Staying at Iuli was a High Point of my Piedmont Trip

Staying at Iuli was a High Point of my Piedmont Trip

And now I have all their wines!


Two months ago I flew to Piedmont and I kicked off my trip with a stay at Iuli in Monferatto. I've held off on writing about the incredible experience I had until now for the simple and inarguable reason that I did not have enough of the wines on hand! Finally new vintages have arrived in the US so I am free to pass on my Iuli stories! 

I took an overnight flight as always and I always manage to sleep on the plane to maximize my time there. But this time I just couldn't go to sleep. I sat reclined in my seat with a hat over my eyes and ear plugs in for a solid five hours straight and I never truly dosed off. I accepted it and enjoyed landing at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport at 5 am and having it completely to myself. By the time I landed in Turin and talked Hertz into giving me an Abarth hatchback I was a bit of a zombie. The car and some espressos perked me up but the drive across the Po river valley was pretty bland. Then, suddenly I was driving up into these steep wild wooded hills: Monferrato!  

I drove up a small switch back up a bill and bam: there I was at Iuli. Conveniently Fabrizio was out front tasting wines with a friend and an elderly Swiss couple who owned a small vineyard nearby and contracted Fabrizio to take care of the land and then make them a wine each year. As I got there they were tasting some of Frabizio's wines plus the very young still fermenting wine from the vineyard of the Swiss couple. It was a wonderful relaxed moment talking about whether or not to age the wine in wood at all and how the vintage had been. This was a good introduction to Iuli. Located in the tiny hamlet of Montaldo up on top of a ridge where the road turns to dirt and fades into the woods beyond town; this is an isolated, insulated, beautifully relaxed oasis up in the hills.

The two days at Iuli were wonderful and made an impression on me. The vineyard and winery, the people, the dinner party we had, the school; it was all great. What really over all struck me though was the feel. There was constantly so much happening and people all over working, but it was all relaxed and comfortable and felt in it's rythym, everything in it's place. It was a great introduction to Piedmont and a feeling I'll remember.

Summer showing me the Waldorf school she started when the pandemic closed all the schools. Seems like a pretty reasonable thing to do: you need a school? Might as well start your own. The first night I was there Summer had a school board meeting so Fabrizio and I went out to dinner at a restaurant in a nearby town. We talked a lot about his youth playing music. We drove his immaculate old Citroen DS. He told me he had had one when he was a teenager but got profiled by the police all the time pulled over. Apparently Citroen DSs were stereotypically driven by rebellious kids and musicians going to parties.... which I think actually sort of describes Fabrizio. Fabrizio always missed the DS and years later, once Iuli was successful, Fabrizio tracked down an old DS in great shape and bought it.

Summer looking out from the back to the winery at the valley of their vineyards. From the Waldorf school on the back hillside we could look out over all the vineyards planted on the hillsides leaving the low point in the center of the valley empty. The kids were putting on a little performance to celebrate Michaelmas. 

Fabrizio's family owns just about all the valley and had only made wine for themselves up until Fabrizio started selling wine in 1998. So no chemicals, pesticides, or herbicides have ever been used here. Everything is organic with some biodynamic principles. All the work is by hand and the grapes ferment with native yeasts in a cellar that has been used for wine going back 300 years. The soil is all grey argillos clay. It's dense and super slippery when wet! I ran all over the vineyards and up and down on the hill sides and definitely should have had boots! The wines are technically natural but only because that was how Fabrizio's family had always continued to work. He primarily grows Barbera along with other traditional grapes like Grignolino, Slarina, Nebbiolo, Pinot Nero, and now Baratuciat. The wines are alive and lovely and also have a very strong sense of place; they are very true expressions of Monferrato wine making.

After the 30 or so kids in the Waldorf school held their Michaelmas performance Fabrizio took me all around the perimeter of the vineyards and through the woods in his '79 Land Rover. This is the view looking back across the valley at their house/winery (the tall brown building) and the whole rest of Montaldo next to it. His extended family had been here around this tiny valley for generations making wine for themselves and then eventually for a restaurant that they had. In his younger days Fabrizio worked in the family restaurant and then nearly moved to South America (I think it was Colombia that he visited repeatedly). Personal connections kept the South American move from happening and Fabrizio decided that he needed to “grow up” and stop working tables. He liked wine, had been learning about it through the restaurant, and he had inherited about 2 hectares there in his family's little valley. So he decided to try his hand at making wine commercially and in 1998 he started bottling Iuli and selling it. Fabrizio already had experience making wine in a traditional natural style with his family so he started from there.

Fabrizio in the cellar reflecting on how much he likes the 2021 Pinot Noir. 

In ten years, starting from 1998 Fabrizio grew to 8.5 hectares there in the little valley behind the winery. In 2008, Summer Wolfe, a wine buyer from the US came for a visit and taste his wines. They were both love struck. Summer moved in, they got married, they had 2 children, Summer helped Fabrizio plant more vineyards and expand to selling in more international markets. And Summer started a wine import company in the US so she could sell Iuli in America. And then after that company ran it's course Summer started another import company, Hootananny, with the help of her friend Carolyn. Summer is a very energetic person. At dinner I asked Fabrizio how it had been meeting Summer and falling in love and everything. I asked if it had been like getting hit by a hurricane. Fabrizio gave a sly smile and a little shrug and said it had been what it had been and that it had been great. I took away that it may have been a whirlwind but Fabrizio had been ready for it and had loved all of it. Fabrizio had a little corner shrine in a stairwell with a picture of the Dude from the Big Lebowski. I definitely saw shades of the calm "taking what comes" ethos of The Dude Abides.

Fabrizio uses a lot of cement for aging. He uses some wood tanks for softening wines that need it but cement is his go to. It sounded like he had gotten a lot of his tanks either free as others discarded. They were a fun hodgepodge of different sizes and styles; but that's actually kind of useful since your volume of wine fluctuates vintage to vintage it's kind of handy to have a wide assortment of different size vessels so that hopefully you can get all the wine to just fit and all the tanks to be full!

Fabrizio's little shrine in a corner of the stairwell: two old pictures of when he played serious amateur soccer, a picture of the Dude from the Big Lebowski, and a comic drawing of four men all balancing on top of a wine barrel carrying more bottles of wine. Fabrizio explained that the Dude is his guiding light (he abides) and that his life is encapsulated by that drawing of all the people balancing on a wine barrel.

Iuli Baratuciat

Find this at Black Birch, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Maine and Loire, and Aragosta

Baratuciat is a local indigenous grape that was just discovered in the last 15 or so years. Fabrizio told me that an old man had a large grape vine growing over the side of his house and that he sometimes made wine from the grapes. Eventually the vine was too big and sort of a problem for the house so he cut it down, but first he took cuttings and made a small vineyard. He started regularly making wine from the vineyard and at some point a bottle came into Fabrizio's hands. Fabs had been searching for a white grape that he could grow but didn't really like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. He decided to start experimenting with Baratuciat, this new pretty unknown variety, and has come to really love it. Yes, the grape's name does mean "cat's balls" in local slang. The grape clusters apparently look like cats balls. Hence the label. It's more of that romantic rural Italian magic.

Aroma: ripe sweet apple, fresh peach juice, a little bit of hay, a little teeny bit of melted butter. It smells ripe and fruity and sunny and delicious

Taste: medium bodied and energetic, it's vivid and has nice acidity up front but then more body and mouth feel on the mid-palate. Up front there's a fresh orange flavor and then the mid palate is kind of lemon citrusy. The finish has an apple flavor and more mouthfeel and a hint of aromatic spice. I really enjoy it; it's a vivid energetic wine with nice acidity that balances the fruit. It reminds me of a really ripe Alpine Italian Sauvignon blanc or kind of like a dry Chenin Blanc.

Iuli La Rina

Find this at Solo Cucina, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Black Birch, and Bow St Beverage

This is Slarina, an old local grape variety that was effectively abandoned after WWII. Oddly it produces lots of grapes in some years and then almost no grapes in other years. The clusters are also very lose with lots of space between the tiny berries which helps it resist mildew. Consequently Slarina can happily be planted on shadier north facing hillsides where other varieties might not be happy. The University of Torino helped find and resurrect the variety and Fabrizio has been planting some on the far side of the valley where it's shadier. The Slarina gets about 10 days of skin maceration and then 6 months resting in cement.

Aroma: really pretty fresh berry aroma that combines bright strawberry, ripe raspberry, and a little bit of a wild brambley peppery raspberry bushes sort of a thing. It smells so fresh and exciting and delicious! Really what more do you want?

Taste: smooth fresh easy drinking and gorgeous! The texture is so smooth and then it has these tannins that aren't too aggressive or heavy but they do sort of hold on and linger. The fruit is bright and opens with some raspberry and cherry but gets progressively darker until it turns into a darker cherry or black raspberry by the time you get to the finish. This has a great balance. The texture is smooth and it's thirst quenching and very vibrant but the flavors are a little bit wild and intense. It's driven by the pretty fruit, restrained woodsiness on the mid-palate and then those unique tannins.

Iuli Ta Da!

Find this at John Edwards, Blue Hill Wine Shop, and Leeward

The Ta Da! is a delicious field blend of Gignolino, Pinot Nero, Slarina, and Baratuciat. The grapes are co-harvested and co-fermented in concrete. So in order to get the timing right the Grignolino is a little under ripe and the Pinot is a little over ripe. This sort of feels like the flagship of Iuli, if you could say the winery has a flagship wine. Yes the Barabba is the biggest serious extroverted wine that they make but the Ta Da! feels like more an expression of Fabrizio since it's actually a blend that has a bit more of his fingerprints on it instead of just a single varietal expression. Also Ta Da! is a saying he uses a lot to sort of express a conclusion of a story or thought. How cool is it that the flagship wine is a unique delicious and complex 11.5% alcohol coferment of red and white grapes?! I clearly think it's very cool.

Aroma: really pretty fresh raspberries just off the bush, some cranberry: it smells beautiful and elegant. It has very fresh red fruit with this subtle touch of aromatic herbs... rosemary I think, in the back of it. Maybe a little bit of ginger too

Taste: juicy bright and zippy. Really compelling raspberry and some fresh red cherry up front, but then the mid-palate turns darker and has rich riper raspberry, black raspberry, and then this interesting little cranberry kick. It has real structure and the tannins make this serious. The fruit up front is so pretty and uplifting and then it gets darker and has some black pepper. The structure is deceptively substantial but the finish also has a suppleness to it and then uplift. I think the Pinot Noir contributes some of the effortlessly smooth textured mid palate. It's a super impressive complex delicious and layered wine. It has this delicious thirst quenching uplifting character that I feel like I pretty much only ever get from vin de soif, but then more complex earthy woodsey flavors come in. It kind of tricks you and surprises you in a fantastic way.

Iuli Rossore
$26/ btl

Find this at Solo Cucina and the Blue Hill Wine Shop

Classicly big, juicy, muscular, and with some dark savory foresty qualities Rossore is a very old school Monferrato Barbera expression. More than any of the other wines this may really be the core wine that expresses what this part of Monferrato is known for wine wise. Rossore comes from a few south facing parcels of Fabrizio's older Barbera vines and gets 3-4 weeks of skin maceration before it is aged for 24 months in large old Slavonian oak casks followed by 6 months in bottle.

Aroma: deep dark spicy black cherry. The aroma is driven by a core of juicy fruit, but there's all kinds of aromatic spice: coriander, a little bit of clove, it smells a little bit like wood smoke or something toasted. The aroma makes me think of Cajun spices! There's even a little bit of heady blood orange to he aroma

Taste: juicy rich raspberry hits you up front. The fruit flavors are so concentrated that they make me think of syrup or a reduction, but the wine is definitely not sweet! After that brooding the dark jammy fruit up front I get more wintergreen and sage on the mid palate. There's a hint of toffee and then some cranberry as well. The finish has more cherry.... there are good meaningful tannins but they're not too aggressive and support the fruit. The interesting aromatic spices on the mid palate are really cool and a great partner to the ripe dense fruit

Barabba Barbera

Find this at the Portland Food Co-op

Barabba is 100% Barbera and Fabrizio only makes it in the best years. Fabs started making it because he had a small plot of nearly 100 year old vines that his grandfather had planted and of course he wanted to vinify those separately. Eventually though too many vines had died in that vineyard, it wasn't producing much fruit, and it was in a little corner at the back of the vineyard where the wild boar could easily sneak in an eat all the grapes. So eventually Fabrizio replanted that parcel with more Slarina and Baratuciat. He couldn't give up on Barabba though so he found a nearby 90 year old parcel that he could rent and fully farm the way he wanted. In the years that he doesn't feel are good enough the fruit can go into Rossore, but in the best years he keeps this fruit separate. It gets 4 weeks on the skins and then 2 years in a 2100 L oak cask and then more aging in the bottle until Fabrizio is ready to release it. This 2019 vintage is 14% alcohol and I find the Barabba to be a bit silkier and more fruit driven than the Rossore. It's just as big, but a bit less dark and savory. It's a bit more polished and very impressive.

GioGio Freisa

Find this at Maine and Loire, John Edwards, Alna General Store, Kennebec Meat Co, The Weather Bird, and the Blue Hill Wine Shop

After decades in the wine business Summer finally jumped off the cliff and made a wine herself. This is a red made from Freisa and it is delicious and very impressive! For years Fabrizio and Summer had been vinifying a small barrel or tank (depending on the vintage) of Friesa for a legendary grape grower in Monfferrato to make some wine for the grower's personal consumption. After tasting the developing wines for years Summer fell in love with the variety. One day when Summer dreamily said " This is so good, I am fascinated by this variety; I want to make a Freisa" Fabrizio said "do it!" And Summer did. She has 2 hectares planted.

Aroma: mmm, the smell is a delicious balanced combination of juicy red cherry and raspberry jam. It's just a little bit spicy/peppery in the background; like a combination of the cool aromatic spice of rosemary and then a bit of a wild brambley quality hidden behind the fruit. 

Taste: bright and juicy and fresh up front, strawberry and raspberry fruit... then it has some drying sort of powdery tannins that remind me of coco powder on the mid palate. It picks up some tart cherry and then this slightly woodsey smokey tart kind of blood orangey finish! Please excuse my bending of the English language there. Friesa is a parent of Nebbiolo and while individual wines don't always taste that similar this Friesa has a finish that is very reminiscent of a structured but sexy and romantic Nebbiolo.

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Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations

Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations

Here's What I'm Drinking for Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, that picture is actually from my Thanksgiving last year. I hope we all have as fun and wacky a Thanksgiving this time around! Here's a quick list of some suggestions.

Thank You All So Much!

Cellario La Grinozza (liter)

Approximately $19

You can find this at Smalls, Folk, Portland Food Co-op, Meridians, Bath Natural, Bow St, Monte's Fine Foods, RSVP, Cheese Shop of Portland, Liquor Locker, and Broad Arrow Farm

Fizzy red Grignolino? How can you not love this!? Fausto Cellario makes this from Grignolino grapes that he harvests on the early side. He lets the juice ferment fully dry naturally but then at the end of the season he bottles it with the addition of some passito late harvest juice to kick off the refermentation in the bottles. 

Aroma: strawberry, passion fruit, fruit punchy fun and fresh smelling! It's deliciously juicy and fruity smelling with just a little bit of a touch of something herbal like mint or sage in the background.

Taste: Pink lemonade, strawberry fruit punch up front but the mid palate has some tannin and more depth than you expect. The bubbles are super fine and just in the background and prickly. This is really interesting aromatic perfumey tropical sort of fruit that lingers. It has that perfect classic Grignolino juxtaposition of lighter berry fruit with darker tannin and structure; with the bubbles it's perfect for Thanksgiving

Francois Gay, Savigny Les Beaune
Approximately $59

Available at Bath Natural, Now You're Cooking, Bangor Wine and Cheese, and Grippy Tannins

This lovely Savigny-les-Beaune is made by Pascal Gay. Pascal took over running his family's 8 hectare estate from his father (Francois) about a decade ago and is the 8th generation to work these lands based from the village of Chorey les Beaune. Chorey les Beaune is sort of an oddity: it's located just to the north of Beaune and surrounded by some of the most sought after Burgundy AOCs, but Chorey les Beaune itself is sort of over looked. He also has holdings in the Corton Grand Cru, Savigny-les-Beaune, and Beaune 1er cru. Maybe being based in the less pricey Chorey les Beaune has contributed to him keeping his prices down...I don't know how else to explain why this Savigny-les-Beaune is such a great value! The winery makes about 3400 cases total production per year, so quite small, and most of that is sold directly to restaurants in France. 

The vines are about 40 years old and the grapes are manually harvested. Before pressing, the grapes were mostly destemmed and then fermented and aged in French oak - 30% new. Pascal learned to make wine working alongside Francoise (who is still involved) so the wine is quite traditional. They farm sustainably and ferment with native yeast.

Aroma: fresh juicy blackberries, a little bit of pomegranate, a hint of red currant.... it's a clean fruit driven aroma but it has a warm comforting sort of feeling to it. There's a little bit of allspice and coriander and cinnamon lurking in the background that subconsciously adds an implication of holiday flavors!

Taste: Serious ripe cherry, blackberry, and black raspberry right up front! It has acidity that makes it bright but this is a ripe approachable fruit driven Burgundy. The tannins are relatively gentle but not weak and they start to sneak in on the mid palate giving the wine a more serious feel and dry cocoa powder dimension underneath the fruit. Then some tasty supporting salt comes in...this has that beautiful red burgundy effortlessly ripe, deep, and polished character but this is a little bit more on the forceful and grippy end of the spectrum. The tannin and touch of spice in the finish are perfect to carry the wine alongside turkey and gravy.

CarboEtrusco 2021
Approximately $27

Available at Vessel & Vine and Solo Cucina 

I know I just wrote about this in the Danilo visit email, but it's just the perfect weight and profile for Thanksgiving! It's juicy and fruity and has a lot of presence, but it's refreshing and low alcohol as well: perfect to savor a large and long meal!

100% Sangiovese made with a unique method of carbonic maceration that dates back to the Etruscan times. The Ancient Etruscans were known to cover the fermentation tanks (often clay pots or palmenti) with a wet, clay based paste. This rudimentary covering on the fermentation allowed the CO2 during primary fermentation to protect the must and preserving fruit. Danilo experimented with the idea and in the end created this. Aged in fiberglass tanks. No filtering or fining.

Aroma: juicy fresh blackberry, blueberry, a little bit of black currant. It's very juicy and very fresh smelling. Somehow it also smells a little dry, like it's going to feel a little dusty or dry out your mid palate it smells a bit like aromatic herbs: tarragon and lavender and tomato leaf. It's really nice: the fruit is so juicy and exuberant that the touch of herbs are a nice compliment.

Taste: wow! It's so vivid! It's so juicy! Cherry, black raspberry, a little bit of blueberry. It's bright and exuberant and bouncing all over the place but it has this little crunchy shell and structure of tannins on the mid palette that focuses the wine. It's also not heavy at all it's very energetic but it's also almost weightless. The fruit is just so fresh and pretty! It's a tightly wound black raspberry and then the tannins give the Finish some stabilizing firmness. There's a supporting background delicious salt component in the mid palate

Joannes Protner Riesling
Approximately $23

Cheese Iron, Bootlegger's in Topsham, Tess's, Helm, Bangor Wine and Cheese, and Graze and Vine

Run by Boštjan Protner and his wife, Mojca, they are now heavily assisted by their children Martin and Ana (Ana was recently awarded the title of Slovenian Wine Queen in 2021!). The family has been devoted to viticulture for over three decades and now have a total of 13 hectares of vineyards. The vines are about 45 years old and planted on steep 30-45 degree slopes. All viticulture on their small family farm is practicing organic and all fermentations are done with native yeasts, with only small amounts of sulfur additions done at bottling. The Protner family pretty just grows Riesling; the cold winters and hot summers in this continental part of Slovenia is a perfect environment.

Aroma: Well, this smells great! It's tropical, a bit spicy, and aromatic. It comes across really like a peach tartlet, or like a croissant filled with cooked Peach jam. The toasty cooked savory dimension is so cozy and just feels like Autumn... It takes on more of a beautiful honey aroma as it opens up; it's a really lovely aromatic dimension above the fruit smell. It's definitely super expressive and attention grabbing as I expect Riesling to be!

Taste: on the palate it's bright and focused. It's not as tropical as the aroma smells. It has nice acidity that makes it uplifted and energizing. The fruit is a mix of lemon citrus, white peach on the mid palate and then a fresh orange on the finish. There's a little bit of minerality and salt on the mid palate: sort of a focused crunchy expression and then it's also got a little bit of a pithy bitterness like from an apricot skin.

Chevalerie Bourgueil Cuvee 2015 Peu Muleau
Approximately $29

Available at Maine & Loire, Rayr, and Primo

Chevalerie is was founded by the Caslot family in the late 1600s. The winery is now fun by Emmnuel: the 15th generation. I visited the winery back in 2012 and it was an amazing to see how happy they were and sort of effortlessly serious. The Caslot family is in it's 16th generation here. The winery is built above an underground limestone quarry so they have nearly 2 acres of underground storage space to hold wines until they're ready to drink.

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: wow! Baking chocolate, chocolate covered cherries, cooked cranberries. There's a little bit of wintergreen in the aroma too. It's a lovely aroma that's very integrated and complex; it reminds you what a difference time in the bottle makes!

Taste: smooth and supple: the texture is so fine and's hard to describe how fine it is! There's a lot of black raspberry and there's acidity that gives the wine a fresh almost tart but not quite sort of character. It's smooth and linear with tannins that dries your palate in a fine gentle sort of way. It's very refreshing and lively... but the mid palate has this dark fruit and those fine tannins... the flavors are deep and earthy and along with baking chocolate it reminds me of dry autumn woods. This is such a gorgeous effortlessly beautiful wine!

Oyster River Morphos Rose 2021
Approximately $25

Available at Rosemont Market, Vessel & Vine, Folk, Whole Foods, Bow St Beverage, Riverside Butcher, Solo Cucina, Morning Glory, Maine and Vine, Rising Tide Co-op, Portland Food Co-op, Sheepscot, Now You're Cooking, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Terracotta Pasta in SoPo, Blue Hill Co-op, Cheese Shop of Portland, Maine & Loire, and Sawyer's Specialties

The 2021 is far and away the best Morphos Rose vintage Brian has made yet! We sol through our allocation earlier in the year, but now that Oyster River's tasing room is closed for the season Brian decided he could release some of what he had left. And I am so glad because this is perfect for Thanksgiving! This is 100% Merlot from a single vineyard that Brian has a long term relationship with down on Long Island. So Brain has input on the farming and has moved the farmer to work in a more sustainable way, stop using herbicides, and leave grass in the vineyards. Brian drives down and picks up the grapes in his box truck so that he can do a natural yeast fermentation in his winery in Warren with it. This vintage is a little more expensive because a valve on one of Brian's tanks broke over night and he lost a large portion of the juice, so he had to raise the price somewhat to still cover his costs, but it is such a delicious wine that has just gotten better over the summer.

Aroma: Wow, this is a lovely and rich aroma! Ripe cherry's, raspberries! It's a fresh juicy fruity very RED smelling fizzy rosé. It totally smells like cooked cranberries and Autumn holiday fruits! Sugar plums anyone? I'm so impressed by this vintage. It's so clean and well balanced!

Taste: wow the fruit is nice and juicy and round. The bubbles are very small but quite prickly and frothy! They carry the wine all the way through from start to finish... there's so much cherry and then some raspberry backing it up. The cherry is sort of a hard cherry candy flavor... the bubbles do a fantastic job of balancing it out. The fruit is deep and mouth filling, and the bubbles give the wine a dryness without having an edge. It's the perfect deep and ripe flavor to pair with Thanksgiving and then the bubbles will help clean your palate and refresh you.

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Visiting Tiberi in Umbria: Story and Pictures

Visiting Tiberi in Umbria: Story and Pictures

8 acre family winery that I love

On Thursday Danilo and I took a drive over to visit the Tiberi family in Montepetriolo. The Tiberis have about 8 acres of vines on this beautiful windy hillside looking west. As much as anything in reality can actually live up to an ideal the Tiberis epitomize what I love about the natural wine movement. They've lived here on this hill top and grown grapes for generations but around 2010 the price they could get selling their grapes wasn't enough to make ends meet. The specter of selling their family homestead was real and frightening, but somehow they heard of Danilo Marcucci and reached out to him. After some talks they decided to partner with Danilo in order to learn how to make wine and export it. They had been making a bit of wine themselves and just selling it to neighbors and the grandfather, Cesare, had made wine there when he was younger so it wasn't completely foreign. They renovated a ground floor room of their house to act as a starter winery and bought a couple tanks. What they did have going for them was a fantastic vineyard site with 50 year old vines of Trebbiano, Gamay del Trasimeno, Sangiovese, and Ciliegiolo. The younger generation, Federico and his sister Beatrice, dove into the whole process of naturally managing the vines, natural wine making, and maybe most intimidating was trying to export the wines to the US, Germany, Sweden, China, and so on. 

The first vintage they bottled and sold was 2015. It was a difficult vintage that was quite hot and the grapes were very ripe. Some of their Trebbiano got stuck during fermentation because it had so much sugar. After several days with the fermentation still stuck Danilo told them to just bottle it so that it would eventually finish fermenting in the bottle and they would have a pet nat. That was the first Tribulato. It was pretty crazy: deep, savory, frothy, sunny, and a bit spicy. I actually did really like it but it was pretty far from the fun thirst quenching style of petnat that is dominant now. But that was the start! They named it Tribulato because the vintage was such a tribulation. They made it though and that inspired them to go on and keep making petnats. The following year they made the first vintage of Musticco: a delicious Gamay del Trasimeno based petnat rose. All this is to say I was excited to go have lunch with Federico and taste the new vintages. 

We drove over and walked through the vineyards first. They're very small and planted on the hillside right around the house and winery, so that was very quick! But their Trebbiano grapes were still on the vines, just about ready to harvest in the next several days. The grapes looked super healthy!

We sat down to lunch and in between talking politics and inflation I was so impressed by the wines and had to retaste the l'Bianco and l'Rosso; they were just so good. The 2021s are a big step for the Tberis. All the wines of this vintage taste so well put together; sunny and Umbrian but well balanced and interesting and clean and precise. It's fantastic to see how they have perfected their wine making skills and thoughtfully evolved in the styles of wine they produce. 

They were just getting ready to harvest their old vine Trebbiano and the grapes looked super healthy!

Here's the view from their windy hill side vineyard

The Tiberis built a new winery last year and moved into it in the autumn. So these 2021s are the first vintage where they've had a space larger than a tool shed to work in!

Tiberi Il Musticco Frizzante Rosato

Approximately $30/btl 

Available at Maine & Loire, Cafe Louis, and Solo Cucina

Gamay del Trasimeno with a bit of Ciliegiolo blended in.

Aroma: the aroma comes across immediately as pretty strawberry, some rhubarb, and a little bit of raspberry. It smells elegant and also a little bit savory, a little bit like strawberry shortcake, strawberries and baked pastries.

Taste: fresh strawberry, a little bit of cranberry; it's bright and fun up front. The bubbles come in and they're very fine and fizzy- pretty and not too intense. The mid palate has more strawberry and raspberry. It's beautiful and really reminds me of slightly cooked like strawberry shortcake or something like that. The strawberry fruit builds across the palate and there's a little bit of salt too that comes in underneath and makes it more savory. Again, the flavor is very much like delicious strawberry flavored pastry. This is the best vintage yet, certainly the most integrated and cohesive. Previous vintages were good but this is a huge step forward.

Tiberi Il Tribulato Frizzante
Approximately $30/btl 

Available at Solo Cucina

Trebbiano and 30% Verdicchio grapes. Direct press and refermented in bottle with frozen grape must.

Aroma: sunny and relaxed. It smells a bit like a meadow in the sun in late summer, and then behind and above that I can smell some dry pineapple, yellow peach, and some white rose. It's a very pretty aroma that sort of meanders back and forth between savory and fruity

Taste: fine frothy bubbles that lift the wine up and expand and dry out the mid palate and finish. Up front I taste some pineapple and dry lemon- it's the flavor of pineapple but not any sweetness. There's a little bit of a saltiness underneath the fizz of the mid palate, then a little bit more pineapple comes in followed by some dry orange and orange zest flavors on the finish. It's really interesting and delicious: the wine is refreshing and uplifting and playful... but a lot of the flavors are actually a bit more savory. It's cool how those different flavors are woven together to create this overall more uplifting and playful experience.

Tiberi l'Bianco 

Approximately $30/btl 

Available at Solo Cucina

50/50 Trebbiano and Grechetto. The juice spends a night on the skins before being racked off.

Aroma: ripe honeydew melon, some lime zest, guava, orange, and kumquat. It's that classic Trebbiano sunny relaxed ripe meaty sort of fruit. It's orangey but also sort of makes me think of roasted ripe squash: delicata butternut spaghetti squash....

Taste: ripe and then so deliciously salty! It opens with a burst of bright citrusy orange fruit and then this delicious salt on the mid palate just lights up my taste buds like fireworks. The wine is bright and refreshing, but it has some body. It has some roundness that gives it a more relaxed character. It tastes a little bit melony on the mid palate and then the finish has a little bit of aromatic spice like sage and salty lemon!

Tiberi Pistarello Orange Wine

Approximately $30/btl 

Available at Goods and Solo Cucina

90% Trebbiano and 10% Grechetto. The juice spent 17 days on the skins with regular punch downs. 

Aroma: orange, fresh mango, ripe cantaloupe, yellow peach.... it's a fresh, rich, ripe fruit driven aroma! It smells sort of orangey but not in any way oxidized or funky

Taste: yup, orangie up front with nice fresh acidity. Some salt comes in underneath and gives it this tasty delicious satisfying component. All well and good, where is the oranginess to it you ask? Well then the tannins come in! It's actually great; it's totally in line and works really well and is not aggressive. But you get this more meaty almost like cooked or nice delicious marmalade with some drying tannins to it. It also reminds me of tea; like a beautiful white tea or a really pale aromatic elegant Earl Grey. Boy now that I've said that I feel like I taste Bergamot and the finish. It lingers and is super elegant. There's really nothing rough or aggressive about this orange wine. It's excellent

Tiberi l'Rosso

Approximately $30/btl 

Available at Goods and Solo Cucina

80% Gamay del Trasimeno and 20% Ciliegiolo with a short 4-6 day skin maceration.

Aroma: dried cherries, strawberries, ripe reduced cooked down tomatoes, and something that's right on the edge of ripe deep blood orange. This is really interesting and beautiful: bright and a little bit floral, kind of aromatic, but there's an elegance and delicacy to it. And it smells really honestly central Mediterranean Italian

Taste: wow! This wine has fantastic poise and focus. The fruit flavors are vivid but also sort of restrained: not too juicy and in your face. Some dried cherry, some raspberry, very smooth with this suave salty component that gently builds behind the fruit. The mid palate has beautiful pure fresh cherry. It makes the wine super savory and delicious but still so sleek and effortless. There are tannins but they're gentle and linger and draw out this cherry almost candy sort of flavor on the finish. This has the supple-ness of elegant red Burgundy!

This Thursday we're hosting a wine dinner at Nina June to celebrate the release of Sara Jenkins' new 2022 vintage olive oil!

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Hanging out with Danilo in Umbria

Hanging out with Danilo in Umbria

Earlier this month I spent a whirlwind 30 Hours in Umbria

When I planned out this whole trip to Piedmont I felt like I had to get down to Umbria to say hi to Danilo and my friends there. Umbria isn't that far away! So I booked my return flight out of Rome. Turns out it's a solid 6 our drive on the Autostrada to get down to Umbria. Good thing I had an Abarth Cinquecento! It was cool to directly and suddenly experience the difference between Piedmont and Umbria. Piedmont was cooler, more wild, more forests, the people were a little stiffer.... and then Umbria is so absolutely Mediterranean! People are louder, a bit more extroverted, it's warmer and sunnier, people drive more aggressively down in central Italy.... It was funny how familiar Umbria felt after the week in Piedmont.

I made it to Danilo after a 6 hour drive. Danilo was in the cantina and it was so full of wine! They had been harvesting Trebbiano that day and had 11 big vats full! Riccardo and Toni were starting to pump the mix of juice and skins into tanks for some of the wines. Others would stay in the open vats (mastelli) for a week or so. Danilo said it was one of the best vintages he'd seen. Conestabile della Staffa had produced over 100,000 kilos of grapes! Yes, the summer was hot and dry but the calcareous clay soil holds water and they do get morning fog off the lake. Then they got some rain in September and he said it had been perfectly timed. It probably helps that Danilo is generally going for larger yields to keep the alcohol from getting too high and that he farms so naturally. Keeping more leaves on the vines and having healthy plant cover between the rows all helps with heat stress. He said it was a reminder that it's important to just pay attention to nature and make your farming decisions based on what you your self are seeing and experiencing, not what you're hearing on the news.

Danilo was super excited about a very old vineyard he had recently acquired from an old wine farmer. The grape variety is Trebbiano Romagnolo. It has a bit more color to the skins and he was letting it macerate a bit longer. He put me to work aggressively punching down all the fermenting vats. Then I had about an hour to unpack and appreciate the Umbrian sunset before Danilo and I headed out for dinner and to taste all his new vintages. Danilo has definitely hit his stride and dialed in making focused fruit driven mineral natural wines that do a great job of walking the line between obviously natural and "wild tasting" but also being legitimately delicious and well balanced. It's also cool to see that the rest of the Conestabile della Staffa family has really gotten on board now that he has some serious success behind him.  

Look at how full that winery is! It's crazy that despite the crazy heat wave and the doom and gloom weather stories about that heat wave Danilo has had an incredible vintage.

I call this one: Natural Wine to the Moon!!!

Wine maker hands. Danilo and I went out to dinner and tasted through all his new vintages. Part way through dinner I noticed his wine maker hands.

I got to hang out with Giorgia again! Giorgia is a young refugee from the fashion industry who started working with Danilo about a year and a half ago. She's since started her own winery outside of Cortona! The bottles next to her are the first vintage.

Here's a video of Danilo and I walking around the winery and talking about the harvest

MossO Rosato 2020
Priced around $25. Find it at Solo Cucina and Bath Natural Foods

MossO is a blend of Sangiovese and Gamay del Trasimeno (Grenache). The grapes are harvested on the early side and then ferment in open vats with the skins for a few days before gong into a fiberglass tank. The wine is bottled after about 6 months and refermented with a bit of grape juice Danilo had frozen during the harvest. No sulfur added.

 Aroma: tropical fruit! It has this ripe and heady combination of mango, guava, and ripe peach! It sounds so weird to say but it kind of smells like cotton candy and classic pink Bazooka Joe bubble gum! And actually as I keep working on it also very much like sun-dried tomatoes! It is an exciting psychedelic kind of aroma! This is what I love about wine! Exciting fun things that challenge my ideas of what they can smell like

Taste: bright and fresh and peachy up front followed by super fine frothy little bubbles, and then this meaty pink grapefruit followed by a hit of that bubble gum. On the finish there's a little bit of a dried cranberry and some interesting aromatic spices like clove and cardamom. This is so much fun and so wildly aromatic!

FrizzO 2021
Priced around $28. Find it at Solo Cucina, Riverside Butcher, and Blue Hill Co-op

Aroma: this is amazing: the aroma is gorgeously floral but it doesn't cross the line into being perfumy or annoying. It's just incredible. It smells like lavender and lilacs and wild cherry blossoms. At first I thought I had washed my hands with aromatic soap or something; I just couldn't believe it. But no, really the wine just smells amazing!

Taste: lots of peach juice. Delicious! The fruit is so beautiful ad peachy, there's a little bit of strawberry in there too but part of what makes it fantastic is that it's well supported with subtle acidity, fine frothiness, and a little bit of salt on the mid palate. There's a little bit of watermelon flavor to the finish but the peach runs all the way through. This is really one of the best petnats I've ever had.

This is Sangiovese Petnat from Danilo Marcucci. For 2021 Danilo switched from fully fermenting his sparkling wines in tank and then adding grape juice he had frozen for the refermentation in the bottles. On more research Danilo became convinced that bottling during initial primary fermentation captured other chemicals that are lost if you do a second fermentation (nitrogen). It's a bit trickier to do this way since you have to bottle at just the right moment and there's not much margin for error, but he feels the result is more complex as well as more stable. This is early harvest Sangiovese from a parcel that was eaten by wild boars for several years running, so finally Danilo decided to harvest early to beat the boars to the fruit.

CarboEtrusco 2021
Priced about $27. Find this at Solo Cucina and Vessel and Vine

100% Sangiovese made with a unique method of carbonic maceration that dates back to the Etruscan times. The Ancient Etruscans were known to cover the fermentation tanks (often clay pots or palmenti) with a wet, clay based paste. This rudimentary covering on the fermentation allowed the CO2 during primary fermentation to protect the must and preserving fruit. Danilo experimented with the idea and in the end created this. Aged in fiberglass tanks. No filtering or fining.

This is so ripe and exuberant! It's not as candied and over the top fruity as true carbonic maceration wines can be. It's super ripe and juicy and a little woodsey. It's a little rustic in it's dry earthy mid palate flavors and the vividly ripe cherry and raspberry fruit is exuberant... but it's fun and delicious and uplifting. It tastes like it's 13% or so percent but actually it's 11.5%! This is so juicy and playful but refreshing too... I'm planning to feature this for Thanksgiving.

Rustico 2021
Priced about $23/btl. Find this at Riverside Butcher, Solo Cucina, and Bow St Market

Brand new 100% Sangiovese. That's sort of similar to the CarboEtrusco, but this is less exuberantly fruity, has a bit more tannin, and is 12.5% alcohol. I love that this is classic Sangiovese ripe cherry fruit, but perfectly balanced and not too dry.

Aroma: juicy cherry and raspberry but it's also got some dried fruit flavors too. Dried cherry and some raspberry jam. There's some hints of rosemary, time and a little hint of milk chocolate. It's that classic juicy butt slightly sun-dried and savory Sangiovese profile.

Taste: wow, juicy, energetic and so delicious. There's lots of cherry and raspberry fruit that comes across fresh and playful and vibrant. It's backed up immediately by some delicious savory salt and the combination of the vibrant fruit and the salt is really delicious. The mid palette has more fresh raspberry to it but also picks up some black pepper and gets kind of savory before these dry gentle tannins come in. It's a classic Sangiovese profile with deliciously restrained alcohol and vibrant acidity.

Vivo Rosso 2020
Priced about $26/btl

Gamay del Trasimeno (local version of Grenache) made with a unique method of semi-carbonic maceration in the same way as the CarboEtrusco above. So it's partial whole cluster and then the top of the tank is sealed with a paste that keeps oxygen out and provides an anaerobic environment for the fermentation. It allows you to get flavor without too much tannin, and maybe avoid pressing altogether. Aged in fiberglass tanks. No filtering, fining, sulfur, or temperature control.

Aroma: ripe raspberries, raspberry jam, fresh cherries, a little hint of cinnamon and maybe some wintergreen. It's a really pretty mix of juicy reduced fruit, fresh fruit, and a touch of spice.

Taste: juicy warm and relaxed. The wine has a really smooth supple texture but underneath it there's a little bit of wild volatile acidity that gives the wine some more intensity and urgency. The fruit up front is all kinds of raspberry, cooked strawberry, and fresh cherry. Then the mid palate has a little bit of wintergreen and reduced sweet stewed tomato. Some integrated dry relaxed tannins come in to round out the Finish and draw out the cooked strawberry and cherry flavors. It's so delicious and supple, but also thirst quenching; I love the balance!

Rossissimo 2018
Priced about $27/btl.

Find this at Bow St Freeport, Solo Cucina, Weatherbird, Vessel and Vine, and Table Bar

Danilo makes this from some old Alicante vines that were planted at Conestabile della Staffa at some unknown time way in the past. Alicante is a red grape with red flesh and wines from it always have a lot of color. Danilo only makes this wine in god years and even then he only makes one barrel. And that barrel is 150 years old and kept alive by will power (I know, I worked on it a few years ago). This wine is not normally imported into the US but after tasting it in Italy I special ordered it. We have 2 cases on hand.  

Aroma: chocolate-covered cherries, Tootsie Roll, cherry jam, a little bit of wintergreen; it smells deep dark rich and delicious

Taste: rich and viscous upfront: cooked cherry, then a little bit of chocolate on the mid palate but then some wintergreen and more blackberry fruit comes in. There are nice dark balancing tannins on the finish, a little touch of alcohol to make it warm, cozy, and serious. The mid palate also has a little bit of coriander and cinnamon. The finish is very long. The flavors are all integrated and work well together and the wine is quite well balanced. I'm always super impressed to see a wine that is this big and also this well-balanced

Priced about $30

Find this at Solo Cucina, Graze and Vine, River House, Stompers, Weatherbird, Kennebec Meat Co, Goods in Camden, Bow St Portland, and Folk in Kittery.

3 clones of Trebbiano: Spoletino, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo and Trebbiano Toscano. Spontaneous fermentation with 10 days of skin contact before vertical press and aging in fiberglass. No added sulfur and no filtering or fining. Crown cap closure to indicate the jovial and rustic nature of the wine.

Aroma: fresh orange juice, roasted carrots, roasted butternut squash a hint of Basil, a little bit of honey.... it smells a bit waxy. It's a deep and savory Aroma that's both ripe and fruity while also having savory components. It smells perfect for this time of year

Taste: bright fresh orange up front. There's energetic acidity that makes it citrusy and zippy. A little bit of roasted carrot, then it has a orange peel component followed up with some nice savory salt. There's more orange but then either woven with it some flavors of ginger, cinnamon and cumin. It has some tannins of course and they dry your palate out but they also sort of hold the flavors of the wine together, draw them in to the Finish. It makes me really think of those ripe juicy sungold cherry tomatoes

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My Wine Trip in the Foothills of the Alps

My Wine Trip in the Foothills of the Alps

Pictures, stories, and videos from High Piedmont!

Alto Piemonte

Hi Everyone
I just got back from an incredible 9 day trip in Italy, mostly up in Piedmont. Piedmont is a powerhouse of food and wine (Barolo, Barbaresco, and white truffles sound familiar?). Going into this I didn't truly realize how big and diverse Piedmont truly is. 1500 kilometers of driving back and forth fixed that! I'll be sending out a succession of newsletters with the stories of the people I visited and stayed with, but I'll wait a bit to send them as the wines arrive. 

Conveniently while I was away we got our new allocation from Cantina Sociale Cooperativa in Gattinara and 2 wines from the new Azienda Crus in Bramaterra arrived. Bramaterra and Gattinara are next door to each other in Alto Piemonte. Piedmont wine making is sort of broken into 2 primary regions: the hills of the Langhe, Monferrato, and Asti in the center of Piedmont and then on the other side of the Po river valley and it's fertile plane you have the foothills of the Alps and a whole slew of other unique wine regions there. The area is generally higher up, a little more exposed, and the soil has less clay and sedimentary material and more volcanic rock.

Wine Tasting at Monte's

Super conveniently I'll be doing a public wine tasting on Thursday the 27th at Monte's Fine Foods on Washington Ave in Portland from 4-6. It will of course be all Piedmont highlighting wineries I visited.

Azienda Crus in Bramaterra

Here's a view of the vineyards of Crus, in Bramaterra. Bramaterra is in Alto Piemonte up just above Gattinara on similar pink volcanic granite soil. Actually rock and rocky sand is more accurate than saying "soil". The vineyards are pretty crazy. They're very exposed and sunny and windy. Water drains quite easily which is actually a bit of a problem. The Alps are right there and help shelter Bramaterra from harsh storms.

Here are some raw notes I wrote on the plane

Davide was shirtless and hanging upside down over the edge of a fermenter with his wife holding his feet to keep him from falling in and asphyxiating. He was trying to break up the cap of fermenting skins by hand. He said it was just day two and it was too delicate to use a stick to punch down.

After he was out of the tank he explained that there are two parts of bramaterra: one that is predominantly old decayed volcanic red granite that breaks down into granular sand and then another portion slightly lower down that has a bit more clay to it. Davide has land in both parts and said that they really sort of balance each other out. A year that is good for one is often not as good for the other. One thrives on heat and has water retention in the soil while the other doesn't like heat and dry so much.

He bought this six hectare hilltop and slowly began planting a mix of nebbiolo, vespolina, Croatina, and Barbera. 2018 was their first vintage. His next step is planting inner vine rows on each terrace of the hillside for better water retention and heat resiliency. The outer row will shield the inner row a bit from the sun.

The winery is tiny but will eventually be an agritourismo. He has it set up so a lot of wine can can be moved with gravity from the first floor down to the cellar. Davide said he wanted to get a larger barrel at some point but it would be hard since the barrel would have to be built in the space.  

Bramaterra is defined by it's elevation, volcanic soil, and that the vineyards that are protected by the Alps. It was amazing what an effort he and his wife were putting in on their project. He was sort of quiet and clearly very driven and serious and maybe a exhausted by the effort of making the wines in primary, making the vineyard, and rebuilding the derelict building and taking care of their 2 kids all at once. 

Once we had toured the vineyards and the winery and tasted the wines Davide made me lunch. As Davide cooked and started talking about our backgrounds. He mentioned his family hadn't drunk wine when he was growing up because "They did sport". I asked him what he meant by "his family did sport". Davide responded "Do you know the Tour de France?" I said yes, I did know about the Tour de France. Davide answered "ok, my father won the polka dot jersey in 2007". The polka dot jersey is the jersey that each day of racing in the mountains goes the the cyclist who is the fastest on that mountain stage. At the end of the tour it is given to the cyclist who was fastest overall on the mountain stages. Winning the polka dot jersey overall means you are "King of the Mountains" and also therefore one of the top cyclists in the world. I asked Davide if he meant his father won the jersey for a particular stage or if his father was really the over all King of the Mountains. "Oh, yeah he won it over all" said Davide. "He was the King of the Mountains". "Oh" I said. "Now I understand what you meant by your family did Sport."

Mumbel is the name of his Bramaterra from the area with a bit more clay and will continue to be a more traditional blend of grapes. Colma Santa Barbara is his Bramaterra from the all granite zone and will be close to all Nebbiolo in a more modern expression


Davide looking out over part of his vineyard. It's a little rocky finger of a hill sticking out into the valley with steep drop offs on 3 sides.

Davide closing the door to the tiny winery he and his wife have bult out in the ground floor and basement of a derelict block in their tiny old hill top town. The second floor illustrates how really derelict the building was. Davide kept periodically saying "thank god for banks and loans!" 

You must admit: it's a beautiful little cellar he has!

But it is tiny. His total production per year of... I think 5 different wines is less than 1000 cases.

Azienda Crus Zaira Rose

Approx $35

We even have some of Davide's wines in stock! I could only get my hands on 6 cases of this, but it's fantastic! Priced somewhere in the low to mid $30s this isn't inexpensive but it's very good and special.

Aroma: strawberries, tart raspberry, fresh cherry. It's a bright cool aroma of fresh fruit and cool mornings. It's not particularly floral, the fruit flavors are pure and fresh, and sort of like dried fruit or the essence of fruit

Taste: beautiful dry cherry, and fresh raspberry up front. It's very elegant. There's nice acidity and then the mid palette expands into this thoughtful wider deeper salty cherry and dried raspberry. It lingers and has some touches of aromatic herbs like Rosemary and pine trees. It's extremely long on the palate and complex. The focus, the balance, the structure, the dry aromatic herbs all remind me of Bandol. Beautiful elegant fresh fruit up front supported by salt and Mediterranean herbs. It's absolutely delicious

Azienda Crus Pepun Rosso

Approx $25

This is a traditional blend of 60% Nebbiolo, 10% Croatina, 10% Vespolina, and 20% Barbera. We managed to get 12 cases.

Aroma: raspberry, black raspberry, it smells sort of brambly: Juicy and fruit forward but also a little bit woodsy. It's a pretty and fun aroma with just a little hint of aromatic flowers along the lines of lilac

Taste: nice bright crisp blackberry and black raspberry fruit up front, good underlying acidity gives it pop and uplift. Then it gets a little darker and the mid palate combines some plum, inky grape, and blackberry with some young pithy lip smacking tannins. It's a medium bodied red with bright energetic fruit balancing some firm structure. It's delicious, interesting, and a good elegant expression of Alto Piemonte.

You can find this at Maine and Loire, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Rosemont Market, and Sawyer's Specialties.

Then on to Cantina Sociale Cooperativa di Gattinara. Really, it looks like it hasn't changed since the 50s!

Here are my raw notes about visiting the Cantina Sociale:

I got to the winery just as the president, Franco Bercellino, was riding up on his ancient bicycle, probably returning from lunch. He was a man of few words. He gave me an appraising look over the top of his reading glasses. It was obvious I was the American who was coming so he waved me in, grabbed glasses and with a jerk of his head he motioned me towards a staircase. He looked like Dustin Hoffman.

He was all business and to the point but clear and thorough and passionate as he spoke about the old casks and the history of the cantina. They have 2 cellars, one is newer (from the 50s) and has botte for long term aging. The other is the old cellar and they have left lots of the old botte, but then have some new botte and stainless steel tanks for initial fermentation. Initial fermentation for the vino rosso takes place in concrete. They have a massive building-long row of concrete tanks built into one whole long wall of the Cantina. There must have been 10 tanks all in a row but only one was actually being used for this vintage. It had been a small vintage due to the heat and I'm sure that was increasing the financial pressure on him. I put my hand on the steel door and could feel it was a tiny bit warm from the fermentation inside. 

Franco spoke about how the cantina used to make much more wine and now it was hard because people had ripped up their vines, abandoned them, sold the vineyards to one of the big companies, etc. He was very frustrated about the cost of everything going up and the pressure it put on the business.

I drove up to see some of the vineyards and it was quite impressive. All red granite volcanic rock again. The hillsides are steep and form a little natural amphitheater. The granitic soil reflects heat and provides good drainage. It's clearly a fantastic vineyard. It's just so impressive that they're still going on making wine in virtually the same way they did over 100 years ago

One of the Gattinara cellars

Franco was all business. The Gattinara spends 2 years in cask before bottle aging; just like it has for the past century. The current release that just arrived is 2014!

I took a quick drive up to the vineyards

It was a twisted little amphitheatre shaped hillside facing west-ish. Like Bramaterra it was all pink granite.

Cantina Sociale di Gattinara Vino Rosso

Approx $19

This is the last of this vintage that will be available. This is a blend of Nebbiolo, Vespolina, Croatina, etc.

Aroma: cherry, but also bright, beautiful, vivid rose and raspberry! Now that this has had some time to open up a little bit this is a gorgeous wine! The aroma is a seamless blend of fresh ripe raspberry/cherry and flowers; this is a beautiful aroma.  

Taste: The wine opens with beautiful juicy ripe red raspberry and some red cherry. There's nice supporting acidity but right behind it there's some delicious salt. It gives the wine this delicious savory component while it's still bright and fresh. That's backed up by a little touch of tartness and then some more bright fresh compelling fruit wrapped in some dry tannins. This is really good right out of the bottle but some time to breathe makes this even better and helps it come out of its shell a little.

You can find this at Leeward, Craft Curbside, Wine Wise, Festina Lente, Vic and Whit's, and Table Bar

Cantina Sociale di Gattinara DOCG 2014

Approx $45

Unfortunately our whole allocation for the 2014 was just 14 cases. Franco ages this in barrel for at least years in those big old casks, then it's held in the bottle for another 2 years at least.

Aroma: dark, plummy, ripe red cherry, a little bit of currant, some beautiful red rose in the background, a little touch of dark baking chocolate. This is a beautiful complex aroma that's bright and fresh but also has these darker aromatic savory tones

Taste: dark lush cherry and blackberry fruit leads off followed by a deep mid palate with this delicious luxurious salinity underpinning some blackberry jam and a touch of blackcurrant. The finish has silky lingering tannins with a bit of red currant and then at the very end there's this pretty red raspberry. This is gorgeous serious old school high toned Nebbiolo.

You can find this at Monte's, Bow St Beverage and Market, Rosemont Market, Table Bar, Wayside Tavern, Vinolio in Belfast, Maine Meat, Riverside Butcher, Anju, Black Birch, The Danforth, and Vessel and Vine

Here's a video I made peeking into the cellars at the Cantina in Gattinara, plus a look at the vineyards!

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PO Box 11210
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Maine's First Natural Wine Festival

Maine's First Natural Wine Festival

40 importers and wine makers by the water in Freeport

Maine Wild Wine Fest

Saturday the 21st is the inaugural Maine Wild Wine Fest! Last autumn I had a few hours of free time and I decided that Maine should have a Natural Wine Fair. So I set about organizing one! Now it's 10 days away and it's crunch time, but it is all coming together and looks like it's going to be really fun. I have about 40 presenters coming including wine makers from across America, Fredi Torres from Spain is the lone European, and the majority of the Natural Wine Importers who have helped build this movement. 

Tickets are $50
2 ticket windows:

The event is at the Mallet Barn at Wolfe's Neck farm in Freeport. It's a beautiful spot on the water and probably the nicest old post and beam barn in the state. There's a large open grassy lawn where we'll have picnic tables and food trucks for people to congregate. 

Transmission is high right now, but we've set this up to be as safe as possible. The barn is very airy and we'll have the doors at both ends open to allow lots of air flow. We have two ticket windows: one from 10:30-1 and the second from 1:30-4. The two windows are limited to 150 people in each to keep it from ever being too crowded. This will allow festival goers to interact with all the presenters as well as leave plenty of space to spread out. We are requiring proof of vaccination at the door.  

Buy Tickets

More Information

Extra Events

We're organizing a lot of extra affiliated events. Here's a quick list: 

Thursday May 19th

Friends and Family Bobo Selections take over with Karen Ulrich of Bobo 

Friday May 20th

Maine and Loire organic Champagne Tasting with Michel from Vinotas
Chaval Wine Dinner with Fredi Torres
Lorne Wine Tasting with Gaby from Goatboy Selections
Vessel and Vine Wine Dinner featuring Summer Wolf of Hootananny and her husbands winery Iuli 

Saturday the 21st

Jose Pastor & Louis Dressner tasting with Mark and Josefa at the Rosemont Wine Bar 5-7pm
After party with DJs and cool wine at the Washington Baths 9pm


Glidden Point Oysters and Slovenian and Croatian wines with Daniel from Vinum Noon-3
Table Bar in Gardner (a new wineshop/bar opening this week) wine tasting with Gaby from Goatboy

That whole big square at the end of the barn is a pair of massive barn doors. Those will be open at both ends of the building to let plenty of air through.


One of the many importers who's coming: Josefa Concanon of Louis Dressner. Josefa has basically spent her life getting to know this industry and the wineries in the Dresser portfolio inside and out. Here she is with Eric Texier. Incidentally Josefa will be pouring a super rare old vine bottling of his Serrine: the grape that people think Syrah may be descended from.

Freshly back from Italy Betsy of Quanto Basta will be here making pizzas in her little pizza truck.

If you've ever had Mami before you'll know why I'm so excited to have them here. If you haven't then you're in for a treat! It's savory interesting Japanese street food that is perfect with complex wines.

Rounding out the food trucks Mr Tuna will be on hand dishing up sushi!

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Champagne, Cava, PetNat, Prosecco


I've never tried to do this before and it seems kind of crazy but here are all the sparkling wines Devenish has got!

Champagne Tarlant Cuvee Louis
Approx $160/btl

You can find this at Browne Trading and the Lil General Store

The Tarlant family has been growing grapes in Champagne since the late 1600s. at the beginning of the 20th century Louis Tarlant was running the vineyards and also mayor of Oeuilly, a major town in Champagne. Champagne had been internationally famous for at least a century already, but there was no legal delimitation of what Champagne was and was not. While Louis was mayor the price of grapes dropped and grape farmers were struggling. They realized that the large Champagne houses were bringing in grapes and juice from other parts of France or even Portugal, fermenting it, and selling it as Champagne resulting in this extreme drop in the price the large houses were willing to pay for grapes. And so happened the Champagne Revolution. Louis became a leader of it. Farmers blocked roads, blockaded the large wineries, and lobbied the government. Finally in 1911 Champagne was created as an AOC and was required to be made from grapes grown in Champagne. Louis swore he would never sell a single grape to the big houses again and so had to start making wine on his own. He was one of the very first grower producers (along with Clouet). 

The farm is currently run by Benoit and his sister Melanie: the 12th generation of Tarlants to farm this land. They work very intensely in the vineyards and farm each small parcel separately to adapt to the specific needs of the land and exposure. They farm naturally and hands on vineyard labor is the only way to really be successful in the relatively cool and variable climate of Champagne. 

This is 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from a .9 hectare vineyard planted through massale selection (own rooted clones of his old vines) by Louis Tarlant in 1946

"Our father fought for grass in the vines and to stop have garbage from cities being thrown in the vines as a fertilizer. It took five years. That was his fight. Organics seems like the challenge of our generation."  

“We don’t buy or sell grapes. We have to work our vines the best we can to have the best wine. "
-Melanie Tarlant

Christmas Wines!

In case you missed it: here's the Devenish Christmas list. I'll start promoting these wines and where to find them at the second half of the coming week. So if you pick up any of these by then I'll be sure to include you.

Christmas Wines

Andre Clouet Grand Reserve Champagne

Approx $40 per bottle

Find this at Now You're Cooking, Bow St Beverage, The Vault, Store Ampersand, Chaval, Lily Lupine, Bleeker and Greer, Hops and Vine, Lincolnville General Store, Maine and Vine, Friends and Family, New Morning in Kennebunk, and John Edwards Market

The Clouet family has been making wine for a very long time. They're actually not sure how long, but they were the royal printers for Louis the 15th and also made Champagne for the royal court as a sideline. This is 100% Pinot Noirs (Blanc de Noirs) from the Clouet family's 20 hectares of grand cru vineyards around Bouzy. The wine has no contact with the skins, ferments at low temperatures, and then spends 48 months aging on the fine lees.  

The aroma has ripe fruit of granny smith, fresh orange, a hint of baked apples, and then on the palate it's broader and rich thanks to that Pinot Noir. It has intense bubbles, and golden apple, citrus, a hint of nuts and baking scone and touch of raspberry. It has a fantastic balance.


Boulard Champagne Les Murgiers

Extra Brut 100% Pinot Meunier

Approx $72/btl

Find this at Maine and Loire

Why you should buy this:
Delphine is the 8th generation of their family to make Champagne here. She took over from her father in 2017 and farms a tiny 3 ha biodynamically. That 3 ha is broken into 3 separate sub parcels that she farms differently. This is a brilliant riper more complex expression of Champagne and it has gorgeous aromatics as it is 100% Pinot Meunier. This is hyper hard to get (because very little exists and I have to direct import)

read more here if you're interested:
Champagne Boulard 

Andre Clouet Millesime 2013 Vintage Champagne


Find this at Alice and Lulu's, Grippy Tannins, Bangor Wine and Cheese, and Lincolnville General Store

Why you should buy this:
Because it's elegant gorgeous nuanced vintage Champagne for $50! That's a great value!

Aroma: straw, baked apples, a hint of baking bread, ripe pear; it's a clean sunny elegant sort of a champagne Aroma. Not too sharp but also not just lush and opulent. This Aroma is focused and more organized

Taste: very fine bubbles; frothy there's some pretty clementine orange fruit right up front. Then it gets richer on the mid palate. There's more pronounced orange but also a rich flavor that sort of reminds me of French toast! The bubbles give it a really nice dry component. The finish tastes a bit like meringue: elegant toasted egg whites, coconut and sugar. This is not a sweet wine though, bone dry with a little bit more orange lingering after the finish

Victorieux Champagne Brut
Approx $50/btl

Find this at Bow St Beverage, Alice and Lulu's, RSVP, Via Vecchia, Terracotta, High Roller, and Ruby's

The Victorieux comes from Ceric Guyot: a 3rd generation family estate in the Cotes de Sezanne at the southern edge of Champagne. This is 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The wine is aged on the lees for an impressive 5 years which really contributes to it's refinement and elegance.  

Aroma: sunny hay, lemon, fresh orange/clementine, and just a little bit of toast

Taste: focused ,tart, tightly wound. Toasty- tasty, bit of salt on the finish. This is super well balanced- there's a lovey elegant orange flavor to the finish. The extra age this wine spent on the lees at the winery and then in the bottle after release really shows through in how fine it is.

Jean Paul Baudouin Brut Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Noir)

Approx $50/btl

Find this at Via Vecchia, the Vault, Oak Hill, Store Ampersand, Lily Lupine, Bleeker and Greer, Lily Lupine, the Rosemont Markets, and Meridians

Why you should buy this:
Baudouin is a rich lush hedonistic grower Champagne from the southern edge of the AOC. It's golden, sunny, the bubbles are a bit softer, it has a broad finish, toasted bread, and a bit of tropical fruit to the finish.  

Champagne Fleury Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Noir)

Approx $76/btl

Find this at Blue Hill Wine Shop, Lil General Store, Liquid Riot, and Browne Trading

Why you should buy this:

Because it is delicious and they were the first biodynamic producer in all of Champagne. Champagne Fleury was founded in 1895, and it’s located in the Côtes de Bar, in the south of the Champagne region. In 1929, during the depression, grape prices were so low that Robert Fleury decided to take the then unusual step of bottling his own Champagne.

Aroma: Honey, wildflowers, ripe pear, peach; all those things in a fresh out of the oven tart.

Taste: dry vibrant edgy toasty Champagne; very focused and serious. The bubbles are prickly and persistent. Some ripe apple, a touch of roasted hazelnut (nutty in that sort of meaty savory way - not oxidative or almond at all). The finish lingers with toast and then a hint of gingerbread, lemon, and honey. It's a very serious Champagne. My first thought on tasting it is "wow, this is very good and very serious Champagne"

Vignale di Cecilia Prosecco

Approx $18

Find this at Relish, Maine and Loire, Monte's, Vessel and Vine, Folk, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Novios, and Portland Pottery

Why you should buy this:
This is the best Prosecco I have tasted in a long time. Particularly at this price. It's so pretty and refreshing and clean. I love the PetNats but this is so clean and perfect I can't not love it.

Caneva da Nani

Approx $18

Find this at Maine and Loire, Cafe Louis, Maine and Vine, Nina June, Black Birch, Ada's Kitchen Portland, and the Jewel Box

Why you should buy this:
delicious easy to drink thirst quenching fizzy wine from the heart of Prosecco that is what Prosecco used to be a few generations ago. It's relatively low alcohol and has delicious citrus and salt and super fine bubbles with a slightly savory yeasty mid palate that gives the wine more body.

Mongarda Col Fondo

Approx $18

Find this at Vessel and Vine, Nibblesford, Tipo, Solo Cucina, Cheese Shop of Portland, Craft Curbside, Blue Hill Wine Shop

Why you should buy this:
Also made by an old family, also from old vines in the center of Prosecco. Honestly I can't choose between this and Caneva. Mongarda is a touch lighter and cleaner. Both are made in small quantity so I hedge my bets by carrying both in case 1 runs out.

Furlani Rosso Frizzante 

Approx $30/btl

Find this at Alice and Lulu's

Why you should buy this:
Because Matteo Furlani is a wizard way up in the Alps above Trento. This is a mix of local grapes Tyroldego, Marzemino, Turca, Negrara. Spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel. Frozen must added before re-fermentation in bottle during Spring. Minimal added sulfur (if needed) and no disgorgement. It's a nice clean Alpine red with a light spritz.

Via de la Plata Cava Rosado

Approx $20

Find this at Eventide, Vessel and Vine, Maine and Loire, The Rosemonts, 

Why you should buy this: Because it's a lovely dry expressive bottle fermented Pinot Noir Rose! That's why you should buy this!

Via de la Plata Cava Brut

Approx $20

Find this at Meridians, Liquor Locker, Maine and Loire

Why you should buy this:
Via de la Plata is quite elegant. It's made from organically farmed grapes. It's made by actual farmers down in Extremadura where most cava grapes actually come from. It's dry and focused and fresh and way better than it's price.

Henry Varnay Brut

Approx $13

Find this at 44 North, Relish, Eventide, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Vic and Whit's

Why you should buy this:
Henry Varnay is a fantastic value. This is 100% Ugni Blanc from old vines out side Saumur in the central Loire. It's creamy, fresh, elegant, a little toasty, and really honestly very well made. It drinks much better than it's price. Production is about 10,000 cases per year, so actually on the small side.

Nicchia Lambrusco di Sorbara

Approx $16

Find this at RSVP, Folk, Monte's Whole Foods, Bow St Beverage, Bow St Market, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Meridians, The Clown, Portland Food Co-op,

This is juicy fizzy red Lambrusco that's a hair off dry. Most of you know it. It's been at the core of the Devenish portfolio for years. It is amazing with red sauce pizza, pasta with tomato sauce, or food with a little heat.

L'Onesta Lambrusco di Sorbara Rose

Approx $16

Find this at Perks, the Cheese Iron, Bow St Beverage Solo Cucina, RSVP, Whole Foods, Honey Paw, 

the dry rose counterpart to the Nicchia. This is elegant, fun, pretty, and bone dry. It's delicious with a range of foods but also great just on it's own.


Jean Aubron Muscadet PetNat

Approx $20

Find this at Bow St beverage, Cheese Shop of Portland, and Smalls

This was a star this year: old vine Muscadet made as a PetNat by Jean Aubron. Jean has been making wine organically in Muscadet for a few decades now and he was amused all the kids were excited about PetNat. He said "I can do that". And he did. It's very clean, has a nice citrus, but also a bit of savory texture from the lees and bubbles.

I'd be a fool to not point out that we have all these delicious oak fire grilled Spanish Conservas in stock. They make great gifts and stocking stuffers!  

Merry Christmas from The Neds!

Copyright © 2021 Devenish Wines, All rights reserved.

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PO Box 11210
Portland, ME 04104

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My Favorite Wines of the Year Available for Christmas

My Favorite Wines of the Year Available for Christmas

Vacqueyras, Vermouth, Cava, Riesling

Holiday Wines 2021

Wow, it feels surreal that it's already almost Christmas! I know: Christmas and Thanksgiving are always the same distance apart and I shouldn't be surprised but every year it's a sprint to get everything done. It's been a crazy year and we're sending it out with a bang! Here's a short list of the wines I'm particularly excited to celebrate with and where to find them.

Anima Mundi Cami del Xops

Approximately $24/btl

Find it at X Vault, Friends and Family, The Vault in Lewiston, Store Ampersand, Craft Curbside, Maine and Loire, Meridians, Stompers, Now You're Cooking, and Vessel and Vine

We picked up Anima Mundi only about a month ago and it completely blew me away. I cleaned Jose Pastor out of what they had left. I feel that on value this is the best sparkling wine in the Devenish portfolio!

The vineyards are in the Costers d’Ordal and have extremely calcareous soils from the nearby Garraf Massif mountains. The winery is close to Barcelona but west and on the far side of the Garraf Massif so they are sheltered from the sea. Agusti works with no additives, including sulfur, to let the Anima Mundi speak clearly.  

Cami dels Xops is a blend of Macabeu and Xarel-lo from two adjoining parcels. The grapes are wild yeast fermented in stainless steel tanks and old 225L French oak barrels, then bottled before primary fermentation has completely finished (with about 20g/L residual sugar) in the métode ancestral style. 

Aroma: lovely vivid lemon! Also wildflowers, viburnum, and white lilac? Freshly squeezed orange and a tiny little hint of honey.

Taste: so creamy and smooth with superfine bubbles, but it has mouthwatering acidity up front that perfectly balances the creaminess and gives it this wonderful tension. It's so beautifully fresh and perfectly balanced. It opens lemon citrusy then this fizz and froth and hint of toast on the mid palate. The finish has more golden fruit and some lemon zest and fades away with bewitching elegance.

Agusti Torello Roca is the wine maker at his family's winery (called AT Roca after him) which specializes in Champagne method wines in the newly created Penedes Classic DO. Anima Mundi is different though and just Agusti working on his own. Agusti dreamt up Anima Mundi as his own project to explore unique terroirs outside of the Spanish DO system. He's a big believer in creating wines that let the terroir speak clearly and the name Anima Mundi basically encapsulates his philosophy. Anima Mundi is a theory of Plato’s, first described in his dialogue Timaeus: “we may consequently state that: this world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence...a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related.” Often called the theory of the “soul of the world,” Plato imagines this soul as the expression of the unity of the orderly natural world and the sum of its relationships: It is the our bonds to nature and each other and a holistic vision of nature and humanity that inspires reverence for the world, nature, and our place within it.

Guglierame Ormeasco 2019

Approximately $34/btl

Find it at: Browne Trading, Now You're Cooking, Stompers, Solo Cucina, and Meridians 

This is probably the last vintage to be made by the Guglierame family here as they've sold their vineyards this year. They were the oldest producer here and the family has ben here for approx 800 years. It's fitting they're closing out with such a brilliant wine.

Aroma: red currant, red rose, blackberry, bay leaf... the aroma is enticing and bewitching! Fresh ripe fruit combined with gentle heady aromatic spice; it's dark, sleek, irresistible but also fun and not intimidating.

Taste: juicy raspberry/blackberry, brambly; the balance is perfect. The first flavors that hit you are fresh juicy red cherry and black raspberry but they come with some hints of lavender, thyme, and black olive. The mid palate evolves into this gorgeous plum flavor before gentle tannins sneak in along with a woodsy flavor to draw out the finish. This is so good; the acidity and fruit and tannin are all so well balanced. This tastes like an excellent elegant older Bordeaux! It's really eye opening.  

I visited the Guglierame vineyard back in 2017 and it was so incredible it was kind of hard to believe it was real. We drove through empty forest and steep switch backs to cross from Piedmont through the Alps and into this northern corner of Liguria. The town of Pornassio is an ancient mountain hamlet about 10K from France. It felt so remote and like a step back in time... the Guglierame family has been here for many hundreds of years and are the oldest wine maker in the area. They're also the largest in town with.... 2.5 hectares! In fact there are only 3 producers left in Pornassio now. The Guglierames make their wine in the tiny ancient but clean cellar under their tiny castle that if I recall correctly dates back to the 1200s. The vineyards are up above 550m above sea level in the low Alps and are right at the limit of how high grapes can be planted here and still ripen. They exclusively grow a unique local version of Dolcetto that ripens much later, has larger berries, and producers (in my opinion) deeper wines. The grape is locally called Ormeasco. The Guglierame brothers farm organically and make the wine with no additives or interventions beyond a small dose of sulfur for bottling. They're making wine the way their parents taught them, it's hardly changed since pre industrial times. Production is miniscule and I can only ever get a few cases.

This 2019 vintage is the best I've ever had. Sometimes the Alpine climate can make these wines too austere, but 2019 is perfectly balanced: deep, powerful, but also nuanced. It's a very special wine. Which is fitting because this is the last vintage the Guglierames are making. The two brothers are approaching 70 and felt it was time to move on from yearly wine making. The castle is staying in the family but they've decided to sell the vineyards on. The new owner will keep them and make good wine from them, but it won't be the same, it won't be the same direct line to pre industrial life here in this part of the Alps. It's fitting that one of the last vintages-maybe the last- is such and impressive tour de force of what this land and these vines can do.

The view from the back of their little castle looking down the valley towards the Mediterranean just out of sight.

The Guglierame vineyards with snow covered Alps just beyond

Partida Creus MUZ 1L
Approximately $35/btl

Find it at: RSVP, Cheese Shop of Portland, Now You're Cooking, Vessel and Vine, Stompers, Monte's, Blue Hill Wine Shop, and Maine and Loire.

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 with ginger, cardamom, orange peel, candied cherry, blood orange, sandal goes on and on. On the palate it is quite juicy with a vivid balance of zippy acidity, ripe fruit, and aromatic spices. Fresh cherry and raspberry up front with lively acidity is followed by some salt and dark blood orange, then more of the aromatic spices 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. 

Domaine de Montvac Vacqueyras 2018

Approximately $29/btl

Find it at: Now You're Cooking, Monte's Fine Foods, and Meridians

I'm so excited to have grabbed the last of the excellent 2018 vintage of Cecile Dusserre. Cecile is a very talented wine maker and makes some of my perennial favorite Rhone wines. This is Grenache based, of course, from the rocky hillsides of the Montmirail hills and it is as opulently sunny and hedonistic as you could want, but it has perfect poise and support from tasty minerality, bright acidity, aromatic herbal notes, and integrated tannins. This is a showstopper without being "loud".

Aroma: spicy black cherry and pepper. It smells warm and sunny: lush dark fruit and red roses with a little hint of vanilla. Then there's also a high toned rosemary and thyme behind the fruit aroma. It's exactly what you want and expect: rich, serious, and expressive

Taste: ripe black cherry followed by black pepper, a hint of cooked orange, a touch of cloves, then some reduced cherry, more black pepper... the rosemary and dry angular tannins follow and taste completely in balance with the wine. There's something almost a little smoky in the mid palate and then the tannins of the finish make me think of the rocky hills these grapes were grown on. This serious wine has lots of presence but it is so well-balanced and elegant!

Originally founded in 1860 Domaine de Montvac, the winery has been passed down through 3 consecutive generations of women. Cecile is the current owner/winemaker and organically farms 22 hectares in Vacqueyras and Gigondas. The vineyards are exposed to the Mistral wind that comes down out of the Alps to the east and helps to dry and concentrate the grapes. The wind is intense though and Cecile has planted trees through the vineyards to provide shelter from it as well as shade. The vines are densely planted massale selection (cuttings from her own existing vines) but grafted so they can resist phyloxera.  

Koehler Ruprecht Kallstadt Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2020

Approximately $24

Find it at: Monte's Fine Foods, Bangor Wine and Cheese, Store Ampersand, Maine and Vine, Maine and Loire, Bleecker and Greer, Now You're Cooking, Terracotta Pasta, Meridians, Friends and Family, Riverside Butcher, Cafe Louis, and Helm

Louis Dressner is famous for many of their French and Italian (Tarlant, Mosse, Puzelat, Occhipinti, La Stoppa, Foradori) wine makers but Koehler Ruprecht was actually one of the wine makers that first drew me to the Dressner portfolio. These wines are exquisitely well made and very well priced. I kid you not: I ordered this wine back in March and it is just arriving now! The problem was actually that my PO got lost and wasn't submitted but still! Koehler Ruprecht makes wines that are excellent expressions of their vineyards and classic German wine culture. Wine makers Dominik and Franzi are quite skilled and also love the vineyards and cellar they're responsible for: it's that mix of seriousness and playful passion that I see in many of the wine makers I respect.

Aroma: bright fresh and citrusy! Lemon, clementine orange, fresh mango, apple blossoms and a very gentle little hint of ginger. This is lovely vivacious young Riesling at its best!

Taste: wow! Vivid acidity dressed with lovely fresh ripe orange and cooked lemon fruit but immediately there's also a delicious saltiness on the sides of my palate. There's a perfect gentle hint of spice in the mid palate and then a delicious subtle toasted meringue/baked pastry taste to the finish. This combo of mouth watering tasty salt and vivid acidity is fantastic!

While Koehler-Ruprecht has existed since the 1700's, it was Bernd Phillipi's hard work over the last 30 years that solidified the winery's world class reputation. Bernd's biggest inspiration was his grandfather, and the wines reflect an attitude of winemaking more akin to the 1900's than the 2000's. In the vineyard, no irrigation, or herbicides are ever used, and systemic treatments against pests or fungal illness were kept to a minimum, only in the rare cases when necessary. In the cellar, long spontaneous fermentations occur in large, old German oak barrels with extended lees contact. Nothing is ever added to or subtracted from the wine, and sulfur is only added moderately after alcoholic fermentation and before bottling.

Today, Bernd has moved on to winemaking projects all over the world (Germany, Portugal, South Africa, consulting in China...), and no longer has any role at Koelher-Ruprecht. Since 2008, viticulture/cellar duties have been passed on to Dominik Sona. Dominik is young but already a seasoned veteran: prior to landing at Koehler-Ruprecht, he's worked at Neiss, Kuhn, Van Volxem, Flowers, Littorai and as estate manager for J.L. Wolf. Already a fan of the winery before getting hired, he has vowed not to change a thing in the winemaking process. A few years later, he was joined by Franziska Schmitt; both are omnipresent but Franzi has over the years taken most responsibility in the cellar.

Devenish is now distributing the conservas (tinned fish) of Abel Alvarez in Asturias Spain! Abel's seaside restaurant, Gueyu Mar, is famous summer destination, but the cold stormy winter weather makes the coast a ghost town. So Abel spent years researching and trying out techniques for canning fish. It's paid off and these are recognized as some of the best in the world. The conservas are all fresh fish Abel buys at market for the restaurant, grills over an oak wood fire at Gueyu Mar, and then immediately tins it with fresh local olive oil. 

They're delicious and really fun to play with. Think of them as an ingredient that is all cooked and ready to go. Just open the can, heat it, and then serve the fish with whatever you want to add. I've had the grilled tuna steak with diced scallions, olives, some tomato, and a bit of calabrian chile. The Octopus was great chopped, served over fried potatoes, with some sea salt sprinkled on it.

You can find these at Browne Trading in Portland, Bangor Wine and Cheese, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Maine and Loire, Havana, Sawyer's Specialties, Bleeker and Greer, Solo Cucina, and Trillium Caterers. 

I warmed up a tin of octopus on the stove last night, served it over fried potatoes with sea salt sprinkled on it, and it was fantastic!

Maybe it's just me, but I think it's so cool to pull a full octopus tentacle out of a can!


Copyright © 2021 Devenish Wines, All rights reserved.

You are receiving this email because you submitted your email address at one of our wine tastings or dinners.

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Devenish Wines
PO Box 11210
Portland, ME 04104

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Limited Offer of Exciting Burgundies

Limited Offer of Exciting Burgundies

Savigney-les-Beaune, Hautes Cotes de Nuits, Declassified Puligny Montrachet

Burgundies for the Holidays!

Village Wines, one of our importers, recently had a limited Burgundy pre-sale of some fantastic wines. Burgundy is a complicated place of tiny producers with multiple holdings and a bewildering array of appellations and classifications all lain on top of each other. The exciting wines are often so expensive that they're unattainable. For these reasons Devenish doesn't do a lot with Burgundy; however I couldn't pass up this chance to snag some of these gems just in time for Christmas! I always say Pinot Noir and particularly red Burgundy is the wine people are most likely to really fall in love with and also the wine most likely to break your heart by not living up to your expectations. Pinot Noir is hard to grow and even good wine makers will sometimes make mediocre wines even in good vintages. You never know what you're getting into unless you've tasted it. 

So here are my tasting notes below!

Francois Gay Savigny-les-Beaune 2019

Approximately $60/btl

You can find this at the Rosemont in Cape Elizabeth (or order from any of them), Now You're Cooking, Maine and Vine, Lincolnville General Store, Vic and Whit's, Sawyer's Specialties, Duck Fat, and Treats

This lovely Savigny-les-Beaune is made by Pascal Gay. Pascal took over running his family's 8 hectare estate from his father (Francois) about a decade ago and is the 8th generation to work these lands based from the village of Chorey les Beaune. Chorey les Beaune is sort of an oddity: it's located just to the north of Beaune and surrounded by some of the most sought after Burgundy AOCs, but Chorey les Beaune itself is sort of over looked. He also has holdings in the Corton Grand Cru, Savigny-les-Beaune, and Beaune 1er cru. Maybe being based in the less pricey Chorey les Beaune has contributed to him keeping his prices down...I don't know how else to explain why this Savigny-les-Beaune is such a great value! The winery makes about 3400 cases total production per year, so quite small, and most of that is sold directly to restaurants in France. 

The vines are about 40 years old and the grapes are manually harvested. Before pressing, the grapes were mostly destemmed and then fermented and aged in French oak - 30% new. Pascal learned to make wine working alongside Francoise (who is still involved) so the wine is quite traditional. They farm sustainably and ferment with native yeast.

Aroma: wow! Really beautiful raspberry! Really just gorgeous fresh juicy raspberries. Well, maybe they're crushed. Maybe you're starting to saute them with a little bit of cinnamon. I definitely also smell some red rose: pungent beautiful and floral. This is classic gorgeous Burgundy aroma with a little bit of pepper and spice thrown in.

Taste: elegant poised red raspberry and cherry up front with nice acidity. This wine has really lovely supple texture but also serious structure behind that. It's so impressively knit together! The fruit upfront is delicious: cherry raspberry but also with a dimension of orange, but there's so much more going on in the wine. This has a delicious savory minerality that slides in behind the fruit, then a little bit of baking spice, a hint of cooked cherry, then some serious tannins ...and then behind all that a hint of cocoa powder.

Remoriquet Hautes Cotes de Nuits 2019

Approximately $50/btl

Available at Bangor Cheese and Wine, Maine and Loire, Leeward, Vic and Whit's, The Cheese Shop of Portland

The Remoriquet Domaine is a 4th generation family winery with 10 hectares of vines in the vicinity of the Nuits Saint Georges where their winery is located. Like Francois Gay, the Remoriquet winery isn't in the fanciest AOC, but they have holdings in amazing neighboring places such as Vosne Romanée 1er Cru. That vineyard actually borders the legendary La Tache vineyard whose wines sell for thousands of dollars, which you can't buy even if you had the money unless you're on the right lists! Since taking over from his father Gilles has adopted a lot of organic principles in the vineyard and more gentle processes in the winery for slower fermentations and less manipulation of the wines (switching from stainless to concrete and using more gentle pumps).

Hautes Cotes de Nuits runs parallel with the Cotes de Nuits AOC from Gevery Chambertin at one end and the Corton wood at the other. Remoriquet's Hautes Cotes de Nuits holdings are up just above the Cotes de Nuits hillside. This gives the vineyards a little more exposure to wind and the soil here is a rockier mix of marl and limestone. Gilles does a pre fermentation cold soak for a few days before letting the wine ferment with native yeast in concrete tanks. After primary fermentation is done the wine is aged for 12 months in Burgundian oak barrels.

Aroma: elegant sexy black raspberry with a little touch of smoke to it. It's a ripe open lovely smelling wine and just a little touch brambly

Taste: Oooh, it's quite gorgeous! The balance of structure to supple fruit is perfect. It opens with black raspberry fruit that's juicy and fresh with just the right amount of acidity. Then you quickly start to get a little bit of darker savory woodsy something coming in along with a delicious supporting saltiness. There's a hint of cocoa powder that comes in on the mid palate and then some relaxed black cherry and woodsy brambly touches on the finish. Finally at the very end as the wine is fading away, there's a little fatty savory rich taste like bacon fat that comes back to me. This is text book perfect medium bodied "seductive but still structured" red Burgundy.

Chavy Chouet Bourgogne Blanc Les Femelottes

Approximately $45/btl

You can find this at Helm, Vic and Whit's, Cheese Shop of Portland, and Grippy Tannins

Owner Romaric Chavy, who took over the estate in 2014, is the eighth generation to make wine in his family. Romaric learned from his father, Hubert Chavy, who founded the winery in 1982. Chavy-Chouet is one of the oldest families in Puligny-Montrachet. The Ropiteau family (on his mother's side) is the oldest one in Meursault. Hubert originally sold most of his wines to top negociants but when Romaric got involved they began bottling themselves. Romaric began learning to make wine when he was 12, attended a specialized wine making prep school, and then worked in South Africa, Greece, Spain, and the Languedoc before taking over his family's domaine at 22 years old. Romaric is one of those wine makers who believes wine is made through good farming and healthy vines so he's been adopting organic farming methods, uses native yeast fermentations, and does not filter or fine the wines.

Les Femelottes is 100% Chardonnay from 5 parcels of vines that are either just outside the Puligny Montrachet AOC or are inside but young vines and so Romaric declassifies the grapes. Vine age ranges from 5-60 years old. The wine ferments with native yeast in barrel and then is aged in barrels for 10 months; 10% are new and the rest are 2-3 years old.  

Aroma: ripe sunny apricot and white peach backed up with a touch of toasting meringue, toasted coconut, and a hint of hazelnuts. That rich sunny fruit is the primary aroma. I can definitely tell from the other aromas that this was aged in oak, but it works well and the aroma is totally unified with the oak elegantly integrated.

Taste: nice rich ripe citrusy clementine orange upfront followed by a bit of a mango flavor and then some delicious tasty saltiness. There's a little bit of a toasted coconut/vanilla biscuit woven in there too, but this is fresh, lively, and tasty. The finish has a brilliant green apple and honeydew kind of flavor with a very gentle hint of ginger-like spice. This is a great example of how oak can work so well and play a supporting roll to Chardonnay's ripe fruit and vibrant acidity.

Robert Gibourg Coteaux de Bourguignons 2018

Approximately $30/btl

You can find this at the Lincolnville General Store, Vic and Whit's, Store Amperand, and Treats

Robert Gibourg inherited 1 hectare of vineyard way back in the late 60s and then slowly grew the estate over the next 30 years he slowly acquired small special vineyard sites in Ladoix, Aloxe Corton, and Corton Grand Cru. The domaine now has 6 hectares and is run by his son in law Sebastien Bidault. Coteaux de Bourguignons is a sort of catch all Burgundy Appellation, but in this case the fruit comes from a few parcels up on the clay and limestone plateau above his famous village wines. The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed, cold soaks for 3-5 days, and then ferments with native yeast for about 3 weeks. This is bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with no added sulfur. Sebastien wanted to experiment with a zero sulfur wine so he contact his friend Fabrice Dodane, a famous natural wine maker from the Arbois to help guide him. It's perfectly put together and fresh: there's nothing to give away that it's zero sulfur aside from maybe the wine is a bit more vivacious. 

Aroma: black raspberry, blueberry, and cherry; fresh, ripe, and fruit forward. It smells a bit like currants and licorice candy as well. Also there's a hint of cloves and black pepper.  

Taste: Upfront juicy tightly wound black raspberry fruit with a touch of black currant. There's nice acidity that keeps the fruit energetic and tense. The mid palate has more raspberry and also some red cherry. It tightens and tannin comes in that gives the wine a dry dusty black pepper and currant finish. The tannins are in balance but really have some staying power; this is a more forceful slightly rustic Pinot Noir.

Gueyu Mar: Ideal Presents and Stocking Stuffers

Devenish is now distributing the conservas (tinned fish) of Abel Alvarez in Asturias Spain! Abel's seaside restaurant, Gueyu Mar, is famous summer destination, but the cold stormy winter weather makes the coast a ghost town. So Abel spent years researching and trying out techniques for canning fish. It's paid off and these are recognized as some of the best in the world. The conservas are all fresh fish Abel buys at market for the restaurant, grills over an oak wood fire at Gueyu Mar, and then immediately tins it with fresh local olive oil. 

They're delicious and really fun to play with. Think of them as an ingredient that is all cooked and ready to go. Just open the can, heat it, and then serve the fish with whatever you want to add. I've had the grilled tuna steak with diced scallions, olives, some tomato, and a bit of calabrian chile. The Octopus was great chopped, served over fried potatoes, with some sea salt sprinkled on it.

You can find these at Browne Trading in Portland, Bangor Wine and Cheese, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Maine and Loire, Havana, Sawyer's Specialties, Bleeker and Greer, Solo Cucina, and Trillium Caterers. 

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Portland, ME 04104

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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!

Copyright © 2021 Devenish Wines, All rights reserved.

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Devenish Wines
PO Box 11210
Portland, ME 04104

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