March Domestic Wine: 2011 Stack House Merlot, Sonoma County, California

We recently used another fabulous Stack House wine for wine club a few months back. And when we tasted this, we decided we had to use the same producer again! We hope you enjoy this incredible red. Read on to learn more!

The idea for creating the Stack House label came from Anna and Mario Monticelli’s weekly poker parties with their friends. As it typically happens in Napa Valley, all the players were somehow involved in the wine industry so it became Texas Hold Em poker and wine tasting.

This was the inspiration for creating a Stack House wine, a fun beverage to be enjoyed amongst friends. We have a full house of thirsty players and the deck is stacked so you always win at our house.

Vineyards: The vineyards used for this Stack House blend are found throughout Sonoma County. Most of the fruit is found in Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Mountain and Alexander Valley.

Varietals: 88% Merlot, 4% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Syrah

100% French Oak (40% new) and aged for 21 months

Alcohol: 14.3% by volume

Tasting Notes: The 2011 Stack House Sonoma County Merlot is laced with raspberry, cherry and blackberry aromas. This elegant and attractive wine shows great balance and finesse on the palate. Layers of fruit, oak and caramel linger on the finish. 720 cases produced.
Food Pairings: Pair with blue cheese and parma ham flat bread, toasted nuts and mini duck burgers! Enjoy!

September Imported Wine: 2011 Casa Brindisi Riserva, Molise, ITALY

Located in the most obscure Italian region of all, Molise, Casa Contini is from the Eastern coast of Central Italy, in a place so remote, that in a country the size of California, only 1 in 100 Italians have been there. Casa Contini is a spectacular vineyard site (with a small house) owned for three generations by Botter family. Luca is in the wine bottling business, and is one of the most successful in the country, but he also owns this quirky patch of land that produces amazing, varietally classic fruit. Moreover, he ages the wines in large oak barrels for several years, gently and patiently imparting soft tannic structure into the wines.

The result? They are Riservas that are immensely pleasing, ready to drink immediately, and a remarkable value. Thus, we found them too good to pass up. The wines do not meet the criteria for Small Vineyards, because the Botter family business is a true corporation, and the vineyard site is not in the smallest 10% in the region. So, with great enthusiasm, Small Vineyards imports the wines under their Largo brand. The quality is stupendous, and sometimes exceptions such as these, best prove the rule.

Pronunciation: Casa Contini (ka-ZAH cone-TEE-nee)

Varietals: 80% Negroamaro, 10% Malvasia Nera di Brindisi, 10 % Sangiovese

Alcohol: 12.5% by volume

More about the wine: This wine has a very long tradition in Italy. The town of Brindisi was the Roman gateway port to the East, and thus provided its own wine to Rome along with salt and olive oil imported from other Mediterranean provinces of the Roman Empire.

The vineyards are planted at short distance from the most southern part of the Adriatic Sea, and they benefit from the climate influence of the sea. With cooling breezes during summer evenings and nights, warm temperatures are reduced in the grapes and the acidity increases, making a great wine!

Food Pairings: Pair this fun wine with almost anything! Enjoy with Italian cuisine, such as sausage, pizza and pasta. A great match with grilled meats and savory cheeses as well.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “This wine is savory and really good! A very decadent blend of indigenous Italian varietals from a remote area. It is definitely a pizza or pasta night wine. You may need a second bottle…mark my words!”-JL

August Domestic Wine: 2011 Desert Wind Merlot, Wahluke Slope, WASHINGTON

Desert Wind Winery and its History: “From the very first harvest in 1994, the Fries family marveled at the intensely concentrated fruit produced by their Desert Wind Vineyard–fruit perfect for crafting wines with immense structure and aging potential. In 2001, the family introduced Desert Wind wines in order to showcase this exceptional vineyard through its own wine brand. The original lineup consisted of just four offerings–an elegant Semillon and three refined reds, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and their flagship red blend known as Ruah, each with 3-5 years of barrel aging.”

In 2004, the family built a crush pad and wine production facility in Prosser, Washington, allowing them to process the fruit and age wines in close proximity to their vineyard sites. Three years later, they opened Desert Wind Winery, an immense Santa Fe-inspired destination housing a tasting room, restaurant and luxury overnight accommodations.

Desert Wind Vineyard: The Fries family began planting the Desert Wind Vineyard site in 1993. Today, the vineyard totals 423 planted acres, with large blocks of Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. The vineyard also contains smaller plantings of Viognier, Semillon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Mourvedre and Carmenere. The vineyard is planted using 9 x 6 vine spacing with 806 plants per acre.

Desert Wind Vineyard lies on the Wahluke Slope and ranges in elevation from approximately 800 – 1,000 feet. Its rocky soil is covered by shallow topsoil; the unique soil makeup places extra stress on the vines, forcing them to funnel energy into fruit production instead of excessive vegetation. The fruit from this vineyard is highly pigmented with firm tannins that lend structure to the resulting wines.

Several Northwest wineries purchase fruit from Desert Wind Vineyard for their own winemaking; they often refer to this site as “Fries Vineyard” on their labels.

Vineyard Notes: The Wahluke Slope is located in Eastern Washington’s Columbia Valley. The site is considered  Zone 3, the hottest in the region. Our 480-acre vineyard is a southern facing block with a two percent slope and shallow, rocky soil. The vines are irrigated with an underground drip system; double catch wires are used to increase air circulation during the growing season. Leaf pulling and cluster thinning are important steps in aiding the ripening of the grapes.

Varietals: 98% Merlot and 2% Other Reds

Alcohol: 14.5% by volume

Food Pairings: Often you’ll get a lot of herbal, earthy and mushrooms from Merlot, which makes this wine a perfect match for herbal preparations of meat (such as marinades or herbal sauces). Merlot can handle the bitter flavors of fennel, eggplant, broccoli, raw onions, garlic, and even radicchio, just as long as the Merlot is not heavily oaked or sweet.  Try a cool pairing and see how you like it!

Tasting Notes: Intense, late summer fruit flavors are a hallmark of the Desert Wind Merlot. The wine is full-bodied and rich with ripe flavors of plum, marionberry, with a hint of chocolate. Winemaker Mark Chargin uses oak and patience to bind these qualities into a well-integrated and supple wine. Our Merlot pairs well with full-flavored foods including hearty pastas, grilled meats and game.

88 points – Wine Advocate, Issue #213 (June 2014)
“The 2011 Merlot is a very good effort that’s also a solid value. Giving up ripe black fruits, mulled spices, chocolate and hints of herbs, it hits the palate with a medium-bodied, rounded, supple and deliciously texture profile that’s perfect for drinking over the coming couple of years.”

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Rich, bold layers of complexity . Full throttle with plenty of punch. A wine that is very strong and bold, but has an elegance. Perfect with grilled meats, especially lamb, or anything on the barbeque. Cheers!”-JL

March Domestic Wine: 2011 Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, CALIFORNIA

Sebastiani’s first century in Sonoma winemaking began when Samuele (pictured right) emigrated from the Tuscany region of Italy in 1895 and started Sebastiani nine years later. A stonemason by trade, he quarry-mined the Sonoma hills for cobblestones that were used to build the streets of San Francisco. He worked long hours and saved carefully to buy land in Sonoma County, from which he would make wine for the Sonoma community and San Francisco’s restaurants.

About Mark Lyon, Winemaker at Sebastiani: Mark Lyon’s career in winemaking spans over 30 years of distinction and achievement. Mark graduated with a B.S. in Fermentation Science from the University of California at Davis in 1978 and was hired by Sebastiani Vineyards one year later. In 1985, he was put in charge of harvest at the winery and was instrumental in making the inaugural vintage of Sebastiani’s famed Cherryblock Cabernet Sauvignon. He has since focused exclusively on producing the best quality wines sourced throughout Sonoma County.

In 1980, Mark and his father bought a 122 acre vineyard in Alexander Valley. His hands-on management of the vineyard has allowed him to develop a tremendous knowledge of winegrowing, particularly in Bordeaux varietals. In 2005, Mark was awarded the “Distinguished Alumni Award” by U.C. Davis for his community service and his development of joint research projects with the University. A biannual recognition, the award has been given to such prominent industry leaders as Robert Mondavi and Justin Meyers. Mark has also been named “Winemaker of the Year” by Restaurant Wine Magazine and was included in “Winemakers to Watch” by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Varietals: 81.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10.7% Merlot, 4.5% Syrah and 3.1% Mixed Reds

Alcohol: 13.75% by volume

Tasting Notes: The 2011 Sonoma County Cabernet is dark garnet in color with lovely aromatics that range from dried herbs, tea and black cherry to coconut, vanilla and cocoa powder. The flavors are typical of cooler climate Cabernets including black currants, red licorice, earl grey tea and toasty oak. This medium-bodied wine closes with well -rounded tannins and a long lasting finish.

Food Pairings: This wine pairs well with almost anything. Think about bolder flavors and richer foods. Try short ribs, grilled steak, and roasted veal. Enjoy!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “A very rich, dark and concentrated Red wine. Loaded with fruit and a firm dense structure. 2011 was a very tough vintage in California, particularly in Napa and Sonoma, and this wine truly overachieves. Sebastiani screams Cabernet Sauvignon! A big glass of Cab for the money. I picture drinking this wine with a great steak. I hope you enjoy as much as I do! Cheers!”-JL

2011 Domaine Leflaive Offering

2011 Domaine Leflaive Offering

Founded in 1717, Domaine Leflaive has long been one of the most highly regarded white wine producers in Burgundy. During its respectable history, the domaine has acquired parcels in four of the five Montrachet grand crus and four of the best premier crus. Under the stewardship of Anne-Claude Leflaive, the domaine converted entirely to biodynamic farming practices in the 1990s.Distinguishing Domaine Leflaive beyond the impeccable pedigree of its vineyard sites and biodynamic practices, are the skill and care of its winemaking. The combination of these efforts has produced remarkable results, further elevating the standard for one of the world’s greatest wines.

Pure Burgundian Offerings

The Leflaive family can trace its roots in Burgundy back more than 400 years, when Marc Le Flayve lived in Cissey, not far from Beaune. Nearly two centuries later, his descendent, Claude Leflaive took up residence in Puligny and married a girl from the village in 1717. After establishing the family’s domaine, Claude became one of the first vignerons on record in Puligny.

The 20th-Century Vigneron

Over the next 200 years, the family’s land was divided between each new generation due to French inheritance laws. Among those to receive a parcel was Joseph Leflaive, who inherited the family domaine and a mere 2 hectares (5 acres) of vines in 1905. He was a brilliant student and, at the age of 20 became a maritime engineer, later taking part in the construction of the first French submarine. Despite his maritime career, Joseph retained strong ties to his family domaine and over the years gradually built up its vineyard holdings.

In the aftermath of the phylloxera and oïdium epidemics of the late 19th century, numerous vineyard owners began selling their land. This was a golden opportunity for Joseph, who acquired parcels in exceptional climats: Le Chevalier, Le Bâtard, Les Bienvenues, Les Pucelles and Le Clavoillon. By 1926, he had increased the domaine’s holdings to 20 hectares (50 acres). He then returned to Puligny to oversee the estate. Working with his respected friend and steward, François Virot, Joseph systematically replanted his land with Chardonnay.

The Next Generation

Described by Clive Coates in his 1997 book, “Côte d’Or,” Vincent was a “doyen of Puligny and a man of great charm, wit, hospitality and winemaking genius.” He earned this praise when he and his brother Joseph (Jo) took over the family domaine after their father’s death in 1953. It was Vincent who acquired a tiny parcel of Le Montrachet in 1991, which was only large enough to fill a single 500-liter (132-gallon) cask. The domaine now has parcels in four of the five Montrachet grand crus and four of the best premier crus, including a large portion of Clavoillon, for a total of 23 hectares (57 acres).

Innovator and Meticulous Conservator

In 1990, Vincent’s daughter, Anne-Claude Leflaive, and Jo’s son, Olivier, became co-directors of the domaine. Olivier has since concentrated on his négociant business, and, after her father’s death in 1993, Anne-Claude has assumed the sole responsibilities of the domaine. The ascendancy of a new generation at Domaine Leflaive brought a spirit of re-evaluation and experimentation, particularly in regard to vineyard management.

Anne-Claude immediately took a passionate interest in the long-term health of the vineyards, and to that end began biodynamic treatment of 1 hectare (2.5 acres) of vineyards in 1990. By 1997, Domaine Leflaive was farmed entirely according to biodynamic principles.

Anne-Claude’s passion and her dedication are evident in every aspect of the domaine, from her respect for the soil to her commitment to quality throughout the winemaking process. She has thoroughly maintained her family’s pioneering spirit while demonstrating great prescience in her full adoption of biodynamic viticulture. Her progressive nature has firmly cemented Domaine Leflaive as a benchmark for all Burgundy producers.

The 2011 Vintage: Puligny-Montrachet

The 2010-2011 winter was marked by snow at the end of November and during December 2010, followed by dry and not particularly cold weather in January and February. In March, after some rainfall at the beginning of the month, temperatures rose and budburst was noted at month’s end.

The April sun sent temperatures up, while the vines developed quickly in the dry atmosphere. A lovely month of May enabled flowering under the most favorable auspices, although somewhat prematurely (May 13-16). June was magnificent, preserving the vintage’s sunny, precocious nature.

July was marked by storms, as well as temperatures that were chilly for the season. From the beginning of August, however, the sun was back, along with several very hot days, resulting in rapid ripening.

The harvest ran from August 25-31, the earliest ever seen at Domaine Leflaive.

Once the wines hummed their way through alcoholic fermentation, malolactic fermentation kept them fizzing throughout the winter. The wines have an acid/mineral structure and framework showing finesse and elegance. They are the very definition of the qualities inherent in each of our magnificent parcels.

The 2011 vintage can be appreciated at the earliest as follows:
Bourgogne Blanc beginning in 2013
Puligny-Montrachet beginning in 2014
Premiers Crus beginning in 2015
Grand Crus beginning in 2017
Montrachet beginning in 2019

The 2011 Vintage: Mâcon-Verzé

At the end November and during December 2010, there was some snow in the Mâcon. Following this, the winter of 2011 (January and February) was a fairly mild and dry one. March was mild, with an early start to vegetation at the end of the month.

Budburst was very steady in April thanks to summery temperatures. May was a lovely month. The vines continued their growth, and the first flowers appeared around May 19. June was lovelier still, as was the first week in July. Beginning on July 7, however, cool and damp weather set in.

In August warm, sunny conditions returned and finished ripening the grape clusters. An early harvest began on Friday, September 2.

To summarize, “early” is the defining word for the 2011 vintage. The wines have a good acid structure balanced by delicious, sugary fruit, the whole underpinned by excellent minerality.

2011 Domaine Leflaive Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru

$549.99 per bottle  $499.99 per bottle by the case (6 bottles or more)

2011 Domaine Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc 

$69.99 per bottle  $59.99 per bottle by the case (6 bottles or more)

2011 Domaine Leflaive Mâcon-Verzé

$49.99 per bottle  $44.99 per bottle by the case (6 bottles or more)

2011 Domaine Leflaive Meursault 1er Cru sous le Dos d’Âne

$179.99 per bottle  $159.99 per bottle by the case (6 bottles or more)

2011 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet  

$129.99 per bottle  $109.99 per bottle by the case (6 bottles or more)

2011 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon  

$169.99 per bottle  $149.99 per bottle by the case (6 bottles or more)

2011 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes

$259.99 per bottle  $229.99 per bottle by the case (6 bottles or more)

2011 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatieres

$239.99 per bottle  $229.99 per bottle by the case (6 bottles or more)

October Imported Wine: 2011 Godelia ‘Viernes’ Mencia Tinto, Bierzo, SPAIN

Godelia is a relatively young project, at least in its present form. Its wines come from a combination of very old mountain vines and maturing vines from the hill-slopes in the centre of the valley. About 30 of the 50 hectares which go into production of Godelia were planted in 1989 by a former owner, who traded under a different brand name. Godelia as such came into being when Vicente Garcia Vasquez, the pharmacist of Cacabelos, purchased these holdings in 2009.

The now 20+ year old vines and some 90 year old bush vines in the mountains were entrusted to Joseph Serra Guyillen, a Catalan winemaker brought in from outside specifically to avoid local complacency and to revise inherited bad viticultural habits. His brief –freshness and elegance. His right hand in winemaking is Silvia Marrao.

History of Bierzo and Wine Styles in the Region: About 10% of plantings are the white varieties Godello and Dona Blanca. Historically, these were blended in with the reds to make Clarete–fruity, light reds with around a quarter white grapes. These were the typical local wines for a long while–not just here in el Bierzo, but in Ribera del Duero and Rioja too. Like much of Galicia, the wine tale of el Bierzo is one of great loss in recent times. Starting with the onset of phylloxera in the late 19th century, which eradicated 2000 years of continuous vine culture and accretion of knowledge, this loss continued during the 20th century due to the twin barbarisms of the post-civil-war dictatorship and twentieth century chemical-industrial agriculture. Agriculture was shifted down into the fertile river valley and only a remnant of hill-slope and mountain holdings were left planted to vine. Planting virtually ceased between 1950 and 1985 and the region’s population hollowed out with people moving into mining, industry and the cities.

Like Alfredo at Pittacum and Ricardo at DJP (and Telmo and Pablo in other regions), Vicente and Joseph are keenly aware that good viticulture and lovely resultant wines requires a significant investment in untying the 20th century and going back before phylloxera… a deliberate exercise in cultural re-discovery and preservation. Currently, this takes the form of getting the nursery out of the vineyards. Godelia’s 20-odd year-old plantings at Castro and Legúas were planted to ‘clones’ –generic material from the nurseries, and favouring high crop over quality. Josep is grafting these over with quality genetic material selected and transplanted from their best old vines. High up on the slate vineyard of Sobrado and the quartz at 900m of San Pedro de Olleros, are authentic local cultivars which give low yields of sweet-tannined fruit from small grapes in open-habit bunches.

The name, Godelia, is Vicente’s invention –intended to allude to a fresh and feminine Bierzo, it is a made up contraction of Godello and Lias (lees).

Varietals: 100% Mencia        

Alcohol: 13.5% by volume

Tasting Notes: Meaty and plush, the fruit is all wild cherry and blackberry, a dark red fruit confiture with a lovely wild sense –wild hedge and crushed velvet spiciness, earth, bramble, anise and choc-tannins. On the palate, cold rock and dry mineral gives a deep sense of earthiness, which informs the granular tannins and carries lots of scrubby, caney, dried hedge and herb border botanicals through a raspberry-licorice fruit line. ‘Viernes’ by the way is Friday in Spanish and Godelia’s intention is thatthis thing says ‘party time’! I hear it…

Food Pairings: This Mencia could pair with lighter red meats, chicken, and shellfish, especially when cooked with wine or served with a tomato sauce.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “A wine that is rich and flavorful. Full throttle in flavor and loaded with fruit…a wine that has a perfect balance and great backbone of acidity, with a long finish. A great wine for this season, I think you will enjoy with or without food. Cheers!”-JL

September Imported Wine: 2011 Luberri 'Orlegi' Tempranillo, Rioja, SPAIN

Owned by Florentino Martinez Monje, Luberri is located in Elciego in the heart of Rioja Alavesa. Florentino farms 35 hectars of old vines located principally between the villages of Elciego and La Guardia.

A farmer at heart, Florentino was the original winemaker at Artadi before establishing his own winery in 1992. Florentino is hands-on at the winery, working on all aspects of production, but his true love is working in the vineyards. All the plots are farmed with minimal treatment of the soils and vines. Vineyard sites are separately fermented and vinified. By keeping yields low Florentino extracts grapes with great concentration and flavor. Yields are around 34 to 45 hectoliters per hectars.

History of Tempranillo and its Relation to Luberri: Tempranillo is a variety of black grape widely grown to make full-bodied red wines in its native Spain. Its name is the diminutive of the Spanish temprano (“early”), a reference to the fact that it ripens several weeks earlier than most Spanish red grapes. Tempranillo has been grown on the Iberian Peninsula since the time of Phoenician settlements. It is the main grape used in Rioja (Luberri), and is often referred to as Spain’s most noble grape.

Grown early in the 20th century to produce jug wines in California, toward the end of the 20th century Tempranillo enjoyed a renaissance there and throughout the world as a fine wine. The grape has been planted in Mexico, New Zealand, South America, USA, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, Uruguay, Turkey, Canada, etc.  The grape is often blended with Grenache and Cariñena (known in Rioja as Mazuelo), Tempranillo is bottled either young or after several years of barrel aging. The grape often grows best at higher altitudes, giving the wine a ruby color, with aromas and flavors of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather, and herb.

Varietals: 100% Tempranillo

Alcohol: 13.0% by volume

Tasting Notes: “Vivid red. Floral- and spice-accented aromas of red fruits, rose and minerals; smells like a Dujac wine. Seductively perfumed in the mouth, with juicy raspberry and floral pastille flavors dominating. Shows impressive clarity and spiciness on the long, sweet finish. This is extremely easy to drink. “-90 Points, International Wine Cellar

Food Pairings: This Tempranillo is the perfect pairing with lasagna, pasta Bolognese, hearty meat dishes, or Mexican cuisine.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “This is an iconic area of Spain. I love Rioja! The Tempranillo truly shines here. Flavors are dry and savory, with nutty components as well. Loads of cedar and tobacco too. The wine is long and concentrated on the palate as well, with layers of complexity. This wine screams ‘RIOJA!’”-JL

 

August Imported Wine: The Gatekeeper Shiraz, McLaren Vale, AUSTRALIA

Simon Hackett, the man behind this wine, grew up in an atmosphere steeped in wine, spending his boyhood in the Barossa Valley alongside his father, who was General Manager and a Director of the giant Barossa Valley Distillery. The family home was situated next to the sprawling Saltram Winery outside Angaston. Given this environment, it was not surprising that Simon, at the age of eighteen, elected to follow a career in winemaking and joined the team at the neighboring Saltram Winery. In 1984, Simon decided to concentrate fully on establishing his own boutique winery situated in McLaren Vale.

History of Shiraz and its Relation to The Gatekeeper: McLaren Vale is a wine region approximately 35 km south of Adelaide in South Australia. Grapes were first planted in the region in 1838 and some vines more than 100 years old are still producing. Today there are more than 88 cellar doors in McLaren Vale, including The Gatekeeper. The majority are small family-run operations and boutique wineries. McLaren Vale has a Mediterranean climate with four clear seasons. With a dry warm summer, the area has dry weather from December through to March or April, giving an easy change between summer and winter. It is gentle with long warm days and short cool nights. Winter rains of 580-700 mm per annum flow into a fresh spring. The region rarely experiences frost or drought due to its close proximity to the sea. The McLaren district has many different soil types and this contributes to the wines from the area having different terroir. The vineyards are planted on soils including fertile red-brown earths, terra rossa, rendzina, soft sands and dark cracking clays.

Varietals: 100% Shiraz

Alcohol: 14.0% by volume

Tasting Notes: Balanced and bursting with lush fruit, this is a thoroughly delicious Shiraz. The grapes were sourced from the McLaren Vale and the Riverlands and then carefully aged in oak for 6 months — breaking the over-oaked Australian mold a bit… in a very, very good way.

Food Pairings: Barbecued foods with a smoky char pair nicely with Shiraz, as do lamb, venison and game birds. Enjoy before the summer ends!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Loaded with layers of concentrated fruit, cherries, cassis, blackberry, and blueberry. Red and black fruits intermingle in this glass. A great combination with BBQ!”-JL

June Imported Wine: 2011 Love Over Money ‘Evolúció’ Furmint, Tokaj, HUNGARY

Love Over Money is a collection of wines from different areas and countries that were selected by Boutique Wine Collection for their exceptional quality and value. The brand was developed to offer customers a product they know they can trust for its quality and value. Love Over Money is to display the authenticity of a wine, region and varietal, a true reflection of the origin while being uncomplicated. Boutique Wine Collection works closely with each producer, whom have been selected for their high standard and strong track record to offer wines that are representative of where they come from and are value orientated.

Love Over Money is to experiment with wines that often are perceived as alternative or different, while being assured that what is inside the bottle can be trusted.

History of Furmint and its Relation to Love Over Money: At the end of the 19th century, Hungary like all other European wine growing countries, was singularly affected by the Phylloxera epidemic which brought radical changes in the way viticulture was practiced. The abundant grape varieties found in the traditional vineyards, where multiple varieties would grow together and make up the blends of Eger and Tokaj wines, were replaced with single varietal vineyards, reducing grape selections to a few varietals. Blaufränkisch and Bordeaux varieties were planted in red wine growing areas, Furmint, Muscat and Hárslevelű in the Tokaj region therefore reducing the indigenous grape selection. During the Communist period (late 1940s to 1989) quantity was favored over quality and Zweigelt often replaced Kadarka as it is easier to grow and vinify. Prices were set by the state and quantity was key. Over cropping, pasteurization and industrial production dominated until 1989 with the fall of the U.S.S.R. Political change brought new challenges and Hungary had no other option but to turn its exports to the West, meaning that Hungary had to adjust by offering more sophisticated products to new and emerging markets (i.e. Love Over Money). This is how Hungary changed focus, giving most of its attention to quality improvement and innovation, in order to compete and measure up to other West European wine producing countries.

Varietals: 100% Furmint

Alcohol: 12.5% by volume

Tasting Notes: The wine is a pretty light straw color, with aromas of green apple which lead to a crisp, clean, mineral character. The fruit is mouth-filling with an underlying hint of spice and a broad finish with good acidity.

Food Pairings: The rich acidity combined with the fruitiness of this wine makes that it is easy to pair with rich fish based dishes, creamy chicken or even with slightly spicy recipes. Also a great pairing with cheese!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Rich, vibrant, layers of complex flavor. The wine has great orange peel flavors but is balanced by acidity…almost electric! Awesome mouth feel. A great summertime sipper!”-JL

May Imported Wine: 2011 Couly-Dutheil “Les Gravières” Chinon, Loire, FRANCE

Established in 1921 by Baptiste Dutheil, then developped by René Couly who married Madeleine Dutheil, the House of Couly-Dutheil has become the great name for Chinon. Today, Couly-Dutheil remains a family house owned by the third and fouth generation.

The Chinon region has all the qualities of the greatest soils. Its semi-oceanic climate is exceptionally mild and benefits of long sunny periods. The variety of soils and their particular qualities allows the Cabernet-Franc (98% of the vineyard) to express all its finesse and its celebrated “taffetas” within a range of strong personalities.

The sandy and gravelly plains along the Vienne river provide a great back drop for thirst quenching, light and fruity wines. The clay and flinty slopes, and flat-lands produce fine and subtle wines, while the clay and chalky hills bare sumptuous wines meant for ageing.

History of Chinon (Cabernet Franc) and its Relation to Couly-Dutheil: Cabernet Franc is one of the major black grape varieties worldwide. It is principally grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style, but can also be vinified alone – as in the Loire‘s Chinon. It can be bottled as a single varietal, or used in blends as well. It can also be made into ice wine in both the United States and Canada.

Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, making a bright pale red wineand contributing finesse and a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper, and cassis, sometimes even violets.

Records of Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux go back to the end of the 18th century; it was planted in Loire long before that. DNA analysis indicates Cabernet Franc is one of two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon, a cross between it and Sauvignon Blanc.

Varietals: 100% Cabernet Franc

Alcohol: 13.5% by volume

Tasting Notes: Beautiful purple color, with very pleasant aromatics of green pepper and small red fruits. Fruity on the palate, making it easy to drink and very charming.

Food Pairings: A wonderful pairing with chicken, veal, and ham.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Loaded with an abundance of flavor! Gobs of fruit jumping out of the glass. The Chinon here is uninhibited and seamless. Layered with spicy and earthy tones; this is a great wine!”-JL