The part of my blog that’s currently intriguing me the most is having some important doors opened from import brands. As a result, I’m getting to taste the entire world in the comfort of my own home. In junior high, geography was an easy “A.” It still is. Being a lover of life and culture, my life’s assignment is diversification, and a facet of it is definitely diversifying my palate.
I’ve been holding onto some beauties, and there’s no better time for this blog right now, than to start 2017 with a global pulse, and a far flung range of prices.
Based on the samples shipped to me, we’re going to Europe first, because they get to 2017 before we do.
The La Bastarda Pinot Grigio and the Il Bastardo Sangiovese each retail for about $9.00 a bottle. Both also enjoy widespread U.S. distribution. Each variety – a white and a red – makes for a great house wine. They’re so affordable, easy to find, and great conversation pieces. If you want to be a bit edgy, consider these wines made by winemaker Paolo Masi, of Renzo Masi Winery.
From print material:
Both wines are made by Paolo Masi, best known for his fine Chiantis. Paolo is the third-generation winemaker at the highly regarded Renzo Masi winery, south of Florence in the Rufina district of Tuscany. From entry-level to fine wines, the winery philosophy is rooted in delivering quality and value. “Big enough to be broad-minded. Small enough to care about the details” is the Renzo Masi motto. In addition to their own Rufina wine estate, the Masi family contracts with neighboring growers on a long-term basis, which includes consulting on vineyard management to ensure top-flight quality
2015 La Bastarda Pinot Grigio Terre di Siciliana IGP ~ Blanca ~ HB Wine Merchants ~ $9.00
BLANCA: Starting with its name, I mean, com’mon… we can’t just ignore this one. La Bastarda. Since I was the only blonde in a family of seven, my mother joked that I belonged to the milkman. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I learned Charlie Norman was our milkman for all of those early years, and he was very, very, blonde. I can hang with anyone, and have. So, bring on the Bastardos! And then, there are the labels… Very cool… I want a day in Siciliana, where I can wear my hat, too, with big earrings, poolside, and enjoying refreshing Pinot Grigio.
La Bastarda is more than just a pretty face. This is a crisp and refreshing Pinot Grigio, and very easy to enjoy. Citrus flavors abound, as well as pear and a bit of green apple. Don’t let her slim body fool you, though. There’s plenty of unflexed muscle, sitting next to the pool, glass in hand. When this wine hits your palate, you’ll know that it’s a cleverly disguised topliner. Print material: You may buy it for the package but you will keep buying it because it offers affordable pleasure and satisfaction.
The wine is an ideal accompaniment to seafood, cream based pastas and salads.
2015 Il Bastardo Sangiovese di Toscana IGT ~ Rubio ~ HB Wine Merchants ~ $9.00
RUBIO: Let’s start with the name. Il Bastardo… Telling it like it is, so little is pure bred anything these days. Just look at Petite Sirah that I’ve been advocating with PS I Love You, for the last 14 years… I guess if I can hang with Petite Sirah, I can hang with anything else, including il Bastardo.
From Chianti Rufino, Tuscany, Italy – Tuscany is considered the best terroir for the Sangiovese grape, after the Classico region. If you enjoy the aromas of black cherry, this wine is very enticing, and won’t disappoint. When you sip it, you’ll enjoy its medium body that won’t overpower most Italian dishes… It will work in harmony. (If you’re looking for full-bodied Sangiovese, get yourself a Super Tuscan. This wine has some Cabernet Sauvignon to beef it up.) Tannins are very smooth and let a full fruit finish. Try with BBQ.
2015 Peter Zemmer, Rolhüt, Pinot Noir ~ HB Wine Merchants ~ $18.00
When Peter Zemmer is in the house, I’m a happy camper. This is a style of Pinot Noir that I love. In fact, any of the Pinots on this page make me very happy. Alcohol levels are in great balance, making all of these wines very food friendly.
The Peter Zemmer brand is a third generation winemaking family. This wine is all estate fruit; and the winery is very sustainable, with state of the art solar panels to take advantage of the region’s 300 or so days of sunshine a during the year. From their Website: Since the establishment of this family business in 1928 the winery Peter Zemmer has been producing top quality wines on the finest vineyards in and around Cortina s.s.d.v. in Alto Adige, South Tyrol.
Back Label – Sometimes what others have written is just beautiful poetry: The distinctive elegance of this wine captivates the senses with its perfect harmony. The wine reflects not only its characteristic origin, but also the natural distinctiveness of its unique terrain.”
This Pinot Noir producer crafts Pinots that are as smooth as silk, and this 2015 in no exception. I loved the dominant plum flavors, along with touches of spicy clove and nutmeg, and a smooth, elegant finish. The way this wine is crafted has a lot to do with its finish. Stems (where tannins are present) are immediately removed. The grapes are then fermented at a very comfortable and constant temp of 82° F. This goes on for approximately seven days. You can always depend on a Peter Zemmer Pinot Noir being decidedly delicious.
I received four wines from Georges Dubœuf. In this blog story today, because we just enjoyed it for Christmas, is the first one of four listed. I’m going to focus on the rest for Wine(s) of The Week next week. They’re the following four wines from Georges Dubœuf:
- 2015 Château de Nervers, Brouilly, Mis en Bouteille, [bottled] Par Les Vins Georges Dubœuf~ $18.00
- 2015 Domaine Des Quatre Vents, GFA Darroze Propriétaire Fleurie Par Les Vins Georges Dubœuf ~ $24.00
- 2015 Georges Dubœuf Pouilly-Fuisse, Appellation Pouilly-Fuissé Contrôlée ~ $25.00
- 2015 Georges Dubœuf Macon-Villages, Appellation Macon-Villages Contrôlée Chardonnay ~ $15.00
This one deserves to be considered as a decidedly delicious medium bodied red wine, worthy of your attention.
2015 Château de Nervers, Brouilly, Mis en Bouteille, [bottled] Par Les Vins Georges Dubœuf~ $18.00
According to Château de Nervers, “Raised with passion in the castle. All our wines are made exclusively with the grapes grown and harvested on the estate of the castle of Nervers, they are put in vats or barrels, bred and bottled at the castle.” In the castle… There’s magic in castles, isn’t there? I could spend the rest of my life going from one to the next. The history, original art work of the masers, the feeling from spirits of antiquity, aromas too complex to interpret… The castles, built when craftsmanship meant more than beating a time clock and cutting corners, except when it was in actual stone.
From their Website: From the hunting lodge of Nervers to the Château de Nervers… Originally, Nervers was a hunting lodge with a cuvage. The whole belonged to the owner of the castle of La Chaize. In 1830, this property was acquired by Pierre Denoyel, specializing in gas lighting in major cities such as Lyon, Rennes, Venice, etc. Since then, it has remained in the same family. At present, it is Count Jean-Gabriel de Chabannes who owns it and his son Jean-Benoît the manager. The estate consists of an agricultural area of about 60 hectares including 45 hectares of vines. The whole of these lands is located around the Castle which is a big advantage for the exploitation. The name of Nervers comes from a small stream called the Nerval which flows below the castle. After several long years of work (about thirty years), this important pavilion became a castle. A castle of the XIXth century under the influence of the Napoleon III. To read more, click here.
My daughter Melanie has a great palate. I told her that we could enjoy this wine, if she was willing to take notes for me. (My hands were full of four grandchildren, ranging in age from two to five… and trying to get Christmas dinner on the table. Once I tasted the wine and then read her notes, it was a reminder of how her notes were the ones chosen in a group for publishing with Windsor Vineyards, many years ago, over everyone else’s… And why I hired her for a while to write Melanie’s Wednesday Wines.
Here goes: Bright raspberry aromas in the bouquet, cherry with dusty cocoa powder, that finishes with a touch of vanilla and nutmeg spice, at the close of the nose… The palate features juicy cherry flavors and a touch of cedar. It’s smooth and balanced. Its structure offers ripe mulberry fruit and a strawberry jam finish, with just a hint of espresso.
I’m drooling and really looking forward to the rest of the Château de Nervers wines.
Portuguese Heritage ~ Dessert Time
2006 Sandeman Old Tawny Porto, Rested 10 years ~ $32.00
For the first 20 years of my life, I lived on Lisbon Street, drove to the beach by going through Lisbon and Lisbon Falls, Maine. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever think I would be standing in Lisbon, Portugal, looking at their expansive river, trying to imagine Christopher Columbus leaving port and headed to the New World… But, history happens. In 2009, I left a piece of my heart in Portugal… and there it waits for me to return.
I’ve written copiously about the country, the art, the culture, the foods, the people, and her wines. I feel so lucky and for that I constantly give thanks. It is perfectly fitting that I begin this banquet year with a 1986 Sandeman Old Tawny Port, that’s rested for the last 10 years.
Sandeman has been in existence for 225 years… Europe is like that, Certo? At the end of a satisfying meal, it’s time to reminisce. This is where we can tell the stories of our ports of call, while savoring a Porto and all of its delights. Sandeman Porto Tawny 10 Years Old is a vibrant premium aged wine, where the balance of ripe fruit and oak aged intensity, highlight Sandeman´s quality. Think the end of the early morning, and it’s almost time to shut it down. Some will enjoy a port with a Cuban cigar. I’ve personally never had one, but do remember my grandfather and dad having cigars, on really rare occasions. Early in the morning, on January 1, comes to mind as a time when it would be cool for those who enjoy a great cigar.
USA – Oregon
…and this is a client’s wine. If I can’t enjoy it, I couldn’t write/right about it.
2013 Aberrant Cellars, Carpe Noctem Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, Oregon ~ $60.00
Proprietor and winemaker Eric Eide is as eclectic as they come. When does a publicist submit wines to the major publications for an up-and-coming owner/winemaker, only to have scores return in the low to mid 90’s? When I tasted Eric’s wines, I was humbled to think that I could be working with such a Pinot Noir master from Willamette Valley… And there he is. Eric has a winery dedicated to avoiding conventions. His wines reflect his years in Europe studying old world influences, which he would then blend with his New World wines. His influencers were Christian Serafin ~ Burgundy, France and Jean Lus & Jean Paul Jamet, Cote Rotie, Northern Rhone Valley, France.
Aberrant Cellar wines are delightful to taste… They’re not over extracted, they’re more feminine; versus, muscular and bold Pinots. This is Eric’s more bold Pinot Noir, still, it’s worthy of singular attention for New Year’s Eve, with delicious appetizers. I can see duck fans really drooling with this wine and a pairing. And, get ready for a lesson in Latin, with many of his wines… Such as Carpe Noctem.
Seizing New Year’s Eve… In this case, according to Eric and I completely agree: Our top Pony. A (very) rigorous selection which showcases the depth, power, and ageability our efforts provide within a vintage. Starting with the first choice throughout the whole cellar a tiny percentage of barrels are temporary contenders for Noctem. Over the ensuing 14 months, through continuous evaluation, only about a third of those chosen originally end up making the final cut. Following several more months in barrel and an additional year ageing in bottle, we are finally willing let go of the reins.
While this lengthy practice is quite rare in the modern era of Pinot Noir production, we adhere so that all of our patrons considering this wine can feel confident they’ll be rewarded upon it’s release, and for many years to come.
USA – California
A Magnum of the 2009 Iron Horse Vineyards Brut X ~ Russian River Valley ~ approximately $200.00
Starting the year off with a respectable bang! This is a precious sparkling wine, and there’s just no other occasion to unleash a wine of this magnitude! I’ve been holding this one for the last two and a half years… Not easy to do, but patience – as a virtue – won out.
This classic brut is 74 percent Pinot Noir and 26 percent Chardonnay. It was aged for four years en triage and was last disgorged on July 18, 2014. The dosage includes the winery’s Thomas Road Pinot Noir. Its beautiful golden color gives way to fruits like pear and baked apples, which leads into a light style of honey graham crackers. This is a very refined sparkling wine, just like the family who crafts it… The Barry Sterling family.
2014 Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay ~ Chile ~ Concha y Toro ~ $22.00
Want it smooth? Want it consistently great? Want a wine that delivers more than you’d expect of pay for? Concha y Toro every time you stand in front of shelves loaded with wine and you don’t even know where to begin… Ask your sales person to guide you to anything Concha y Toro, and pick your flavor and price range. You’ve begun…
This Chardonnay was so smoothly delicious, it was gone before I realized it. I don’t care what vintage year, either. They’ve got it down! I went searching for what others think about this wine, too. This one says it all: Decanter named the 2012 Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay—by winemaker Marcelo Papa with grapes from the Llanuras de Camarico Vineyard in the Limarí Valley—one of the Best Chardonnays in the World.
Each vintage has the same critical acclaim. All of these wines are best values, regardless of the price for each level of cost. Concha y Toro has carefully created wines for each pocketbook. Most people can afford a bottle of Concha y Toro, whether or not they know it. I was in Puerto Rico, a couple of years ago, saw it on the shelf of a local wine shop, and just didn’t stress on anything else. It’s my go to Chilean brand.
2014 Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon Devilish Release ~ Chile ~ Concha y Toro ~ $12.00
I’ve called this one devilishly delicious in the past. Nothing has changed, except look for “Devilish” on the bottle’s front label area. Smooth as a baby’s bum, juicy like ripe black berries, a finish as silky smooth as a kimono, This is a Cabernet that makes a great house wine, if you want to stock up on wines from South America’s Chile.
The Winery Story ~ Concha y Toro ~ In the closing years of the 19th century Don Melchor de Concha y Toro discovered that his most treasured wines had been pilfered from the “casillero” (cellar) beneath his family home. To discourage further theft, the enterprising Don spread a rumor that his deepest, darkest cellars were haunted by the devil. Today, the original Concha y Toro family estate, complete with its Devil’s Cellar, is Chile’s leading tourist destination! The wines may have been stored in hell, but they are made in heaven. With its steady sunshine, cooling winds and pestilence-free vineyards, Chile is a winemaker’s dream. Add to this a winemaking tradition based on French grape varieties and winemaking techniques, and you have a winning combination. High quality wines can be made inexpensively, which Concha y Toro successfully demonstrated with the release of its Casillero el Diablo wines in 1963.
Frontera is brought to us by Excelsior Wines… Their credos:
- As a Producer, our commitment is to provide the highest price/value relationship in the industry.
- As an Importer, our goal is to represent specific products from “The Best” wine growing regions.
- As a Marketer, to provide excitement, visibility, and product knowledge about our wines and how to enjoy them while socializing with family and friends.
And… they do it well at only $5 retail.
2016 Frontera, Night Harvest Wines, Moonlight White Blend ~ Chile ~ Excelsior Wines
Moonlight White ~ Moscato based, this is Concha & Toro’s most popular wine brand. From their Website: Notice striking changes to Frontera’s 750-ml. range, including the addition of an “After Dark” tagline, a nod to the younger generation, for whom “The day starts to come alive at night!” Frontera Night Harvest Blends are a fresh winemaking concept: grapes harvested in the cool of the night for bolder flavors and aromas.
Chill it well, and get ready for a little Moscato. We all have one friend who prefers a white wine that’s a tad sweet, right? Bring this one to the party, and you’ll make someone (two or three) very happy. Moscato is a very floral wine and this one delivers that happiness in a glass.
2016 Frontera, Night Harvest Wines, After Midnight Red Wine ~ Chile ~ Excelsior Wines
After Midnight Red ~ Cab -Syrah blend from Central Valley, Chile. The grape varieties are about half Cabernet Sauvignon and half Syrah. There’s also just a touch of Merlot, for good measure. The color of this wine is rich purple in color. It has aromas of rich, red cherries and currants. On the finish, you’ll enjoy a smidge of cedar. The acidity is great and the tannins are sweet and smooth.
From their Web: After Midnight Red Blend is a late-night sensation! Inspired by the moon and made during the night, I really do enjoy the nocturnal side of Frontera! PERMISSION! Enjoy After Midnight Red. Pour a glass, finish off the pizza, red meat dishes, and any cheeses not yet enjoyed…
Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s to your health, wealth, and happiness in 2017!