Divit and I discovered this wine at the North Berkeley Import tasting in San Francisco a few months back. Immediately upon tasting, we both knew we had found a wine that we had to have in the shop. This was my first experience with this particular appellation and I was very impressed. Maranges is the furthest south of the Côte de Beaune appellations in the Bourgogne region of France. The reds are comprised of Pinot Noir. Though rare, up to 15 percent of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris can be used as accessory grapes. 2015 is said to be a fantastic red vintage in Burgundy, and from my experiences thus far I greatly concur. After taking a bottle home and having it with my dinner (which included fresh Morel mushrooms I picked with Divit and Bill Elbring of North Berkeley Imports) I realized it was even better than I originally thought, making it a truly outstanding value. Brothers Guy and Jean-Yves Sarrazin (the family’s roots in the region reach back as far as the 1700s) avoid the use of herbicides and pesticides, a technique locally referred to as “lutte raisonee,” and hand harvest the grapes, fermenting them on indigenous yeasts in temp controlled cement tanks before ageing them in new and used oak barrels. The result is a wine with beautiful ruby red color and flavors and aromas of cherry, violet, pomegranate and spice. The wine is svelte and tart with well-balanced fruit and acidity—it was extremely hard to keep my hands off the bottle. The best-valued red Burgundy from 2015 I’ve tried yet, I highly recommend it to anyone who likes wine. Cheers!
A unique mix of red and white grapes (50/50 Hondarribi Beltza and Hondarribi Zuri) from Spain’s Basque country, it’s the perfect antidote against the summer heat. Pours a faint salmon pink with just the barest hint of miniscule bubbles. The nose is rather reserved, offering soft citrus and rhubarb. A bit closed on the palate at first as well, but as it opens up, you get tart strawberry and mandarin orange with crisp citrus on the finish. The perfect patio sipper as well a great food wine. Think shellfish, Asian cuisine, fish tacos—you get the idea.
I’ll start by saying this is a fun and interesting wine for summer. It’s meant to be chilled just a few degrees below cellar temperature and drunk young, like right now. The wine is produced by Martha Stoumen, and is comprised of 65 percent Carignan from Mendocino County and 35 percent Zinfandel from Contra Costa County. The grapes are harvested earlier than normal, so the wine is relatively low in alcohol—only 11.3 percent. Stainless steel aging for six months helps to keep the acidity high and the fruit flavors very fresh. The nose shows bright raspberry, a touch of orange zest, with a nice floral lift. In the mouth this wine is very vibrant and again shows raspberry, a bit of cherry, baking spices and a bit of pepper. I know that it’s rosé season, but if you are looking for something with a bit more weight, but still drinkable on a summer evening, give this one a try. You won’t be disappointed!
I did not have a definite pick in mind for June, but this time, the wine picked me. I was moving a large cart packed full of cases of wine, and I accidentally cut a corner too close, barely tapped a stack of wine, and one single bottle of Monte Oton Garnacha fell to the hard concrete floor and cracked-open. The result was an immediate rush of aromas flooding the shop—red fruits, and a little spice. I remembered that this particular wine had a history of selling quite well and I’d always wondered what the mystique was surrounding its popularity. The answer to this question was forming a growing, garnet-colored puddle in the middle of the shop’s floor. I tasted this wine officially the next day and immediately vowed to make it my June write-up! It’s $9.99 price is a modest one for such an excellent and immediately drinkable wine. Garnacha grapes are thin-skinned, making the resulting wine low in tannins and acidity. The result is a lovely, fruit-forward table wine that reminds us why some of the more famous Rhône-style Garnacha (Grenache) based wines such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Lirac are so popular.
I picked this wine from our selection of lower priced Bordeaux simply because I enjoy this category, and I think that we should be selling even more than we do. This Bordeaux Supérieur sports a typical cépage of 60 percent Merlot and 20 percent each Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The nose was quiet and subtle of faint plumb and berry notes. What struck me on first taste was, well not a lot, but in a good way! By that I mean no hard edges, no angular components, no heavy, over-the-top fruit or high alcohol burn, just everything in its proper place and balance. On the palate each sip glides effortlessly, with elegance and grace, leading to a silky, virtually weightless finish. This is not meant to be a top tier Bordeaux with layers of complexity (and with a price to match). It is however, a wine that doesn’t tax your intellect or your budget, while providing simple pleasure.
Spring is here! OK maybe it doesn’t feel like it yet, but it should arrive in earnest, soon. Along with arrival of warm weather and sunshine, comes the arrival of rosés at the Wine Shop! Stop in and check them out, we've got a ton. This month I've picked this selection from Spain to review. The wine is produced from 100 percent old vine Garnacha grapes (also known as Grenache) grown just to the northwest of Madrid. The vineyards were planted in the1960's in sandy limestone soil and sit at an elevation of over 2600 feet. I don't feel right if I'm not drinking my rosés outside, so even though the temperature was in the 50's, I put my feet up on my patio and enjoyed this wine. On the nose it shows strawberry and a touch of lime both supported by a light floral note. The wine offers very nice fruit on the palate including strawberry, a touch of tart cherry, while the lime note I picked up on the nose turned a little more towards grapefruit. The fruit is supported by a crisp minerality that comes from the soils where the vineyards are planted. If you're having a get together this spring make sure to include this in your rosé line up—you won't be disappointed!
I love Arianna Occhipinti! There I said it. Now that I got that off my chest I will go ahead with her favorite quote, (now, also my favorite quote): "We do not inherit the land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children." These words are credited to St. Exupery, the French writer, poet, aristocrat, journalist and pioneering aviator. Arianna obviously takes these words into account in everything she does in the vineyard and in the cellar, and the wines that result are intriguing, with gracious balance and finesse. Nero D' Avola is Sicily's most important grape variety, for good reason, but nowhere does this grape show case such splendor and charm as when in the hands of Arianna Occhipinti. This 2014 vintage is a fine example of that dedication to Mother Nature, and therefore to the character and quality that ooze from the glass. The wine is a beautiful, deep garnet color. The nose is incredibly inviting with bright cherry, eucalyptus and pomegranate notes. The tannins are super-fine and well integrated, and the feeling my palate gets when this wine spills over my taste buds is one of great warmth and comfort. Arianna says it best when she describes Siccagno as wild yet fresh, elegant, and red fruit flavored. Better get this one while it's here, there is not much available. Better yet, don't buy any so I can buy all the rest of it!
What would you do if someone told you that they found a bone-dry, red-wine that tasted like dark-chocolate covered, cordial cherries, and that it was from Castilla y Leon, one of the finest Tempranillo producing regions of Spain, all for less than $50.00? Well, there is a first time for everything! Tempranillo is known for having strong fruit flavors and aromas, and Rejón is up there with the finest I have ever had. It’s full-bodied with great, balanced tannins, and both herbal and fruit qualities on the palate and the nose. Rejón is an ultra-fine quality Tempranillo that I actually tried for the first time over the holidays (thank you, Tastevin!). I got home from work late one night and poured myself a glass and I was immediately taken with the dryness—like a silk tie on the back of my throat. Then, the flavors—the freshest black cherries possible, covered with liquid, dark-chocolate, and a bonus round of fruity, cordial alcohol in the finish—a complete delicacy! I am more than excited to have it on our shelves now, however, there are a limited number of bottles left. I suggest you get on over to the Wine Shop before I buy them all myself!