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March 2015

Puzelat Bonhomme Touraine Sauvignon Blanc

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I just spent several hours immersed in all the detailed writings I could find of the many projects of Thierry Puzelat.  If you have the time you should click this link and read the Wine Terroirs page about him: Wine Terroirs Thierry Puzelat

The very condensed version is that he and his brother Jean Marie inherited their family domaine (which dates back to the middle ages) in the lesser known Loire appelation of Cheverny.  Their father had always farmed many virtually abandoned grape varieties using natural farming methods, but Thierry and Jean Marie were inspired to make wines with out intervention that truly spoke of the vineyards that created them and today make an uncounted number of cuvees from their own vineyards as well as vineyards they contract with to source grapes.

I tried this Sauvignon Blanc for the first time last night and it blew me away.  Thierry Puzelat's Touraine Sauvignon Blanc is just scorchingly fantastically delicious.  It's Sauvignon Blanc with energetic dynamic acidity and minerality but it's also lush and has flesh to it.  The flavors are so much more interesting and nuanced than normal Touraine Sauvignon Blanc too!

Vintage: 2013

Aroma: Honey, white wildfowers, ripe honeydew melon, Fresh cut grass, honey graham cracker; the aroma of this wine is so gorgeous.  It pulls off being fresh and spring like with fresh cut grass and mineral, but also has this deep, opulent character at the same time.  This is absurdly delicious. 

Palate: Fresh acidity, pretty zingy.  There's some gravelly mineral that lingers on the finish.  The flavor that lingers after the finish has delicious tropical fruit.  Definitely ripe juicy pineapple there.  There's poise and crisp electric vibrant zing to the wine, but then the finish lingers on well after you swallow and the mineral taste morphs into all kinds of ripe fruit and baking flavors.  It's rich and savory in a way that reminds me of short bread tea cakes.  This is one of the most bad ass Sauvignon blancs I've had. 

This wine is a steal considering it retails for about $19.  Currently available at Maine and Loire and Aurora Provisions.


Selections de la Vina

I spent Sunday afternoon through Monday evening in Manhattan and although I managed to catch up with 3 wine importers and visit 5 restaurants the whole purpose was to check out Selections de la Vina, a new small importer of natural Spanish wines run by Alvaro and his partner Anna.  Alvaro grew up moving back and forth between Rye NY and the Seville area of Spain and always new he wanted to do something involving both countries. 

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I've always wondered why with some hunting I could lay my hands on exciting, honest, hand made French and Italian wines, but most all the Spanish wines in the US were mass produced Tempranillo, Garnacha, or Monastrell.  Yes there are exceptions to that statement, but they were always exceptions and not the norm; rare singular lonely gems from a country famous for it's separate cultures and climates.  It always struck me as weird. 

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Turns out Alvaro and Anna were thinking the same thing.  So they did something about it and started Selections de la Vina.  Every one of their wines that I tasted was either from a grape variety I'd never heard of, a Spanish wine region I hadn't heard of, or came from a well known place but tasted different and unique.  After tasting through about 10 wines I realized I had used "interesting" in my description of every wine. 

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Some of the wines were pretty crazy.  Some were intense like a 24 year old door to door political campaigner that you told you'd like to hear more and invited them in.  Some absolutely delicious and actually revelatory.  All were very real and authentic.  They're not wines for every body but on reflection that's ok.  I don't want to just have wines for everyone.  Everyone has different tastes and preferences and the wines I like least are the ones that taste like they're trying to please everyone.  I don't like the wines that taste like some one made them with a specific end result taste in mind, like the wine maker wanted them to be easy, simple, and inoffensive.  As I constantly reiterate I love that taste in wine is personal and relative.  Personally I don't want safe boring things and I apply that to wine.  I want to work with wines that are passionate and polarizing; vivid, dirty, and raw. 

So look forward to seeing wild fermented wines from Extremadura, Andalucia, Catalonia, the Basque countryside, and Mallorca.  You've never seen Spanish wines like this before


Chateau St Anne Bandol Rouge

 

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Vintage: 2010

Chateau St Anne is an old family winery in the small region of Bandol, located in Provence France.  St Anne currently has 15 hectares and is run by Francoise Dutheil and her son Jean-Baptiste.  Chateau St Anne.  St Anne both helped resurrect the Bandol appellation 5 generations ago and was a founding member of the first natural wine growers association in France: the Association de Vins Naturels. 

Grape Varietals: Primarily Mourvedre with Cinsault and Grenache as well.

Aroma: the Chateau St Anne Bandol smells so unmistakably like Provence.  This is garrigue.  This is wild dry hills with lavender, rosemary, and thyme.  There's also slight old dry woodsey smell that tips me off to the extremely long time this wine spends resting in large traditional oak casks.  There's fresh black cherry fruit along with a whiff of dry pine forest.  this Bandol smells so old in the sense of generations of history and at the same time it's bright and alive.  I am also pleasantly shocked to not smell any stewed fruit in a Bandol.

Palate: So elegant, so old world, so raw and rustic.  St Anne's Bandol is a bit of a contradiction and it's one of the best wines I've had in the past 12 months.  There's fresh acidity right at first, fresh cherry, a hint of tannin and then proper tannins that cradle and focus the wine's Provencal herb, fruit, and earthy flavors.  This 12.5% alcohol Bandol isn't for everyone; if you like big lush high alcohol modern sleek Bordeaux look elsewhere.  But if you yearn for old school Cornas, Brunello, and elegant reserved Barolo this wine will move you. 

I only got 2 cases.  Available at Maine and Loire and Vinland.


Bodegas Ponce P.f and Pino

I was recently lucky enough to get limited quantities of Bodegas Ponce's special single vineyard cuvees and they are some of the most exciting and compelling wines I've drunk in recent memory. I've written about Bodegas Ponce already concerning their excellent entry level wine, the intriguingly smoky yet still juicy and fun Clos Lojen

Here's a quick over view on why you should care about Ponce.  Bodegas Ponce is in Manchuela, a DO west of Valencia in western Catalonia.  It's a lesser known area and not so highly thought of for fine wine making.  There is wine growing here, but much of it is bulk and all sorts of grapes are grown from Grenache to Bobal, to Alicante, to I don't know what.  Bobal is traditional though and the Ponce family has been farming it for many generations.  Despite how long the Ponce family has been growing grapes here their grapes had always been sold off to other people.  In 2005 they made the jump and built their own winery.  They are now the best producer of Bobal and the one doing the most to demonstrate the complexity and subtlety that the grape can achieve if taken seriously.

That all sounds promising, right? And I really liked the Clos Lojen, so I decided to get my hand on some P.f and Pino: two of Ponce's higher end wines.  I sampled them with some people last week and they were the most compelling exciting wines I've had in many months.  Here's what I thought:

Bodegas Ponce P.f

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P.f is made from a 3 hectare plot of 80 year old Bobal vines planted on their own root stock in sandy soil The phyloxera louse doesn't survive in sandy soil allowing these vines to be planted on their own root stock; an exceptionally rare situation.  This is the only wine made entirely from ungrafted vines that I've tasted in a couple years.

The P.f's aroma is rich and powerful; there's a lot of ripe dark fruit but also a meaty quality like smelling a seared steak.  Rich, deep, and smoky is how I'd describe the P.f's smell.

On the palate the P.f is dense.  It's dark and spicy and sticks to the inside of your mouth. The first flavor sensations of the wine are kind of lively and fun, but the mid palate deepens and then the finish has serious tannins that linger, but are softened but this lush almost milk chocolatey component that I taste at the finish of the wine.  I don't have a lot of experience with Bobal, but coming from 80 year old vines and ungrafted this must be an exceptionally rare demonstration of what the grape can do.

Bodegas Ponce Pino

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Ponce's Pino is also 100% Bobal, but this is from 30 year old vines on a separate vineyard plot that is the rockiest that they own.  Ponce used to blend the grapes from this plot into one of their other cuvees, but they realized that he wines of this rocky vineyard plot were always the most vibrant, racy, chiseled expression of Bobal each year.  So they started making a wine from just that patch.  Ponce only has grapes to make about 200 cases a year.

The color is inky dark and vividly purple.  The vintage is 2012 but it looks like it's 2014. 

The Pino's aroma is really gorgeously floral; it's edgy, it's vibrant, it's floral.  I smell roses, violet, very fresh raspberry, some orange, and a hint of a herbaceous spiciness.

On the palate the Pino tastes serious.  It's deep and linear in it's parade of flavors.  High acidity and vivid raspberry strawberry fruit but it tastes like it's not giving everything up yet.  I dare to say I can't get past 2nd base with this wine right now.  But even though the P.F is technically a better balanced and more complete wine I prefer the Pino.  This is a completely different racy, intense, hard to get to expression of Bobal and I love it.  

The P.F is available at Caiola's, Tess's Market, Vinland, Browne Trading, Maine and Loire, and the Blue Hill Wine Shop.    Maine and Loire is the only shop carring the Pino.  They retail for about $28 and $43 respectively.