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April 2011

Moriniere Muscadet sur Lie 2009

For no quantifiable reason or conscience plan I have been having a smoldering love affair with Loire wines for the past year or so.  Like most agendas motivated by passion, I haven't looked for it and didn't even realize until it was pretty well developed.  Oh well, nothing to do but go with it.  Here's the next installment:

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This is a Sur Lie muscadet.  Muscadet comes from the lower Loire valley, down towards the Atlantic; and this Muscadet in particular comes from the Couillaud brothers, who bought just less than 100 acres back in the 70's. 

This is a way more serious Muscadet than most.  Well, maybe not serious, Muscadet is never as serious as a big driven Bordeuax.  This still has the pretty aromas of white flowers, but there's more underpinning that.  This Muscadet has depths that are unusual and unlooked for in this variety.  I think some of that is because it spends 10 months on the lees (the dead yeast sediment and whatnot that settles out of an ageing wine and is usually removed).  This must also be grown in soil that's more limestone and gravel than usual.  I don't know what else would explain it's focused minerality on the mid palate. 

This is a very lively wine that leads with pretty white flowers and a slightly salty aroma that evokes a foggy cool early morning with a breeze of the water.  That's followed by more linear minerality and acidity, and a citrusy quality that makes me think very ripe lime; maybe a hint of kiwi too.

This is a perfect, and textbook classic pair for oysters, flounder, sole, bass, and mackerel.  It's also a great pair with salty cured meats.  I can attest as I eat this Serrano Ham right now.  The bright, vibrancy of the wine is a nice contrast to the gamey flavors of the cured meat and takes the edge off the saltiness.  Really, I strongly recommend fun, dry, whites with good acidity with cured meats.

This has a lot of the minerality of Sancerre for half the price.  $12.99 at the Rosemont Market on Munjoy Hill, the Freeport Cheese and Wine shop, Ocean House Market, Rosemont Market on Brighton, Provisions in south Freeport, the Blue Hill Wine Shop, Aurora Provisions and Downeast Beverage.


Malot Roero Nebbiolo Valmaggiore 2007

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First to translate this label for all of you who aren't big Italian wine label experts.  Malot is the name of the winery.  It's the name of the current producers grandfather who founded the winery back in the aftermath of WWII.  Roero is region, actually a group of hills that border the Langhe in the north western Italian region of Piedmont.  Nebbiolo is the grape, and Valmaggiore is the name of the wine. 

Now that that's out of the way here's what the wine actually is:

This is really exciting wine for me because this DOCG of Roero was just created with the 2007 vintage!  So this is the first vintage of this wine ever made.  The Malot winery is a small 7 hectare operation run by Fabio and his son Italo.  This DOCG Nebbiolo is the top red they prodcue.  Nebbiolo has a pretty prestigious reputation for producing powerful, complex, yet still pretty red wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco.  Unfortunately they're generally extremely expensive, often $40 and up retail.  This isn't the same thing, obviously as it comes from a different place, but it is very similar, complex, and very good.

Aroma: ripe cherries, wood shavings, black currant, some fresh rose floral notes. There's also this really enticing, delicious aroma of cooked steak; not burnt or seared but just the aroma of a freshly cooked steak when you first cut into it.

Taste: There's a brightness at first, maybe fresh cherry, but the mid palate is full and mouth filling.  It's pretty lushly textured on the mid palate, but has some very sublte spice and pepper and just a hint of vanilla that you have to work to pick up.  The tannins aren't very aggressive at all and the finish is a bit refreshing.  It's very nice and text book Nebbiolo.  This wine is very well integrated and smooth, but there's a lot here and it's hard to tease out all the flavors; to me that's a good thing, it makes it easier to drink with out having to devote your attention to it.  Here's an attempt to distill all the flavors in the wine into an expirience: I think it tastes like sitting around a small camp fire with dried leaves in it because it's autumn.  The air is crisp, you just ate some grilled beef short ribs, and now you're moving on to some dried cherries for dessert.

Yeah, this wine is that good.  It can actually make me think of a whole expirience.  You may not get the same things from it, wine is subjective and personal after all, but this really speaks to me.

AND THIS IS $18.99!  HALF THE PRICE OF BAROLO OR BARBARESCO!  It's finding wines like this that make me feel like I'm actually performing a valuable service for you. 

This is available at The Freeport Cheese and Wine shop, The Rosemont Market in Yarmouth, and the Blue Hill Wine Shop, Rosemont Market on Brighton Ave, and Browne Trading.


Devenish 2011 Spring Trade Shows

Spring's an exciting time.  It's a big transition from the slower, chilled down winter months into the awakening, freshening up of Spring.  Rebirth and all that jazz.  It's a particularly exciting time for Devenish wines and the wine industry.  We kind of view wine as seasonal and work with very different wines in the cold dark months of winter as opposed to the freshness of spring and the ripe heat of summer. 

So we're in this transitional time right now.  Life's rythms are changing, the days are longer, different produce is around, and peoples tastes in wine are changing.  We need to get out and be aggressive at this time of year, working to get all the new wines we've accumulated out onto the market and make people aware of them.  To that end we hold big spring trade shows annually and I'm just recovering now from the two we held on Monday and Tuesday this week. 

If you've read this far you may be asking why you should care?  That's a fair question.  If you're into wine, at least enough that you read my blog and want to enjoy wine, you should care because this is how new wines get into the state.  Allow me to explain:

So we're always looking for new stuff, but it's hard to get the word out about new wines and let all our customers know.  We just picked up an Oregon portfolio called ORWA.  ORWA is actually Wayne Clark, a former southern Maine native who moved out to the other Portland and got really into the wine scene.  Eventually he came to the realization that he was spending so much time and energy on it and enjoyed seeking out unique little wineries that he might as well start a business to justify his passion and bring some of these things back to ME.  Eventually we got put in touch by a mutual friend and after some tasting and back and forth we were in business!  Wayne has some awesome wines.  The largest outfit her works with is Illahe.  They produce about 5000 cases annually.  That's tiny!  Most wineries can't even make money at that tiny size! 

So we're excited about Wayne and many other new acquisitions but we can't just walk around portland shaking hands with everyone on the street.  So we do a trade show.  Basically we get together all the wines we're really excited about, put them all in one room, and invite our friends from retail shops and restaurants to come drink them.  And we did it for two days running with about 100 wines.  It was crazy.  But it's the best way to quickly get the market to sit up and take notice of new things.

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The scene at Cinque Terre.  It sounds like a good time, and it actually is, but it's serious too.  Look at the faces.  No one's laughing and joking around; this is serious business!

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More reflecting on the wines.

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Trying to sort through 100 wines and figure out what's right for you isn't easy.

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The following day we did it all over again at Old Vines Wine bar in Kennebunk.  It's a great attractive space with an excellent, creative wine list.  (I might be a bit biased).

It's intense being on your feet all day engaging people and trying to explain why they should care about these quirky new wines.  But we do it because we're really passionate about them!  These are excellent wines that I believe in.  So keep your eyes open.  You'll be seeing a ton of new wines in the next two months!

 


Edetaria Vinya D'irto Garnatxa Negra Terra Alta 2010

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Vintage: 2010

Background: Terre Alta is a DO south of Priorat but still in a similar kind of high elevation, semi-dry climate.  Joan Angel Liberia decided to stop selling off the grapes from his familie's vineyards and start producing the wines himself.  This is produced from 20-25 year old Grenache vines on his property.

I just got this 2010 Grenache last week (the very end of March) and pulled a bottle to try; it really wowed me!  It has the bright vibrancy you'd expect of Grenache, but with out being too aggressive.  Right up front I get bright cherry fruit with some undertones of black currant, then white and black pepper, followed up with a touch of sweet baking spice on the finish.  The tannins are pretty soft and integrated. 

Overall this is a very well balanced tasty Grenache with just the right combo of bright fruit and pepper to make it pair beautifully with pork roasts and lamb.  I've been eating a lot of great pork roasts lately and I'm looking forward to eating more for Easter.  This is currently my top pick for Easter. 

It's priced in the mid teens, around $16 that is and is available at Tess's Market in Brunswick.

You can also pick up some of the excellent 09 vintage at the Freeport Cheese and Wine Shop.