Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Great French Country Red!

What a wine! I had this fantastic country French red the other night with steaks on the grill - makes one wonder how can they make wine this good for so little money? Owned by M. Louis Colomer, Domaine de Rolland is located in the region of Fitou, the oldest Appellation in the Languedoc-Roussillon in the south of France (and some argue the best as well). The region has a winemaking history that goes back as far as the Greeks, and is split into two distinct zones. The Coastal area is noted for beautiful beaches and the deep blue Mediterranean. The inland area (where the Domaine is located near the village of Tuchan) is dotted with ancient castles, limestone gorges and perfumed lavender, thyme and rosemary. The sunny and dry Mediterranean influenced climate creates a perfect environment for the Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah grapes that make up this wine.

The 2006 Domaine Rolland Fitou drinks WAY beyond its very modest price! Deep, and rich, with plumy dark fruit, hints of garrigue, the French term for the scent of the earth, landscape and terroir of the region. Underbrush, game and spices abound, it is full bodied but not heavy or cloying at all. Versatile and food friendly, you can sip this by itself, have it with grilled chicken, burgers, or steaks. Better yet, order a case, and when you come down to pick it up, stop by the Griggstown stand at the Farmers Market Saturday morning in Bernardsville, and pick up some Quail or Pouissins - perfect on the grill with this wine! Only $11.50 (on sale through Aug 16th or while supplies last). Unfortunately, there is only a limited supply so don't hesitate!

To buy it visit us at 56 Degree Wine and search on "Rolland".

Saturday, August 8, 2009

In Store Tasting

Tasting some great inexpensive country French wines all day Saturday Aug 8th from 10-7 and Sunday Aug 9th from 12-5 - stop in, cool off and join us in the shop if you are in the neighborhood! 56 Degree Wine 40 Quimby Lane, Bernardsville - 908.953.0900 for info!

2007 Chateau Capion 1C Vin de Pays de L'Herault Blanc, Languedoc ORGANIC - While Chateau Capion has a rich history dating back to 1873, the Buhrer family from Switzerland purchased the estate in 1996 and the wines have been on the rise ever since. Organically grown fruit grown on limestone soils, there is no irrigation at play. Michel Tardieu is the talent behind this blend of 40% Chardonnay, 40% Roussanne, 15% Viognier and 5% Sauvignon Blanc that is raised in new and old French oak for 8 months. When I first heard this wine described I envisioned something heavier, fatter and more unctious with its Chardonnay and Roussanne majority in the blend. I was happily, completely wrong! While it has some body, it is absolutely lively and fresh on the palate, perhaps from the limestone soils, with tangerine, citrus blossom and honeysuckle nose and a palate to match! Perfect summer white all on its own or with a wide range of seafood, meaty fish, lobsterm shrimp, scallops, asian cuisine - real find! Click on the name above to order! $17.50 per bottle.

2007 Chateau St Jean de la Gineste Corbieres Vieilles Vignes, Languedoc ORGANIC - Located in Corbieres, just west of Narbonne, this organic estate sits on 54 hectares of well draining limestone. That is the genesis for this wonderful blend of 80% old vine (25 to 105 years) Grenache and 20% Carignan, which is vinified in old concrete vats for 12 months. Marie-Helene Becave now runs this picturesque estate with a serious commitment to the land, as well as the wine. All hand harvested, this deep black cherry, dried plums, smoke and meat dripping laced wine is long and lovely on the palate. Perfect with grilled pork, but big enough for red meat, this is a fantastic wine for summer sipping. $15/bottle.

2007 Le Paradou Cotes du Luberon Grenache - Syrah - This blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah is made employing sustainable/organic methods although they are not certified - loaded with warm, crushed berry tones, spice and sweet fruits. Soft, supple, midium-bodied and mouthwateringly delicious. Versatile and food friendly, spark up the grill! $13.50

To buy these wines click here: 56 Degreewine.com

Friday, August 7, 2009

Great Super Tuscan - Isole Olenas Cepparello 2006

Isole Olena and Paolo di Marchi

Paolo di Marchi is one of my favorite winemakers I have had the pleasure of meeting in my entire wine career. I have sold his wines for a couple of decades at least, first the fantastic Isole Olena wines from their estate in Tuscany, and now the exciting new project for the next generation (his son Lucca runs it) in Lessona. He was one of the very first winemakers to visit the new store when we opened in Bernardsville, and we have wined, dined and shared great stories and a wine philosophy of respect for the terroir and natural winemaking many times both here and in Italy.

The family bought the estate in 1960's, putting two properties together, Isole and Olena. At the time, the dynamic was quite different than todays Tuscany. Sharecroppers picked grapes and wheat, with wheat bringing in the better price! These were the days of cheap Chianti in the basket, and you have to give the Marchi family credit for having the vision and foresight to imagine where Tuscany and its wines would go in the intervening 40 years.

They meticulously worked and improved the vineyards, improved winemaking and became committed to the ideal of classic, true to the place Tuscan wines. Paolo is an icon among winemakers for what he has accomplished here, and the wines are known by true connoisseurs as some of the very best in the region.

Considering that most top "Super Tuscans" sell for $100 or more, this is a true steal at almost half its competitor's price! Add to that the string of very good vintages, in particular the great 2006, and you have a very compelling reason to stock in the fantastic Cepparello from this world class estate!

One of THE Greatest Tuscan wines!

Cepparello, a 100% pure Sangiovese from the heart of the Chianti Classico area, is quintessential Tuscan wine. Paolo De Marchi has established a new standard for Sangiovese-based wines by assembling the very best of his fruit, grown on the high hill of San Donato in Poggio, and vinifying it for fourteen months in small barrels, one third of which new. The result is of stunning complexity and even if very approachable young, definitely worth ageing. The 2006 is complex, elegant, and stylish, beautiful aromatics, with incredible sense of purity, length and fine boned structure. Accessible now, but best from 2010-2015+ this is a must for any serious lover of great Sangiovese.

To order, click here and search on Isole.

Rosso di Montalcino, baseball and a calzone!

Watching the Yanks and Red Sox in a defensive duel to follow the slugfest mauling of last night, bottom of the 13th now, it's late enough in the season that baseball begins (for me) to become interesting. Outside, summer is slowly transitioning to fall - fireflies are losing ground to katydids, days are quietly but steadily getting shorter, the latter going on since June - it's a little depressing! We are now just past the apex of summer; really the best weather of all in the northeast when crowds at the beach thin, and after labor day are non-existent, dry warm days and cool eves begin, sultry and verdant vegetation reigns, the water's warm, swell is in, and there's an abundance of farm fresh ripe local produce, Jersey Corn and tomatoes. Yet just underneath is the looming sense, an edgy reality check, that this verdant, lush life has limits and that fall, and naturally winter apres, will inevitably follow.

What to do? Make the most of it - dine outside, fire up the grill, drink up the '08 Rose, and enjoy while it's summer and the livin' is easy - there are only a few precious weeks left! Beverage and cuisine of choice tonight? Cheating with a calzone from my fav local pizzeria and a Rosso di Montalcino 2007 from Pieri Agostina. This baby Brunello has classic earth tones, is elegant, supple, and approachable, with that blood tinged, iron like nerve and taught cherry fruit of Sangiovese, with depth and richness underneath - the best part of the story is that it is only $27 per bottle vs $60-$100+ for most Brunello, and you can drink it now as opposed to 10 years hence! A little overkill for my pizza - I would LOVE this with Griggstown Farm quail on the barbie, risotto con funghi and some type of bitter greens sauteed with olive oil, garlic, pepper and sea salt - but lazy is as lazy does and I'll suffer through.

To buy this wine, visit us online at 56 Degree Wine.

To learn more about what's happening in Montalcino, read a recent post on The Pour

For more on Agostinini visit Agostini