Tucked in the eastern Navarran subzone of Baja Montana, the small town of San Martin de Unx houses Bodegas San Martin. Like many producers in Navarra, they are major proprietors of Garnacha rosado, and do the tradition proud with their rendition. The ‘Flor de Unx’ (Flower of Unx) is a beautifully pink Grenache rose that stands up to the best of them. The nose offers rich, tart red berries, orange zest, and floral notes. The palate is richer than you might expect of a rose (with even a hint of tannin) and correlates with a rich, red fruit-based profile that is sure to be not only an effective porch pounder but also an excellent food rose. Try this with oily fish-based dishes or roasted poultry.
A collaborative effort between the Chehalem and Stoller estates, the Chemistry line is designed to be in the traditional styles of Oregon ‘Burgundy.’ The Chardonnay is comparably light to more modern styles, with aromas of lemon zest, earl grey tea, and tart orchard fruit. The palate displays mouthwatering acidity with hints of baking spice, sweet citrus, and crunchy apple. Per their admission, this is an olive branch to the ‘ABC’ (Anything But Chardonnay) drinkers but would well regardless with a simple fish or poultry dish with a lemon-based vinaigrette.
There is not a more unfairly slandered wine region than Beaujolais. To be fair, this is somewhat the region’s fault, as their most profitable product, Beaujolais Nouveau, is not often considered a wine of high quality and generally only drank around Thanksgiving. Furthermore, the true gems of Beaujolais, its 10 crus, are hard to find if you don’t know where to look. I am so incredibly excited to have a general-appellated Beaujolais from a historically ‘bad’ region that highlights what makes traditionally made Beaujolais so great. A cuvee made from younger vines (15-20 years), this wine sees maceration, fermentation, and aging in concrete tanks. The nose offers aromas of strawberry fruit leather, cherry, and some gamey-ness. The palate embodies the porch-pounding style to the extreme, with higher acid and soft tannins enveloping bright red fruit flavors accented with floral notes. This is a summer red through and through and would go beautifully with BBQ chicken.
We loved Warwick so much we had to give them another month on our club. Much like the ‘Three Ladies’ last month, the ‘First Lady’ pays homage to the vital role women have played in developing the winery into one of the more internationally recognized SA estates. The First Lady refers to former winemaker Norma Ratcliffe, who is recognized as the ‘First Lady’ of South African wine given her many contributions to the industry at large in addition to progress for women in the South African wine industry. The wine itself represents the traditional style of Cabernet from the Cape. The nose is a blend of savory smoky notes mixed with dried red and blue fruits. The palate displays moderate tannin and acidity which accentuates an overall juicy character. The notes of tart currant and earth make this a killer wine with venison or lamb.
When you see Provence on a bottle, you might be expecting a light, uncomplicated porch-pounder. We’d say you haven’t had the right one, but its hard to fault anyone for feeling this given the representations of Provence you find in mass retail. However, the ‘promised land of pink’ has many a hidden gem lying within. This month we will be exploring its most ‘serious’ appellation, Bandol. Tucked in the very South of the larger region of Provence, Bandol is a relatively low production region that focuses on red and rose wines based on Mourvèdre (delicious white wines of Clairette, Bourboulenc, and Ugni Blanc are also made to less fanfare). In addition to being one of the very few regions that focuses on Mourvèdre, Bandol also has the distinction of producing some of the only roses in the world that can stand up to age; something that can be attributed to the robust nature of Mourvèdre itself. Chateau Croix D’Allons sticks to making one wine per color, per vintage with an emphasis on traditional, terroir-driven examples. Their rose is a blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Cinsault, and offers aromas of apricot, juicy citrus, and red berries. The palate is rich but has quintessential rose acidity along with a hint of tannin. The structure envelops strawberry jam and blood orange notes, making this a rose to pair with comparatively heartier fare.
‘Super Tuscan’ usually evokes thoughts of a massive wine with tannins that can only be approached after years of aging. Occasionally, however, you find a wine that bucks that trend in favor of being an everyday drinker and even a porch pounder. Ventisei Vino is a new producer making wines under the Toscana IGT and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG that focuses on approachable wines made via biodynamic practices. The Rosso is primarily based on Sangiovese Grosso, with splashes of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The wine is made via partial carbonic maceration followed by fermentation in stainless steel. The result is a medium ruby-hued wine with aromas of tart cherry, strawberry, and dried oregano. The palate displays soft tannins with zippy acidity enveloping tart red and blue fruits accented by a subtle earthiness. This will turn your perception of Super-Tuscans on its head and should be enjoyed with BBQ and roasted game.
Remember how we mentioned those 10 Beaujolais ‘Crus’ earlier? Time to talk about one of them. Brouilly is located near the Southern end of a strip of land in the heart of Northern Beaujolais that makes up all the various crus. Much like the crus of Burgundy, each is known for a slightly different take on the same variety; with Gamay being the focus in this case. Like many of Beaujolais’ crus, much of Brouilly’s most respected vineyards lie on granite-based soils, which are often cited as the driving force behind the difference in quality between Gamay from Southern and Northern Beaujolais. Additionally, Roches Bleues, in reference to their name (Blue Rocks) also heavily relies on granitic soils and blue schist for their desired character. Les Trois Loups, which refers to the three wolves on the label, is a young-ish vine cuvee designed for both early drinkability and age worthiness. Going through both carbonic maceration, stainless steel, AND oak, the nose offers licorice, plum, earth, and citrus zest. The palate is medium bodied with exceptionally soft tannins and a juicy acidic quality, with rich red fruits dominating the palate interspersed among hints of mushroom and tea. As far as Beaujolais goes, this is hearty, and could easily stand up to a fatty burger with portobello mushrooms.
Last month, we explored Entre-deux-Mers, so let’s explore one of the banks! Canon-Fronsac is a small appellation located within the larger Fronsac on the right bank. As you might know, the right bank is focused primarily on Merlot, which makes up 100% of this wine. Though not a physical ‘chateau’ per se, Moulin bottles wines from both Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac and focuses on easy-drinking renditions that don’t need the typical pre-requisite time to settle. This wine sees a year in used barriques to avoid too much of the ‘new oak’ influence. The nose offers plum and blackberry with hints of cold brew and mocha. The palate is full bodied with woody tannins and restrained acidity, which accent the rich blue and black fruit, subtle baking spice, and chocolate notes. It is our wine director’s (nerd’s) humble opinion that Merlot is a superior wine to Cabernet Sauvignon for filet mignon and we guarantee that if you try this pairing you will agree!
*Shoutout to our very own Cheryl for the TRANSCENDENT name suggestion.