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December 2014

Franck Peillot Bugey Montagnieu Brut

Bugey is a lesser know appellation in eastern France formed by a group of low hills at the southern edge of the geographic formation that creates the Jura.  Distance wise Bugey is closer to Savoie so Bugey sometimes gets lumped in with it, but Bugey really has it's own character separate from the other near by wine regions.  Bugey has been known for making sparkling wines that were popular in Lyon and formerly in Paris, but they have slowly faded from France's national consciousness and aren't so common any more.  A quick fact is that in the 19th century there were 7000 hectares of vines in Bugey, now there are 500.


Franck Peillot is the fifth generation of his family to make wine on their 6 hectares of land outside the town of Montagnieu.  This is a blend of Altesse, Chardonnay, and some Mondeuse (a red grape) that Franck often actually co-ferments with the Chardonnay.  Franck tries to do his fermentation using the natural yeasts on the grapes and is successful about 90% of the time.  He adds a very small amount of sulfur at pressing, and then another small amount to stabilise at bottling; it still ends up being magnitudes less than a normal wine.  Read more about Franck and Bugey here on the excellent Wine Terroirs Blog.

Aroma: Peillot's Bugey has a fresh lively and pleasant aroma of lemon zest, peach, fresh white grapefruit, some toast, and a ripe apple aroma that seems like golden delicious to me. It smells fun, focused, and energetic.

Taste: There's a focus to Franck's Bugey that is similar to good non vintage Champagne, but not quite as sharp.  His Bugey opens with a dry edgey effervescence first, but then on the mid palate there's a fresh pineapple flavor that pops up before subsiding back into more of a rich, gentle, palate enveloping toasty creaminess.  This sparkling wine is dry, but it's not as bone cuttingly dry as many mass produced Champagnes can be.  It feels like it's not quite as highly pressurized as Champagne and that must help it seem a bit softer.  At the same time the Bugey is so much more balanced and integrated than any Prosecco I've ever had.

Franck Peillot has made a delicious, fun loving, and very elegant sparkling wine that costs about half the price of Champagne, plus it's hand made to boot, unlike most cheap Champagne.  This is priced in the mid $20s and is available at Browne Trading, Flock and Vine, Rosemont on Brighton Ave, Aurora Provisions, the Cheese Iron, The Farm Stand, and the Bier Cellar.

Devenish Holiday Wines

The weather may be getting nasty, but don’t get down about it.  There are too many dinners, ugly sweater parties, and general holiday celebrating going on to let some pesky snow and ice put a damper on all the cheer!  With so many celebratory gatherings it’s wise to have some tasty wines on hand in case there’s an impromptu Yankee swap.  Here are our suggestions:


Click on any of the underlined titles below to link to more info.




Baudouin Champagne Cuvee Prestige Brut NV $40


Baudouin is a small grower/producer at the southern edge of Champagne.  This bottling is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, but vinified white.  The Baudouin is absolutely delicious; fruitier, juicier, and richer than the mass produced industrial Champagnes, but at the same time elegant and toasty.  Why buy a mass produced Champagne when this is similarly priced and light years more delicious and special?

Available at Browne Trading, Rosemont Market, Rayr, Old Port Wine, State Street Wines, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Sawyer Specialties, Bangor Wine and Cheese, Aurora Provisions, Vic and Whit's, Oak Hill, The Cheese Iron, Flock and Vine, RSVP, and the Farm Stand.




Chateau Puits du Roy Bordeaux Rouge 2011 $20


Puits du Roy is made by Chateau L’Escart in Bordeaux Superior.  Damien Laurent makes this from the estate’s old Cabernet Franc vines.  The Puits du Roy has the suppleness of Cab Franc at it’s best but also more fruit and ripeness than many Loire expressions thanks to Bordeaux’s warmer climate.  Available at the Blue Hill Wine Shop, the Farm Stand, Bier Cellar, Bootlegger's, Bow St, Flock and Vine, Morning Glory Natural Foods, Oak Hill, Dipietro's in South Portland.




Domaine Maby Lirac Rouge “La Fermade” 2013 $19


Lirac is next door to Chateauneuf du Pape in the southern Rhone and benefits from the same climate.  The vineyards are carpeted in fist sized river stones that reflect the constant sun back at the grapes.  The Mistral wind keeps the environment dry and allows the Grenache grapes to get extremely ripe.  Maby’s Lirac is concentrated sun and heat in a bottle. The fruit is juicy cherry and is balanced by approachable tannins as well as some cool wild herb garrigue.

Available at Rosemont on Brighton Ave, Rosemont Munjoy Hill, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Vic and Whit's, Neighborhood Health and Herb, and The Farm Stand.




Sybille Kuntz Estate Riesling Trocken 2011 $24


Excellent balanced dry German Riesling from a legend.  Sybille Kuntz left her family winery to do it all her own way and was an early adopter of biodynamics.  She focuses on hard vineyard work and makes even her entry level Trocken from extremely ripe grapes grown in her vertiginous shale rich vineyards in Lieser on Mosel.   "Sybille Kuntz is a celebrated pioneer of full-bodied dry Mosel Rieslings." --Jancis Robinson

Available at Whole Foods, Local in Brunswick, the Cheese Iron, Browne Trading, and Vic and Whit's.




Cornelissen Munjebel Rosso 2013 $45

Frank Cornelissen is a legend and one of the people at the forefront of the natural wine movement.  This is 100 year old Nerrelo Mascalesse vines up on Etna in Sicily.  It’s incredibly alive and vibrant, smooth, but powerful and volcanic.  Only 7 cases in Maine.

Available at Rosemont Brighton Ave, Bangor Wine and Cheese, Meridian's, Blue Hill Wine and Cheese


Billecart Salmon Brut Rose NV

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose NV is widely regarded as the best NV Rose Champagne there is.  They're the oldest continuously family owned Champagne house.  These wines are brilliant.  Yes, they range from $55 for the Brut NV to nearly $100 for the Rose, but the experience actually justifies it. Click on the link above from Jancis Robinson about how much she loves the wines.

Available at Rayr Wines in Rockport, Browne Trading, Whole Foods, Old Port Wine Merchant, Aurora Provisions, The Wine Seller, Downeast Wine Imports, Mckean and Charles, Cross Roads, Sawyer's Specialties, The Blue Hill Wine Shop.

Domaine Maby Lirac


Maby is an old and large family domaine in Lirac, Chateauneuf du Pape's next door neighbor.  Lirac used to be more known for producing rose, but in more recent years has made use of it's classic hot and dry Rhone climate to produce serious red wines more along the lines of whats happening in Chateauneuf and Gigondas.  This, the "Fermade" cuvee is made from 15 hectares on the plateau up above the Rhone on ground dominated by the same round fist sized pudding stones that are famous in Chateuaneuf.  The blend for this Lirac is primarily Grenache with some Syrah and Mourvedre blended in.

Aroma: The Maby has an elegant aroma of both fresh and dried cherries.  It's also got floral aromas including roses and a little bit of all spice; Maby's Fermade Lirac actually smells like the holidays! I can really smell pink pepper, some blueberry, and just slightly a herbal rosemary thyme kind of spice.

Palate: This is a serious wine.  Maby's Lirac comes across with dark brooding fruit.  The overall impression may be dark, but it's also rich and developed with extracted fruit.  That dark fruit is smooth at first, but the finish is dry, spicy, and tannic; Maby's Lirac has that rustic sun baked spicy quality that I love about the southern Rhone.  There's really good structure here alongside the heat and ripe fruit.  Bottom line is that this Lirac has the same sense of place as Chateauneuf du Pape, but is more approachable, better balanced, and at $19 it's half the price.

This is available at Vic and Whit's, Rosemont on Brighton Ave, The Farm Stand, Neighborhood Health and Herb, and the Blue Hill Wine Shop.

Chateau Puits du Roy Bordeaux


Farmed Organically

Varietal: 100% Cabernet Franc

Vintage: 2011

Puits du Roy is another cuvee from the excellent Bordeaux Superior property Chateau L'Escart.  Puits du Roy is a new bottling that Damien Laurent is making exclusively from his better Cabernet Franc grapes.  Pure Cabernet Franc wines are pretty rare in Bordeaux; in fact pure anythings are rare in Bordeaux, most of the wines are blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc in varying quantities.  I love this because it's very giving, very Bordeaux, and identifiably Cabernet Franc while still being different from Cab Franc grown in the Loire.

Aroma: black berry jam, blueberry, currants, lots of tight small concentrated berries.  The Puits du Roy smells jammy in a concentrated intense way, not in a sweet kind of way; like homemade preserve as opposed to sweetened store bought.  There are dried cherries and dried rose petals too. The floral rose qualities are awesome and give the wine an added dimension, mostly the Puits du Roy is driven by rich dark concentrated tightly wound and compacted fruit.

Palate: The Puits du Roy is a ripe Bordeaux, for sure. The wine opens with lots of juicy extracted black cherry.  There are some tannin but they're well integrated.  The Puits du Roy also has some pepper but it's there as a supporting actor.  This is quite juicy and grapey Cabernet Franc.  This is so cool, particularly as a wine geek because it's obviously Cabernet Franc but there's no greenery and the character is more manly and substantial.

The Puits du Roy is about $20 retail and available at The Farm Stand, Bow St, Bootlegger's, Blue Hill Wine Shop, The Flock and Vine, Oak Hill Beverage, Morning Glory Natural Foods, Dipietro's, and the Bier Cellar