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June 2011

Domaine de Bel Air Bourgueil 2003

This is in the works.  I'm actually tasting this right now.  Sorry.  Lots of wine to taste.  Check back. 

I can tell you this is a great summer red.  Medium bodied, balanced, it has enough age that it's really integrated and kind of lush.  And it's great with a bit of a chill on it.

7/5/11 Update: Alright, I've finally gotten around to tasting this and writing about it.  It's 10pm and the weather outside it still sticky and warm; perfect conditions for me to drink this chilled Loire Cabernet Franc.  Bourgueil and its neighbor Chinon are (arguably) the best Cabernet Franc producing regions in the world. 

Bel Air is currently run by Rodolphe Gautier who took over from his father in the early 2000s.  The soil is a mix of clay over limestone and the vines are approaching 35 years of age.  The farming is organic and the grapes are hand harvested.

I don't know to what I should chalk this wines tastiness up to, but it really hits the spot!  It has a peppery, plummy, cherry kind of aroma to it.  A mix of dark lush fruit and earthy woodsey tones.  Not straight up wood smoke, but more a burnt out camp fire the next morning with hints of soot and smoke. 

On the palate it has bright fruit right up front and that spice, but then more of a lush, slightly fleshy texture on the mid-palate and some tannins that finish it off with a firm hand.  This wine is really a joy to drink for me.  It's a 2003 at a fantastic price ($14.99).  Cabernet Franc seems to really benefit from some time in the bottle to really integrate and smooth out, but too often we only get the young ones.  I'm really excited to be able to offer a wine that's actually mature and ready to drink now and is this lively and well put together for such a good price. 

This is available at the Freeport Cheese and Wine Shop, Black Cherry, the Rosemont Markets, The Cheese Iron, Treats, Aurora Provisions, RSVP, and the Oh No Cafe.

Grand Rouviere Provence Rose 2010

Provencal Rose. For me this has become a variety of wine loaded with preconceptions and expectations; all things I try to avoid in wine.  Provencal rose is what (in my mind) finally slapped White Zin down and re-established rose as a respectable wine.  I almost typed serious there, but that would be wrong.  Rose isn't really about serious; it's mostly about tasty and fun. 


Grand Rouviere is a fifth generation family domaine in Provence bordering on the Bandol appellation: ground zero for dry French rose.  The vineyards are generally southern facing, towards the Med, dry and sunny.  The only thing that dominates this land scape is the sun; certainly not the sustainably farming Leydiere family here.  This wine is 70% old vines Cinsault and 30% Grenache.  Cinsault is a local grape that yields a bit more structure and meatiness here.

Aroma: The aroma is really interesting to me.  It's fresh but not too forward.  At first whiff I get a young fresh raspberry, but that quickly turns to rhubarb and then a meaty apricot flesh kind of aroma.  The aroma hints at the depths of the wine to come.

Palate:  This is a joy to drink on it's own, but it has the underlying, hidden strength to work well with a variety of foods.  Cold chicken salad, pasta salads, grilled sardines, salmon, pork chops.  Basically what I'm trying to say is that this wine makes my mouth water and is good with almost any food you throw at it.  I'm recommending it as an emergency wine that you keep on hand for any last minute picnics or unexpected guests baring dinner.  On the palate it's a bit pink grapefruit, but with a bit more weight that kind of lets you know it means business.  Just writing and thinking about this is making me hungry, so I guess I'll wind this down now.

This is about $14 and is available at the Rosemont market on Brighton Ave, Whole Foods, Provisions in South Freeport, Market Basket, Blue Hill Wine Shop, and Aurora Provisions.

Avinyo vi d'agulla Sparkling Muscat 2010

This wine will require you to take most of your preconceptions about wine, some that I've fostered, and chuck them out the window.  I'm all about sense of place, wine as art, meaningful wines that say something.  But just as I am not capable of working all the time (though I try) you can't drink serious, attention demanding wines all the time.  Think of this as a very enjoyable distraction.


Vi d'agulla is an effervescent dry Muscat from Penedes Spain.  It is made by the Esteve Nadal family at their winery near Barcelona.  The family makes some really brilliant, serious cava, but this is their traditional summer drink.  This wine is made from 100% petite grain Muscat grapes which, I'm going to make a wild guess here, are harvested slightly under ripe.  It doesn't have any of the floral, tropical aromatics that I normally associate with Muscat.

The Aroma is primarily green apple, but there's also a fresh green smell that I'm going to describe as a garden after a summer shower.  Laugh now, but I dare you to go get a bottle and smell it!  The wine is more effervescent than a Vinho Verde or Txakolina, but still less than cremant or Champagne.  Here's a picture o it freshly poured:


As you can just make out it's "frothy", but not full on. 

This is an extremely tasty, easy to drink, refreshing summer white.  I just finished a race to spread gravel for Portland Trails, am totally sweat soaked and this is perfect.  It's lean, prickly, clean, and a has a hint of pear.  This is really just exceptionally easy to drink and fun.  The effervescence will allow this to work with a lot of spicy or greasy foods.  Bring on the asian noodles, cured meats, grilled sardines, scallops, oysters, and most all cold salads.  I drank a bottle of this lovely 10.5% alcohol wine last weekend lying around in Fort Gorges soaking up the sun and it was perfect.  I predict that all the cool kids will be drinking this by summers end.  Swing by the Portland Rosemont Markets, the Freeport Cheese and Wine Shop, Tess's Market, or Browne Trading to pick up a bottle.  It's in the $14 range.  In fact you could try this Thursday at Browne Trading's wine tasting!

Arbor Brook Pinot Gris 2010


Arbor Brook's Pinot Gris is made from fruit they bought from the Croft family vineyard.  The grapes are grown organically and Arbor Brook only produced 450 cases.

This wine is different from what I normally think of when someone says Oregon Pinot Gris, which is a good thing in my book.  I've had a lot of big, flabby, viscous OR Pinot Gris; Arbor Brook's is a refreshingly different interpretation. 

Aroma: The aroma is pretty intense and has easily identifiable pear and greenapple.  The aroma is eerily reminiscent of fresh baking pear and apple pie.  I also pick out some white flowers and a hint of kiwi.  It's a bright vibrant nose, great for this time of year.

Palate:  On the palate it's also pretty bright.  The wine has a kind of "Pop" to it from the acidity.  The fruit is tasty and crisp, hinting at pear and fresh tart watermelon.  Don't get the impression that this is a sharp wine.  It's not.  The flavor is bright, but the actual texture is still pretty smooth and rich.  The finish particularly is fleshy and smooth in classic Pinot Gris style.

I'm excited to have such a bright expressive wine as this, that's hand crafted, organically farmed, and actually affordable.  This retails for under $15.

Arbor Brook is a very small family vineyard out in Willamette Oregon, located in the town of Mcminville.  Dave and Mary Hansen moved to the Willamette in 2000 to finally pursue their love of wine by starting a vineyard.  Passion matters a lot in my book.  Although they haven't been at it long and are still pretty small they seem to be doing a bang up job, based on the Pinot Noirs and this Pinot Gris that I have experienced. This comes to me by way of Wayne Clark; a former Portland ME resident who moved out to the other Portland and got suckered into wine.  Eventually Wayne got to wondering why only the big, more industrial Oregon wineries were available in ME.  This motivated him to start his own brokerage firm and get small family producers across the country and into ME.  His company is ORWA.



Chevalerie Bourgueil Cassiopee 2009

I've written about Chevalerie before.  Here actually.  Here's a short refresher.  Chevalerie is located in Bourgueil, one of the best Cabernet Franc producing regions in the world.  Chevalerie has been maintained by the Caslot family for 13 generations.  The current patriarch, Pierre Caslot farms biodynamically and is dedicated to making the purest representation of his terroir and culture that he can.

The Cassiopee is Chevalerie's younger vine, drink now, blend.  That's not to say it isn't complex and well made.  It's excellently balanced and impressively lush.


Aroma:  Ripe blackberry and blackcherry are pretty vivid right up front.  It has a pretty powerful aroma that I can smell from a ways away.  There's just a hint of black pepper in the aroma and I also get something that's a touch fresh green leafy.  It's unusual for a Loire Cabernet Franc, to me, in how ripe and polished it is.  I get no dry herbal qualities out of it.

Pallet:  This is so smooth and integrated.  It's quite an achievement.  It drinks like a very sauve, collected Margaux, but a little brighter and with more acidity keeping it vivid.  it's sauve and mature, but a bit palyful too.  Not too heavy, with a hint of baking spices on the mid palate, and good integrated tannins on the finish that are dry but perfectly matched in intensity to the amount of fruit and acidity.  This is a really excellently put together wine with extremely smooth texture. 

This is one of the best balanced wines I've had in a while and really a joy to drink.  It's probably the best Cabernet Franc around, barring this wineries older single vineyard offerings.  You can pick this up at Whole Foods or RSVP for under $15.

My June Cover Sheet

As I wrote earlier, we're on a wine crusade.  Here is the cover sheet I'm putting on the front of all my price lists right now.   It's going out to all my customers.

Our Declaration of a Wine Crusade

Hooray for Summer!  It was in typical Maine fashion that the weather veered from cold and rainy into sudden full blown Summer.  Sure it’s a shock but we’re not going to complain!  Finally the weather is suited to all these brilliant 2010 roses and crisp French whites we’ve found.  

As many of you know, Devenish did some growing over the winter; both in terms of personnel (Gene Barber) and portfolio wise with ORWA’s Oregon wines, Trireme’s Greeks, and many new selections from our French connection: Laurent Bonnois.  As the season transitions we’ve shifted focus from expanding our portfolio to getting out and beating the drum for all these new wines we’re so passionate about.  We’ll be out doing as many events as we possibly can to get these wines in people’s hands.  In fact, we’ve stepped up our promotion of small family owned wineries that taste like where they come from to the level of a crusade.  That’s right; here and now we declare a wine crusade!  Considering the awesome $9 Malbecs, $12.99 Costieres de Nimes,  $11.99 Roussillon, and $10 Gascogne white that we have, to name but a few, there’s no excuse for drinking mass produced, industrial, chemical laden wines.  

We don’t do business with people that we don’t feel will represent our wines and small grower producers well.  We’re doing business with you because we believe you share our beliefs and passion for real wine.  Together we can move this market forward!  It was only 6 years ago that we brought the La Ferme St Pierre Ventoux Rose into the state.  Back then the big distributors were still selling 2-3 year old french rose that was turning brown and most people’s only experience with rose was White Zin.  Now the arrival of the new Rose’ vintage is more anticipated than Noveau Beaujolais!  Maine has a great food and wine scene and it’s just getting better.  We’re thankful to be a part of it and to be riding the crest of this wave.


Put your Red wines in the fridge!

I think there's still some resistance to the idea of drinking red wines chilled.  Look people, the French have been doing it for as long as there's been wine.  It would be kept in caves that were often down around 50' F, so don't feel like it's weird.  Some reds, such as my Jura Trousseau, St Pourcain, and Domaine Grisy Red Burgundy, really are better with a slight chill on them.

Putting aside whether some reds are better chilled down, there's a bigger issue here.  We're going into summer and before long the air temperature is going to be 80-90 degrees.  Drinking reds at air temperature is fine in autumn and early spring when air temperature is around 60.  You do not want to serve your 14% Zinfandel at air temperature if it's 2pm in mid August and it's 95' out.   The wine will taste hot, alcoholic, and disgusting.   Plus it will make people want to go to sleep.  If you serve your reds at air temperature in the summer it's like throwing them in a frying pan and cooking them!


Don't do this!!!!

In the summer you should really be putting all your reds in the fridge for half an hour or so at least before you serve them.  Pay attention to temperature; just like whites, red wine will taste totally different at different temperatures.  Simply making sure your red isn't too hot in the summer will make them a whole lot more enjoyable.