SEPTEMBER 2020 REVIEWS


RED WINES

OREGON - RED

2018 Twill, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon (O) 19.99 / 215.89 [price correction]

Chris Dickson and Molly and Darrel Roby began Twill Cellars to explore Oregon’s unique terroirs. The trio works organically in the vineyard and with minimal intervention in the winery with the vision of expressing the variations of land and vintages. Twill’s 2018 Willamette Valley Pinot opens with a translucent Bing cherry color and bright aromas of black raspberries, Seville orange zest, and dusty earth. Rested nineteen months in French oak, the wine conveys the depth and harmony that can only be achieved by such a long, leisurely ageing process. Notes of wild blueberries and tangy loganberries mingle on the palate alongside hints of bitter oranges, savory herbs, and a suave kiss of oak. Twill’s superb 2018 Pinot finishes long and satisfying, with lip-dusting tannins framing resinous raspberry fruit and smoky barrel tones. This is fantastic sub-$20 Oregon Pinot with uncommon depth, complexity, and texture. Pair now and over the coming six years with heartier fare such as roast chicken, duck, chanterelle and morel mushroom preparations, and braised short ribs.

FRANCE – RED

2018 Maurice Ecard, Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France 22.99 / 248.29

The great Maurice Ecard put Savigny-les-Beaune on the map for lovers of honest, affordable, soil-transparent Burgundies. Ecard is now retired, but his presence is never far from the cellar and his legacy is carried in the confident hands of the brilliant Francois Martenot. Invoking memories of Ecard’s incomparable Savignys, the domaine’s 2018 Bourgogne from vines just outside of the Savigny appellation opens with a gleaming transparent garnet robe followed by a classic Savigny bouquet of fresh red raspberries, dark soil tones, and rose-scented potpourri. Fresh and vibrant on the palate, Ecard’s Bourgogne quickly transitions to reveal plentiful fine tannins lifting complex overtones of violets, orange peel, and spicy cinnamon. Light, delicate, yet packed with an energetic kernel of red fruit, this is the kind of wine that turns people on to red Burgundy. Enjoy now and over the coming five years with roast chicken, pan-seared pork chops, and earthy mushroom preparations.

2018 Domaine de l’Idylle, Mondeuse, Le Tithonien, Savoie, France 15.99 / 172.69

Mondeuse is the cool, elusive, peppery red of the Savoie, which has recently been confirmed to be a relative of the noble Syrah of the Northern Rhone Valley. While the peppery connection to Syrah is undeniable, l’Idylle’s Mondeuse is brighter and zestier. Domaine de l’Idylle’s 2018 Mondeuse Le Tithonien casts a beautiful transparent black cherry robe and spicy aromas of black pepper, violets, black plums, and cloves. On the palate, the wine alternates waves of blackberry, cherry, and black plum fruit with complex undertones of cinnamon, menthol, hoisin sauce, and sweet pipe tobacco. Long and lingering on the back-palate, reprises of black peppercorns and fleshy plums are lifted by bright acidity, bitter medicinal herbs, and fine, buffered tannins. Enjoy this versatile, affordable Savoyard wonder now and over the coming three years with roast poultry – especially small game, duck, and goose – washed-rind cheeses, potatoes au gratin, vegetable souffles, and dishes featuring wild mushrooms and rich cream sauces.

2017 Domaine Berthet-Rayne, Cotes-du-Rhone, Vieilles Vignes, Southern Rhone Valley, France (CO) 13.50 / 145.80

Employing organic viticulture, superbly situated old vines, and traditional methods in the cellar, the Domaine Berthet-Rayne is fashioning a portfolio of elegant and restrained wines from the Southern Rhone’s finest terroirs. A classic deep ruby color, Berthet-Rayne’s Cotes-du-Rhone Vieilles Vignes – from vineyards just outside Châteauneuf proper – fills the bowl with Châteauneuf-like aromas of wild cherries, leather, tamari, vine smoke, black pepper, and stony soil. Sleek, suave, and elegant on the attack, the wine blossoms on the palate to reveal layers of Bing cherries, tobacco, shiitake mushrooms, lavender, cinnamon, cloves, and shaved fennel. Based on a classic old-vine blend of Grenache (75%), Mourvedre, and Cinsault, the wine finishes vibrant, chewy, and appetizingly tannic – reminding us that balanced, age-worthy, and characterful Cotes-du-Rhones of yesteryear can still be found today at a reasonable price. Enjoy this superb old-vine and old-school CdR now and over the coming five years with roast lamb, grilled burgers, and ratatouille.

2016 Jean-Pierre Gaussen, Vin de Pays du Mont-Caume, Provence, France (O)
14.99 / 161.89

Jean-Pierre Gaussen makes rustic, soulful Provencal wines that simply knock you out with their depth, authenticity, and character. In addition to his prestigious Bandols, Gaussen also crafts this Vin de Pays – his “country” wine – by taking the traditional Bandol varietals, Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah, and adding a dollop of Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep, meaty, peppery, and herbal, Gaussen’s 2016 Vin de Pays immediately announces that it offers far more than its humble price tag suggests. Aromas of black cherry, cassis, blood orange, salumi, mint, and violet segue to a palate packed with the kind of smoky, leathery, earthy Mourvedre notes that one usually encounters only in the very finest red Bandols. Fine, suave tannins and hints of sweet tobacco, chewy cherry fruit, cured meats, and herbs mark the wine’s impressively complex and satisfying finish. This is a sensational sub-$15 red that will prove a lovely pairing with hearty recipes featuring, game, beef, lamb, venison, potatoes, and mushrooms. Stock up now to enjoy now and over the coming seven years.

ITALY – RED

2018 Fratelli Alessandria, Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy (O) 18.99 / 205.09

At the northern edge of the Barolo zone, the Alessandria family has farmed the finest Verduno vineyard sites since 1870. Fratelli Alessandria’s 2018 Barbera glows with a vivid plum-ruby color alongside classic Barbera aromas of ripe plums, black cherry skin, menthol, and violets. Fleshy yet vibrant on the palate, Alessandria’s Barbera presents blackberry and wild cherry fruit accented by complex notes of licorice, anise, tobacco, and baking spices. Classic Barbera acidity buoys plump kernel of chewy black fruit and segues the wine to a long, lingering finish featuring fine tannins, black licorice, spicy cinnamon, and bay leaf. Delicious, balanced, and ready to drink, this “grand cru” Barbera is ready for your table tonight and over the coming five years served with hearty pastas, braises, pizza, marinated flank steak, and eggplant casseroles.

2019 Durin, Rossese, Riviera Ligure di Ponente, Liguria, Italy (S) 15.99 / 172.69

To fashion the Durin estate’s impressive portfolio of Ligurian delicacies, winemaker Antonio Basso tends 259 separate, small vineyards on steep hillsides just three miles away from the Mediterranean Sea. The rare Rossese grape (known as Tibouren in nearby Provence) is much beloved and greatly respected by the tiny number of producers who work with it and understand it. The labor of love required to farm Basso’s vineyard sites results in one of the world’s most charming, saline, sea-kissed, transparent red wines. Durin’s 2019 Rossese casts a limpid garnet robe followed by an exotic, orchard-fruited nose of wild cherries, apricots, persimmons, lilac, and pink peppercorns. Juicy and bursting with tart cherry, fig and strawberry fruit, the wine adds notes of rhubarb, lavender, sandalwood, and cinnamon-scented potpourri. Lingering impressions of sweet cherries come to the fore on the wine’s brilliant red-fruited finish. Joyful, distinctive, and a wonderful choice for a late summer or early autumn red, enjoy Durin’s Rossese now and over the coming two years with grilled anchovies, fritto misto, pizza, dry-rubbed baby back ribs, and sauteed squashes.

PORTUGAL - RED

2018 Nao Condenado, Palhete, Vinho Regional Lisboa, Portugal (CO) 17.99 / 194.29

In the rural areas north of Lisbon, old “backyard” vineyards are being abandoned due to the ageing of the owners and the next generation’s choice to pursue fortunes elsewhere. Andre Gomes, the winemaker at Quinta do Montalto, took action to save two legendary patches of 120- to 150-year-old vines. The 2018 Nao Condenado (“uncondemned”) employs the traditional Portuguese method called “palhete,” which ferments red and white grapes together to craft one delicious, aromatic, and utterly unique red wine. The cuvee – roughly equal parts of white Fernao Pires and red Trincadeira – casts a rusty, crimson-ruby hue in the glass followed by ripe aromas of raspberry, fig, black plums, cherry blossoms, and peppercorns. Deep and peppery on the palate, chewy cherry and raspberry fruit mingle with suggestions of dried herbs, Serrano peppers, gamy salumi, tamari, and cassia. At once both tart and ripe, the juxtaposition of these impressions and textures – alongside the sappiness of the old vine fruit – make this an ideal selection for picnics and a natural partner for grilled meats, carnitas tacos, meat and potato tapas, and mild Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese cuisines. Enjoy now and over the next two years.


WHITE WINES

OREGON – WHITE

2018 Eyrie Vineyards, Pinot Gris, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon 17.99 / 194.29

From the granddaddy of Pinot Gris in Oregon, the legendary Eyrie Vineyards continues its nearly fifty-year tradition of producing the state’s benchmark Pinot Gris. Jason Lett carries the torch of distinctiveness lit by his father, and this full, rich, and expressive 2019 Oregon Pinot Gris is another jewel in the crown of the Willamette Valley’s most legendary estate. Eyrie’s 2018 Gris reflects a deep straw-gold color followed by refreshing aromas of Williams pears, quince, hazelnuts, and chamomile. On the palate, Eyrie’s Pinot Gris conveys a crisp, dry Alsatian texture marked by layers of yellow plum, Meyer lemon, and Valencia orange fruit complemented by notes of fresh herbs, ginger, and loamy soil. The wine finishes long and satisfying with complex suggestions of Mirabelle plums, green pear, juniper berries, and white peppercorns. Enjoy now or over the coming seven years with sturgeon, salmon, halibut, oysters, roast chicken, and braised pork preparations.

FRANCE – WHITE

2018 Pierre Henri Gadais, Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, Saint-Fiacre, Loire Valley, France 13.50 / 145.80

Few wines combine soil specificity, refreshment, food friendliness, and value like great Muscadet. Vintage after vintage, our choice for the best value Muscadet on the market is Pierre Henri Gadais’ Saint-Fiacre cuvee, grown on schist and rocky soils strewn with ancient sea fossils. Gadais’ Saint-Fiacre is Muscadet in its purest, most crystalline expression: pale green-gold in the glass, followed by fresh, zesty notes of lemon drops, kiwi, pear skin, fleur de sel, and oyster shell minerals. Clean, brisk, and incisively dry on the palate, the wine conveys impressions of lemon zest, green apples, and quinine. Notes of iodine and ginger emerge to segue the wine to its long, zippy finish. Muscadet proves lovely as an aperitif, but it always shines brightest when paired with briny oysters on the half-shell, pan-roasted mussels, razor clams, Dover sole, and sauteed green vegetables. Another smashing success for Gadais, this Muscadet is the value play white wine of the newsletter. It will delight now as well as age effortlessly for five years or more.

2019 Andre Dezat & Fils, Sancerre, Loire Valley, France 22.99 / 248.29

We are unabashed devotees of Dezat’s wines and are thrilled to present the winery’s gorgeous Sancerre for the ninth consecutive vintage. Dezat’s 2019 Sancerre casts a pale green-tinged gold color in the glass followed by aromas of greengage plums, kiwi, beeswax, lemon zest, gunflint, and chalky minerals. On the palate, the wine presents a kaleidoscope of fleshy yellow and green plum fruit etched by classic Sancerre overtones of white pepper, nettles, freshly cut grass, and menthol. Bristling acidity and an undercurrent of dusty minerality carry Dezat’s Sancerre to its long citrus and plum-tinged finish. This is a superb, elegant, and authentic Sancerre to buy by the case and enjoy now and over the coming three years with fresh chevres, poached freshwater fish dishes, oysters, clams, mussels, vegetable risottos, white pastas, or on its own as a top-shelf reward for a hard day’s work.

2019 Arnaud Lambert, Saumur Blanc, Breze, Clos du Midi, Loire Valley, France (O) 18.99 / 205.09

This is “grand cru,” incisively dry Chenin for a song! Mark our words: 2019 is going to be hailed as a benchmark vintage for the great Chenin Blancs of the central Loire Valley. Lambert’s Clos du Midi is sourced from a cool site near the top of the Breze hill, considered one of the wine world’s two finest sites for dry Chenin Blanc (the other being Savennieres). The 2019 Clos du Midi casts a pale straw-gold hue from the glass and classic Saumur Blanc aromas of Anjou pears, fleshy apricots, ripe mango, chamomile, and perfumed yellow limestone. Brisk on the attack, the wine presents a mouthful of waxy, pear-driven Chenin fruit framed by smoky limestone minerals and tensile acidity. Complex notes of quince and honeycomb emerge on the long pear and apricot-tinged finish, followed by a delicious dusting of lip-coating limestone minerals. Pair the wine now and over the coming five years with freshwater fish preparations, aged chevres, dishes featuring chanterelle mushrooms, and roast pheasant.


PORTUGAL - WHITE

2018 Ramos-Pinto, Duas Quintas White, Douro, Portugal 12.50 / 135.00

The Douro Valley is best known for its incomparable fortified Port wines, but it also boasts a long and storied history of producing world-class dry red and white table wines. From the Port house of Ramos-Pinto, we’re blessed with this distinctive white (branco) that seamlessly marries three of the Douro’s most important white varietals: Rabigato, Viosinho and Arinto. A brilliant lime-tinged pale lemon hue in the glass, Ramos-Pinto’s Duas Quintas White opens with fascinating aromas of lemon pith, yellow melon, and high-toned smoky minerals. Brisk on the attack, the Duas Quintas follows through on a palate marked by juicy Meyer lemon, quince, and green pineapple fruit infused with smoky shale and schistose minerals. Long, clean, and nervy, the Duas Quintas branco finishes with complex suggestions of honeysuckle blossoms, lemongrass, and a final lashing of salty minerals. This is a stunning value as an everyday sipper or as a complement to green salads, picnic fare, sauteed zucchini, oysters on the half-shell, sashimi, steamed clams, and seafood tapas. Enjoy now and over the coming three years.

SPAIN – WHITE

2019 Huguet de Can Feixes, Blanc Seleccio, Penedes, Spain (CO) 14.99 / 161.89

The historic Can Feixes estate is situated on gravelly amphitheater-like slopes near the famous Montserrat pinnacle. Only the estate’s finest high-altitude fruit – a blend of primarily Parellada and Macabeo with dollops of Chardonnay and Malvasia de Sitges – goes into Can Feixes’ Blanc Seleccio. In the glass, Can Feixes’ superb 2019 casts a pale green-glinted, lemon-gold hue followed by mineral-driven aromas of lemon oil, green melon, Bosc pears, and fresh ginger root. On the palate, brisk acidity and chalky minerals elevate the wine’s refreshing core of citrus, melon, and crunchy pear fruit. The Blanc Seleccío finishes with lingering hints of juicy white grapefruit, quinine, juniper, and a sensation of flinty mineral dust on the lips and inner cheeks. Enjoy this crisp, zesty, refresher now and over the coming two years paired with oysters, white-fleshed fish, scallops, seafood and vegetable tapas, and fresh goat cheeses.

ROSE WINES

ITALY - ROSE

2019 Mamete Prevostini, Monrose Rosato, Alpi Retiche, Lombardia, Italy 18.99 / 205.09

Famed for its Nebbiolo wines, the Alpi Retiche relies on south-facing, steeply terraced vineyards to gather enough sunshine in this subalpine, northern Italian zone near the Swiss border. Mamete Prevostini’s Monrose Rosato is Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo) grown on sandy, granitic soils at 1,150 to 2,150 feet above sea level. The high-altitude situation imbues the Rosato with Alpine freshness and lift that makes this the rose sensation of the newsletter! A pale salmon pink in the glass, the wine opens with brisk aromas of tart red apples, golden raspberries, and pie cherries. Crunchy and spicy on the palate, the wine’s salty minerality lifts suggestions of cherry skin, bitter orange zest, red currants, and tart watermelon. Delicious, savory, and oh-so-satisfying, the wine finishes with complex suggestions of rose petals, pink peppercorns, and juicy ginger. This is a sensational rose that delivers in character and deliciousness at a price tag that makes Bandol vignerons blush. Pair now and over the coming two years with firm goat cheeses, broiled salmon, sushi and sashimi, roast chicken, grilled squashes, and pork tenderloin.
Eric Guido, Vinous: 90 points


Also still available:

RED WINES

ITALY - RED

2019 Ca’ La Bionda, Valpolicella Classico, Veneto, Italy (CO) 14.99 / 161.89

Valpolicella in its most honest form is light framed, elegant, gorgeously perfumed, deliciously drinkable, and incredibly versatile at the table. Ca’ La Bionda’s Valpo succeeds smashingly well in all these categories. A classic blend of Corvina (70%), Corvinone (20%), Rondinella, and Molinara grown in Valpolicella’s historic Classico zone, Ca’ La Bionda’s Valpo shines with a bright translucent ruby hue followed by aromas of sweet cherries, freshly crushed raspberries, dried orange peel, spicy cinnamon, and Assam black tea. Bright and zesty on the palate, the wine saturates the palate with a bright kernel of juicy pomegranate, red currant, and raspberry fruit complemented by suggestions of white pepper, blood orange, and limestone minerals. The long, chewy finish features waves of red fruits buoyed by a limestone soil undercurrent, which make 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.

2018 Travaglini, Coste della Sesia, Nebbiolo, Alto Piemonte, Italy (S) 17.99 / 194.29

Travaglini’s Coste della Sesia – essentially a declassified Gattinara – is Nebbiolo grown on rocky soils at 900-1,150 feet above sea level. The wine casts a translucent cherry-garnet robe followed by aromas of tart cherries, pomegranate seeds, dusty earth, rose petals, and licorice. Sporting fine, buffered tannins and begging for food, Travaglini’s Nebbiolo alternates waves of wild cherry and red currant fruit with complex suggestions of dusty limestone and ferrous minerals, blond leather, and pink peppercorns. The wine finishes vibrant, savory, and soil transparent with firm, lip-dusting tannins propelling nuances of spicy cinnamon bark, Alpine herbs, and earthy kasha kernels. This is a superb Alto Piemonte rosso for hearty summer barbeques, stews, braises, pizzas, pastas, and recipes spotlighting earthy mushrooms or buckwheat. Enjoy now and over the coming seven years.

2013 Fantinel Tenuta Sant'Helena, Refosco Dal Peduncolo Rosso, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy 18.99 / 205.09

Refosco is a dark-skinned grape native to northeastern Italy and neighboring Slovenia and Croatia. The “peduncolo rosso” designation refers to the grape’s red stems and is widely acclaimed to be the finest clone in the Refosco family. With gentle vinification, the Refosco’s naturally tannic profile can be tamed to reveal a wine of character and food-friendliness with just a touch of wild gaminess that still allows the Refosco to assert its uniqueness. Translucent black-ruby in the glass, Fantinel’s Refosco announces itself with one swirl, revealing aromas of cinnamon, game, huckleberries, and leather. The wine stains the palate with delicious black cherry and elderberry fruit accented by notes of star anise, cured meat, licorice, and earthy mushrooms. Long and lingering on the finish, the wine adds hints of menthol, tar and a delicious touch of the good ol’ funk. At six years old, the wine’s rustic edges have been perfectly polished without sacrificing its expressive character. Buy this one by the case for enjoyment now and over the coming seven years with mushroom dishes, hearty stews, braised lamb shanks, rich bean casseroles, and pastas tossed with a long-simmered ragu.

SPAIN - RED

2019 Bodegas O’Ventosela, Mencia, Gran Leirina, Ribeiro, Galicia, Spain (S) 13.99 / 151.09

This is one unbelievably delicious, tangy, and compelling Mencia! Nestled at the eastern edge of Galicia, the Ribeiro DO is one of Spain’s most fascinating and compelling wine regions. Famed for their white wines, a mere 15% of Ribeiro’s production is red, and usually a blend of indigenous varieties. The Bodegas O’Ventosela’s Gran Leirina is crafted from 100% Mencia grown on sandy, granitic soils in the Ribeiro’s finest climats near the Portuguese border. The Gran Leirina casts an opaque plum ruby hue, followed by pure, peppery black fruits mingling with hints brown spices, tangy acidity and smoky granitic minerality. Lightly tannic, juicy, and driven by its granitic backbone, the wine adds suggestions of cracked black pepper, star anise, cinnamon, tobacco, and persistent waves of smoky, mineral-driven cherry and plum fruit. The O’Ventosela Gran Leirina will prove a lovely partner over the coming three years with roast pork, chorizo, paellas, tapas, grilled mushrooms, braised rabbit, and recipes featuring smoky pimenton.


WHITE WINES

ITALY - WHITE

2019 Marchetti - Tenuta del Cavaliere, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, Marches, Italy 14.99 / 161.89

Verdicchio is central Italy’s most distinctive white varietal. The mineral-rich soils of the Classico Superiore sector of the Marches’ Castelli di Jesi zone imbue the finest Verdicchios with impressive complexity and a deeply etched soil signature. A rich medium gold hue in the bowl, Marchetti’s incredibly expressive Verdicchio Classico Superiore opens with deep aromas of sweet snap peas, apricots, cassia, tarragon, and green peppercorns. On the palate, the wine conveys an impressively concentrated kernel of pear, yellow plum, and star fruit backed by brisk acidity, a smoky mineral undercurrent, and complex suggestions of oolong tea, candied ginger, and honeycomb. Full bodied and palate-staining, yet balanced and elegant, this impressive and comfortably priced Verdicchio is ready to drink now and over the coming five years. Pair it with hearty fare that calls for a bold white wine, like swordfish, fresh albacore tuna, rabbit, zucchini gratin, white pizzas, and pastas dressed with olive oil, garlic, and summer vegetables. Limited.

PORTUGAL - WHITE

2018 Anselmo Mendes, Passaros, Loureiro, Vinho Verde, Portugal 11.99/129.49

Anselmo Mendes is highly sought after as a winemaking consultant by many of Portugal’s elite wine producers. At his home estate, Mendes takes Vinho Verde to the highest level by focusing on the region’s most characterful varietals as expressed from their most prestigious terroirs. Mendes’s 2018 Loureiro single-varietal Vinho Verde hails from the Lima River Valley where it thrives and reaches its apogee. Casting a brilliant straw-gold color, the wine opens with aromas of pear skin, chamomile, tarragon, and juniper. Juxtaposing brisk acidity with a fleshy texture, the Loureiro layers the palate with pear and lime fruit complicated by hints of quinine, kaffir lime leaf, and fresh ginger. Long, lingering, and seriously refreshing, the Passaros finishes with salty impressions of granitic soil, white grapefruit, and lemongrass. This is a unique and oh-so-satisfying expression of Vinho Verde for a pittance. Fans of Chenin, Riesling, Viognier, Albarino and Arneis should take special note and plan to pick up a case of this dynamite summer quaffer for enjoyment now and over the coming three years with shellfish, crustaceans, delicate fish dishes, and light potato and vegetable tapas.

 

 


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


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