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February 2014

Cantina di Sorbara Lambrusco "Nicchia"

The Nicchia Lambrusco is without a doubt, the most romantic date wine in Devenish's armoury.  Better than big dark Napa Cabernets, better than cerebral Barolos, better even than hedonistic white Burgundy.  This is what you should drink for Valentine's.  Here's why:


The Cantina di Sorbara was created following WWI when 19 farmers in Emilia Romagna pooled their land and expertise in order to make a more commercially viable winery.  As Cantina Sorbara is still going the move obviously worked; however that's not too sexy or romantic.

This Lambrusco is named for the Countess of Castiglione: a famous courtesan and mistress to Napoleon who is credited with preventing the occupation of Paris following the Franco-Prussian war and helping Italy to be unified.  She was a famously beautiful, passionate, and politically powerful woman.  That's pretty romantic, but there's more.

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All the history aside, the Nicchia really is a beautiful wine.  The aroma is all kinds of fresh raspberries and candied cherries.  It tastes of delicious juicy red fruit and verges on being lush with out quite crossing the line.  This certainly isn't a sweet Lambrusco, yet it's not bone dry either; all the raspberry is rich and juicy but there's some acidity that makes me think of cranberry as well.  Then the finish brings in more of the wines soft sparkle and the taste ends on an invigorating up note.  Thanks to all the fruit and the effervescence it works with many different kinds of foods.  I had it with a rich stew of beans, onions, and rice which the wine complimented nicely.  

So the Nicchia is a playful, seductive, and beautiful red sparkling wine.  That's better, that's more romantic.  But what really makes this the best wine for Valentine's?  It's 8% alcohol; not only does it go with all kinds of foods, not only is it exciting, fun, and energetic tasting.  The Nicchia is low enough in alcohol that you can drink a whole bottle and still be exciting, fun, and energetic after dinner when you go to bed.

Happy Valentine's!

The Nicchia is about $12 and available at the Portland Rosemonts, RSVP, Tully's, Wine Seller in Rockland, Aurora Provisions, and Vic and Whit's in Saco.  


Murinais Crozes Hermitage 2010

Northern Rhone Syrahs are borderline mythical for their brawny but elegant and complicated depths; also for their rarity and price.  The northern Rhone just doesn't have a whole lot of vineyard land and the vineyards they do have are often horribly steep and rocky.  Crozes Hermitage is the one exception.  Located at the northern end of the river valley, it's where the land starts to open out and level off.  Part of the appellation includes the dangerously steep hill sides, but the majority of Crozes Hermitage is out on the sandier plains where vineyard work is easier and the wines are softer tasting.  Those softer and simpler wines from the flats have given Crozes Hermitage a slightly compromised image as not necessarily a true Northern Rhone wine, but if you look you can find some outstanding wines from the hilly edge of the appellation.


Murinais is an old family operation (fifth generation) that primarily farms grapes and then sells them to other producers.  However, the current proprietor, Luc Tardy, started keeping the grapes from several old vine plots on the edge of the border with Hermitage.  He makes very little wine each year and the farming is his primary business, but this is real authentic north Rhone Syrah from the steep rocky terrain that made the wines famous!

Varietal: Syrah

Aroma: This wine smells dark.  Dark blackberry, cooked cherries, and blueberries are my first impression from the aroma.  There's a savory food smell too, I think it's a slight hint of soy sauce and roasted meat.  This Crozes Hermitage also has just a faint hint of something a little bit nutty, kind of like raw almonds.

Palate: Lush and mouth filling.  The fruit is dark and dense feeling.  The different flavors are pretty tightly packed together and don't give up too much right at first; blackberry, dark cherry, and dried blueberry are right up front, but the mid palate has a flavour that's also just a bit chocolaty.  The Murinais is a big wine, but elegant.  There's good acidity to give it more vibrancy, and there's substantial tannin that grabs on to you a bit roughly at the end, but the texture is so smooth and suave.  This wine is smooth and voluptuous, but also has a rough side that makes it more exciting.  Syrah, in my opinion, is one of the sexiest of grapes, particularly the northern Rhone and Central Coast CA examples that pull of hedonism and refinement at the same time.

The Murinais is available at the Rosemont on Commercial St, Aurora Provisions, and Rosemont on Munjoy Hill for about $25.  Rather a bargain for serious north Rhone Syrah in time for Valentine's.