What needs to be said about a bonus club wine...Okay maybe a little. Tenuta Santome is a family-run estate with experience in viticulture stretching back to the 70’s. The fruit for this wine is sourced from Grave di Papadopoli, a small island consisting almost entirely of vineyards in the middle of the Piave river. Leaning towards the sweeter end of Extra Dry, the nose offers bright, piercing aromas of orchard and tropical fruits. The palate is fresh and zippy, with the residual sugar meshing well with the abundance of sweet fruits. This might not be your ‘fried chicken and bubbly’ beverage, but it would go deliciously as an aperitif or with Linnybird cupcakes with your Valentines date.
Regarding Friuli, Jancis Robinson commented “every nation of wine consumers treasures most what it finds most difficult to produce”. Whether it’s austere red wines, or some of the world’s most desirable orange and dessert wines, Friuli has become a niche source of the most cerebral wines in Italy. At the forefront, however, are aromatic varietal wines made of both international and indigenous varieties (A rarity for much of Italy). Fantinel, a relatively new winery in the region, has embraced this fully, with bottlings of seemingly every white variety suited to the region. Their Sauvignon (alternative name for Sauvignon Blanc) is reminiscent of an example from Chile or South Africa, with aromas of bell pepper, honey dew melon, and fresh cut grass. The electric acidity gives way to subtle flavors of citrus and stone, making for an excellent pairing with some raw seafood. Try it with the Sun Rise Roll at I Love Sushi.
We’ve visited Torrontes multiple times over the past couple of months, but they have almost exclusively come from Mendoza. Despite being the most famous and productive region in Argentina, it is not considered the premium site for Torrontes; enter Salta. Located near the very north of the country, Salta sits at the foot of the Northwest Andes, and features high elevation vineyards that make for some of the more elegant, floral expressions of Malbec Argentina has to offer and arguably the highest quality Torrontes overall. Piatelli’s winemaking exploits are split evenly between Mendoza and Salta, with the latter being overseen by Alejandro Nesman. Their Torrontes is considerably different than other renditions we have featured, spending some time in oak to round out Torronte’s quintessential lean and electric nature. The result is a beautifully complex, but approachable wine, with aromas of sea salt, tart tropical fruits, and hints of fresh herbs. The palate is full and fruit-driven with varietal notes of flowers and honey, making an excellent pairing with a simple salad of walnuts, arugula, goat cheese, and cranberry dressing.
It’s been a hot minute since we have looked at Turkish wine here in the bar. Depending on your school of thought, Turkish wine could be considered New World or drastically Old World, as the first commercial winery was established in mid 1920’s, but the region itself potentially has viticultural history dating back to 11,000 BC. The Aegean Region accounts for roughly half of total production and leans equally on indigenous and international varieties. The Selendi ‘Beyoba’ is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz that equally embraces both the Old and New aspects of Turkish wine. The nose is very savory, with tomato leaf, sour cherry, earth, and hints of iron shining through. The palate, on the other hand, is rich and extracted, with penetrating red fruit accented with slight sweet oak-driven notes of vanilla. This is an easy-drinking red that would go well at your next outdoor gathering (whenever that happens), with a smattering of robust cheeses and jams from the folks at 10:1.
We’ve featured Grenache from virtually every significant growing region multiple times over, but we’ve yet to hit some of the demonstrable “if you know you know” sites: enter Montsant. Famously dubbed by Jancis Robinson as “half-priced Priorat”, Montsant features much of the same geographical, meteorological, and varietal characteristics without the price tag of its more famous neighbor. Vinyes Domenech is a boutique producer that has only been around 2002, but is already turning out both traditional varietal wines and blends of popular varieties. The ‘Sotabosc’ (Catalan for underbrush) is a blend primarily consisting of Garnacha with Samso (Catalan for Carignan). Much like its namesake, the wine offers intense aromas of garrigue accented with pure maraschino cherry. The palate is grippy, but resolves into a layered, complex profile of red berries, spice, black fruits, and floral accents. This is a showstopper of a red needs something equally rich and complex; pick up some Chile Verde Empanadas from Boca 31 and go to town!
The Rose was a test run; now it’s time for the real fun! Like the LYB rose, the red is designed to be drank in large quantities among friends, or perhaps a date? Made of 100% Sangiovese, the LYB truly envelops the ‘So Fresh’ inspiration, using carbonic maceration to create a comparatively high-toned and juicy version. The deeply-hued wine offers aromas of fresh cherry, subtle herbs, and the quintessential plum character you get from carbonic maceration. The palate is zippy with a hint of tart acidity and virtually no tannin, leading to bright bing cherry and raspberry. This is a wine to chug among good company but could also go beautifully with the Turkey Bob or Bohemian at LSA.
Saint-Amour? Valentines? C’mon y’all, it made TOO much sense. Our next stop on Brian’s mandatory tour of the Beaujolais Cru’s is Saint-Amour. Unlike our recent stops in Brouilly and the general Beaujolais AOC, Saint-Amour is located towards the very top of Beaujolais, and generally produces comparatively elegant wines compared to its southern neighbors, while still featuring much of the same terroir and meteorological features that make the 10 cru’s so special. Domaine des Fonds is a relatively new property, but the father and son team of Florent and Andre Berrod have already made waves with their bottlings. The nose offers a complex nose of violets, tart red currant, blackberry, and hints of earthiness. The palate offers a similar fruit profile with mouthwatering acidity and fine-grained tannins. Cru Beaujolais is a versatile pairing wine, but we think the profile of the DDF would sing well alongside a Gyro wrap from Gyro 360.
Overlooking the Dry Creek Valley is Rockpile, an oddball of an AVA containing some of the most desirable Zinfandel plantings in the state, with virtually no immediate wineries to capitalize on them. This is likely due to the widely varying gradients in elevation, which coincidentally make for ideal vineyard conditions. As such, many noted Zinfandel producers in other parts of Sonoma such as Ridge, Seghesio, and Turley source from Rockpile for various premium bottlings. The Flight Wine Company extends this philosophy across all their products, sourcing from various appellations before vinting them at a central location. Their Rockpile Zinfandel is style-appropriate, with aromas of blueberry and blackberry cut with the quintessential bramble of Zin’. The palate showcases the potential of the high elevation vineyards of Rockpile, with fine-grained tannins enveloping the aforementioned fruit, dark chocolate, and hints of pipe tobacco. No frills with this, grab a cheeseburger from Rooster’s and go to town.
The Minimo is another creation from Lucca Hodgkinson (La Brisas) that snuck into the bar around the holidays and since picked up steam among regulars. This blend of Malbec, Syrah, and Carmenere is sourced from the Colchagua Valley of Chile, a low-altitude growing region near the Pacific that benefits from a significant maritime influence. First, elephant in the room, this is a Malbec FROM Chile, which is rare, but not unheard of. In theory, the poor granitic and other volcanic soils that provide ideal growing conditions for other Bordeaux varieties makes it as dreamy a place as any to grow Malbec; which is reflected in the Minimo. Following two years each in oak and bottle, the nose offers complex tertiary aromas of leather and tobacco with hints of plum and blueberry. The palate is much more generous, with a fine-grained grip surrounding rich, ripe blue and black fruits. This is a date night wine through and through, so throw a couple of filets in the pan and go to town.
P.S: I hope this last list from me reads like a love letter (ha) from me to y’all. The last 3-plus years have been transformational for me, and that doesn’t happen without y’all’s support and enthusiasm. I hope to see all of you around in this new adventure; and that this is not a farewell, but a see ya’ around.
- Brian McGoldrick, Your Insufferable Neighborhood Wine Geek.