Monday, August 26, 2013

Even More Macho Rosé: "Harri Gorri"

Domaine Brana has been covered here before; you'll find background information here.

Domaine Brana “Harri Gorri” Rosé 2012: This was produced from 70% Tannat and 30% Cabernet Franc. It is named for the red sandstone prevalent in the Basque Pyrénées Atlantiques. You know going in that there will be tannins aplenty, but that is hardly the whole story. The nose is surprisingly complex: I got notes of grapefruit pith, wintergreen, watermelon, and Earth. In the mouth, red berries and what are referred to in polite company as “unresolved” (e.g., bitter, woody) tannins. It paired beautifully with the Chef's preparation of sea scallops on a bed of corn and peppers. It's available at Table Wine, I think it's around $18, and worth every penny.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Leverano Rosato: "Yeah, that's good."

In a way, it's kind of embarrassing to be writing a note about Leverano Rosato. I've known about it for years, and I've certainly drunk a whole bunch of it, but I never thought to review it. It was just part of my mental landscape, I guess. I had a glass the other night for the first time in a few months, and it brought me up short: It had this little note of anise that until that moment hadn't caught my attention. I started to actually think* about how it smelled, tasted, how it looked...and you know, it's a really pleasant drink.

Vecchia Torre began in 1959 when fifty growers in the town of Leverano in the Salento district of southern Italy banded together to form the Cantina Sociale Cooperativa of Leverano. Today there are 1,240 members growing negroamaro, mavasia nera, trebbiano, and other grapes on a total of almost 2,700 acres of vineyards, turning out about 3.7 million gallons of wine a year. They average a relatively modest yield of 3.6 tons/acre, proof to me of the quality-mindedness of the co-op.

 Vecchia Torre Rosado DOC Leverano 20112: Coral pink in the glass, with aromas of raspberry and a hint of anise. In the mouth, soft red berry fruit, and adequate acidity. It is made from a blend of 80% negroamaro and 20% malvasia nera. The anise note makes my argument that this is a disctinctively Italian pink. At $8.99/bottle, it is no wonder it is so popular with the local Italian eateries. And because it is so inexpensive, they feel free to experiment with it. Cucina 24 used to offer it infused with herbs! Widely available in Asheville.

*You may have seen this article by Mr. Asimov on rosé and “unthinking drinking.” I see no problem with “unconscious gravitiation toward a familiar or unthreatening sort of wine...” Hey, it's good to be adventurous with wine. But it's not a requirement! I guess being excessively serious about wine is a common professional hazard for New York City sommeliers. But you and me, we are not sommeliers, and sometimes it is more than enough to take a swallow and think “Yeah, that's good.” And go on with whatever else you're thinking about.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summer wines: An aristocratic Sancerre; a gulpable Rosé

Summer wines, high and low: A Sancerre of aristocratic origins, and a pink from the  Costières de Nîmes meant for gulping.

The names of winemakers Jean and Ginette Thomas—and their children Julien and Christale—often appear coupled with the word “aristocracy.” Their 33-acre property has been in their family since 1670. They share the tiny (population abut 300) village of Verdigny with some distinguished neighbors, also in business for multiple generations, such as Domaine Bernard Reverdy & Fils and Domaine Paul Prieur & Fils. Verdigny is home to these producers largely because of vineyards like  La Crêle, which is noted for its limestone-laced soil and the small white stones known as  caillottes that freckle the surface. It has a desirable southeast-facing slope, and is planted to sauvignon blanc vines of an average age of 35 years.

 Domaine Thomas & Fils “ La Crêle” Sancerre 2011: A pale straw color in the glass. On the nose, floral notes, lemon, lime, and pineapple. In the mouth, the pineapple flavor gives an impression of richness, but the acidity and mineralic quality keep it very refreshing. All fruit was hand picked, and fermentation took place in stainless tanks. This one of a very few top-quality whites that stands up to being served quite cold. On a hot summer's day, it is a bracing, mind-clearing experience. We actually drank it along side some cheese-stuffed lamb sliders that the Chef concocted in a very small kitchen while we were visiting friends and family on Cape Cod. The wine came from a tiny but thoughtfully stocked shop in Duxbury, MA (aka “Deluxebury” which tells you everything you need to know about it). It's imported by Robert Kacher.

We recently opened another Kacher selection, from one of my favorite winemakers, the indomitable Diane de Puymorin, famous for her premium Costières de Nîmes wine produced under the name Chateau d'Or et Gueules.  Her bargain line is sold as Domaine de la Petite Cassagne. She's in the village of St. Gilles, almost directly south of the city of  Nîmes, where she has the advantage of the bluffs that form the  Costières and relative proximity to the Camargue.

 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Rosé Costières de Nîmes 2012: Pale pink in the glass, almost but not quite what the French call oeil de la perdrix. It is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. On the nose, strawberry, watermelon, and just a bit of the sweet herb melange that the region is famous for. In the mouth, sweet red fruit balanced by tart citrus. This is for gulping, not for contemplation, and at $11.99 you can gulp quite a bit of it. Delicious with a dinner of grilled eggplant, sweet torpedo onions, and fresh corn on the cob.