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!
From the country of Macedonia, this stunning Pinot is named for Alexander the Great (the original “Macedon”), and hails from an area noted as the “cross-roads of the ancient world, and the birthplace of wine”. It originates in Gradsko, sharing the same latitude band as Burgundy and Russian River Valley. The 40+ year old vines grow where two major weather fronts collide: the Aral Mountain continental and the Greek Aegean, yielding virtually no rain and consistent wind. The result is a wine of terrific elegance and complexity, rich yet linear; pretty, but with depth and power.
History of Wine in Macedonia: The Republic of Macedonia produces wine on some 22,400 hectares (55,000 acres) of vineyards, and the production was 108,100 tons in 2008. There are also some additional 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of vineyards dedicated to table grapes. The production of red wine dominates the Macedonian wine production, with around 80 percent. Within the European Union, “Macedonia” (Μακεδονία) is a protected geographical indication (PGI) for wine from the Greek region of Macedonia.
Varietals: 100% Pinot Noir
Alcohol: 13.0% by volume
Pronunciation: Macedon (mass-a-don)
Tasting Notes: Macedon has a classically bright bouquet, an elegant palate, and dark fruits that are rich and satisfying.
Food Pairings: Pair with seafood, mild cheese, prosciutto, rabbit, and earthy mushrooms.
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “An old world Pinot from an odd place…Macedonia. This wine truly delivers. It over achieves! A great example of Pinot Noir! I love the texture and mouthfeel and the interesting fruit.”-JL
Winemaker Antonio Lamona is a “true blue,” grizzled farmer-type, who is both utterly likeable and totally invested in his wines. Although his father also grew grapes, Antonio is the first in the family to bottle his own and, beginning in the late sixties, he began cultivating vines that are entirely organic. As Antonio says, “we are very proud to make organic wines–we believe this is the way to obtain the highest quality while also respecting nature and human health.” All grapes are hand-picked and pressed within two hours of harvest. Located on a windy hillside with a vista of the Adriatic Sea, Antonio’s farm is entirely self-sustaining: they produce their own salami, bread, vegetables, olive oil, and cheese.
La Quercia is an uncertified organic estate, and this wine, harvested from a single cru owned by the family in Puglia, really delivers. True, you won’t find a “discoteca” within a hundred miles of the place, but in terms of sheer, natural beauty and down-to-earth hospitality, there’s no better place to see.
History of Aglianico and its Relation to La Quercia: Aglianico, pronounced roughly “ahl-YAH-nee-koe” is a black grape grown in the Basilicata and Campania regions of Italy. The vine originated in Greece and was brought to the south of Italy by Greek settlers. The name may be a corruption of vitis hellenica, Latin for “Greek vine. Another etymology posits a corruption of Apulianicum, the Latin name for the whole of southern Italy in the time of ancient Rome. During this period, it was the principal grape of the famous Falernian wine, the Roman equivalent of a first-growth wine today.
A ‘La Quercia’ is a majestic oak tree that grows in southern Italy. From Antonio’s single vineyard site in southern Italy, he offers this inspired Aglianico. This wine represents one of Italy’s most noble grape varietals. Above all, Antonio believes in respecting the earth: “I want to make wines that please the body and the spirit.”
Pronounciation: La Quercia (la-KWIR-cha)
Varietal: 100% Aglianico
Alcohol: 13.0% by volume
Tasting Notes: From the master of Montepulciano, Antonio Lamona delivers his signature combination of power and finesse with one of the most difficult varietals of all: Aglianico. With the classic ripe plum and white pepper notes that this Noble varietal is known for, it is a rare opportunity to taste Aglianico in a fresh, immediate style, that deftly manages the soft tannins. Delightful for everyday enjoyment!
Food Pairings: Perfect with pomodoro pasta or meat off the grill! Also serve with seared Ahi tuna with plum sauce and grilled polenta cakes-an ideal pairing.
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Rich and loaded with flavor. Terroir based wine that has flavors of cedar, tobacco, and berries, with a long and lingering finish.”-JL