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November 2012

November 2012 NY City Trip

It's the day after Thanksgiving and here I am in Manhattan. This seemed like a great idea weeks ago and my resolve to have a great time in the city hasn't changed, but after eating many pounds of turkey yesterday and drinking lots of Thanksgiving wine I'm not quite as fired up to sample new wines as I normally would be.

I am a professional! I will man up and go taste wines! I'm off to Chamber St Wines and then 10 Bells to see what's new and ask for dinner advise.

More to follow


Terres Blanches Sparkling Cabernet Franc

If you've been following the Devenish blog for a while Terres Blanches should be a familiar name.  If it doesn't ring a bell don't feel too bad; they're a tiny winery south of the Loire and only available in Maine and the Manhattan area. 

A quick synopsis of why Terres Blanches is so awesome: Terres Blanches is Benoit and Celine Blet.  They're a younger couple farming biodynamically on about 14 acres 20 miles south of the Loire.  They're in the small town of Oiron out in very rural France.  Benoit is a passionate believer in minimalist natural wine making.  His wines are fermented with the wild naturally occurring yeast on the grape skins and he adds nothing during the process save a very small dose of sulphites afterwards to stabilise the wines.  You can read about my visit with him here: Domaine Terres Blanches.

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To make this sparkling Cabernet Franc, the grapes are hand harvest, gently pressed, and then the juice begins the fermentation with the natural wild yeast.  Once most of the yeast has consumed most of the sugar but before the fermentation is done, Benoit bottles the wine so that the fermentation finishes in the bottles.  The trapped CO2 dissolves into the wine giving the Ancestral Rouge it's effervescence.  Benoit then disgorges the Ancestral (opens it to remove the dead yeast and sediment) but then corks it without topping it up with anymore wine.  This is very different from how most other sparkling wines are made, but Benoit seems to see the addition of anything that wasn't there when the grapes were pressed as cheating.

It's crazy; full on red Cabernet Franc that's effervescent, but it works, and it's delicious!

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Aroma: I smell rose and cranberry right up front, along with some currant.  It's an attractive slightly delicate aroma.  Digging deeper I get a bit of sweet-mulled apple cider and also ripe raspberry.  The ripe raspberry and cranberries are the dominant aroma but underneath there's a hint of old dried wood; like an old antique chest that had dried roses in it.

Taste: This is such a pretty wine!  It has really juicy developed cherry and raspberry fruit that's backed up by a bit of pepper and a touch of roasted nuts.  The effervescence is exciting and invigorating, but not too aggressive.  The fruit and peppery spice flavors are so warm and bright that they taste like the holidays to me.  There's a little bit of residual sugar but you don't notice it with all the fruit, spice, bubbles, and earthy flavors. If you asked me about how sweet it tasted, and I'm assuming you just did, I would say it tasted like a dry wine.  With it's ripe fruit, nuts, and slight spice I can't think of anything more expressive and suited for Thanksgiving and Christmas; This wine really does seem to taste like the holidays.  It's so much fun to drink and so lively!

Imagining Thanksgiving foods like turkey, roasted root vegetables, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing; I really believe this wine will handle anything you throw at it.  I can't wait to drink this with Thanksgiving! 

This about $20 and is available at Aurora Provisions, the Rosemont on Brighton Avenue, The Rosemont on Munjoy Hill, The Blue Hill Wine Shop, Royal River Natural Foods, Browne Trading and Vic and Whit's in Saco.


Devenish Thansksgiving Wine Cheat Sheet

We woke up this morning to the aftermath of the election and....Gasp, Thanksgiving is just two weeks away!  This is going to be intense.  So to help you all out with wine choices we've pulled together a small cheat sheet of what we're planning on drinking for Thanksgiving.  Hope it helps!

Arbor Brook Pinot Gris 2011 Croft Vineyard Approximately $15

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Oregon Pinot Gris is a very different beast from its Italian cousins and this from Arbor Brook is a great example. There's expressive ripe fruit that has tones of pineapple, ripe pear, and apple. It also has some nice minerality that wakes your palate up and makes it’s rich texture more vibrant.  All the wines ripe fruit and rich texture are a great fit for the gustatory feast aspect of Thanksgiving.  Available at Local in Brunswick, Rosemont on Brighton, Downeast Beverage, and Rising Tide in Damariscotta

Joseph Cattin Pinot Blanc 2011 Approximately $14

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Lively Alsatian Pinot Blanc is an old favorite for Thanksgiving wine; the Joseph Cattin with it’s complexity and balance is a great value. Aromas of white flowers and green apple fruit are first, but there's also a tasty stony slate minerality that gives this white more focus and grip. The refreshing lively character has the underlying zip to pair well with turkey! Available at Whole Foods, the Clown in York, the Rosemont Markets, Downeast Beverage, and Treats in Wiscasset.

Domaine Terres Blanches Sparkling Cabernet Franc Approximately $20

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This is the Thanksgiving wine that we're all most excited about at Devenish.  It will impress your non wine drinking cousins as well as your wine geek friends! The Terres Blanches is a fun, easy drinking, and approachable wine, but also super rare; when was the last time you ran into a sparkling red Cabernet Franc? Bright supple cherry fruit, black pepper, frothy effervescence: this wine has the right combination to work with turkey, gravy, and cranberry sauce all together. Available at the Rosemonts, Vic and Whit's in Saco, Royal River in Freeport, RSVP, Rising Tide in Damariscotta, Aurora Provisions, & the Bier Cellar.

Comelli Soffumbergo 2010 Approximately $20

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The Soffumbergo is an unusual blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Refosco, and Pignolo from up in Friuli where Italy borders Slovenia. The Comelli family is a very small operation and makes less than a thousand cases of this, but oh it’s gorgeous! The Cabernet gives it depth and dark fruit, the Merlot lends a supple texture, while the Refosco contributes some bright acidity, and the Pignolo a hint of smoke and woods. The Soffumbergo has a confidant refined character to it and is just the right juicy medium weight for turkey.Available at Browne Trading, Aurora Provisions, Whole Foods, and the Rosemonts on Munjoy Hill and in Yarmouth.

Fratelli Pezzuto “Malot” Roero Nebbiolo 2008 Approximately $19

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Fratelli Pezzuto is a small farm in the Roero hills of Piedmont. Nebbiolo isn't a common choice for Thanksgiving wine, but this wine is in it’s prime and a great value!  This DOCG Nebbiolo is aged in oak casks for a year and a half and then held in the bottle. It’s got all the floral rose, wood smoke, dry earth, and structure that mature Nebbiolo is famous for, but at the price of a young immature Nebbiolo di Langhe. Available at the Bier Cellar the Rosemont Markets, Browne Trading, Aurora Provisions, and Downeast Beverage.

Fiorano Sangiovese 'Fiorano' 2011 Approximately $17

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The Fiorano farm is a small organic operation down in central Italy’s Marche region. A bright and fun Thanksgiving wine, the Fiorano comes from a single 3 acre vineyard and is Sangiovese in it’s most pure and vibrant form. This Sangiovese is so beautifully aromatic and bursting with energy that it’s a great antidote for a cold grey autumn day and also a perfect pair with turkey or ham. Available at the Bier Cellar, Vic and Whit's in Saco, and Browne Trading.

Illahe Pinot Noir 2010 Approximately $22

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A good domestic Pinot Noir is a classic choice for Thanksgiving wine.  Illahe is a very natural winery and vineyard run by the Ford family out in Oregon’s Willamette valley. They farm totally naturally, eschewing tractors in favor of draught horses. This 2010 Pinot Noir has ripe developed cherry fruit, and some dark earth underneath, but it’s certainly not the funk that some develop. The flavors are pure and focused by its bright acidity and supple tannins. Available at Aurora Provisions, Rosemont on Munjoy Hill, Whole Foods, Treats in Wiscasset, Bow St Market, Downeast Beverage, Lily Lupin and Fern, and the Old Port Wine Merchant.


Abando Rioja Blanco

Abando

Vintage: 2011

Varietal: 100% Viura

Abando is a label made by the Santiago Ijalba winery, a family operation in Rioja Alta.  The operation was first set up by Santiago Ijalba in 1998 after over 30 years producing wine in Rioja.  He was joined by his son Roberto who and had just received his oenology degree.  Santiago oversees much of the farming and their more traditional wines while Roberto created the Abando line to use more modern wine making techniques. 

Santiago Ijalba has about 20 ha of vineyards that they farm organically.  Rioja Alta is slightly drier than the rest of Rioja and the soil here is pretty chalky.  Along with farming organically Santiago Ijalba only uses naturally occurring yeasts.

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These are some of the Viura grapes for the Abando Blanco. 

The 2011 Abando white Rioja is barrel fermented and then aged on the lees for 5 months!  The barrel fermentation doesn't give the wine any real noticeable aroma or taste of oak, but that and the addition of 5 months to mellow on the lees does make this a much deeper and more complex wine.  Roberto Ijalba must know what he's doing because I don't think I've ever had another Viura that was this complex and balanced. 

Aroma: Right up front I get white peach, freshly cut lime, and some bay leaf.  Then as I smell the Abando more I get some orange peel as well as some delicate orange sorbet.  And then behind those other smells I get some of the cool spice of a pine forest as well!

Taste: The Abando is a fuller bodied white wine.  Right up front I get white grapefruit, star fruit, and some ripe kiwi.  The mid palate kind of opens up and unfolds with more of the fruit but also a slightly spicy herbaceous flavor lurking and a bit of fresh cut almond.  The Abando has a long finish that has some more spice to it and lingers for a good while.  The texture is pretty lush and fleshy, really filling the inside of your mouth and sitting with some presence.

This is a unique and well made wine.  If you like complex Loire whites this is something you shouldn't miss.  If, like me, you're partial to scallops, save this for some evening after a rough day when you need something to pick you up.  The Abando is a killer pair with seared scallops and it really did the trick for me! 

The Abando Blanco is about $18.99 retail and available at Rosemont Munjoy Hill, Aurora Provisions, and the Market Basket.


Illahe Pinot Noir 2010

Illahe is a great little family winery out in Oregon's Willamette valley.  They're operated by the Ford family and obviously have a lot of passion and respect for their land and the wines they produce.  Lowell started experimenting with grape growing and wine making back in the early 80's and then in 1999 he and his wife Pauline purchased 80 acres of pasture land and created Illahe Vineyards.  Essentially the Fords see themselves as farmers and enjoy being close to the land and working out in the vineyards.  The farm is certified Salmon Safe and Live certified; they're also exclusively horse powered!

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Illahe's 2010 Pinot Noir is hand harvested and fermented with wild naturally occurring yeast from the grapes skins.  The wine spends 10 months in oak barrels, 15% of which were new.  Illahe made 1,000 cases, not much, and then when it scored 91 points in the Wine Advocate it sold out over night.  I have 10 cases left on hand.

Aroma: At first the Illahe Pinot Noir smells like a big bowl of ripe cherries.  I also get some baking spice mixed in amongst the fruit; a little bit of coriander and cinnamon.  There's a bright fresh fruit too that makes me think of raspberries picked in the summer sun.  That fresh berry fruit is the dominant characteristic, but under it is some watermelon and a fresh, clean, forest aroma that smells like dew evaporating off of spruce trees in the early morning.

Taste: The texture is very smooth and supple; there's pretty acid up front and just the barest hint of peppermint on the finish.  There's a cool toasted nut flavor that doesn't reveal itself until well after you've swallowed; it kind of appears just as you think the wine's done.  There isn't much tannin, but the wine evolves as it rolls over your palate.  It gets meatier and picks up a bit of spice once you pass the bright fruit up front. 

The 2010 Illahe Pinot is a smooth nicely integrated wine with satisfying Oregon Pinot character. It's ripe, but still light on it's feet, and a good value at around $23.  It's available at Rosemont Munjoy Hill, Whole Foods, Lilly Lupine and Fern, Downeast Beverage, Aurora Provisions, Treats, and Bow St Market.