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December 2009

November 2009

Chatom Chardonnay 2007

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This is not your typical Chardonnay.  Let me just get that out of the way right now, get over your Chardonnay aversion.  It's a good full bodied wine that will stand up to turkey and provide a nice fruit driven counter point.

Grape: Chardonnay 100%

Background: This comes from inland CA, Calaveras County to be exact.  As such it gets less influence from the ocean, like, none actually.  That makes for hotter days, riper grapes, and it's reflected in the wine's weighty full tropical fruit.  It does not go through a malolactic fermentation, and barely sees any oak.  The wine is also made by a woman wine maker, which is something of a rarity.  Gay Callan started making wine here back in the 80's.

Profile: The aroma is a combination of ripe fruit and baking smells.  In fact, it smells just like a delicious pear crumble.  Rich fruit, a hint of spice and toast, it's perfect.  Ok, there's some apricot in the crumble as well.  On the pallet it's full and opens with peach/apricot, but is followed closely with some smoke and toasted almonds.  It has decent acidity and isn't flabby by any stretch, bt the finish reminds me of short bread.  It's rich, buttery, and has a touch of spice.

Conclusion: This is a great full bodied Chardonnay with out the over whelming butter, oak, and sweetness.  It's big and has smoke and butter, but not too much.  The weight, spice, fruit; all of it seems great for Turkey.

This is available at the Rosemont Market in Yarmouth for $19.99


Three Saints Pinot Noir 2007

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As I believe I have said; Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is all about good food and good company, nothing else to get in the way.  So I think it's understandable that I'm on a Thanksgiving wine kick right now.  It's looming pretty large in my mind and I have to figure out what wines I myself am going to drink.  Well here's another wine I will be drinking with turkey.

Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir, mostly clones from Burgundy

Background: Three Saints is the second label of the Dierberg family winery in the Santa Maria AVA in Santa Barbara.  It's right on the coast and gets plenty of fog.  That means cool nights and mornings with warmer afternoons.  The cool climate here keeps the grapes from getting over the top ripe.  It's the same grapes and wine making as their top of the line Dierberg Pinot that was on the Spectator's Top 100 last year.

Profile: This reminds me why I love Pinot Noir, how great and seductive it can be when the wine maker really gets it right!  This Pinot has lush cherry and Blackberry fruit with some earth underneath on the mid pallet.  It's not particularly barn yard earth, more dark, woodsy, and baking spices.  I pick up some cinnamon from it.  The acidity is perfectly in balance to keep the wine bright and energetic and the aroma is stunning.  This wine's balance really impresses me and the finish has just enough tannin to draw it out.  This is available at the Rosemont Market in Yarmouth, Whole Foods, Provisions, Tropa, Old Port Wine Merchant, and Mckean and Charles.  It retails for under $25


Starlane Wine Dinner at Evangeline December 16

On Wednesday December 16 I will host a 4 course Prix Fixe dinner at Evangeline!  The restaurant has been deservedly packed since the article in the NY times about him and the Portland food scene.  Starlane is an up and coming CA winery that has consistently impressed me.  Their Cabernet Sauvignon was declared best new domestic Cabernet of the year by Food and Wine and their Dierberg Pinot Noir was #49 on the Wine Spectator's top 100 list last year.  The cost of the dinner with wine is only $55!  That's a steal, considering that's about what the Cabernet or Pinot Noir alone would cost you retail.

Call 207 791 2800 for more info and reservations.


Le Colture Prosecco Rose

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Ok, so Rose Prosecco is kind of a Unicorn; in other words it doesn't exist.  Prosecco has to be made from the Prosecco grape and the Prosecco grape has no color, so the roses have to be made from something else; often Merlot!

Grapes: Merlot 100%

Background: Prosecco is up in eastern Veneto, or way up above Venice on the eastern edge of Italy.  Le Colture is in Valdobbiadene in the heart of Prosecco and has the reputation for producing the best sparklers.  Le Colture is made by the Ruggeri famliy who've held this vineyard since the early 1500's. 

Profile: This is a really pretty Prosecco.  It has seductive, delicate yet intense aromatics of raspberry, strawberry, honey suckle flowers, and a hint of bread fresh out of the oven.  The effervescence is smooth and fine; not intense enough to give the wine a harsh edge and it's also dry, but again not to a fault.  The dry raspberry and strawberry is present there on the pallet as well.

Conclusion: This is a very pretty, balanced, easy to drink Prosecco.  It has good acidity and the bright fruit make this a great Thanksgiving wine.  This is what I plan on drinking myself for Thanksgiving.  Turkey, gravy, stuffing, potatoes; they're all heavy greasy foods.  This wine will pair well based on it's flavor alone, but the effervescence will clean that grease out of your mouth and act as a refreshing lightening counterpart to the rest of the meal.  And ultimately allow you to eat more!  That's the whole point right?

This is around$18 at the Old Port Wine Merchant, the Rosemont Markets, Aurora Provisions, Clayton's, Enoteca, and Provisions in Brunswick.


Pittnauer Zweigelt 2007

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Zweigelt is a grape you (and I) don't see around that often.  But I've built my business on having wines that are unusual and carving out my own niche.  So when I had an opportunity to pick up one from a great tiny family winery in Burgenland Austria, I took it.  This is a good time of year for it as it's a very well suited wine for Thanksgiving.  Zweigelt is often bright, smooth, has good acidity, and a hint of earth which suits it well to the gaminess of turkey.

Grapes:  Well, it's Zweigelt.  That is in fact the grape.

Background:  Zweigelt is a cross between two other unknown grapes: Blaufrankisch and St Laurent.  Blaufrankisch is a hardy early ripening grape and St Laurent has great body and earthy characteristics.  Zweigelt was created by Dr. Zweigelt in 1922 to combine these traits.  This version is made by Gerhard Pittnauer in the very far eastern extremity of Austria, over by Hungary.  Gerhard only makes about 60,000 bottles total per year, so this is an extremely low production wine.  He is known as one of the top producers of St Laurent and his Zweigelt is also an example of wine making talent in a cold climate.  All the farming is sustainable and biodynamic.

Profile: Now the fun part; the drinking!  The color is quite dark, almost black in the center and with a purplish tinge around the edge.  This bodes well for a grape that is often compared to Beaujolais.  The aroma is perfumey and has seductive rose and raspberry and cranberry to it.  Cranberry see?  This is why I'm thinking turkey.  I might be crazy, or maybe I'm just a wine geek, but I also get a whiff of fur.  It's nice, a slightly earthy, clean quality.  The taste is dominated by really bright lively fruit up front.  This wine really has some zip and life to it.  What is impressive is that it the body is very smooth alongside that bright strawberry fruit and acidity.  The texture is very supple and it doesn't have any aggressive tannins to note on the finish.  It has some weight though and really is a good compliment to turkey in the same way as cranberry sauce. 

Conclusion:  If you like Pinot Noir or Grenache this is a wine that will please you.  It is lush without being heavy and manages to still be bright and refreshing on the pallet.  Not as big and powerful as a Cabernet, but that's not what you want with turkey.

Price:  Under $20 at Provisions on Main St in Brunswick.


Chateau la Baume Costieres de Nimes 2007

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This Costieres de Nimes is an old favorite and I was just beginning to feel the 2005 vintage was opening up when it ran out and the 2007 showed up.  Well that's how wine is.  As soon as you fall in love with something, it changes.  There's nothing to do, but get back in the saddle, so I opened one of these '07s as fast as I could.

Grapes:  This is a blend of 50% Carignan, 25% Grenache, and 25% Syrah.  The Carignan at least is pretty old vine, I'm not sure about the rest, but it is impressivly concentrated.

Background:  This wine, like a lot of Costieres de Nimes, has always seemed almost more Spanish than French.  The Mediteranean dominates the climate here and the wines have a bolder, more in your face kind of character.  The area here is pretty dry and the winemaker aggresivley limits the vineyards yeilds.

Profile:  The wine has a very dark red color and is pretty hard to see through.  The aroma is rich and inviting.  Sitting here smeling it I can pick up raspberry, stewed cherry, thyme, a whiff of roasted meat.  It's a very inviting smell that makes me think of a good summer cook out.  The taste lives up with ripe cherry fruit propped up with bright acidity and an earthy midpallet and some young tannins on the finish.  It has really pretty white pepper notes on the nose and mid pallet and tastes like it needs a bit of time.  If you're drinking this now I strongly suggest decanting it.  Altogethor it's young and tightly wound, but has great character and way more structure and depth than you'd normally find at this price.

Conclusion:  This wine makes me desire pork, strongly.  Maybe a nice tenderloin, or a pork chop.  The bright fruti and white pepper will pair with the meat and cut the fat.  The taste of the meat will minimize the earthiness and tannins.  This wine is a little piece of Southern France in a bottle.  It really tastes like where it comes from.