For our pre-New Years Eve edition of the Insider's Pick, we are looking to answer the question at least 75% of our customers will have in mind before they come in over the next few days: 'What's the best sparkling wine to take to a party that will ma
For our pre-New Years Eve edition of the Insider's Pick, we are looking to answer the question at least 75% of our customers will have in mind before they come in over the next few days: 'What's the best sparkling wine to take to a party that will make everyone think I spent a lot of money, even though I didn't?' Sound like you? Then you should definitely get by to try this before you get your party plans finalized. While Tasmania isn't a Mecca for winemaking, the cool climate provides the opportunity to make wines far different than those on mainland Australia, or even New Zealand. The persistent ocean breezes from the nearby Bass Straight moderates the temperature in all seasons which allow a cool, extended growth range which brings consistent ripeness and necessarily high acidity. The sparkling wine potential here was first tapped by the Louis Roederer family in 1986, and the excellence continues to this day, and in recent years even moved to sustainable and organic farming practices.
Built from the classic Champagne grapes of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the Premium Cuvee seeks to achieve a similar character and consistency of the base labels from the famous Champagne houses, and it absolutely nails it. Pouring with a fairly significant mousse at the start, the aromas are of bright apple and white citrus fruits, with a little bit melon and creamier fruits as the carbonation softens. While it does see a fair amount of time on the lees before disgorgement, there is very little of the biscuit-y, yeasty tone some sparkling wines can get. Instead it just adds a bit of roundness to the palate that carries loads of the fresh citrus from the nose that shows great length on the palate, lingering longer than the acidity on the finish. A delicious celebratory bottle that will put a smile on every party-goer's face.
INSIDER'S PICK: 2015 DOMAINE ARNELLE et BERTRAND RION BOURGOGNE VIEILLES VIGNES 'LA CROIX BLANCHE' $34.99
As our holiday present to you, our favorite customers, we decided to pull something out for the pre-Christmas Insider's Pick that will take care of all your fine dining needs. We often lament the fact of how difficult it is to find quality Red Burgundy at a fair price. It's because we wished they could all be like THIS little beauty. The Rion family farm about 12 acres total for all their wines, primarily in the Cote de Nuits, so when divided among 10 wines or so means there is barely an acre's worth of fruit going into each bottling. Unlike a lot of other producers they are not buying fruit to make this Bourgogne at a higher volume, instead making it all from one parcel of 50+ year old vines located just over the R.N. 74 from several Cru designated sites in Vosne-Romanee. This sees the same attention and care in the winery that their top wines from Vosne-Romanee and Nuits-St-Georges, but charged substantially less.
Unless you are really selfish and are demanding the top shelf, collector level Burgundy, there is little to find fault in for this wine. Youthful and aromatic from virtually the first pour, it bursts with dark fruits, exotic herbs and warming spices that seem to change intensity with each swirl. On the palate there is still a surprisingly firm tannin that suggests the potential for further cellaring, but the rich polished flavors are hard to put down, and the longer the wine stays open the more broad and beguiling it becomes. This is not a wine to be rushed into service at a party, but worthy of savoring over an evening or two with friends and family.
Sicily has been getting a lot of deserved attention over the past few decades for the re-emergence of their wines into the international scene. Most recently it has been on the wines from Mount Etna and the unique varieties that populate the volcanic soils, rediscovering 'new old stock' of ancient forgotten vineyards that provide unique Old World charm. In the rush of finding these wines, it's easy to forget the workhorse grapes like Nero d'Avola that dominate the rest of the island and are the backbone of their industry. The dark and hearty grape has some similarity to Syrah, and in some of the modern versions is blended together to give new consumers a familiar place to start. But the grape has lots of natural charms that shows through when done solo, and this example from one of Sicily's best co-operatives puts them all on full display.
Deep and saturated in the glass, the aromas are equally intense with loads of dark red and black fruits, as well as the prominent dusty earth tone that is usually a Nero d'Avola signature. The palate is equally full, but avoids the sweet or sappy fruit notes, instead going into savory game, violets, cherry skins, and an almost tart juiciness. This has the hearty character of a Rhone, but with a sensibility and mix of flavors that is distinctly Italian. A great option for beefy roasts and savory slow cooked 'comfort foods'.
It's hard to declare a winery as your favorite from a region like the Loire, with so many unique styles running the length of the river. But in an area where organic/Biodynamic agriculture and winemaking has flourished over the last few decades this estate has the distinct recognition as a leader in both aspects. A polycultural farm since the 1950s with a more expanded emphasis on wine since the 1990s, the Domaine is able to function almost completely 'off the grid' to grow and produce their wine, livestock, and other crops. Everything feeds and fertilizes the other parts of the farm, all tended by the family. The family only makes two wines; both Cabernet Franc, one from their older parcel planted just before World War II, the second (this one) from the newer parcel planted in the 1990s and raised in tank. Also, as this is just a part of the family's means of support, the pricing is extremely fair for the quality.
After an extremely difficult 2016 vintage that saw both quality and quantity issues in Bourgueil, 2017 brings a return to prime form with a deep, dark vintage that provides lots of smoky violets and dark cherry skin aromas, with no signs of any green tones that plagued the region in the past and the tougher years. The palate is lighter in texture than the aromas would suggest, but is by no means thin as the natural savory flavors and tart cranberry tones really push through on the finish. The absence of oak aging here also lets the younger vines show the lighter tannins and less saturated fruits in a very easy, elegant manner. A nice quenching red wine that will perform well with hearty soups, stews, savory roast chicken, and slow cooked 'comfort foods' of the cooler months.
The Best of the Best.
We offering free tastings on these wines in the store every Thursday and Friday, and a 10% discount off the retail price through the duration of the day. Come on by and give them a try!