Spicy, Peppery Reds From France’s Rhone Valley ($15) Friday, Sept. 26th, 2014 4 pm – 7:30 pm

I wish you all could be here on Wednesday the week of the Rhone tastings. As my reps bring in samples to be considered for the tasting, the ones I like and think are worthy are put off to the side for me to come back later that afternoon to taste blind. Most Wednesdays there are 6 or 7 samples to go thru as I’m really picky about what to pour and exclude far more than I include. When it’s a Rhone tasting there are usually 15-20 wines to go thru! Seriously, so high is the quality of wine from this region I hardly turn any away. It makes it easier to find six wines for the tasting but harder to narrow down as I really, really like them all. And so it was once again yesterday. The Rhone hasn’t had a bad vintage since 2002 and the hits keep on a comin’ with the 2011’s and 12’s, the vintages most considered for this week. I won’t go into each wine listed here as I could write an enormous amount about each and every one. I’ll be happy to discuss when you come in on Friday but rest assured that this is one great tasting and not to be missed. Over half of the wines are made from biodynamically grown grapes and the rest are mostly organic.

Sandy

The Lineup

2011 Domaine Couron, Cotes Du Rhone Villages $13
Ardeche Grenache, Syrah & Mourvedre

2011 Domaine De La Janasse, Cotes Du Rhone Reserve $17
Courthezon/ Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault & Mourvedre

2012 Domaine De Cabasse, Sablet “Les Deux Anges” $18
Seguret Grenache, Syrah & Carignan

2012 Laurent Combier, Crozes Hermitage $24
N. Rhone 100% Syrah

2012 Domaine Ferme Saint Martin, Beaumes De Venise “Cuvee Costancia” $28
Suzette Syrah & Grenache

Premium Pour ($5)
2012 Chateau De Saint Cosme, Gigondas $47
Gigondas/ Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault

Delicious Reds From Central Italy ($15) Friday, September 19th, 2014/ 4 pm – 7:30 pm

The thing I like best about these reds from Central Italy is the particlar spice notes they give off in the nose and on the palate. It’s a different spice from, say, the Rhone Valley. From the Rhone you’re dealing with a pepperiness. From Tuscany and surrounding locales you have more of a lead pencil, clean dirt smell and taste. When I’m drinking these I’m transported back to my last visit when one could take a stroll thru the backroads and smell the same aromas. They simply taste like the place they are grown. Not all wines from the area have this. Reds made in a fruit forward style searching for “Parker points” have the sense of place stripped out with the addition of enzymes, fancy 100% new oak and who knows what else and are not what I’m looking for. You taste them and they could be from anywhere. I do my best to find the former.

When searching for wines from the central section of Italy it’s hard not to be drawn back to Tuscany. It seems to me the overall quality of Tuscan reds is very high and you have to search a bit harder in regions like The Marche and Umbria. They are out there you just have to look behind the sea of mediocrity to find them. I enjoy the challenge. And so this week we have three wines from Tuscany. The Avignonese Vino Nobile and the Canalicchio Brunello are exactly what I just explained. The smell and taste of Tuscany is easy to find. The three others from Umbria, Emilia Romagna, and The Marche are made by small batch wineries searching for the best quality possible. All is set for a very tasty flight of red wines from central Italy.

Sandy

The Lineup

2011 Poggio Al Tufo, Rompicolla $14
Tuscan Coast/ 60% Sangiovese, 40% Cab Sauv

2010 Garofoli, Rosso Conero “Piancarda” $16
Marche/ 100% Montepulciano

2012 La Stoppa, Trebbiolo $18
Emilia Romagna/ 60% Barbera, 40% Bonarda

2010 Raina, Montefalco Rosso $20
Umbria/ 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, 15% Merlot

2011 Avignonesi, Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano $30
Tuscany/ 100% Prugnolo Gentile ( Sangiovese Grosso)

Premium Pour ($4)
2008 Canaliccho di Franco Pacenti, Brunello Di Montalcino $42
Montalcino/ 100% Sangiovese Grosso

Like Velvet; Iberian Reds ($12) Friday, September 12th, 2014/ 4 pm – 7:30 pm

This week, selecting the best wines possible, turned up a slew of deep, dark velvety reds. These wines are very refined with amazingly smooth structures and a total pleasure for drinking right now. Wines such as these will keep for a number of years but they are so enjoyable now, why wait? Often when I’m looking for Spanish and Portuguese reds I end up with a flight of wines from Spain. Portugal is loaded with $7 & $8 reds that are enjoyable to drink but don’t cause one to contemplate the wonders of fermented grape juice. I strive to offer you better than that whether the wines are $10 or $50. This week I tasted a number of wines from Portugal that were really, really good and two of the best are included in the flight. The premium pour is what Robert Parker would call “hedonism at its finest.” Most wines from Priorat, made from old vine Garnacha, are just that and in recent years the prices have come down quite a bit. I remember just 10 years ago you couldn’t find a good Priorat for under $50. So goes the world post 2008. I think you’ll find this particular flight of wines a real treat.

Sandy

The Lineup

2010 Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon $10
Tierra de Castilla, España

2010 Bodegas Borsao, Berola $14
Campo de Borja, España/ 70% Garnacha, 20% Syrah, 10% Cab Sauv

2010 Viña Pedrosa, Crianza “Pedrosal” $16
Ribera Del Duero, España/ 100% Tempranillo

2009 Herdade do Mouchao, Ponte das Canas $20
Alentejo, Portugal/ Alicante Bouchet, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Syrah

2011 Herdade do Esporao, Quatro Castas $22
Alentejo, Portugal/ Aragonez, Petite Verdot, Alicante Bouchet, Syrah

Premium Pour ($3)
2011 Bodegas Mas Alta, Artigas $30
Priorat, España/ Garnacha, Carignan, Cab Sauv

Beautiful Whites/ Italy, Austria & Greece ($15) Friday September 5th, 2014 4 pm – 7:30 pm

I didn’t start out looking for the most eclectic wines I could find but it sure turned out that way. As always, when tasting for the flight, I’m looking for the best wines for the format. After I made my decisions and put them down on paper I was convinced that this is, by far, the most unusual and eclectic tasting we’ve ever done. The hardest part will be pronouncing the wines. Each wine has it’s own facinating story and I have to tell you about these delicious wines.

First, we start out with our Republic of Macedonia selection. I found this wine a few years back and I’m always impressed with the quality. Yep, that word Rkaciteli, that’s the grape variety and Tikves is the name of the region and the winery. This is one of the oldest grape varieties and has been found to date back to 3,000 BC. Wow!

The Christ wine from Vienna is a field blend of the grapes listed. The vines are located in and around the city of Vienna; Expensive terroir indeed. The vineyards have been planted to a variety of grapes and they are harvested and fermented together. The term Gemischter Satz means “all mixed up.” Quite appropriate. The unusual thing about the other Austrian wine, the Gruner Veltliner, is the name of the winery; Jurtschitscht Sonnhof. Other than that it’s a very tasty Gruner.

Edi Keber is a star in the Collio district of Friuli. Until 06 he made numerous bottlings from the varieties of the area; Pinot Bianco, Friulano, Pinot Grigio and Ribolla Gialla. He always dreamed to someday make just one wine, a true expression of the region of Collio. In 2007 he began living the dream and now makes just one wine. It’s a blend of all of the varieties. It’s simply delicious.

If there’s a better wine from Greece than the Sigals Assyrtiko I’ve never had it. I’ve loved this wine for over a decade. When I’m feeling fancy often times I’ll bring this wine home. If you’ve never had Assyrtiko you’re in for a real treat.

My vote for winery of the year is the estate of Walter Massa, Vigneti Massa. We’ve poured his rosé, Barbera and blended Timorasso in tastings before and now it’s my total pleasure to pour the best of the lot, his single vineyard Timorasso “Costa del Vento.” To put it simply, this is the finest YOUNG wine I’ve had all year. I’m in love with this variety and all of the wines from this awesome estate. Nuff said.

Boy, this has turned out to be one fantastic flight of perfect wines for a 90 degree day.

Sandy

The Lineup

2012 Tikves, Rkaciteli “Special Selection” $12
Republic of Macedonia

2013 Weingut Christ, Wiener Gemischter Satz $21
Vienna, Austria Gelber Muskateller, Gruner Veltliner, Riesling, Weissburgunder

2010 Jurtschitscht Sonnhof, Gruner Veltliner “Stein” $20
Kamptal, Austria

2013 Edi Keber, Collio Bianco $26
Collio/ Friuli, Italy

2013 Sigalas, Assyrtiko $27
Santorini, Greece

Premium Pour ($5)
2010 Vignetti Massa, Timorasso “Costa del Vento” $62
Colli Tortonesi- Piemonte, Italy

2012 Oregon Pinot Noir (& one little 2013) ($15) Friday August 29th, 2014 4 pm – 7:30 pm

I know, I originally planned to pour a Red Burgundy as the premium but in the interest of having the best wines possible in the flight I couldn’t bring myself to do it. As I tasted thru loads of Pinots for this tasting I couldn’t find one Burgundy that warranted inclusion. 2011 is the current vintage for the reds from the Cote d’ Or and while the whites are stellar the reds are a bit tight and lean………….hum, reminds me of our own 11’s. One thing that’s important to remember when contemplating Burgundy; vintage quality for the whites and reds do not often match up. A great vintage for white does not mean a great vintage for red! But now back to our own Pinots. As I tasted thru our locals I was struck by the quality across the board of the 2012’s. It’s one of those vintages that what nature gave you was easy to turn into excellent wine. Not the case in 10 & 11. When I tasted the Brick House and the Lenne Estate I couldn’t bring myself to leave one of them out. So I decided to do dueling premiums. You can choose to do a flight of five, six or seven. If you look at the AVA’s (American Viticultural Area’s) we have covered many of the finest and it will be a good way to taste the difference in, say, the Pinots grown in Dundee to the ones grown in Chehalem etc. The flight is loaded with full, velvety 2012’s and it’s a great vintage for drinking early or laying down for the mid term. We were blessed with this vintage as the better 2010’s and 2011’s may turn out better in the long run than the 12’s but they need some long, cool sleep to show their best. Do not open your Thomas’ or Arterberry’s too soon. They need time but will reward those who can wait. As for the 12’s, have at em. Simply delish!

Sandy

The Lineup

2013 McKinlay, Willamette Valley $17
Newberg

2012 Lemelson, Six Vineyards $19
Yamhill- Carlton

2012 Colene Clemens, Margo $32
Chehalem Mountains

2012 Ayres, Estate “Lewis Rogers Lane” $33
Ribbon Ridge

2012 Willful Wine Company, Dundee Hills $33
Dundee Hills

Premium Pour/ Double the Pleasure ($5 for each wine)
2012 Brick House, “Cuvee du Tonnelier” $45
Ribbon Ridge
2012 Lenne Estate, “Karen’s Pommard” $55
Yamhill- Carlton