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October 2011

Domaine Espieres Cotes du Rhone 2010


Philippe Cartoux founded Domaine Espieres in 1989 when he started buying some small parcels of vines in his home town of Gigondas. He's a big believer in organic farming an putting in a lot of work in the vineyard so that he has top quality grapes to start from. To that end his vineyards are planted at unusually high densities; almost twice the average number of vines per acre in the Cotes du Rhone in order to drastically limit yields. His cotes du Rhone includes a large proportion of Mouvedre (20ish %) which gives the wine a deep, dark, slightly wild character while still preserving it's refined character. It's a very cleanly made, well mannered, beastly powerhouse of a wine. I really enjoy it's duel personality!

Aroma: ripe cherry, currant, fur, a hint of wood smoke, a hint of leather and cinnamon.

Palate: dark, spicy, peppery. It has a fresh vivid quality to the fruit that lingers on. There's a dense plum/roasted cherry character complemented by a dry, slightly salty, earth and persistent tannins on the finish.

Bebame Cabernet Franc/Gamay Noir 2010


Bebame is a new collaboration between Don Heistuman and Steve Edmunds: a pair of pretty well known and respected eccentrics in the CA wine scene.  Bebame is a Spanish word that means "drink me" as inspired by the bottle of shrinking potion Alice drinks in Alice in Wonderland.  Originally the wine was to be named "Drink Me", but it turns out it's illegal to advocate drinking on a label on a bottle of alcohol.  So after some dumbfounded head scratching the name "Bebame" was settled on. The grapes come from about 3k feet up in Eldorado County CA.  Eldorado is a hot bed of new experimental wines right now and I expect we'll be seeing the appellation on more labels in the future.

This is made with the express purpose of being bright, fun, transparent, and easy to drink.  Bebame!

Aroma: My first impression is of ripe raspberry, maybe some jam.  Then underneath I get aromas of thyme, baking spice, and baking cookies, even a touch of ginger bread.  It's an intriguing nose that is pretty classic Cabernet Franc.

Palate: This is impressively bright, lush Cab Franc.  It's almost completely free of any vegetal or unripe flavors; just lush cherry, bright acidity, a very soft touch of tannin to round it out.  There's a dark, peppery component lurking underneath the bright fruit and I get a hint of bittersweet baking chocolate too.

This is a really unique CA effort.  It's very clean and pure tasting and easily enjoyable.  This is about $24 retail.

Gattavecchi Rosso di Montepulciano 2009


Varietal: 90% Sangiovese (Prugnolo Gentile is the local name), 10% Canaiolo

Devenish added this Rosso di Montepulciano earlier in the year, but it's really more suited to autumn and winter so we hadn't done too much with it yet.  Don't confuse it with the Montepulciano grape from central Italy, this is made from Sangiovese grapes in the town of Montepulciano in Tuscany.  The Montepulciano region and the town of Argiano that the Gattavecchi winery is located in have a fantastic location for producing fine Sangiovese.  They're located in southern Tuscany, down south of Siena where it's warmer and Sangiovese builds up more fruit and slightly softer texture than it usually can further north.  The dry, rolling hills and olive orchards here give the vineyards great drainage and exposure to the warm tuscan sun. 

The aroma is classic Tuscan Sangiovese and smells so good and so familiar to me.  There are aromas of dark cherries, roasted cherries, roses, fresh raspberries; and underneath it all a hint of dry tuscan dirt and a whiff of sweet flavored tobacco.  It's really a great, comforting aroma!

The palate is also pretty classic Sangiovese: ripe cherry fruit right up front, supported by bright acidity and tannins that are substantial but very well integrated into the flavors of the wine.  If you want a classic Tuscan Sangiovese, if you want a well structured medium bodied wine that's awesome with pasta and tastes like the dry hills that produced it, this is a great choice.

This is about $15 at the Rosemont Markets in Portland, the Freeport Cheese and Wine Shop, Downeast Beverage, The Cheese Iron, and Oakhill Beverage.

Piantate Lunghe Rosso Conero


Vintage: 2007

Varietal: 100% Montepulciano

I don't really know how to introduce this wine.  It's currently one of my favorites and I think I've opened at least four bottles in the two weeks that I've had it.  Rosso Conero is a small, little known, but very respected (in Italy) DOC in the Marche region of central Italy.  Three friends near the town of Ancona decided to pool their tiny family vineyards in order to make enough wine to sell; about 2000 cases per year.  It's a gem of a wine imported by my friend Warren Fraser and his new company Peter/Warren Selections

Aroma: Intense.  It smells like what I want my kitchen to smell like on a sunday afternoon in January; namely, baking spices, cinnamon, raspberry, blueberry (both fresh and cooked), hints of smoke, charred meat, and hints of baking chocolate. 

Palate: Richly textured and with dark fruit, this is a lush and very authentically Italian tasting wine.   The mouth feel is smooth and refined while the flavors are dense blueberry, pepper, and hints of smoke.  It's not a super complex wine, but very well balanced, approachable, and utterly delicious. 

I've had this wine with all manner of food, including Indian creamed spinach and a tomato chickpea dish.   I have yet to find a food that this wine can't handle, but it is ideal with stewed meats or pasta in a meat sauce.  Sometimes you don't want a wine that totally grabs and dominates your attention; sometimes you just want one that's honestly delicious and that's what this wine is to me.

It's also the best wine made from Montepulciano I've ever had.

This is about $20 at the Rosemont on Munjoy Hill, the Freeport Cheese and Wine shop, and Tess's in Brunswick.