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Cellar Club – 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.

Gran Moraine Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir 2015

Gran Moraine, formerly known as the Solene estate, is one of the crown jewels in Yamhill-Carlton district of the Willamette Valley.  Long days with lots of sunlight allow Pinot Noir to ripen slowly, developing aromatic complexity with abundant structure that allows for medium term aging.  This is a bold wine: smooth cherry, vanilla and spice with significant tannins.

Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir

Region: Yamhill-Carlton

Soils: Ancient marine sedimentary over sandstone

Farming: Sustainable

Aging: 10 months in 41% new oak

Cowhorn ‘Spiral 36’ White Blend 2016

Cowhorn is an exciting, boundary-pushing producer located in the Applegate Valley.  They are completely devoted to environmentally friendly wines.  So much so, they are Demeter-certified Biodynamic farmers.  (Biodynamics being a system of organic farming that emphasizes a holistic view of grapes as part of a dynamic local ecosystem.)  They are also unique in their focus on Rhone varieties (think Syrah, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier) in Oregon.  The Spiral 36 is concentrated, supple, broad, floral – very pretty.

Grapes: almost equal part Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne

Region: Applegate Valley

Soils: Alluvial fans, some granite

Farming: Certified Biodynamic

Aging: Several months in barrel, a small percentage new

 

Cellar Club – February 2018 – Rosenthal Wine Merchants

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Bisson Il Granaccio- 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.

Il Granaccio, the sole red in Rosenthal portfolio from Lugano is made from the Granaccio grape, better known as Grenache. At home in this coastal Mediterranean climate, this powerful wine is produced from Lugano’s prime vineyard site “Tenute di Trigoso” on steeply-sloped hills in Sestri Levante. The wine is dense and carries the dominant flavor of ripe blackberries, an aromatically compelling hint of pine resin and an intriguing bitterness to the finish.

Peter Hahn Clos de la Meslerie- Vouvray, France

The Clos de la Meslerie has a winemaking history that dates back to the eighteenth century, but when Peter Hahn acquired the estate in 2002, no wine had been bottled there for many years and it was in a sad state of disrepair. Peter diligently began renovating the dilapidated chateau and chai (wine cellar), and earned his oenology certificate while waiting for the existing sharecropping agreements on his land to expire. He regained control in 2007 and undertook the herculean task of revitalizing his poorly-tended vineyards. Peter is a passionate practitioner of “natural” winemaking techniques, using organic and biodynamic practices in the vineyards, managing vine and grape growth manually, picking by hand and, most remarkably, using a meticulously restored decades-old basket press which extracts only “first-run” juice from his grapes.

With just 7,000 bottles produced, this old vine Chenin Blanc provides an exciting tropical fruit aroma, funky florals, stinky cheese, bake apples, and an even livelier palate packed full of minerality, fresh acidity, and rich textures. This wine will keep you coming back for more intriguing flavors!

 

Cellar Club – 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.

Darting Pinot Meunier- Pfalz, Germany
One of the three noble varieties used in blends of Champagne, Pinot Meunier is considered to be vital in adding fruitiness and freshness to the power of Pinot Noir and the grace of Chardonnay. In this instance, we are tasting a still red version from the Pfalz region in Germany. Darting has a history of grape growing dating to 1780 and it was not until 1989 that the winery began to sell all of their grapes as wine under their own label. The family also maintains a highly regarded vine nursery, selling their grafted vines throughout Germany. Current winemaker Helmut Darting believes firmly in minimal-intervention winemaking as he feels that “everytime you handle a wine, you diminish it”. These practices include fermenting as slow as possible at a cold temperature in stainless steel, using only natural yeasts, and avoiding the introduction of oxygen in the winemaking process. This pinot meunier is fermented on their skins in stainless steel and then transferred to large oak casks. The only time the wine is handled is after racking, transfer of wine from one storage container to another using gravity, is to finish the wine by bottling.
Warwick Pinotage- Stellenbosch, South Africa
Pinotage is a grape crossing of Cinsaut and Pinot Noir. It was first crossed in South Africa in 1925 in the gardens of scientist Abraham Perold. Perold observed how Pinot Noir struggled in South Africa’s climate, so he crossed them with a very productive species: Cinsaut (called Hermitage). Perold’s goal was to create a wine that was as delicious as Pinot Noir but grew as well as Cinsaut. The result of the crossing between Cinsaut and Pinot Noir was unexpected. The Pinotage grapes were extremely dark in color and the wine they created was bold and high in tannin and anthocyanin —nothing its the progenitors. Despite the difference in flavor, Pinotage would eventually become the 2nd most planted grape in South Africa. Warwick Estate is a family-owned and run winery. Managing Director Michael Ratcliffe is the 3rd generation family member to oversee this high quality boutique operation. From 1771 till 1902, Warwick was known as the farm ‘De Goede Sukses’. After the Anglo Boer war ended in 1902, Colonel William Alexander Gordon, Commanding Officer of the Warwickshire regiment bought the historic farm. He renamed it ‘Warwick’ as a tribute to his regiment and the rest, as they say, is history. In this months feature of Pinotage you’ll notice red and black cherries, tobacco, barnyard, coffee, and a chuggable palate.

Koehler- Ruprecht Pinot Blanc- Pfalz, Germany
Koehler-Ruprecht has existed since the 1700’s, but Bernd Phillipi’s hard work over the last 30 years has solidified the winery’s world class reputation. In the vineyard, no irrigation, fertilizers or herbicides are ever used, and systemic treatments against pests or fungal illness are kept to a minimum, only in the rare cases when necessary. In the cellar, long spontaneous fermentations occur in large, old German oak barrels with extended lees contact. Nothing is ever added or subtracted to the wine, and sulfur is only added moderately after alcoholic fermentation and before bottling. This 100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Pinot Blanc is sourced from two of their three single vineyard sites, Stenacker and Saumagen, mostly comprised of limestone soils. This particular vintage airs more on the drier side for this varietal and harvested from older vines between 40 and 50 years old. Loads of savory orchard and tropical fruits on the nose paired with a round and creamy palate and a touch of acidity.

Cellar Club – June 2017

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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!

Francois Chidaine Clos du Breuil- Chenin Blanc
Montlouis is an appellation of 400 hectares located directly across the river from Vouvray. In fact, until it was granted AOC status in 1937, Montlouis wines were produced under the Vouvray appellation. The soils in both places are quite similar: sandy clay on a base of tuffeau. Some say that a slightly higher percentage of sand and pebbles in the Montlouis soils makes the wines a bit leaner than the wines of Vouvray. For us, this trait adds to the charm of Montlouis’s sec wines, giving them a lively crispness on the palate and outstanding minerality. François Chidaine worked alongside his father Yves for many years, and today he devoutly manages an estate blessed with vines between 40 and 80 years old. He works his vineyards biodynamically, but does not want any mention of biodynamic viticulture on his bottles even though the estate has been Demeter certified since 2003. For Francois, it is about the work not the notoriety. He is a true champion of the Chenin Blanc grape and touts its ability to produce vibrant wines that age gracefully. Francois is happiest on his tractor or with his hands in the dirt, but being among his barrels is a close second. In the glass: A beautifully expressive nose, with desiccated orchard fruits, sweet and very primary, but very convincing too. It has lovely clean fruit on the palate, reminiscent of a golden orchard mix, bright and also lightly mineral, with a super texture and pithy finish.

Anne Claude Leflaive Clau de Nell- Cabernet Franc
Anne-Claude Leflaive (of Burgundy’s Domaine Leflaive) and Christian Jacques purchased Clau de Nell in 2008; Sylvain Potin joined the team as estate manager in 2009. The property is comprised of 10 hectares of vines on a gently sloping hill surrounded by open countryside. The highest point of Clau de Nell offers a glimpse of the Loire in the distance; from here, an uninterrupted view unveils the sky and the river on the horizon, as well as rows of Grolleau, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc. As with Domaine Leflaive, all of Clau de Nell’s wines are 100 percent biodynamic. Since the passing of Anne Claude Leflaive, Christian Jacques and Sylvain Potin are commited to keep her legacy alive through the biodynamic path and pursuit of the terroir’s finest expression. In the glass: elegant dark red and black berries, violets, cinnamon and plenty of earthen funk! Rich on the palate but structured by dramatic acidity.

Cellar Club – 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 cont

ext.  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!

 

CHÂTEAU CARBONNIEUX BLANC 2014

(Pessac Leognan) – White

Grapes: 80{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Sauvignon Blanc, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Sémillon

Aging: 10 months in barrel & cask (25{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} of which are new)

Farming: Organic

Chateau Carbonnieux has a long history in Bordeaux – records indicate it was created when a family called “Carbonius” or Carbonnieu cleared and cultivated land near Léognan in 1234.  Thomas Jefferson tasted at the estate in 1786!  The Perrin family purchased Carbonnieux in 1956 – the third generation is being groomed to take over very soon.

Pessac-Léognan is world-renowned for producing some the best dry white wines in the world from clay/limestone soils (marl).  Vintage 2014 is notable for vivacity & freshness.  The house style is always very precise & clean, so the wine is especially focused in 2014.

Look for: A mix of citrus fruits, lime blossoms, crushed rocks, & bit of herbs.  A natural with all kinds of fish, chicken & vegetarian dishes.

“The 2014 Carbonnieux Blanc has a detailed and vivacious bouquet offering attractive blackcurrant leaf and citrus aromas, hints of almond and white chocolate just tucked in nicely below the surface. The palate is well balanced with a slice of bitter lemon on the entry.”  92 Points, The Wine Advocate.

 $35 / Bottle

 

CHÂTEAU LALANDE-BORIE 2012 (SAINT-JULIEN) – Red

 Grapes: 65{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Sauvignon, 25{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Merlot, 10{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Franc

Aging: 12 months in barrique, 30{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} of which are new

Farming: Sustainable

Chateau Lalande Borie took its name from its owner, Jean Eugene Borie.  The current owner is Bruno Borie (owner of several estates in Saint Julien, and in the Haut-Medoc, but he is most famous for owning Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou).  Bruno Borie manages the estate along with his sister, Sabine Coiffe.  Chateau Lalande is a relatively new estate in the Medoc – the vineyard was initially created when the Borie family purchased 18 hectares of vines from Chateau Lagrange in 1970.  Lalande-Borie lies to the west of Ducru Beaucaillou on a single plot of 40 acre plot not far from illustrious neighbors Chateau Lagrange, Chateau Talbot and Chateau Gruaud Larose.

The vineyards are higher in elevation and further back from the Gironde estuary, produces a wine with plenty of typical St. Julien characteristics – rich cherry fruits, deep and smooth – but which matures a little quicker than its neighbors. The soils are a mix of gravel and clay. The high clay content is part of the reason that Merlot plays such a prominent role in the blend.

Look for: Smooth.  Juicy blackberry & blackcurrant fruits, hints of pencil lead & violets.  Classic Bordeaux in its presentation while still being extremely drinkable.  Have with a steak or burgers from the grill.

Cellar Club – 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”!



Cellar Club – 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!

Riesling Reserve Dry 2015

100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Riesling

Sustainably farmed.

Whole cluster pressed.  No fining or filtration.

The Reserve Dry Riesling, made from a small selection of grapes meticulously chosen from Wiemer’s 3 single vineyards.  Each vineyard’s wines are fermented separately and then blended prior to bottling.  Highly aromatic and extremely complex, we find a mix of tangy stone fruits and citrus zest balanced by a stony minerality, unctuous texture and an electric, crisp finish.

From the Wine Advocate, “The Dry Riesling Reserve is, according to winemaker Fred Merwath, about 90{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Auslese level in ripeness. It is a luscious Riesling that seems round and rich, but as with most of what Wiemer makes, there is ample attention here to age-worthiness and structure. Underneath, there is fine acidity that cuts through the dense fruit. Then, it never seems as rich again, eventually showing more and more power on the finish. This is something you can sink your teeth into”.

Cabernet Franc Magdalena Vineyard 2014

100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Franc

Sustainably farmed.

Whole cluster pressed.  8 months in Hungarian oak barrels.  No fining or filtration.

The Cabernet Franc Magdalena Vineyard is selected from a 2.5 acre plot at the warm, northern end of the Magdalena site. Extended skin contact, whole-cluster pressing, and time in younger Hungarian oak barrels impart a structure and depth to this full-bodied red. Dense tannins and prominent tobacco notes hint at the ageabilty of this Cabernet Franc though it will drink energetically while young.  Decant for an hour before drinking and enjoy with one your favorite roasted red meat dishes or with a multitude of cheeses.

A recent Editor’s Choice from Wine Enthusiast, the Magdalena Cab Franc scored 93 points, “­Hermann J. Wiemer may be synonymous with New York Riesling, but its Cabernet Francs are consistently some of the best reds made in the state. Subdued shades of cigar box, cedar and tomato leaf lend savory, Old-World elegance to this ripe, richly concentrated wine. Pristine blackberry and plum flavors are juicy and penetrating yet briskly composed. A bristle of soft, cocoa powder tannins extends the finish.”

Cellar Club – 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 – COS Maldafrica 2012 (IGT)

* Grapes: Merlot 50{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Sauvignon 50{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22}

* Organically farmed

* Fermented in terracotta amphorae, aged in used wood barrels

COS is one of the most exciting wineries in Italy. It was founded in 1980 by three friends: Giambattista Cilia, Cirino Strange and Giusto Occhipinti. The acronym of their surnames (Cilia-Occhipinti-Strange) gives rise to the company’s name. Their production is based in southern Sicily near Vittoria. The vineyards are a mix of red sand & clay/limestone at approximately 900 feet above sea level. The production methods are revolutionary. For example, most of the fermentations take place in clay pots (amphorae) buried in the ground! All farming is organic and the wines are bottled with minimal sulphur, unfined & unfiltered.

“Black olive, mature blackberry, tilled soil and a hint of game are some of the aromas you’ll find on this earthy, alluring wine. The fresh, savory palate offers crushed cherry, blackberry, ground pepper, clove anise and a hint of leather alongside fresh acidity and velvety tannins.” 92 WE

White – Planeta Etna Bianco 2015

* Grapes: 100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Carricante

* Sustainably farmed

* Fermented & aged in a mix of stainless steel & wood

Planeta was at the forefront of Sicily’s fine wine revolution in the 1980s. Etna Bianco is their expression of Carricante – Sicily’s most important & age worthy indigenous white grape. It originates in the black sand soils of Mount Etna, from a single vineyard at 2000 feet above sea level. We find white peach, pear, white flowers, almond skin & flinty minerality with a luscious mid-palette & a crisp finish.

Cellar Club – 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 Telegramme CdP

One cannot think of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the most celebrated cru of the southern Rhône, without thinking of the Brunier family. The Brunier family is legendary in its own right, having been rooted to the enigmatic plateau known as La Crau for over one hundred years. The wines of this domain evoke the concept of terroir in its purest form: they reflect their dramatic climate, the rough terrain that defines the soil, their full sun exposure at a higher altitude, the typicity of the varietals with an emphasis on Grenache, and of course, the influence of their caretakers, the Brunier family. The Telegramme is the Chateauneuf du Pape blend of mostly Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre from an average rootstock age of 40 years adding to the depth of this blend.

Lallier Grand Reserve

The Lallier family had been in Ay for five generations. Since Monsieur Lallier passed it along to his longtime winemaker Monsieur Tribaut they have expanded only slightly to 350,000 bottle production which is still miniscule compared to Veuve Cliquot at 10 million. In order to produce Champagnes of exceptional quality, Lallier only vinifies the highest quality grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This Burgundy-inspired style shows once again that the quality of its champagnes is central to LALLIER’s values. Wines are bottled after blending in Spring and then have at least 36 months to rest in their cellars where they reach full maturity before consumption…NOW! I am excited for you to try this sparkling bursting with red fruits, fine mousse, and an elegant finish.

Cellar Club – November 2016

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Holiday Wines

Welcome to November Wine of Month!  We’ve been searching the last couple of months for the perfect complements to the Holiday season – suitable for the table and for simply enjoying a glass.  We’ve found a delicious, serious take on the Red Blend (from one of the best wineries in the U.S., Ridge) and a surprising White Blend from a region you wouldn’t normally expect (Rhone grapes from California).  Don’t worry about pairing these wines with specific dishes.  Just pop the cork and let the celebration begin!

Elyse L’Ingénue Naggiar Vineyard White Blend 2014

Elyse Winery was born in Napa Valley during the late 1980s as the brainchild of husband and wife team Ray and Nancy Coursen.  They decided to grow and source only the finest grapes that were grown in an environmentally responsible fashion.

L’Ingénue (naïve girl) is composed of four white grape varieties (52{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Roussanne, 32{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Marsanne, 11{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Viognier, 5{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Grenache Blanc) that originate in the France’s Rhone Valley but are ideally suited the terroir of the Sierra Foothills. The 2014 is bursting with aromas of citrus, peach, nectarine and orange blossom honey. We also find flavors of ripe peach, marzipan, Key lime and pineapple with an unctuous mouthfeel balanced by crisp acidity. This is a full-bodied white even a die-hard red wine drinker will enjoy!  Only 400 cases produced.

$34.99

 

Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel Blend 2014

Ridge is the legendary Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon producer based in the Santa Cruz Mountains (south of San Francisco) but with vineyards holdings in Sonoma, Napa, and Alexander Valley.  Geyserville is a single vineyard traditional field blend (from deep gravelly loam soils mixed with river rock) that is primarily Zinfandel but includes Carignan, Petit Sirah, and Mourvedre.  Some of the vines here are 130 years old!  Ridge always works naturally: wild yeasts for fermentations, organic farming, hand-harvesting, minimal sulfuring, gentle fining and filtration.  Robert Parker, wine critic par excellence, is a huge fan, “the 2014 Geyserville is a big-time winner in 2014, with copious quantities of juicy blackberry and black cherry fruit, some wood spice and loamy soil undertones. Full-bodied, fleshy and seductive, the wine is clean, pure, textured, and offers sensational drinking now and over the next 7-8 years.”

$39.99

Cellar Club – October 2016

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SpOoOoky Surprise in the Glass

 

Manni Nössing Grüner Veltliner, Italy

The winemaking region of Alto-Adige is like a little Germany in northeast Italy. Most signs are in German and you’re more likely to see sauerkraut on a menu than tomatoes and basil. Here, Manni Nössing’s vineyards benefit from the steep mountain climate, making stunning Grüner Veltliner that perfectly represents its terroir. After being vinified in stainless steel tanks, the grapes stay eight months on the lees for added richness and texture. The result is this complex wine that balances body with lean Alpine minerality.

Red Hook Winery Twenty One: Twenty Four, New York

When you think of New York you might first consider what the Big Apple has to offer; great restaurants, shopping, museums etc, but you may not find yourself thinking of it as an up-and-coming wine growing region. Red Hook Winery was established in 2008 and aims at showing off New York state viticulture. He is able to do so with his team of winemakers out of California, Abe Schoener and Robert Foley.  Splitting each lot of grapes in half for each wine maker to experiment, they continue to discover what New York means in liquid form, letting the juice tell the story. This Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend from the North Fork of Long Island is full of cracked pepper, raspberry, and clove aromas with a brambly fruit palate and long finish.

Cellar Club – September 2016

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Southern France!

MAS DE DAUMAS GASSAC BLANC (IGP St Guilhem-le-Désert – Cité d’Aniane)

  • 27{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Petit Manseng , 25{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Viognier, 16{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Chenin Blanc, 15{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Chardonnay, 17{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Blend of: Bourboulenc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Petit Courbu, Muscat Ottonel, Muscat Petit Grain, Muscat d’Alexandrie, Gros Manseng, Semillon, Neherleschol, Petite Arvine, Amigne, Sercial de Madère (Portugal), Khondorni, Tchilar (Arménie), Albarino (Espagne), Falanghina, Fiano, Grechetto
  • Organic farming
  • Hand harvested
  • Fermented then rested for 6 months in stainless steel

For many, this estate needs no introduction. Often referred to as the Grand Cru of the Midi (South of France), the Mas de Daumas Gassac top-tier wines have reached international cult status. Located in the majestic Gassac Valley, the estate benefits from the cool microclimate derived from the Gassac River, several natural springs (from which the Guibert family drinks), and the influence of the nearby mountains. The soil that dominates the valley is a rare and still unexplained red, powder-fine glacial soil, which is strikingly similar to that found in the prime areas of Burgundy. This combination of characteristics is quite unique in Southern France.   They were the very first estate in the Languedoc to adopt full organic farming and can honestly say that the Gassac estate has never seen any chemicals!  This a very aromatic, lush white blend that is delicious to drink now by itself or with richer chicken dishes and a multitude of cheeses.  Try it with our Cambozola!

 

LES VIGNES OUBLIÉES ROUGE (Coteaux du Languedoc Terrasses du Larzac)

  • 60{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Grenache, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Syrah, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Carignan
  • Organic farming
  • Aged 12 months in a mix of demi-muidsand barriques, 10{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} new
  • Hand harvested
  • Indigenous yeast fermentation

 

Les Vignes Oubliées is hard to categorize: though the quality and quantity produced suggest an exacting family estate, it is in fact a sort of boutique cooperative—a self-proclaimed “collective of small farmers.” Clustered around the tiny village of Saint Privat, less than an hour northwest of Montpellier, the terraced vineyards sit at 350 meters altitude, placing them among the region’s highest. Winemaker Jean-Baptiste Granier works closely year-round with the four vignerons who entrust their fruit to him, ensuring that both sides maintain their stringent standards.

Having grown up in a family of vignerons, Jean-Baptiste was exposed to wine early on and quickly picked up his father and grandfather’s passion for their profession. They stressed to him the importance of listening to Nature, and the young boy aspired to have his own estate one day where he would use only the most natural, hands-off methods in the vineyards and winery.  As part of his viticulture-enology degree, Granier got an internship with Olivier Jullien, who was already well known as a staunch defender of natural methods and a pinnacle of winemaking in the Languedoc. An idea took root, and they easily convinced the vignerons to leave the cooperative that had been buying the fruit. After confirming their impressions with trial cuvées over two vintages, Jean-Baptiste and Olivier officially established Les Vignes Oubliées with the 2009 vintage. By 2011 the new project was well off the ground, and Jullien retired from the project to let Granier hold the reins alone.

The high altitude of the Larzac plateau combines with a schist and sandstone soil to give unusually fresh, delicate wines with silky tannins that also have the garrigue aromas and great generosity that are characteristic of the Languedoc.  Jeb Dunnuck, southern France expert at the Wine Advocate, gives you a great snapshot of this gem, “has terrific purity in its black and blue styled fruits, licorice and assorted herb and earthy aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied, with solid mid-palate depth and a seamless texture.”  Fantastic with heartier pasta dishes and all manner of red meats.

Cellar Club – August 2016

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August Wine of the Month: Terroir Selections

This month there is no region or seasonality we are focusing on, but rather a small distributor known as Terroir Selections. This Florida-based company shares the same philosophy as Cru when it comes to wine buying. They are boutique-focused and care about the approach and steps it takes to produce quality wine such as organic or biodynamic farming practices, and family owned estates. Cru has dealt with Terroir’s wines before and many of you have loved their selections, so I am proud to dedicate this month’s picks to this unique company.

 

Raptor Ridge “Shea Vineyard” Pinot Noir

Founded in 1995 by winemaker Scott Shull, Raptor Ridge Winery gets its name from the many families of raptors-red tailed hawks, kestrels, sharp shinned hawks and owls-that share the winery’s 27 acre estate. The estate vineyard is named “Tuscowallame,” the indigenous word for “place where the owls dwell.” It is a fitting name, not only for the raptors that make the vineyard their home, but for those that are released here following rehabilitative treatment by local raptor rescue foundations. The relationship between the winery and the raptors is a symbolic one. As the winery provides a haven for these beautiful creatures, the raptors in turn serve a protectors of the vineyard, aiding the winegrower in the battle against tunneling varmints and migratory birds that damage the vines and eat the ripe grapes at harvest. Raptor Ridge produces only about 7,500 cases of wine each vintage. Uncompromised quality is the focus, not quantity. Scott and Annie consider what they do an honor-working with their hands, providing a product that brings joy, while employing a small, focused of top wine professionals to make it so. From humble beginnings in a converted horse barn behind their home to a state-of-the-art winery on the vineyard property the Shull’s remain grounded in the purposeful production of sincere wines, true to their sides of origin. As for this outstanding single vineyard Pinot Noir from their Shea Vineyard, it is a spicy, energetic, wine with raspberry and cherry scents are complemented by subtle anise and dried rose. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering gently sweet red and dark berry flavors underscored by a smoky, mineral element.

 

Feraud-Brunel Chateauneauf-du-Pape

Chateauneuf-du-Pape is home to the most precious terroir in the Southern Rhone, and its deep-fruited blends based in Grenache backed up by numerous native grapes are famous in the wine world. It’s winemaking practices extend back generations but there are still winemakers starting their own projects in more recent years. Feraud-Brunel began in 1998 with a partnership between two celebrated winemakers: Laurence Feraud of Domaine du Pegau and Andre Brunel of Domaine Les Cailloux. These winemakers are known for highly regarded Chateauneuf-du-Pape at their own estates but through their collaborative label they are able to source old-vine Grenache from the best growers in the region. The wine is laced with musky cherry and red currant aromas, complicated by notes of garrigue, woodsmoke, and pipe tobacco. The mouthfeel offers sappy cherry compote and floral flavors and hint of licorice, and peppery nuance to add lift. Long, resonating finish with noticeable tannins.

Cellar Club – July 2016

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South Africa

 

Hamilton Russell Chardonnay

One of the most southerly wine Estates in Africa, this Pinot noir and Chardonnay specialist pioneered viticulture in the cool, maritime Hemel-en-Aarde Valley appellation.  This is the first 100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} organic harvest for the Chardonnay.  The winemaker called 2015, “an excellent vintage for Chardonnay.”

The wine ferments and ages for 9 months in a mix of French oak barrels – mixed toast levels and mixed sizes of barrel.  Yields for the Chardonnay are extremely low, which lends concentration and extract to the finished wine.

A tight, minerally wine with classic Hamilton Russell Vineyards length and complexity. Unusually prominent pear and lime fruit aromas and flavours are brought beautifully into focus by a tight line of bright natural acid and a long, dry minerality. An elegant, yet textured and intense wine with a strong personality of both place and vintage.

94 Points, Wine Spectator, “Rippling with tension, featuring Jonagold apple, white peach, mirabelle plum and honeysuckle notes coiled at the core. Citrus oil– and mineral-edged finish.”

$34.99

 

A.A. Badenhorst Family Red Blend 2013

Adi Badenhorst, who gained a reputation as one of South Africa’s most talented winemakers during his years at Rustenberg, began his own label with wines from purchased fruit in 2006, then bought his estate in Swartland in 2007.  The winery is located on a mountain range which is a granite outcrop and three distinctive types of granitic soil are found on the property.

Badenhorst works in a decidedly low-tech, non-interventionist style.  They farm organically whenever possible.  Grapes are never de-stemmed.  Wines ferment in open-top fermenters and rest in a mix of large, used oak foudre and cement tanks.

Neal Martin, from the Wine Advocate, gave the wine 93 Points and described:

The 2013 Family Red Blend consists of 68{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Shiraz, 18{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Grenache, 10{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cinsault and 4{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Tinta Barocca. It has a composed and refined nose, keeping to itself at first but then opening and delivering red plum, wild strawberry, and animally scents mixed with rosemary and oregano. The palate is medium-bodied with a refreshing line of acidity……beautifully controlled, fine tannins and a sense of symmetry and sophistication towards the finish. This comes highly recommended.

$39.99

Cellar Club – June 2016

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Wines for BBQ Night

With Fourth of July upon us, I wanted to choose wines that would pair well with BBQ foods. When I think burgers and steaks on the grille I want big reds with fruit tannin and whites that have a fuller mid-palate with a backbone of acidity.

Occipinti ‘SP68’ Bianco

Arianna Occhipinti is a star of Sicilian winemaking. She blends indigenous grapes from the island into wonderfully drinkable and powerfully stated wines. Arianna is niece of Giusto Occipinti who has been producing organic, indigenous, fresh wines since the 80’s. She did her first harvest with him when she was sixteen not having a clue about wine but loved it so much she decided to study oenology at University. This quickly proved counter-intuitive, since everything she had learned from her uncle (organic viticulture, hand-harvesting, native yeast fermentations) clashed with what she was being taught in school.

Undeterred, Arianna started making her own wine with just 1 hectare of abandoned vines in the commune of Vittoria. This white blend from the SP68 line is 50{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Zibibbo and 50{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Albanello, spending 7 days on skins for texture and then finished in concrete tanks. These grapes and the resulting wine are beautifully aromatic with a refreshing, food-friendly acidity and a clean and linear palate. Notes of grape and citrus zest.

Clos i Terrasses ‘Laurel’ Priorat

One could say that Daphne Glorian invented the modern Priorat as we know it and her Laurel is a prime example. Biodynamically farmed 75{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Garnacha, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Syrah, and 5{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Sauvignon are blended and aged in French oak tanks, French oak barrels, then clay amphorae over the course of 18 months. The resulting wine is intense with notes of blackberries, cherries, licorice and mint leaves. Like most high-quality Priorat, it can be aged another ten years or drunk straightaway with summer barbecue without regret.

Cellar Club – May 2016

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Weingut Prager Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Hinter der Burg (Wachau, Austria)

Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s indigenous white that is perfect for Spring! Prager has been producing high quality Grüners and dry Rieslings since the early 18th century. Current owner and winemaker Toni Bodenstein produces wines that are known for richness, purity, and clarity. Federspiel signifies a dry wine that is low in alcohol.

Prager’s Grüner Veltliner is a complex mix of citrus, grasses, herbs, white flowers, and an arugula-like peppery streak. There is a significant mineral core to balance the fruity and savory flavors. This wine is a perfect pairing for asparagus (one of the few wines that can) and any number of dishes from tuna tartar to grilled chicken.

Evening Land ‘Celebration’ Gamay (Willamette Valley, Oregon)

Gamay, indigenous to Beaujolais in southern Burgundy, takes a star turn here from Oregon. Evening Land is a fantastic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producer to keep an eye on. This is a single vineyard wine (Seven Springs) produced in traditional Beaujolais style: whole-cluster carbonic maceration. This preserves the delicate fresh fruit character for which Gamay is known.
Beautiful, brilliant and intense purple in color with a violet edge, the nose has typical red fruit Gamay character of strawberry and cherry with a hint of fresh cracked pepper. The palate is silky and long with a supple texture that carries the elegant cranberry flavors to a lengthy finish. Chill for 30 minutes before opening for a bright, fresh Spring-time red!

Cellar Club – April 2016

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To The Outback!

April is the month we travel to the fourth largest wine producing region in the world, Australia! The hesitation when buying these wines is understandable when you think of the kangaroo-riddled labels that are most certainly the cause of your worst hangovers but we’re here to change that!! We have hand selected some wines that represent the Cru personality; all natural, hand harvesting, low production, unique, and most importantly the best value.

 

Brash Higgins ‘GR/M’ Grenache and Mataro

This is as natural as it gets. Biodynamically farmed, the Grenache and Mataro (aka Mourvedre) are fermented together in an open fermenter with wild yeast for six weeks. Eight months in French oak, then it is bottled completely unfined and unfiltered. Very little interacts with these grapes other than the plentiful McLaren Vale sun. The resulting juice is lush, full and earthy. A bit of dusty tannin underlies this unadulterated marriage of Grenache’s fruit and Mataro’s spice.

 

Jansz Methode Tasmanoise

Tasmania’s first sparkling wine made using the Methode Champenoise, hence their coinage of the term Tasmanoise, the vines that produce this lovely fizz sit within the Pipers River region of the Tamar Valley. Here, the ocean breezes that regulate temperature and the free-draining basalt soils are ideal for world-class sparkling wines. Prepare to open your mind and your palate for top tier bubbly from down under.

Cellar Club – March 2016

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Welcome to the exciting world of Italian wines.  Unlike France or the US, Italy cultivates vines virtually everywhere on the peninsula – from the Alps in the north to Sicily in the south (which is closer to Africa than France!)   Italy’s mountainous geography, especially the Apennine mountains which form a backbone of the peninsula, explains the ubiquity of vines and viticulture.  Grapes love nutrient-poor soils.  High-elevation vineyards create freshness and complexity through slow-ripening and extreme diurnal variations in temperature.  This created tremendous diversity – Italy has over 400 indigenous grape varieties!

The names we all know are synonymous with fine wine the world over: Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello, Chianti.  This month, we are introducing new regions and producers that represent the best of what Italy has to offer outside of those classics.  These wines are quintessential Cru Cellars: family-owned and operated, everything done by hand, organic farm practices when possible, and a strong sense of place (tipicità).

 

Donnafugata Tancredi Red Blend

This full-bodied red comes to us from southwestern Sicily.  It is a blend of Nero d’Avola (indigenous Sicilian variety known for its dark color, full body, & sweet cherry fruit) and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine ages in wood barrels and vats of varying sizes for 14 months, then rests for another 24 months in bottle.  It is broad shouldered, muscular, and intense – perfect for a grilled steak.

$39.99

 

Kellerei Terlan Winkl Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Notice the German spelling instead of the Italian cantina?  Terlan comes from deep in the Italian Alps, just across the border with Austria.  In fact, locals here speak both languages fluently!  Manual harvesting, whole cluster pressing, fermenting in stainless steel all lead to pure expression of Sauvignon Blanc.  The wines rests on its lees for 5 to 7 months adding texture and seamless body.  Citrus & stone fruits intermix with a solid mineral core and zippy acidity.

$34.99

Sources:

Oxford Companion

Wine Advocate

Wine Spectator

New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia

Cellar Club – February 2016

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SPAIN SPAIN SPAIN

Focus: United Cellars

Spain has been our main focus this month starting with our Wine Wednesday tasting with Martin, a cool guy who represents some stellar “new” spanish wines, and then our *sold out* Wine Dinner which also features all Spanish wines. Martin’s portfolio is akin to all natural wines that incorporate all organic practices, include funky grape varietals, and mirror a very fresh style which is everything Cru is about. As much as I love these wines I wanted to give our customers a break from all our “weird” wine and highlight the traditional stuff that is also coming out of Spain while maintaining our loyalty to boutique wineries. Romain, the star of this month’s show works for a teeny tiny importer known as United Cellars. The philosophy behind United is to find those limited production, family wineries that are passionate and innovative. Most importantly they want to present one of the things Spain does best….WINE.

 

Vinícola Real Cueva del Monge Blanco: White Blend

In addition to the world-famous Tempranillo coming out of the region, Rioja also produces some fantastic white wines. This example, from small producer Vinícola Real, is the Chablis of Spain, with its perfect balance between acidity and quality French oak, and is just as drinkable. Sustainably farmed and blended from the three most notable white grapes of the region (70{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Viura, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Malvasia, 10{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Garnacha Blanca), this wine shows notes of peaches-and-cream, pear, and fresh citrus. Limited to 1,250 cases, enjoy this wine while you can!

 

Castell D’Encus Quest: Bordeaux Blend

From D.O. Costers Del Segre of Catalonia in the northeast, Castell D’Encus utilizes the region’s intensely diurnal climate (warm days, cold nights) to farm grapes that are maximally complex and fruity, then ferment them in steel, oak, as well as natural stone vats carved out of the side of a mountain. The Quest is their Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, and it’s aged for 18 months in 60{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} new French oak. This powerful wine has notes of wild berries and smoked paprika with a spicy, dark fruit palate and a long, earthy finish. Castell D’Encus keeps their production very small to deliver only the highest quality, and at only 5,800 bottles this is their smallest production. Lucky you!

Cellar Club – January 2016

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Terry Theise and Michael Skurnik Pre Sale

Believe it or not, these wines were ordered in June 2015! Just when we thought they were NEVER going to arrive, we received and e-mail letting us know they are here! Renowned importer and wine guru Terry Thiese now works with Michael Skurnik to curate some amazing selections from Germany and Austria. This partnership brings some of the most respected winemakers to your front door! One cannot mention Terry Thiese without mentioning his raw wine writing talent. His incredibly poetic style is sure to captivate even the most restrained wine lover. For a great read and to re-inspire your romanticism for wine, check out his book Reading between the Wines.

Bründlmayer Zweigelt Reserve, Kamptal, Austria 2011

Winemaker Willi Bründlmayer was named the best winemaker of the last 25 years by Wine & Spirits Magazine! He uses only organic methods of fertilizing, while cover crops are planted between rows. Multiple harvest sweeps are made through the vineyard each year, to ensure grapes are picked at the height of ripeness. He holds back a tiny portion of the grapes and macerates them for 12 hours. These are used as ‘seasoning’ during the blending process—it adds a completely new dimension to the final wine!

Zweigelt is Austria’s most popular dark-berried grape. It is a cross between Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent accomplished by Dr. Zweigelt in 1922. As expected, you will experience high acid from the Blaufränkisch and elegance from the St. Laurent. Growers in Austria love this varietal because it ripens earlier than Blaufränkisch and buds later than St. Laurent, thus making it a generous yielding grape. The varietal is starting to spread to winemaking regions east, like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. You’ll also start seeing it in British Columbia and Japan!

Bründlmayer Zweigelt is made from the original Zweigelt family vineyards! This is a step back into time at what Dr. Zweigelt tasted when he crossed Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent! You’ll experience sour cherries, berries and plums with spicy aromas. This representation of Zweigelt is fresh and elegant with linear structure. Surprisingly refreshing!

Nigl Brut de Brut Rosé Sekt, Kremstal, Austria 2011

Martin Nigl is a first generation winemaker and began his career as we know it began in 1985. He does, however, come from a farming family with some serious pedigree (for over 200 years). He convinced his family to keep the fruit from their tiny quantity of vines and bottle them himself, rather than selling to the local co-op. The Nigls are sustainable farmers and never use herbicides or insecticides. Cover crops of legumes and herbs are planted around the vines. In the winery, Martin uses stainless steel almost exclusively and never de-stems! He uses only ambient yeast, gravity flow, and never fines. Enjoy this snappy and fresh sparkling rose with compelling notes of rose-hips on your lips!

Resources:

http://winewise.biz

http://www.skurnik.com

http://www.jancisrobinson.com/

Bründlmayer Zweigelt Reserve, Kamptal, Austria 2011, 43.99
Nigl Brut de Brut Rosé Sekt, Kremstal, Austria 2011, 33.99

Cellar Club – December 2015

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I had the pleasure of getting out to California wine country this past November with my husband, Torrey, and I wanted to share a bit of that experience with you for this months’ club. We had a wonderful stay at the farmhouse on one of Robert and Maria Sinskey’s vineyard holdings in Carneros, and we also took a morning to visit their winery and other property in the Stag’s Leap district of Napa Valley. With a background in design and not farming, Sinskey’s father pulled him into the world of wine growing and he never looked back. He was an early adopter of organic and biodynamic practices in the vineyard, starting these practices in 1991! His lovely wife, Maria, is an acclaimed chef who has worked a Michelin starred restaurants around the world, but now calls the winery kitchen home. She has published two lovely cookbooks, and she also releases wonderful recipes to pair with their wines (available on their site). Their POV (Point of View) red is a Bordeaux-style blend from their vineyards in Carneros. It is a right-bank style Bordeaux, meaning that the blend is predominantly Merlot and Cabernet Franc. A contrast to big, extracted Napa Cabs, this more restrained wine exhibits notes of blackberry, green peppercorns, cigar-box and well-integrated cedar. See Maria’s recipe here for Lamb Pacherri to pair with the POV:

http://www.robertsinskey.com/kitchen/recipe/quick-braised-lambpache-paccheri

And of course we have to have a Champagne to celebrate the holidays and New Year! I’ve chosen Champagne Oudinot, an estate which started in the late 1800’s in the region. It is located in Epernay, which is one of three major towns in the Champagne regions (Northeast of Paris), along with Reims and Ay. True Champagne comes from just from this region, but Champagne has become synonymous with sparkling wine. Interestingly, only one in twelve sparkling wines produced around the world comes from Champagne! The bubbliness was originally considered a flaw and was an accident due to the fact that fermentation would stop early because it became so cold in the region – and then it would continue fermenting in the spring and create the bubbles! The process has been continually improved with new techniques and technology since the early 1800’s to create what we know today as Champagne. The method champenoise refers to the fact that the second fermentation takes place in the bottle, as opposed to a tank (as in Prosecco). The second fermentation is what creates the bubbles – the extra CO2 created from the fermentation has nowhere to go, so it is dissolved into the wine! Enjoy this lovely Oudinot Champagne this holiday season, and toast to a great 2016!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from the Cru Crew!

Sources:

Donkeyandgoat.com

Jancis Robinson

domaine-rosier.com

Wines:

Robert Sinskey POV – 38.99
Champagne Oudinot – 36.99