I've been on a hunt for some killer white Burgundy, having drunk all the bottles in my stash from last summer... after a couple dozen so-so samples, we revisited last year's big winners... go figure, the new vintages rock!
Maison Verget, Macon-Charnay “Clos St. Pierre” 2010 – Sale $18.79 net / Reg. $23.49 – Save 20% – Rich… juicy… fresh… like standing in the middle of a peach orchard. You know, they tell you not to sample the fruit, but I just can’t help myself. Biting into a freshly picked white donut peach… the juice exploding in your mouth and dribbling down your chin… hmmm…
Aromas of white flowers draw you in before the white peach nectar coats your tongue… ripe Anjou pear and crisp Fiji apples show up on the finish… all with a fine minerality and crisp acidity to keep the whole thing refreshing and, dare I say, quaffable.
Only one other Macon has impressed us with this level of concentration and richness, and that sells for twice the price! A few secrets to success here – first, the grapes come from a single vineyard, so quality is strictly controlled. Next, grapes are hand-harvested, with workers gathering only the best grapes – with none of the leaves, stems and other things that find their way into lesser wines. Finally, Verget hand stirs the barrels to impart more richness and a round, complete mouthfeel. (aka, lees stirring or batonnage.) The result is a wine that stands head and shoulders above its Macon peers, without stretching the wallet!
Maison Verget, Pouilly-Fuissé 2011 – Sale $21.19 net / Reg. $26.49- Save 20% – Oh, Pouilly-Fuisse… how far you’ve come. The potential only hinted at in the 70s, and sung about by the likes of Hall and Oates and Jimmy Buffet, is now being realized, and Verget is leading the way! Add 50 year old vines from premier sites to the hand-harvesting and lees stirring, and you’ve got a true rock star in your midst! (With all due apologies to H&O fans out there…)
Pure and intense aromas of lemons, limes and grapefruit fold into a rich, lush mouthful of apricot and peaches. There’s an underlying earthiness that conveys the rich terroir of the land – offering hints of smoke, wild herbs and stony minerals. You get a sense of oak aging, but no overtly oak flavors – more weight, with just a hint of spice that add complexity and balance to the ripe fruit. More layered than the Macon, with wave after wave of flavor, this mops the floor with its Pouilly brethren, and could go toe to toe for 12 rounds with the best $40 juice from the more famed regions of Burgundy.
Yum. Fill me up. I’ll take 6 of each…
Oh wait… sorry… that was my order. (Did you get that boys?)
Don’t worry, there’s good supply to go around… for a week or so anyway! Load up for the summer…
Martinez Cepas Antiguas Rioja 2010 – $12.99 net – 90 pts Wine Advocate
Summertime Rioja? Yep. We had a tasting of summer reds here, and even put a slight chill on all the bottles, and this puppy was the first wine to sell out!
Brimming with fresh black cherry and gorgeous ripe raspberry fruit, I fell for this from the get-go. 100% Tempranillo from vines with a minimum age of 40 years, there’s terrific concentration of those dark berry fruits, along with Rioja’s signature savory complexity, plenty of fresh tobacco, smoke, and earthy iron flavors here.
What makes this so bright and juicy and accessible is the modern winemaking going on here. With a state-of-the-art facility completed in 2006, the bodega treats its prized grapes to gentle crushes, and the entire process is flowed by gravity.
Oh, and almost no oak aging. Yep, this is New School Rioja, with an emphasis on softness, immediate appeal, and juicy, forward fruit.
They employ a technique called delestage, which means they “rack” the fermenting juice every day to separate it from the solids in the mix. Getting the juice out of contact with the solids minimizes the tannin, and also oxygen comes in and softens the wine.
All of Martinez’s vineyards lie in Urunuelo, in the heart of the Rioja Alta sub-region. With high-altitude vines and a calcium-rich clay soil, Rioja Alta is considered by many the most important zone in Rioja. The wines are characterized by their deep color, along with gorgeous bright acidity and gentle alcohol levels, a function of the cooler nights at elevation.
The bright, tingling acidity and low tannins make this awfully food-friendly, and it’s a Spanish red you could have with smoked salmon, grilled tuna, or simple roast chicken.
I still like lamb and Tempranillo, so I’d put a little chill on this and enjoy with the lamb burger recipe I made last week, full of mint, dill, parsley, cumin and more, topped with a feta cheese-sundried tomato-arugula-black olive mix….yum!Suhagra canadian pharmacy
The mere mention of the word evokes ooohhhs and aaahhhs … images of sun-drenched Tuscan hillsides and medieval stone villages… platters of antipasti… family and friends gathered around a large farmhouse table…
Hmm… and the wine… oh, the wine…
Pure Sangiovese Grosso from the most storied vineyards in Tuscany. Silky smooth, rich and redolent of dried cherries, violets and wild herbs…
So here we go… Two top Brunello – one baby, one full grown… both at the top of the pack and priced ridiculously low!
Agostina Pieri Rosso di Montalcino 2010 – $21.99 net (beats the best U.S. online price!)
91 pts Wine Advocate
“Wait, Todd… this isn’t Brunello…” True… Most Rosso di Montalcino come from outlying vineyard sites that do not share the same illustrious soil and microclimate of Brunello. Not so with Pieri - all of the vineyards for this wine are classified as Brunello di Montalcino. Owner Francesco Monaci harvests all of his grapes and proceeds under the assumption that all will become Brunello. After fermentation begins, he culls lots that he feels don’t measure up and commits them to the Rosso desgination. The only thing preventing the Brunello designation is the lack of the required two year aging in barrel.
In short, other wineries should be so lucky as to have this raw material for their Brunello!
Arguably, this is the premier example of Rosso di Montalcino. Pieri’s landmark 1995 Rosso di Montalcino is the only Rosso to ever earn the prestigious Gambero Rosso's Tre Bicchieri rating. Since 2001 – ten vintages – there have been only seven Rosso rated 91 points or higher to sell for less than $25. Pieri has three of them!
It is delicious straight away, offering gorgeous cherry fruit and exotic spices upon opening. With decanting, the wine only grows smoother and silkier, developing secondary flavors that you would swear was coming from a Brunello. Open a couple of bottles, because you will want to follow this over the course of a few days. It continues to change and evolve, expanding and blossoming from its tight beginnings into a seductive beauty. For drinking now, I would decant for 3-4 hours prior, or decant, pour back in the bottle, and enjoy the following evening.
Drink it over the 5-8 years while you wait on the Brunello to come around… (see below)
“The 2010 Rosso di Montalcino is striking. Dark red berries, flowers, licorice and mint are some of the many notes that flow from this structured, tightly wound Rosso. I very much like the energy and verticality of the 2010. This is a serious wine that will require some time and patience. Readers who enjoy firm, structured Sangioveses will flip out over the 2010. The 2010 was aged 60% in neutral barriques and 40% in cask. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2020.”
Agostina Pieri Brunello di Montalcino 2007 - $46.99 net (again… beats the best U.S. online price!)
94+ pts Wine Advocate
Well, sure… the Rosso is spectacular… but this is the real deal! The choicest lots of grapes, aged in barrel for 2 ½ years then another 20 months before release… A reward worth waiting for!
Again, Pieri is at the top of the heap here. Only one 2007 Brunello rates higher for under $49! (It isn’t available in NC…)
“The 2007 Brunello di Montalcino is compelling from the very first taste. It boasts fabulous concentration and depth, with just enough tannin and aromatic complexity to balance some of the wine’s more overt leanings. Dark red cherries, flowers, licorice, mint and spices are layered into the big, dramatic finish. Hints of kirsch and rose petals linger in the empty glass. The 2007 is distinguished by an open, Pinot-like bouquet and a voluptuous personality. The wine was aged one year in cask and a second year in 600-liter demi-muids. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2027.” WA
Simply, you cannot do better for Brunello or its little Rosso brother than Agostina Pieri. I’d say I dare you… but then you’d just be throwing away your ducats…
German Importer Rudi Wiest recently offered us a small allotment of perfectly aged Riesling, of excellent quality and ready to drink. How could we say no?
Here’s the deal… a bottle of each vintage 2002, 2003, and 2004 for $77.97 net. Comes to $25.99 per bottle.
I have a total of 12 packages. That’s it… let me know if you want some!
Karthauserhof Riesling Spätlese Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg 2004 – 94 pts Fine Wine Report / 90 pts Wine Spectator – “Try not to miss the great Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese, a wine with a great attack and deep, pure, fruit with brilliant electricity, recalling the great 1990 vintage. “ FWR
“An energetic white that awakens the palate with its succulent lime, apple and peach notes that are well-defined by the sleek structure. Fine persistence through the lingering citrus finish.” WS
Karthauserhof Riesling Spätlese Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg 2003 - 93 pts Fine Wine Report / 89 pts Wine Spectator “Karthäuserhof's Spätlese shows better acidity and concentration and is fairly sweet. The wine is still elegant, but power is also begin-ning to show through with the peach and apricot fruit, in total making for a delicious wine.” FWR
“Herb, spice and mineral notes permeate this rich Riesling, lending it a good expression of place. Balanced, it lingers nicely on the finish.” WS
Karthauserhof Riesling Spätlese Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg 2002 – 90 pts Wine Spectator – “Pure and filigreed, evoking spice and mineral notes, this sleek white exhibits terroir and character. Lightweight and intense, with a tangy aftertaste.”
White Burgundy – Chapel Hill store, Thursday July 26th, 2012. 5-7pm. Free. – Who doesn’t love white Burgundy?! The perfect expression of crisp, yet rich Chardonnays…elegance personified. All wines will be discounted 15%. Stop in and see what all the buzz is about.
- Verget Pouilly Fuisse 2011 – reg. $26.49
- Verget Macon Charnay ‘Clos St Pierre’2010 – reg. $23.49
- Gilbert Picq Chablis 2010 – reg. $25.99
- Alain Normand Macon-LaRoche-Vineuse 2011- reg. $18.99
Robert Craig Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 - $41.99 net – 92 pts Wine Advocate / 91 pts Int’l Wine Cellar
This wine first captured my attention when the 2006 vintage won our blind tasting of sub-$50 Cabs. Three vintages later and this is still in the uppermost echelon of Cabernet under $50.
The foundation for Affinity is Robert Craig's estate vineyard and an adjoining property to the south of Stag’s Leap in Napa Valley. The vineyards’ position in the foothills results in a warmer microclimate which yields riper tannins and lower acidity, resulting in a more immediately accessible wine. Nothing wrong with that! Still, there is plenty of stuffing in here for 5-7 years of aging; so you get the best of both worlds – immediate satisfaction or delayed gratification… your choice!
A few things set this apart from the pack. It starts with the aroma, which in addition to the expected blackberry and cassis offers up a beautiful array of violets, anise and sweet spices. This complex profile continues into your first sip, picking up notes of espresso and dark chocolate. The standout aspect here is how beautifully and completely integrated all of these flavors are. None dominates, yet all are discernible, each taking its turn before combining into a kaleidoscope of scents and flavors that teases the palate. Fine tannins on the finish give this the body to stand up to red meats, but are smooth enough for more medium fare, like grilled pork, smothered with fresh herbs and fennel seeds and topped with a compote of grilled tomato and onion.
Hmmm…. Who said you need to wait till Fall to enjoy a Cabernet? Not I? Drink away!
“The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Affinity bursts from the glass with an exciting array of dark red berries, flowers, licorice and sweet spices. Floral notes reappear on the finish, adding brightness and lift. This gorgeous, mid-weight Cabernet Sauvignon should continue to drink beautifully for at least a handful of years. In 2009 the blend is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot, 2% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2017.” WA
“Good full ruby-red. Crystallized black cherry, coffee, mocha and loam on the nose, lifted by spices. Broad, smooth and tight-grained, with lovely intensity and lift to the flavors of black fruits, licorice and dark chocolate. Finishes with dusty tannins and a firm spine of acidity.” IWC