Newsletter

February 15, 2018 – March 14, 2018

Winter’s Reds

To help get through the rest of winter we suggest hearty red wines and long-braised stews. These six offer varying degrees of bigness to suit the delicious high-calorie meals of the season.

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Vale do Bomfim DouroDouro
2015 Douro (Vale do Bomfim)
Sale Price $9.99 – $101.90 case of twelve
Dow’s is best known for Port, but they also make this fine dry red. The 2015 Vale do Bomfim is a smooth, rich red with a fine balance of ripe fruit and earthy dryness. An excellent match for a pork stew with beans and kale.

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Valravn
      2015 Sonoma County Zinfandel Old VineValravn
2015 Sonoma County Zinfandel ‘Old Vine’ (Valravn)
Sale Price $14.99 – $152.90 case of twelve
Zinfandel continues to be the California’s most generous red wine and its best value. The 2015 Valravn harnesses the old-vine power of Sonoma Zin and delivers an intensely fruited red with a smooth, long finish. A fabulous wine with a spicy pot roast.

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Gabrielle
2015 Côtes du Rhône ‘Gabrielle’ (Domaine les Grands Bois)
Sale Price $14.99 – $152.90 case of twelve
Domaine les Grands Bois Côtes du Rhône GabrielleThis ever reliable producer has another winner with the 2015 Gabrielle. The 60/40 blend of Grenache and Syrah is full-bodied and peppery, with a pleasant rosemary and olive finish. Fine for a lamb roast with lots of garlic and roasted potatoes.

Di Majo Norante Molise Rosso RamitelloRamitello
2013 Molise Rosso ‘Ramitello’ (Di Majo Norante)
Sale Price $14.99 – $152.90 case of twelve
If you’re looking for a big red for a spicy ragu, Di Majo Norante’s Ramitello will do the job. This blend of Montepulciano and Aglianico is a hefty, smoky red with bold fruit and a long, bold finish.

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Olga and Bernard
2015 Chinon ‘Les Barnabés’ (Domaine Olga Raffault)
Sale Price $17.99 – $183.50 case of twelve
2015 Chinon ‘Domaine’ (Domaine Bernard Baudry)
Sale Price $19.99 – $203.90 case of twelve
Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de ProvenceAs you may already know we think that Loire Valley Cabernet Franc is not only a terrific wine, but also an incredible value. These Chinons from two great family Domaines come from the excellent 2015 vintage. Both drink superbly upon opening and have great food-matching capabilities. We usually stock the ‘Les Picasses’ from Olga Raffault, but scarcity and demand have driven the price up, so this month we leapt at the younger, more supple ‘Les Barnabés.’ Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de ProvenceThe Cabernet Franc in this cuvée is grown in a sandy, gravelly soil. This gives it lovely floral immediacy along with red fruits and soft tannins. The Baudry ‘Domaine’ is a mix of riverside gravel and hillside vineyards that produce a more structured, earthy dry red that still has charming fruit and ripe, supple tannins. Both of these wines are delightful with a roast salmon dish with a tossed goat cheese salad.


Listed prices are honored through March 14th, 2018. We will not honor mistyped prices. Vol. 42, No. 3

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Hessen, Pfalz, Saar – A Tour of Riesling
2015 Niersteiner Paterberg Riesling Kabinett (Schneider)
Sale Price $9.99 – $101.90 case of twelve
2016 Forster Mariengarten Riesling Kabinett ‘Vom Basalt’ (Weingut Eugen Müller)
Sale Price $14.99 – $152.90 case of twelve
2015 Enkircher Riesling ‘Escheburg’ (Immich-Batterieberg)
Sale Price $24.99 – $254.90 case of twelve
Schneider Niersteiner Hipping Riesling  AusleseTry as we might, it has proved impossible to convince everyone that not all Riesling is sweet. But we continue to insist that even those that are not totally dry should not be dismissed outright. The Paterberg Kabinett from Schneider is a classic Rheinhessen Riesling. Even at the Kabinett level this wine has body and depth unheard of at this price. Glistening pear and apple fruit are accented with lovely crispness. The result is a wine that is perfect for spicy noodles and spring rolls. Bollig-LehndertThe Pfalz Kabinett from Eugen Müller is all about the minerality of the basalt soil. This has amazing aromatic purity along with lean and long mineral flavors and just enough crunchy fruit. Perfect for a delicate sautéed sole or a flash-seared tuna with green beans. Immich-Batterieberg is an estate in the Saar mostly devoted to dry Riesling. They cultivate some of the oldest vines in the region. The Escheberg is a blend of their best Crus, and priced much more reasonably.Bollig-Lehndert In 2015 they captured the essence of the steep, old, slate-laden vineyards of the Saar with this intense, gorgeous wine. This is a dry Riesling with power and complexity in all its many facets. For a perfect match have this with sushi and sashimi.

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Rosé All Year
2017 Monastrell Rosé (Castaño)
Sale Price $7.99 – $81.50 case of twelve
Fritz Mueller Perlwein Rosa TrockenWho knew that rosé would become as popular as it has? Well, it helps that the wine is now almost always dry and usually a great value. The Monastrell grape makes excellent rosé in Spain as well as France. In France it’s called Mourvèdre, the main grape in Bandol. In the Spanish province of Murcia it produces a full flavored, deep, and peppery rosé with enough sap and strength for hearty winter dishes. Try the Castaño Rosé with a rich tomato-based fish stew or with a dish of lentils and rice.

Paso Blanco
2015 Paso Robles ‘Patelin de Tablas Blanc’ (Tablas Creek)
Sale Price $23.99 – $244.70 case of twelve
Vincent Marie-Antoinette Pouilly-FuisséThe winemakers at Tablas Creek were prescient in their choice of the Paso Robles region and Rhone Valley varietals – though they didn’t really have a choice of varietals because the Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel are owners along with their American importer Robert Haas. Before the vineyards they planted became old enough to produce, they bankrolled the operation by selling cuttings imported from Beaucastel to other growers. Now their rootstock has been planted all over California. Our surprise is how lovely the white wines are. Patelin, their entry-level white, merges the strength of Grenache Blanc with the aromatics of Viognier and the minerality of Roussanne and Marsanne. A fine match with a swordfish steak and caper relish.

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The Resurrection of Vermouth 
Ross da Travaj (Bèrto)
Aperitiv dla Tradission (Bèrto)
Sale Price $14.99 per Liter
LabetWe never imagined that we would have as many types of vermouth on our shelf as we do today. The old mainstays persist, but many mothballed brands have been resurrected. Apparently all those art deco posters that hang in Italian cafés display what were once real brands! An innovative chef and a classic distiller are responsible for the Bèrto Vermouths from Piedmont. Their goal was to create an old-style Piedmontese vermouth that could stand on its own as an aperitif. These are both on the sweet side, but have a lovely complexity of herbs and spices. The golden-hued Aperitiv is made with a base of Trebbiano and Moscato infused with as many as 16 different herbs and spices. LabetWe detect a fair amount of bitter orange, cardamom, and angelica, but there is much more going on. Based on the floral Freisa grape, the Ross, while sweet, has a fine line of bitterness similar to a Barolo Chinato. Our guess is that gentian, clove, and rhubarb are primary components. The producer suggests serving these on the rocks with an orange peel, but we’re certain they can be used creatively in cocktails as well. 

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L’Effet
2016 Cotes Catalanes Blanc (L’Effet Papillon)
Sale Price $11.99 – $122.30 case of twelve
Seghesio Barbera d’Alba This terrific dry white hails from Roussillon in Catalan France. It is a blend of the sturdy Grenache Blanc and lively Macabeu. Its peach and apricot fruit combined with its rich body and spicy finish make it perfect for a roast chicken served on a bed of peppery watercress.

Gavi
2016 Gavi ‘Masera’ (Stefano Massone)
Sale Price $9.99 – $101.90 case of twelve
Terre Vineate Palazzone Orvieto ClassicoWe fear that wines like this Gavi will eventually disappear in the US market. While we are happy to sell this white for its absurdly low price, we wonder how long small family growers like the Massones can continue. That said, please enjoy the herbal, crisp, and dry 2016. It will be a fantastic match with an asparagus risotto..


The First Sale of the Year Begins
Friday February 23rd and runs through Monday March 4th.
Details: 10% off six bottles; 20% off twelve bottles. Wines of the Month (back page), fortified wines (Port, Sherry, Vermouth, etc.) and sparkling wines may be included for a 10% discount. Blue tagged (NET) wines and jug wines (1.5L and 3L) are excluded.

Specialty Foods

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Cricket Creek Farm Sophelise $15.99 per lb.  (Regular Price $17.99)
Cricket Creek Farm Sophelise cheeseOne of the newest cheeses from Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, MA, Sophelise is a product of their commitment to creating high quality cheeses that uniquely reflect the rich environment of their Berkshire farmland. A gooey washed rind cheese, its unique pungency is the result of being washed with bourbon from nearby Berkshire Mountain Distillers. It is simultaneously yeasty, earthy, sweet, meaty, and creamy, making Sophelise a cheese that invites contemplation and conversation.

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Spring Brook Farm Ashbrook $15.99 per lb. 
(Regular Price $16.99)

Spring Brook Farm Ashbrook cheeseSpring Brook Farm in Reading, Vermont has a small line of cheeses made using raw Jersey cow’s milk from their own herd and from nearby dairy farms. Ashbrook is inspired by the French Morbier, down to the line of vegetable ash that runs through the center of the cheese. A semi-firm washed rind cheese aged 3-4 months, it is an excellent fusion of earthy sweetness and mild funk. Though absolutely worth buying on its own (delicious) merits, all sales support the farm’s admirable ‘Farms for City Kids’ foundation, a program that gives young students from nearby cities a hands-on education while encouraging an appreciation for agriculture, science, and sustainability.

Jasper Hill Farm Little Hosmer $6.99 each 
(Regular Price $7.99)

Jasper Hill Farm Little Hosmer cheeseLittle Hosmer is a new cheese from another favorite New England producer, Jasper Hill Creamery in Greensboro Bend, Vermont. Though very approachable, this brie-style cheese is not boring. As with any good bloomy rind cheese, the earthiness and complex vegetal flavors of the rind are balanced by the rich creaminess of the paste. Sold in mini 4 oz wheels, this makes a perfect snack for two (or one!)

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Blue Ledge Farm Riley’s 2x4
$20.99 per lb.(Regular Price $21.99)

Lue LedteBlue Ledge farm is a family-owned goat dairy in the Southern Champlain Valley of Vermont. They began making cheese in 2002, and have been committed to the health and happiness of their animals and the sustainability of their farming practices. Riley’s 2x4, a mixed raw cow and goat’s milk cheese aged over 4 months, has a smooth texture that becomes slightly crumbly as the cheese ages. The earthy flavor is delicate and only mildly tangy, making this a versatile cheese for pairing with any lighter wine, beer, or cider.


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Wines of the Month —February 15, 2018 through March 14, 2018

Castaño Yecla

2014 Minervois (Le Bio Balthazar)
Sale Price $7.99 – $86.29 case of twelve
This Minervois is one of the finest values in Southern French reds. Made from organically grown Syrah and Grenache grapes, this ample, rich, and dry red is perfect for flank steak fajitas.

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Vignerons de Buxy Coteaux Bourguignons2016 Rueda (Naia)
Sale Price $9.99 – $107.89 case of twelve
Rueda is the home of the Verdejo grape variety. Naia’s 2016 is a full flavored, crisp, dry white that is an excellent match with broiled haddock and sautéed spinach.


Le Paradou Grenache2016 Nero d’Avola (Cusumano)
Sale Price $8.99 – $97.09 case of twelve
Cusumano’s Nero d’Avola returns to fine form in the 2016 vintage. This hearty Sicilian red is a great match with pasta and a spicy eggplant sauce.

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2017 Malbec (Portillo)
Sale Price $8.99 – $97.09 case of twelve
In the 2017 vintage Portillo has produced a fresh, plummy, and peppery Malbec that will be an ideal foil for burgers and lasagna.