Thanksgiving Wines: Orange wine, Petnat Prosecco, Fizzy Red

Thanksgiving Wines: Orange wine, Petnat Prosecco, Fizzy Red

Gruner Veltliner, Chilean Pais

Thanksgiving Wines

This year feels like it's been non stop and now Thanksgiving is in sight. Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays and I'm looking forward to really enjoying it and...maybe even taking a break! Here are some of the wines I'm particularly excited about this year.


Ceppaiolo Cepparosso 2020

Approximately $32/btl

You can find this at Treats, Maine and Loire, and Cafe Louis. Or of course you can order it from any wine store.

Ceppaiolo is Danilo Marcucci's little private wine project in a falling down building in Bastia: a suburban Umbrian town. He does all the work here himself, experiments, and makes wines that he wants to drink! He likes lighter energetic reds, think Jura and Touraine, so that's the direction these wines usually go. This red is a blend of Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Vernaccia Rossa, Nebbiolo di Gubbio, and Aleatico. He only has a couple acres of vines and only made one tank of this, but it's a pretty perfect red for Thanksgiving. It's bright and fruity, supple in the way of a nice red Burgundy, thirst quenching, and truly fun to drink. It's 12% alcohol which adds to the thirst quenching nature and maybe minimizes the likely hood of a "Thanksgiving incident" with a wacky relative. It's fruit driven and will please basic wine drinkers but is also super geeky (Nebbiolo di Gubbio!) for people who want to geek out on wine. Added bonus if you need a conversation piece this wine's back story can neatly fill any conversation lapses! Jut go check out the videos on my YouTube conveniently linked below!

Aroma: fresh tart cherry and strawberry along with some woodsmoke. Cranberries, a tiny bit of spice like basil or tomato leaf.... It's lively fresh vivid but also with some savory autumn aromas at the same time.

Taste: medium bodied, smooth, and with great focused energy. There's acidity that makes the wine energetic and focused. It's driven by this really lovely uplifting raspberry and wild cherry flavor. Then the finish has some nice tannin that dries your palate out a bit but it's not too much or sharp at all. It's an energetic dynamic tasting wine that's light on its feet. There's some salt on the mid palette that wakes my taste buds up and gets me salivating. The combination of that with the lighter body, the elegant integration and balance: make this a super thirst quenching serious red that will pair with Thanksgiving in the same sort of perfect way cranberry sauce does. 


Forlorn Hope “Queen of the Sierra” Amber 2019

You can find the Queen of the Sierra at Folk in Kittery, Friends and Family in Portland, Maine Street Meats in Rockport, and the Rosemont Markets.

Orange wine may be hip at the moment, but well made orange wine that still has freshness to it is legitimately a good Thanksgiving pick. Allow me to introduce my orange wine Thanksgiving pick: Queen of the Sierra Amber. This is a great Thanksgiving wine because it's rich and deep and has the body and savory flavors to pair well with rich autumn foods. It has tannin (thanks skin contact) that will help it cut through grease and fat, but it's not oxidative or funky; it just has really delicious rich fruit flavors with a supporting savory dimension. I really think this is a perfect sort of "similar flavor compliment" to squash, sweet potato, and turkey.

The Amber is mostly a mix of Verdelho, Albarino, Muscat, and Chardonnay. All are organically farmed there on Rorick's estate vineyard. All the fruit was hand harvested and spontaneously fermented in open vats. Matthew and Danielle used a minimal number of gentle punchdowns or pump overs to try to avoid oxidization while still getting that complexity from skin contact. After that the wine was racked to 227L neutral oak barrels to age. No additives or manipulations were used aside from a small amount of sulfur at bottling.

Aroma: So much ripe peach! I also smell fresh-squeezed orange juice and baked rhubarb. It's a really lovely rich delicious smelling aroma!

Taste: wow, this is straight up delicious but also so interesting. This is a full-bodied wine but it's also very fresh and has lively acidity. The ripe juicy peach upfront is delicious and attention grabbing, but what makes the wine irresistible is this salty savory dimension right behind the fruit. The mid palate maintains the fruit but adds a little aromatic spicy hint that reminds me of fresh mint. More of that peach lingers on the finish. That peach flavor is so vivid and concentrated that it tastes like the flavor of a peach Jolly Rancher!

Forlorn Hope was created by Matthew Rorick in 2005. Matthew grew up with an appreciation of good wine thanks to his grandfather and decided to pursue his love of expressive personal wines by starting his own winery. After a stint in the Navy Matthew had lots of gumption but couldn't afford to buy anything. So he rented wine making space and then went on the hunt for unusual unloved grape varieties that bored farmers in moments of weakness had planted in forgotten vineyard corners. He began crisscrossing CA looking for Verdelho, Barbera, and Trousseau. He named the project Forlorn Hope with the expectation it would fail. But.... it didn't. He was making delicious exciting wines and people got excited. His wines caught on so much so that he was eventually able to buy a 75 acre property in Calaveras county on limestone and slate ridges planted by wine luminary Barden Stevenot back in the 60s. Danielle Shehab (formerly of Portland ME) joined as operations manager and the project has taken off for the stratosphere. All the fruit for their wines comes from the Rorick Heritage Estate and now that Matthew doesn't have to spend 6 hours driving between vineyard sites it has allowed him to create a range of new wines....including this Queen of the Sierra Amber. 

Cellario Il Barrusco 2020
Approximately $20

You can find this at Nina June, Hearth and Harbor on MDI, Hops and Vine, Riverside Butcher, Leeward, and the Cheese Shop of Portland

You have to have fizzy red for Thanksgiving! At least I do! This is playful bright full on red wine that's fruity and expressive. It's not heavy though and the vey fine fizz does an excellent job of cleaning your palate and refreshing you as you work through all the heavy hearty Thanksgiving food. And the fizz will help give you a little pick me up and rally for a post meal walk! 

Barrusco is made by the super energetic Fausto Cellario. His family has been here in the north western Langhe for longer than they know and he grew up in wineries of his father and uncles. Meeting him it's very clear that he loves what he does. He loves it so much he can't stop tinkering and trying to get better and better and making natural wine. There's a real joy that's been evident every time I've seen him and he can't stop talking about some new blend or pressing technique he's trying out. I really value that and it's been cool to see his wines evolve!  

The Barrusco is a blend of Neretta (local grape with dark purple color) Barbera, and Dolcetto. The juice ferments in stainless steel and is then bottled with some juice from grapes that Fausto late harvests and dries. That grape juice does the refermentation in the bottles and then Fausto releases the wine with out opening the bottles again, so this is 0 sulfur and no disgorgement.

Aroma: Cherries! Crushed cherries in your face! And raspberries! Wow, super fresh vital vivid aroma! Also just a bit musky like grape clusters literally crushed in front of you with the stems and all

Taste: fun fresh tart raspberry and wild cherry up front, then the addition of a bit of blue fruit on the mid palate. The bubbles are just a prickle playing across the breadth of the wine. The prickly fizziness actually basically is the wine's structure and gives it focus. Once you peel back the fizz you can taste this light cherry that runs all the way through the wine and actually gets really elegant on the finish. There's no tannin here, just fresh vibrant young cherry fruit that ends on an elegant uplifting note.

Mongarda Col Fondo Prosecco
Approximately $19

You can find the Mongarda at Vessel and Vine, Hops and Vine, Bow St Beverage, and Nibblesford Cheese in Biddeford.

Mongarda is a little family winery up in the area of Valdonbbiadene in the heart of Prosecco. The family has 10 hectares of vines and 3 hectares of woods on steep rocky hilly land. This wine comes from a single vineyard that was planted in the 50s, making them extremely old and rare for this region. This is 95% Glera with 5% other local blending grape varieties that are co-planted in the vineyards and fermented along with the Glera. Martino, the second generation of the Tormena family here, ferments this dry in tank and than at bottling adds a portion of the original juice that was held back so that it referments in the bottle. It is not disgorged so it's sort of Ancestral method, a bit cloudy, but quite clean. The bubbles are very fine and frothy like a bottle conditioned ale. It's a fun playful easy drinking wine that is interesting enough for wine people but will also please someone who just wants a thirst quenching fizzy white. It's basically what Prosecco should be... but almost never is. That freshness, 11% alcohol, and fine creamy bubbles are why I want to drink this for Thanksgiving. Honestly, Champagne is great, but it's pretty racy and high acid. Racy high acid isn't really what I want for Thanksgiving, it feels too intense. This is thirst quenching, but strikes the right balance with softness.

Aroma: white peach, apple blossom, Granny Smith, toasted baguette, lemon, fresh croissant. So very pretty and light; all flowers and spring time and fun

Taste: fresh lemon, tart Granny Smith, very fine froth on the mid palate then white peach followed by a little bit of toast on the finish. The bubbles are so tiny and fine and creamy: like a bottle conditioned beer. It's so clean and uplifting. It's extremely refreshing and easy going but those bubbles will allow it to pair with turkey and other rich savory Thanksgiving foods.

Sonnhof Social Club Gruner Veltliner

Approximately $19

You can find the Sonnhof at Vessel and Vine, Hops and Vine, Bath Natural Foods, the Rosemont Markets, Lorne, Meridians, Perks Beer and Beverage, Monte's Fine Foods, The Blue Hill Co-op, The Blue Hill Wine Shop, and Riverside Butcher in Damariscotta

One of the white varieties I gravitate to for Thanksgiving is Gruner Veltliner; it's generally the right profile of flavors and weight to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. This litre bottle from the Sonnhof Social club is perfect for Thanksgiving! It has that touch of spice on the midpalate that I love about Gruner and while it has some body and ripeness it's a fresh thirst quenching wine. It's that balance of weight and freshness that makes me choose this for Thanksgiving, along with the fact this is a litre bottle and having some extra wine on hand for Thanksgiving is always a good idea.

This is made by Jurtschitsch, the oldest winery in the Kamptal that then converted to organic and biodynamic agriculture 10 years ago when Alwin and Stefanie took over. Jurtschitsch has a reputation now as one of the most exciting wineries in Austria and their elegant light skin contact wines are in high demand (also great for Thanksgiving). This more affordable 1L bottle of Gruner is made with organic hand harvested grapes from their own vineyards plus the vineyards of 3 friends who also work organically.  

Aroma: wow, exciting aromas of lemon lime, gooseberry, quince... it's sort of briny smelling like the ocean too. It smells so vibrant, fresh, and green!

Taste: vivid juicy and tart lime up front then a little bit of pepper. The mid palate has more ripe fruit and flesh to it; this is medium bodied and very clean but with some heat like grilled shishito pepper. There's a zippy flavor on the mid palate and finish... sort of aromatic like lemon grass? That grassy citrus flavor lingers through the finish and makes the wine super refreshing!

Roberto Henriquez Santa Cruz de Coya
Approximately $27

You can special order this from any wine shop or find it at Maine Street Meats, The Cheese Shop of Portland, Vessel and Vine, Hops and Vine, and Maine and Loire

Roberto Henriquez is down in southern Chile in Bio Bio. This is a small region 350 miles south of Santiago in a place that's so rural it's hard to explain to people here who are used to public water, paved roads, and high speed internet. But it's an amazing place to grow grapes because the coastal mountain range that shields most of Chile from the Pacific ends here so the vineyards are much more exposed to cold oceanic air. Also the vines here are Pais: a local variety that thrives in the climate and many are 200 or more years old. Seriously, this vinifera variety evolved from varieties brought hundreds of years ago by the Spanish and is so well suited they go wild and grow up trees. This is sort of Roberto's flagship red. The grapes get macerated a bit through a destemmer and then have a short skin contact and primary fermentation in open vats. Pais is always a lighter red, but Roberto is exceptionally talented at making focused fresh vibrant reds. He spent some time making wine in Anjou in the central Loire with Agnes and Rene Mosse; you can taste a bit of Loire red influence in this. The soil here is gritty granular decayed bits of red granite and the wine somehow has that character of tight granular grippyness behind the fresh compelling red fruit. It's not heavy and not tannic, but the precise structure will offset the savory rich flavors of Thanksgiving. This is a bit more structured than the other reds on this list.   

The aroma is ripe raspberry, cherry, blackberry....and also a hint of cooked rhubarb. And there's that hint of smoke too. It's super racy and vivid with fresh tart concentrated red fruit.

The taste is so juicy, richer, more blackberry, brambley and some lovely plum in the finish. This has some angular acidic and tannic structure, but it's bright, lively, and playful. It is more juicy and fruity, more of a vivid expressive punch of fruit right in the front of your palate. This is fresh and has uplifting acidity, but also a riot of vivid juicy ripe fruit. Absolutely delicious!

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Making Wine with my Heroes in Umbria Last Month

Making Wine with my Heroes in Umbria Last Month

Elbow Deep in Fermenting Grapes!

Four Days in Umbria

I just got back from Italy! I was there in Umbria for all of 3.5 days, but somehow it felt more like 10. I managed to visit 8 wineries and help make wine at 3 of them! It didn't feel rushed, but it was so immersive and intense that it felt like longer. I'm going to write a series of emails to cover what I did in some detail. In this email I'm going to cover Ceppaiolo and Dinamo


Here's a video tour of the Dinamo vineyard. Maybe you're familiar with the Dinamo wines. I've had them since late 2019. They're fantastic clean fun natural wines in litre bottles. They're made by the Nofrio family who had been growing grapes and selling them to others for a few generations, but the price for bulk grapes is so low now that it just wasn't even worth it to harvest the grapes anymore. They are right nearby to Danilo and Lake Trasimeno so they reached out, Danilo came and looked at their vineyard, and connected with them personally. So the Nofrios took the plunge into bottling and selling their own wine with Danilo as wine making consultant.  

I'd been reading since the start that the Dinamo vineyards were super high up (600m) on top of a ride over looking lake Trasimeno, but I hadn't actually seen it because of the pandemic. I was really excited to see just what it was like and it did not disappoint! The vineyard was unbelievably steep. It gave Danilo's new Defender a real work out to make it up to the vineyard. It blows my mind that the Nofrios planted this 25 years ago to grow grapes that they just sold off in bulk. It's a fantastic place to plant vines thanks to the exposure, wind, drainage, hillside, etc; but it must be so hard to work!

The man with the white hair is the patriarch of the the Nofrios: Danilo Nofrio. He's a small wiry old man with long white hair and looked like s mystic or yogi. He arrived late and then held forth about how he only ate wild mushrooms, prosciutto, grapes, and bread. He said he really just wanted to stay in the woods foraging and hunting. It was hilarious: his children were in the background rolling their eyes and groaning about the kilos of mushrooms they had to eat all autumn. Danilo Marcucci afterwards said that Danilo Nofrio really got it and was a great person to work with as far as making natural wine. While I was there Danilo too Danilo Nofrio's son Simone to task though and I really got to see Danilo the professor. Danilo kept asking him about how much sugar was left in various fermenting wines and what it had been a day ago and the son would sort of hem and haw and say "well, I think" and Danilo just kept yelling in Italian "Have you made an analysis?!" It was pretty funny. You can hear it in the back ground of the video.  

Dinamo Nucleo 1
Approximately $19

Aroma: earthy, gamey, woodsy; blackberries and raspberries

Taste: juicy blackberry fruit up from with a hint of brambly woodsy flavors lingering behind it. There's nice acidity that's not in your face but does a great job of keeping the wine fresh and fun tasting. It's smooth, and then the mid pallet builds into some more earthy savory chocolatey sort of flavors. Then there's a salty dimension followed by some integrated tannin and a black cherry flavor that gives the wine more of a serious character and follow through.

You can find this at Bow St Freeport, John Edwards, and LeRoux Kitchen

Dinamo Elettriko petnat
Approximately $17

Normally Dinamo's petnat is $17.55. But the pandemic made it hard for the winery to launch the wine in 2020 and they had a bunch left over.... so I bought it at a great price! It's a delicious raspberry and cherry flavored naturally sparkling rose made from direct press Sangiovese and Gamay del Trasimeno (Grenache). It's very fresh and fruit forward but has that nice little earthy savory component from the yeast. It's delicious and a fantastic price! 

You can find this at Bath Natural, Now You're Cooking, Portland Food Co-op, LeRoux Kitchen, Solo Cucina, The Speckled Ax, The Natural Living Center in Bangor, Store Ampersand, 44 North, and Blue Hill Wine Shop


Here's a short video of a vineyard walk and then the process of pressing grapes at Ceppaiolo. Ceppaiolo is this tiny vineyard and falling down building in a suburb in central Umbria. It's kind of ridiculous. I think it belongs to Danilo's friend Riccardo. But because no one is depending on the vineyard for income to support them through the year Danilo uses it as a sort of test winery. He's free to try out new ideas, techniques, blends, and just make wines that he personally likes.  

The vineyard is a tour of the winery, a bit of walking in the little vineyard, and then Danilo and I actually pressing off the juice that had been sitting on the skins to make the 2021 Ceppaiolo white wine. It was amazing to get to do it all: being elbow deep in warm fermenting wine, shoveling out the crushed compacted grapes, working the press; all of it.  

The white is made from Trebbiano Spoletino grapes. Danilo lets the juice sit on the skins for about 10 days with 2 punch downs per day. He was judging when to press the juice off based on the smell. 

There I am pressing grapes. I don't really know how to convey how great it was to be really doing it and involved in the process of making the wines I sell.  

Ceppaiolo Bianco
Approximately $32

Aroma: spicy, a bit of ginger, apple, golden raisin, peach, 

Taste: Pithy, orangey, very clean and focused. There's a really nice acidity all throughout. You notice the acidity more up front, then it get's a bit more generous and meaty. There's a delicious preach on the finish.

You can find this at Maine and Loire 

Ceppiolo Rosso
Approximately $32

Aroma: Super fresh vivid raspberry and cranberry, along with a touch of an aromatic spicy thing like sage. 
Super smooth supple texture up front followed by raspberry fruit and black cherry on the midpalate. There's tannin that dries out and draws out the finish but it's not harsh- just a major part of the wine. There's also some black pepper to the finish that builds on the tannin. As deep and sunny as the wine is it has a lovely lightness to it, particularly in the mid palate. There's a strawberry flavor there that's reminiscent of a Jura red, but with warm central Italian sun!  

Available at Maine and Loire, Cafe Louis, and Treats... or special order at any Wine Shop

And... we've got fresh hoodies in! They're $48 each. We've got black and neon pink. Let me know if you'd like one!

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PO Box 11210
Portland, ME 04104

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Public Wine Tastings are back!  Wednesday and Thursday

Public Wine Tastings are back! Wednesday and Thursday

Happy Second Week of Summer! 

French Picnic Wines
Wednesday the 29th, 4-6 pm
At Maine & Loire

Wednesday I'll be at Maine and Loire pouring French picnic wines. I've gotten pretty used to taking it easy and hiding in my warehouse over the Pandemic, but I'm really going to try to clean up and shake off any antisocial habits from the Pandemic. I'm going all out, shaving and wearing a shirt. I promise: the shirt will even have sleeves!

In all seriousness we'll have great wines open: Telquel, Pepiere, Aubron Pet Nat, Fabien Jouves Les Agudes, and Eric Texier's Vaison la Romaine

Fizzy Wine Tasting
Thursday the 30th
At Monte's Fine Foods

Thursday I'll be pouring fizzy wines at Monte's on Washington Ave. Come grab some pizza and your fizzy wine of choice!

Paterna Il Rosso

Paterna is a lovely idyllic little winery out in the Arezzo hills east of Florence. This is higher elevation, windier, and cooler than pretty much the entire rest of Chianti. That doesn't keep the grapes from ripening, but it does mean the grapes have a bit more tannin and acidity and different aromas. Paterna was founded in 1978 by a group of friends who wanted to get out of Florence and go back to the land. So they collectively bought this old family farm out here in the hills and set about reviving it. The land had never been farmed with chemicals or fertilizers and they have maintained it as polyculture; growing grapes, olives, kale, wheat to grind into flour and make their own bread, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, and on and on. One of the principals, Marco, is actually a professor of rural Tuscan agriculture at a university in Florence! Certified organic in 1982 they were one of the first certifications in all Italy.  

They mostly make Chianti Colli Aretini. It's fantastic and structured and serious and sales of that basically support the farm. But they also make a small quantity of this: the Il Rosso. This is also Sangiovese based but I suspect the juice gets a shorter maceration, plus a larger amount of Caniolo and Ciliegiolo are blended in along with a bit of Trebbiano and Malvasia to make it even fresher. The goal is to make a fun playful red that is more like what Chianti was 60 years ago. The result is a beautiful fun fresh red that is easy to drink and less intense and tannic than a classic Chianti. It's not that expensive, but they don't make much so it's always rare and allocated.

Aroma: oh wow, beautiful vivid ripe raspberry! I can smell it from several feet away as I pour the wine. Juicy but quite fresh smelling. Thats pretty much what its got: super vivid striking raspberry with a little pluminess and hint of ginger in the background

Taste: raspberry fresh fruit that gets a bit darker onto the mid palate and then black raspberry fruit that's so racy and tart and crunchy and vivid that this smacks of killer moulin a vent cru beaujolais! The finish has some gently dry dusty tannin that dries your palate but tart raspberry and then a lingering strawberry take center stage. This isn't a complex wine but it is absolutely drop dead gorgeous. 

You can find this under $20 at Maine and Loire, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Store Ampersand, Cocktail Mary, Speckled Ax on Thames St, and More and Co.

The past year and a half has been petty crazy. Well, really I feel like my entire adult life has been lived through pretty crazy times. I feel lucky to have started Devenish when I did, lucky to be in Portland, lucky to be in Maine, lucky to have grown up with support from a lot of great people.  

My good fortune has made me more aware of the unequal support and opportunities that different kids have access to. Taking some kind of tangible action to address that has been important to me and was part of my motivation in creating the Robert Burns 10K. But for July I'm going to try something new and donate 1% of Devenish's revenue to the Opportunity Alliance. They do a lot of great work in the community.  

That's all. I'm not asking for any match donations or anything at all. It's something that matters to me so I felt like it was worth mentioning here. Thank you for all your support over the years as I and Devenish have evolved!


Max and I tasting Teres Antiques Provence Rose

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Wine Tasting at Terlingua and Dinner at Chaval!

Wine Tasting at Terlingua and Dinner at Chaval!

Here comes Wine Week!

This coming week is Portland Maine Wine Week and I'm hosting a pair of events!

Tuesday the 15th at 2pm I'm hosting a traditional Chilean lunch (Almuerzo) with Justin at Terlingua. Southern Chile was the last place I visited before the start of the pandemic and I'm excited that one of my first public events in the past year and a half will center around the wine makers I met. 
This is just $50 per person!

Terlingua Tickets

Sunday the 20th, to close out wine week, I'm hosting a Spanish dinner at Chaval. There will be no Rioja. There will be no Ribera del Duero. There will be no Cava. This dinner is build around wine regions and grape varieties that are extremely unknown but that I've fallen in love with in the past year and that I think really deserve attention. It's going to be really fun and it's $77 per person!

Chaval Tickets

Here's the line up for the Chaval dinner

At Terlingua we'll be pouring magnums of Corinto Super Estrella from Roberto Henriquez!

Some of My Favorite Wines:

Eric Texier Adele Cotes du Rhone Blanc

In a world of white wines that's tyrannized by Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc; this sunny vibrant joyful white is surprising and so satisfying! Eric makes his white Cotes du Rhone from Clairette and Marsanne grapes grown on decayed granite hill sides. Eric sorts the grapes in the vineyard, presses them in an old wood basket press as soon as they arrive in the winery, and then ferments this in cement tanks and ages it on the lees.

Aroma: wow! Creme Brulee, honey, candied orange peel honey suckle; this smells rich and sunny and like some sort of exotic fruit that has just been cut open! In fact it smells somewhat like the cantaloupe I just grilled on a wood fire.


Taste: fresh orangey fruit right up front, but then the mid palate gets this deep rich textural cooked orange and salt. The finish evolves to add a dried apricot flavor and some passion fruit. It has a meaty fruit flesh quality but it's relatively low in alcohol and that keeps it from ever seeming heavy. The finish fades away surprisingly delicately after that big mid palate. 

I'm so in love with this wine and this is the best vintage I've tasted of it. You can find in the low $20s at Maine and Loire, Treats, Meridians, OhNo Cafe, and Lily's House Cafe.

Vino di Anna Palmentino Etna Rosso

The Etna wines of Anna Martens and Eric Narioo are a new addition to the Devenish portfolio, but I've been following them for several years. They were bewitched by Etna and started their small wine project on Etna's north slope of back in 2008. Anna and Eric were already a professional wine makers plus Eric owned wine import company in England, so from the outset it was passion for this wild volcano that was guiding their decisions. Over the past decade they've really honed their skill at expressing the sometimes elegant, sometimes firey Nerello Mascalese grape. Palmentino is basically their house red. It's 90% Nerello Mascalese, a little Nerello Cappuccio, a touch of Grenahe, and a bit of white grapes (mostly Cataratto) because most old vineyards on Etna are field blends along these lines. The grapes come from 50-100 year old vines in various plots they farm. Fermentation is all with natural yeast, but 50% of the grapes were fermented in a traditional Palmento for 5 days (a large shallow stone trough where the grapes can be foot trodden), 30% fermented in Georgian Qvevri, and 20% fermented in a single large old oak botte (cask).

Aroma: wild raspberry, red cherry, some pomegranate, and sweet stewed tomato. It's a savory meaty aroma that's heady and pretty at the same time. It's clearly wild but it's not Too Much and works brilliantly! There's a bit of oregano and bacon in the back ground of the aroma too.

Taste: medium bodied- nice combination of strawberry, red cherry and some black pepper right up front. There's a hint of black olive and some lovely deep red blood orange on the mid palate. The finish gets more savory in a dark volcanic way... it has just the right balance of relaxed tannins and salt that lingers on beyond the tannin. Gorgeously salty and with this beautiful vivid raspberry flavor that comes in after the tannin fades. This is excellent; it's raw but clearly Mount Etna and clearly Nerello Mascalese. It has the dark texture of Etna but without too much heat or tannin. Roses and fire and salty sweet tomato and Sicilian blood oranges: what else would you ever need in a wine!? You can find the Palmentino for about or just under $30 at Meridians, the Portland Cheese Shop, Maine St Meats, Lily's House, Solo Cucina, Maine and Loire, and Monte's Fine Foods.

Cellario Il Baffone

Il Baffone is a blend of Nascetta and Moscato. Nascetta is a local blending grape with thicker skins and Moscato is... Moscato. Fausto lets the wine ferment on it's skins in stainless steel tanks for about 5 days before he transfers it off the skins and lets it ferment dry. Then he adds the juice from late harvested dried grapes as he bottles the wine. This provides the sugar for the fermentation in the bottle. It's unfiltered, not disgorged, and 0 sulfur added. This is deliciously thirst quenching spring wine!

Aroma: lemon, pear, kiwi, honey suckle, apple blossoms.... This is so pretty and fresh smelling! It has some Moscato in it and that comes across in the lovely perfumed sort of nature of the aroma, but Fausto is a deft hand at keeping Moscato fun and uplifting. I generally don't like Moscato, but I always love how Fausto uses it as a building block in his white wines. This is a beautiful beguiling aroma that promises fun!

Taste: clean, refreshing pear and light pineapple fruit at first. It's super refreshing and the bubbles are very fine and just prickly really. But whew, on the mid palate it has a broader taste of dry orange with a tasty touch of salt that gives the wine more pizzazz. On the finish there's this taste of orange juice pulp that's meaty but elegant at the same time! This is a thirst quenching fun uplifting white. It has some savory meaty flavors from the skin contact but it's never actually heavy or rough; lovely!

45 cases is all I could get for the year but you can find it for about $20 at Liquor Locker, Vessel and Vine, Main St Market Rockland, Solo Cucina, Monte's Fine Foods, Maine and Loire, John Edwards, Milk and Honey, Bow St Beverage, Ada's Kitchen, and the Portland Cheese Shop.


Oyster River Chardonnay

Oyster River Just released their 2020 Chardonnay and I drove up same day to grab a pallet! Unfortunately that was all they could spare for me and in the time it's taken me to write this email most of the wine has already sold. Brian and I opened a bottle and made a short video talking about this vintage. It's at the bottom of this email.

In previous years Brian has fermented all the fruit together but this year he's separated into three different parts so that he could do two days of skin contact on one but then have the other two be direct press; 1/3 into tank and 1/3 into used oak barrels. Then he blended all of it back together when he thought it was ready and in the proportions that he wanted. The other big difference from last year is that the grapes were harvested a little earlier for more brightness and acidity. I really think it's the best vintage yet. It's cleaner, fresher, and has a nice orangey flavor

Medium-bodied, nice and fresh and citrusy. There's an orangey sort of orange juice Aroma and the taste of sordid medium navel orange to it. It's uplifting and a bit cleaner and brighter then last year's vintage. The lower alcohol helps the wine come across so bright and fresh without actually having sharp acidity. The Oyster River Chardonnay is available for just over $20 at Union Kitchen, Bier Cellar in Gorham, Browne Trading, LeRoux Kitchen, Solo Cucina, Maine and Loire, John Edwards, Bier Cellar Portland, Oak Hill, Portland Cheese Shop, Rising Tide Natural Foods, Bow St Beverage, Wolf Peach in Camden, Belfast Co-op, Blue Hill Co-op, Wind and Wine, Maine St Meats, Bath Natural Foods, Royal River Natural Foods, Bath Natural Market, Good Tern Co-op, Riverside Butcher, Rayr, and Treats.


Here's a video of Brian and I discussing how he made this year's Oyster River Chardonnay. As you'll hear he definitely made some important changes to how he works!

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Rare Old Single Vineyard wines from Chevalerie in Bourgeuil


Rare Library Releases from Domaine de Chevalerie in Bourgeuil

Domaine de Chevalerie in Bourgeuil is so awesome that it's hard for me to know where to start.... so I'll just start with the beginning. Domaine de Chevalerie dates back to 1640 when a Pierre Caslot moved to the village of Restigne on the Loire and began farming grapes. Over the centuries his descendants acquired some of the best vineyard plots in and around the town until in 2012 Pierre's great grandson x10 who was also named Pierre owned nearly 100 acres. This is Bourgeuil, where the only AOC approved grape is Cabernet Franc. There's a reason why only Cabernet Franc is allowed and that is because Bourgeuil makes some of the best Cabernet Franc in the world. I was very fortunate to visit and meet Pierre in 2012. Chevalerie was already farming organically but actually sold off much of their fruit and only kept the grapes from a hand full of vineyard sites that they thought were best. The winery isn't very well known here in the US, and they were very humble when I met them (Pierre was just so honestly excited about farming and plants there was nothing fancy or contrived about him), however the other visitors I met at the winery who came yearly from all over Europe to buy wine for the year made clear who important this winery is in Bourgeuil. Chamber St in NYC describes Chevalerie as making some of the greatest Cabernet Francs in the world. It felt like Pierre was a farmer first; international sales and marketing were clearly not what got him out of bed in the morning. 

The wines were stunning though. And the winery is built on top of an eleventh century subterranean limestone quarry which means that Chevalerie literally has acres of perfectly cool under ground storage caverns. Thanks to the space and their reputation in Europe and loyal following they could afford to hold wines for longer than a wine maker could normally dream of. I've been drinking these wines for over a decade and I've had vintages back into the 90s, so I'm pretty familiar with their style and I know Chevalerie makes brilliant wines. 

When Laurent Bonnois, my friend and importer who lives up the street from the Caslots, told me he could bring in all their single vineyard bottlings from 2014 I jumped at the opportunity. 

Here's that link to Chamber Street's superb and in-depth description of the wines and winery

Quick Important Notes:
All the farming is organic with some biodynamic practices. All grapes are hand harvested and they ferment with native yeast. Sulfur is only added to the wines if they feel it is needed.  

The soil in Bourgeuil is very diverse. Up above the river there are rolling hills and forest, mixed soils and limestone subsoil. There is grape growing but wines usually aren't too complex. None of these wines come from up on the plateau. Things get interesting on the slopes. Over millions of years the Loire has moved around depositing different types of rock and soil as well as wearing away the subsoils. In places there is lots of clay, in others gravel, and in others a deep layer of limestone is exposed. That limestone is the most important thing. Soft limestone subsoil slows down the ripening process and allows the grapes to build up more power and flavor. Each of the single vineyards has a unique soil and exposure combination that influences their character.


Domaine de Chevalerie Bourgueil "Peu Muleau vineyard" 2014
48 btls came into Maine

The Peu Muleau vineyard has the youngest vines of the Chevalerie vineyards and is always ready to drink sooner than the others. That's because the soil of this vineyard has more sand and the tuffeau llimestone subsoil is more broken up. The sand absorbs more heat and the broken tuffeau is easier for the vines roots to burrow through. The vineyard is up above the Domaine de la Chevalerie vineyard and just below the forest of chestnut, acacia, oak, pine and birch. The vines are around 35 years old, and farmed biodynamically. Pue Muleau gets a shorter maceration of less than 20 days. Aging is done in a mix of tank and large used barrels with less and less oak. 

Aroma: juicy blackberry and a bit brambley. It's ripe juicy fruit but not too in your face or powerful an aroma. A little bit of black currant too.

Taste: juicy, smooth fresh blackberry and cherry flavors that seamlessly add black pepper and currant flavors in the mid palate while also opening up into a rounder softer profile. Then the finish brings the addition of integrated tannic structure that pulls the wine together but then fades gently away. Lastly there's a lingering delicious dark plum flavor. This Cabernet Franc is so smooth and elegant. 

The different flavor components all appear one after the other but make us this beautiful harmonious experience: it really reminds me of the opening of a symphony with different instrumental sections joining in one after another until you have a single piece of music. This isn't a super deep, demanding, or complex wine, but it's beauty is unusual and impressive. It's also shockingly uplifting and fresh. It's hard to quantify but the wine has a precision about it and the finish is structured but just gently recedes like a caress. This is a great demonstration of the talent and skill Chevalrie has! 

This retails for just under $30 and you can find it at Maine and Loire, Meridians, and the Blue Hill Wine Shop


Domaine de Chevalerie Bourgueil "Galichets vineyard" 2011
48 btls came into Maine

"Les Galichets" vineyard is lower down on the slope towards the Loire river, below the "Chevalerie" plot. While there is still a limestone subsoil the topsoil is clay mixed with alluvial gravel and silex. The gravel gives a little more heat to the vines and they ripen a bit before the Chevalerie vineyard. Galichets always has classic structure and is age worthy, but it's never as muscular as Chevalerie or Breteche. The vines average about 60 years of age. The wine is aged in large old barrels, and bottled after 6 months unfined unfiltered.

Aroma: heady aromatic blackberry, currant, and cooked wild blueberries. a hint of cocoa powder and a hint of soy sauce. 

The first taste is smooth supple raspberry and cherry fruit. That evolves into a mid palate that's still supple but also meaty and has a peppery hint of rosemary. The finish has a pure elegant fresh cherry flavor that lingers after the relaxed tannins have faded away. This is a relaxed smoothly textured wine.... but it has this focus and cohesion. Under that refined fruit there is this slightly meaty/salty and savory structure that runs through the whole wine. I think that technically it's a salt component but it brings with it flavors that sort of combine meaty and chocolaty. It's not obvious. There's fruit and acidity that is more in your face all the way through the wine, but this mineral component ties it all together. It's pretty impressive: the fruit and acid flavors make the wine delicious but this less apparent minerality gives it strength and staying power without being heavy or demanding. 

The 2011 Galichets retails in stores for about $30 and you can find it at The Cheese Shop of Portland, Bow St in Freeport, Browne Trading, Vessel and Vine, Helm, and Meridians

Domaine de Chevalerie Bourgueil "Galichets vineyard" 2014
48 btls available came into Maine

Aroma: wow! more expressive than 2011. This is blackberry and wild blueberry pie. some spruce and wintergreen there too to give it a aromatic herbal dimension. Uh, honestly it smells a little like chocolate covered cherries. Most of the flavors are very fresh so it doesn't smell heavy or candied, but it is expressive and has a hedonistic bent.... It is wine, but I don't think hedonistic is redundant here..... and more black pepper as it opens up

Taste: Ripe blackberry fruit backed up and kept fresh and dynamic by perfect acidity. rich meaty and then whoa hello lots of brambley blackberry in the midpalate. The midpalate though has dense dark fruit that doesn't overwhelm but it really has a solid feel like I could bite into it. .... the finish has a .... wow, there's a beautiful ghost of a cherry flavor interwoven in the finish. It's like a cherry cordial or the flavor of candied cherry but refined and just pretty. This wine has more tannin than the 2011 but I don't even notice them: there's so much else going on and the fruit is so dense. 

This is a very relaxed delicious open wine. The cherry and blackberry fruit flavors are ripe and perfect and mature: they're polished and the wine has a very relaxed feel to it. But it also has serious structure and power. The wine takes it's time and even with out huge fruit or high alcohol it makes you take your time too. The blackberry is so dense and vivid, and then there's this awesome touch of cool aromatic spice like spruce or thai basil.   

The 2014 Galichets is about $30 retail in a store and you can find this at Lorne and Now You're Cooking


Domaine de Chevalerie Bourgueil "Breteche vineyard" 2014
60 btls came into Maine

The Bretêche vineyard is the most east site Chevalerie has. It is a rented plot on the southwestern exposed upper part of the mid-slope. That means deeper meter-deep heavier clay with high mica content above the Turonian yellow tuffeau. The vines, biodynamically farmed, are between 25 to 55 years old. More powerful than Busardières with broader tannins, the wine maintains a great freshness. Hand-harvested and destemmed, the grapes are macerated for up to 20 days and aged in large used barrels in the magnificent underground cave dug into the yellow tuffeau for roughly 8 to 10 moths. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered. 

Aroma: Before I even get to the glass I can smell black currant and juicy blackberry: dark, substantial, and vivid. As I actually get my nose into the glass there's also the smell of an old burnt down fire: tangy charred wood and ashes. As the wine gets some oxygen in it the fruit turns less dark and evolves into more plum and meaty cherry. The ash fades but is still there and makes me think more of roasted poblanos. Give the Breteche another 10 minutes and a bit more of a rich earthy/meaty/mocha aroma starts to sneak in and displace that char... then another 10 minutes on I'm smelling flowers: violets and lilac. Wow.

dark and sleek texture, ripe blackberry, and tart cherry with an undertone of that char. Like the Galichets there's acidity that supports the fruit, but in the Breteche the acidity gets more of the spot light. It runs through the blackberry with this dynamic racy playful intensity. That's prefect because the blackberry is really pretty fat and fleshy so having the acidity sort of literally cutting through it is great. This wine has a bigger mouth filling meatiness that the Galichets and Peu Muleau didn't. The mid palate has more of the charry flavor and seared poblano, plus this sneaky earth minerality starts to filter in. It's earthy in a slightly mocha kind of way. Then with the finish the wine shows off more of it's underlying structure: a solid angular stony minerality that is deliciously covered with just enough black cherry and raspberry fruit to make it beautiful without actually hiding the minerality. There's also a touch of a cool aromatic spice quality that gives it a more high toned component. There are real tannins here, but there's so much else happening that I don't notice them. That's impressive really: the tannins aren't weak, they're just so well integrated behind the other components that you don't notice.

Bottom line: this is a muscular wine that is also complex and intellectual and has even has flashes of beauty and elegance. Breteche retails around or just under $40 and you can find it at Bangor Wine and Cheese, Vessel and Vine, Grippy Tannins, and the Blue Hill Wine Shop


Domaine de Chevalerie Bourgueil "Chevalerie vineyard"
84 btls came into Maine

As the name would suggest, the Chevalerie vineyard is the core of Domaine de Chevalerie's holdings. This is the original vineyard just up the road from the winery. Like Breteche this is midway up the slope from the Loire. The soil is a mix of clay, alluvial sand, and gravel topsoils, rich in silex over Turonian limestone. The vines average about 60 years of age.

Aroma: Black currant, black cherry, and you guessed it: blackberry; however the Chevalerie is a little more aromatic and spicy smelling than the Breteche. I don't smell ashes or smoke, but I do smell some wild blueberry here. With another 10 minutes to breathe the aroma has started to smell very Christmasy! I can smell nutmeg and coriander now, a touch of spicy pine, plus cooked cherries and blackberries. Another 10 minutes on and the nutmeg and coriander have faded. Now it's back to the regularly scheduled program of black cherry, blackberry, and ...hmm rosemary now.

Taste: cherry and raspberry fruit with really nice pure crisply defined flavors, but the wine quickly adds some wintergreen/spruce tip spice. The deep midpalate has a lush mouth coating texture but it also has some crunchy minerality to the mid palate; compared to Breteche there's a bit more acidity and rocky minerality and the fruit is a little more towards the blueberry part of the spectrum. Also a bit more of that fire roasted poblano with some mocha hiding under all that. The texture is supple- more so than the Breteche; silkier. Until the finish that is when the Chevalerie sort of draws in on it's self. I taste a hint of aromatic spice like rosemary or thyme, then a tart wild black cherry flavor supported by tannins that are more firm than the Breteche, but still restrained and in the background. Right at the heart of the finish there's a little slate mineral component that grabs your palate and reminds you again this wine means business. If you needed any reminder. Then, after the wine is gone there's an elegant red cherry flavor that comes back to me.  

The Chevalerie has a bit more structure than the Breteche. Both are more serious and substantial than the Galichets. Chevalerie and Breteche both have power and finesse. Chevalerie is a bit crisper and serious while the Breteche is a bit meatier and more muscular. These are all such wonderful wines. I think Chevalerie is a bit more balanced and intellectual than Breteche, but Breteche is a little richer and open; both are amazing. 

The Chevalerie vineyard Bourgeuil retails in the mid $40s and you can find it at Vessel and Vine, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Maine and Loire, Meridians, Bath Natural, and Maine St Meats in Rockport

The Most Exciting Wines for the Holidays!!!

The Most Exciting Wines for the Holidays!!!

Here we are! We have made it to the holidays! The end of this year is in sight; Christmas, Hanukkah, the Solstice are all right around the corner. Without further ado here's the list of wines I am particularly excited about and promoting for Christmas.  


Cantina Sociale di Gattinara 2011

How crazy is it that the current vintage of this wine is 2011!? This Nebbiolo from Gattinara, up in high Piedmont, spends 2 years in Slovenian oak botti, then 1 year in cement tank, and a further 6 months in bottle....minimum. The aroma of this is fantastic! Really just stops me in my tracks. Roses, rose petals, crushed tart wild cherries, and little hints of black currant, licorice, and dark chocolate.....or like all those things got baked together into the best smelling pie in the world. Nebbiolo sometimes gets called the wine of kings and drinking this I see why. So so polished and suave and serious and deep. There's a bit of a cola or sasparilla flavor in the mid palate: a dark amaro kind of flavor that's both familiar and surprising. It's enchanting. There's a salty component on the midpalate and the comforting flavor of bittersweet chocolate. This is spectacular. So good, floral, and powerful all at once that it's heady. I aspire to have depths and poise like this!  

It's ridiculous that this perfect 9 year old Nebbiolo is priced in the mid $20s. The flavors that wine develops with age can't be recreated through any other chemical sleight of hand. It takes time to let all the flavors and structure really mellow and come together. As they say "time is money"...maybe they don't have that saying in Gattinara? I don't know why else a #wine that is so interesting, beautiful, and meditative would be priced at a fraction of what a similar Barolo would go for. Gattinara is an old DOCG in Alto Piemonte, but today there are only 12 producers left. Cantina Sociale is a 112 year old coop winery that was formed to empower small local growers. 35 families are a part of it today and together they farm a whopping...8 hectares. They work very traditionally and naturally and make only 2000 cases per year of all their wines combined.

This generally retails around or just under $40 and you can find it at The Cheese Shop of Portland, Monte's Fine Foods, Bath Natural Market, Maine and Loire, Now You're Cooking, Bow St Beverage, Wine Wise, Via Vecchia, Bow St Freeport, Meridians, and the Blue Hill Wine Shop


Matteo Furlani Antico (pet nat Nosiola)

This prickly, fizzy, juicy wine is so alive, delicious, and unique: it makes me think Matteo Furlani is some kind of wizard. Then you go visit his tiny winery up on the barren slopes of the Alps up above the tree line looking down on the city of Trento and you're convinced he's got some kind of magic! The flavor is lemon and pineapple at the start, but then a more savory fizz comes in on the mid palate. The finish turns salty and zesty with a rich white pineapple and papaya flavors! the Antico has a lovely aroma of ripe pineapple and toasted nuts...which makes sense because Nosiola the grape is named after hazelnuts. I can definitely smell a little bit of melon and ripe papaya as well.
Matteo is the current custodian of his family plots high in the Dolomites; he is a fourth generation winemaker. After studying agronomy, not winemaking (he learned that from his father and grandfather) Matteo set his sights on working his land in the most natural of ways. Chemicals were never a part of what Matteo's predecessors used to tend the vines yet Matteo took an even more rigorous approach, incorporating biodynamic preparations and methodologies in the vineyards today. 

Antico usually retails around $30 and you can find it at Ada's Kitchen Portland, Monte's Fine Foods, Maine and Loire, Sheepscot General Store, and Brooklin General Store


Domaine Dinocheau Malbec

Malbec from the Loire! Malbec is actually a traditional grape in the central Loire, it just usually doesn't leave the local area. This wine has big, dense, inky fruit but there's that good old Loire acidity that demands you take the wine seriously. Big and ripe but with gravel deep down in it's soul that you can taste in the angular crunch of the mid-palate. The lush fruit continues across your palate but turns a bit fresher and peppery before the finish refocuses with tannins that are...not shy. The tannins aren't aggressive or harsh or out of place, just right what a big lush dark Malbec needs: confident and serious. The aroma smells like exactly what the wine is: juicy friendly blackberry and blackcherry with underlying cola and wintergreen.

Located on the slopes of Cher in Touraine in the Loire Valley, Vignoble Dinocheau was founded by the great-great-great grandfather of Laurence and Fabien Dinocheau. Laurence and Fabien took over the estate in 2006 and it now covers 13 hectares in both Chenonceaux and Touraine AOPs. They aim for minimal intervention in the vineyard, practice sustainable farming, and use natural yeast fermentations.

Laurence Dinocheau's Cot generally retails for about $23 at Best Wines in Hancock, Meridians, Vic and Whit's, Vessel and Vine, and Anju.


Absentee Wine Co Balou

This Syrah hits you with bright sunny blackberry fruit right off, but then the mid-palate turns all dark and spicy. This is a red with serious presence. It has this delicious black cherry fruit going on so you think you're drinking a fun gregarious red but this wine lingggggeerrrsssss. This is a very serious wine masquerading as a party animal.  

Balou is made by Avi Deixler out in Point Reyes CA. He does just about everything himself. He uses no additives. He ferments in old used oak barrels that he laboriously grinds clean on the inside with an angle grinder. In my opinion these are some of the most exciting wines coming out of CA! 

Balou retails for just over $30 and you can find it at Maine and Loire


Partida Creus MUZ Vermouth
Partida Creus MUZ: old school authentic Vermouth made by Antonella and Massimo in Penedes Spain. This is all the holiday season flavors rolled up and packed into a brilliant looking litre bottle. The aroma is super impressive and dynamic ginger, cardamom, orange peel, candied cherry, blood orange, sandle goes on and on. On the palate it is quite juicy and a vivid balance of zippy acidity, ripe fruit, and aromatic spices. Fresh cherry and rasberry up front with lively acidity is followed by some salt and dark blood orange, then more of the aromatic slices come in and it's like a whole Christmas feast of flavors!
Antonella and Massimo were architects in Piedmont Italy who relocated to Spain for work. In the early 2000s they decided to move to the country for a slower pace of life...and what better thing to do in the Spanish countryside than make wine? They started ferreting out abandoned little old vineyards and convincing the locals to rent land to them. Now they make some of the most exciting natural wines in Penedes including this Vermouth along the lines of an old recipe from the Carpano family.

You can find this lovely litre bottle for about $35 at Montes Fine Foods, Rosemont Market, Maine and Loire, The Wine Seller, The Cheese Shop of Portland, Bow St Beverage, Vessel and Vine, and Blue Hill Wine Shop.


Podere Sanguineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

This is, in my opinion, one of the greatest classic Sangiovese wines of Tuscany. Dora Forsoni has farmed these 6 ha of blood red soil for her entire life. She owns 50 ha but feels these 6 are all out of that 50 ha that are worth farming. She works very naturally because that's how she was taught and her family had always worked. This is primarily local versions of Sangiovese locally called Prugnolo Gentile. This is deep and dark, but elegant and the complex flavors are beautifully interwoven. Blackberry and cherry up front but then salt and black pepper come in and the finish has an amazing amaro burnt orange peel quality to it. This is powerful and has that resilient Tuscan earthiness, but it's also elegant and has delicacy! This is a dream of a Sangiovese.

Dora's beautiful Sangiovese retails for about $40 and you can find it at Monte's Fine Foods, Stompers, Solo Cucina, Maine and Loire, Solo Italiano, and The Cheese Shop of Portland


Jurtschitsch Mon Blanc

Wow, the aromatics of this wine are gorgeous: beautiful fresh wildflowers... a little bit of lavender? Definitely ripe pear and lilacs!

On the palate this is gorgeous. At first the wine opens with some lemony citrusy-it's zingy, then it builds into a mid palate of riper citrus with the addition of some cool subtle spice like the heat from a poblano pepper. The finish adds a beautiful floral sort of white rose and zippy lime zest. It slowly slowly fades away. Under it all, holding all those pretty flavors together is this hidden back bone of salinity that gives the wine strength cohesion and wonderful tasty mouth feel. this is like no other Austrian wine I've tasted. This wine is a rock star.

Mon Blanc is a blend of Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Gelber Muskateller and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc). The juice gets about two weeks of skin contact, spontaneous fermentation in open-top wooden vats, aging is in 600L old oak barrel, and the wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered with just a touch of SO2.

Current wine makers Alwin and Stef are leaders of the natural wine movement in the Kamptal. It’s unique because their winery, Jurtschitsch, is one of the oldest, largest, and most prestigious in the region. When Alwin and Stef started working in 2006, they insisted with Alwin’s father and uncles on converting all the vineyards to organic viticulture. In the vineyards, they are continually improving how they work: replanting more densely, using whey to treat for mildew instead of using copper sulphate, and working with new pruning methods. All the vineyards are certified organic and protecting biodiversity has always been a priority. Jurtschitsch explains that, “The more life you have in the vineyard, the more stable the entire system is.” Wild life is abundant in the Jurtschitsch vineyards, with many fruit trees, grass, garlic, wildflowers and butterflies dancing amongst the vines.

Mon Blanc retails for about $26 at Bow St Beverage, Lincolnville General Store, Sheepscot General Store, treats, Good Tern, and More and Co


Moretti Omero Terre Di Giano Rosso

Moretti Omero the wine Co. was started by Omero Moretti in 1992 on his parents land in the tiny hamlet of Giano in Umbria. Omero is a real hands on old school farmer who can't help tinkering and trying to improve all the things he works with. It just so happened that these are some of the highest elevation sites in the Montefalco DOC, resulting in powerful but vivid and lively wines that have become the yard stick that I compare all other wines from this area to.  

The Terre di Giano has a rich aroma of juicy dark cherry, black berry, and some cedar/cigar box. It's a strong fruity aroma that's extroverted and spicy.

And it tastes the same on the palate! Lush ripe raspberry and cherry followed quickly by black pepper, cedar, dry robust tannin, and more black pepper. This is a substantial rustic red that's not shy! It's not heavy and it is well balanced. It's strong though and isn't afraid to let you know. This vintage is now 75% Ciliegiolo and 25% Sangiovese where previous vintages were heavier on Sangiovese and included Merlot and Sagrantino as well. Ciliegiolo is a derivation of the Italian word for cherries and this wine lives up to that reputation! 

Terre di Giano retails for about $18 at Rosemont Market, Thistle Pig, 44 North, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Lincolnville General Store, Treats, Vic and Whit's, Meridians, Vessel and Vine, Sheepscot General, Natural Living Center, Wine Wise, Solo Cucina, The Vault, and Tinder Hearth

Happy Holidays!

This will be an odd holiday season, but at least it will be odd for us all! On the one hand the knowledge that we won't be able to travel and celebrate together is hard. We're coming up on the coldest darkest part of the year and we are all going to be more isolated as we face it. 

It does feel like an accomplishment for those of us that have made it this far. The year is almost over and that feels like a turning point. We may not be able to have normal celebrations with people who matter to us, but we can still reach out and let people know that they're loved and appreciated. This is a good time to consciously try to focus on the positive things in our lives and to be thankful for them. I know that may sound condescending to some people out there: people who have had to close businesses or lay off employees who felt like family members. I acknowledge that. I don't want to down play anyone's suffering. Even if all you've got to look back on in 2020 is pain and struggles; at least you're here and able to look back. Trying to look for the positive things in our lives is valuable if for no other reason than it's a prompt to thank people for how they've helped us.  

I know I have a lot to be thankful for. Devenish wines has been fortunate, but what's contributed to our resilience more than anything else is the support of you, our customers. Thank you. This has been a painful year and it's going to be a difficult start to 2021 as well. As I've been saying since the start of the pandemic: I'm going to keep celebrating the things I love and looking forwards to better days.


The Best Wines for Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving! Below are the wines I'm most excited about and where to find them.

Yes, this is going to be a hard Thanksgiving (I'm having Zoom guests at dinner) but I am holding onto every little piece of normalcy and pleasure that I can! What can I even write here that's meaningful and unique? We're all feeling cut off and unsure of the future. We may be coping and processing the hardships differently but we're all struggling with the same basic circumstances. At least in that knowledge we know that everyone is missing seeing people they care about. Staying connected is a struggle, but it's a fight worth fighting. There's room for creativity though; small gestures and unexpected kindnesses can make huge impacts on people. When I do something nice for someone, even if it's just paying them an unexpected compliment, there's the added benefit that it keeps me from feeling powerless: win-win! 

So thanks for reading! I appreciate all the support and interest in what I do. I sincerely wish you a good and safe Thanksgiving.


Ovum Off the Grid Riesling
Approximately $23

As I described it before: the wine equivalent of listening to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody! The flavor starts of elegant and almost delicate before suddenly this explosion of fruit and salt rises up and just blows your socks off with the mid palate!! It has lovely ripe tropical fruit and then this long lingering beautiful finish drawn out by the salt. The aromatics are perfect classic dry but powerful Riesling: mango, apricot, lemon, with a bit of spice and petrol hiding in the background. It doesn't smell sweet, just very fruity also with a bit of spicy basil and ocean salt mixed in.

John and Ksenija House make Off The Grid from fruit grown at the Cedar ranch vineyard in the Illinois Valley in south west Oregon. The vineyard is hilly and a complex rocky alluvial soil that helps to concentrate the grapes flavors and minerality. Like all the wines this ferments with native yeast and ages in neutral wood barrels and concrete eggs. Normally this sells for around $28 but it was so good that I bought a whole lot to get the price down. You can find it at Meridians, Oak Hill Beverage, The Cheese Shop of Portland, RSVP, and Maine and Vine.


Flaws 2018
Approximately $37
Made by Avi Deixler in an old dairy barn in Point Reyes CA these are some of the most exciting and delicious American wines I've tasted. Avi works mostly on his own with fruit he buys from an old organic family vineyard called the Poor family ranch. So named because Avi says that "flaws" is the American translation of the French word "terroir". It's a joke meaning that most wine making in CA is sanitized to the point that they don't taste like where they come from.  

This is made from a grape called Arbourieu. It's one of those old traditional grapes that was imported from Europe and grown in CA 70-80 years ago when farmers were making wine. Most of it has been ripped up to plant Cabernet and Chardonnay now, but there's still a bit at the multi generational Poor family vineyard in Mendocino. Flaws is a big lovable juicy expressive red with a long finish but tannins that are pretty easy going. It's a fruit forward and rustic red with strawberry, raspberry, and cherry flavors backed up with a little bit of spice that are perfect for Autumn Thanksgiving flavors. Available by special order


Estacion Yumbel Pipeño
Approximately $20

This is a dangerous statement for me to make and I've never said this about any wine before, but I think that this is the best wine in the Deveish portfolio; at least if you take price into account. 

Mauricio González Carreño makes his wines by hand on a small shed surrounded by his vineyards. His farming and wine making are very natural; it's a reaction to the industrial wine making he experienced at international wineries up around Santiago. He moved to BioBio (very rural southern Chile) because there are 200 year old vines, land is affordable, and he could farm with his family there in the vineyard with him. 

This is an impressively delicious red wine. It's juicy and on the big and rich side, but it's just bursting with life and intensity! It's not too acidic, just enough. Also the tannin is just what you want, not too dry. There is lovely salty minerality in the mid palate; but I honestly can't really explain why this is so spellbinding! It's very well balanced, juicy, supple...maybe it's that it somehow is bright and uplifting with out being too tart and has no flaws even though it's zero sulfur. Regardless, it's a deliciously juicy energetic red that is exceptionally well made and that body and freshness and energy are exactly what I want with a big Thanksgiving meal of root vegetables, savory turkey, etc.

This Pipeno is available at Wine Wise in Scarborough, Craft Curbside in Gray, Sheepscot General Store, Meridians, and Maine and Loire


Laurent Saint Pourcain Rouge
Approximately $17

One of my favorite wines of all time came back this year after a late frost completely wiped out their 2017 vintage. This is a Pinot Noir and Gamay blend from up in the eroded granite mountains of France's Massif Central. The Laurent family has been here for 6 generations farming over 25 acres broken up into nearly 30 separate vineyard sites.

Combining the elegance and poise of Pinot with the fruit and density of Gamay, this is a fantastic medium bodied red. It has dark blackberry and raspberry fruit, but nice acidity that makes the wine taste really lively. The Gamay turns just a bit dark and savory on the midpalate with a hint of smokiness. 2018 was a warm year and this is definitely a richer riper red than previous vintages, but it still has the balance and vibrant red fruits that I've always loved. It's a perfect versatile red for Thanksgiving.

You can find this perennial favorite at RSVP, Now You're Cooking, East Ender, Anju Noodle Bar, Best Wines, Bow St Beverage, Maine and Loire, Maine and Vine, Cocktail Mary, Meridians, Store Ampersand, Bow St in Freeport, Main St Meats, Novios, Alice and Lulu's, Sammy's Deluxe, East Ender, and Rayr in Rockport


Conestabile della Staffa Il Bucce
Approximately $23

A new release from Danilo Marcucci, this is a gentle skin contact wine from grapes grown at his Conestabile della Staffa estate. So it's sort of an orange wine, but it's not as heavy, funky, or savory as the hard core oranges are. 

Just to make it clear, this is a litre bottle!

This is equal parts Trebbiano, Malvasia, and Grechetto grown at Conestabile della Staffa in Umbria. Il Bucce means "the skin" in Italian and the juice spends 5 days with the grape skins in fiberglass tanks. This is lovely easy drinking orange wine that is clean and fresh and super sunny! Thing is that even though I preordered, I could only get 30 cases, most of which are now gone!

Aroma: ripe apples, wild, almost sweet smelling, and a hint of gingerbread

Taste: relaxed, but good acidity in there weaving the wine together. Medium bodied, smooth and supple, but then the mid palate gives you a good kick of salt and a spicy heat that lingers through the wine. Smooth and complex, a little bit appley...ready to drink now or through next spring. This is like adult lemonade!

Available at Wine Wise, Main St Meats, Aragosta, Maine and Loire, Solo Cucina, Sheepscot General Store, Portland Food Co-op, Unity Kitchen, Treats Wiscassett, Bow St Beverage, Hunt and Alpine, Ada's Kitcgen Portland, The Cheese Shop of Portland, and Oak Hill Beverage


Ceppaiolo Cepparosso 2019
Approximately $32

We all know Danilo makes great wines, but this is a stand out even among all the stars he produces. This is from his Ceppaiolo winery: a winery (I use the term generously for this falling down shed) that I describe as Danilo's test kitchen. He only makes a few hundred cases per year here, but he does it to experiment and learn. This red is a blend of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Vernaccia Nera, and Nebbiolo di Gubbio from a hand full of rows out back of the shed/winery. This vintage is so balanced and elegant and beautiful, it really shocked me. This drinks like the most beautiful cru Beaujolais, think Fleurie and it's best, or like one of Arianna Occhipinti's Frappatos from Sicily. The fruit is raspberry, cherry, and some watermelon. It's so so elegant and supple and bouncing and alive! But it's not too acidic, it's very smooth and uplifting. I can't say enough how delicious this wine is.

You can find this at The Cheese Shop of Portland, Trillium Caterers, Portland Food Co-op, Maine and Loire, Solo Cucina, and More and Co in Yarmouth.


Cantina Pioppa Lambrusco di Modena
Approximately $15

Cantina Pioppa is a small organic co-op outside Modena. This is 100% the Lambrusco Salamino variety. This is classic Juicy vivid Lambrusco that's dry and easy to drink. The bubbles are very small and more like a frothy bottle fermented beer than a bottle fermented wine. The bubbles do however make the wine more playful, engaging, and will reset your palate as you eat rich heavy food. Behind the black raspberry up front there's nice acid and a hint of dried fruit that makes this Lambrsco more autumnal and thoughtful..... and also makes this a slam dunk home run wine for turkey. The aroma is juicy exuberant blackberry and black cherry! It's that expressive jammy aroma Lambrusco is famous for.

You can find this at Bow St in Portland, Rosemont Cape Elizabeth, Cocktail Mary, Store Ampersand, and the Rising Tide Co-op


Here is a video of me rhapsodizing about the Ceppa Rosso


St Anne Cotes de Provence Rose
Approximately $27

This is just fantastic. St Anne is a legendary Bandol producer and this summer was the first time I ever got my hands on their Provence rose. It smells like the summer ocean: briney and warm and ripe. It smelled sort of like apple pie, but without any of the spices: just baked apple. On the palate it was very serious and very delicious all at once. It tasted briney and peachy but not too fruity, this is old school classic savory totally dry rose that is complex and layered. It's a whole other world from the light acidity dominated rosés that dominate the market now. This is intentionally aged 18-24 months to let the wine come together and evolve instead of rushing it to market as we all yell for fresh rosé each spring.

St Anne has been at the front of Natural wine making for longer than I've been alive. Françoise Dutheil was a founding member of the Associations Vins Naturels (AVN) back in the 70s. These wines always make me stop and take notice. I absolutely love this and as a deep full bodied complex rose I had to include it here..... but I only have 4 cases. 

The only store that has it is Maine and Loire

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Online Wine Tasting with Roberto Henriquez in Chile

Online Wine Tasting with Roberto Henriquez in Chile

2019 Roberto Henriquez Releases are Here!!

To celebrate I'm doing a live chat with Roberto this Saturday at 2pm on Instagram Live

On Saturday anyone can just go on Instagram, navigate to the Devenishwines instagram page, and then join the live chat! Open a bottle of his wine, listen as we talk about wine making in rural Chile, and how his wine making has evolved.

Info on all the wines and where they're available below

Sunday Take Out 4 Course Wine Dinner

Sunday I'll be taking part in a virtual wine dinner! Here's the plan: 1-2 hours before logging-on to join everyone for wine and dinner in a Zoom meeting, you’ll receive your dinner-for-two package containing the two featured bottles of wines and 4 different Maine Squash dishes, one from each Chef, each in its own container with easy instructions to either place in your refrigerator, freezer, or set to be ready for our first course starting at 6 PM.

The Chefs
The chefs cooking and dining with us for this four-chef, 4-dish, 4-Maine Squash collaborative virtual wine dinner are:

Chef Jordan Rubin of Mr. Tuna featuring Maine-grown Kabocha squash with Bluefin Tuna Sashimi
Chris Gould of Central Provisions and Tipo will feature Maine-grown Butterscotch squash in a beautiful salad course with many components from his own garden
Chef Damian Sansonetti of Chaval: Maine-grown Musque de Provence squash married alongside local Breezy Hill Pork.
Chef Ilma Lopez of Chaval: will create an incredible dessert from Maine-grown Delicatta squash

We are excited to have you join us for this incredible collaborative virtual wine dinner as we gather online from the comforts of home—with two wine glasses in hand, four Chefs, and a Sommelier on the screen—to discuss the featured wines and the delicious Maine Squash dishes from Chefs Rubin, Gould, Sansonetti, and Lopez, all while creating community, and supporting local restaurants, farmers, and purveyors.

Featured Wines:
Caneva da Nani Col Fondo Prosecco
Conestabile della Staffa Il Rosso

Due to the nature of this event, we regret that we cannot accommodate food substitutions. The dinner-for-two ticket price is $220 all-inclusive of a 4-course dinner-for-two, 2 bottles of wine, tax, service, download materials, event experience, and delivery. “Seating” is limited to 20 deliveries of wine-dinner-for-two in the Greater Portland area.

Live outside of our Greater Portland delivery area? No problem. You may met us for contact-less curbside pick-up at 3:45 pm at Chaval. Just make sure to put a note in the comments section at checkout that you’ll do 3:45 curbside at Chaval.

Virtual Dinner Reservations

Roberto Henriquez Background

The new vintages from Roberto Henriquez are here!!! Visiting Roberto just before the Pandemic was an experience I'll remember for the rest of my life, but it feels like it was a different world. I'll try to be concise in my explanation of why Roberto is so awesome, but here's a link to a blog post I wrote at the time:

Roberto Henriquez

   Wine making in the Bio Bio and Itata valleys of Chile is crazy. The Pais grape variety emerged from an unintentional cross between to imported varieties maybe 300 years ago in Chile. The vines are very well suited to the climate and if left alone will just grow wild up trees. Chile doesn't have phyloxera so all these vines are planted ungrafted on their own root stock. The wine culture in this part of Chile goes back hundreds of years and is associated with peasants and indigenous people. Santiago, the Euro-centric economic capital 300 miles north has always looked down on and ignored the wine culture of BioBio/Itata because of that association with indiginous people. The effect is that wine making in this rural area hasn't changed or been influenced by international markets; people still make wine for their own enjoyment using the same techniques that their Spanish ancestors did 300 years ago. Since the wines were just for local consumption they weren't worth enough for anyone to bother using any fertilizer or pesticides on them beyond maybe manure from local cows. Traditionally wines here are made without additives or any modern intervention and are technically extremely natural, but the local farmers have no idea that there is a "Natural Wine" movement and they're not trying to conform to any preconceptions of what a Natural Wine tastes like... which I think is great and makes these wines more interesting and important.
     Roberto made his first vintage in 2013. He made about 500 bottles from the vineyard that would become Notro Tinto. He had grown up around very small scale traditional winemaking from his grand father, but he'd never been exposed to commercial wine making. After that 2013 vintage Roberto became more and more interested in wine making and his local area's unique grapes and traditions. Roberto enrolled in a state agronomy school with a focus in wine making. He was one of only a handful of his original class to make it to graduation. There is no state wine making school or degree in Chile, you have to study to become an agronomist and then focus on wine; It's considered engineering so the bar is quite high and being a state sanctioned agronomist is pretty prestigious. Roberto then worked with Luis Antoine Luyt, a French man who came and was dazzled by the 200 year old vines and first really took these traditional wines out of Chile and presented them to the rest of the world. Roberto and Luis Antoine eventually parted ways, but Roberto says that no one but a French wine professional could have taken these wines to France and convinced the French that they should pay attention to them. Roberto started making his own wines in earnest in 2016.

Warning: these wines are really fantastic, but Roberto's entire yearly production is about 2500 cases. So there is very little to go around. If you want some I would not recommend waiting to order...

Here's a video of Roberto talking about why he pays farmers more than double the market price to farm grapes.

Along with being a talented wine maker Roberto is an endlessly energetic, quietly confident, and extremely driven person. This part of Chile is remote and most people are quite poor. He knows he was lucky to get into the state engineering school and then also lucky to have gone to France and worked with the legendary Loire winery Agnes and Rene Mosse. His time working with them making natural wine in the Loire opened his eyes to the international wine world. He's using his business as a spring board to help other people in his local area. He's trying to stimulate business and empower other local people to look beyond their local horizons. It's kind of amazing that in the space of 5 years he's gone from making wine in a tiny root cellar to now having his own building as a dedicated winery and a following all over the globe! He always takes on a large group of interns from the state agronomy school hoping that he can help get some of them started as wine makers and build a little cluster in his area. Next he's working on plans for a community winery to help small local wine makers and give them the possibility of exporting.

Molino del Ciego
Approximately $30/btl retail

Old vine Semillon from a vineyard in Itata. These are bush vines generally bigger than the ones in the video below but still totally wild. Roberto does a sort of maceration of the grapes through a destemmer and then lets them ferment on the skins in a vat. From there it get's transferred to a big concrete tank where it rests with the skins for several months getting daily punch downs. 

The aroma is pretty strong...aromatic sunny spicy pineapple and a hint of rooibus tea. Behind the fruit I can smell white peppercorns and a hint of clove.

The Molino is lush in texture, juicy, tart at first and then the mid palate turns spicy. It's sleek, relaxed, and focused, There's that aromatic coriander...but then behind that a little gentle caress of tannin that dries your palate out. There is a flavor that reminds me of green tea and also a bit of yuzu. There are definitely some unique Asian sorts of flavors here. Wow, green tea and yuzu is coming across pretty clearly to me!

You can find this at Vessel and Vine, Maine and Loire, Lily's House Cafe, and Aragosta

Here's a short clip of me harvesting bush vines in Itata. This is what the landscape looks like where the Molino comes from

One of Roberto's traditional Rauli fermenters. Rauli is an indigenous tree that's related to the beech family (it's not oak despite what some people will tell you). The wood is hard and dense and it's very slow growing.... so the government cut them all down in order to plant fast growing pulp wood trees for the paper industry! Seriously they're endangered and protected by the government now so it's almost impossible to get new Rauli barrels.  

Roberto's brand new winery! It doesn't have water in it yet (he has a garden hose run into it from his house) but this is a huge step for him in having a real work space to keep everything organized. Seriously, he was previously making wine in various sheds and root cellars at the different vineyards he was farming.

Pais Franco
Approximately $30/btl retail

A new wine for Roberto, he just bought this vineyard last year. It's old bush vines that grow to just about head high on a little flat piece of ground close to the banks of the Bio Bio river. The soil is all black volcanic sand! Like all of Roberto's reds this is carbonic fermentation.  

The aroma is so juicy! It smells like crushed macerated blackberries and black pepper. Like if I cooked a steak and just drowned it in cherries and ground black pepper. It smells so pure and so like Pais

The taste lean cherry, cranberry, tart, then some spicy cedery wood comes in on the midpalate. Lovely pure dark raspberry fruit and cranberry... the fruit is so high-toned! Then the midpalate is spicy and some soft but young tannin comes in. Wow, this is just so so pure and racy and beautiful.

Available at Hops and Vine, Maine and Loire, Maine St Meats, Lorne, Cheese Shop of Portland, and Bath Natural Foods

A quick look around the Pais Franco vineyard. Look at that black volcanic sand! Roberto just bought this vineyard and 2019 is the first vintage he's made of this wine.

Santa Cruz de Coya
Approximately $28/btl Retail

Named for a Spanish city that was razed to the ground by the Mapuche people and now no one even know where precisely it was... this is sort of Roberto's flagship red. It's carbonic but the grapes do get macerated a bit through a destemmer. The soil here is gritty granular decayed bits of red granite; it's just about the same color as the label. 

The aroma is ripe raspberry, cherry, blackberry....and also a hint of cooked rhubarb. And there's that hint of smoke too. Right here right now this bottle of Coya doesn't have the expressive aromatics that the Pais Franco and Notro Tinto have, which is kind of surprising because having also tasted this bottle I know that this wine is an absolute firecracker on the palate!

The taste is so juicy, richer, more blackberry, brambley and some lovely plum in the finish. This has some angular acidic and tannic structure, but it's not as dense and muscular as the Notro. It is more juicy and fruity, more of a vivid expressive punch of fruit right in the front of your palate. This is fresh and has uplifting acidity, but also a riot of vivid juicy ripe fruit. Absolutely delicious!

Available at Maine and Loire, Lorne, Cheese Shop of Portland,Hops and Vine, Trillium Caterers, Brooklin General Store, Treats, and Central Provisions

Roberto in an old previously abandoned vineyard that he is slowly recovering and will use for Santa Cruz de Coya. The Pais vines are so hardy and the climate so perfect he maybe sprays some copper sulfate once a year in his vineyards; vineyards in Europe may need 10 treatments to prevent mildew!

Notro Tinto
Approximately $27/btl Retail

Notro Tinto comes from the first vineyard Roberto started making wine from. The vines are over 100 years old and grow in a mix of rocks left by the Bio Bio river millions of years ago. This vineyard is almost a stones through from the Pais Franco vineyard, but the soils and wines are so different!

Lovely expressive aroma of dried cherries, raspberry, cranberry, some smoke and charcoal too.

the taste is juicy fruit followed by firm tannins and a broad meaty midpalate and then a lovely savory salty component. More substantial and muscular than Roberto's other reds. There's some of that hint of wood smoke in the midpalate as well. Still, overall this is very clean focused (like all Roberto's wines) and the flavors are integrated with precision. This is lovely and fruity in a different way than the Santa Cruz de Coya: more spicy and brambley and a bit chewy. 

Available at Maine and Loire

Notro Blanco

Approximately $27/bottle Retail

Notro Blanco is a blend of Corinto, Moscatel d'Alejandria, and some Semillon, all from vineyards in Itata that are exposed and a bit fresher than in Bio Bio. The free run juice and pressed juice are fermented separately and then blended back together. The wine spends 3 months with skins in the tanks.

Wow, wonderful tropical aroma of Pineapple, a whiff of spruce trees, and some dry honey aromas a bit like mead. 

the taste is rich, sunny, with some orange creamsicle and tart tangerine; this is so alive tasting! The character of the wine really gives the impression of the warm sun. The fruit is rich and pineappley, but also citrusy and lemony as well....this is a very complex white and it's tricky to unpack. The finish is savory and there's a sort of taste of baked pastries that lingers. A bit of spice on the mid pallet. Its deep and interesting but not a heavy unctious white; it's still light on its feet and energetic. That freshness is one if the most special things about this. There's a lot of depth but the wine doesn't come across as heavy or thick.

Available at Lily's House, Maine and Loire, Perks Beer and Beverage, Trillium, Aragosta, Primo, Bow St Beverage, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Leeward, Wine Wise, Brooklin General Store, Maine St Meats

Here's a picture of the vineyard that produces most of the Santa Cruz de Coya. Previously abandoned, Roberto has been working on recovering it for about 5 years. It's very well sheltered and you can see the red, gritty, decayed granite soil. He said it had been about 3 years since he had plowed this with a horse and he had spread some manure in the previous year. they do a little bit of pruning to keep the vineyard somewhat passable but they don't need to do any green harvesting of grapes or stuff like that. 

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Visiting Eduardo Torres Acosta on Mount Etna


Eduardo came to Etna from Tenerife (the Canary Island) back in 2014.  He had studied viticulture and agronomy and there was more going on up on Etna.  He landed a pretty sweet job as wine maker for Andrea Franchetti at Passopisciaro.  Passopisciaro is one of the top producers on Etna and is dedicated to recognizing the many different vineyard sites.  So Eduardo got his foot in the door and started looking for vineyards to rent or buy.  He slowly got access to some and began making his own wines, I think when I was here in 2016 he was on his first vintage (2015).  At this point he's got his own small winery set up and makes almost 2000 cases of wine per year.  I think he made that vintage in the winery of his partner, Arianna Occhipinti.  He now has his own winery on Etna which certainly must make everything easier now that he's producing a few He makes 4 different labels: Versante Nord Bianco, Versante Nord Rosso, Quota N, and Pirrera.  Quota N and Pirrera are both single vineyard contrada wines.  Pirrera is about 90% Nerello and the rest is a version of Grenache.


An interesting thing Eduardo told me was that pretty much none of his wines are single varietal.  He explained that the old vineyards may be primarily Nerello but have other grape varieties mixed in.  That's not really news, but he said that even the Nerello doesn't ripen uniformly because different terraces or sides of a particular vineyard will get differing amounts of sun, so even the Nerello ripens sort of unevenly, so harvest is always an exercise of selecting cluster by cluster and vine by vine in the vineyard and invariably other grape varieties that are there and ripe enough get picked and co fermented with the Nerello

Versante Nord Bianco 2018

Versante Nord Bianco is primarily Minella, about 60%.  This wine is insane.  It smells like a salted pineapple roasted on a grill.  Eduardo's bianco smells so richly tropically fruity and sunny!  It's a great aroma, not to cloyingly aromatic like Gewurztraminer can be, but so rich and alive and exciting.  It tastes....pretty much like it smells which is really cool!  There's fantastic saltiness in the midpalate and then the finish has a long lingering pineappley peach juice sort of flavor.  I opened this at a tasting with multiple vintages of Magma and other crazy Etna wines.  This was the only wine that nearly started a fight over who got to buy how many bottles.

Versante Nord Rosso 2017  

This smells so comforting; like wood smoke, cherries, and a little like roasting meat.  None of the flavors are in your face, they're all woven together, but clearly separately defined from each other.  The aromas is just so beautifully clean, pure, and alive smelling.   Nerello Mascalese has a lot of faces.  It can be alternately beautifully aromatically floral or dense and fiery.  Eduardo's Versante Nord manages to do both, even on the palate!  There's really pure ripe cherry fruit with great balanced acidity that transitions into this spicy muscular finish.  There's a definite dance between the tannin and fruit here and it works so well; the balance is impeccable.  


I visited Eduardo at about 6 o'clock at night and in the middle of a pretty crazy torrential rain storm.  It was raining about as hard as I've ever seen it rain in my life.  The streets had turned into rivers, all kinds of things were getting washed away, and the wind was strong enough that it was carrying away loose shutters and debris.  After we finished tasting and I helped him unload a new barrel from the back of his Ford Ranger we headed out to get dinner.  The road was starting to wash away in some places and I was glad to be in a pick up!


We went to a tiny restaurant in Castiglione and I don't even remember it's name!  I think we ordered everything on the menu.  It was delicious, it was dark and very wet outside and I think we were the only people in the restaurant.  I wish my Italian was better but it was great to hang out, it was late, and we were both pretty exhausted at that point.

Summer's here and so are the Wines!

Summer's here and so are the Wines!

The 4th of July has come and past. I would normally write something here about how amazing all these wines to follow are, but it just doesn't feel right to project the same persona when we're in the situation we're in. The sun is warm, the air is humid, the tomatoes are growing like weeds. But this isn't like any summer before it. We've been dealing with the corona virus for going on 5 months now and while we've all evolved through many stages of processing it.... but the reality of the virus hasn't really changed. It's still here, still a threat that isn't thoroughly understood, and we still need to avoid contact with other people in order to keep each other safe. It's ironic that while the virus and what we all need to do hasn't changed: it feels like everything else around that has changed. Social distancing is a lot harder when it's the height of summer and we're accustomed from past years to be seeing old friends and having summer get togethers. 

It's frustrating that so much about the Pandemic is out of our individual control and progress is so slow, but that's the nature of this. Every day counts. Every day is another day where our health care system gets better at dealing with the complications of the disease, learns more about how to treat it, improves how to treat patients without exposing health care workers. Every day that we make it through without the health care system getting over whelmed, with our sanity intact, with our families safe, with our businesses as intact as possible; those are all little victories that add up.  

So, uh, yeah that's what I'm going to write here. I guess I've got more processing to do myself. I should go write more op-ed pieces. Now on to the wine!


Cellario Il Barrusco

Fausto Cellario! What to say about that guy!? He's super sweet, very energetic, and just a little crazy in such a lovable way he should star in his own romantic comedy.  

Juicy fun blend of Neretta, Barbaresco, and Dolcetto from Fausto Cellario! This wine is exactly what it looks like: juicy, fruity, fizzy, and absolutely delicious! It's full of life and extremely fun, just like Fausto the wine maker. Don't believe me? watch the video evidence below of how much fun this wine is.

You can find this for around $21 at Lorne, Great Cranberry General, Maine and Loire, Vessel and Vine, The Cheese Shop of Portland, Aragosta, Floods, Ada's Portland, Milk and Honey in NEH on Mount Desert

Here's a quick video of me talking about Il Barrusco

Fabien Jouves Les Agudes 2019

You're probably familiar with Fabien from previous email newsletters. He's a younger guy who quite medical school and took over his family's winery in Cahors when his parents weren't able to continue any more. He has something of a reputation of a wild guy, and when he switched everything to natural farming and fermentation the other villagers thought he was crazy. But the proof is in the wines and they're shockingly lovely and elegant! This is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, and Semllion. It sort of combines the best parts of all of them! The body and the ripeness of the aroma give away the Chardonnay, but the Sauvignons come through in a spicy aromatic aroma and the tangy zip it has on the palate. That back drop of apple blossoms is fitting because I can smell apple blossoms in the aroma. This is one of those rare wines that tastes unique, delicious, and extremely well made all at once.

You can find this lovely blend at Maine and Loire, Main St Meats, Vessel and Vine, Aragosta, Cherie's, Lily's House, The Cheese Shop of Portland, and Royal River Natural Foods for about $23

Here's video of me drinking the Fabien Jouves in the back of a box truck

Domaine Espiers is back!

I drank my last bottle of Domaine Espiers Sablet in February of 2019 as part of a seminar I taught on Southern Rhone wines. It was 2010 and it was exceptional! I had been hoarding that last bottle for years so I'm quite excited to have Philippe Cartoux represented in my portfolio again. He's an amazing farmer and his wines are examples of how to make lively beautiful wines in a hot sunny place that can naturally create too much ripeness. Here's a quick little blurb about him: Philippe Cartoux created his 9.5 ha estate in 1989. The estate is run organically “l'Agriculture Biologique.” There are 3 ha in Gigondas, 2.5 ha of Sablet and 4 ha of Cotes du Rhone. Yields are restricted through short pruning and green harvesting, 20% below the limits, and vine density is a high 5400 per ha. The resulting wines are extremely well balanced, combining great intensity of flavor with excellent aromatics and acid balance. Over the last three years he has reduced SO2 to 20-25 mg/liter on all the wines. Sablet, with great care in vinification and aging, has been reduced to 9 mg/liter.

Espiers Cotes du Rhone about $22
Grenache 70%-Syrah 20%-Mourvedre 10%, done in tank. Ver deep pure purple. Fantastic brilliant nose. All vibrant purple fruits. Excellent. Mouth is very juicy, black fruit but brilliant balance. Juicy spicy Grenache all the way! Tastes very ripe and juicy too, but I wouldn't call this heavy. There is a lot of pepper and spice! Very fun. Only 10 cases available. You can find it at Maine and Loire, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Duck Fat, Cherie's, Lorne, and Meridians

Sablet, priced about $27
80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, done in tank. Very dense purple. Fresh, juicy brilliant nose. Mouth is juicy, very, very deep with ripe, sweet tannins and grip.Meatier and denser smelling smelling than the Cotes du Rhone. Crushed black pepper, roasted cherries. It tastes firey, but lush and sleek. There's more spice and heat, tastes like intense sun and ripe fruit: lots of raspberry and blackberry. It's intense,because there's so much and the flavors are big, but it's balanced and focused. Available at Vessel and Vine, Cherie's, Maine and Loire, Lorne, Blue Hill Wine, and Vic and Whit's

T Shirt Orders are Open Through the 11th

Our payment processor shut down for about 5 days last week (they suspected our T Shirts contained alcohol). Ordering is back up, but I decided to extend the window for orders since we lost some time.

So you can still order any combo of the 4 shirts, all with art from local artists, with all profits going to the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation Covid relief fund.

Just visit to order

Shop T Shirts

Jean Aubron Sauvignon Blanc de la Loire

Jean Aubron is a producer down in Muscadet (lower Loire) who also happens to produce this stunning Sauvignon Blanc. He works sustainably and ferments with native yeast. Muscadet may be the famous wine down in this area so this has to just use the "Val de Loire" name, but for the price it's better than nearly anything else out there. I just got 15 cases in.

My notes:
Oh I love ripe Sauvignon Blanc! That spicy key lime Thai basil and sun aroma gets me every time! It's got some surprising roundness and richness on the palate! There's a ripe sweet pear flavor that runs all throughout but it also has a clean stony focus and freshness. Cool proper French poise and edge! You can pick this up for about $15 at Tess Market, Meridians, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Cherie's, The Natural Living Center, Aragosta, Store Ampersand, and the Brooklin General Store.

Domaine Pepiere Muscadet

Domaine Pepiere is a legendary estate in Muscadet. Marc Ollivier founded it with 7 hectares he inherited and just slowly through his own curiosity evolved into making wines with natural yeast in individual cuvees that represented Muscadet's different terroirs. Pepiere was one of the first producers to do this and they were the first Loire wine that Louis Dressner picked up way back in 1989. Here's a link to Louis Dressner's page about them:


It's a fantastic value so I've direct imported 2 pallets of it for the summer. Pallet #1 just arrived so I opened a bottle. The aroma is lovely! There's ripe peach and pear with some briney beach on a hot day thrown in! The flavors are of white peach with a salty, zippy, midpalate. The tension of the salty ripe peach flavors here is spectacular. There's a citrus flavor that lingers along with the saltiness and draws out the very clean finish. 

You can get the Pepiere for about $15 from Meridians, Tops'l Farm, Maine and Loire, Lorne, Treats, Riverside Butcher, Cherie's, Aragosta, Little Giant, Store Ampersand, Fiddlehead in Bangor, Nina June in Rockport, Sheepscot General, More and Co, Whole Foods, Uncorked, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Vessel and Vine, Best Wines, Burning Tree, Walpole Barn, In A Silent Way (Wisscassett), Oak Hill Beverage, John Edwards Market, Bow St in Freeport, and the Great Cranberry General Store.

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