Previous month:
October 2010
Next month:
December 2010

November 2010

Hatzidakis Santorini 2007

Santorini 2007

Haridimos Hatzidakis began production at his own estate winery in 1997 with the help of his wife: Konstantina.  Santorini is a steep mountain top of a volcanic island in Greece with soil of white ash and black volcanic rock.  Harry farms organically and celebrates this harsh, dry, windy climate for the complex structure and depth it gives his wines.  The vines literally have to grow in little depressions in the ground to shelter them from the wind.

Varietal: His appellation Santorini white is 90% Assyrtiko, 5% Aidani, 5% Athiri.  Don't worry that you've never heard of them; what matters is that they make this amazing white.

Aroma: The wine has a pretty strong aroma of date, honey, a hint of fresh pine, candied ginger, maybe a touch of Mango.  Once again, don't worry that it sounds crazy, all those components actually manage to work together and smell really intriguing. It has fruit aromas without being tropical.

Taste:  Right up front, this is a full bodied white with a lot of presence.  It has the mango fruit, but it's not as viscous as a Viognier or Roussanne.  It has a hint of wild herbs and a spice to it.  I can really taste the minerality from the sandy volcanic soil in the dry midpalate and spicy finish.  This is a gorgeously complex unique white.  I just drank it with some Turkey stew and it paired beautifully, standing up to that fat and richness admirably.  This would also be to die for with roasted Mediterranean seafood.  It won't overwhelm a full flavored white fish, but will work with the spices and herbs at the same time.  If you like Loire whites or Chablis I would really recommend this.

It's available at Provisions in Brunswick, Black Cherry Provisions in Falmouth, and the Freeport Cheese and Wine Shop and costs in the mid teens.  And you can drink it at Trattoria Athena in Brunswick!


le Mas des Flauzieres Gigondas 2008

IMG_1224

Gigondas is a region in the southern Rhone that was up until 1971 a part of the Cotes du Rhones.  At that point the French government recognized the town as producing higher quality wines with there own unique character; which is to a T what I search for and what Devenish wines is focused on.  Anyhoo, Gigondas has become pretty prestigious in the intervening decades.  Quality and price have increased and the wines now rival Chateauneuf du Pape in both.

le Mas de Flauzieres is a family winery of 29 acres.  This is a product of 30 year old Grenache (70%), Syrah (20%), and Mourvedre (10%).  The grapes are hand harvested and the wine is aged in tanks for 2 years before release.

I had this the other night and I have to say it was very drinkable and approachable right out of the bottle.  It had very dark color, slightly purpley as you'd expect from a young wine.  I could smell aromas of plums, black raspberry, a hint of sweet vanilla, and also a hint of wood smoke and forest.

The palate was big, dense, and rich.  Dried cherry fruit was the first flavor I picked up followed by ripe cherry, undertones of pepper on the lush mid-palate, and then the finish had some dry tannin but a touch of sweet vanilla balancing it.  Overall I found this very enjoyable, particularly for a ham or a pork roast.  I recommend this for Thanksgiving if you can't bring yourself to drink Pinot Noir and need something bigger and bolder. 

But don't take my word for it; I'll have this at both my tasting at the Freeport Cheese and Wine shop on Friday and the 20/20 tasting on Sunday at Havana!  Plus it's under $20!  That's at least $5 less than any other Gigondas I've seen.  So come see me this weekend and give it a shot.  Or pick it up at Aurora Provisions, RSVP, Rosemont market on Munjoy Hill, or Provisions in Brunswick.


District Opening Night

IMG_1214

Once again I give the disclaimer: I sell District wine so I am not a totally uninvolved, unbiased reviewer.  I review because I enjoyed my meal.  And anyway you can't really judge a restaurant in the first week or so.  It takes some time for the kitchen and servers to all form a working relationship.

District is a large, open space; it has an upstairs and down, connected by a large opening in the second floor, which looks down on the bar of the first.  The connection between the two dining areas makes it feel larger and busier.  I sat upstairs at the small service bar and immediately noticed the art on the walls by Johnathon Bisbee, an artist and professor at Bowdoin who makes art with worked foot long spikes, they look great on the walls .

Here's how I'd categorize the cuisine: rich, hearty, earthy, substantial food.  It's not delicate food that you have to tip toe around.  It's very satisfying food that you can really dig into.

The menu was, to me, a really interesting mix of Italian, American, unintimidating comfort food, and more creative exciting options.  It has lots of meat, lots of rich food, although there were at least three vegetarian options for the main course.  I was excited to see things like baked halloumi, mussels with creme fraiche, chicken wings with goat cheese dip for appetizers, along with a raw bar with oysters, littleneck clams, and king crab claws.  There's also a selection of offal and charcuterie that includes buffalo chicken livers, steak tartar, roasted bone marrow, and foie gras.  The main courses included options like suckling pig for two, a grilled cheese burger, veal schnitzel, and roasted and buttermilk fried chicken.

IMG_1216

I ordered the baked halloumi and veal schnitzel.  I liked the presentation, the halloumi came in a small cast iron sauce pan with toast and cornichons to go with it.  It was great, like id expect; I mean how can you dislike baked cheese?!  The cornichons were a great mildly acidic balance.  The schnitzel was very tasty, cooked perfectly, and served with a zingy lemon sauce and capers.  I've had a lot of bad schnitzel in my day.  It's pounded so thin and then breaded and fried, that it becomes easy to over cook and screw up the texture.  This was just right.

IMG_1218

And for dessert: the dessert menu carried through the full flavored, creative theme of the rest of the menu.  I choose a bourbon flavored root beer float!  It was essentially a normal very good root beer float, but with a slight bourbon flavor added that gave it a smokey earthy quality and kept it from being too sweet tasting.  It was delicious.  I had the bartender and a passing server try it and we all agreed.

IMG_1223

I would be really remiss if I didn't touch on the wine list.  The guy who put it together, Anthony, really knows his stuff.  He used to have Tropa wines up on Congress.  The list isn't huge to the point of being un-navigable, but it has depth and covers the bases, while including a lot of really cool under appreciated wines.  He's got three Valtellinas on the list!  Valtellina is a very tasty unique wine made from Nebbiolo that comes from Lombardy.  Most importantly the list looks well chosen to pair with the food.

Overall I think District will be a great placed to hang out over the winter.  It's warm and comfortable inside, but primarily its the food that makes me say that.  The satisfying heartiness will make this a useful antidote to the dark cold days of winter.


Thanksgiving Suggestions

Avinyo Cava

Extended aging on the lees makes this reserve cava crisper, fuller, and creamier.  It also has hints of toasted nuts under the aromas of citrus and pear.  This is a complex intriguing sparkler that could pass as a champagne if you closed your eyes.  The flavors are perfect to pair with Turkey and the effervescence will remove the fat and grease of gravy from your mouth.  This is under $20 and available at the Old Port Wine Merchant, Provisions, the Rosemont Market in Yarmouth, and I'll be showing at my tasting at the Freeport Cheese and Wine shop on Friday the 19.

Sybille Kuntz Estate Riesling Trocken 2008

This is a beautiful balanced dry German Riesling, biodynamic, and made by a woman wine maker.  This is NOT SWEET!  But it does have ripe fruit, powerful acidity and minerality, and a touch of spice.  If you like serious Loire whites you'll probably love this.  This is an ideal white wine for Turkey or ham.  It's under $25 and available at Browne Trading, Rosemont in Yarmouth, Provisions in Brunswick, and this will also be at the Freeport tasting.

Erste & Neue Pinot Nero 2009 

This Italian Alpine Pinot Noir is smooth, has ripe bright fruit, and a hint of smoke to it.  This is excellent with turkey and leaner cuts of pork.  Snag this for under $20 at the Rosemont Markets, Browne Trading, or the Freeport Cheese and Wine Shop

Le Mas des Flauzieres Gigondas 2008 Four Danuga

This Gigondas is a Grenache based Rhone blend that's bigger and sees some oak aging.  It's more powerful than the Pinots and has more pepper, earth, and a touch of sweet vanilla from the oak on the finish.  This is right about $20 and is a good choice for hams, pork roasts, and turkey if you simply prefer something bigger than Pinot Noir.  This can be found at the Freeport Cheese and Wine Shop or the Rosemont on Munjoy Hill.

Domaine de Grisy Bourgogne Rouge 2008

Perhaps you'd like something brighter, lively, and not too heavy?  A red that keeps drawing you back for another sip, but doesn't tire your palate out?  Look no further than the Domaine de Grisy.  This is bright racy Pinot Noir at it's best.  This is priced in the mid teens and is available at the Rosemonts, Freeport, Provisions, BlackCherry Provisions in Falmouth, Browne Trading, and Aurora Provisions in Portland

If you have any questions, Please ask!  eswain@maine.rr.com


Chateau de Chamboreau Savennieres 2004

Sav

It's been a cold, rainy, gusty day; but showing this wine to people made it fantastic!  This is straight up Loire Chenin blanc at it's best.  Savennieres is one of the smallest appelations in France and has the lowest allowed yields per acre (to my knowledge).  So there isn't much out there and it's pretty rare.  But Oh is the hunt worth it!  If you comfortably think of your self as being "in to wine" you really need to try this; it is a totally unique, beautiful, intriguing white.  Savennieres doesn't generally come into it's own for several years; especially when it's fermented in barrel and then aged in oak for two years!  This wine is just starting to really open up and come together six years after it was made.  I decided to take it out and make one last push on it as the vintage is about to run out and I want to get this out into peoples hands before the next vintage shows up and may be too young. 

There's a lot going on here.  I pick up aromas of toast, orange, candied lemon, almond, a hint of fresh pine....there's a delicate sweet baking smell as well that balances some of the citrus as well.  On the palate it has excellent acidic structure; what gets called "briney" technically. This wine has that wonderful combination of robust acidity and rich texture that fleshes out the mid-palate and balances the acid.  It's full,slightly smokey, has a hint of almonds again, and a hint of sweetness on the finish. The combination is achingly sophisticated and delicious.

I'm always saddened when wines are released to young and only start to drink well when my inventory runs out.  This isn't cheap; it's priced in the low-mid 20's, but considering it's a rare 6 year old hand made white I think it's a good value.  This is available at Browne Trading, and the Rosemont out on Brighton.  Get this while the getting's good!