Grifalco della Lucania: Owned by the Piccin Family, Grifalco is an excellent producer of Aglianico del Vulture. Originally wine producers in Tuscany, Fabrizio Piccin and Cecilia Naldoni decided Southern Italy, Basilicata in particular, was more promising. The Lucania vineyards consist of great soils to grow Aglianico. The soils are rich in volcanic minerals and the 18 hectare estate is divided into 4 vineyards with vines varying in age from 15 to 40 years in age. Fabrizio Piccin has done an excellent job of taming the tannins without making the wines glossy or “International.” Vulture is indisputably one of the best appellations in southern Italy. “We decided to come to the South, in a land that I had known and loved, having realized that in Tuscany wine is no longer made as we know, we do not share the direction [they] took. We have a way to see things completely different. Before I decide to give up our share of the company Salcheto, in Montepulciano, I enjoyed doing a little ‘training’ with the Aglianico of Vulture. I have not arrived here totally unprepared. I had done a bit of vinification and aging tests, to see how it differs from sangiovese, and I found that in some respects they are not so different but for others rather sharp. This land and these vineyards we already knew, I went without fail.”
About: Aglianico is the best known ‘big red’ grape in southern Italy, and there are two places where it grows particularly well, Taurasi in Campania and Monte Vulture in Basilicata. The areas are less than two hours apart, both are volcanic in geology, and both produce magnificent red wines, amongst the most age-worthy in Italy (or anywhere else, for that matter). Grifalco “Gricos” Aglianico is harvested from the 4 vineyards on the estate (100% cultivated with certified organic farming), aged in large Slavonian barrels for 12 months, and has a production of around 2500 cases annually.
Varietal: 100% Aglianico from 15year old vines
Tasting Notes: Deep garnet red in color, the nose recalls crushed red fruits, myrtle, cocoa bean with distinctive balance. A fresh start in the mouth with soft and silky texture, featuring powerful tannins giving it a wide margin for aging.
Food Pairings: Drink with beef, lamb, substantial pasta dishes, wild game dishes, and aged cheeses.
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: Rich Deep and Loaded with Flavors of Pork tones and Tobacco!! Best Served with Grilled Lamb Chops Or Steaks
Fine Wine Source Wine Club (more…)
Imported Wine: 2013 Domaine des Terres Dorees L’Ancien Beaujolais Vielles Vignes
Domaine de Terres Dorees: Jean-Paul Brun makes his home in Charnay, a village in the Southern Beaujolais just north of Lyons, in a beautiful area known as the “Region of the Golden Stones.” He is the owner and winemaker at this 40-acre family estate and has attracted the attention of French and American press for the fruity and delicate wines he produces. Jean-Paul made his first wines in 1977 and produces almost 400,000 bottles annually with over 50% sold to importers. His view is that Beaujolais drinks best at lower alcohol levels and makes his “old-style” with indigenous yeast and minimal sugars added. Brun is also one of the few producers in the region to plant Pinot Noir back in 1989 and releases wines under the Bourgogne Appellation; since, Beaujolais is legally within Burgundy. Robert Parker has rated Brun a 4-Star producer, with the only other Beaujolais producer’s obtaining that rating being in the Crus.
About: At a time when carbonic maceration was becoming popular in Beaujolais, Jean-Paul Brun preferred to adopt the techniques of his Northern Burgundian neighbors and de-stem his grapes. The grapes were hand-harvested late (producing a higher natural sugar level), placed in small crates, and then de-stemmed before maceration on skins for a short time. Fermentation is done using only indigenous yeast and minimal, if any, chaptalization (adding sugars). Only a small amount of CO2 is used at bottling to keep the wine fresh and “headache-free” and filtration is also minimal so the wine keeps its original fruit and aroma. The emphasis is not on weight, but on fruit; Beaujolais as it once was and as it should be.
Varietal: 100% Gamay from 40-50 year-old vines
Tasting Notes: A crisp blueberry and dark cherry bouquet with just a hint of fresh fig. Supple on the entry, it displays great acidity and body.
Food Pairings: Perfect pairing with French Charcuterie, Pates, Brie, Camembert, and with Roast Chicken, Turkey, or Duck. Vegetarian dishes of Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato, or Chinese also.
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: Burgundian in style with flavors of dried cherries and blueberries. Best with fish or chicken and other white meats…Cheers!
Domestic Wine: 2013 Cass Vineyard & Winery-Flying Nymph Blanc, White Rhone Blend
Cass Family Vineyard & Winery: Cass Vineyard & Winery is located in the rolling oak-studded hills between Paso Robles and Creston on California’s beautiful Central Coast. This area that the vineyard calls home offers quiet serenity for the visitor and an ideal growing environment for wine grapes. Sited due east of the “Templeton Gap,” the vineyards receive the evening’s cooling breezes that the west side of Paso Robles is noted for. They also rest far enough from the coast to generate the heat needed to optimally ripen the Rhone varieties grown on their 160 acre estate vineyard. 100% of the wines crafted at Cass Winery are estate grown. Cass Vineyard was planted in 2000, and wine production began in 2005. Founders Steve Cass and Ted Plemons live on the property. In 2010 Michigan natives Doug and Beverly Cass became partners, handling the distribution in the Midwest, East, and Southern states, and have been guests at The Fine Wine Source on several occasions. Doug has been in consumer sales over thirty years and is also co-founder of the Michigan based business Kahootz Toys, whose brands include Play Doh, Lite Brite, and Spiro Graph (that turns 50 this year).
About: White Rhone blends consist of two or more white grapes originally from its namesake region. They mainly include Viognier, Rousanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc. Blends outside of the Rhone are mostly found in California and Australia and can include all four primary varieties together. Aiming to preserve the intense fruit and aromatics of these varieties, this blend was fermented and aged in 100% stainless steel. Hand-picked in the early morning, the cold grapes were pressed within moments after coming off the vine. Following juice settling, a long, cold fermentation commenced using a unique South African yeast strain. Malolactic fermentation was inhibited to preserve acidity, keeping it crisp and fresh.
Varietals: 65% Rousanne & 35%Marsanne
Tasting Notes: Aromas of lemon zest, kumquat, lemongrass, and ruby red grapefruit. Although it displays some restraint at first, it soon opens up to notes of honeydew melon, white rose and fresh herbs. The palate is light on its feet, with lean, zippy acid holding together a core of flavors that span honey mandarin, lemon curd, and green apple. The finish stays tight and clean, with a kiss of agave nectar and wet stone.
Food Pairings: Squash, smoked fish, Asian cuisine, curry dishes, roast duck, and lobster.
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: A truly delightful wine! A perfect patio sipper, that is great with Antipasti and other light dishes.
Imported Wine: 2013 Domaine Forca Real, Mas de la Garrigue
Domaine Força Réal: The origin of the Domaine dates back to 1258 under the reign of the king of Aragon and Majorque with the signing of the military treaty of Corbeil, which stipulated the border between France and Catalonia. Força Réal, translated “Royal Castle,” lost its strategic significance a few years later and was ultimately destroyed in 1693. Returned to nature, the property is now attuned to the growing cycles of vines and olive trees. In 1989 Jean-Paul Henriquès bought the property near the village of Millas with an unbeatable view (from the plain of Perpignan, with the sea stretching to the horizon to the peak of Canigou) and replanted a majority of the property with Syrah & Mourvedre. Among the existing vines he retained only the Malvoisie, a variety for which he has great affection, as well as the old Grenache & Carignan vines. He optimizes the 40 hectares in production by elaborating three cuvées corresponding to the general soil types; Clay, Limestone, and Schist. In 1998, his son Cyril took up the torch to continue producing great wines of The Côtes du Roussillon-Villages.
About: Domaine Força Réal Mas de la Garrigue comes from manually harvested grapes grown in clay and limestone soils at an altitude of 100 meters. They are placed in small crates to avoid destruction and oxidation of berries and then sorted both before and after destemming. Traditional vinification methods lead into extended cold maceration where the temperature is kept below 62 degrees. Maturation occurs in steel tanks for eight months with malolactic fermentation.
Varietal: 60% Old Vine Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Old Vine Carignan
Tasting Notes: Aromas of sage, marjoram, and white pepper with red berry fruits. Blackberry and melted chocolate are underlined by silky tannins with a touch of sea salt and a puff of tobacco smoke.
Food Pairings: Think pork, smoked pork with rosemary potatoes, fennel sausage, BBQ meats, or chili con carne or Tuscan style bean dishes.
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: Herbaceous & rustic, yet rich and succulent; Bravo to the winemaker! Best served with chicken or roasted pork.
Domestic Wine: 2012 Hedges Family Estate C.M.S., Columbia Valley, Washington
Hedges Family Estate: The history of Hedges Family Estate begins in June of 1976, with the marriage of Tom Hedges & Anne-Marie Liégeois in a 12th century church in Champagne, France. The convergence of separate cultural upbringings provides a strong backdrop for creating a modern day, but traditionally inspired wine estate. In 1986, Tom & Anne-Marie created an export company, American Wine Trade, leading to a negociant-inspired wine called “Hedges Cellars.” They quickly learned that the success of this ancient trade would be based on the site of its vineyards; a developing wine region called Red Mountain. At this location, American Wine Trade transformed itself from negociant & wine trader to the classic model of a wine estate. The second generation of the Hedges Family Estate belongs to Tom & Anne-Marie’s children, Christophe & Sarah. Each has a special set of skills for understanding the terroir. Sarah is the head winemaker of the estate, doing her best to express the terroir with minimal intervention, while Christophe is working on the completion of the estate using modern biodynamic arts. Tom, Anne-Marie, Christophe, Sarah, & the entire Hedges company believe place of origin is the keystone of authenticity. Their goal is to treat the wines with reverence & let the Red Mountain terroir speak for itself.
About: 2012 was another excellent & more normal vintage in Washington State. The “fading” La Nina current brought warmer & even spring and summer temperatures & an extended warm, dry autumn with perfect 80-85 degree afternoon highs and 40-50 degree lows without rain. The result was great set that yielded ripe, disease free fruit with good natural acidity. The resulting wines reflect the excellent qualities of the fruit and are a pleasure to drink; probably one of the top 5 vintages in Washington State’s history.
Varietals: 50%Cabernet Sauvignon, 44%Merlot, 6% Syrah (60%French Oak & 40% American Oak).
Tasting Notes: Dark, deep ruby color leads into a nose of black cherry, blackberry, plum fruit & sweet toasted oak, dried herbs, & vanilla with hints of cocoa powder. Good body on the palate with lively acidity, dark berry fruits, cocoa, sweetness, & a well integrated tannic structure linger on the finish.
Food Pairings: The balance of acid & tannin make this a great wine for roasted red meats, steaks, venison, or lamb. Use C.M.S. to sauté some onions & mushrooms to accompany a juicy ribeye!
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: Rich & flavorful, loaded with black & red fruits and a long, lingering finish. Best served with any red meats.
Imported Wine: San Felice Toscana Contrada di San Felice
Agricola San Felice: San Felice takes its name from a church on the property that is found in records dating back as far as 714 and was named for a local saint. The Grisaldi Del Taja Family began producing wine here and owned the land for several centuries; they were among the founding members of the Chianti Classico Consortium. The now late Enzo Morganti acquired the estate in the late 1960’s and expanded its reach in 1984 by purchasing the critically acclaimed Campogiovanni Vineyard in Montalcino, where they still produce excellent Brunello.
About: Enzo Morganti, like the great Sergio Manetti of Montevertine, was a pure Sangiovesist and was responsible for much of the Sangiovese we drink today. After spending two decades experimenting with clones of Sangiovese at Tenuta di Lilliano, this Tuscan wine pioneer took control of the famous Agricola San Felice Chianti Classico estate in 1967 and helped turn it into a national treasure that now includes a 750-hectare resort village, 180 hectares of vineyards, and a site dedicated to experimental viticulture and genetic improvement of Sangiovese. The perfection of Sangiovese continues here today in the capable hands of Leonardo Bellaccini, who keeps the Morganti spirit burning. The San Felice vineyards lie in the gently rolling hills of the Castelnuovo Berardenga area of Chianti Classico, where the vines benefit from two distinct soils: calcareous clay, which produces long-aging reds with excellent structure, and a combination of sand and lime that gives younger wines, both red and white. The Contrada di San Felice Toscana Rosso is a delicious blend of 50% Merlot, 40% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Its vinification and ageing process includes nine days fermentation on the skins followed by malolactic fermentation and a brief maturation in stainless steel vats.
Varietal: 50% Merlot, 40% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Food Pairings: Veal Osso Bucco, Veal Parmigiana, Lamb Shank, Stone Baked Pizza, Roasted Mushrooms, or an after dinner Crème Brule.
Tasting Notes: This is a gorgeous, modern take on a Tuscan wine with a ruby red color, aromas of ripe cherries and violets, structured with plush tannins and balanced acidity.
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: Rich, loaded with flavor, and a great mouthfeel; producing a long lingering finish. Serve with tomato sauced dishes, pork, or lamb.
Domestic Wine: 2013 Cartlidge & Browne, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California
Cartlidge & Browne: Sometime in the late 1970’s Tony Cartlidge sat in the cab of a cement mixer on a nuclear plant construction site reading about great California winemakers; shortly thereafter, he got into his 1960 Nash Rambler and headed to Napa. He checked into a Motel 6 and used the Yellow Pages hanging from a payphone in the lobby to cold call wineries looking for employment. After meeting Glen Browne, a man of great business sense with some money to invest, the pair set out to build a wine company from scratch. They decided that there was no need to buy an estate, and there was not enough money, so in 1980 they settled into an undistinguished garage in Napa Valley. While Glen Browne handled the business end, Tony Cartlidge scoured the appellations of the North Coast in his ’60 Rambler. From Napa to Sonoma to Mendocino and to Lake he searched for grapes farmed with care and concern for the land. He brought the harvest of his labors back to the garage and began to make wine that quickly garnered rave reviews from critics and wine lovers alike.
About: The garage may be gone, but Cartlidge & Browne have continued the spirit and vision that began their original garage winery; wine made to express the character of the grapes and a North Coast sense of place. The northernmost counties in California’s wine country are Mendocino and Lake; Mendocino has many micro-climates and a high amount of organic vintners & vines, where Lake is smaller and less climatically diverse, but they both produce complex and sumptuous red grape varietals. This 2013 offering is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Arvine (an indigenous Swiss varietal typically used in white wines). This wine is ready to drink now, but should open up after a few years of cellaring.
Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Arvine
Food Pairings: Enjoy this wine with a beef roast or steak fajitas, aged cheddar, or a nice juicy home cooked steak or bacon cheeseburger. Try with dark chocolate covered berries…yum!
Tasting Notes: Cardinal red in color, it starts out with delicious red fruits on the nose that open into ripe blackberry, watermelon, candied plums, & crème brulee. Soft yet fine tannins have notes of coffee, rose petals, and wet slate.
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: A great cabernet with great depth on the palate; yet, very harmonious. Great pairing with virtually all meals…especially from the grill!
Poppy, located in Monterey Wine Country, was founded by the Silva Family, who in 2003 endeavored to channel their passions into a carefully crafted wine with a focus on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Poppy wines are produced from vineyards located in the Santa Lucia Highlands, Arroyo Seco, Monterey and Paso Robles Appellations nestled along California’s Central Coast.
By controlling grapes sourcing and operating a state-of-the-art facility, Poppy combines age-old winemaking traditions with new world techniques that make the California wine industry one of the best.
When deciding on a name, the Silva’s wanted something that spoke to the great state of California where their family had settled so many years ago. One day, while looking at wild poppies growing amongst the vines, the name was born. Celebrating the state of California and its golden blooming flowers, Poppy is a proud symbol for their great state and this great wine.
Their five vineyards are located in the Santa Lucia Highlands and Arroyo Seco appellations within the world-class Monterey Wine Country, which is home to 175 vineyards and nine American Viticulture Areas (AVAs). Listed below are the Poppy Vineyards used in production.
Poppy Hillside Vineyard-Santa Lucia Highlands
Vineyard established in 1972, 220 acres of Old Estate Select Poppy Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Silva Family Vineyard-Arroyo Seco
Vineyard established in 1997, 50 acres of Pinot Noir
Beeswax Vineyard-Arroyo Seco
Vineyard established in 2000, 24 acres of organically farmed Pinot Noir, Greanche Blanc, Roussanne and Picpoul Blanc
Bella Vita Vineyard- Arroyo Seco
Vineyard established in 2006, 254 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Evelina Marie Estate Vineyard-Santa Lucia Highlands
Vineyard established in 2012, 10 acres of Pinot Noir.
The soil, weather and farming are the three major components that make Poppy wines exceptional. The soil at their vineyards is composed of an accumulation of sediment from the Salinas River, which creates a unique variability that is the foundation of the complexity in our wines year after year.
The Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia Highlands appellations share similar weather patterns that allow us to grow amazing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Nighttime temperatures tend to stay between 50 and 55 degrees, while daytime temperatures range from 70 to 80 degrees. This moderate climate, combined with the coastal fog, contributes to the low pH, bright acidity and red fruit flavors in the county’s Pinot Noirs.
Varietal(s): 100% Chardonnay
Alcohol: 12.5% by volume
Tasting Notes: “Youthful notes of lemon and honeysuckle are layered over ripe melon, nutmeg, and clove. The perception of sweetness is derived from fruit ripeness, aging on regularly stirred yeast lees in the presence of aged French oak.”
Food Pairing: Pair this great poppy Chardonnay with almost anything under the sun! It is great this year with fresh food from the garden, lighter meats, and of course, all seafood. Poppy is refreshing and will leave you wanting another glass!
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Rich layers of butter and tropical fruit with a long lingering finish. Great to serve with antipasti or as a summertime sipper!”-JL
Eguren Ugarte, is an international family business. The firm began in the world of wine in 1870. With more than 130 hectares of their own vineyards, they unite tradition and modernity. At Eguren Ugarte, they make wine with the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja. Accredited in 1926, they obtained the highest category, “Calificada” in 1991.
About: The Ugarte family’s winegrowing history dates to 1870, when Don Amancio Ugarte started producing wines in San Vicente de la Sonsierra. His skill and knowledge have been handed down from generation to generation and the wines have grown in quality and fame. Heredad Ugarte has traditionally selected and harvested 120 hectares of vineyards, in the best spots of Rioja Alavesa – Laguardia and Labastida. The combination of location, soil and grape variety, now managed by two young female winemakers, is yielding wines appreciated world-wide for their balanced color and acidity and flavor.
Rioja: Rioja [ˈrjoxa] is a wine region, with Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.Ca. Qualified designation of origin) named after La Rioja, in Spain. Rioja is made from grapes grown not only in the Autonomous Community of La Rioja, but also in parts of Navarre and the Basque province of Álava. Rioja is further subdivided into three zones: Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa. Many wines have traditionally blended fruit from all three regions though there is a slow growth in single-zone wines.
Varietal(s): 92% Tempranillo and 8% Garnacha
Alcohol: 13.5% by volume
Tasting Notes: Aged 15 months in the barrel and 6 months in the bottle. This wine has clean aromas with ripe fruit and hints of toast. Smooth and soft tannins make this an easy drinker with a beautiful lingering finish and aromatic aftertaste.
Food Pairings: This bottle of Rioja is a food lover’s dream. The wine is a perfect match for Spanish or Latin inspired food, such as paella, grilled sausage/chorizo, charcuterie, and so on. The Rioja will pair with rich food and amplify the flavor. Enjoy!
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “A wine filled with layers of concentration and depth. Ugarte is a wine that is full throttle! With flavors of ripe fruits, cassis, cedar and tobacco. Great to serve with barbeque or any other favorite on the grill!”-JL