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May 2015

Puzelat Bonhomme Petillant Naturel Rose

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Vintage: 2012

Thierry Puzelat and Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme are legendary wine makers in the Loire and as I've tasted more of their wines they've become a couple of my favorites.  This is made from bought grapes, but bought grapes that they control the farming of, so organic and fermented with just as much care and passion and manual effort as on Thierry's own family vineyards. 

This sparkling wine (Petillant Naturel) is 100% Cabernet Franc, naturally fermented, disgorged to remove some of the dead yeast, and then bottled without adding any sugar rich dosage to boost the wine's effervescence.

Aroma: Puzelat Bonhomme's Petillant Rose smells like gorgeous rich red flowers, kind of like the strong smell of azalea bushes.  The aroma isn't monotone and st the same time there's also a delicate and fresh raspberry aroma to the Puzelat-Bonhomme.  It's a very pretty and beguiling aroma that also has a hint of rising bread dough that gives it a grounded earthy quality.

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Palate: The Puzelat Bonhomme has small fine persistent bubbles.  The flavor is really rich on the palate; It's a mouth full!  There's citrus and very ripe strawberry.  Overall he Petillant Naturel is an out of this world psychadelic strawberry lemonade kind of experience.  There's residual sugar but it's totally in line with the rest of the wine so it doesn't jar you: it's not a sweet wine at all.  Puzelat-Bonhomme's Pet Nat rose is juicy and rich but energetic and vibrant at the same time.  All the while it also projects this relaxed aura of calm and confidence. 

In conclusion this is the most delicious thing I've drunk in quite a while and I'm going to ration it out to customers.  People have raved about other petillant naturel wines to me recently but none of them hold a candle to this. It will be about $28.  Currently Maine and Loire and the Blue Hill Wine Shop are the two places that have it.


Poco a Poco Chardonnay

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Poco a Poco is the second label of Porter Bass, an excellent small winery in the hills just above the town of Guerneville in California's Russian River Valley.  The vineyard was originally planted in the late 1800s but in rough shape when the Bass family purchased the estate in the 1980s.  The vineyard had been intensively farmed with fertilizers and pesticides and the soil was exhausted.  The Bass family set about trying to rejuvenate the vineyards and eventually discovered biodynamics.  They worked on increasing biodiversity in the vineyards and changing it from being a mono-culture.  Today their vineyard is a vibrant place with grasses, trees around, birds, and all kinds of insects.  The grapes are in high demand with other wineries in the area.

Luke Bass grew up in a house in the center of that vineyard and got to see it at it's low point along with it's slow return to life.  He now lives in that same house he grew up in and has a deep intrinsic understanding of the place as well as an appreciation for the contribution of nature and the natural order of things.   Poco a Poco is made from organic grapes he buys from the nearby Forchini vineyard.  The wine is made at Porter Bass to the same standards as his flagship wines.  Poco a Poco is fermented with native yeast, unfiltered, and unfined.

Vintage: 2014

Aroma: Poco a Poco Chardonnay has fresh rich lemon and pineapple here.  It's a fruity wine but it's not like some kind of hot sticky tropical fruit bomb.  I can smell some ripe apple and some wild flowers from it but I don't detect any aroma of oak.  There is just a hint of caramel and butter in there that make me think the Poco a Poco sees maybe a partial malolactic fermentation; enough to make it a bit more lush and giving, but still fresh.  Poco a Poco smells like a very fresh and ripe energetic Chardonnay. 

Pallet:  Rich!  Poco a Poco Chardonnay has a lush and succulent texture.  It's sunny and giving with lots of ripe fruit, but yes there is nice acidity and underlying stony minerality that make the Poco a Poco engaging and refreshing instead of heavy and tiring like stereotypical CA Chardonnays.  There is more pineapple in the finish and the lush easy going character definitely make me think this went through a malolactic fermentation.  It's creamy and a has a bit of a citrus tres-leches kind of reminiscent thing going on.


Perrini Negroamaro

Mila and Vito Perrini inherited their family's estate back in the late 80s and made the jump from selling their grapes to making the wine themselves in 1993.  The estate is about 50 hectares spread out into many separate sub plots on Italy's Salento peninsula (the heel of the boot).  The Perrinis grow Negroamaro, Primativo, and Fiano, but they also have olives, orange groves, and all kinds of live stock.  Vito does a lot of manual work in the vineyards including composting his animal's manure to use as fertilizer and hand harvesting all the separate plots of vines at different times to make sure the grapes are perfectly ripe, but not too ripe. 

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Vintage: 2013

Color: very dark and opaque.  I can't see through it even against white paper so I'd guess it's unfiltered and unfined.

Aroma: Rich lush cherry preserve, concentrated black berry jam, dark blood orange, and wild rose.  This Negroamaro has such a gorgeous beguiling nose.  the previous vintage blew me away with it's aromatics and really made me fall in love with Perrini.  The 2013 Negroamaro is more fruit flavored, but still totally unique and exciting.  It's one of the most attractive smelling wines I've run into in a long time. There's lots of fresh fruit that's vivid and so ripe and concentrated that it smells like excellent home made jam.  The blood orange aroma is just so cool too; it's not so citrusy, but really has that bright orange zest kind of aroma.

Palate: Dense black cherry fruit and a spicy kind of finish that lingers on long after the wine has left your pallet with exotic flavors that make me think of Turkish and eastern Mediterranean food.  The Negroamaro has hints of apricot in the flavor but also hints of aromatic spices like coriander and clove.  Medium bodied, smooth, lush, with a slight hint of unburnt pipe tobacco as well.  Hey, I used to work in a tobacconist and there was lots of flavored tobacco, trust me on this.  Perrini's Negroamaro is a delicious intriguing and rather exotic wine.  It has a really unique taste that can only be real sense of place.  Even with the rich and lushly textured ripe fruit the wine has an uplift to it and acidity that goes unnoticed as you drink it but makes the wine refreshing.  The blood orange lingers on in the finish after you've swallowed, reminding you what a cool wine you're drinking and making you want more.

Perrini's Negroamaro is uniquely flavored and special.  I love it.  And it's available at Blue Hill Wine Shop, Bier Cellar, Maine and Loire, Browne Trading, Meridian's Lois' in Portland, Primo, and Piccolo.  It retails for something like $15


Clos l'Elu Indigene

Clos l'Elu is an old winery more recently taken over by a pair of friends, Thomas Carsin and Gregoire du Bouexic in 2008.  They converted to biodynamics and natural fermentation in the winery.  The vineyards are in Coteaux du Layon and grow an assortment of traditional grapes including Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Grolleau, and Gamay.

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The Indigene is 50% Grolleau and 50% Gamay.  The grapes are hand harvested from a south facing hillside vineyard and started with a carbonic maceration.  As far as I can tell from the French website they're then foot pressed to finish and the wine spends 6 months in tank settling.  The fermentation is with natural yeast and they use very little sulfur.  This is definitely on the natural wine spectrum; even if I knew nothing else and blind tasted it I would recognize it's vividness, energy, and light touch as a natural wine from the Loire.

Vintage:2012

Aroma:  I can smell more ripe fruit aromas from the Indigene than I expected for a natural Loire red.  I don't know why I didn't expect as much raspberry and black cherry fruit, but it's pretty ripe and vivid smelling.  There's certainly also a peppery spicy kind of aroma to l'Elu's Indigene that makes me think of the woods in spring time.  It's a bit leafy and woodsey smelling in a fresh alive spring time kind of way.  The two different aromas actually balance themselves out well and make the l'Elu really attractive and interesting smelling.

Palate: The l'Elu is medium bodied. But there's oh so much happening in this medium bodied wine!  There's bright acidity that keeps the wine high toned and fresh, but it also has a dry lean kind of tannic structure that holds the l'Elu Indigene and it's fruit together like some kind of fine wood scaffolding.  The finish doesn't seem tannic at all though, it's more in the mid palate somehow and well after I swallow that I notice them.  The finish is very...thirst quenching.  The fruit flavors are raspberry and cherry, but almost not quite fully ripe; very fresh and vivid and delicious, but like fruit you ate and loved because we're so ready for ripe fruit, but the summer isn't quite really here yet. 

The l'Elu Indigene is a lot of fun, refreshing, bright, and energetic.  The Indigene is very hand made natural wine that's less expensive than many other similar wines from the Loire.  It retails in the mid to upper teens at Maine and Loire, Aurora Provisions, Bow St Market, and the Farm Stand in South Portland.