CASE CLUB SELECTIONS – SEPTEMBER 2023
- Zuccardi Serie A Malbec 222 (Mendoza, Argentina)
- Fouet L’Amarante Cab Franc
- Antonelli “Baiocco” Sangiovese, Umbria
- Statti Lamezia Bianco
- Stirm Calcite White
- Fouet l’Ardillon Saumur Blanc, Loire Valley
ZUCCARDI SERIE A MALBEC (UCO VALLEY, MENDOZA, ARGENTINA ) $20.49
From their scenic spot in Argentina’s Uco Valley, the Zuccardi family has enjoyed many notable achievements since their new winery opened in 2016. They’ve consistently made the list of the 10 most beautiful winery’s in the world and named several times to Wine & Spirits Magazine’s Top 100 wineries of the world (including again this year)
Now in its third generation, Sebastian Zuccardi (above, right) has a firm hand on the reins passed from his father (center). Sebastian describes his approach as follows:
“I don’t strive to make perfect wines, but wines that express their place, their region.”
The Winery: It was Sebastian who decided Argentina needed a world-class winery that showcased views of the Andes and brought a visitor’s focus back to the rocks on which it was built. The entire structure is made from local stones, and their beauty is immediately obvious. But is Zuccardi really one of the world’s 10 most beautiful wineries? Well, a few pictures may just be worth a few thousand words:
Tasting Notes: The Series A wines from Zuccardi are intended for everyday drinking. They are expressions of the most representative varieties from their best growing regions across Argentina, are true to form and represent great value for the money. This Malbec is a full-bodied expression of dark fruits with hints of higher-toned red fruits like cherry and raspberry.
The wine pairs beautifully with blue cheese and lean meats (why not combine the two – think turkey burgers with cambozola!).
100% Malbec (AKA ‘Auxxerois’ or ‘Côt’ in France), 14.5% ABV.
DOM. FOUET L’AMARANTE CAB FRANC, SAUMUR CHAMPIGNY, LOIRE VALLEY (ORGANIC) $23.99
Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley are distinctive because of a chemical called Turpines, which occur in high quantities in this grape (and also in it’s white wine partner, the Sauvignon Blanc grape, whom it mated with to create the famous Cabernet Sauvignon! But I digress). Turpines are notable for their bell pepper, basil notes, and are highly sought after by fans of cool-weather wines.
I selected this wine from Fouet because it balances these turpines (in a minor role here, but an important one) with the classic limestone/chalky characteristics of its vineyard in Saumur.
Julien Fouet has been at the helm of his family’s winery for a couple of decades now, growing in confidence and stature each year and particularly so since the unexpected passing of his father in 2016. An organic practitioner for his entire career (he is in the process of the expensive certification process known as Ecocert), visitors will be charmed by the sheep he uses to weed between the vines without running a tractor and compacting the soil. Plus, the sheep offer a natural fertilizer which helps maintain soil health and complexity.
The Wine: Typical of modern Saumur Champigny, a satisfying, fruity wine that can go from appetizers to the main course. This Cabernet Franc wine (100% ) is grown in a clay-limestone soil, hand-picked and taken to the winery for 10 days of skin contact in order to extract full color aromas and tannins.
In the glass the wine is an intense ruby color with a subtle nose dominated by red fruits. On the palate, an expressive, frank and fruity attack.
Enjoy this wine through 2027, paired with cold cuts, fresh goat cheeses, and my favorite – grilled lamb.
ANTONELLI “BAIOCCO” SANGIOVESE, UMBRIA IGT (ORGANIC) $1Antonelli estate V23.99
Antonelli is a huge estate (469 acres) in Italy’s Montefalco area. Purchased in 1881 by the Aontonelli family, the current generation converted to organic in 2009 for all of their products – wine, olive oil, etc. The family estate is at its core, with the gravity-flow winery beneath the building.
The Wine: Known locally as “Montefalco Rosso”, Sangiovese from this area is crafted to be a fresh, young wine for near-term enjoyment. For this wine, that means “drink now through 2025”.
Fruit and floral notes greet a nose thrust into a glass-ful of this wine. The palate is dominated by cherries and other red fruits, tomato, leather and traces of tobacco. Lively and balanced with a pleasant and fresh fruity finish.
The wine pairs well with pork dishes, bacon-infused anything, fresh tomato Bruschetta or cherry tomatoes sliced and simply tossed with basil, pine nuts, seared garlic and some angel hair pasta. A recent survey of one wine lover who happens to be at the keyboard tonight also proved conclusively that the wine is pretty tasty when paired with our Broncha (Goat and Cow) cheese.
STATTI LAMEZIA BIANCO, CALABRIA (ORGANIC) $18.99
What is Lamezia Bianco?
First, ‘Lamezia’ isn’t a grape but a designated area – the Lamezia DOC – so this is a wine of that region within Calabria. The Bianco simply designates a white wine (there is also a Lamezia Rosso) but, as is so often the case with Italian wines, there is no indication of the grapes on the label – the locals just know and assume everyone else does too!
Those of us NOT from Lamezia will find it helpful to know the wine is a blend of Greco and Mantonico (50/50). OK, maybe that’s not so helpful, given how few people know either of these white grapes. Here’s all that I know:
Greco Bianco: brings freshness to the wine with intriguing herbal notes and hints of peach/nectarine. It is sometimes compared to Riesling in that it can span a wide range of styles, from super lean and dry to full and sweet.
Mantonico Bianco: This obscure grape, even by Italian Standards, brings some heft to the table.
Tasting Notes: A surprisingly aromatic wine that brings an interesting mix of cotton candy-like aromas with some tuber rose and apple/pear fruits. Very quaffable, with an acidic backbone that brings a refreshing component to this complex wine.
The Winery: This wine is from a region of Italy whose ancient name is “Enotria Tellus”, or “Land of Wine”. Not surprisingly, wine has been crafted here for centuries, where Baron Statti and his descendents have held sway here since the 1700’s. The cattle, olives and wine from their 3,600-acre estate have been an important part of the local economy ever since.
STIRM CALCITE WHITE, SAN BENITO CA $19.49
Winemaker/owner Ryan Stirm describes his raison d’etre as “Pioneering the future of old-school viticulture“, a tip of his hat to the trend towards non-interventionist winemaking. Literally, a form of Back to the Future.
Ryan’s devotion to this philosophy has made him one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Winemakers to Watch” back in 2017. He is a devotee of spending most of his time in the vineyards he uses for his wines, guiding each step of the vine’s development. Such decisions may involve when and how to prune in the winter to sustainable practices for bug and weed control to dropping green fruit and on to more obvious ones such as when to harvest, ferment, age and bottle.
His belief is that interesting wines can only come from interesting vineyards, and this has taken him to some of the most rugged vineyards in all of California – Wirz, Gemelli, Kick-On and other notables located in difficult-to-reach locations. It is a different blend of grapes each year fut always includes an odd mix of varietals (Chardonnay, Riesling and Scheurebe?!) with each bringing something to the potluck that ends up exceeding expecations. Alc is usually below 13% and the wine is a bit hazy and unfined.
Ryan applies skin contact to some of the components to get a little texture into the wine and to add complexity to the aromatics, while other components go through the traditional (for white wines) direct-press that separates the juice from the skins.
DOM FOUET L’ARDILLON SAUMUR BLANC (ORGANIC) $22.49
This is one of Fouet’s other wines, a Chenin Blanc offering a delicious counterpoint to their prior wine from this month’s selections, their Cabernet Franc. Since I wrote about the winemaker/owner above, I’ve saved this space for a few words about one of the Loire Valley’s most iconic attractions – the caves! Formed hundreds of years ago as stones were quarried for homes of the wealthy.
Once formed, these caves became residences for entire communities of families, popular in that they were easy to defend against mauraders. Why mention this? Domaine Fouet’s wines are aged in
one of these Troglodyte caves! That’s a shot of their cellar at left.
The Wine: These Chenin Blanc grapes come from a plot with clay-limestone soils in the commune of Brézé, famous for its Saumur Blanc.
The grapes are harvested manually in open-top bins and taken to the winery for slow pressing without strong extraction, yielding a less astringent wine.
Fermentation occurs in stainless steel at low temperature before the finished wine is racked and then aged on the fine lees (which are just what they sound like – the fine yeast sediments left after siphoning off the wine from the lar
ger sediment at the bottom of the tank – the gros lees).
In the glass the wine is yellow with golden reflections and an intense aromas of white flowers, citrus fruits and the “gunstone” characteristic common to the Loire’s calcareous soils (chalky limestone). On the palate the wine is fresh and crisp, with little of the funk that is often a marker for Chenin Blanc from the Loire.
Drink now through 2025 and Pair with seafood, fish in white or butter sauce, or roasted poultry.