October 2017—Our 45th Anniversary!
In our shop, we frequently encounter customers hesitant to try certain wines because of implicit biases toward a particular grape, style, or region. Sure enough, a number of wines out there are misunderstood, underestimated, or simply dismissed due to reputation. And while many of these claims hold some degree of truth, we shouldn’t judge an entire group from its worst example, or we would miss out on a whole lot of deliciousness. With this sampler, we shine a light on France and Italy’s most misunderstood wines, debunking myths and hopefully opening your eyes to a number of truly remarkable bottles you might have otherwise steered clear of. –Anthony Lynch
2014 Riesling “Vignoble D’E” • Domaine Ostertag $28.00
Alsace and Riesling: is it dry? Sweet? Thin and acidic or viscous and syrupy? A longtime inability to clearly communicate, along with overproduction of insipid, chemically farmed whites, has left Alsace out of favor. A pity indeed, given the region’s ability to produce world-class dry, chiseled Riesling. This succulent and stony bottling from Ostertag is the antithesis of the identity-confused Alsatian wines of the past.
2015 Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Rosato • Fattoria Moretto $19.95
Lambrusco and rosé both suffer from the same problem: in the 1970s, sweet, soda-pop versions flooded the market and alienated many people looking for dry, thirst-quenching refreshers. Moretto’s rosato kills two birds with one stone, showing that Lambrusco and rosé can be terroir-driven, food-friendly, quaffable, and, yes, bone-dry.
2015 Fleurie “Les Moriers” • Domaine Chignard $26.00
While Beaujolais is now enjoying a comeback, it is still plagued by its past. The technologically produced bubblegum Nouveau that took the world by storm made it quite hard for the region to be taken seriously. Look to the crus such as Fleurie for reds crafted by artisans like Cédric Chignard: deep, spicy, and velvety, this is nothing like cheap Nouveau.
2010 Lussac Saint-Émilion • Château de Bellevue $26.00
After the 2004 movie Sideways, nobody wanted to drink Merlot. And why should they? So many are plummy, overripe, and over-oaked. For fresher styles driven by minerality rather than obvious varietal fruit, look to the grape’s home: Bordeaux. Bellevue’s Lussac is lively and chalky, nothing like the heavy versions that gave Merlot a bad name.
2013 Chianti Classico • Castagnoli $29.00
Ubiquitous cheap table wine labeled as Chianti and served from a fiasco, or traditional straw basket, proved to be, well, a real fiasco for genuine Chianti. It can be one of Italy’s finest red wines, magical at table and even better with some bottle age.
2013 Faugères • Domaine Léon Barral $35.00
Mass production of overcropped blending wine from the flatlands of the Languedoc led many to believe the region was not worth their time or money. Pioneers like Didier Barral prove otherwise, crafting complex, age-worthy reds from poor hillside soils, easily rivaling the best from the Rhône or California.
SPECIAL SAMPLER PRICE
(a 20% discount)
When buying red Burgundy, I think we should remember:
1. Big wines do not age better than light wine.
2. A so-called great vintage at the outset does not guarantee a great vintage for the duration.
3. A so-called off vintage at the outset does not mean the wines do not have a brilliant future ahead of them.
4. Red Burgundy should not taste like Guigal Côte-Rôtie, even if most wine writers wish it would.
5. Don’t follow leaders; watch yer parking meters.
Inspiring Thirst, page 174