Our 6 Best Wines for December!
Our 6 Best Wines for December!
The top 6 wines I'm focused on for the Holiday Season
Whoa! Here we are, once again it's happened: the holidays sneak up on me every year! I do love this season though. I love the feeling of bringing things to a close and then the pause and new beginning of January. Right, the whole point of this though is the 6 wines I am really in love with and that I want to celebrate the passing of the year with.
Here they are!
AT Roca Reserva Metode Tradicional
Approximately $29/btl. You can find this at Table Bar, Tess's Market, Treats, The Warren Wine Shop, and the Blue Hill Wine Shop
Agusti Torello Roca founded this winery with his father and aunt in 2013. They had already been making wine, but they left the Cava DO because the rules are geared to industrial scale wine making and they wanted to make wines that really expressed their particular terroir. Augusti apprenticed with an organic producer in Champagne and then on his return they joined the newly created Penedes Classic DO.
The vineyards are in the Costers d’Ordal and have extremely calcareous soils due to the influence of the nearby Garraf Massif. The area is located between Sant Sadurni d’Anoia (where their winery is currently located) and Vilafranca del Penedès. Close to Barcelona but west and on the far side of the Garraf Massif they are sheltered from the sea. Agusti works with no additives, including sulfur, to let the land speak clearly. And he is extremely good at it. I've been blown away by the poise and focus of his sparkling wines as well as his Garnacha from Montsant which was just included in the NYTimes best wines under $20 list.
Aroma: Sunny, fresh hay, peach, lemon, and a little bit of sunny salty ocean air too. This is excellent fresh lively and slightly citrus smelling sparkling wine
Taste: Fine frothy persistent bubbles; the wine is energetic, tightly wound and to the point. Up front it is fresh and sort of ripe rich meyer lemon flavored. It has a lovely multicomponent mid palate and then honeydew melon and some white flowers to the finish.
Francois Pinon,Vouvray Le Bon Pinon
You can find this at Table Bar, The Lighthouse, Central Provisions, Fog Bar, Stompers, Maine and Loire, and the Blue Hill Wine Shop for approximately $30/btl
Bon Pinon is from a single parcel of vines planted by Julien's great grandfather on black flint rich soil. The grapes are hand harvested, direct pressed into old former port barrels that his grandfather purchased, and then it ferments ... very slowly.... in their cold old underground cellar. Eventually they rack the wine and let it age longer in the same barrels. This is fantastic: dry, rich, intense, and electric Chenin at it's best! Pinon is one of the best producers in Vouvray. Francois led the winery from the late 80s on until his sudden passing last year. His son Julien had already been working with him for several years and we're excited to see Julien carry on.
Aroma: beautiful, rich, and honeyed. I smell dried hay, mango, and cooked apple. It has really beautiful cooked ripe apricot, a little bit of golden fig, a touch of pineapple. It's so gorgeous and rich but it still has brightness. It has this elegance and intensity to the aroma that comes across in a sexy perfumed kind of way
Taste: wow, cooked golden apples, impossibly juicy and concentrated mango and pineapple! The flavors are still bright and fresh but it's so concentrated and lush, like cooked fruit or jam, but it's so balanced! There is excellent angular lively acidity underpinning the fruit and keeping it vibrant. The back side of the palate gets a little bit more savory: a little bit of a caramelized toasted baked fruit kind of thing. Like a fruit tart that's been glazed and toasted on the top. It's lush and hedonistic, but there's a snap to it. It has such body and such balance. It's so deep and so uplifting!
COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2018
You can find this at Bow Beverage, the Portland Food Co-op, and Browne Trading for approximately $50/btl
COS started in 1980. Three friends on break from architecture school were hanging around one weekend and the father of one of them asked them if they wanted to make some wine. The family owned some vineyards that were being harvested and selling off the grapes. So for fun they crushed some grapes and put them in an old cement tank. They didn't really know what they were doing, and after some time fermenting naturally they pressed it off into an old barrel. It kept on tasting good so eventually they bottled it. At some point one of them took a bottle to a wine bar in Palermo as a gift and the bar liked it so much they asked to buy some. That was when the three friends decided that they should do it again the next year.... and they did. It wasn't until 6 years on that in conversation with another wine maker they discovered that they should be adding sulfur!
COS took off and became an international success. Giambattista, Giusto, and Cirino didn't set out to make natural wine; they just wanted to make good wine that tasted like their arid little corner of sunny Sicily. It turned out to be natural wine though and in the process they helped legitimize natural wine making and biodynamics. These wines have had a huge impact on wine culture around the world.
The 2018 vintage is the best I've had. It's so developed and complex and lovely. It's so ripe and hedonistic but pretty and elegant at the same time: it's very very Sicilian.
Aroma: rich, dark, lush, and seductive. Fresh blackberry, cherry, black raspberry..... there's a little hint of... maybe aromatic pipe tobacco? A little bit of fennel? A little bit of ash or dried leaves? The ripe in-your-face fruit is gorgeous but what makes the aroma exciting is the background aromas. ooo, I also pick up a tiny bit of freshly ground coffee!
Taste: lovely red cherry and raspberry up front. It's juicy but fresh, then there's a coffee/mocha/slightly smoky quality. That's followed up by some blood orange and delicious underlying salt. Then more intense fresh raspberry comes in. There's some fresh grape and also a little bit of a peppery spice that makes me think of tomato leaf. It's such a beautiful expressive elegant extremely Sicilian wine. I kind of can't get over how ripe and sexy and also elegant this is!
Sanguineto Rosso di Montepulciano
You can find this at Vessel & Vine, Blue Hill Wine Shop, Table Bar, Bow Beverage, Alna General Store, Tess Market, Kennebec Meat Co, Folk, Meridians, Terracotta Pasta SoPo Maine and Loire, Craft Curbside, and Monte's fine Foods for approximately $27/btl
This wine is one of my favorite Tuscan wines of all time. Dora Forsoni is a 70 year old 90 lb dynamo who grew up on this land and along with her partner Patrizia makes these wines to an exactingly high standard. Dora has about 50 hectares but only grows grapes on 12 hectares that have a deep blood red colored soil that she thinks is a prerequisite for making good Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. She farms everything naturally and ferments with native yeasts. Dora is emphatic that as far as red wine is concerned she makes one wine ever year. Every plant gets the same amount of attention and the same rigorous handling of it's grapes. After fermntation and aging for several months Dora chooses particular barrels to age longer for Vino Nobile or Vino Nobile Riserva, but essentially it is all the same wine made to the highest standard. Talking to her it's clear she feels anything else would be insulting to her land.
Aroma: this is a delicious smelling and satisfying classic Sangovese nose that mixes cherry, dried cherry, a little bit of rosemary and basil... and somehow it smells like there's just a little hint of dry dusty red clay soil: the soil that gives this winery its name. This is a great reminder of just how pretty Sangiovese can be
Taste: juicy cherry with some concentrated red raspberry right up front. Then this salt comes in on your mid-palate giving the wine a more tasty savory dimension. The fruit turns darker and richer and adds a bit more raspberry jam but there's also a drying slightly ashy/wood smoke flavor. Black pepper, some tannin, and a touch of aromatic spice, like basil, comes in to make sure you haven't forgotten this is Tuscany! The tannin and black pepper linger on the finish but there's also this beautiful aromatic quality that's somewhere between lavender and roses. This is gorgeous sunny Tuscan hills in a glass
Here's a picture of Dora from 2019. She's the best!
Iuli Ta Da!
You can find this at John Edwards and the Blue Hill Wine Shop for approximately $29/btl... or order it from any shop that works with Devenish
I just wrote about this.... but it's that good. It's a wine I've gone back to on more occasions because it's so good and I just really want to share it with other people!
The Ta Da! is a delicious field blend of Gignolino, Pinot Nero, Slarina, and Baratuciat. The grapes are co-harvested and co-fermented in concrete. So in order to get the timing right the Grignolino is a little under ripe and the Pinot is a little over ripe. This sort of feels like the flagship of Iuli, if you could say the winery has a flagship wine. Yes the Barabba is the biggest serious extroverted wine that they make but the Ta Da! feels like more an expression of Fabrizio since it's actually a blend that has a bit more of his fingerprints on it instead of just a single varietal expression. Also Ta Da! is a saying he uses a lot to sort of express a conclusion of a story or thought. How cool is it that the flagship wine is a unique delicious and complex 11.5% alcohol coferment of red and white grapes?! I clearly think it's very cool.
Aroma: really pretty fresh raspberries just off the bush, some cranberry: it smells beautiful and elegant. It has very fresh red fruit with this subtle touch of aromatic herbs... rosemary I think, in the back of it. Maybe a little bit of ginger too
Taste: juicy bright and zippy. Really compelling raspberry and some fresh red cherry up front, but then the mid-palate turns darker and has rich riper raspberry, black raspberry, and then this interesting little cranberry kick. It has real structure and the tannins make this serious. The fruit up front is so pretty and uplifting and then it gets darker and has some black pepper. The structure is deceptively substantial but the finish also has a suppleness to it and then uplift. I think the Pinot Noir contributes some of the effortlessly smooth textured mid palate. It's a super impressive complex delicious and layered wine. It has this delicious thirst quenching uplifting character that I feel like I pretty much only ever get from vin de soif, but then more complex earthy woodsey flavors come in. It kind of tricks you and surprises you in a fantastic way.
Francois Gay, Ladoix
You can find this at Bath Natural Market for approximately $60/btl
Francois Gay is an 8th generation wine maker in Chorey les Beaune who makes about 3000 cases total per year. Chorey is near the northern end of Beaune and although it is right by the super famous Corton hill Chorey les Beaune doesn't have a single solitary 1er cru vineyard in it, let alone a grand cru vineyard. Maybe this is why Francois Gays prices are so great for the quality of what he makes. He owns parcels all around Beaune and makes some incredible wines, particularly this Ladoix. Ladoix isn't too well known, the AOC is just 90 hectares, but it's adjacent to Corton and Pernand Vergelesses. The wines have a reputation as a sort of under the radar value particularly for sexy red Burgundy with a lot of finesse. That is exactly what this is.
Aroma: ooo, kind of smokey but like a fire in a wood stove that has burnt down and is just embers. There's a restrained fresh ripe cherry, red currant, a little bit of raspberry jam, and definitely some burnt wood or ash. It's a very comforting warm inviting aroma. The red fruit aromas are so pretty and inviting and then the hint of wood smoke gives it this comforting wintery note.
Taste: wow! This is a wow wine. It has really pretty fresh ripe cherry up front with perfect acidity that uplifts the wine but also some delicious mouth-watering salt right there as well. The fruit expands and takes on a little bit more of a concentrated juicy profile. It's still mouth watering with suave acidity and salt working together. A little bit of an ashy smokey flavor comes in towards the end of the wine and gives it this delicious savory dimension but then the wine elegantly fades away with beautifully delicate cherry fruit.
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