I just laid my hands on a couple of red beauties out of France. The first is Bellevue Seillan a blend of Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec from Gascony (Cotes de Gascogne). Perhaps best known as ground zero for the production of Armagnac, Gascony lies in the southwest corner of France where the landscape is rugged and the food is robust. Bellevue Seillan comes to you with just the fruit–no barrel ageing. The result is rich, fruit-forward wine with spicy accents. Perfect with roast chicken, charcuterie, and cheese–and fun to try a wine from this sometimes neglected corner of France. 35.00
2011 Bellevue Seillan red blend out of Gascony
The second gem, Lassegue Grand Cru, comes from the Saint-Emillon region of Bordeaux–specifically, an estate co-owned by esteemed vigneron Pierre Seillan, his wife Monique, and the Banke/Jackson family (Jackson as in the late wine legend, Jess Jackson), making it one of the few estates in Bordeaux with American ownership.
Lassegue Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, 2010
A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Lassegue Saint-Emilion Grand Cru is striking rich in color, aroma flavor thanks to the elements imparted by each of the varietals. Think dark fruit: cassis, blackberry, dark cherry. Twelve months in French oak and further bottle time have mellowed this complex, full-bodied Grand Cru. 90.00
You’ve probably seen the Campo Viejo labels–it’s a well-established Spanish house, perhaps best known for their Riojas. But at this time of year, I’ve got my eye on their cavas. And just as a reminder, cavas are Spanish sparkling wines made in the traditional Champagne method–for a fraction of the price.
Campo Viejo Cava Brut Reserva is a blend of three classic white varietals, aged for eighteen months. The result is a clean, crisp bubbly with some complex white fruit characteristics. Perfect with almost any food–or just for a spur of the moment celebration. Such a deal: 13.00
Campo Viejo Cava Brut Reserva & Campo Viejo Cava Brut Rose. Classy Cavas: 13.00
Campo Viejo Cava Brut Rose derives from Trepat– a red grape indigenous to northeastern Spain–and frequently used to make roses. Campo’s rose is robust–with plenty of red berry flavor and aroma–delivered by the lively effervesence of this classy cava. Nice: 13.00
RE:FIND Distillery [ e ] Vodka, finished in whiskey barrels, doesn’t look like vodka, and doesn’t taste like vodka. It looks like a well-aged rye and it tastes like a rich, full-bodied rye. In talking with Monica Villicana–proprietor of Villicana Winery and RE:FIND Handcrafted Spirits–along with her husband, Alex, [ e ] Vodka is actually finished in rye whiskey barrels and on closer tasting, I picked up some spicy rye notes. It ocurred to me that [ e ] would make a great Manhattan. So, using some top shelf vermouth (La Quintinye Royal Rouge and La Quintinye Extra-Dry in equal parts) I made a Perfect Manhattan–one of my wife’s favorites. It did not disappoint. She said it ranked with the best she ever had (at The Stockade, in Kingston, NY). Me, I love sipping it from a snifter–the rich mouth-feel imparted by the glycerol from the distilled red wine juice gave this little beauty some real hang-time on the palate.
Check out this fun Nashville-based story by Wine Enthusiast online editor, Jameson Fink: http://www.winemag.com/2016/11/07/nashville-musicians-get-their-wine-questions-answered/
Marquis de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 exhibits concentrated aromas and flavors of cherry and blackberry, firm tannins, and a lingering finish. This elegant Chilean regularly scores 90pts with the critics and this vintage is no exception. A Californian of this quality could easily be twice the price.
Marquis de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014
If you have forgotten how wonderful a good Merlot can be, crack a bottle of Francisan Estate Merlot. Think velvet plum and dark chocolate. 23.00
After thirty years as Franciscan Estate’s head winemaker you could expect Janet Myers to know her stuff–and does she ever. Franciscan’s 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is a exacting collage of 90% Cab, 4% Merlot, 3% Malbec 2% Petite Verdot, and 1% Syrah that spent twenty months in oak. Rich dark fruit, fine tannins and long mocha finish. 29.00
Franciscan Estate Magnificat, 2013
Franciscan Estate 2013 Magnificat
Franciscan Estate Magnificat, 2013
Magnificat was one of the original Meritage blends from California–dating back over thirty years ago. During that time Magnificat has earned its place as one of the finest Bordeaux blends to come out of Napa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc come together seamlessly to produce a big, rich, beautifully structured wine. Twenty months in oak leaves Magnificat mellow and ready to enjoy.
Franciscan Magnificat, 2013
Franciscan Magnificat, 2013
Just sampled two of the recently released After Dark wines from Fontera:value label from the venerable Concha Y Toro people.
Moonlight White is a slightly spritzy mouthful of fruit–in this case, a Moscato-based blend. Perfect for sipping on its own, Moonlight would also make a great match with Asian or Indian dishes.
Midnight Red brings Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah together with a bit of Merlot. Plenty of fruit here and a great way to ease into reds if you’ve been shy. If you are a fan of Menage a Trois or Apothic red, check this one out–at a fraction of the price.
Both the night-harvested After Dark wines come in at about 6.00. Cheers!
New, After Dark wines from Fontera
Midnight Red and Moonlight White
RE:FIND is proof that you can do more with grapes than make wine. After years of successful wine making, distiller/proprietor Alex Villicana and his wife, Monica, decided to explore the possibilities of using excess free-run grapes juice to make spirits. And while making spirits from grapes is not exactly new, RE:FIND takes the craft to a new level using seasonally fresh California fruit to infuse the vodka.
The first thing to know about spirits made from grapes is that there is naturally occurring glycerol present which produces a rich mouth feel. No watery vodka here. The second thing I noticed right away was the authenticity of the flavors: the cucumber gin was all about the cucumber–aroma and flavor, the whiskey barrel finished vodka had distinct whiskey overtones, and the Kumquat (really??? kumquat?) Liqueur flavor is crazy-real–the kind of flavor that gets you thinking about all the amazing cocktails you could make.
And if the hand crafted quality of the spirits isn’t enough, the kicker is that repurposing the free run juice that would have been discarded in the 2014 harvest, “saved the equivalent of 50 farmed-acres of premium Paso Robles wine grapes from being discarded.” Now that’s green.
RE:FIND Vodka, Gin, Barrel Finished Vodka, Cucumber Flavored Vodka, Kumquat Liqueur
RE:FIND Hand Crafted Spirits, Distilled from Grapes
Kumquat Liqueur: authentic flavor