September Vino Values

September 2nd, 2014 | Posted by Jorge Lopez-Chavez in Jorge's Picks | Vino Values - (Comments Off)
september vv
2013 Cantina Colli Euganei Extra Dry, Prosecco (Italy)

Their Pinot Grigio did so well for us last month that I decided to turn it up to eleven and give you their superb Prosecco for some sparkly fun.  The fruit for this wine comes from a co-operative with a long history in the Veneto area.  This wine is made with 100% Glera (aka Prosecco) grapes, and the second fermentation (what makes it bubbly) is done in large closed tanks at a controlled temperature (Charmat method).  When I first tasted this wine the initial suggestion was of a fruit named chirimoya in Peru – here it is known as the custard apple (although it is not related to the apple at all but yes to the paw paw) – followed by ripe pear, apple, white flowers, and harmonious balance and acidity.  I think you are getting great bang for your buck with this one.  Regular $14.99, now $12.99

2013 Bitacora Verdejo, Rueda (Spain)

More and more Verdejos are making it to our shores because this grape is versatile, accessible, charming, and offers a tremendous value.  Well, here’s another one which impressed me greatly a few weeks ago when first tried.  Wine and Spirits explains it like this: “classic Verdejo scents of apricots and peach pits lend this wine its flavor depth, shifting to sweet white fruits and hazelnuts in the finish. Drink now with tuna carpaccio.”  I think the only thing they left out was its more than sufficient acidity.  Regular $10.99, now $9.99

2013 Bowers Harbor Pinot Grigio, Michigan (USA)

It has been a while since I brought a Michigan wine into our monthly wine specials but this Pinot Grigio had to be a part of a good September.  I have enjoyed BH PG for years and this 2013 might be their best yet.  From their website: “our number one selling wine!  Number one selling Pinot Grigio in Michigan!  The aromas in this wine reveal citrus and tropical fruits with subtle white flower nuances. A fresh and lively mouth feel gives way to a finish of grapefruit, pineapple and wet stone.”  Agreed!  All Michigan fruit.  Regular $14.99, now $12.99

2011 Cantina di Soave ‘Re Midas’ Corvina, Venezie (Italy)
Re Midas Corvina hails from the Veneto, a region located in northeast Italy with a long and illustrious winemaking history. This expansive region with sunny hillsides is home to the delicious Corvina grape.  The wine explodes with dark plums, dark cherries, red currants, and cigar box.  There’s an added dimension of acetic acid which adds complexity while it blows off.  Corvina by the way, is the main grape for Valpolicella and Amarone wines.  Try this wine with chicken, veal, or pork.  Finding a red wine with only 12.5% alcohol is somewhat rare these days.  Regular $10.99, now $9.99

2012 Pelee Island Cabernet Franc, Ontario (Canada)

Wow, a Michigan and a Canadian wine on the same list; what is Jorge thinking?  Well, what I am thinking is that quality red wine can also be produced in cooler climates like in our neighbors to the north, and of course within our shores.  Cabernet Franc has proven to be a winner in this climate, and this particular example does not have any hints of grassy aromas like the French Cab Francs do, expect instead a dry red, with dark berries, currants, a touch of cedar, and faint kiss of fennel.  A delicious wine for sure.  Regular $10.99, now $8.99

2012 Nexo, Rioja (Spain)

A young and vivacious Rioja is always a good option for anyone getting into wine.  That being said, sometimes I wish reps would stop bringing me Spanish wines because there are so many out there that it makes me feel overwhelmed.  I just wanna say to them: where are the Portuguese and the Greek reds?  I guess perhaps I am not selling this wine adequately by telling you all this, instead I will say trust its richness, its finesse, its sheer desire to please you with red cherry, red currant, fig, and a touch of cassia.  Great for entertaining a crowd.  A blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha.  Regular $11.99, now $9.99


August Vino Values

August 12th, 2014 | Posted by Jorge Lopez-Chavez in Wine Lists - (Comments Off)
august vv
2013 Yali Sauvignon Blanc, Lolol Valley (Chile)
A winner at an event we catered last week and a great example of what is being done within this fledgling appellation in Chile.  Exactly what you might want in what we hope is a warm and humid August.  “Fermentation was carried out gradually in a temperature-controlled environment that allowed extraction of a large quantity of fruit and mineral fragrances.  Grapefruit, lime, and peach aromas leap from the glass, followed by crisp, citrus flavors on the palate. A refreshing acidity is matched by a zingy finish.”  Regular $10.99, now $8.99

2013 Chateau Petit Roubie, Picpoul de Pinet (France)

The ‘lip-smacking’ grape is what Picpoul literally means, due to its intense acidity.  Picpoul is the traditional pairing for oysters in that area of Languedoc, France, and a perfect summer wine.  As you can see I am hoping for a warm August.  Expect: a “dominant aroma of flowers with the scent of white peach and the exotic flavor of pineapples. Initially round and full the taste rapidly changes to lively. The nicely balanced acid-alcohol content brings out the fruity aromas. The long and full after-taste leaves suggestions of citrus”  Regular $14.99, now $12.99

2013 Cantina Colli Euganei Pinot Grigio, Veneto (Italy)

Pinot Grigio has many antagonists out there, but here at The Produce Station it also has many fans.  I have tried this one which should please the fans of good white wine period: crisp, mineral, with plenty of apple and pear, a touch of green Asian melon, and a subtle floral element.  Cantina Colli Euganei’s history is linked to the local area, becoming a main protagonist, from the 1940′s onwards, of a restructuring and relaunching aimed at promoting its winemaking heritage.  The cooperative, which was founded in 1949, produced its first wine in 1951 and has always focused on offering a wide range of genuine wines that express a land and a culture.  Regular $10.99, now $8.99

2013 Chateau L’Ermitage Rosé, Costieres de Nimes (France)

When I was invited to a pig roast by one of my favorite wine distributors I was excited because they were going to be featuring Rhone-area wines and I was looking forward to the rosés.  When I poured my friend Mady another pink wine and myself this one, we tried each other’s and she did not give it back to me.  After that she almost refused to try anything else they had.  Soon the wine was gone because everyone loved it and she was forced to move on.  Wine Spectator: “Friendly, with lightly spiced strawberry and cherry fruit notes backed by tea and sandalwood hints on the open finish. Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre.”  Regular $12.99, now $11.99

2007 Chateau Sainte Barbe, Bordeaux (France)

It is exciting to find a Bordeaux wine with a little bit of age, softened tannins, and still plenty of life.  This blend of 80% Merlot and the rest the Cabernets (Franc and Sauvignon), is brimming with black cherry, plum, vanillin, baking spices, and tobacco, exemplifying what a good Merlot blend should offer.  I have tasted these Sainte Barbe wines for years and I finally have found one in the right price point to use it as a value.  If you want to experience just what a little age can do, this is the wine to try.  Regular $18.99, now $11.99

2013 Domaine Sainte Eugenie ‘Le Clos,’ Vin de Pays de Hauterive (France)
45% Merlot, 20% Carignan, 20% Grenache, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Domaine Sainte Eugenie is positioned within the district of Fontfroide, the sweet spot of Corbieres, with an 800 year history of viticulture. The estate is located within the foothills of the Pyrenees along the Mediterranean coast. Clay and chalk soils dominate here. The dry weather, sunny, and warm climate combine to create an optimal growing environment.  This wine’s “nose is lively and complex, with notes of red and black fruits. Refined oak fragrance with hints of incense, spices (nutmeg, clove, ginger), anise, autumn woods and tobacco. It is very soft on the palate, with a fresh, tangy acidity.”  Regular $11.99, now $9.99

July Vino Values

July 8th, 2014 | Posted by Jorge Lopez-Chavez in Jorge's Picks | Vino Values - (Comments Off)
2013 Anjos de Portugal, Vinho Verde (Portugal)
40% Arinto, 30% Trajadura, 30% Loureiro.  This wine is produced from grapes traditionally used in the Vinho Verde demarcated region, especially in the Sousa sub-region. This truly genuine wine has the quality characteristic of this exceptional area. I tried this at a large tasting and it was one of my favorites of the night.  Wine Advocate says: “Fruity and tasty, and not one of those really fizzy types, this is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser this summer, light and easy going, but charming and with enough acidity to balance the (minimal) sugar well.”  Regular $9.99, now $7.99

2013 Cave du Haut Poitou ‘Le Bois de la Tour’ Sauvignon, Haut Poitou
A fresh vintage of an old favorite!  Haut Poitou is a new appellation within the Loire valley located south of Touraine.  Even though the wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume are better known examples of the Sauvignon Blanc grape, this wine sings without shame the distinctive notes of the grape.  Expect plenty of citrus, grass, a touch of gooseberries, and even a hint of fresh savory.  It does not have the same mineral quality as the more noble regions above but for this price I dare you to be dissatisfied.  Regular $12.99, now $9.99

2013 Tresor de la Riviere Blanc, Cotes du Rhone (France)
A blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Clairette, and Viognier.  Tresor de la Riviere recalls the special riverboats used by Romans in the 1st century to transport wines of the region from the city of Vienne. These boats, like the one on the label, carried the treasures of the Rhone Valley to other parts of the Roman Empire.  Of the three whites featured, this one is the burliest without being heavy.  Rhone white blends tend to baffle some, but I assure you that the nectarine, blood orange, and reticent floral elements will seduce you.  Pair this wine with fatty fish, chicken, or even spicy pork dishes.  Regular $13.99, now $11.99

2013 Moulin de Gassac ‘Guilhem’ Rosé, Pays d’Herault (France)
Why not?  This wine sells well because it is inexpensive and absolutely delicious.  A blend of Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah, the ’13 sure boasts confidence and charm.  People here are buying it by the case, attracted by the effusive strawberry nose, the mineral texture, and the invigorating finish.  Just be sure not to drink too much, invigoration might turn into clumsiness quickly with such a treat.  I suggest you buy plenty of it to keep until the fall.  Regular $10.99, now $9.99
2013 Muga Rosado, Rioja (Spain)
A blend of 60% Garnacha, 30% Viura, and 10% Tempranillo.  Have I ever had a bad Muga Rosado?  I cannot remember such a vintage.  These folk never fail me.  The style for their rosé is always more like what the French do: dry, crisp, and mineral.  They have succeeded again at making a mouthwatering and stimulating wine.  In talking about the 2013 vintage the producers expand: “the grapes’ natural acidity was enhanced, especially the malic acid, leading to typical green apple, Granny Smith-type descriptions of the aromas, and fruits at just the right point of ripeness, such as cherries, peaches, pineapple and citrus fruits.”  Come try it for yourself.  Regular $12.99, now $10.99
2011 Casillero del Diablo Red Blend, Rapel Valley (Chile)
Okay, these guys are in plenty of other stores, but this blend really isn’t that well known and most wine merchants don’t carry it.  Concha y Toro is the largest producer of wine in South America and has been at it since 1883.  This wine is a blend of substantial amounts of Syrah, and less Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon.  That being said, the Carmenere really shows, taming the racy Syrah with some detectable notes of pomegranate and freshly mowed grass.  There is also plenty of blackberry, currants, and black pepper.  Try this wine with a gigantic grilled steak and chimichurri.  Regular $11.99, now $9.99

June Vino Values!!!

June 4th, 2014 | Posted by Jorge Lopez-Chavez in Jorge's Picks | Vino Values - (Comments Off)



2013 Domaine des Cassagnoles, Cotes de Gascogne (France)
A fresh vintage of a perennial favorite; I just tried it and it is truly stunning.  A blend of Colombard, Ugni Blanc, and Gros Manseng.  Here’s some previous info I wrote about this wine: the wine was brought as a ringer to two blind wine tastings in which I took part; the respective themes being U.S. Sauvignon Blanc and northern Spain whites.  The Cassagnoles outright won the U.S. Sauvignon Blanc tasting and placed an honorable 3rd for the Spanish whites tasting.  I think we were all taken by the seductive aromatic quality of the wine, not to mention the zesty and citrusy aspects, and the extreme vibrancy on the nose.  The palate is as appealing as it can be: lime, lemon zest, minerals, totally invigorating.  Regular $10.99, now $9.99

2013 Quintay ‘Clava’ Coastal Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca (Chile)
The winery was established in 2005 by producers with a passion for the Casablanca Valley and its wines, all local businessmen who shared the common objective of drawing upon the obvious winemaking potential found in Chile’s principle cool-climate valley.  If you are looking for a charming and effusive Sauvignon, you need not go farther.  This wine is brimming with lemon-lime and their zest, touch of pomelo, white pepper, and a faint hint of kiwi.  This might be considered a dangerous wine because it goes down too easy.  Regular $12.99, now $10.99
2013 Domaine de Pellehaut Harmonie Rosé, Cotes de Gascogne (France)
A blend of Tannat, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon,and Malbec.  It is quite possible that there were vines planted at Pellehaut in Roman times, as the Roman villa of Seviac is only 1.5 miles away and has mosaics featuring vines.  That being said, the wine they are making now is probably completely different than that wine of old.  Their white is always a treat, and this rosé is absolutely delightful.  Expect a torrent of fresh strawberry, red cherry, purple flowers, and a faint hint of plum.  What an absolute deal!  Regular $9.99, now $8.99
2013 Lionel Osmin Villa La Vie en Rose Negrette, Vin de France (France)
Glad to have this wine back after missing it for almost a year.  Negrette is an old variety which might have actually originated in Cyprus (where it is known as Mavro) but seems to have found a happy home in the lands of southwest France.  I took a bottle of this wine to my friend’s house where I prepared a simple pasta with morels, fresh peas, kale, and caramelized Vidalia onions (plenty of Parmesan) and it was quite a nice pairing.  The juice is crisp and zesty, with pleasant strawberry, raspberry, and even melon tones.  Just plain delicious.  Regular $11.99, now $10.99

2010 Pedra Cancela ‘Selecao do Enologo,’ Dao (Portugal)
Joao Paul Gouveia is the dynamic viticulturist partnered with the Wine and Vines consulting team that work with many producers throughout Dao. Pedra Cancela is his family’s vineyard, located on slopes above the Dao river.  Wine Advocate: “a blend of 40% Touriga Nacional and 30% each of Alfrocheiro and Tinta Roriz, aged in a mixture of tank and oak for 4-6 months. Fresh, fruity and fun, this has a lively demeanor and delicious fruit for easy drinking, with enough solidity and structure to be a food match-up, too. There is not a lot of mid-palate concentration, but at this price level, it is quite a bargain and will exceed expectations easily if drunk young.”  I personally thought it had a great mid-palate concentration.  Regular $12.99, now $10.99

2012 Black Cabra Malbec, Mendoza (Argentina)
Mendoza is the largest wine-producing area in South America and it has many micro-climates within it.  This fact allows for a wide variety of styles in the wines being made there.  Saying Mendoza is like saying California for wines from that western state.  This consortium develops its wines using grapes which come from a group of carefully selected vineyards located in Mendoza and Salta, with altitudes ranging from 3,000 to 4,400 feet high.  The wine is rich, full-bodied, effusive, with tons of black fruits, tobacco, milk chocolate, and soft tannins.  This is perfect for your barbecues coming up.  Regular $12.99, now $10.99

May Vino Values

May 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Jorge Lopez-Chavez in Jorge's Picks | Vino Values - (Comments Off)
vino values may
2012 Pandiani, Fiano Beneventano (Italy)

Fiano is a grape that dates back to Roman viticulture and might have been responsible for some of the great white wines of the era.  It is grown in the south of Italy, particularly Campania, Basilicata, and Sicily.  I don’t think I have ever featured this grape in any of my Vino Values, so I was glad when it came across my desk for tasting.  Expect Bosc pear, quince, honeysuckle, delineated acidity, and a racy profile.  This wine should work just fine with light seafood dishes, spring salads, and anything highlighting feta cheese.  Regular $12.99, now $10.99

2012 Jean Bousquet Chardonnay, Mendoza (Argentina)
Made from organic grapes sourced mainly from vineyards in Tupungato (Uco Valley) at an altitude of 4,000 feet above sea level, one of the highest points in Mendoza. This is a 100% un-oaked Chardonnay, the wine has been fermented in stainless tanks in contact with lees to give it a creamy feel.  Another excellent value from Argentina.  International Wine Cellar says: “apricot, exotic, accented by citrus nuances.  Offers good flavor intensity without excess weight, with sound acidity giving shape to the stone fruit flavors.  Finishes with good texture and length.”  Regular $13.99, now $11.99

2013 Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley (Washington)
Founded in 1983 by Rob Griffin and Deborah Barnard, Barnard Griffin has been producing award winning wines for over 30 years. Barnard Griffin Winery is situated in south-central Washington at the confluence of the Yakima, Columbia, and Snake rivers, in the heart of Washington State’s wine country.  This wine is one of the few
rosés from the west coast which I carry, and after tasting the ’13 I had to feature it for your benefit.  Wine Enthusiast: “A perennial best-of-show winner, this lush take on rosé bursts with pretty cherry fruit, light touches of brioche and fresh-baked rolls. It finishes with a kiss of spice. Best Buy ”  Regular $12.99, now $10.99

2012 Mezzacorona Pinot Noir, Dolomiti (Italy)

I am in no way ashamed of featuring this delightful Pinot Noir from the cool climates of northern Italy.  Granted, Mezzacorona produces a lot of wine, and their impact can be seen in plenty of wine stores and markets out there.  However, I have been carrying this great value Pinot for years and I decided it was finally time to lower the price even more.  If you know your Pinot Noir you will know that this wine is true to the varietal, with plenty of black cherry, wild strawberry, incense, slim in body, but packing a lot of flavor.  Regular $8.99, now $7.99

2011 Rapariga da Quinta Select, Vinho Regional Alentejano (Portugal)

A delicious and generous blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, and Syrah from the south-central lands of Portugal.  The wine displays a creamy and even buttery texture, but does not overplay the oak in any way, instead you get a torrent of dark berries, plums, and even a touch of cacao and tobacco.  Regional Alentejano wine permits more liberal regulations and greater autonomy in choice of grape varieties, allowing the presence of non-Portuguese varieties in partnership with traditional Alentejo ones, permitted varieties and recommended varieties.  This is just a fun wine.  regular $11.99, now $10.99

2010 Domaine de la Janasse ‘Terre de Bussiere,’ Vin de Pays de la Principaute d’Orange (France)
Domaine de la Janasse has quickly become one of the superstar estates of Chateauneuf du Pape. Led by the dynamic Christophe Sabon, the estate combines the best of both traditional and modern techniques.  It was founded in 1976 by Aime Sabon, Christophe’s father, who still oversees the vineyards and farms organically. The property consists of 40 Hectares, spread over as many as 70 different parcels throughout the appellation.  Wine Advocate: “reveals lots of rustic tannins and big, dense, full-throttle flavors. While they lack elegance, they are pure, robust and exuberant.”  I loved it!  A blend of Merlot and Syrah.  Regular $11.99, now $9.99

Our Easter Wine Selections

April 15th, 2014 | Posted by Jorge Lopez-Chavez in Holiday Wines | Jorge's Picks - (Comments Off)
easter eggs

2012 Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Margaret River (Australia)
A traditional Bordeaux blend from western Australia.  Cape Mentelle has been making wine since 1970 and their Cabernet has always been a stalwart of the Australian wine industry (they even make a Zinfandel!).  This refreshing white gets a lift in terms of body by the weightier Semillon.  This is what the International Wine Cellar opined: “Lively aromas of lemon zest, green apple and white flowers, with a chalky mineral overtone.  Dried citrus and orchard fruit flavors show good concentration and focus, with a gingery note adding bite.  Clean and brisk on the finish, with lingering notes of tangy lemon zest and a subtle herb nuance.”  $15.99

2011 Domaine Alain Pautre, Petit Chablis (France)

From vines aged between 30 and 40 years on the northwestern edge of the appellation comes this seductive and flinty Chardonnay.  Alain inherited these vines from his father in an area thought to be the of poorest soils, thus the Petit part of the name for the appellation.  Today it is considered a little gem of a location.  Expect an effusive apple core, great structure, acidity, flint, and plenty of well-padded fruit.  A very useful wine that commands attention.  $19.99

2012 Chalone Vineyards ‘Gavilan’ Chardonnay, Chalone (California)
The brand takes its name from its location in the Gavilan Mountains, which run along the eastern border of Monterey County. The range contains several peaks over 3,000 feet. Chalone Vineyards has been making outstanding Chardonnay wines since the mid sixties and this is one of their comfortably affordable lines. I am very keen on this wine because of its crispness, elegance, and acidity, packed full of apples, Asian pear, and a hint of the tropics. This is an easygoing wine, smooth, silky, and ready for you.  $14.99

2011 Renato Ratti ‘Ochetti’ Nebbiolo, Langhe (Italy)
This was one of the undisputed highlights of my Piedmont reds class a couple of weeks ago and I think it would make a harmonious companion to many kinds of Easter offerings.  I will let the International Wine Cellar tell you all about it: “In a distinctly powerful, slightly warm style, offering highly aromatic scents of blueberry, blackberry, licorice and leather.  Concentrated and serious, with sound acidity giving shape to the dark berry and spice flavors.  Quite primary and firmly tannic now but not hard.  This can be enjoyed young or held.  Ratti picked these vines a week before his Nebbiolo in Barolo, noting that the Ochetti is clearly not a declassified Barolo.  Like some other Nebbiolo bottlings from the Langhe, the Ochetti is becoming increasingly popular in U.S. restaurants.”  $23.99

2008 Lopez de Haro Crainza, Rioja (Spain)
91 points Wine Advocate: “a blend of 93% Tempranillo and 7% Garnacha aged for 18 months in French and American oak. It has a mellow bouquet of dried herbs, terracotta tiles and dusky black fruit that is very well-defined. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin: tart red berried fruit, laced with tobacco and dried herbs on the dry, crisp finish. This is a superb classical Rioja Crianza.  The beautifully designed label for the wines of Bodegas Classica imply a more traditional expression of Rioja, but “classic contemporary” is perhaps a more appropriate description. Thirty-six year old Raul Acha comes from a long line of winemakers and has a doctorate in viticulture from the University of Rioja. These are excellent wines brimming with personality and well-judged, prudent winemaking. The two most appealing wines come under the Hacienda Lopez de Haro label, from vines located in San Vincente de la Sonsierra.  $15.99

2011 Chateau de la Font du Loup, Chateauneuf du Pape (France)

Mostly Grenache, with bits of Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault.  I had the pleasure to attend an all Chateauneuf tasting a week ago and even though some of them young babes are showing an outrageous amount of tannins, this one was appealing and fetching at such a young stage.  My friend agreed.  This is the International Wine Cellar yet again: “Aromas of fresh red fruits, white pepper, pipe tobacco and mocha, with a suave floral overtone.  Offers sweet raspberry and cherry-cola flavors, lifted by juicy acidity that adds back-end cut.  Smooth tannins shape the energetic, punchy finish.”  $39.99


NV Cesar Florido Moscatel Dorado, Jerez (Spain)
Bodegas Cesar Florido was founded in 1887 and is currently maintained by Cesar Florido, a descendant of the founder. The winery is the oldest bodega in the town of Chipiona, located near Sanlucar within the Jerez denomination of origin. Bodegas Cesar Florido is one of only two bodegas in Chipiona that are still operating outside of the cooperative.  Wine Advocate: “produced from 15-year-old Moscatel grapes grown on sandy soils. The grapes are picked very ripe, the must starts fermenting and then fortified to 17.5% alcohol, and the wine spends two years in chestnut barrels.  It is a young Muscat of golden color and a clean fruity nose of orange blossom, honeysuckle, mint and fresh Muscat grape notes with a liqueur touch. The palate is sweet, without perceivable acidity and a pleasant bitter finish. Drink it fresh with fruit desserts. This is superb value for money.”  $14.99 (375 ml.)

Thanksgiving Wines 2013

November 19th, 2013 | Posted by Jorge Lopez-Chavez in Holiday Wines | Jorge's Picks - (Comments Off)


One of the fun characteristics about the wine world is the countless numbers of opinions one can have about anything wine related.  Just like with anything else, wine also is a very personal matter of taste and choice.  I hear all kinds of opinions related to wines to bring to the Thanksgiving table and I’m often perplexed.  I am not here to pooh pooh other people’s visions about what is right in terms of pairings with turkey, but I am here to suggest my own personal preferences with the hope that you take my advice and absolutely love it.  Notwithstanding, I have a few suggestions for you, just like I do every year.  Here are some of my choices:


NV Barnaut Grande Reserve Brut, Champagne (France)
One of the most talked-about wines of our pre-holiday Champagne tasting from a producer who grows his own grapes.  International Wine Cellar 91 points: “(based on a very old solera; two-thirds Pinot Noir and one-third Chardonnay, from Bouzy):  Bright gold.  Intriguing aromas of pear, melon, peach pit, lees and smoky minerals.  Silky orchard fruit and blood orange flavors are lifted by tangy acidity and sharpened by notes of jasmine and bitter lime zest.  Dry, focused and very pure, finishing with impressive clarity and length.”  Only $51.99


2011 D’Arenberg The Hermit Crab, McLaren Vale Australia)

An amazing blend of two Rhone varieties, Viognier and Marsanne, from a producer that seldom fails me, making wine under this label since 1959.  This blend has always been one of my favorite Australian whites and you are going to love it.  International Wine Cellars says: “Peach, melon and ginger on the nose, with floral and lemon pith nuances emerging with aeration.  Shows good heft and creamy texture, with sappy pit fruit flavors brightened by a citrus note.  Finishes spicy, with a touch of warmth and good cling.”  Only $17.99

2012 White Pine Reserve Riesling, Lake Michigan Shore (Michigan)
Owner and winemaker, Dr. David Miller, is a noted winemaker and viticulturist with over 25 years of experience.  This is his new project and he is making waves.  I tried this Riesling with some buddies from the wine business and everyone was impressed.  The wine has a boatload of fruit: apples, peaches, even a little pear, sufficient acidity to pair well with the Asiatic-influenced meal I prepared that night.  This wine is not sweet, but it does have a redolent fruitiness.  Only $18.99


2009 Domaine du Moulin d’Eole ‘Les Champs de Cour,’ Moulin a Vent (France)
I am so glad I was able to find this outstanding Beaujolais from the magnificent 2009 vintage.  The Gamay that grows in Moulin a Vent–a grand cru of the greater appellation–has the propensity to make the beefiest and most robust wines of all the crus of Beaujolais.  This, my friends, is no Nouveau rubbish (and nothing against some of the well-made Nouveau wines we get once in a while).  Instead this is a wine of place, regal and sturdy.  From 40 year old vines, this oak-aged example is replete with “rich and intense aromas of ripe red fruit, nuanced with notes of undergrowth.”  It boasts impressive power and finesse.  Only $19.99

2012 The Dirty Pure Project ‘The F Bomb,’ California (USA)
Maybe California is beginning to win me now that they are attempting to make wines with less heft and more complexity.  The Rhone grapes are also solidifying their status by appearing more often in blends.  This one is a blend of 95% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre sourced from Santa Barbara County.  Folks, the charming and clever label is not a reason why I am offering this beauty.  I think this is a gorgeous example of the generosity of the Grenache grape, offering ripe strawberry, blackberry, black pepper, and velvety tannins.  I do however, have to warn you that this wine is over 15% alcohol so share it with friends, lovers, and/or a hearty meal.  $17.99

2010 Domaine Maby ‘La Fermade,’ Lirac (France)

While teaching my class about the reds of the southern Rhone this wine came second out of five (the Chateauneuf du Pape was the consensus winner) in terms of favorites of the night.  Therefore I want to recommend this as my choice for turkey this year.  Even though Lirac is on the left bank of the river and all the other more famous appellations are on the right, the wines from this area are making huge waves.  “Fragrant, fresh, full and fleshy, with spicy earth and ripe black fruit, a chocolaty middle and a flourish of savory, dry tannins to finish.”  Intense!  A blend of Mourvedre, Syrah, and Grenache.  Only $26.99

November Vino Values

November 5th, 2013 | Posted by Jorge Lopez-Chavez in Jorge's Picks | Vino Values - (Comments Off)

2012 Jean Vullien ‘Montmelian,’ Vin de Savoie (France)
Back to our shelves and a fresh vintage of this delightful Savoie wine made with 100% Jacquere.  The Vullien family has been at it for 36 years and they are also suppliers of young vines to myriad producers in France since 1890.  This wine never saw any wood and went through partial malolactic fermentation to counter the natural acidity of the grape.  The 2011 was great and this one is even better; still crisp and refreshing, with plenty of lemon and lime nuances, green apple, and honeysuckle, light in body, almost reminiscent of a Muscadet.  Try it next time you make fondue!  Regular $13.99, now $11.99

2011 Lone Birch Chardonnay, Yakima Valley (Washington)
For four generations, the Miller family has farmed in the Yakima Valley – Washington’s oldest established AVA and home to some of the state’s finest vineyards. The winery is named after a 70 year old birch tree that sits in the vineyards.  When I tried this discreetly oaked Chardonnay I was quite happy to have found my next Chard for our value wines.  The wine screams apples, peaches, white flowers, and a hint of bubblegum–which I often relate to a yeast-related aroma.  This is a wine which could be refreshing if we get a warm spell but has enough body and depth to keep us warm if needs be.  Regular $11.99, now $9.99

2012 Rustenberg Established White Blend, Stellenbosch (South Africa)
The kitchen sink of white wines from this renowned producer in South Africa’s better-known region.  Here we have a blend of six different grapes (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, and Roussanne).  The International Wine Cellar scored it 88 points: “Enticing aromas of pineapple, passion fruit and white flowers.  Juicy and bright on the palate, with Sauvignon-dominated flavors of lemon and grapefuit.  A touch of steeliness and a saline element add nuance and grip to this nicely balanced blend, which also includes Chardonnay, Semillon, Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne.  At once supple and lively on the back end, throwing off notes of grapefruit, tropical fruits and dusty herbs.”  Pretty good for a wine that sells for so little.  Regular $13.99, now $11.99

2011 Ibidini Nero d’Avola, Sicilia (Italy)
A second label of Valle dell’Acate, the Ibidini range (pronounced ‘bidini) consists of varietal-labeled wines from the estate intended for more casual consumption and delivering tremendous value.  Robert Parker said this about the wines: “This is a superb set of wines from Valle dell’Acate. Not only are the wines delicious, the best bottles deliver incredible value as well. The estate uses only their best hillside plots for the Valle dell’Acate label, while the vineyards in the plains are used for the entry-level Case Ibidini range.”  This bottle offers copious blackberry, dark cherry, raspberry, faint earthy tones, and plenty of charm.  As smooth a wine for this little dough.  Regular $12.99, now $10.99

2012 Domaine Laroque, Cite de Carcassonne (France)
Let’s see how an old world Cabernet Franc fares as a Vino Value.  I stand completely behind this wine which I tasted 2 weeks ago and it absolutely blew me away.  Cabernet Franc tends to have an herbaceous quality which I personally love; this bottle has just a tad of this, so I feel comfortable that it will not offend.  40% of this wine is matured in oak barrels.  “A crimson robe, the nose of subtle raspberry , rhubarb, spice, and tobacco aromas. In the mouth the elegant and silky tannins bring a very feminine touch to this wine. Pair it with tagines, red meats, and cheese platters.”  Regular $11.99, now $10.99
2011 Terres Falmet Cinsault, Vin de Pays d’Oc (France)
Cinsault is usually a grape which is used to soften the extremes of the Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre grapes, and frequently only a small percentage is needed.  Not with this baby.  Here we have a solid 100% Cinsault ready to please you and all around you who enjoy good wine; furthermore, this wine sees no oak, so you get the ample experience of Cinsault.  The vines are planted around the village of Saint Chinian, one of my favorite appellations of the Languedoc.  Think of it as a little Chateauneuf du Pape without all the tannins.  Yowza!  Regular $14.99, now $12.99

The Devil’s Wine: A Tasting of True Champagne

September 17th, 2013 | Posted by Jorge Lopez-Chavez in Wine Tasting Events - (Comments Off)

It is time to face the fact that summer was a bit of a disappointment in terms of heat and perfect lake weather, September is halfway gone, and the fall is officially here since all the students are back. That’s when we start thinking about the upcoming holidays. To help you in this process I would like to extend an open invitation to our next wine tasting to be held on October 24th. Are you ready for true Champagne? I hope you are because that is what we will be offering–plus 2 amazing wines by renowned producer (who we sadly lost 5 years ago) Didier Daguenau, from Pouilly-Fume in the Loire valley. Come taste the wines of Barnaut, Coutier, Jacquesson, Pierre Moncuit, and the already-mentioned Loire rebel. Vintage ’59 Imports, the people who bring all these wines, strives to “represent cutting edge wines from France—it’s what excites us and it’s what we know best. Our aim is to stay abreast of who is making exceptional wine in good appellations and to bring their wines and stories to those of you who appreciate them.” Come join Mike Daniels, Carlin, and I for a night of fine wine, fun, and effervescence. We might even have a few cheese samples. Let the celebrations begin!

The tasting will be held at Vellum Restaurant (209 S Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104) on Thursday, October 24, 2013 from 7:30 until 9 in the pm. Cost $25.

Get your tickets here: http://www.localwineevents.com/events/detail/497619

September Vino Values

September 3rd, 2013 | Posted by Jorge Lopez-Chavez in Vino Values - (Comments Off)

2012 L’Enclos Colombard/Ugni Blanc, Gascogne (France)
From the ever reliable region of Gascogne in southwest France comes this stunning example of the grapes.  The two varieties are fermented separately and then blended to attain the perfect wine for the particular vintage.  I always describe these Gascogne wines as Sauvignon Blanc-like but with a little bit more roundness and baby fat.  Expect a torrent of lemon, white peach, hint of pear, lots of intensity for a wine at this price, and a mouthful of invigorating acidity.  A perfect starter, cheese companion, or simply a quaffer while one cooks.  I would also suggest this wine for cooking per se.  Regular $9.99, now $7.99

2011 Vina Herminia Viura, Rioja (Spain)
Making wine since 1949 but with vineyards dating all the way to 1885, this winery makes wines with a true sense of tradition.  The Viura grape, also known as Macabeo in other parts of Spain, is famous for making wines with plenty of acidity and it is often blended (even with red wine grapes) but not this time.  This wine exhibits citrus peel, preserved lemon, freshly cut grass, and stone fruits.  I am always looking for some good values from Spain and this one fits the bill.  Regular $9.99, now $7.99

2011 Domaine Ste. Anne Blanc, Cotes du Rhone (France)
Domaine Saint Anne make sure that they do things right before their harvest goes into their fermentation vats: with first-rate fruit, they believe that more than half the battle for great wine is won.  This wine is a blend of Clairette, Bourboulenc, Marsanne, Roussane, and Víognier, and what a blend it makes.  I feel whites from the southern Rhone are misunderstood, so I want you to pick a bottle of this and taste the unique flavors these grapes provide.  Rich, lush, powerful, without being cloying, peach, Persian melon, star fruit, decent acidity, and a long-lasting finish; just precious.  Regular $14.99, now $12.99

2010 Colmone della Marca ‘Il Ciarliero’ Sparkling Red, Marche (Italy)
I had to bring this in; I just had to.  This is a refreshing red, perfect for the month of September–since I am hoping for a somewhat warm month–which should be served chilled.  When Lance and I tried it we thought the charm was enough to win anyone who loves reds and sparkling wines.  Do not expect a lot of bubbles; this goes more towards the frizzante style without the sweetness.  Made with the Vernaccia Nera grape, this wine is racy, with plenty of red berries, black cherries, purple flowers, and just a hint of tobacco.  Pair it with roasted squash or aged cheeses.  Regular $18.99, now $12.99

2010 Vignerons de Caractere ‘A L’Ombre des Fontaines’, Cotes du Rhone (France)
Founded in 1957, the Cave de Vacqueyras is one of the youngest Cooperative wineries in France. It is located on the great Terroir of Vacqueyras, which obtained the “Cru” appellation in 1990. This light Cotes du Rhone is made with a majority of Grenache, with Syrah and Cinsault as the blending partners.  A burst of red fruits of the summer, spiced cranberries, red cherries, and a faint brushing of fennel seed.  I love the versatility of this wine, good for dark meats, fowl, fish, beans, or vegetable stews.  Regular $11.99, now $10.99

2011 L’Artista, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (Italy)
Another good value Montepulciano for your pleasure and your pocket.  Wines from this area of Italy are often made with very traditional methods which date back hundreds of years.  The Montepulciano grape grows at relatively high elevations close to the Adriatic sea coast.  This wine was showing a bit tightly 6 months ago but now it has opened up divinely.  Redolent with blackberries, black cherries, currants, and just a smidgen of cacao.  This wine is perfect for pizza, pasta dishes, or red meats.  Regular $10.99, now $8.99