July Domestic Wine: 2012 Pietra Santa Pinot Noir, Cienega Valley, CALIFORNIA

Pietra Santa and its History: “Pietra Santa is a family-run estate producing artisanal wines and olive oils in California’s Central Coast. The site was planted to winegrapes in the 1850s by Frenchman Theophile Vache who chose the location because of the maritime climate and unique soils.

Pietra Santa is 25 miles from Monterey Bay and benefits from cool coastal breezes that allow for a long growing season. The estate’s location on the San Andreas Fault creates soils rich with granite and limestone that naturally lower yields and add distinctive flavors to the wines. The winery was named PIETRA SANTA, Italian for SACRED STONE, in honor of these exceptional soils.

In 2005, the property was purchased by the Blackburns, a family dedicated to preserving and building upon this magnificent winemaking history.”-pietrasantawinery.com

The Estate: “Due to the mountainous terrain, only 120 of the estate’s 450 acres are planted with wine grapes. An additional 25 acres are planted with olive trees. The oldest vines consist of a treasured block of Zinfandel planted in 1905. Completed in 2000, the Mission-Style Winery was designed for fine winemaking combining traditional methods and state-of-the-art technology. The winery also hosts a FRANTOIO (olive oil press room) equipped with a Pieralisi Press imported from Tuscany.”-pietrasantawinery.com

Vineyards/Winemaking: “Our Pinot Noir comes from vines that are planted in the upper valley of our estate at an elevation of approximately 1100 feet.  The grapes benefit from a maritime climate and ideal soils for growing expressive Pinot Noir.  The vineyard was planted with three Dijon clones – #115, #828, and #777 – to create the optimal flavor profile for our estate Pinot Noir.”-pietrasantinery.com

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir

Alcohol: 14.5% by volume

Food Pairings: Great with spring chicken, slow cooked pork shoulder, pan seared duck breasts, and shaved raw asparagus with fennel. Enjoy.

Tasting Notes: Their Estate Pinot Noir is an ideal reflection of their terroir, renowned for growing this finicky varietal. This wine has a beautiful bouquet of subtle lavender and elegant fruit flavors of wild strawberries and raspberries with hints of cola. The wine finishes with white pepper and an earthiness that is synonymous with the Cienega Valley.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Real Pinot here. A wine that is loaded with rhubarb and raspberries, and ends with a long clean lingering finish. A true overachiever. Best served with duck, oily finish and any game!”-JL

April Domestic Wine: 2012 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, OREGON

“Founded in 1970, in Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley, Ponzi Vineyards is internationally acclaimed for producing some of the world’s finest Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and White Riesling, as well as Arneis and Dolcetto, two rare Italian varietals.

Ponzi Vineyards continues to set the standard for Oregon’s viticultural innovation while maintaining an unwavering commitment to a tradition of winemaking excellence. For more than two decades, this philosophy has been carried on by the Ponzi Family’s second generation: Winemaker Luisa Ponzi and Director of Sales and Marketing Maria Ponzi.

All 120 acres of family-owned vineyards and the state-of-the-art winery are LIVE Certified Sustainable, the world’s highest standard for sustainable viticulture and enology. Driven by the concept that the variety must match the terroir and climate, Ponzi Vineyards continues to set the bar for Oregon and remains at the forefront of the nation’s top wine producers.”-ponziwines.com

Vineyard  Details: The 2012 Pinot Gris is produced from certified sustainable Ponzi Aurora, Avellana and Estate vineyards, as well as the Linda Vista, Gemini, Dion, Walnut Ridge, Ridge Road, Kraemer and Zenith vineyards.

Vintage Report: On the heels of the late cool 2010 and 2011 vintage; 2012 was a welcome sight! Although the season started with a wet and long spring weather, the summer brought dry and warm conditions. From July through mid-October, there were only trace amounts of precipitation. Days were warm, but nights stayed cool giving us beautiful ripeness and sugar, but maintaining bright acidity. Crops were low, due to the wet spring, causing the intensity of flavor to be increased. 2012 is being hailed as an “epic” vintage in Oregon wine history and the wines are proving that to be true.

 

Varietal: 100% Pinot Gris

Alcohol: 13.2% by volume

Tasting Notes: Island aromas of guava, passion fruit, pineapple and vanilla precede a lively mouth of kumquat, kiwi, candied key lime and hibiscus blossom. The sweet fruit is complemented by a zing of bright acidity with hints of white pepper on the finish. Luisa Ponzi, Winemaker

“Fresh and lively, with a distinct ginger root character weaving through the lime and pear fruit, finishing with snap and expression. Drink now.”-90 Points, Wine Spectator

Food Pairings: Go fresh. Pinot Gris with its zesty and refreshing acidity pairs really well with fresh vegetables, raw fish and lighter meals. Fish and shellfish are classic pairing partners with Pinot Gris.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “The fruit jumps out of the glass. White peaches, citrus, lime and lemon flavor; rounded with pineapple and mango as well. A great wine to welcome Spring. Drink and enjoy with food. It is like sunshine in the glass.”-JL

Franco Serra is made by the Sperone family who has produced affordable, premium wines for four generations. In 1920, Antonia Sperone opened a small wine shop in Torino where he sold bulk wine directly to consumers. Unsatisfied with price and quality of the local wine, Antonio started his own winery in Puglia where land was inexpensive and produced good wine. He built a bottling facility in Torino and was soon able to offer his customers quality wines at prices everyone can afford. Sadly, it was destroyed when the city was bombed in WWII. The winery in Puglia survived the war and enabled Antonio’s grandson Giacomo to open a new facility near Milan where he produced vermouth, sparkling wines, spirits, and fine wines.

With the help of his sons Paolo and Antonio, the company grew quickly and achieved distribution throughout Italy and expanded into foreign markets. In 1965, the family purchased 75 acres of prime vineyards in Piedmont and built a new winery in Monferrato. Even as the prices fetched for wines from this increasingly fashionable region continue to climb, the Sperone family proudly focuses on value. The Franco Serra line provides everyone with the opportunity to drink thoughtfully crafted, distinctive wines from Italy’s most renowned region.

A Little About Dolcetto: Dolcetto is a black Italian wine grape variety widely grown in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The Italian word dolcetto means “little sweet one”, but it is not certain that the name originally carried any reference to the grape’s sugar levels: it is possible that it derives from the name of the hills where the vine is cultivated. In any case the wines produced are nearly always dry. They can be tannic and fruity with moderate or decidedly low levels of acidity, and are typically meant to be consumed one to two years after release.

Varietal: 100% Dolcetto

Alcohol: 13.0% by volume

Tasting Notes: Ruby red color tending towards purple. The nose is pleasing and distinctive, light floral, red fruit aromas with hints of smoke. Soft with cranberry and raspberry fruit in the mouth with a touch of tobacco. Light to medium bodied with moderate acidity.

Food Pairings: A great food wine. Ideal with meats, vegetables, ravioli and risotto, to name a few.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Layers of flavor here…ripe berries along with earthy mushroom notes. Great to serve with pork or lamb, or anything off the grill. Dolcetto is a unique grape, and I feel this wine really shows you how good it can be! Enjoy!”-JL

A new law just went into effect that will revolutionize the restaurant business in Michigan!

“Michigan diners can now legally take their own bottles of wine to restaurants that have liquor licenses, but they will likely have to pay a corkage fee to have it served to them and the restaurant must be willing to allow it.”-freep.com

Read more at detroitfreepress.com

 

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

November Domestic Wine: 2012 Bonny Doon ‘A Proper Claret’ Red Blend, CALIFORNIA

Bonny Doon Vineyard is a winery based in the city of Santa Cruz in the central coast of California. It was started by Randall Grahm in 1983. Bonny Doon was amongst the first Californian wineries to embrace Rhone varietals, giving Randall Grahm the nickname “The Rhone Ranger“. The winery is known for its untraditional labels, including illustrations by Ralph Steadman, Bascove, Grady McFerrin, and Gary Taxali. In recent years, the winery has embraced some slightly obscure Italian varieties, screwcaps, and biodynamic production.

History of Claret at Bonny Doon: Some cautionary words: Bonny Doon Vineyard is, as we all know or should know, a strictly cabernet-free zone, at least it has been for the last twenty-eight years. The last “Claret” produced at Bonny Doon Vineyard was in 1985 from grapes grown at their late Estate in the eponymous hamlet of Bonny Doon. It was a blend of approximately equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec, and against all expectation, it was actually pretty damn good. Randall Grahm, owner and winemaker, has expressed opprobrium, occasionally bordering on amused disdain, for this popular grape variety. They are not really at liberty to say how Bonny Doon Vineyard has come to be entrusted with the distribution of a wine made from such improbably alien grape varieties, but suffice to say that the deal was doon grudgingly and harumphingly.

Varietals: 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petit Verdot, 8% Tannat, 1% Petite Sirah

Alcohol: 13.2% by volume

Tasting Notes: So, with these caveats listed above, the sentiment at Bonny Doon Vineyard is that if you ever were to drink a cabernet-based blend, this would be one that would serve quite well. It is lean, neither overly alcoholic (weighing in at 13%), nor overly extracted; it is precisely as one would imagine ‘A Proper Claret’ to be. The wine contains a substantial dollop of petit verdot (22%), which adds a silky note of violets and textural elegance, in precision counterpoint to the lead-in-the-pencil firmness offered by the inclusion of the manly tannat (8%). There is a lovely suggestion of cedar and mint, in the nose. The wine has medium tannins, nice acidity, and finishes cleanly.

Food Pairings: Proper (British) mutton, proper leg of lamb, (ideally served with proper Yorkshire pudding).

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Rich and vibrant! Loaded with flavors of hickory, cedar, and smoke. Gorgeous weight on the palate, with a long and elegant finish. The unique blend is a trademark of Bonny Doon. This is a new wine for us at FWS, and I am happy to share it with you. Enjoy!”-JL

November Imported Wine: 2010 Domaine Mireille et Vincent Côtes du Rhône Rouge, Rhone, FRANCE

Located in the municipality of Richerenches, Domaine Mireille et Vincent covers 15 hectares on the left bank of the Rhone . Very famous for its truffles, the town is also known for its wines! The Domaine was founded in 1980s by Bernard Bizard, who before that worked at several other estates. Bizard named the domaine after the couple’s two children, Mireille and Vincent, with the first vintage in 1985.

History of Domaine MIreille et Vincent and  its Relation to the Environment: The average age of vines at the Domaine is 35 years old, making the vineyards almost entirely old vines. These vines will flourish for up to 60 years, and account for over 45% of the vines planted in this area. The old vines of Domaine Mireille et Vincent are planted on hillsides with red clay and are more or less pebbly. These strong vineyards give the wine a powerful aroma. Other vineyards in the Domaine are located on old truffle fields, and enjoy a refreshing Mediterranean climate, including wind from the Alps. All of these environmental factors give character and distinction to the wines of this area, and especially the wines at Domaine Mireille et Vincent.

“We are not organic, but we believe in the environment,” said Bernard Bizard . Bizard implements new practices constantly to allow the grapes to truly shine. The Domaine produces three separate Côtes du Rhône: one white, one red, and a rosé. The white wine is crafted from traditional varieties (Roussanne , Clairette , Marsanne and Viognier) and have a light color with pale gold shades . The red is typically a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan and is characterized by spicy notes. Lastly, the rosé is a prettier style but has some spice as well.

Varietals: Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan

Alcohol: 14.0% by volume

Tasting Notes: Cool and elegant, pure, and with a lovely scent of berries.

Food Pairings: Pair this wine with a hearty meat dish, ragu, or even a roast. This wine will be great with your Thanksgiving turkey as well.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Extremely flavorful, with notes of Worchester, garlic salt, and onion. A very pretty and delicate style, with beautiful aromatics. The vintage gives the wine ripeness, but it is not over the top. Enjoy with soups and stews.”-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 Domestic Wine: 2010 Viña Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, CALIFORNIA

Viña Robles crafts wines that represent a stylistic bridge between the Old and New worlds, capturing the finesse associated with European wines, while celebrating the bold natural flavors of their estate vineyards in Paso Robles.

Here, proprietor Hans Nef and managing partner Hans – R. Michel bring their Swiss heritage to California’s Central Coast, where they aim to unite the best of both experiences.

“I want Viña Robles to express a unique balance of European heritage and American opportunity. As individuals, we are rooted in the Old World. As winemakers, we are empowered by the New World. But both worlds bring value to what we do, and we endeavor to capture this distinction in our wines.”-Proprietor Hans Nef

History of Viña Robles in Paso Robles: They first discovered Paso Robles in the early 1980s and became enamored with this emerging wine country. Along golden slopes, where the Pacific coastline unfolds into rugged ranchlands and cowboy ambiance, a new generation of California winemakers was turning Paso Robles into one of the world’s most dynamic winegrowing regions.

In the mid 1990s, they planted their first estate vineyard and established Viña Robles as a family winery specializing in varieties that excel in the region’s diverse terroir. The vision for Viña Robles is summed up by their motto: European Inspiration – California Character.

Varietals: 81% Cabernet Sauvignon and 19% Petit Verdot

Alcohol: 14.1% by volume

Tasting Notes: “The fruit for our 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon was selected from four of our estate vineyards in Paso Robles. It was handpicked at night in small lots to ensure perfect quality and ripeness. Afterwards, the fruit was destemmed and gently crushed into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Pump-overs took place regularly to enhance color and help extract tannins from the skin. After pressing, the wine was racked into barrels to complete malolactic fermentation and aging. Before bottling, we blended in 19% Petit Verdot from our Huerhuero and Adelaida Springs vineyards to round out the blend. The Petit Verdot enhances mouthfeel and structure.”-vinarobles.com

Food Pairings: The wine pairs well with richer foods. A great wine for grilled meats, heavier pasta dishes, and barbeque. Also a great match with salty cheese!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Rich and deep, with a lavish style. Layers of flavor and complexity here. In perfect harmony of red and blue fruit here. The wine has great intensity and a supple soft finish. Flavors of cassis, raspberry, and cedar are all intermingled. I love it!”-JL

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