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June 2013

Frank Cornelissen Suscaru 5 Rose

I have evaluated this rose and found it to be awesome, if not terribly rose like.


Frank Cornelissen is a Belgian who worked in the wine industry for a couple decades before having a revelation in Sicily.  He was at a restaurant and had a bottle of wine from Etna.  Cornelissen was blown away, dropped what he was doing, and drove over to the winery.  He ended up renting a small vineyard to experiment with making wine and a few years later acquired his own.  Frank Cornelissen's first commercial vintage on Etna was 2001 when he first bottled his wine "Magma": liquid rock.  Since then he has held steadfast to his ideals of making wine manually and without artifice; wines that are expressions of the place that created them and unavoidably his personality.  This dedication has made Cornelissen a poster child for the natural wine movement and his wines are considered rather notorious and sometimes polarizing.  I wrote about him before: here

Grape Varieties: Malvasia, Muscat Petite Grains, Cattaratto, Chardonnay, and Nerello Mascalese all fermented together.


Aroma: Cherry, raspberry, Rhubarb.  The cherry aroma is a bit candied, kind of cherry cough drop rich.  There's also a spice to the Susucaru, it's a bit peppery smelling in a vaguely eastern and mysterious way.  Cooked candied cherries and yes, there's also a hint of black licorice. The Susucaru is bright, attractive, and interesting smelling; neither floral and citrusy or really aromatic and spicy.  

Taste:  The Susucaru has some presence and heft.  It's not viscous, but it does fill your palate, first with soft cherry and then a prickly peppery profile that brings in some wild flower notes.  Susucaru has some tannin, but they're slight and relaxed.  The finish takes it's time evolving into a rich dry earth kind of taste and there's a meaty quality that starts to emerge in the middle of the wine.  I actually like it much more at about 60 degrees than I do chilled; the wine is a totally different beast when up at a higher temp.  There's a lot happening in the Susucaru and it would be a shame to dumb it down with a chill.  I drank it with some excellent Parmigiano from a wheel that had just been cracked open.  The salt and spice of the cheese was a good counterpoint.  The Mediterranean spice and deep volcanic mineral background of the Susucaru is really cool and unique; the Susucaru is also really well integrated.  


The Susucaru is a gem.  Bravo.  I haven't bothered showing it to anyone yet so it's not on the shelf anywhere yet.


Sebastien Riffault Sancerre les Quarterons


Vintage 2010

Take all your expectations of Sancerre, ball them up, and throw them away.  Well, that's not quite right.  Hold on to the minerality expectation here.  Sebastien Riffault's Sancerre isn't made like other Sancerres.  Sebastien makes his wine the way wine was made 50 or more years ago: with no chemical interventions in the winery and natural farming in the vineyard.  He told me that old men in Sancerre drink taste his wines and get taken back to what Sancerre tasted like when they were growing up.

Sebastien took over the Riffault estate from his father slowly, bit by bit.  He had discovered natural wine making and began on one small plot.  When that worked and his father was impressed he set about changing their whole estate over.  Today he farms biodynamically and practices totally natural wine making (wild fermentation, no filtering or fining, nothing added or taken away).  In fact, he plows some of the vineyards with a horse drawn plow!


In this particular wine, the Les Quarterons, Sebastien adds a very small amount of sulfur before bottling to stabilise the wine.  The other Riffault Sancerres have no sulfur at all.  I wrote about his Auksinis Sancerre recently: click here for that.

As Sebastien isn't adding anything he has no way to make up for anything lacking in the grapes.  Therefore Sebastien has to harvest about a month later than anyone else in the AOC in order to make sure the grapes are truly ripe!  Some of them even develop botrytis.

Aroma: Honey; right off the bat I get fresh honey!  There's mango woven in and some hints of white pepper too.  The Les Quarterons certainly isn't as citrusy as mainstream Sancerre is.  the Riffault Les Quarterons has a generally ripe aroma that's backed up by the wine's golden color.  It kind of smells like powerful sweeter flowers like Rhododendron.

Taste: So much texture!  The Les Quarterons envelopes your palate.  There's lemon zestiness right at first and then it blooms into this big lush mid palate and an intensely minerally finish that lingers on and on!  So big, so ripe; this is nothing like normal Sancerre.  There's still a mineral back bone underneath that holds it all together and keeps it focused.  The Les Quarterons is obviously Loire, but I'd be hard pressed to pick it out as Sauvingnon Blanc.  The Sebastien Riffault Les Quarterons is amazing, unique, and about $27.99 a bottle.  Drink this with scallops, halibut, sword fish, or tuna.  It will rock your socks off and curl your toes.

Domaine de Chevalerie Bourgueil "Chevalerie" 2007

No, not a typo, this is Domaine de Chevalerie's 2007 Bourgueil from the specific Chevalerie vineyard. 


Chevalerie is pretty much the most awesome producer in Bourgueil.  They make wine from several old vine vineyards that they feel have unique characters.  Chevalerie is now in it's 13th generation of being run by the Caslot family.  I've written about how great they are before and you can read the story of my visit to the winery here: Chevalerie Visit.

Being so awesome and sought after, Chevalerie has the luxury of holding on to it's wines until the Caslot family feels that they're ready to drink.  So that's why I'm sitting here at my computer drinking this 6 year old amazing Cabernet Franc.

Aroma: OOOh, cherry and black raspberry, wood smoke, black pepper, and a hint of basil.  This 2007 Chevalerie Bourgueil has a great relaxed, suave kind of aroma.  The Chevalerie smells riper and darker than I'm used to for Bourgueil. 

Taste: So dark and spicy.   You like silky fine Pomerol?  You'll love Chevalerie's 2007 Bourgueil.  The tannins are mature and relaxed, the fruit is dense and polished seeming, the acidity is balanced and energizing; this Bourgueil is so well balanced! 

This is a steal at $25.

Famille Laurent Saint Pourcain Rose

Vintage: 2012

I have long loved Famille Laurent's Saint Pourcain Rouge.  Their Saint Pourcain Rouge is one of the best terroir, deliciousness, and value trifectas I've found.  I've had three vintages for their rose now and it's been noticably different each time around; this 2012 Saint Pourcain rose is my favorite vintage yet. 


Grape: 100% Gamay

Aroma: Strawberries!  Intense fresh strawberries that you just picked and are all over your fingers and the only thing you can smell.  This is what I get at first whiff in the Laurent Saint Pourcain rose.  There's also some floral rose-y qualities but oh that strawberry! 

Taste: I love this because it's opens with elegant vivacious strawberry fruit, but then displays this racy mineral edge in the mid-palate and finish.  The Famille Laurent Saint Pourcain is far more refined than all those uncouth grenache based Provencal roses, but it isn't a push over either.  The Laurent's Saint Pourcain rose is intense and vivid.  This is sexy.  This is a picnic date kind of wine; pretty, exciting, and a hint naughty as well.

Available at Aurora Provisions and Rosemont on Munjoy hill for $13.99

Salinia Wine Company 25 Reasons Sparkling Wine

Salinia Twenty Five Reasons.  Wow and wow, and wow again.  



480 cases made.  42-43 year old 5 acre Sauvignon Blanc vineyard in Mendocino. Farmed organically since planting.  Completely natural fermentation and wine making.

This is so unique and compelling and so CA.  It's about damn time CA started making wines like this that struck out on their own and weren't emulaitng anyone else.

Salina is a very recent project started by Kevin Kelley in Sonoma county.  Wines of place and antique wine making are terms that describe what he's doing, but don't think non interventionist wine making means low mainenance.  Getting grape juice to ferment wild and then finish in bottle with out blowing up or being sweet is super hard and takes obsessive attention to detail, but 25 Reasons pulls it off.


The point is that the 25 Reasons has a dry white grapefruit kind of nose with a hint of fresh bread and apricot.  Twenty five reasons is clean and lively on the palate.  After the white peach and pineapple there's a beautiful finish of wild flowers.  The soft prickle of the effervescens is deft and though almost un-noticable it does a lot to enhance the 25 Reasons taste.

$25 retail.