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: 3 October 2018
Federico Bonfio 2010 Le Portine Toscana Sangiovese
Full Retail $14.99
My first thought when tasting Federico Bonfio’s Le Portine Sangiovese was that the wine is remarkably inexpensive for what it costs. Le Portine is made of (mostly) Sangiovese from vines planted in the mid 1970’s; the only other grapes planted in the vineyard are Colorino and Canaiolo, so presumably the rest of the blend consists of those grapes.
What’s further compelling about this wine is that it is all planted around the hills of Siena in the Chianti subzone “Colli Senesi.” So essentially what you’re getting is an almost ten year old bottle of not-quite-Chianti.
I realize that my initial tasting note of, “Wow, just wow,” wouldn’t be sufficient in describing the wine, but I’ll try to do my best. This Sangiovese is aging well and has created a compelling wine over time. The tannins have smoothed out, the fruit has become more subtle, and the characteristics of dried herbs and flowers have becomes more prominent. A steal at $15.
Wine of the Week: 18 September 2018
Fleur de Pedesclaux 2007 Pauillac
Full Retail $24.99
The wine writer Hugh Johnson once wrote that, “If one had to single out one commune of Bordeaux to head the list, there would be no argument. It would be Pauillac.”
This region of Bordeaux is home to three of the five first growth Chateau and it’s situated in the heart of Medoc along the river Gironde on gravelly, limestone soils.
Fleur de Pedesclaux is what’s known as the second wine from Chateau Pedesclaux, one of the Chateau classified in 1855, which is a common practice among “classified growths.”
With 11 years of age, the wine is still showing some of its red fruits, but its real charm comes from the developing secondary flavors. Where the obviousness of primary fruit has subsided, one finds an overlay of dried leaves, dried mint, and smoothed out tannins that are the result of properly aged Bordeaux.
Wine of the Week: 4 September 2018
Yangarra 2014 McLaren Vale Old Vine Grenache
Full Retail $24.99 – Club Card Special – $14.99
What with Australia’s unique history, I keep finding that the country is very good at surprising us with patches of old vineyards that are producing great fruit. Yangarra’s Grenache comes bush trained vines planted in 1946 in a vineyard with deep, sandy soils.
They’ve certified their vineyard with biodynamic agriculture, and the wines are spontaneously fermented with wild yeasts. As part of their agricultural approach, they eschew the use of synthetic pesticides and fungicides, instead choosing to use various natural composts and preparations in lines with biodynamic farming practices.
Between the old vines, the hand harvesting and precise vineyard work, the aging in old neutral french oak barrels, the wine itself is pure in cherry fruit and surprisingly elegant compared to many Australian counterparts.
A nice crossover for Cotes-du-Rhone fans everywhere.
Wine of the Week: 27 August 2018
Klemens Weber 2017 Halbtrocken Riesling – Retail – $12.99
This may have been one of my favorite wines this summer. Hands down.
Klemens Weber is now a third generation winery with Konrad Weber at the helm. Along with his wife and three children they run the winery and care for the vineyards in Germany’s Pfalz region.
Halbtrocken refers to wine that’s “half-dry,” but on the palate this wine has enough acid to come across as dry-leaning and fruity.
However you split these half-dry, fruity semantics, this is a liter of absolutely delicious dry-ish Riesling. I haven’t found anything more enjoyable to drink at this price in some time.
And even if you don’t usually like Riesling, you would do yourself a disservice not to give this wine a fair shot.
Wine of the Week: 7 August 2018
Chateau des Ormes 2005 Sauternes 750ml – Full Retail – $37.99 :: Club Card Special – $24.99
You can’t talk about world class dessert wine without talking about Sauternes. It takes very specific climatic conditions to form the fungus botrytis cinerea, more diplomatically called noble rot, and luckily the Graves region of Bordeaux has it.
Grapes affected by this “noble rot” effectively become raisinated on the vine, requiring to be harvested by hand late in the season. This labor intensive process creates a concentrated, rich, sweet, age-worthy white wine from grapes that yield next to no juice.
As indicated by the vintage, these are wines one can age – ten, twenty, thirty years, and longer. And the food pairing options are where things get really interesting. Sauternes acts as a beautiful foil to blue cheeses, salty or fried foods, or spicy and exotically flavored dishes.
Chateau des Ormes has about fifteen acres planted for this wine, and the blend is as follows: 70% Semillon, 25% Sauvignon Blanc, and 5% Muscadelle. It takes four to five passes through the vineyard to successfully harvest the grapes and the wine is aged for at least 18 months before release.
Wine of the Week: 9 July 2018
Chateau Vaugelas 2014 Corbieres Rouge – Full Retail – $21.99 :: Club Card Special – $14.99
A couple hours north of the Spanish border, one finds a wine producing region called Corbieres. Much like wines made in the Cotes-du-Rhone, the main players here are Grenache and Syrah, with a whole host of other blending grapes.
The fruit for Chateau Vaugelas’ wine comes from vineyards at the foot of the Alaric Mountain due east of Carcassonne. And yes, the scenery is as beautiful as you would expect the mountain country of southern France to be. It’s enough to make you want to quit your job and flee the country.
The wine itself is a blend of Syrah to the tune of 60%, with the remaining constituents of the blend made of equal parts Grenache and Carignan.
True to form with other beefy, southern French reds this is another great go-to wine for ribs, grilled steak, and hard aged cheeses.
Wine of the Week: 15 June 2018
Chateau Gazin Rocquencourt 2011 Pessac-Leognan – Full Retail – $34.99 :: Club Card Special – $19.99
Chateau Gazin Rocquencourt has existed in some form or another since at least the 1600’s, and its wines have been lauded since at least 1874 when the Bordeaux wine guide Feret noted their wine and terroir, remarking about the superb quality of their gravelly hilltop vineyards in Leognan.
The wine itself is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot which is aged in a blend of new and older French oak. And true to form for red Bordeaux at seven years of age it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, still displaying plenty of red fruit flavors intermingling with cooling herb notes somewhere between eucalyptus and mint.
It should age to well past the 10 year mark and for those inclined towards published reassurance:
“89-91 / 100 – A sleeper of the vintage, a beautifully concentrated, rich Graves and a sexy claret.”
Robert Parker – April 2012
Wine of the Week: 3 June 2018
Monastero Suore 2016 Coenobium – Full Retail – $22.99 :: Mixed Case Discount – $19.54
Nothing says cool like Cistercian nuns making white wine in Lazio, Italy. Our ladies of the vine are making this wine out of the grapes Trebbiano, Malvasia, and Verdicchio planted in vineyards located over old, volcanic soil.
The minuscule production of the wine that they make (1000 – 1500 cases per year) means that they aren’t trying to be the next Santa Margherita, in fact just the opposite.
Their use of a decidedly “boring” label, indigenous (but not popular) grapes, and an old technique of leaving the grape skins in contact with the juice, means that they are instead vinifying a wholly unique wine made specifically for fans of the traditional style and the sustainability of the monastery.
The wine is nutty, slightly savory, sometimes inspiring thoughts of fresh dough. Very cool juice.