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May 2013

Sebastien Riffault Sancerre Auksinis

Wow!  Just first off forget this is Sancerre.  Better yet throw all your Sancerre expectations out the window.  Sebastiens Riffault's Auksinis Sancerre comes from 60 year old vines, naturally farmed, plowed with a horse, and fermented totally naturally.  No added anything at all period that's it.  The primary fermentation took 3 whole months and then the Auksinis spent a further 2 aging in old barrels on the lees.

That guy
That's Sebastien plowing

The Auksinis is a monster on the palate; big, lush, expressive but with verve and a heart of rock.  Aromas of meaty ripe pink grapefruit, baking pretzels (dough, salt, and a bit of egg batter), creme brulee, fresh honey.  The Auksinis is so rich smelling I would never peg it as Sancerre.  Riffault leaves his grapes on the vine extremely late in order to get them completely ripe and that shows big time in the aroma. 

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The wine is rich and palate dominating.  The flavors are so complexly integrated that it's hard to pick them apart.  That's what a great wine should be: not a collection of easily discernable components, but an experience that combines a whole series of flavors into one intriguing, unique, and moving experience.  The Riffault Auksinis is beautifully balanced and dances, but has muscle and power.  The finish has a crazy cool white pepper hint that teases me.

Really. Wow.  I am ruined for normal Sancerre now.  Only a few cases are coming and will arrive at Rosemont and Browne Trading in a few days.  If you want this, call them ahead now.  The Auksinis will be in the nieghborhood of $35.


Migliavacca Barbera Superiore

The Migliavacca Superiore is one of my three favorite wines that I've tasted so far this year.  It blew me away.  Tenuta Migliavacca is a small family domaine in the Piedmont town of Monferrato.  Migliavacca was the first winery in Piedmont to switch to biodynamic agriculture all the way back in 1964!  The current owner Francesco took over from his father in the late 90's.  This Barbera is biodynamic farmed and fermented with naturally occurring yeast.

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Vintage: 2007

I've never tasted a Barbera like this.  This drinks like the Brunello of Barberas.  It's absurd.  I didn't know Barbera could do this!  The Migliavacca Superiore is rich and earthy yet deft and has pretty acidity at the same time.  It's six years old and spent 2 years in huge old oak casks.  It's woodsey and earthy but still has bright raspberry flavors.  The Migliavacca is 14% alcohol but it isn't noticeable and comes across as old world and relaxed.  There's a sense of timelessness in tasting the Migliavacca; this wine could have been made 80 years ago for all that it cares about modern taste preference and style.  I'm convinced I can taste the wine maker's single minded focus on making the wine the way he wants it and not for anyone else; the self confidence of the Migliavacca is brilliant. 

The Migliavacca Barbera Superiore is a high acid wine, smooth textured, rich, rustic, with intricately interwoven raspberry, blackberry, wood, and earth flavors all together.  There's a hint of chocolate after the fruit. the tannins are soft and integrated; it's pretty open and giving.  supple.  rustic.  elegant.  How is all this in the same wine?  My mind is blown. 

Only 3 cases came into the state.  Browne Trading bought all I had and is selling it for $27. 


General Wine Geekery: Philippe Raimbault Sancerre Rose 2012

My Daily Sun wine article for 5/15/13:
     Summer is here at last.  I say that considering how busy I've been and that the weather has been nice enough for me to work from the beach! As a result this is going to be my last wine article in the Daily Sun for a while.  I'll keep up my blog at devenishwinesgeek.typepad.com and there's the Devenish Wines Facebook page, but I know that summer will be way too busy for me to keep doing these articles.  I'm going out the same way I began by writing about one of my favorite wines: Philippe Raimbault Sancerre Rose!
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     To most people Sancerre means amazing, intense, steely Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, but the region also grows a tiny amount of Pinot Noir from which they make red and rose wine.  I've loved Philippe Raimbault's Sancerre rose since I first had it two years ago.  Back then the 2010 vintage was lean, edgy, racy, nervy, cerebral, complex, and absolutely stunning; I described it as everything I was looking for in a woman.
     The 2012 vintage is completely different in personality than the 2010 and it's a great illustration of how important the weather is in wine making.  Before even opening the bottle you can see that the 2012 is darker red and more serious looking than the previous vintages.  The aroma is rich and powerful with a strong smell of fresh strawberries but also with just a hint of some wild herbs underneath.  It's an emotional experience to drink this and taste the same acidity and focus that I fell in love with, but now paired with a depth and follow through that the previous years didn't have.  The 2012 has Sancerre's famous mineral purity, but there's more power and a meaty strawberry mid palate that lingers on and rounds the wine out making it more friendly and robust. 
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     Last night I drank it with a grilled marinated chicken legs and it was such a perfect counter point to the crisped skin and smoky flavors.  The 2012 Raimbault is a show stopping rose that manages to be fresh and racy while also powerful and deep.  It's priced at about $25 and available at the Rosemont Markets and Aurora Provisions.

General Wine Geekery: Grand Rouviere Rose

In the summer I'm a fiend for dry French rose. And no rose is more dry and French than rose from Provence. Those are the wines that, more than any other, convinced Americans to start drinking rose again after our nasty societal hangover from the wine coolers of the 80's. Decades ago rose meant sweet soda like white Zinfandel and was dreaded by wine geeks at cocktail parties. Now rose is the toast of wine people everywhere and no self respecting bar or restaurant can go with out it!

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Fresh southern French rose is delicious precisely because it's fresh, vibrant, and young. None of those qualities improve with age so you want rose that's as fresh as possible, and that means made last year. Most rose is made by pressing red grapes and then taking the juice away before it picks up too much color from the skins. That gives rose a little bit of the flavor, body, and tannin of a red, but still leaves it bright and refreshing like a white. That combination makes rose extremely food friendly: I love them with fresh salads, grilled pork, and everything in between. The rose boom happened so swiftly that in 5 years we've gone from just a few good roses available to more than you can count today. The Munjoy hill Rosemont has a whole shelf dedicated to rose from all over the world!

Last night I drank the Grand Rouviere Rose with a classic French salad of green beans, olives, and tomatoes drenched in olive oil. Grand Rouviere is made from old Cinsault and Grenache vines down in southeastern France by the sea. The Rouviere's aroma is gorgeous fresh peach and strawberry, not too juicy, but relaxed and elegant. With the salad it had plenty of acidity and light strawberry flavors followed by a richer but still dry finish. The flavors of the Rouviere are so intense and vivid that they remind me of the intense sun, vivid colors, and dry hills of Mediterranean France. The current 2012 vintage has just come in and is available around the city. It's a great way to celebrate the warm weather, and I for one intend to do a lot of celebrating!