This Week’s Wine Tasting
Summertime Wines from France, Spain and Italy
Charles Smith/Secco Italian Bubbles– “Grower-driven, vintage-dated, pure and fresh, Secco Italian Bubbles truly defines “the dolce vita.” Growing up in Rome, Italy, Ginevra and Olivia Casa always had an infatuation for Prosecco. In 2010, after the change in laws pertaining to Prosecco production, Charles Smith and Casa sisters jumped on the opportunity to champion both the noble varietals and the growers of Chardonnay and created a new category of sparkling wine called Secco Italian B
“A self-taught winemaker, Charles is a true artisan and a pioneer in the wine world. In 2008, K Vintners was recognized by Wine & Spirits magazine as one of the “Best New Wineries of the Last Ten Years,” and as “Winery of the Year” in their annual buying guide. In 2009 Food & Wine magazine awarded Charles “Winemaker of the Year” and in 2010 Seattle Magazine recognized Charles as their “Winemaker of the Year.””
Charles Smith Wines Secco Moscato 2014– Veneto, Italy. 100% Moscato, Colli Euganei. “The vineyards, located in the Piave Valley of Veneziano, are made up of alluvial soil, a volcanic basalt and sedimentary soils with clay, stone and rocks. Sourced from the superior and ancient Moscato. Notes of white peach, apricot, lychee and orange blossoms. Beautiful, soft bubbles with a lovely focus – completely delicious.” $14.99
Isaac Fernandez Seleccion– “is the newest venture of the famous winemaker, Isaac Fernandez, who has spent more than 25 years producing some of the best wines in Northern Spain. He seeks to respect the identity of each vineyard and to nurture wines that balance power, finesse and purity with the capacity to age.
He produces a range of red, white and sparkling wines from 6 Denominations of Origin, including some of Spain’s most famous regions; Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Cava.”
“The Biutiful Cavas are produced at a winery created in 2007 utilizing the latest technology for the production of Cava. The vineyards are based in Requena; a region with a grape growing history dating back to the 7th century BCE. The region lies about 70 km west of the Mediterranean Sea and combines Mediterranean and Continental climatic influences. The winters are long and cold, getting down to near 0F. The summers are quite short punctuated by long, hot days with a cooling easterly wind in the afternoons/evenings. The elevation of the vineyards is between 700 and 900 meters and they grow Macabeo, Chardonnay and Garnacha.”
Biutiful Cava Brut Nature nv– Penedes, Spain. 80% Macabeo and 20% Chardonnay. “This Cava is produced from some of their best grapes sourced from the Western portion of Requena from vineyards with a Northern orientation. While it could be labeled as a Reserva, as it spends 15 months on lees as opposed to the minimum of 9 months, we chose to simply label it as Cava. It is a Brut Nature, which is to say no sugar was added at the end of aging on lees. Residual Sugar: 1.1g/L.” $13.99
Charles Bieler Wines– “In 1992, my father, Philippe Bieler, founded Chateau Routas in Coteaux Varois – a small appellation in the middle of Provence. The winery focused on Grenache-based red blends and rosé. My sister Mira and I got involved in the mid 90’s when we developed, through unorthodox winemaking and creative marketing and selling, one of the more dynamic rosé brands in America at the time. In 2005 there was a great opportunity to sell the winery and estate and we took it. We founded Bieler Père et Fils that same year we sold Routas and focus 100% on making rosé.”
“I’m so proud of how far the dry rosé category has developed over the last handful of years but some of us have been banging away at it for a a decade plus. Dry rosé not only remains one of the fastest growing wine categories in the US wine market but has even accelerated further this past year and Provence, France remains the standard for what consumers are buying and drinking. If you can find a better bottle of rosé out there for less than the Bieler Père et Fils then I recommend you buy it!”
Bieler Pere et Fils Rose 2014– Provence, France. Grenache: 41%, Syrah: 38%, Cabernet Sauvignon: 12%, Cinsault: 5%, Rolle: 4% [a.k.a. Vermentino]. “While in 2013 we had an unusually tiny grenache crop and quite a powerful syrah component which resulted in a dark and fuller bodied rosé, 2014 is back to our more traditional Bieler style. It’s driven by more delicate grenache, cinsault and rolle aromas and flavors with the syrah bringing body and cabernet sauvignon adding spice. The wine is quite aromatic and jumps out of your glass with the classic Provence tug of war between wild red fruit berries as if you just picked them along a path to the beach, floral notes of lavender and rose petal and underlying savory herbs de Provence. The color is paler than last year and the acidity at the finish more assertive. Much to love! Wine chemistry is the following: ALC BY VOL 12.8%, TA 6.16, PH 3.28, RS .2 % 30,000 cases imported to North America.” $11.99
Domaine de Fenouillet– “The brothers Soard, Patrick and Vincent, own and operate this impeccable domaine the cellars of which are situated in the village of Beaumes de Venise, in the shadows of Mont Ventoux and the Dentelles de Montmirail. They trace their lineage as vignerons back to their great-grandfather, Casimir Soard, whose wines were winning medals as early as 1902. Their grandfather, Louis Soard, specialized in the production of the celebrated Muscat de Beaumes de Venise during the 1950s and his son, Yvon, father to Patrick and Vincent, continued to work and expand the vineyards in Beaumes de Venise and the surrounding communes, although he rendered his grapes to the local cooperative rather than vinifying and commercializing the wines of the domaine. In 1988, Patrick and Vincent, with the encouragement of their mother, Nicole, decided to renew the fame of the estate and constructed the chai and cellars necessary to vinify and bottle the full range of appellations available. In 1989, at the outset of this project, we had the good fortune to encounter the family and we immediately engaged to be their importer for the American market.
The vineyards of the domaine are scattered over seven different communes, including, of course, Beaumes de Venise and the surrounding villages. The appellations include Vin de Pays de Vaucluse, Ventoux (vineyards in the communes of Saint Hippolyte, Piniere, Aubignan and Barroux), Muscat de Beaumes de Venise and Beaumes de Venise (vineyards in Beaumes de Venise, La Roque Alric and Suzette). The Soard family has always farmed with great concern for the environment and now all of the wines produced at the domaine are certified “organic”.”
Domaine de Fenouillet Rose 2014– Cotes du Ventoux, France (Southern Rhone Valley). 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache and 10% Syrah. “This Rosé is vinified partially by direct press and partially by “saignée”, the juice is naturally clarified after a cold “débourbage” of 24 hours, the wine ferments at temperature that never exceeds 16 degrees Celsius and then it is aged on the fine lees for four to six months before bottling. It is a blend of 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache and 10% Syrah, all of which is planted to soils of clay, limestone and silex. Production is limited: we import approximately 6000 bottles per annum for the US market.” $14.99
Domaine de Fenouillet Vin de Pays de Vaucluse Rouge 2014– Vin de Pays de Vaucluse, France (Southern Rhone Valley). A blend of the hybrid grape “Marsellan” (a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache) and Merlot. “This lovely “bargain” is a blend of the hybrid grape “Marsellan” and Merlot, a curious concoction that produces a silky wine redolent of red fruit mingled with “sous-bois” [forest floor or undergrowth]. The grapes are crushed, destemmed and then macerated and fermented for a week or so before being racked into cement cuve for six months before bottling. We import 7500 to 9000 bottles per year for the US market.” $12.99
Vestini Campagnano– “The Vestini Campagnano project began in 1990 with garage style research and only a few vines growing in the backyard. Stimulated by the idea that Pallagrello once belonged to the noblest varieties of Europe, held in high esteemby the Bourbon kings, enabled the estate to enlist Luigi Moioas their scientific support. By 2000, Vestini Campagnano had planted vineyards based on the original viticultural material discovered here and was producing 6,000 liters of wine divided between Pallagrello Bianco and Rosso, and Casavecchia (Rosso), all Terre al Volturno IGT.
Today Alberto Barletta is continuing the direction of this unique estate, with the help of his sons, Amedeo and Luigi. The property is located in the region between Castel Campagnano and the Conca della Campania, anarea where great wines have been made since Roman times. The Barletta family has developed their passion for historical grape varieties, and are the first winery to develop research on the almost extinct Pallagrello, red and white, and Casavecchia clones make theirs the most unique project from the Campania region.
Vestini Campagnano Kajanero 2012– Campania, Italy. 30% Pallagrello Nero, 30% Casavecchia, and 40% Pizzutella and Aglianico grown on volcanic soil with maritime sediment. Stainles steel fermentation. Wine remained in stainless steel for 18 months, then aged 5 months in barrique and 5 months in bottle prior to release. “Kajanero” means “the dark wine” from Caiazzo, the town where these grapes are grown. “Vestini Campagnano, situated in the hills of Caiazzo, only produces wine from indigenous Italian grapes. Many of their wines are created with the Pallagrello and Casavecchia grapes – two ancient varieties that almost became extinct.” “Composed of Pallagrello Nero, Casavecchia, Pizzutella and Aglianico, this rich, expressive red displays bold notes of cherry, black currant, juniper and spice on both the nose and palate. Well-balanced with full tannins and lively acidity, Kajanero will pair well with beef, game, hearty pasta dishes and rich cheeses.” $14.99