© Liner & Elsen, all rights reserved. Availability and prices may have changed since the newsletter date.

FEBRUARY 2019 REVIEWS


RED WINES

OREGON - RED

2011 Amalie Robert, Pinot Noir, The Uncarved Block, Willamette Valley, Oregon (S) 27.99/302.29

As it edges towards its eighth birthday, Amalie Robert’s 2011 Uncarved Block is revealing the special charms that only mature Willamette Valley Pinot can convey. A pale, translucent amber-tinged garnet color in the glass, the wine yields to a gorgeous bouquet of red currants, orange-scented potpourri, cinnamon, and dusty earth. Crisp and vigorous on the palate, the wine frames a crunchy kernel of pomegranate and pie cherry fruit with bristling acidity and suave barrel tones. Fine, savory tannins emerge to segue the wine to its clean, snappy, red-fruited finish. A terrific value in mature Oregon Pinot, enjoy this handcrafted beauty now and over the coming five years with broiled salmon, grilled ahi, roast chicken, pastas with wild mushrooms, and steak tartare.
- Wine & Spirits Magazine, 2011 Winery of the Year

2017 Crowley Wines, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon (S) 21.99/237.49

Before launching his eponymous venture, Tyson Crowley spent a dozen years working for some of the Willamette Valley’s most prestigious wineries. With over a decade at the helm of his own winery, Crowley’s focus and skills have taken him from strength to strength. The 2017 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir casts a gorgeous black garnet robe in the glass, followed by a deep, soil-driven nose redolent of cranberries, black cherry skin, mustard seed, vine smoke, and Seville orange peel. Plush and vibrant on the palate, the wine’s tangy kernel of cherry and black raspberry fruit joins with suggestions of spicy cinnamon, rhubarb, dried herbs, and sassafras. Firm tannins and ample acidity lift the wine’s saturated core of fruit and segue it to a long finish featuring complex undertones of Seville orange, herbs, and cola. Enjoy this superb and comfortably priced Pinot now or over the coming seven years with sauteed vegetables, Chinook salmon, roast chicken, duck, burgers, light casseroles, and savory stews.


FRANCE - RED

2017 Domaine de la Chanteleuserie, Bourgeuil, Cuvee Alouettes, Loire Valley, France (S) 15.99/172.69

In the superb 2017 Loire vintage, Chanteleuserie’s Cuvee Alouettes is especially stunning, deep, and satisfying. One of the most underrated of the world’s great wines, Bourgueil, along with its neighbor Chinon, are the planet’s benchmarks for the noble Cabernet Franc grape. Chanteleuserie’s Cuvee Alouettes, fashioned from Cabernet Franc planted on sandy clay soils, is the domaine’s most approachable and immediately delicious offering. Opaque black ruby in the glass, the wine casts aromas of fresh black raspberries and black currants, sweet tobacco, violets, and calcareous earth. Fresh, lively, and immediately delicious, the wine stains the palate with chewy blackberry and tangy cassis fruit, bringing hints of tobacco, white pepper, and appetizing herbal notes. Soft, framing tannins and lovely suggestions of violets, pepper, and licorice sneak in on the mid-palate and transition the wine to its long, fresh, lively, soil-driven finish. We suggest buying a case to enjoy now and over the next five years with pork rillettes, fresh chevres, rabbit in a mustard sauce, steak frites, grilled eggplant, burgers, and roast poultry.

2017 Sylvain Gauthier, Domaine des Pierres Seches, Syrah, Ardeche IGP, Rhone Valley, France (O) 18.99/205.09

France’s Ardeche is a region with a long viticultural history, but whose wines are little known outside of the zone. Saint-Joseph superstar Sylvain Gauthier studied in Burgundy and honed his skills under the tutelage of Michel Chapoutier and Stephane Robert before starting his own domaine in 2007. Gauthier’s vines for his Ardeche IGP Syrah are situated on a high-altitude plateau in the commune of Secheras in the northern portion of the Saint-Joseph appellation. Casting an opaque black plum robe, Gauthier’s Syrah opens with classic, gamy Northern Rhone Syrah notes of boysenberries, cured meat, licorice, and black pepper. Fresh, spicy, and invigorating on the palate, Gauthier’s Syrah juxtaposes velvety cassis fruit with stemmy tannins and notes of oil cured olives, salumi, and violet petals. The wine finishes zippy, delicious, and satisfying with finishing touches of tobacco, leather, and smoky granitic minerals. This is the best sub-$20 Syrah in memory and perfect foil for hearty fare such as grilled Portobello mushrooms, burgers, roast leg of lamb, ratatouille, salumi, braised rabbit, and game birds. Enjoy now and over the coming three years.


ITALY - RED

2017 Ca’ la Bionda, Valpolicella Classico, Veneto, Italy (CO) 15.99/172.69

Valpolicella in its purest form is light, elegant, gorgeously perfumed, deliciously drinkable, and very versatile at the table. Ca’ la Bionda’s certified organic Valpolicella succeeds smashingly well in all these categories. A classic blend of Corvina (70%), Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara grown in the denomination’s historic Classico zone, the wine shines with a bright translucent ruby hue followed by aromas of sweet cherries, fresh raspberries, dried orange peel, earthy rhubarb, botanical herbs, and black tea. Bright and zesty on the palate, the wine charms with a bright kernel of juicy pomegranate and red raspberry fruit complemented by suggestions of white pepper, blood orange, and limestone minerals. The long, elegant finish features waves of crunchy red fruits buoyed by a lilting limestone soil undercurrent, which makes it both a joy to drink by itself and also a natural partner for light pasta dishes, semi-firm cheeses, lasagna with a bechamel sauce, and delicate poultry recipes. Enjoy now and over the coming three years.

2015 Colombera & Garella, Cascina Cottignano, Coste della Sesia Rosso, Alto Piemonte, Italy (S) 19.99/215.89

Colombera & Garella is the project of winemaker Cristiano Garella and the legendary father and son Bramaterra winegrowers, Carlo and Giacomo Colombera. A blend of Nebbiolo (70%), Croatina, and Vespolina, the Rosso sports a translucent crimson-ruby robe followed by aromas of Bing cherries, dusty earth, birch bark, and dried rose petals. Firmly tannic and begging for food, the wine alternates waves of wild cherry and black currant fruit with complex suggestions of sandy minerals, leather, and pink peppercorns. Colombera & Garella’s Rosso finishes vibrant, savory, and soil transparent with firm, chewy tannins propelling nuances of spicy cinnamon bark, medicinal herbs, and earthy morel mushrooms. This is a superb Alto Piemonte rosso for late winter and early spring barbeques, stews, braises, pizzas, pastas, and recipes spotlighting mushrooms or buckwheat. Enjoy now and over the coming seven years.

2016 Giacomo Fenocchio, Barbera d’Alba Superiore, Piedmont, Italy (S) 18.99/205.09

Fenocchio’s Barbera d’Alba hails from hillside vineyards at 1,000 feet in Barolo’s Monforte d’Alba zone. Opaque black plum in the glass, Fenocchio’s Barbera casts a textbook nose of blackberries, violets, leather, cinnamon stick, dark tobacco, and almond skin. The wine is brisk and zesty on the palate with deep impressions of blackberry and cassis fruit complemented by hints of tar, leather, tobacco, camphor, and button mushrooms. Driven by its juicy acidity and persistent limestone soil signature, the wine finishes with fine, buffered tannins and reprises of tobacco, mushrooms, and menthol. Pair this classic Barbera now with grilled hanger steak, carne cruda, egg-rich pastas with a rich ragù or Bolognese sauce, fritto misto, carne cruda, and myriad risottos. It will also reward seven to ten years aging in your cool cellar, which will allow its mushroomy tertiary notes to blossom and its texture to develop and mellow. World-class Barbera!

2015 Arnaldo Caprai, Montefalco Rosso, Umbria, Italy (S) 19.99/215.89

Without a doubt, this is Caprai’s most successful Montefalco Rosso yet. In the heart of Umbria, the Arnaldo Caprai estate is Montefalco’s guiding light, and its benchmark Sagrantino wines are among the most distinctive, age-worthy, and highly sought after of all Italian wines. The wines of the Montefalco Rosso D.O.C. are designed to blend Sagrantino and other red varietals with the region’s principal red variety, Sangiovese. Caprai’s 2015 Montefalco Rosso fuses the Sangiovese’s (70%) bright cherry and leather notes with Sagrantino’s (15%) dark, smoky licorice and mineral expressions, and Merlot’s (15%) lovely plum and chocolate notes. Translucent black-ruby in the glass, Caprai’s Montefalco is a big, chewy, satisfying red with beautiful floral top notes, firm tannins, loads of earthiness, and plenty of cellaring potential.. We suggest enjoying this palate staining, rustic-yet-polished red now or over the coming ten years with freshly sliced salami, cured meats, hearty pasta dishes, and grilled mushrooms, eggplant, beef, pork, and lamb.

 2016 Fattoria Selvapiana, Chianti Rufina, Tuscany, Italy 16.99/183.49

Fattoria Selvapiana is the beacon of all that’s distinctive and compelling about Chianti’s great northeastern Rufina zone. Elegant, airy, and fresh, Selvapiana’s 2016 Chianti Rufina bursts from the glass with a translucent garnet robe followed by classic Rufina aromas of smoky cherries, fresh rose petals, aged leather, tamari, and calcareous earth. Ample and graceful on the palate, the wine frames its laser-focused kernel of Morello cherry fruit with plentiful fine, chewy tannins and juicy acidity. Notes of sweet tobacco, red miso, star anise, blood orange, and cloves join persistent, food-friendly tannins and resurgent waves of smoky minerality on the long, balanced, stylish finish. This is undoubtedly the finest and most complete sub-$20 bottle of Chianti on the market: buy it by the case to enjoy now and over the coming decade with burgers and steaks, Tuscan bean stews, rosemary-scented roast lamb, and hearty eggplant casseroles. 2016 is gonna be a phenomenal Tuscan vintage!

SPAIN - RED

2017 Guimaro, Mencia, Vino Tinto, Ribeira Sacra, Galicia, Spain (O) 18.99/205.09

Grown on steep, terraced granite slopes in far northern Spain, the Ribeira Sacra boasts a winemaking history that dates back to Roman times. The difficulty of working these slopes caused many of the region’s finest vineyards to be abandoned in the 20th century. Fortunately for wine lovers, these terraced hillsides are being rediscovered and rededicated to the production of wine. Among the first wineries to join the newly created Ribeira Sacra D.O. in 1996, Guimaro fashions its Tinto from Mencia grown on multiple plots with an average age of forty years. Casting an opaque plum ruby hue, Guimaro’s Tinto is all about immediate pleasure, giving a pure, lush red fruit expression accented by brown spices, tangy acidity, and slate-driven minerality. Smoky, juicy, and deliciously gulpable, the Tinto adds suggestions of cracked pepper, star anise, cinnamon, tobacco, and persistent waves of smoky, slate-driven cherry fruit. This is one unbelievably delicious and drinkable wine, and will prove a lovely partner over the coming three years with roast pork, chorizo, paellas, tapas, grilled mushrooms, braised rabbit, and recipes featuring smoky pimentón.


WHITE WINES


AUSTRIA - WHITE

2014 Sattlerhof, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamlitz, Sudsteiermark, Austria (O) 15.99/172.69  reg.20.99

Willi Sattler has earned the respect of wine lovers and the international media, and Sattlerhof is considered one of the top estates in Austria. His goal as a winemaker and representative of Styria is to remind the world that, in Styria, Sauvignon Blanc is the reigning champion. Pale lemon-gold in the glass, Sattlerhof’s 2014 Sauvignon Blanc offers aromas of gooseberries, star fruit, freshly cut grass, sage, and saline minerals. Fresh and electric on the palate, the wine presents fascinating suggestions of white grapefruit, nectarine, yellow bell peppers, papaya, and white pepper. Long, zesty, and lingering, the wine finishes with fresh, classic Sauvignon suggestions of white pepper, herbs and grass made especially delicious by Styria’s juicy, fresh papaya, lemon, nectarine, and grapefruit core. This is superb Sauvignon Blanc from Austria’s premier homeland for the variety: fans of Sancerre and other Sauvignon Blanc must try this wine. It will pair seamlessly with white flesh fish preparations, sauteed green leafy vegetables, white asparagus, light pork and poultry recipes, and sushi.

 2014 Weingut Stift Gottweig, Gruner Veltliner, Messwein, Niederosterreich, Austria 16.99/183.49  reg. 18.99

Folks, this Gruner is so clean, pure, and refreshing – and such a steal for its quality. Founded in 1083, the Stift Gottweig is a Benedictine monastery perched 450 meters above sea level on the southern banks of the Danube. The uber-talented Fritz Miesbauer recently assumed direction of the monastery’s wine interests and has raised the bar to new heights. This is the estate’s Messwein (altar wine) produced only with the blessing of the bishop and crafted to be pure, light and drinkable. It bursts out of the glass with high-toned Gruner aromas of lemon zest, white pepper, and salty minerals. On the palate, the Messwein is crisp, tactile, minerally, and super refreshing. The wine’s core of citrus fruits reemerges on its finish alongside notes of malt, snap peas, ginger, and white pepper. Pair this sensational Gruner now and over the coming two years with lentil soups, light freshwater fish preparations, shellfish, and all green vegetables, even artichokes and asparagus. Limited: Twelve cases available.


FRANCE - WHITE

2015 Bott Freres, Sylvaner Tradition, Alsace, France (S) 12.50/135.00

Lost in the multitudes of varietals grown in lovely Alsace, Sylvaner often gets ignored in favor of the nobler varietals, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Muscat. This is rather unfortunate, for wines such as this show Sylvaner at its finest: fresh, fruity, vibrant, and exceedingly versatile at the table. Pale lemon-gold with pistachio highlights in the glass, Bott Freres’ Sylvaner – rested in century-old neutral foudres – casts captivating aromas of green apple skin, honeydew melon, and smoky minerals. Fresh, zippy, and brimming with energy, Bott Freres’ Sylvaner electrifies the palate with citrus zest and green apple fruit backed by suggestions of quinine, fennel, and grated ginger. Bott’s 2015 Sylvaner is delicious and versatile beyond description and a natural foil for pâtes, terrines, broiled halibut, roasts of poultry and pork, grilled fishes, shellfish, choucroute garni with sauerkraut, and all savory Alsatian, German, and central European recipes. Enjoy now and over the coming three years.

2016 Le Domaine d’Henri, Petit Chablis, Les Allees du Vignoble, Burgundy, France (S) 18.99/205.09

Michel Laroche recently retired from his iconic, eponymous domaine and started a new wine estate, which he runs together with his children. Sourced from vineyards just on the outskirts of the Chablis region proper, Le Domaine d’Henri’s Petit Chablis casts a brilliant green-gold in the glass followed by aromas of limestone, malt, iodine, flinty minerality, green apple skin, and lemon curd. Brisk and racy on the attack, the Petit Chablis wraps its intense mineral core inside a wrapper of lovely Meyer lemon zest and bracing gooseberry fruit. Classic, tensile, and uncompromising, this is textbook Petit Chablis that combines the region’s noble smoky, flinty minerality with exceptionally focused, saline, and buffering Chardonnay fruit. Perfect for oysters, clams, mussels, prawn and the entire spectrum of fish and shellfish, enjoy this delicious old-school Petit Chablis now and over the coming three years. As Bob says, “Toujours l’acidite!”

2016 Pernot-Belicard, Bourgogne Chardonnay, Burgundy, France (O) 25.99/280.69

Philippe Pernot, the grandson of Puligny legend Paul Pernot, married into the Belicard family and established this young and exceedingly promising domaine. Philippe farms his fifteen-acre estate organically, performs a gentle, natural fermentation, never fines nor filters, and keeps new oak to a minimum. The result of this minimalist approach is one of the most exciting white Burgundy finds in memory. A brilliant green-glinted lemon gold in the glass, Pernot-Belicard’s Bourgogne Chardonnay – from five different parcels around Puligny-Montrachet – casts classic Puligny aromas of bright limestone soil, lemon oil, green apple, and smoky lees. On the palate, the wine conveys a lovely precise, detailed, and delicate kernel of buttery, limestone-driven Chardonnay fruit. The tension between shimmering acidity, limestone minerality, and richness is what separates white Burgundy from every other Chardonnay producing region. Buy this by the case and serve now and over the coming five to seven years with all things seafood, rich potato gratins, morels in a cream sauces, or light poultry preparations. This is white Burgundy to thrill the purists among you!

2017 Domaine des Guyons, Saumur Blanc, Vent du Nord, Loire Valley, France (S) 15.99/172.69

The Domaine des Guyons’ talented vigneron, Franck Bimont, fashions expressive, elegant wines that are designed to convey naturally the gorgeously perfumed limestone soils of the central Loire Valley. Crafted from 60-year-old Chenin Blanc vines grown on famous Puy de Notre Dame tuffeau soils, Guyons’ Vent du Nord casts a medium wheat-gold hue from the glass and classic Chenin Blanc aromas of Anjou pears, green pineapple, lemon verbena, hawthorn blossoms, and smoky limestone. Brisk yet generous on the attack, the wine delivers resinous Chenin fruit chiseled by dusty limestone minerals and bracing acidity. Sappy notes of quince and honeysuckle emerge on the wine’s long citrus and tropical fruit-tinged finish joined by nervy acidity and lip-dusting limestone minerals. This is superb and versatile dry Chenin for a song. Pair it now and over the coming three years with freshwater fish preparations, roast pheasant, aged chevres, and dishes featuring chanterelle mushrooms.


ITALY - WHITE

2017 Antonelli, Grechetto, Montefalco, Umbria, Italy (O) 12.99/140.29

Grechetto, Umbria’s signature white varietal, finds its greatest expression in the Montefalco’s Colli Martani zone south of Perugia. The grape is widely believed to be of Greek origin (hence the name) and represents one of Italy’s most distinctive and underrated white wines. Antonelli’s 2017 Grechetto begins with a medium lemon-gold color and deep aromas of Bartlett pears, acacia, and hawthorn blossom. Crisp, intense and focused on the palate, the wine complements its juicy core of melon and Asian pear fruit with crisp acidity and notes of thyme, fennel, and almonds. Antonelli’s Grechetto finishes long and juicy with further notes of crisp pear, honeydew melon, lemon drops, and anise. Grechetto is rightfully gaining serious attention as one of Italy’s premier white wines. We suggest pairing this textbook Grechetto now and over the coming two years with pan-fried trout, sauteed zucchini, seafood pastas, young chevres, and grilled halibut.


SPAIN - WHITE

 2016 C.V.N.E, Rioja Blanco, Monopole, Rioja, Spain 12.50/135.00

The Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España (C.V.N.E. or Cune) is one of the most venerable and heralded estates in Spain’s Rioja region. Produced since 1915, Cune’s Monopole Blanco is Spain’s oldest white wine brand and a tribute to the nobility and versatility of the great Viura grape. In contrast to some sappy, waxy, barrel-influenced interpretations of Viura, Cune’s bone-dry Monopole shows the grape’s fresh and zesty side. The estate’s Viura is given skin contact at cool temperatures to extract the waxy tactile texture of the variety while preserving its freshness and acidity. The wine casts a brilliant pale lemon-gold color from the bowl with faint green glints. Fresh and perfumed, it offers aromas of white flowers, Bartlett pears, white grapefruit, and honeydew melon. Crisp on the attack, citrus fruit notes segue to a broad palate impression of pears, white currants, and limestone minerality. Electric citric acidity and a delicious quinine note transition the Monopole Blanco to its long, crunchy, stony finish. Enjoy now and over the coming two years with grilled vegetables, trout amandine, prawns, scallops, and ceviche.

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FRIDAY TASTINGS:
First and third Friday of the month
5:30-7:30 p.m. ~Fee~

Feb. 1 - Brilliant wines from Bordeaux!

Feb. 15 - Great wines from Galicia, Spain.

Mar. 1 - California Dreaming... Zinfandels 1999-2003: Ridge, Neyers, Ravenswood, Biale.


SATURDAY TASTINGS:
Weekly; 12-4:30 p.m. ~No fee~

Feb. 2 - Viva Italia: Antonelli Grechetto, Ca’ la Bionda Valpolicella Classico, Colombera & Garella Coste della Sesia Rosso, Giacomo Fenocchio Barbera d’Alba Superiore, Selavpiana Chianti Rufina, and Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Rosso.

Feb. 9 - The folks from Oregon’s Amalie Robert Winery will be here to pour their beautifully crafted red and white wines. Plus, from Spain: Guimaro Mencia Vino Tinto, and cvne Rioja Blanco Monopole.

Feb.16 - La Belle France: Bott Freres Sylvaner Tradition, Dom. des Guyons Vent du Nord Saumur Blanc, Pernot-Belicard Bourgogne Chardonnay, and Sylvain Gauthier Dom. des Pierres Seches Syrah.

Feb. 23 - Wines from here and there: Crowley Wines Pinot Noir (Oregon). Sattlerhof Sauvignon Blanc Gamlitz, and Stift Gottweig Gruner Veltliner Messwein (Austria). Le Dom. d’Henri Les Allees du Vignoble Petit Chablis, and Dom. de la Chanteleuserie Bourgeuil Cuvee Alouettes (France).

 


B = biodynamic methods; CO = certified organic; O = organic; S = sustainably farmed
 


© Liner & Elsen, all rights reserved. Availability and prices may have changed since the newsletter date.