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August 2012

Vigneron Catalan Blanc

I've enjoyed several bottles of this little Catalan number over the summer, but I haven't really done anything to get the word out; blame it on the hectic-ness of the summer.  I feel slightly bad though, like I've unfairly been hiding this for myself and not sharing it with others.  So here I am trying to finally make amends.

Catalonia is one of those culturally unique regions in western Europe that we don't always hear about but has a strong identity none the less.  In the wine world I've been bumping in to this region more and more frequently.  The Catalan culture seems to have preserved separate culinary traditions that have resulted in some interesting wines that are stylistically neither French or Spanish. This is a product of a high quality co-op that has strict standards.  The blend of grapes is unusual and is neither French nor Spanish; it's Catalan.

Catalan-blanc
Grapes: 50% Grenache Blanc, 40% Macabeo, 10% Viognier

I feel that America suffers from a glut of fresh, citrusy, simple white wines that are all made to be brighter and crisper than the last.  These wines have there place, but the global wine market seems to have over simplified things and ignored all the other styles of white wine.

This Catalan white is fuller bodied and fleshier than is currently "in".  It doesn't have super intense grapefruit up front but it does have a lush mouth filling texture with hints of almonds, pear, and grape peel.  It's a substantial white wine that plays on it's structure and body more than it's fruit.  It's refreshing not in the super bright high acid sense, but in the outside the main stream sense.

I pick up aromas of: Candied orange peel, almonds, lemon juice,lemon grass, and a little fresh pine,

 It's a really tasty wine that authentically represents the culture that produced it.  And it's about $12 at Browne Trading, Rosemont on Brighton, Rosemont on Munjoy Hill, Treats, Blue Hill Wine Shop, the Bier Cellar, and the Oh No cafe.


Le Marsure Refosco 2010

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Over the years of tasting wines I've developed an appreciation for the particular area of Friuli and I've found some traits that seem common to Friuli as a whole.  Regardless of varietal or producer the wines from Friuli generally seem to have cleanly defined flavors, bright acidity, and good balance.  Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but Friuli seems to be a great place to get cleanly flavored, refreshingly aromatic white wines as well as surprisingly tasty red wines that share those same characteristics. 

Le Marsure is the second label of the Tereasa Raiz winery up in Italy's Friuli region. Tereasa Raiz is a family winery that was set up in 1972 by Paolo Giuseppe Tosolini and currently farms 13 ha.  Refosco is an indigenous red grape that seems to only be grown here in this little region of Italy, but isn't even very well known locally!  I was talking to a different Friuli wine maker recently and he was decrying how locally everyone drinks Merlot!  I love Refosco!  Refosco in general seems to be a pretty expressive red grape that can range between being fruit driven and lush to being extremely gamey and earthy.  Over all Refosco really reminds me of Pinot Noir in the diversity of expressions it can produce and it's usually lighter weight.

I think the Le Marsure Refosco is a great introduction to the grape.  It has the classic profile, is well balanced, and (most important) inexpensive!

Aroma: The Le Marsure Refosco has really fresh and vibrant berry aromas.  It hits me with fresh crushed cherry and blueberry right up front.  You know what; just to get needlessly poetical and specific I'm going to call the aroma as fresh cherries crushed on a hot sidewalk in the summer sun!  There's definitely also some plum and a bit of jam.  Underneath that there's also a strong aroma of woodsey forest floor, some pine forest, and maybe a whiff of wood smoke too.  See what I mean about gamey and expressive?

Palate: I have BERRY written in my notes in caps.  It's got a lot of ripe supple fruit, but it's not heavy and the texture of the wine is very smooth, clean, and polished.  The fruit is rich, but the wine has this bright acidity that under pins the fruit and keeps the wine bright and fun tasting.  The tannins aren't really big players in this wine.  The tannins are there, but they're very soft and I don't really notice them unless I'm really looking. 

Conclusion: The le Marsure Refosco is delicious.  I feel totally confidant making that statement.  It's a great summer red wine that I have been enjoying chilled down to around 50 degrees in the fridge.  Chilling red wine brings out the acidity a bit more and this Refosco responds particularly well to it.  With it's supple berry fruit, brightness, and smooth texture this is a great wine for steaks.  It's available at the two Rosemont markets in Portland, Aurora Provisions, Bel Cibo da Cherie, and the Freeport Cheese and Wine Shop.