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May 2012

April 2012

Grand Rouviere Rose 2011

The 2011 roses' have arrived!  And not a moment too soon with all the warm sunny weather we've been having!  The Grand Rouviere Rose seems to have worked particularly well in 2011. It's very pretty and has more fruit than the previous vintage.  So far, 2011 seems to be a pretty good vintage for rose. 2011 isn't as cut and focused as the 2010s were, but it is very pretty and a bit more fruit driven. 

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This seems to work in the Rouviere's favour; it being a night time harvested old vine Cinsault and all.  The night time harvest means colder grapes that preserve their acidity better.  This still has fresh acidity that balances it's aromatic fruit.  This wine comes to us from a sustainably farmed vineyard belonging to the Leydier family and located right on the border of the Bandol appellation.  This isn't far from the Mediterranean, located in the dry rolling hills.

Aroma: Pronounced watermelon, peach, some strawberry. 

Taste: Bright and fresh watermelon.  It's got juicy fleshy watermelon fruit up front but behind that is more acidity and a slightly strawberry meaty kind of thing on the finish.  Once again this is a fun, enjoyable, well balanced rose.  This will work with everything from salmon to roast chicken, to Nicoise salad, to the crackers and Gouda I'm eating right now.

This is about $14 and is available at the Rosemont markets, Whole Foods, Aurora Provisions, Provisions, and Tess's Market.

 


Alexandre Monmousseau Gaudrelle Cremant Rose

Rose sparkling wine from the Loire valley?  Sign me up!  Three of my favorite wine categories combined. 

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Chateau Gaudrelle is run by Alexadre Monmousseau and located in Vouvray in the central Loire.  He has a real commitment to sparkling wines that extends back several generations and is demonstrated in the extra time he spends in making these wines.  Although the legal aging requirement is just 12 months Alexandre regularly holds his wines longer to give them more time to integrate and refine in the bottle.  It seems to pay off. 

Varietal: a blend of Chenin and Grolleau

Aroma: The aroma is of fresh pretty strawberry, some light raspberry, and a hint of the toasted sweet baked foods aroma of macaroons.

On the palate it is dry, toasty, and with a hint of cranberry.  This is a refined sparkling wine with very fine bubbles and integrated tastes of fruit, acidity, and toasted bread.  The  strawberry and toasted raspberry tart-let aromas weren't of such importance that they dominated, but they were there just enough to add another layer of complexity to the wines.

This is a really well made and refined sparkling wine that's far less than Champagne and better balanced than most Prosecco.  And it's about $19.  You can pick it up at Whole Foods and Browne Trading.


Domaine Terres Blanches

Terres Blanches was the last winery I visited on my trip to the Loire, but I'd been anticipating it since before I left.  I had tasted their sparkling Chenin Blanc just before the trip and LOVED IT! but I still knew nothing at all about the winery or who made it.  Laurent had mentioned them a couple times over the preceding days, but just to say they were in the middle of no where (compared to all the famous appellations) and really passionate. 

After our morning stop in Muscadet and a quick lunch in the car we headed south away from the Loire and were soon driving through very rural fields and wood lots.  No vines were in sight, but eventually we could see a massive yellowish Abbey looming on the horizon.  We angled towards it and eventually entered the sleepy little town that clustered around it's base. Everyone seemed to be taking a siesta and I don't think we passed another moving car on our whole drive through town.  Laurent turned down a narrow alley and into a little courtyard crowded by competing buildings and filled with all kinds of odds and ends. 

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Stepping through the door to Terres Blanche's tasting room we left all the clutter behind and found ourselves in a clean, neat little room with tiled floors.  Benoit, the owner, was standing behind the bar pouring wine for restaurateur so Laurent and I joined in as Benoit finished up his business.  Benoit spoke no English and even beyond that seemed slightly shy and uncomfortable about being put on the spot and having to sell his wines.  In spite of any discomfort, his passion for his vineyards was evident in the intensity he showed talking about them. 

I was already familiar with and loved his still and sparkling Chenins.  Both tasted as effortlessly beautiful as they had before.  The wines weren't loud or flashy, but they had a very fine craftsmanship and attention to detail that made me think of a Swiss watch maker; they were very complex with out bothering you with that complexity.  This was my first time trying the reds and I was excited to see how Benoit's personality shown through in them.  We first tried a Gamay de Bouze, a very rare variety that is grown in a few places throughout the Loire.  Benoit's had bright cherry and raspberry, similar to a normal Gamay, but it had more fur and spice to it.  It was a bit more animally.

Then the Cab Francs.  They were gorgeous.  His 2010 un-oaked Cab Franc was very focused and juicy.  It's acidity was nicely integrated and there was just the right amount of pepper and herbal qualities woven in among the vibrant fruit.  It was a very enjoyable and  approachable wine.  Then we tried an 09 that he had aged in oak for 20 months.  The 09 had the same excellent integration and balance, but riper and firmer; a bit more barnyard and earth to it. 

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Benoit's tiny winery

And lastly the sparkling Cab Franc!  Yes, sparkling Cab Franc; he makes it in the same method as the Brut Ancestral Chennin.  That is: bottled before it's done fermenting, disgorged to remove the yeast, and then corked; he doesn't even top the bottles up!  It was very sleek, playful, and sexy, with the same beautiful poise of the others.  This is the best sparkling red I've tasted to date and I can't wait to get it.

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After the tasting was done we locked the room up and walked out through the town to one of his vineyards: a 1 acre enclosed vineyard that used to belong to the Abbey.  Benoit had re-planted with Chenin and was slowly rebuilding the small buildings at either corner.  I asked how he had come to wine and he explained that he had grown up farming.  His family had grown all kinds of seasonal crops as well as keeping livestock and a small vineyard for their personal use.  It sounded like they really grew pretty much everything they ate and so he naturally had to work with the seasons and what the land would give him.  He studied agriculture in university with a focus on vines and also met his future wife Celine.  After graduation he and Celine came back to the area and he worked at wineries around the central Loire, but wanted his own place so he could farm his own way.  Eventually he decided to set 30 yrs old as a dead line for buying a vineyard and started looking.  As vineyard after vineyard proved too expensive they widened their search more and more, until stumbling upon the tiny town of Oiron.  The previous owner of Terres Blanches was in his 60's, childless, and starting to consider selling the winery.  He and Benoit met and in the end Benoit and Celine moved in for half a year so they could all get to know each other.  In the end the old man decided that Benoit would be a good care taker for his vineyard and agreed to sell.  Benoit lost no time switching to biodynamic farming practices and planting more Chenin and Cabernet Franc. 

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Benoit's winery is directly next to the Abbey.

These are some of the most striking wines I've had in a long while.  If selling wine, running ultra marathons, rowing, and all the other absurd things I've done have taught me anything: it's that passion and drive are the most important prerequisites for accomplishing or building anything.  Benoit has a surplus of those and I really look forward to seeing how he develops as a wine maker. 


Introduction Sheet from my Spring Trade Show

Monday the 16th was my Spring Trade Show and it turned out to be the best yet.  I'm just starting to catch up after it, but I had a good time writing this cover sheet.  I thought I might as well post it for posterity.

 

Thank you for attending our spring show and taking a detour from the lethargically flowing wine mainstream to try some more unique and hopefully surprising wines!  Leaving the soft, insipid, buttery effluence of industrial wine behind, these wines aren’t tailored to buying trends or chasing point scores.  These wines are what they are because the craftsperson that made them was passionate about his specific climate and grapes.  We’re excited it’s finally spring again and are looking forward to a great summer with lots of rose, sparkling Muscat, Muscadet, Txakoli and all the other summer wines we love.      

The past year has been busy and dynamic for Devenish.  We’ve found and added many new wines, some from France via Laurent, some from OR through ORWA, and we’ve had a great year working with Warren Fraser and his exciting new Italian wines.  For years we wondered why we had access to unique and handmade French wine, but couldn’t find much Italian wine made on the same principles.  Warren has finally solved that problem for us.  On the logistic side we’re very excited to be hiring a delivery company to simplify getting our wines to you and also moving into a larger warehouse space.  

Watch for updates in our email newsletter, on Facebook, and on devenishwines.com over the coming month.  Ned just returned from France and we’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of the wines he found while there.  Expect things like Touraine Gamay, Cru Muscadet, and sparkling Cab Franc!

Tasting

Please welcome and take advantage of the presence of:

  • Laurent Bonnois, responsible for our our dynamic French selections and some well chosen Italian selections.
  • Warren Fraser, our source for exciting and passionately produced Italian wines


For news, updates on limited offerings, as well as tasting notes, please visit devenishwines.com, like Devenish Wines on Facebook, or check out our blog: devenishwinesgeek.typepad.com/wines_tasted/

For sales please contact:
Brendon Pringle
207 479 4791
Brendonpringle@yahoo.com

Ned Swain
207 939 3052
nedswain1st@gmail.com

Gene Barber
207 216 0983
genearlo@gmail.com


How much can I drink and eat in 26 hours in NYC?

Tuesday April 3rd

Quite a lot it turns out.  Thirteen hours straight actually.

Tuesday the 3rd of April was T Edward Wine's big French portfolio show in NY. I really enjoy the sense of intensity and drive that I always feel in NY so I jumped at their opportunity and decided to go jam as much wine and food into the 26 hour period as I could.  I caught a 6am flight and was on the ground in NY at 6:50.  After a quick shower I walked up town to meet with Zev Rovine for coffee. 

Zev imports some of the most famous and infamous natural wines out there; wines that wine geeks talk about with hushed voices and wide eyes, like the Jean Pierre Robinot wines.  Zev exists on the ragged leading edge of the Natural Wine movement with wines that are irregularly available and then only in minuscule quantities.  They're not wines I'll be able to sell all that much of and they'll take more work to sell, but they are passion driven, uncompromising, and dripping with terroir-so I'm going for it!

by 11 I was on my way to T Edward's French Portfolio show.  It was in this beautiful space called the Standard Beer Garden located under the high line park.  The industrial iron bracing and pillars underneath the old railway trestle/now park forms the roof and a front made up of retractable glass panels lets in tons of natural light.  With over 30 French wine makers pouring and discussing their wines it was a lot to handle, but even though it took me 5 hours, I tasted pretty much everything. 

The Burgundy producers were a highlight.  Roger Belland was his usual energetic, confidant, and slightly exasperated self.  I would probably get exasperated too after hours of pouring wines to people who didn't speak my language.  Interestingly, he had wines open from both the 08 and 09 vintages. 

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08 was cooler and didn't get particularly good press, but the red Chassagne Montrachet was fresh, pretty, racy, and very integrated.  On the other hand the 09 Santenay was big and juicy, dark, and burly.  He said he actually preferred the 08 vintage and thought it would age better due to it's acidity.  It was one more example that you should never judge an entire vintage; try the wines and keep and open mind. 

(I opened up a bottle of his 08 Santenay when I got back and was quite impressed.  It had been a while since I had it but it was really well balanced and had heavy berry fruit that was balanced by a slightly rustic tannin and acidity.  It was well structured and pretty open.)

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Also here from Burgundy were two extremely nice and extremely French women representing Domaine Tortochot in Gevery Chambertin.  Their wines tasted much like the two ladies conveyed themselves: very classical, proper, refined, and friendly.  The wines were well made and had good balance.  They have some 2000 1er cru on hand that I'll try to get my hands on.

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There were many impressive wines but I was also particularly struck by the Rasteau from Gourt de Mautens made by Jerome Bressy.  This is a Grenache based blend from just north of Vacqueyras.  Jerome farms biodynamically and is a fanatic about farming and making sure his vines are perfectly healthy.  He spoke no English and I spoke no French but the wine was earthy, spicy, elegant, powerful, and really complex.  It seemed all the more so as it was next to some 16 and 16.5% alcohol Chateauneuf du Papes that were also powerful, but certainly not elegant.

The tasting wound down around 4 so I walked up to a restaurant called Trestle with Brian, my sales contact at T Edward.  We caught up over a bottle of Vina Tondonia Rioja rose from....I think it was 02.  Tondonia is famous for these slightly oxidized, delicate roses; they're a very traditional house.  Once Brian had to move on I picked up my friend Liz and her boyfriend Dan and we really got down to work. 

We headed up to Bar Jamon, one of my favorite places in NY.  The space is tiny.  Like linen closet tiny.  Seriously there are bathrooms as big in Maine.  The three of us staked out some territory at the bar and I started reading through the novel they call a wine list.  I eventually settled on a bottle of Vina Mein Ribeiro.  It's a minerally and intense white from far north west Spain.  They have a killer tapas menu so I ordered some octopus (pulpo) that was very well done-not chewy at all, shaved pig face, jamon Iberico, buffalo's milk cheese, and some duck confit.  The pig face was the high light for me; it must have been mildly pickled but the fat melted like butter on my tongue.  There was still some cartilage to it, but it was so thin that the texture was enjoyable.  I got a chance to talk to the bar manager Juan Pablo for a bit about the wines and importers they worked with.  It's an ever changing landscape in NY and I'm glad I don't have to compete in it.

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Then I walked back down town and over to Terroir Tribeca.  It must have been nearly 11 by then but I wasn't noticing.  It was still busy so I grabbed the one place at the bar and told the bar tender how my day had been so far and that I was looking forward to drinking more cool stuff.  "What are you excited about" I asked.  "How about this Txakoli" Darryl replied "It's a great way to start a meal".  But it was the Ameztoi that I already work; of course Darryl had another Txakoli I didn't know.  From there I moved on to a Slovenian white called "Ravan" from Kabaj and a naturally made Aglianico from Campagnia.  The high light though wasn't even food.  It turned out I was sitting next to the Chef de Cuisine of Terroir Doctor Bruschetta aka John LoManto.  Fittingly I got an order of bone marrow bruschetta and it was amazing!  Inch thick slices of airy Italian bread slathered with bone marrow.  It was so light and smooth it was like eating nothing. 

I had to be at the airport at 7.  It took at least an hour from my hotel.  It was midnight.  I decided to head back to the hotel and get what sleep I could.