Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Wines from Gerard Bertrand

Lots of folks have asked us about Gerard Bertrand's Minervois and Corbières, I think because they were the two wines with a presence in the Michigan marketplace before we picked the winery up.  We didn't bring them in initially because they were unavailable, but I'm glad to report that they landed here in Ann Arbor late last week! 

We're giving them a few days to settle down, but I couldn't resist popping one of the '05 Minervois, and I can say that the wine is delicious.  A blend of Syrah and Carignane, it's got the deep, dark berry and meatiness you'd expect, good muscularity, warm earthiness, and good intensity.  With a suggested retail in the $17 range, this "overdelivers," as they say.

Other new arrivals from GB include their red and white wines from the Chateau L'Hospitalet in La Clape, which are more modern, vanilla-scented versions of Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre and Chardonnay/Grenache Gris blends.  Also arrived, their top wines, Minervois "La Viala", Corbières "La Forge," and L'Hospitalitas, the last three of which are made in miniscule (approx. 400) case lots and carry 91, 90, and 93 point ratings from Wine Spectator in the current vintages.

Finally, we've reloaded on the '04 Cremant de Limoux, the rich sparkler from Mauzac, Chenin, and Chardonnay, which has new pricing on it that drops it to an irresistibly hot  $18 retail (for sophisticated, mature, vintage dated bubbly?! C'mon!).  

Sunday, March 8, 2009

puglia wine

Some of the tasty stuff from Puglia.

Good stuff on the way from Puglia!

Whenever anyone talks about "value wines" from Italy, Puglia is a region near the top of the list.  Long a bulk supplier to other regions in Italy (and dare I admit, other European nations!) where the ripe, sweet, Pugliese wine is used to fluff up and bulk up lighter bodied reds, the region is better known for this kind of low-quality wine rather than the stuff that real wine enthusiasts crave.

All the same, it is our duty to find great wines, and Jon recently returned from a trip to Puglia where he diligently tasted and visited estates looking for signs of the quality revolution there.  He brought back a slew of samples from the most promising wineries, and he and I tasted through them again, a routine we always employ to verify our initial perceptions.

I'm happy to report that, despite many disappointments, we did find one house that will really impress you.  I'll wait to divulge specifics for the time being, but I will say that this winery employs the talents of famed winemaking consultant Riccardo Cotarella, and is churning out some great wines from the unlikely varieties-- for Puglia-- of Petite Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay, as well as the traditional, local varieties Negroamaro, Malvasia, and Aglianico.

Now, I know Cotarella has attracted the ire of staunch traditionalists who decry his techniques as producing "international" styled wines, and while this may be true in some cases, he also has an impressive list of distinguished and unique wines, such as Montevetrano and Feudi di San Gregorio in Campania, Ditajuti in Le Marche, or San Patrignano in Emilia-Romagna.  I think this new Pugliese effort will join those exalted marques soon, as well.

With the big trade show, Vinitaly, just a few weeks away, I didn't want to spill the beans prematurely, so stay tuned here for a proper announcement by mid-April.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Even in winter, white wines are a treat!

I don't know if it's a phase, a passing fancy, or a permanent preference, but the past couple of winters have been big on white wines for me.

When I was in the restaurant biz, I used to chalk up the fizzy glass of Prosecco, or the crisp glass of Pinot Bianco, to after work refreshment, but now that I'm out that field and still enjoying the same wines, I can see it's something deeper and not as simple as mere thirst quenching.

Granted, I'm not talking garden variety California chardonnay here; my wines of choice are always abidingly savory, and usually not overtly fruity.  They often taste like combinations of wet river rocks, sweet lemon, and salt.  Sometimes a bit of raw almond fits in there, or maybe some starfruit.

In any case, conventional wine wisdom says that during the cold months, I should be enjoying the rich, berry flavors of a hearty red, not the mineral tang of a white from the Dolomites.  Yet, even with the richer, seasonal fare-- tonight, sauteed chickpeas with prosciutto-- these kinds of whites deliver drinking satisfaction.

When it's all said and done, I guess it doesn't really matter where any of us fall on the winter wine question so long as where taking the time to relax and enjoy ourselves.  Particularly when the weather is cloudy, windy, and cold, it's easy for us to take refuge in our work, and forget the simple things that contribute so much to our overall well being. 


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