Welcome to Featured Wines
On occasion, we feature either individual wines or a particular winery or event. Read on for current “Wines of the Week” and other Featured Wines!
Wine of the Week: 25 February 2017
Erste & Neue 2015 Alto Adige Pinot Bianco – $17.99 – $9.99 @ Club Card Price
The weather reports have been showing some sixty degree days lately, which means that it’s time for some crisp, refreshing, dry Italian white wine. Why not Pinot Bianco from Erste & Neue?
Italy’s Alto Adige, located due south of Austria, is known for producing clean unoaked whites from local varieties that are enjoyed as aperitifs and with assorted light fare. Wines that, like those of Savoie, are often like drinking from a cool mountain spring.
Erste & Neue’s Pinot Bianco (a.k.a. Pinot Blanc) is so easy (too easy?) to drink on a warm day. Dry, citrusy, & stony, it’s the sort of wine that you throw a couple bottles on ice and spend an afternoon drinking and grilling (some shrimp, shrimp would be good).
Wine of the Week: 23 January 2017
Mongeard-Mugneret 2014 Bourgogne Rouge Pinot Noir – $26.99 ($22.94 @ Mixed Case Discount)
Mongeard-Mugneret makes a Pinot Noir that reminds me why I love Burgundy. Tart cherry and fresh cranberry flavors with just an underlying hint of the oft discussed earthiness found in these wines.
Mongeard makes their Pinot Noir with twice used barrels as to not overwhelm the already brilliant fruit with oak. This wine to me is a great value, especially since I’ve tasted wines twice as expensive that I’ve found half as enjoyable.
Wine of the Week: 7 December 2016
Yalumba 2010 “The Guardian” Shiraz Blend – Club Card Special – $13.99 ($19.99 @ Full Retail)
The Guardian is a classic Northern Rhone style blend which uses 98% Syrah and 2% Viognier. Eden valley, where the grapes are grown, is one of the cooler areas of Australia’s Barossa, sitting at altitudes between 380 and 629 meters.
In true Syrah fashion the wine is savory, meaty, peppery, but not lacking in fruit. Deep blackberry and blueberry flavors drive the wine with the Viognier lending floral qualities to the vino.
Serve with meats, blue cheeses, and good times.
Wine of the Week: 21 November 2016
Kokkinos 2011 Xinomavro Dry Greek Red – Club Card Special – $12.99 ($18.99 @ Full Retail)
Naoussa, on Greece’s mainland, is home to one of the most underrated red grapes in the world, a grape called Xinomavro. If you snuck this wine into a lineup of Barolo or Barbaresco, you might be hardpressed to immediately notice it wasn’t Nebbiolo.
As for Mr. Kokkinos’ estate, the vineyards are farmed biodynamically and the wine itself spends a bit of time in French oak before furth
er bottle aging prior to release.
A dry red which is an easy crossover if you already enjoy red Burgundy or dry Italian reds.
Wine of the Week: 13 October 2016
La Zorra 2013 Teso Blanco – $20.99 ($17.84 @ Mixed Case Discount)
In the Sierra de Salamanca PDO, La Zorra makes their white out of Palomino (59%), Rufete Blanca (29%), and Moscatel (12%) from 60+ year old vines.
Additionally, they age the wine under a thin layer of flor for five months in old French barrels before bottling the wine without fining or filtration.
Traditional grapes, minimal intervention, indigenous yeast fermentation – each of these steps leads to dry delicious white wine true to the region.
Wine of the Week: 28 September 2016
Massinoti 2015 Valpolicella Classico – $14.99 ($12.74 @ Mixed Case Discount)
Over in Verona, Italy they have some fun grapes like Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara. It’s there in the growing region of Valpolicella where they turn these grapes into what can be some very tasty wine.
Massinoti is located in what’s considered the Classico, or original, zone of the Valpolicella vineyards where the hillsides provide prime sites for grape growing.
This wine is a great example of what happens when you take perfectly good fruit and make it into a perfectly good wine. Great balance, no hard edges, bright red berry flavors, and drink-ability for days.
Try this wine if you like red blends, wines from the Cotes du Rhone of France, or delicious Italian reds.
Wine of the Week: 15 September 2016
Dom. de Marquiliani 2015 Ile de Beaute Rouge – $24.99 ($21.24 @ Mixed Case Discount)
Aside from making one of our favorite roses of the season, it turns out that Domaine de Marquiliani makes a pretty terrific red wine. The village of Aghione on the island of Corsica is home to fewer than 300 people and is as celebrated now for their vineyards and olive oil as they were a thousand years ago. They’ve been working on this sort of thing for a long time.
The grapes come from vineyards high in altitude and well situated for the ol’ diurnal temperature swings that help develop proper balance in the finished wine. This particular wine is made from hand harvested Syrah, Sciaccarellu, and Grenache (40%, 40%, and 20%) which are co-fermented and then aged in stainless steel before bottling. A wine of great freshness, lively red fruits, and the classic spiciness from Syrah.
Wine of the Week: 21 June 2016
Prime Brume 2015 Soave $6.99 ($5.94 @ Mixed Case Discount)
Soave, what is a Soave? Soave is a dry white wine, which is made primarily from the grape Garganega, in the Italian commune that gives the wine its name. Garganega, just rolls off the tongue, right?
There are some fabulous single vineyard Soave’s made from precariously old vines that are capable of cellaring for more than ten years, but let’s be frank, that’s not what this is. Though the Prime Brume isn’t something I would age for a special occasion, it is a wine that is so clean, fresh, and immediately delicious that I plan on drinking many many bottles of this over the summer (the price certainly helps too).
Wine of the Week: 13 May 2016
Cascina Ballarin “Cino” Langhe Rosso Sale Price: $14.99
In the hilly vineyards of Langhe in Northern Italy, they make honest to goodness wine that actually tastes like wine. Go figure. Ballarin is an old nickname for the family that still owns the winery and still works the vineyards and, while on the subject of nicknames, “Cino” was what they called great uncle Lorenzo.
The wine itself is a blend of the local grapes Barbera, Nebbiolo, and Dolcetto, the combination of which creates a wine of seamless texture and remarkably bright fruit flavors. Cino is a medium weight wine aged in stainless steel and bottle, versatile for all sorts of meals and simply makes for a tasty glass of vino.
Wine of the Week: 6 April 2016
El Jefe Grande Spanish Tempranillo 1L – $10.99
Often when an inexpensive wine is affected with oak product to create an impression of refinement, the effect can be gaudy and repulsive. Thankfully, El Jefe is not that. Instead it is an example of what happens when you take perfectly good juice, raise it in a neutral vessle like cement and turn it into perfectly good wine. Dry, juicy, easy, and it comes in a full liter… hello, cook out wine.
Wine of the Week: 3 March 2016
Clos Centeilles 2009 “C de Centeilles” – South of France – $15.99 / Mixed Case Discount $13.59
When was the last time you had a good bottle of wine made from the grape Piquepoul Noir harvested from 70 – 100 year old vines? Not recently enough, I know, me neither. C de Centeilles is an old vines field blend bottling from La Liviniere in the Minervois area of southern France made of Piquepoul Noir, Riveirenc Noir, Morastel Noir, and Oeillade. Even to seasoned wine drinkers these near forgotten grapes aren’t terribly familiar.
Don’t let the unfamiliarity of the grapes deter you, if you’re already a fan of red Cotes du Rhone wines this is certainly something you’ll take a shine to. Full weight red with fascinating aromatics of dried herbs and flower petals, concentrated red fruits on the palate. The winery suggests pairing with game birds and cassoulet, so go buy a bag of beans, round up some quail, and cut loose.
Wine of the Week: 25 February 2016
Sultana Nero d’Avola – Sicily – $13.99 / Mixed Case Discount $11.89
In these afternoons of cool pre-spring showers, what better to drive the cloudy blues away than with a full bodied Sicilian red? Nero d’Avola is the most widely planted red grape in Sicily and historically it was used for blending and beefing up wines on the mainland. In the last decade or so the grape has been coming into its own, being used for single varietal wines well regarded for their full body, ample fruit, and age-ability.
This is a very easy crossover wine if you’re already enjoying California reds, Syrah, or reds of southern Italy. Make yourself a big pile of caponata and hunker down with a bottle of Nero d’Avola to lighten up the afternoon.
Wine of the Week: 20 January 2016
Cantine Valpane 2013 Grignolino del Monferrato Casalese Full Retail – $18.99 / Club Card Price $13.99
Valpane uses all of the hallmarks of what I consider to be conscientious and quality wine making: native yeast fermentation, hand harvesting, sustainable farming, and they never fine or filter. As for the Grignolino (yep, odd grape name again), there are records going back to the mid-1200’s regarding the planting of this grape.
Despite its long history, Grignolino has never really made much headway out of Italy’s Piedmont, but that’s fine with me. Without being dragged around the globe and bastardized by every major multinational wine corporation, the few that one can find in the market are usually quite good, made by thoughtful and enthusiastic producers.
Cantine Valpane’s Grignolino is pale in color, but complex in flavor displaying floral aromas, bright berry flavors, and a freshness that lends itself to easy consumption. So easy that I have found myself two-thirds of the way through a bottle before I’ve even finished cooking dinner. And if for some reason a bottle does survive more than a day after opening, the unique nature of this grape permits it to develop and change in flavor without falling apart for days.
As for food pairing? Baked pastas, roast chicken, mushroom risottos, and even heartier seafood dishes. With a light chill, it will offset spicy foods like chili or what one imagines when they loosely conjure an idea of south-east Asian cuisine.