Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Wine of the Week - The Single-Vineyard Marsannays of Domaine Jean Fournier

This week, we're taking a deep dive into two unique terroirs in the Cote d'Or appellation of Marsannay. When the villages of Burgundy were classified, Marsannay was long ignored, only gaining AOP status in 1987. At that time, it was known for its production of rosé and little else, but in the intervening years, fastidious producers like Domaine Jean Fournier have worked hard to reveal all this special region has to offer.

There are no premier crus in the Marsannay AOP (a status that should be reconsidered), a fact that actually can work in favor of Burgundy fans. Because that 1er Cru designation isn't on the bottle, Marsannay is an appellation that can provide astounding quality for very reasonable prices, a rarity in Burgundy as a whole.

Domaine Jean Fournier is now run by dynamic young Laurent Fournier, son of Jean, who crafts wines with integrity in a non-interventionist style. Old vines can be found throughout his vineyards, contributing to the immense purity and finesse Fournier’s wines are known for. He creates a range of single-vineyard Pinot Noirs from the diverse terroirs of Marsannay and today we're focusing on two of the most prestigious plots of land he owns.

The Es Chezots Lieux-dit is one of the latest-ripening in the region and is known for its cool Comblanchien limestone soils. Laurent's vines are up to 65 years old, setting the stage for gracefulness and and finesse with an appealing fruit profile and tannins that can support years of aging. The 2016 vintage was heralded by Neal Martin, who writes:
"...it offers black cherry and chalk aromas but this remains pretty tight-lipped. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent ripe red cherry and cranberry fruit, the tannins here a little edgy and angular, leading to a chalky-textured but quite persistent finish. Very fine."
The Clos du Roi on the other hand always brings a lively freshness to its wine. Bold red fruit and a hint of smoke are characteristics of wines from this vineyard, which has limestone-dominant soils and sits on an easterly-facing hill. According to Martin:
"The palate is medium-bodied with succulent ripe tannin, a nice touch of bitter cherry to counter that ripe, lush red berry fruit with a tang of cracked black pepper towards the finish. Great potential."

Friday, March 27, 2020

Wine of the Week - Podere il Castellaccio 'Valente' Toscano Rosso

Podere il Castellaccio was born of passion. Owner Alessandro Scappini grew up in the area of Bolgheri, Italy before it was a land of Super Tuscans. His grandfather made wine and Alessandro’s current project is meant to hearken back to the days when local grapes were used and wine spoke of the land. Instead of the ubiquitous Bordeaux varieties many growers have planted since the 1970s, Alessandro sticks to the indigenous grapes that have always grown here – Sangiovese, Pugnitello, Foglia Tonda, and Ciliegiolo.

As Alessandro explains: “I love wine. The business side isn’t as important. I make wine because it reminds me of my childhood, my grandfather. I decided to work with grapes that are indigenous to the region because it’s all part of the tradition of this terroir.”

The winery will be organically certified soon, but the practices of natural techniques go back far further than the three years required for certification: “Though we are waiting for organic certification, we have always practiced organically. It’s all part of the traditional way we do things. The soil is tilled using horses since there have been horses on this farm since before I was a child. The wines are minimally processed and see little new oak because that’s the way my grandfather did it. I do everything to preserve the integrity of these ancient varieties.”

Alessandro belives his wine is special because of its terroir: “There are many micro-terroirs in Italy. When people come to this area, they always want to find wines that can only be made here, something that represents the history of the area. Podere il Castellaccio represents the local, the terroir. It is the real Bolgheri.”

In local dialect, the name Valénte represents something of of worth that is also a good value. When Alessandro’s Granfather is speaking about something good, he used to say “That’s Valénte.” The wine is a blend of Sangiovese, Pugnitello, Foglia Tonda, and Ciliegiolo and shows Elegant, spicy notes with hints of morello cherry and blackcurrant, balsamic vinegar, vanilla, and Mediterranean pine resins.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Wine of the Week - Herdade do Rocim Clay Aged Branco Alentejo

It seems like many of us may have a little more time on our hands and if you need something to read about other than COVID-19, we're here to give you a break from the news. For over 30 years, the Shiverick portfolio has continued to highlight small family estates that produce wines that are made naturally and have true personality. Shiverick Imports introduces these unique finds to the market, giving them exposure to wine lovers nationwide.

The core of our Portuguese portfolio, Herdade do Rocim is located in Alentejo, an inland region in the south of Portugal. Although the Alentejo has the reputation for being a hot area that produces rich (sometimes over-rich) reds, Rocim is bucking that trend. As the winery explains:
"The Vidigueira fault, a natural landmark which marks the border between the Upper and Lower Alentejo, determines the raison d'être of Vidigueira, the southernmost wine-producing sub-region in the Alentejo. The East-West facing escarpment, of around 50 kilometers in length, defines the climate of Vidigueira, and, despite its deep-lying southern location, makes it one of the most temperate sub-regions in the Alentejo."
Balance is the hallmark of the wines of Herdade do Rocim, though they can certainly be powerful as well. Their wines all have a real sense of place, as Pedro and Catarina have always expressed their love and respect for Alentejo through what they produce. Not only have they made many wines from local varietals, but they are also rejuvenating local ways of wine production. Their amphora projects over the past several vintages have received great acclaim and they are expanding their elevage program with these new "Clay Aged" bottlings.

This is the inaugural vintage of the Clay Aged Branco and we're thrilled to offer this unique blend of Verdelho, Viosinho and Alvarinho. At the winery, the grapes underwent manual selection on a vibrating sorting table. After being fully destemmed and lightly crushed, they were foot trodden in traditional stone open fermenter (lagar) with indigenous yeasts. Then the must was aged in small containers made of local clay for nine months and a further three months in bottle. The wine is golden amber color with aromas of flint, chalk, and stone. The palate shows a dry, fresh minerality and a structured profile.

Located in the Lower Alentejo region in the southern half of Portugal, between Vidigueira and Cuba, lies the estate of Herdade do Rocim. Catarina Vieira has been in charge of the development of the estate and she believes that Alentejo has the unique conditions required to produce world-class wines. Joining her as General Manager of the estate is Pedro Ribiero. He contributes to the winemaking decisions, as well as running the sales and business affairs of the estate. Since purchasing the estate, Caterina and Pedro have invested greatly in the land by completely regenerating the vineyards and building a new state of the art winery. They believe that Rocim has great potential for producing high quality wines with worldwide recognition and have created a project that gives value not only to Alentejo, but to Portugal as a whole.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Recipe Thursday: Flavorful Meatless Pairing

With an herbaceous character, and often notes of bell pepper, Cabernet Franc makes an excellent pairing for vegetarian dishes. This week, we’re pairing up our Wine of the Week, the Perray Jouannet Anjou Rouge, with a zesty meatless supper of Roasted Bell Peppers with Chickpeas, Goat Cheese and Herbs, recipe courtesy of Eats Well With Others.
Photo Credit: Eats Well With Others
This pairing is no lightweight -- the dynamic duo is full of flavor and depth that can rival any hearty meat and red wine combination. The Anjou Rouge, a medium-bodied Cabernet Franc with notes of red fruit and underbrush, makes a blissful companion with the earthy notes of peppers, herbs and goat cheese in the savory stuffed bell peppers.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Wine of the Week - Perray Jouannet Anjou

As weather begins to warm and hints of spring find their way into the air, we're featuring a transitional red wine that lends itself perfectly to this time of year. The Perray Jouannet Anjou Rouge is a Cabernet Franc-based bottling from the Loire Valley of France. Unlike its cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc is known to make a more medium-bodied red, especially in cooler regions such as Anjou. Notes of red fruit and underbrush make this the perfect choice to welcome in spring weather.

Situated on 20 hectares of schist soils mixed with the more unusual element of quartz, Château Perray Jouannet features pristine southern exposure slopes for its Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Grolleau and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Recipe Thursday: Transitional Spring Fare

While temperatures are still on the cooler side, there’s a hint of spring in the air, making it the perfect time to pair Mediterranean inspired dishes with an unctuous white wine. Grilled sea bass with garlic butter from Spruce Eats and a white wine with luscious texture and beautiful character, such as the Font du Vent Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc, is the ultimate pairing for this transitional seasonal period.

Photo Credit: The Spruce

The well-rounded palate balanced with tropical fruit aromas and a mineral finish makes the Cotes du Rhone blanc an easy match with the fresh, tender fish and buttery sauce. Spring is around the corner, indeed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Wine of the Week - Font du Vent Cotes-du-Rhône Blanc

This week's featured wine is a traditional white blend from the Southern Rhône. The Font du Vent Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc is made from Viognier, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, and Roussanne. This wine has floral, citrus and tropical fruit aromas, with a fine, mineral finish, making this a wonderful wine with oysters, scallops, fresh pasta dishes or with parma ham, tapenade and olives. 

Originally founded in 1950, Bertrand and Guillaume Gonnet continue their family’s legacy by producing wine in their style, but are also making their own mark. Their commitment to understanding the terroir in terms of how it affects the ripening process, and introducing improvements to the production process have both enhanced the elegance and style of the wine. An important initiative for the winery was the natural shift to organic agriculture. Font du Vent had been operating organically for years, so it was a logical next step to apply for organic certification. Their vines have been in their family for over four generations, and organic farming signifies their commitment to passing on healthy vineyards to the next generation. The grapes for this wine are co-fermented. Made from both domaine and purchased fruit but all contiguous and organic.

Domaine du Terme in Vinous

The wines of Domaine du Terme have been featured in Vinous, with the Vacqueyras and Gigondas bottlings receiving 90+ point scores. Kudos to Anne-Marie Gaudin!