noir as well as some parcels in the Grand Cru villages of Bouzy and Verzenay. This unique sparkling of 100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Pinot Meunier comes their Premier Cru village in Vrigny which uses over 75 year old vines. This exciting house is biodynamically influenced and producing cuvées of the very highest quality. The yield is kept very low and the natural vinification process largely takes place in oak “barriques”. Dosage is also very low across the entire range and the natural processes ensure low levels of sulphur. Add to this mix the single vineyard and lieu-dit cuvées and the result is truly stunning Champagnes. Testament to what can be achieved by a great Récoltant. Qualitatively, these wines are not for the faint of heart. However you refer to your Champagne’s they are undoubtedly in a category of their own. This is of course no accident, for fourth generation winemaker, Francis believes deeply that complexity and structure comes not only from perfect fruit, but also from extended lees aging. This belief is felt throughout his lineup, with most of his wines undergoing a minimum of 48 months on the lees with some cuvees being aged for 100+ months! As Francis puts it, this is critical for expressing the terroir of his wines, lending the wines that much sought after vinous quality.
“The NV Brut Les Vignes de Vrigny 1er Cru, Egly-Ouriet’s 100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Meunier, is bright, focused and quite expressive. Dried orchard fruit, hazelnut, dried flowers, mint and chamomile. Classy and resonant through to the finish, the Vignes de Vrigny is striking. All the elements are impeccably balanced.”– 92 pts Antonio Galloni

Grange Aux Belles Pineau d’Aunis- Loire Valley, France
Pineau d’Aunis, also known as Chenin Noir is a red French wine grape variety that is grown primarily in the Loire Valley around Anjou and Touraine.Both Pinot and Pineau come from the French word for “pine” because the bunches of grapes supposedly looked like pine cones to those who were naming them.
La Grange Aux Belles was created by Marc Houtin in 2004 – a classic story of a new career, first looking for vineyards in the Languedoc then finding 9 hectares in Anjou, inspired by Leon Barral in the south and Patrick Baudoin in the Loire. The estate has Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d’Aunis, Gamay, Grolleau and Chenin Blanc, farmed organically of course, using herbal infusions against mildew and vinified with minimal SO2. Short macerations are practised here, with minimal extraction, seeking light-bodied aromatic wines, low in tannins and alcohol. This comes as a welcome alternative to the tannic, high-acid reds that have been common in Anjou.
In the glass: floral, black rasberry, white pepper, plum and strawberry liqueur. The palate is bright with cool black and red berries, slight spice followed by a mineral-laced, refreshing finish!

Cru Krewe – June 2017

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Loire Valley

In June, we travel to my favorite wine growing region in all of France! You’ll find the Loire River Valley situated about 2 hours drive south of Paris. The region is next to many of France’s most famous drink regions: it’s directly north of Cognac, south of Normandy (cider!), and west of Burgundy. The Loire, as a whole, is very diverse in wine styles, in climate, in geography, and in geology. For this reason, it can be divided into three primary growing areas:
1. Lower Loire: Pays Nantais
Landscape: The majority of the vineyards are found on the flat, south facing banks of the Loire, Sèvre, and Maine Rivers. The Atlantic Ocean is very close, from 6–60 miles (10–96 km) to the west, so the climate is maritime with cold, damp, stormy winters, cool cloudy springs, warm humid summers, and often blustery falls. Sounds a bit like Seattle, WA.
Soil: The soils in Pays Nantais are predominantly volcanic (igneous) with top-soils of porous gneiss (granite-like rock). So, this means vineyards have good drainage, which is ideal for the wet climate.

2. Middle Loire: Anjou, Saumur, and Touraine
Landscape: The blustery and damp maritime weather is tempered as you move inland. The seasons are more defined and the climate is more hospitable.

Soil: The soil types are as numerous as the varieties of grapes. There are four main sub-regions:
• Anjou: around the city of Angers
• Layon: a sweet wine region located along the Layon River, encompassed by Anjou
• Saumur
• Touraine: Around the city of Tours

3. Upper Loire: Centre
The Upper (or Central/Centre) Loire is the smallest region, but it’s home to the most famous Loire appellations–Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. The Sauvignon Blanc from these two areas are emulated throughout the wine world.
In many ways, this area has more in common with the Burgundy region of Chablis, than with the rest of the Loire Valley. The climate is what can be called semi-continental with big differences in the daytime and nighttime temperatures (the diurnal swing). Frost is always a concern during spring and fog engulfs the valley in the fall.
Centre is closest to the source of the Loire River in the Massif Central Mountains and the majority of the vineyards are found along the river where they take advantage of its temperature moderating influence. The soils vary quite a bit with three distinct soil types, all found atop a base of Kimmeridgian Limestone, (the same as Chablis, parts of Champagne, and the white cliffs of Dover).

Now for the stars!

Domaine Philippe Tessier “Le Point du Jour”- Pinot Noir/Gamay

Certified organic since 1998, the estate covers 22 hectares and produces Cour-Cheverny, from Romorantin, as well as Cheverny from Gamay, Pinot Noir and Côt for the reds, and Sauvignon Blanc with Chardonnay and Orbois for the whites. The estate maintains living soils with diverse flora and fauna; harvesting is by hand and fermentations are with wild yeasts with no addition of sulfur.
This Cheverny rouge is equal parts Gamay and Pinot Noir grown on clay/limestone soils. The wine shows lovely aromas of tart cherry, raspberry, and cinnamon with violet and citrus. There is a lovely mélange of cherry, black raspberry, and strawberry on the palate that is light and lively but with good depth. Serve chilled with charcuterie, grilled meats, and mild cheeses – great on a summer picnic or cookout!

Bernard Baudry “Les Granges”- Cabernet Franc

Bernard Baudry is unquestionably one of Chinon’s most outstanding producers. Not only does he have the talent to make delicious and consistent wines, vintage to vintage, but he is also fortunate enough to have vineyard land that showcases many of the varied soil types of the appellation. After completing his studies at the viticultural school in Beaune, Bernard returned to the Loire Valley to consult in Tours. By 1975, he had purchased his first two hectares of land in Cravant-les-Coteaux, a village from which almost half of the production of A.O.C. Chinon is sourced. “Les Granges” is produced from gravel and sandy soils and from 40-year-old vines. Animated red fruits swirl around a dense core of blck fruits. Red and purple floral perfume abounds accompanied by some green herbs to add to Cab Franc’s rustic nature. Not Rougeard but at a fraction of the price, it’s a classic, stand-up example for Chinon rouge.

Eric Chevalier “Clos de la Butte”- Melon de Bourgogne

Éric Chevalier is a rising star in the Nantais of the Loire Valley. For ten years, he sourced fruit for a large négociant in the Touraine. In 2005, he decided to return to his hometown of Saint-Philbert de Grandlieu, just southwest of Nantes, and ended up taking over the family domaine, Domaine de l’Aujardière, the next year. His father, a talented vigneron who did not bottle much of his wines and was well-known as a high-quality source of bulk wine, had stopped working the vineyards and the vines were either going to have to be pulled up and replanted, or sold. Éric was anything but enthusiastic. Little by little his passion grew, and today he is proud to be the fourth generation to farm the domaine. He is also proud to be bottling more and more of the family’s production himself. Éric sustainably farms twenty-five hectares of vines, producing wines of great character and finesse. He found his future in his family’s past. What makes this Muscadet a Freaky Friday contender is its richness and savoury, oxidative power. Partly attributable to the 50-year-old vines – producing Melon de Bourgogne grapes with a great knack of showing minerality and place. Partly the nine months on lees with regular stirring – imparting masses of complexity, along with trademark notes of citrus pith, subtle stone fruit and oceanic minerality. A downright compelling Muscadet.

Cru Krewe – May 2017

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Bordeaux!

Where to begin when discussing Bordeaux?  That is tough question to answer.  Let’s start with a few basics.  Bordeaux is the world’s most famous wine-producing region (Sorry Burgundy or Napa!).  It produces age-worthy white, red and sweet wines.  What other region can claim as much?  None.

What are the wines produced in Bordeaux?  A quick look at the geography and terroir of western France will give us some context.  Bordeaux is a port city on the Gironde River.  Upstream are two important tributaries: the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers.  These waterways play an important factor in three ways: mediating the cool temperatures found at the 45th parallel, increasing humidity (instrumental in grape rot which produces the king of dessert wines, Sauternes) and serving as informal boundaries between Bordeaux’s many sub-regions.

Generally, the region is split into ‘left bank’ and ‘right bank’: Medoc and Graves on the west (or ‘left bank’ of the Gironde River), St. Emilion and Pomerol on the east (or ‘right bank’ of the Gironde).  Between these two is Entre-Deux-Mers (‘between the two seas’).

Most of the famous communes exist on the gravelly highlands of the left bank: Margaux, Pauillac, St-Julien, Pauillac, and St Estephe.

Bordeaux is most famous for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, but it’s most widely planted grape is Merlot.  Merlot dominates on the right bank, where wetter, cooler soils make it difficult for Cabernet Sauvignon to ripen (Cabernet Sauvignon loves heat – witness Napa Valley!)  Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot also grown here and play supporting roles in a traditional blend.  A red Bordeaux is almost always a blend Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.  The wines age in oak barrels.  Typical aromas and flavors are cassis, plum, pencil lead, cedar, and violets.  The reds can be quite tannic and structured.

Bordeaux’s white and sweet wines are based on Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon.  There is also a very small percentage of Muscadelle produced but it is never more than a bit player.  Dry white wines are predominantly Sauvignon Blanc blended with some Semillon.  Typical aromas for the whites are lemon curd, gooseberry, white flowers, honey, and fresh herbs.  The sweet wines are usually Semillon-based, as it is greatly affected by botrytis, or noble rot, which dehydrates grapes, concentrates the grapes’ sugars, and adds an exotic spicy, honeyed character to a Sauternes or Barsac.

That’s a lot information, I know.  What is important to take away is that Bordeaux produces great wines of all different types, price points, and styles.  We have chosen a few examples this month to get you started, minus the dessert wine.  We are pouring a great Sauternes in the Wine Bar, please stop in and have a taste!

MOULIN D’ISSAN 2014 (Bordeaux Superior) – RED

 Grapes: 90{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Merlot, 10{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Sauvignon

Aging: Mix of new & used French oak

Farming: Sustainable

Chateau d’Issan is one of the oldest wine producing properties in the Medoc as well as in all of Bordeaux. In 1152, the wine produced by what we know of as Chateau d’Issan today, was served for the royal wedding between Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henri II!

Moulin d’Issan originates in the chateau’s Bordeaux Supérieur AOC plots, very close to the Gironde Estuary and right across the street from its’ famed Margaux vineyards. The soil there is mainly clayey limestone (marl) and particularly suited to Merlot (very unique in the Medoc where Cabernet Sauvignon is king).  The ruins of a 17th century windmill, which gave this wine its name, are in the middle of the vineyard.

 Look for: Plum & cassis fruit with hints of graphite, cedar, cocoa, smoke & spice.  Full mid-palette with smooth but present tannins on the finish.  Perfect with red meat, game dishes, or as an everyday sipper for those of us who like big & bold reds.

$20 / Bottle

 

CHATEAU DE GIRONVILLE 2012 (Haut-Medoc) – RED

 Grapes: 50{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Sauvignon, 30{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Merlot , 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Petit Verdot

Aging: 12 months in a mix of new & used French oak

Farming: Sustainable

The creation of Chateau de Gironville dates back to the very late 1800’s.  During the early 1900’s, the vineyard belonged to the mayor of Bordeaux. In the late 1920’s, at the height of the depression, the estate fell into a state of disrepair. Most of the vines were removed in 1929, so other crops and trees could be planted, as that would be more profitable than making wine!  1987 marked the rebirth of Chateau de Gironville.  The Mercier brothers and Remy Fouin planted the vineyard and returned Chateau de Gironville to a working vineyard and chateau.  Current owners, the Mulliez family, have owned the estate since 2004 – Isabelle heads up the operation while raising 5 children!

The vineyard is located in the commune of Macau in the Haut Medoc appellation, not far from the southern tip of Margaux. This area is known for making open, approachable wines that can be enjoyed upon release.

Look for: a juicy, fruit-driven wine with lots of dark currant & dark cherry with licorice & sweet spice flourishes.  Quite full yet very drinkable, the wine is great by itself or with red meats from the grill.

$20 / Bottle

 

CHATEAU GRAVILLE-LACOSTE 2015 (Graves) – White

Grapes: 75{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Semillon, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Sauvignon Blanc, 5{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Muscadelle

Aging: All stainless steel for 6 months

Farming: Sustainable

Hervé Dubourdieu’s easy charm and modest disposition are complemented by his focus and ferocious perfectionism. He prefers to keep to himself, spending most of his time in his vineyards in the Sauternes and Graves appellations. Durbourdieu produces wines from 3 appellations across Bordeaux: Roûmieu-Lacoste, situated in Haut Barsac, originates from his mother’s side of the family, dating back to 1890, Château Graville-Lacoste in Graves and Château Ducasse in Bordeaux Blanc.

This month’s wine, Graville-Lacoste, is located in Graves.  40 to 50 year-old vines are grown clay/limestone soils.  Somewhat atypically (you know how we do it at Cru Cellars!), the blend is based on Semillon.  Sauvignon Blanc plays a supporting role.

Look for: Pure & lively stone fruit, citrus zest, stony minerality & subtle hints of fresh-cut grass.  Medium-bodied & very refreshing.  Perfect as an apertif or with mild cheeses or seafood.

$20 / Bottle

 

Cru Krewe – April 2017

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“Spring Has Sprung!”

In Florida we get two seasons: hot and hotter. But there is a brief moment of weather-sanctity between the two where one might enjoy a refreshing beverage on the porch without fear of heat exhaustion. It is in that interlude I want these wines to bloom and be apart of. April focuses on the lighter to medium-bodied wines that display freshness and brightness while also showcasing a new importer of natural wines in Florida, City Beautiful. This company shares the same passion as Cru in supporting small-production, family-owned, organic wineries that possess an approach to wine-making that is extremely low-intervention.

Borell-Diehll Pinot Noir, Pfalz, Germany

In 1990 Annette Borell and Thomas Diehl married and created Borell-Diehl by joining their families’ three wineries into one. Starting with a total of 5 hectares, they have since expanded to 33 hectares of vineyards, all within 5km of Hainfeld, about 1/2 hour drive from Deidesheim. Their holdings are a complex geology of loess, limestone, red sandstone, with deposits of minerally muschelkalk (limestone) in some sites.

Annette and Thomas’ oldest son George is now poised to take over leadership at the estate. Having staged at important addresses like Rebholz (Pfalz) Wittmann (Rheinhessen), and Von Volxem (Saar), as well as an internship in New Zealand in 2016, he will continue the winery’s focus on quality wines of extraordinary value. The wine is exquisitely fruity, silken textured, dry Spatburgunder from the sunny Pfalz. Hand-harvested from estate-owned sites, tank-fermented and aged in large, neutral (3+yrs old) French oak barrels. This is Pinot in a modern, easy style with modest alcohol, fresh cherry themed fruit and a lip-smacking finish.

Benjamin Taillandier Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Languedoc, France

In 2007, winemaker Benjamin Taillandier settled in his family’s hometown of Caunes-Minnervois, which sits between the ancient city of Carcassone and The Montagne Noir. He purchased 5.7ha of Grenache Noir, Syrah, Cinsault, Terret Gris and began working it organically, eventually converting all of it over to biodynamics.  Each year he added a plot to his estate and now he works 9.5 ha all by hand and now fully Ecocert certified. He also runs a terrific wine bar downtown called Cantine du Curé which is open during the summer tourist season. Benjamin feels that many of the wines in the Minnervois AOC are too concentrated and alcoholic, and works hard to make wines that, while full flavored, are lighter, fresher and lower in alcohol than most average wines from the Languedoc. Indeed, there is a level of liveliness in this wines that you seldom see in the wines of the region, Benjamin is  happily introducing people to the concept of Minnervois “vin de soif”.

Weingut Jurtsitsch Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal, Austria

Alwin Jurtschitsch and his wife, Stefanie Hasselbach (of Gunderloch fame in the Rheinhessen). Alwin and Stef are leaders in the natural wine movement in the Kamptal. It’s a unique story because they happen to have the oldest winery in the area, dating back to the 16th century. In 2006 they rented out some of their land to focus their attention on quality rather than quantity and converted all vineyards to organic. Their “house style”, which you will find in this months Gruner Veltliner, is all about preserving freshness and elegance rather than power. After taking over the domain from Alwin’s three uncles the winery’s philosophy underwent a change, “Our wine style became more ‘polarising‘, characterised by the idea of terroirs without compromise” says Stephanie. They only use spontaneous fermentations and work without any additions, aside from minimal sulfur. The entry level wines are made in stainless steel, but all of the single-vineyard Erste Lagen wines are aged in large oak foudres. The wines shine in multi-faceted elegance, offering drinking pleasure at highest level without being baroque and heavy. This Gruner shows intense aromas of fruit and blossoms, it is fresh and spicy, at the same time complex and mouth-filling with a lively acidity. What we like to call a “porch pounder”!



 

Cru Krewe – March 2017

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Introduction

This month’s wines from Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard in the Finger Lakes, upstate New York are wines that I have long admired and enjoyed.  Recently, the wines became available in the Tampa market and I jumped at the opportunity to showcase them for you.  My first exposure to Wiemer came while I was working in various wine programs in New York City.  I met and tasted with Oskar Bynke, current co-owner/estate manager/head of marketing and immediately fell in love with the Rieslings.  The purity and aromatic complexity these wines possessed was revelation, especially considering I am German Riesling fanatic!

Hermann Wiemer is a pioneering figure in the history of New York wine.  Wiemer was born to make wine – his mother’s family had over 300 years of winemaking experience in the Mosel, and his father was responsible for restoring vines in that region after World War II. Hermann grew up learning to graft vines by hand with his father before attending prestigious German winemaking and viticultural institutions. When Hermann moved to New York he discovered that the western shore of Seneca Lake was quite similar to the cool climate and gravelly soils of the Mosel. Using his grafting skills, Wiemer planted one of the first successful vinifera vineyards on Seneca Lake in 1976.  This ran in parallel to the fine wine revolution in California that exploded after Steven Spurrier’s legendary ‘Judgement of Paris’ tasting (where California Chardonnays and Cabernets faired well in a blind tasting against classics from Bordeaux and Burgundy).

Hermann retired in 2007, leaving selling the winery to agronomist Oskar Bynke and Wiemer’s right hand man, Fred Merwarth.  The Finger Lakes are not an easy place to grow grapes: the winters are brutally cold, spring frosts are common, and the summers are humid and often rainy.  Both Oskar and Fred are committed to continuing Hermann’s vision based on meticulous, precise vineyard management and winemaking.  Oskar says,

“Our future plan for the winery is to elevate the quality. Although we are one of the oldest in the Finger Lakes, we are very young compared to the other regions of the world. We are still working on our plantings, viticulture, and vinification methods. The winery has a history of being very agriculturally driven, in the sense that we have little intervention in the winery. Instead, we focus on the quality of the fruit. We continue to review the potential of our sites with better management. We use an organic spray program with no herbicides and no pesticides, and we will try to grasp the powers that are out of our control-flirting with Steiner (the father of biodynamic farming) a small bit… The goal is not only to make very high quality wines, but also to elevate the wines of the whole region by spearheading the Finger Lakes as the premier Riesling terroir of the country ….it is in pursuit of Hermann’s determined philosophy that we combine the best of old-world viticulture practices with sustainable modern techniques in our nursery, vineyard, and winemaking and ensure that our wines embody the finest expression of our vineyards”.

Oskar sums up concisely why we love Wiemer wines: they are authentic, handmade, environmentally responsible, and most of all, delicious!

Dry Riesling 2015

100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Riesling

Whole cluster pressed.  No fining or filtration.

The Dry Riesling is rapidly becoming the signature wine for Wiemer.  It is a blend of 3 single vineyards: HJW, Magdalena and Josef.  On the nose, the Riesling has aromas of green apple and yellow peach, as well as hints of minerality and fresh cut flowers.  The palate shows dense nectarine, white peach, orange peel, marmalade, and apricot skin.  It becomes more tropical with air.  Don’t be afraid to decant it!   This wine is extremely versatile at the table – all kinds of spicy food, seafood, and chicken just to a name a few.

From the Wine Enthusiast, “Smoke and slate extend from nose to finish on this intensely mineral dry Riesling. On the palate, flavors of pristine white grapefruit and waxy lemons penetrate deeply, finishing long with a bracing crush of lime and salt.”

Cabernet Franc 2015

100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Franc

Ages 8 months in old, used, neutral oak barrels.  No fining or filtration.
Ideally suited to cool climate growing, Cabernet Franc is quickly gaining a reputation as a principal red wine grape in the Finger Lakes where long, brisk autumns allow for slow ripening. The palate is generous and round, marked by vivacious berry flavors, along with savory earth notes and a bit of structure. Firm tannins grip the tongue, then soften at the finish.

Kelli White, New York State wine critic for Vinous, on the Cab Franc: “A lovely wine, if a bit of a departure from the Finger Lakes “norm.” While many FLX Cabernet Francs are spicy and savory, this wine is far more ripe and polished. This is evident even in the color, a richer ruby than is typically seen. The nose offers scents of red apples, dried leaves, roses and sweet soil. The palate is lifted and fresh but with a good density of fruit for such a middleweight wine. The tannins are present but chalky and fine. Overall, a wine of great finesse and breeding.”

Field Blend 2013

40{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Franc, 25{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Merlot, 25{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Sauvignon, 5{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Pinot Noir, 5{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Lemberger

Ages 15 months in used, neutral oak barrels.  No fining or filtration.

This balanced, well-structured table wine shows mellow tannins and ripe fruit ahead of a peppery finish.  Black currant, black cherry, red currant, red cherry, plum and a hint of nectarine on the nose of this ruby-colored blend.  The palate is fruit-forward, medium bodied with medium acidity kicking at the finish.  Ideal for a weeknight sipper or with lighter meat-based dishes.

Cru Krewe – January 2017

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Welcome to Cru Cellars’ Tour of Sicilian Wines

Sicily is a great place to be in the world of wine.  After millennia of bulk wine production (which was often sent north to Piedmont or Burgundy to enrich lightly-colored & flavored wines in bad vintages), fine wine production has exploded in the last 20 years focused indigenous varieties & styles that emphasize freshness & complexity.

Sicily is a complex place to produce wine.  There are vast differences in climate, rainfall, soil types & grape varieties depending on which part of the island at which you are looking.  We are going to focus on 3 regions: Vittoria in the south, Mount Etna in the east & the central, interior highlands near Palermo.

Red – Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2014 (DOCG)

  • Grapes: 60{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Nero d’Avola 40{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Frappato
  • Sustainably farmed
  • Stainless steel fermented & aged

Cerasuolo di Vittoria, situated near the town Vittoria near Ragusa on the south-eastern coast, is a blend of indigenous varieties Nero d’Avola & Frappato.  The name is derived from ‘Cerasa’ – cherry in Sicilian dialect.  Nero d’Avola is a bold grape that adds body, texture & spicy, gamey dark fruits.  Frappato is much lighter – adding grapey fruit & floral lift.  Cerasuolo di Vittoria is an appellation of the highest order in the Italian wine hierarchy, Denominazione di Origine e Garantita (DOCG).  Planeta is one of the legendary names of modern Sicilian winemaking.  Their Cerasuolo is from two vineyards near Dorilli (between the Mediterranean Sea & the Iblean mountains) dominated by unique mix of red sand & limestone soils.

“Deep red. Sweet, spicy aromas of red cherry, licorice, coffee and marzipan, complicated by minerals and tobacco. At once plump and juicy, sweet and poised, conveying an impressive delicacy to its floral red fruit and stone flavors. The seductive floral tones repeat on the silky finish. A knockout Cerasuolo di Vittoria.”   91 Vinous

White – Tasca d’Almerita ‘Leone d’Almerita’ 2015 (IGT)

  • Grapes: 47{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Catarratto 22{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Pinot Bianco 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Sauvignon Blanc 11{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Traminer
  • Sustainably farmed
  • Stainless steel fermented & aged

‘Leone’ is sui generis – a white blend created by the classic Sicilian winery Tasca d’Almerita that blends Catarratto (indigenous to Sicily) with a mixture of international varieties.  The grapes are grown on clay & sandy loam soils at high elevation – up to 2800 feet above sea level!

“Pale straw. Floral and herbal accents complement the aromas of green apple and stone fruits on the subtle nose. Smooth and open-knit, offering lemony orchard fruit flavors and a suggestion of ginger. Finishes bright and classically dry, displaying lingering white flower and Oriental spice notes.”  90 Vinous

Red – Tenuta della Terre Nere Etna Rosso 2015

  • Grapes: 98{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Nerello Mascalese 2{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Nerello Cappucio
  • Organically farmed
  • Aged 18 months in oak barrels, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} new

Now, we travel to Mt. Etna in eastern Sicily.  Grapes have grown on the slopes of this active volcano for centuries.  A legacy of volcanic eruptions has left deposits of rocky volcanic soils, the sort of easily draining, nutrient-poor earth that is so conducive to fine wine production.

Marco de Grazia, owner of Terre Nere, decided Etna was where he would make his wine, after a long career importing Barolos and Brunellos to the United States.  The 100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} organic Terre Nere vineyards are located at extremely high altitudes, ranging from 2100-2900 feet above sea level. The weather at such high altitudes – hot, direct sunlight but cool shade and cold nights – makes the wines of Etna extraordinarily elegant and a real rival to those classic, age-worthy wines from Piedmont and Tuscany.

Cru Krewe – December 2016

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Celebration Wines!

Tis the season everyone! It’s that time of year where we act on our good conscience and give back to those in need. December I am ALL about giving you what you need; bubbles and red blends! In both clubs you will find Daniel Brunier, a standout Southern Rhone producer whose old vine Grenache-heavy blends will pair great with any holiday meal. For all those California red blend lovers I give you a sexy and smooth wine known as The Pessimist from Dauo Vineyards and finally, for my sparkling lovers, I gift you the Champagne Lallier and Patrick Piuze from Chablis. Happy Holidays!!

Daniel Brunier Pigeoulet

Fans of Chateauneuf du Pape but cringe at the price tag? This is a great wine at more than half the price! The Brunier brothers are fourth generation wine makers from the Southern Rhone Valley who are continuing the legacy of their fathers by showing off the unique terroir this region has to offer. Mostly Grenache with a little Syrah, Carignan, and Cinsault the Pigeoulet comes from twenty-five year old vines sourced from Cotes du Rhone and Ventoux (SE Rhone Valley) and showcases the different terroirs of the Brunier holdings. The grapes are harvested by hand to ensure only the best grapes go into the juice, and destemmed to provide pure fruit flavor.

Dauo Vienyards The Pessimist

Here is the wine everyone wants from Cru Cellars and we are finally giving it to you! We find ourselves in Paso Robles with another set of brothers. Daniel and George Daou own this high elevation vineyard estate where their primary focus is on Bordeaux varietals and also Zinfandel and Rhone blends. The vineyards are mostly made up of calcareous, limestone soils and influenced by the cool night and sunny days which provides the perfect remedy for a well-balanced wine. The Pessimist is a blend of all your favorites including Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Grenache, and just a touch of Mourvedre. Will every swirl you will find aromas of seductive dark fruits, including ripe blackberry, boysenberry, and vanilla.

Patrick Piuze Val de Mer Non Dose

Winemaker Patrick Piuze has an interesting story. Born in Quebec Patrick started traveling the world in pursuit of his wine career. In 2000 he left Canada for the last time and moved to Burgundy. After working at Leflaive, Brocard, and Verget Piuze started his own winery in 2008. He made the decision early on to not produce his own fruit and rather purchase from the best climats across Chablis. Patrick’s latest project is Val de Mer, which loosely means “Valley of the Sea” and also brings us to our wine here. These wines focus on the ripeness of the fruit while maintaining the distinct Kimmeridgien that can only be Chablis. This sparkler is bone dry, toasty yeast notes, and a firm finish!