CLASSIC CLUB SELECTIONS – AUGUST 2023
- Graville-Lacoste Graves
- Donnas ‘Barmet’ 2020 Nebbiolo, Val d’Aosta
- Roeno Enantio
- Fouquette Cotes de Provence, Cuvee Julian Rose
- Dom Millet Sancerre
- Bojador 2020 Vinho de Talha Tinto DOC Alentejo Talha
HERVÉ DUBOURDIEU’S GRAVILLE-LACOSTE GRAVES, $23.99
What do you think of when I say the word “Bordeaux”??
Red wine, I’ll bet. Maybe an image of perfectly-maintained Châteaux, exclusive wine auctions, and prestine wine cellars beneath the world’s priciest restaurants and private residences. But in addition to the famed reds of Bordeaux come some of the world’s most delicous white wines, both as dessert wines (Sauterne and Barsac) and as dry wines (Graves – rhymes with ‘Mauve’).
And this one in particular is worthy of competing with wines costing 20-40% more, white wines that perhaps enjoy a bit more attention on the world stage, unless you know enough to find value elsewhere. Welcome, by the way.
Owner and winemaker Hervé Dubourdieu (Right) is as fastidious in his vineyards as he is in his cellar. These are estate grapes here, grapes he’s overseen today but have been in his family since the 1890s. A blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle (60/35/5), the wine shows enthusiasm without ever being over-bearing, a wine to take from the appetizer course on through a wide range of main courses – from vegetarian to shellfish and seafood to poultry roasted or grilled. Nice for summer salads too!
DONNAS ‘BARMET’ NEBBIOLO, VAL D’AOSTA, $27.99
ROENO ENANTIO TERRADEIFORTI DOC, $27.99
Enantio is an ancient red grape variety grown exclusively in the Terra Dei Forti area (literally, land of the forts), a stunningly beautiful region of Northern Italy nestled between the Veneto and Trentino just south of the Austrian border. This is a beautiful region nestled amidst the Alps, with castles crowning every hill and forested hillsides sloping down to the Adige river, which runs from Germany and Austria on its north, down through the narrow valley of Terra Dei Forti and through to Verona.
For as long as humans have inhabited this part of the world, the Adige river has provided transport for commerce, recreation and mauraders. Hence the forts on the hills.
The rare Enantio grape has been preserved, almost single-handely, by the Fugatti family, the owners of Roeno. Though the grape variety dates back to the first century, as recorded by Pliny The Elder, it has rarely been planted elsewhere. But the Roeno vineyard is a rock’s-throw away from the Adige, and the coarse, sandy soils (above, left) are like walking across glass shards for the ruinous root louse, Phylloxera, which devastated the Enantio vines planted elsewhere.
Another reasong the Enantio grape almost became extinct is because it requires some of the least dense (i.e., unprofitable) vineyards I’ve ever seen, with at least 10-15 feet between rows to accomodate the pergola necessary to ripen the fruit evenly (left).
The pergola in the photo are dwarfed by the grandeur of their setting, but the end of the angled arms you see here are over six feet high. The distance between the vines in any given row is about 8 feet, and the distance between the rows is 10-12. With current trends toward increasingly dense vineyards, this spacing seems almost laughable, though if you’re the vineyard’s CFO it’s more likely you’re crying, groaning, pleading and all those other unpleasant things accountants do when profits aren’t maximized.
But once these grapes are harvested and bottled, the obscure Enantio grape makes a delicious mountain red – dark in color like a Teroldego but with a more black berryfruit note and a distinctive finish of mountain herbs. Open this bottle and taste a piece of Italian history.
DOM DE LA FOUQUETTE, COTES DE PROVENCE ‘CUVÉE JULIAN’ ROSÉ (BIODYNAMIC) $19.99
Provence rosé has had its moment. Indications are that it may be slowing, the spotlight may be dimming a bit. If so, I’ll not be disappointed. I loved Provencal rosés before they were in the cool crowd, back before anyone had discovered their underlying appeal. I had them all to myself. Then suddenly they were like Barbie, riding in the back of open-air convertibles and being invited to all the cool Branjolina pool parties. They didn’t have time for me anymore, and my $10 companion swelled to astronomical values. So yeah, it would be nice to have them back – and yes, I’d take them back without hesitation. The truth is, I never stopped loving them despite their betrayal.
Can you blame me? Take this temptress for example – mesmerizing aromas of red fruits and pink grapefruit lead into tantalizing flavors of red berries, citrus and rose petals seasoned with minerality and spices. A blend of of 75% Grenache, 20% Rolle (Vermentino) and 5% Cinsault. I’m smiling at the memory of it.
The winery is in the heart of the Côtes de Provence AOC. Isabelle Daziano is the third generation to make wine at the domaine after taking the reins in 2009 with her husband Jean-Pierre after each retired from their “real” jobs – you know, the kind you go to school for. They were the driving force behind the winery’s transition to ogranic viticulture, soon followed by biodynamics and non-interventionist philosophies.
Their wines are worth falling in love with. And avid wine tourists may want to look into the estate’s auberge, which includes a farmhouse restaurant featuring traditional Provençal cuisine. Sounds like the perfect place to fall in love again.
DOM GÉRARD MILLET SANCERRE $32.49
As I write this, it’s late on Thursday, August the 3rd, just two nights before the first Saturday in August. That’s when the French town of Bué holds its annual fair celebrating the town’s history as a den for sorcerers and ghosts.
According to legend, they used to organize witching hours on dark nights. The version of the town’s history I read was completely vague on what such witching hours entailed, but whatever it was, I imagine it had something to do with assuring a successful wine harvest – this is Sancerre at its most charming.
Bue is a small town just South of Sancerre, located in a the center of a crater-like indent in the surrounding hillsides covered in grape vines. It would be difficult to imagine a more picturesque setting.
Tasting notes: A vibrant mix of lemon zest, kaffir lime, wet rock and nectarine aromatics intermingle floral notes that lead into a palate brimming with ripe citrus and stone fruit flavors that are framed by the wine’s mouth-watering structure. Great when paired with goat cheese – a classic for Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley.
BOJADOR VINHO DE TALHA TINTO DOC ALENTEJO (ORGANIC) $25.99
Let’s begin with that long name as there’s a lot to unpack here. Portuguese is an odd language that throws off many of us with modicum of competency with Spanish.
First… Bojador (BO jhah door) is the winery’s name. Vinho de Talha translates as ‘Wine of the Amphora’. Tinto simply means “red”. And DOC Alentejo (allen TAY jhoo) is the region its from – in this case, the southern-most part of Portugal wher its red wines are the most sought-after.
Pedro Ribeiro is the mind behind Bojador, and he’s also the G.M. at another Alentejo producer named Herdade de Rocim. Bojador is his side hustle, named for the western Sahara Cape Portuguese sailors had to navigate around in 15th century explorations – a name that embodies the idea of enduring great risk to reap potentially great reward. ‘This is a personal project that transforms my love for Altentejo into wine’. Alentejo has one of the world’s longest history of wines produced in amphora.
The vineyards he uses are farmed organically, and he always uses field blends, indigenous yeast fermentations and low-intervention winemaking. ‘My main concern is to express the terroir in each glass of wine.’
A quick word about the Talha. It’s the traditional amphorae of the Alentejo, dating back centuries. Each amphora holds a full ton of liquid, and stands over 7 feet tall. Vinho de Talha are traditional to Alentejo and just recently earned their own sub-classification within DOC Alentejo. Bojador’s Talha wines are their premium line.
The resulting wine has a wonderful mouthfeel one taster described as “I feel as if I’m eating food, like I could chew it!” The wine expresses red fruits (cherries, raspberries and plums) with delicious hints of fresh herbs and a lick of salinity in the finish. And the finish is long, with a pleasant stony/chalky minerality.
The wine is a field blend of three Portuguese grapes that are obsure to most of us – Trincadeira, Moreto, and Tinta Grossa. The wines started natural yeast fermentations in the traditional earthen amphorae (talha) and completed fermentation without any manipulaitons, other than a most interesting ancient tradition – the grape stems were put into the Talha before the grapes, and as the solids settled, they acted as a filter for the wine that was drawn from the Talha using a valve at the bottom of the vessel. Unfined or filtered, the wine is as cloudy as a good Hazy IPA, and is likely to throw sediment over time. Though harmless, I recommend decanting to leave the bulk of it in the bottom of the bottle!