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August 2013

Delagrange Haute Cotes de Beaune Blanc Chardonnay

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Vintage: 2011

As summer starts to wind down and transition to autumn I've noticed myself drinking fewer lean Loire whites and more ripe white Burgundy.  The Henri Delagrange is a fantastic example.

The Domaine Henri Delagrange is an old sixth generation family domaine in Burgundys Cote d'Or.  The current wine maker, Didier, took over from his father back in 2003 at the same time I was embarking on my career in the wine business.  At this point I've been drinking and enjoying Didier's wines for 10 years and I'm consistently impressed.  The refinement, elegance, and friendliness of the wines is always a joy.  When Didier first joined his father at Domaine Delagrange they only had about 14 acres of vines.  Since then Didier and his father planted vines in the Haute Cotes de Beaunes appellation and also acquired some small parcels in Mersault and additional land in Volnay where they winery is located.  

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Didier's Haute Cotes de Beaunes Blanc is so reminiscent of his Mersault.  It has the same focus and balance, just with a bit less depth and and a little less demanding.  In some situations that more easy going nature of the wine would lead me to choose it over it's more powerful sibling.

Aroma: One of my most common utterances: It's complicated.  The Henri Delagrange Hautes Cotes de Beaune Chardonnay has aromas of both fresh fruit and also savory cooked food.  At the same time I smell browned butter, fresh lemon, a hint of cinnamon, freshly picked parsley, the burnt sugar of creme brulee.  With my eyes closed I can't tell if I'm in a bakery or an orchard!  It's just the combination that I want for this transitional season.

Palate: Right up front I get fresh lively fruit first that's a combo of apple and citrus zest with tasty minerality and acidity.  Then the mid palate evolves into a richer tropical pineappley fruit before the finish turns more round, creamy, and toasty.  Didier Delagrange's Haute Cotes de Beaune blanc is a gorgeous Chardonnay that will remind you why Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape in the world, but also weep for how little is this good and compelling.

Delagrange Haute Cotes de Beaune Blanc is available for just over $20 at the Rosemont in Yarmouth and Vic and Whit's in Saco.


Napo's Umbria Rosso (Napolini)

Vintage: 2010

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Napolini (or on this label Napo's) is a red blend of Sangionvese supported by Sagrantino, Ciliegiolo, Merlot, and Montepulciano from the area of Montefalco in Umbria.  This is a warmer region that's more removed from the oceans influence and located south of Tuscany.

Aroma: The Napo Umbria Rosso has a vivid fresh ripe cherry and raspberry that gets me right off. There's a warmth to the smell that makes me think of hearty dinners and cozy restaurants with exposed brick.  Now, as I work at it, I'm also smelling dried red fruits and flowers. 

Taste: My favorite part of the Napo's taste is this hint of wood smoke and roasted meat on the finish.  There's a lot of rich red fruit up front, but then that turns into a rustic spicy mid palate that transitions to wood smoke and dry tannin.  I really want pizza, or some braised meat.  This is a hearty red wine that's great for people that like rustic classic Italian reds.  Once the Napo has some time to open up it drinks way better than it's price.

You can find the Napo at Aurora Provisions, Now You're Cooking in Bath, Tess's Market, Local in Brunswick, The Black Sheep Wine Shop, and the Bier Cellar in Portland.  It retails for about $12.


Coffele Soave Classico


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Vintage 2011

Varietal: Garganega

Soave is one of those traditional Italian wine regions that plenty of people have heard of but aren't particularly personally familiar with.  Even I wasn't and it's my job.  The region has a long history, but like Chianti has been been diluted over the years by the addition of more and more surrounding areas.  So, again like Chianti Classico, Soave Classico is the more reliably higher quality example to go for.

Coffele is a family winery first started in the 70's but Giovana Visco and Giuseppe Coffele's roots in the area go back centuries.  Their Soave Classico is made from 100% Garganega; an indigenous grape that I never thought much of until I tried this.  Legally producers can add Trebbiano, Pinot Blanc, and Chardonnay, but the Coffele's eschew the more recent additions in favor of old school straight Garganega.

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Aroma:  The Coffele Soave has a pretty powerful aroma of white peach, general ripe stone fruit, and apple blossoms.  Don't know what those things smell like?  They smell like this Soave Classico and summer and it's awesome.  The Coffele has a very clean focused fruit driven aroma.  

Palate: The first taste is a fresh almost crisp acidity; not aggressive, but enough to make the first impression vibrant, and as we know first impressions are really important.  What has hooked me on the Coffele is it's texture.  That fresh, blushing, initial taste turns to a richer, more confidant mouth filling weight.  And a bit of an Italian volcanic minerality.  

The Coffele is a perfect Italian summer white because it's refreshing and vibrant but with enough body and depth to work with complex mediterranean salads including olives or meaty mediterranean fishes such as Sardines, Mackerel, or the not so Mediterranean Bluefish, Sword fish, and Halibut.  This is available for about-ish $18.99 at Browne Trading, Vignola, Vic and Whit's in Saco, The Blue Hill Wine Shop, Lily Lupine and Fern, and Mckean and Charles in Waldoboro.