Vigne Rada “Riviera” (Cannonau di Sardegna 2016) Red
Special Price: $146/6-pack (~$24/bottle)
You already know of our affinity for the wines of the Catalonia region of Spain, and you are certainly aware of our small but carefully selected set of Italian wines. With many apologies to Rudyard Kipling, the ‘twain has met’ with the cuvée “Riviera” from Vigne Rada, a tiny winery that is rapidly growing in stature in the town of Alghero on the northwest coast of Sardinia.
The grape variety that forms the plush and energetic character of “Riviera” is named Cannonau, although most people know it from it’s Spanish name Garnacha. Wine production in Sardinia can be traced back to eighth century BCE, but it was around the fourteenth century CE, when the Crown of Aragon ruled the island, that Sardinian wine got its Catalan tang.
Indeed, present day Alghero is steeped in Catalan influence in its architecture, cuisine, and local dialect. In this region particularly known to produce wines of distinction is where passionate winemaker Luigi “Gino” Bardino and his family built their small estate to harness fresh maritime breezes and poor, rocky soils and transform them into high-quality wine.
A banker by trade, Gino fled the stagnant office environment to devote his life to wine. After years of studying enology in his spare time he planted his own vineyards and established Vigne Rada. He chose only traditional grape varieties to the region, planting in two distinct terroirs: Monte Pedrosu, where the winery is located, features sandy and clayey alluvial soils with abundant riverbed stones and quartz, while the sloping Cubalciada site is home to clay, limestone, and some chalk. Farming is sustainable, by hand, and with help from the whole family.
The cuvée “Riviera” is 100% Cannonau fermented in stainless steel tank. 70% of the wine ages in stainless steel for 10 months, 30% ages in 225L and 500L oak tonneaux (no new oak) for three to four months and is then blended with the stainless steel until bottling one year after harvest. The result is a bright and pure island expression, with pretty aromatics of fresh-cut flowers, cherry candy, and dried coastal Mediterranean herbs. A sip is light on the palate yet filled with ripe fruit and a coiled, mineral finish perhaps not so surprisingly similar to many of the Corsican wines that we carry. Pour this on the patio with some lamb chops off the grill.
All prices based on purchase of 6-pack (mix-and-match)
~$22 “Stria” (Vermentino di Sardegna 2016) White
100% Vermentino with aromatics of crunchy yellow orchard fruits and fronds of fennel. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tank and the wine is then aged three to four months in stainless steel on fine lees with regularly stirring for a wine that is simultaneously dense and crisp.
~$31 “Arsenale” (Alghero Cagnulari 2015) Red
Although very much a Sardinian variety today, the Cagnulari vine was likely brought to the Island centuries ago by Catalan conquerors. Rich but not heavy with heady aromas of ripe fruit, mint, and grilled herbs a sip is both dense and juicy. Pair with a plump steak or huge, olive oil-soaked Cremini mushrooms off the grill. The wine ages in stainless steel tank for 12 months and then four to six months in 500L oak tonneaux (no new oak).
~$40 “3 Nodi” (Isola dei Nuraghi Passito Bianco 2016) White
The Maestrale wind that cuts through the ideally exposed vineyards of Monte Pedrosu allows the Vermentino grapes to dry naturally on the vines. Botrytis develops on grapes before drying and harvest in mid-October. The result is a sweet and aromatically complex dessert wine, ideal for pairing with fat and salty cheeses.
Domaine Bart Marsannay Red
Special Price: $151/6-pack (~$25/bottle)
We are always talking about value and doing our best to offer world-class wines that are worth every cent. But every once in a while a wine comes along that is such a great value it even amazes us. Such is the case with Domaine Bart Marsannay.
100% Pinot Noir from the northernmost appellation in the Côte d’Or, 2015 Domaine Bart Marsannay exudes heady aromas of floral cherry cream soda with a background of dry, dusty peat moss and after a while in the glass the practically indescribable yet quite specific aromatic expression of a Côte de Nuits red wine begins to emerge. A sip begins with jellied, fresh cranberry and cherry fruit in perfect balance with a slight mineral finish. Even the most basic red Burgundy quite often needs a little time to harmonize. Not so in this case. Indeed, this wine is drinking so well presently you might be shocked at how quickly a glass is joyously drained.
Regarding the 2015 vintage, Pierre Bart had this to say: “2015 gave us the cleanest harvest that I have ever seen and as such there was almost no sorting required beyond the odd leaf or insect here and there. I used between 20 and 50% whole clusters and the vinifications unfolded with very little intervention necessary. There wasn’t much malic acidity and the malos were practically finished before the vinifications were finished! As to the wines, they’re concentrated and serious and should age for years yet the velvety textures should allow them to drink well young too.”
But we discourage you to stuff 2015 Domaine Bart Marsannay in the cellar corner. It is a wine to drink through this summer with your best friends and a plate full of grilled, mature Cremini mushrooms drizzled in quality olive oil.
Pierre Bart is the sixth generation at Domaine Bart. Since 2009 he’s been running the 54 acre domaine along with his uncle, Martin. His grandmother comes from the same family as Domaine Bruno Clair, explaining why there are holdings in the Grand Crus of Bonnes-Mares and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, as well as Santenay. Indeed, a good portion of the estate’s holdings come from the split of the renowned Domaine Claire-Daü between Domaine Bart and Domaine Bruno Clair (even another portion was sold off to Louis Jadot). Previous to the split, Domaine Claire-Daü was one of the most heralded and respected producers in the region, nearly singlehandedly bringing the appellation of Marsannay its current status.
Pierre and Martin’s wines are balanced and classic Burgundy, understated with grace and elegance. It begins in the vineyard with sustainable and organic farming practices on every parcel. Each parcel is worked by hand according to its specific microclimate. The use of new oak is judicious and depends on the parcel. According to Pierre, “We make very fruity wines in classic style. The main words at our domaine are fruit and balance, balance between fruit, acidity and tannins. So we don’t produce big extracted wines. We try to respect the fruit.”
All prices based on purchase of 6-pack (mix-and-match)
~$37 Les Favières (Marsannay 2015) White
A rare white Burgundy made entirely from 45 and 60-year-old vines of Chardonnay Musqué – a clone of Chardonnay with perfumed, Muscat-like characteristics.
~$34 “Les Echezots” (Marsannay 2015) Red
The Les Echezots vineyard gets more cool winds from the Hautes-Côtes. Subsequently the grapes ripen later there and it is always the last parcel to be harvested.
~$43 “Champs Salomon” (Marsannay 2015) Red
One of Domaine Bart’s best Marsannay vineyards is located in a prime spot on the mid-slope, producing wines which combine power with elegance and longevity.
~$62 “Les Hervelets” (Fixin, Premier Cru 2015) Red
One of the top vineyard parcels in Fixin. Dark fruits, hints of earth and spice, and a bit of heft from the more pronounced tannic structure allow this expression longer term aging potential.
$207 Bonnes Mares (Grand Cru 2015) Red
Domaine Bart’s Bonnes Mares parcels are next to those of Comte de Vogüe. It is a powerful, long-lived wine. Only ten barrels are produced.
$243 Chambertin Clos du Bèze (Grand Cru 2015) Red
Generally Clos de Bèze is considered to be more concentrated than Bonnes Mares but in the case of Domaine Bart’s parcels it’s the other way around. Expressive and intense, only five barrels are produced.
Alemany i Corrio “Pas Curtei” (Penedès 2013) red
Special 6-pack Price: $142 (~$24/bottle)
The most inland and mountainous subzone of the Spanish appellation of Penedès is appropriately named the Alt Penedès. This Mediterranean region is characterised by relatively low yield and high quality. It is where passionate wife-and-husband winemakers Irene Alemany and Laurent Corrio are producing a range of world-class wines. Their true “garage” winery is located in the center of Vilafranca del Penedès where they vinify by variety and batch. The couple, who met at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, apprenticed in vineyards in France and California before settling into the Penedès region in 1999 to start their own operation using Irene’s family vines. Today, the two are recognized as being among the top winemakers in all of Spain.
Perhaps the wine most accessible and illustrative of their skill to express terroir into a glass is the cuvée “Pas Curtei” — a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Carinyena, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged for 14 months in a mixture of one, two, and three-year old French oak barrels. It is a bold wine.
There are many interpretations for the term bold: big ripe fruit or crunchy young tannins to name just two. In any case, bold should not mean unbalanced. A wine that is bold should have the shoulders to pair with the burliest of cheeses and the most marbled hunks of red meat but it should not be cumbersome or tiring to your palate. “Pas Curtei” is bold and balanced. It is a wine with the physique of Saint-Émilion and the soul of the Alt Penedès.
In a glass the lush aromatics of the herbal maquis shrubland, licorice, cassis, and spicy cedar precede the wine’s deep structure and long finish. Full of sunny, ripe red and black fruits, it’s power and sumptuous body is balanced by a vein of acidity. Stop by on Saturday to taste this newest vintage of “Pas Curtei” available in the US.
Principia Mathematica (Penedès 2016) white
Special 6-pack Price: $132 (~$22/bottle)
Produced from 100% Xarel·lo (shah-REHL-loh), an indigenous grape variety to Penedès that most Cava drinkers will recognize. 55 year old Xarel·lo vines from plots in Subirats and Garraf see fermentation in new French oak barrels of 228 and 700 liters. A third of the wine is then aged for nine months in stainless steel on the yeast (sur lie) with the remaining two thirds aged in oak barrels with occasional stirring (battonage). The result is a wine of freshness and depth that fully expresses a Burgundian style of winemaking alongside high coastal Mediterranean terroir. Dried stone fruits and subtle floral aromatics exude from a crisp and balanced juice finished by hints of citrus and hazelnuts.
Sot Lefriec (Penedès, 2006) red
Special Price: ~$67/bottle
If Pas Curtei is equivalent to a high-quality Saint-Émilion than Irene and Laurent’s top cuvée, Sot Lefriec, is much like a Premier Grand Cru Classé from the same region. It is a blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Carinyena, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from the miniscule yields of their very best parcels. The wine is aged 23 months in French Oak barrels (70% new) and is only made in prime vintages. For the cellar or the dinner table, Sot Lefriec is bursting with spices and big, dark fruits. 5,500 bottles total production, only 300 bottles imported to the U.S.
Elisabetta Foradori “Granato” Teroldego (Vigneti delle Dolomiti 2015)
Special Price: ~$67/bottle
Elisabetta Foradori is a virtuoso of the vine. Since she took over her family’s Trentino estate at the tender age of 20 after her father’s sudden death she has made elevating the native Teroldego grape her life’s work. Teroldego is an ancient variety that thrives in the high, sunny foothills and plateaus below the Dolomite peaks and has close relations to Syrah. With her painstaking attention to detail and stubborn expertise, Elisabetta creates Teroldego-based wines of unrivaled quality that shine on the international stage.
No other cuvée illustrates her brilliance better than “Granato,” her top wine that matures for 15 months in barrel. The Italian word for pomegranate, “Granato” is inspired by the charm, beauty and intensity of its namesake Mediterranean fruit. Indeed, the wine is beautifully rich and polished without pretense, and perfectly balanced by a gentle vein of minerality. The blend is harvested from the stony alluvial soils of three different vineyards of the Campo Rotaliano, with faithful adherence to biodynamic principles before fermentation in large, open-top oak casks for a truly unique and world-class wine. Somewhat rare, there are only about 1,600 cases of “Granato” produced each year.
Elisabetta plunged into her first harvest in 1984 after graduating from oenology school where she began refining the vineyards to emphasize quality over quantity. Over the years she has replaced the pergola-trained clones with massale cuttings from the oldest, best Foradori vines. She also began harvesting by hand, pruning rigorously, and converting the farming to organic and eventually biodynamic farming methods.
This dedication over the last 30 years of restoration of teroldego’s genetic diversity so that the wines would be deeper, purer and more complex has resulted in Elisabetta Foradori becoming recognized as the top producer of Teroldego in the region. The Foradori estate consists of close to 70 acres of vines, of which 75% are planted to Teroldego. The vineyards are high in altitude and surrounded by mountains yet receive plenty of sunlight to ensure ripeness. The combination of unwavering attention to the vines and low-intervention vinification has created a vibrant and elegant style of Teroldego that is as remarkable as the place that it’s from.
“Fuoripista” Pinot Grigio (Vigneti delle Dolomiti 2016)
Special Price: ~$49/bottle
Forget what you know about Pinot Grigio. This is no lightweight guzzler meant to be consumed ice cold, in fact the cuvée “Fuoripista” is at its best around the same temperature you would drink a red Burgundy. The wine is the result of a cooperative venture between Elisabetta and another biodynamic winegrower of the Campo Rotaliano, Marco Devigili. It spends more than eight months in clay amphorae in contact with the pink-hued Pinot Grigio skins for a wine that exudes heady aromas of dried flowers and melon. Don’t let its light blush of pink fool you, this is an intensely flavored wine. Only a little over 800 cases produced.
“Morei” Teroldego (Vigneti delle Dolomiti 2016)
Special Price: ~$49/bottle
“Morei” comes from a six acre parcel of limestone and granite rich soils of the Campo Rotaliano plateau. The vines average 30 years old. The wine spends eight months on its skins in clay amphorae (tinajas from Villarrobledo, Spain), untouched until blending and then resting in cement before bottling. “Morei” means dark in the dialect of Trentino and the grapes from this vineyard reflect this. Their roots plunge deep in the stones and sand of the soil carried by the river Noce giving rise to a sappy wine. About 1,000 cases produced.
“Sgarzon” Teroldego (Vigneti delle Dolomiti 2016)
Special Price: ~$49/bottle
“Sgarzo” means vine shoot in the Campo Rotaliano. Like “Morei” the “Sgarzon” spends 8 months on its skins in clay amphorae. The vines that grow in the “Sgarzon” vineyard benefit from the cooler climate and the sandier soil that distinguishes the parcel resulting in a more delicate wine than the stonier-soiled Morei bottling coupled with a singular freshness. About 1,000 cases produced.
Teroldego (Vigneti delle Dolomiti 2015)
Special Price: ~$26/bottle
The Campo Rotaliano is a well-demarcated geographical area, a flood plain formed by the Adige and Noce rivers recessed between the Dolomites. This entry-level and flagship wine of Foradori is from mostly sandier parcels of vines planted from 1956 to 2005 totaling around 25 acres and meant to express the alluvial soils of Campo Rotaliano. Fermented in cement – with up to 20% whole-cluster depending on the vintage – and aged for one year in cement and wooden foudres. About 4,000 cases produced.
Domaine Mas Champart “Causse de Bousquet” (Saint-Chinian 2015)
Special 6-Pack Price: $135 (~$22/bottle)
Back in 1976, Isabelle Champart, a Parisian with a degree in Geography, and her husband Mathieu, from a family of farmers in Champagne, began cultivating vines on a humble 20 acre farmstead. For close to twelve years they sold their grapes to the local cooperative but once they decided to bottle under their own label of Domaine Mas Champart they gained almost instant acclaim. Since then, they’ve acquired another 40 acres planted with vines, orchards, and arable crops. Mathieu tends to the vines, Isabelle makes the wines, and this small slice of the Languedoc is their life. Once, when asked by a visitor if they had children, Isabelle swept her hand across the outside of their winery and answered immediately, “Look around. This is my child.”
The place is Saint-Chinian: A gusty, drought-ridden expanse clambering up out of the Languedoc Plain, with Mount Caroux and Mount Espinouse furnishing a picturesque backdrop. It’s there on the southern slopes of clay and limestone that Isabelle and Mathieu are creating singular and impressive wines in this ancient region that has seen a tremendous surge in quality over the past couple of decades. From the beginning the Champarts have employed sustainable and organic techniques in their farming, reflecting their desire to protect and preserve the environment.
“Causse de Bousquet” is a blend of 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, and 10% Carignan from a number of plots on different terroirs to provide the aromatic complexity and originality that the Champart’s are looking for in this, what you might call their flagship wine. It owes its name to the main terroir from which it comes: “Le Bousquet” is a broad limestone plateau at close to 1,000 feet in elevation where the hard rock extends through to the surface. The stony and warm, well-drained soils here produce aromatic, fleshy wines and are where the Grenache and most of the Syrah vines are planted. A small proportion of Syrah and the Mourvèdre come from more clay-based soils where vines ripen later and provide structure to the blend.
Matured by two years of aging in both vat and barrel, the 2015 “Causse de Bousquet” is a concentrated and sunny vintage expression. The aromatics of red cherry licorice and herb-dusted stone hover above the slightest hint of grilled meat. A mouth-filling sip bellows of ripeness yet the wine never turns flabby. Indeed the lengthy finish seems to release energy as it remains. For those of us on a budget that want to enhance a cellar with a wine capable of short to medium term development, this is clearly a great buy. For pairing ideas, we can attest to the sweet ripe fruit of this wine being a handsome partner to the mild heat of Ribeye Steak con Rajas of Southwest Detroit’s El Asador.
“Clos de la Simonette” (Saint-Chinian 2015)
Special 6-Pack Price: $194 (~$32/bottle)
Absurdly low-yield blend of 65% Mourvèdre, 20% Grenache and 15% Carignan from multiple plots. The Mourvèdre is planted 750 feet above sea level on steep hillside terraces that are particularly well exposed. Many of the rows contain robust vines from Bandol. The Grenache comes from the wines’ namesake plot, the stony and well-drained “Clos de la Simonette” that is surrounded by dry-stone walls. The plot containing the Carignan has soils similar to “Simonette” but there the vines are 70 and 100 years old. The wine was aged in demi-muids after a long maceration and bottled unfiltered in September of 2017. Though this wine is easy to appreciate now for its rich and inky complexity, it ages extremely well and really shines after some decanting. It was just a couple of years ago that we finished our last bottle of the 2001 vintage and it was absolutely singing at the time. Only 4,000 bottles produced.