Moretti Omero Terre di Giano

Vintage: 2016

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Moretti Omero is a small family farm in the wine area of Montefalco, in Central Umbria.  Omero (pictured next to me) grew up here with his parents.  He started out raising pigs but the neighbors complained about the smell too much and started to make trouble for him with the Authorities.  The DOC of Montefalco had just been founded and Omero decided to switch from pigs and try his hand at making wine.  He bought some existing vineyards as well as some old olive orchards and threw himself into it.  

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He's certainly been successful.  A few years back he won best single varietal olive oil in Italy from the national olive oil trade board.  I ran across Umbria to visit him and was pretty wiped at the end of 34 miles.  He speaks no English and his daughter (who does) had to go host a pasta making class.  So Omero went and had dinner and I got to stretch the bounds of my poor Italian talking about life as a business owner, life as a farmer, having kids, hot rodding cars, etc.  

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The Terre di Giano is my favorite wine that he makes.  He may hate me saying that since he makes so many excellent more prestigious wines, but this table wine is so delicious and honest that I can't help loving what a satisfying, solid, easy going rustic wine this is.  Omero blends Ciliegiolo, Sangiovese, Merlot, and probably in some vintages Sagrantino into this.  2016 was a really good vintage; not one of those super hot years that the Wine Spectator likes and not a lean rainy year: just a perfect balanced classic weather year.   So the resulting wine is very well balanced, pleasing, and what Umbria classically is. 

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Aroma: big ripe cherry and wild raspberry.  There's some woodsey aromas too.  Actually it kind of smells like a BBQ: wood smoke and roasting meat.  There's also a hint of baking chocolate hiding in there too!

Taste: Juicy and rustic, the Terre di Giano is a balance of mouth filling cherries up front and spicy rustic tannin at the finish.  It's not too heavy though (at 13% alcohol) and the acidity is right there keeping the wine from being at all flabby in any way.  So are the tannins too in fairness but you don't notice them much, they're just there in proportion supporting the rest of the flavors. 

It's a mouth full of rich wild satisfying fruit with earth and rustic spice to back it all up.  Umbria is the bread basket of Italy and known for hearty foods like pasta in red sauce or meat sauce, steak, hearty sausage, braised lamb, and hearty risottos with truffles.  This wine will blow your mind with any of those.

This is right about $15 retail and available at The Blue Hill Wine Shop, Spruce Creek Provisions, Bow St Beverage in Portland, Maine Meat in Kittery, and Vic and Whit's in Saco.

 

 


Rotllan Torra Priorat Reserva 2000

This is a blast from the past.  I used to sell this wine back in about 2002-2004.  I loved it; in fact it was pretty much the first Spanish wine I fell in love with.  It's a blend of Carignan, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon from Torroja del Priorat.  I don't remember how long it stays in old oak barrels but I think it was several years.  I found this bottle at Tess market in Brunswick.  Apparently Anne had bought a case from me back in about 2004 and just put it in the basement.  a week or so ago she decided to take them out and put them back on the shelf.  

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I remember when this was released liking it but feeling that this vintage was harsh and had a kind of intense unbalanced character.  Now with 18 years on it....

Aroma: This does not smell like a young wine!  But it's absolutely not tired either.  There's a really delicious aroma of cooked tomatoes, cranberries, roses, I get lots of rose petals, some rosemary, and also dried cherries.  It's a lovely floral perfume of an aroma with all kinds of food and dried herb aromas.  It makes me think of sun and dry rocky land.  I've never been to Priorat but this makes me want to go, but maybe not in high summer.  I think some of these aromas are things you just can't get in a wine with out age.

Taste: In the mouth the Rotllan Torra is dry, juicy and tannic all at once.  Spicy and warming with great acidity, the texture is smooth and mature.  My favorite part is that there's this really tasty saltiness in the mid palate that wakes your palate up and gets your mouth salivating.  

Well, you can't get this anywhere.  But drinking this bottle was a good reminder that there really is no replacement for aging.  Or as I think is more fun to say "there's no replacement for the basement."


Marco Sara Verduzzo

Marco Sara is a very driven and organized seeming younger natural wine maker up in the Colli Orientalli Friuli hills.  These are the foothills of the Julien Alps up on the border with Slovenia.  The slopes seem to be pretty steep and all broken up, but the soil isn't particularly rocky looking, at least around here.  

Verduzo

Verduzzo is a local indigenous grape that I hardly ever run into, but I loved this when I was there at the winery.  

Aroma: Marco's Verduzzo has a lovely aroma that immediately hits you with wild flowers at the end of summer.  There's also a kind of aromatic herbal smell, like thyme or rosemary hiding behind the wild flowers, banana and white peach that Verduzzo has.

Taste:  Marco's Verduzzo is really lush and tropical, but not flat; there's underlying acidity and a salty herbal kind of heat in the mid-palate.  This is one of those deceptive wines that isn't sweet, but it tastes so fruity and ripe that it can trick you.  There's also a sweet kind of Almond pastry flavor here that adds yet another dimension.  And then...right near the back of the wine, there's a little zing that tastes in a lovely way like some kind of cross between lavender and licorice!

Marco Sara's Verduzzo is about $20 retail. As of writing this article Marco Sara's wines only just came into the state so they're not available in any retail stores yet, however you can order them from any wine store and Marco himself is coming for a wine dinner at Solo Italiano in 2 weeks!

 

 


Lamoresca Mascalisi

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Vintage: 2016

This is unique!  Lamoresca is Philippo Rizzo.  Philippo grew up in this rural part of south east Sicily a bit north of Ragusa, but then somehow became a wine importer into Belgium.  I don't know; I haven't heard that story yet.  At some point he decided to take over his family's little farm and become a wine maker.  He makes some drop dead gorgeous Frapatto and Nero d'Avola down there on his little vineyard, but mount Etna is just an hour or so away and it's so interesting!  It's such a tempting unique wine growing climate...... Philippo actually used to sell wine to Frank Cornelissen when Frank was a distributor in Belgium.  So They're friends and Philippo ended up buying some cuttings from Frank so that he could experiment with Nerello down at his vineyard.  But the vines are too young and so Philippo started leasing land on Etna with the result being this wine. 

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Philippo buys some Nerello grapes, brings them down to his winery, and then blends in Frapatto, because why not?  It actually works quite well.

Aroma: Fresh tart cherries, raspberries, and even some strawberry.  It's not a classic Nerello nose.  This is much prettier and lighter and floral.  Maybe it's the powerful aromatics of the frapatto coming through, although I think the wine is jsut about 20% Frappato.  This is a really lovely aroma with all that fruit and flowers and then a hint of salt sea air!

Taste: The Mascalisi tastes a little bit more like Nerello on the palate.  It has all that lovely pure bright red fruit right up front as you sip it but then you get some heat.  It's not an alcohol heat though so much as it reminds me of the heat of good fresh olive oil.  Geez, this is nice and quite intersting.  There's something kind of blood orange citrusy about the acidity and vibrancy of it.  the flavors are so pure and sunlight,The mascalisi remiinds me of good medium bodied Burgundy or really excellent cru Beaujolais.  I get a crunshy sort of rocky minerality from the Mascalisi and a really long finish.  The tnanin is there but right in harmony with the rest of the wine's structure.  The texture is really supple and lovely and sort of counterintuitively the flavors are all so pure and clearly defined.  Lamoresca's Mascalisi is really pretty stunning as I get into it!  This will get so much more supple and sexy as it has some bottle aged. 

It was jsut released and only 6 cases came into Maine.  You can order now through your favorite wine retailer.

 


La Stoppa Trebbiolo Rosso

Vintage: 2015

"Triple A"....I don't actually know what that means, but it's there on the label so I included it.

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La Stoppa is an old winery in Emilia Romagna originally founded by a wealthy lawyer in the late 1800's.  Elena Pantaleoni's father purchased the vineyards back in the early 70's.  Elena eventually took the estate over and in 1996 she and head wine maker Giulio Armani decided to replant the entire 32 hectare estate with traditional grape varieties: Barbera and Bonarda.  At some point in the past the vineyards had been replanted with international varieties but Elena and Giulio felt those grapes just didn't handle Emilia's climate as well as the native grapes did.  That decision to turn their backs on modern commercial winemaking set them on a path to focus more and more on local traditional wine making.  

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Look at how dark that is!

The farming is organic, the fermentation is with native yeast, they use the longest possible amount of skin contact, and sulfur isn't used during fermentation only a little sometimes at bottling.  Elena and Giulio are real old school natural wine makers.  They've done a lot of work to re-discover the tricks of working naturally.  They've also taught a lot of younger wine makers passing that info on to wine makers like Arianna Occhipinti. 

Aroma:  This is a dark, woodsey, rich, heady smelling wine.  Honestly, there's something primal about this.  The aroma isn't polished or clear persay, but it's so robust and deliciously real- it's what I imagine the ancient wines of Odysseus tasting like; legendary, archetypal, and almost like something that isn't of this time and place.  I can smell plums, raspberry, blackberry, black blackcherries.....But there's something exotic about how this smells.

Taste: big and juicy!  The fruit is lush and fills my mouth.  That exotic quality is there with peppery spice that's so prickly the wine almost seems a touch fizzy in it's wildness.  The blackberry flavors is so lush and thick.  The tannins are strong have a rustic character but the fruit is so big and lush that the tannins are second fiddle and not so noticeable. 

La Stoppa's Trebbiolo is pretty insanely special and it's priced in the low $20's retail.  I think it's insane that I even still have this on hand.  If you need some help getting through the winter, this is it.  Or if you just love amazing real wines that light up your palate you should go hunt down a bottle of this.   I've done a bad job of telling people I have this wine.  Currently it's available at the Blue Hill Wine Shop, Bow St Beverage in Portland, and Maine and Loire.

 

 


4 Kilos Motor America

Vintage 2016

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I don't really know too much about this.  4 Kilos was started by a pair of friends on Mallorca who had been working in other wineries and wanted to do their own thing.  They pooled their money and with a very modest investment they purchased a little old goat cheese creamery.  They renovated it and actually use the old milk refrigerating tanks for fermenting wine.  This is a very small operation trying to work with traditional lesser known local grapes, fermenting naturally, and avoiding any additives including sulfur.

 

I fell in love with the 2014 vintage.  At the time it was one of the most intoxicatingly wild feral lovely natural wines I had tasted.  But I could only get a few cases.  Then the 2015 was sort of a departure when I tasted it.  I think that vintage was hotter and the wine was bigger but with less edge, cut, and frenetic wildness that I wanted.  The 2016 is a return to form.

Grape: 100% Callet

Aroma: Wow!  Super fresh powerful raspberry!  The Motor America has an intense fresh berry aroma that's both fresh, juicy, vivid, and wild all at once.  There's this juicy ripe fruit but also a slightly furry tangy kind of smell of the brambley stems of those raspberries.  It's lovely!  It smells like spring.

Taste: medium bodied.  fresh juicy crisp fruit and then some pepper on the mid palate.  The texture is so smooth.  The alcohol is just 11% and that helps make the wine come across really smooth, supple, and thirst quenching.  There's tannin but it's right in line and aperfect off set to the juicy vivid fruit and smooth velvety mouth feel.   MMMmm, it reminds me of lovely supple young red burgundy: just this perfect weight and finess.  But the wine also has a wild prickly brambley woodsey quality in the mid palate.  It makes the wine seem almost sparkling....but it's not, it's just so alive that the flavors grab your palate like that.

4 Kilos' Motor America Callet blend is pretty amazing and rare.  I'd worth grabing some now before it sells out.

Ned


Paterna Chianti Colli Aretini

Paterna is a tiny little farm in the hills outside Arezzo.  The area is known as the Colli Aretini and is one of the more prestigious sub zones of Chianti; it's also one of the colder and higher elevation parts of the Chianti zone.  That is important in a hot year like 2015.  Other places in warmer southern and central Tuscany made wines that had rather high alcohol, but Paterna's wine is beautifully classic and balanced.  

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I visited Paterna in the spring of 2017 and the farm made a big impression on me.  Paterna was started in 1978 by a group of friends that wanted to leave the hubbub of Florence behind.  They bought this old family farm isolated in the hills and basically went back to the land.  One of the primary people who's still there, Marco, is actually a professor of traditional Tuscan Agricultural crafts at a local school: Scuola di Lorenzo di Medici.  The land on the farm has never seen pesticides or fertilizers.   The family that originally was here didn't and Marco and crew have farmed it organically since they bought it.  

Here's a whole blog post I wrote during my visit to the winery:

Paterna Visit

 

The Chianti Colli Aretini is about 90% Sangiovese and 10% Caniolo and Colorino.  It's fermented in tank and then aged in used oak barrels for, I think, about a year.  The aging varies vintage to vintage though.

Aroma:  Fresh juicy vivid cherries, some raspberry, and also a floral kind of smell.  It's a lovely aroma of ripe fresh fruit that's pretty strong and jumps out of the glass.

Taste:  The Paterna has more juicy fresh fruit on the palate.  It's medium bodied and has dark spicy tannic structure that comes in on the midpalate and balances that fresh lively cherry fruit that drives the front of the wine.  There's also a black pepper spice that comes in on the mid palate and some dry dusty Tuscan earth.  The wine is pretty smooth and balanced overall.  It's a very classic Sangiovese that has all the right components in balance and has had enough time in bottle to start to integrate.  The flavor profile of the wine is pretty ripe and dark, but it has crunchy stiff tannic and acidic structure that holds the fruit in place.  

Good now but it will definitely improve in the coming years.  This Chianti is available for about $20 at Meridian's, Omi's in South Portland, Whole Foods, Sawyers Specialties, and the Brooklyn General Store.

 


Scinniri Nerello Mascalese

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Vintage: 2014

Scinniri is made by Passopisciaro up on Etna's north slope.  It's an amazing place: the side of an active volcano, nearly 3000' above sea level, the lava looks like a moonscape, and not too far from the African coast.  It's practically like the garden of Eden here.  Andrea Franchetti the long term project of restoring an old farm house and vineyards in Solicchiata back in 2000.  I have a hard time believing it would turn into what Passopisciaro is today.  I've never met him, but I've drunk a lot of his wines, talked to a lot of people that know him, and I've hung out around this winery.  I get the sense that he's a thorough precise kind of guy: that's the common theme I've found in his wines and physically how the winery is set up and renovated.  but he's not afraid to experiment and innovate.  Along with Frank Cornelissen, Franchetti is a driving force in recognizing the different vineyards around Etna's north slope that have special characters to them.  He and Cornelissen are moving towards something like a 1er cru system but using the Sicilian word "contrada".

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This is Vincenzo the vineyard manager.

The Scinniri is a sort of rare open secret of a wine that he makes as an entry level intro to Etna.  Also FYI, 2014 was an amazing vintage on Etna.

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Andrea's vines are planted at super high density.

Aroma: the 2014 Scinniri has smells of smoke, cherries, also some dried cherry, and an aroma of charcoal.  The more the Scinniri opens up the prettier it gets!  Aroma's of roses start to become more noticeable.   But still there's something a bit charred lurking in there.  It's both a really inviting lovely aroma and also somehow very volcanic!

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Taste: In the mouth the Scinniri has more of that lovely relaxed supple cherry flavor.  The wine really has power to it; it's dark and focused and muscular, but the texture is really smooth.  Nerello (the grape) has many faces, but this is a great example of some of the commonalities a lot of them have: dark, dry, with noticeable but really enjoyable alcohol. The texture is so smooth and the aromatics are really unusually pretty.  the juxtaposition of deep dark volcanic power and lovely pretty aromatics with a smooth texture is irresistible.  This is a great warming winter wine that tastes like a tropical volcanic island.  And this vintage in particular is a great deal.  


Pentimento

Pentimento is made by Michele d'Aprix, an American woman who after studying organic chemistry in college took a circuitous path to end up in Bordeaux.  In 2004 Michele met Stephane Derenoncourt, a successful Bordeaux consultant wine maker who became her mentor.  Michele has fallen in love with Bordeuax, but believes that what makes Bordeaux great, all the fun accessible juicy reds, are over looked in America because of the super expensive trophy wines and cultural baggage around the name "Bordeaux".  Michele describes the Pentimento as a representation and tribute to all the people that have helped her along the way and the lessons she's learned.

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The chemical equation on the Pentimento label is the equation for calcareous clay soil; the soil that gives the right bank of Bordeaux it's unique character.

Aroma:  The Pentimento's aroma is dark and kind of gravely.  There's blackberry and blackcherry fruit to the Pentimento but also cigar b (cedar, and old dry tobacco) and a hint of wild black peppery spice.

 

Taste: big and juicy but with good acidity that makes the wine taste more alive.  The Pentimento is well balanced.  It's got nice dry tannin that reinforces the wine but isn't too heavy.  The wine is substantial, out going, knows what it's doing and has a plan; this is a real go getter of a wine!  I love the balance: not too heavy but with enough oomph to work with a roast beef!

The Pentimento is a great winter red!  It's lovely to drink and not too challenging.  This is impressive, good with a range of foods, and very integrated and balanced.  This is a great Bordeaux that is fruity enough to please non wine drinkers while also being a great layered complex Bordeaux that you can enjoy.  this is available at the Rosemont Markets and the Lincolnville General Store


Clos du tu Boeuf VDF Gamay

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Thierry Puzelat is the wine maker at Clos du tue Boeuf.  His family has been here in the central Loire for a long time.  The name Clos du Tue Boeuf goes back to the middle ages.  Thierry and his brother Jean Marie converted to organic viticulture in the early 90's and the family has a history of going their own way, planting traditional grape varieties that have been disallowed from the Cheverny AOC.  When a wine get's vetoed from one of the AOCs they're in for not being mainstream enough the Puzelats sell it as VDF.  For more back story check out Dressner's excellent page here: Clos du Tue Boeuf

So this may be one of those wines that Thierry labored over but the board of the appellation tasted it and decided it was too alive and fun for their tastes.  So here it is.  Insanely good ripe wild fermented Gamay.

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Aroma: Puzelat's Gamay smells of juicy fun lively vivid raspberry and cherry fruit.  It's a lovely jammy kind of aroma that has some underlying wild woodsey furry smells that are just text book wild Loire Gamay to me.  This VDF almost smells like a lambic; a really good lambic.  This Gamay perfectly walks the line of juicy and funky, just on the juicy side.

Taste: this Gamay has lovely vivid fruit.  pop in your mouth ripe raspberry and cherry with more of the wild tension and pepper.  The flavors linger, but it's very smooth and integrated.  It's a delicious thirst quenching red.  maybe the best most satisfying Loire Gamay I've had.  I guess I should try that Noella Morantin....  the Clos du Tue Boeuf Gamay isn't a demanding challenging red, but it's lovely and full of life.  

This is under $20 retail and Blue Hill Wine Shop and Maine and Loire have it.