Patricia Green Cellars 2018 Pinots

Jim Anderson2Jim and winery co-founder, the late Patricia Green, have always had a knack for connecting with great grapes and identifying vineyard blocks, bunches of clones, and individual barrels of bubbling juice that have something special to say.

Jim – with partner Patty Green and on his own since her untimely death – has been exploring the nuances of Oregon’s Pinot Noir Vineyards, the impact on those grapes of destemming vs whole cluster fermentation, new versus used wood, different coopers, even some kooky sounding stuff like adding lees back into barrels (don’t knock it – it’s how he make Notorious!).

For the past four to five vintages, it’s become abundantly clear to me that Jim is now 100% dialed in to what Willamette Valley Pinot Noir wants to be, and especially what it wants to be in each of the 30+ bottlings he makes. As Jim will freely admit, it’s probably not smart to make 30+ bottlings of Pinot Noir in one winery. But when each has something deliciously wonderful to say, what are you going to do?

Patricia Green 2018sThe 2018 Pinots from Jim and the team at PGC are pretty breathtaking. They show the character of the vintage, the unique elements of each plot of dirt where the grapes grow we call terroir, and the light imprint of impeccable, precise, and low-intervention winemaking.

But here’s the thing you really need to know: Jim Anderson’s 2018 Pinot Noirs are stupid delicious, vividly exciting, and deeply satisfying to drink right this very minute and will (hard as it is to believe) get better over the next 10-15 years (even the Reserve!).

For this, which we hope is only our first offering of Patricia Green Cellars Pinots, we’ve selected four wines that highlight something unique about Jim’s work in the winery and vineyards.

You can mix/match your way to best prices on all:

  • Patricia Green Pinot Noir Reserve 2018 (from $24.98)– The most ridiculous Pinot Noir value in the world? Perhaps. From fruit grown on the Estate, in Durant, Freedom Hill, and other vineyards (including one too famous to name). Raspberry, pomegranate, citrus blossoms, spice and smoke and a stellar finish. 92 points Wine Spectator; 91 points Wine Enthusiast
  • Patricia Green Pinot Noir Estate 2018 (from $29.98)– Ribbon Ridge Pinot is all about full-throttle fruit, bold tannins, and the salty minerality given by marine sedimentary soils. Expressive, full of tart and sweet fruits, and lovely cinnamon and orange peel complexity. 93 points Wine Spectator; 91 points Wine Enthusiast
  • Patricia Green Pinot Noir Balcombe Vyd 2018 (from $36.98)– A classic volcanic soil, Dundee Hills, Pinot Noir with blueberry and black raspberry fruit, deep concentration, and a firm, smoke-and-spice inflected, finish. 92 points Wine Spectator; 94 points Wine Enthusiast.
  • Patricia Green Pinot Noir Lia’s Vyd 2018 (from $31.98)– From a unique site that blends both volcanic and marine sedimentary soils and a range of clones, this is one of the prettiest, most floral, and delightful wines in the PGC portfolio. Consistently one of my personal three favorite wines here and both approachable and hauntingly beautiful in 2018.

Go to CBCwine.com

 

Wine Pairing: Strauss Samling and Scampi!

Recently, our own Greg Glunt enjoyed a bottle from his recently purchased case of Strauss Samling 88 2019. It’s his new “spring house white” he says! And it paired beautifully with shrimp scampi with linguini. See the recipe below.  Looks good to the rest of us too!

Strauss 1

Shrimp Scampi with Linguini

Ingredients:

1 pound linguini
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 finely diced shallots
2 minced cloves garlic
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
1 pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

1. Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta. Once the water has reached a full boil, add some salt and the pasta. Stir. Cook at boil for 7 minutes (pasta will be just shy of al dente). Drain and stir in a little olive oil to keep pasta from sticking together. Cover and set aside.

2. In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Saute shallots, red pepper flakes and garlic until shallots are clear. Season shrimp with salt & pepper and add them to the pan. Cook shrimp until pink then remove and keep warm (I place them in a bowl with a lid). Add lemon juice and wine to the saute pan and bring to boil. Add two tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once the butter has melted, add the shrimp, parsley and cooked pasta. Stir together and season to taste. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.

Strauss 2

Distinctive and Delicious Malbecs from Mendoza

argentina-11-1-1

Mendoza winemakers are traveling a road to producing wines that reflect soil and place – and do so deliciously!

When Malbec burst on the American wine scene and pushed aside Aussie Shiraz as the best wine value in the USA 10-15 years ago, paying attention to the terroir of various subregions wasn’t on anyone’s mind.

As Uco Valley winemaker Matías Riccitelli told Wine Enthusiast in late 2018, “In the early days, meaning 15 to 20 years ago, the creativity came from outside,” he says. “You had Michel Rolland and his Bordeaux friends at Clos de los Siete, Paul Hobbs [from California] at Cobos, and Hans Vinding-Diers [a Dane] with Noemia down in Patagonia.”

Those outsiders brought with them an “International” understanding of what made for great red wine. And the wines they made – picked at very full ripeness, softened to smoothness, and given a sheen of spice in new oak – very much fit that international mold. And given the then very low land and farming costs in Argentina, they delivered that polished style at stunningly low prices.

A couple of years ago, we began noticing something new in the Malbecs we tried at our buying tastings.

A New Generation. As second and third generation Mendoza-born winery owners took the reins of their estates, they began looking past the international style to try to discover what was unique about their vines, soils, and locations. To be honest, most of those early attempts reminded us why Malbec traditionally plays a supporting role to Cabernet Sauvignon in most of the world.

Today, though, we’re finding more and more examples of Mendoza Malbec that is both distinctively “Mendoza” and utterly delicious. A wine class a few months ago with Sebastian Zuccardi of the Familia Zuccardi Estate provided a fine introduction to the varied terroirs of Mendoza. And, we are also featuring wines from Bodega Andeluna.

Andeluna WineryAndeluna is a great example of an estate working in the Mendoza subregion of Gualtallary that’s made the transition to wines of delicious distinctiveness. Join us on Saturday from noon-4pm and you can taste through their full line-up of current releases with export manager Nicolás Cricco. Like us, we think you’ll be thrilled with the purity of their Chardonnay, the floral complexity of their Torrentes, and the satisfying richness of both their “everyday” Cabernet and the much more serious Malbec Altutud.

But Andeluna’s Malbec Raices is most likely the wine that will stop you cold. Especially when you look at the price – at $9.98 by the bottle, the best you’ll find in the USA. At $7.98/ea by the case?

This wine showcases the unique blend of alluvial, sandy, and limestone-rich soils of Gualtallary. These free-draining soils give bunches of small berries that achieve full ripeness of flavor and tannin at modest alcohols of 13.8%. And when treated with care, they deliver wines that match their fullness and fruit with amazing freshness and superb drinkability. A can’t miss winning four-season, all-purpose red that could be the finest value you’ll find in all of 2020 to come!

Climb the Hill for Delicious Burgundy Values

Really good, stylish, delicious red and white Burgundy values are still out there – but you have to be willing to explore a bit to find them. So drive the road from Chassagne-Montrachet past St Aubin and climb the hill to the Haute-Cotes village of La Rochepot. That’s where you’ll find Jerome and Elisabeth Billard, sometimes their son Louis, and some of the most compelling white and red Burgundy values we’ve tasted in years!

billard-doug-and-horse.jpg

On our visit in March, Doug got to meet Jerome and Elisabeth … and Rafael the horse, an important part of Dom Billard’s vineyard care!

Jerome took over the family estate 20 years ago, in 1999, and promptly stopped selling to the local co-op and began bottling wine himself. He quickly converted his vineyards to organic farming and, while raising three children, gradually acquired small vineyard plots in select sites across the Cotes de Beaune.

Today his children are mostly grown and one son, Louis, is a budding winegrower working in the cellars at Domaine Romanee-Conti (on his days off, he helps Jerome work the family’s vineyards and is learning how to use Rafael the horse to reduce the use of tractors within the vines).

Dom Billard signElisabeth and Jerome of BillardBut the winegrowing philosophy has remained constant.

Low-Impact, Meticulous Farming: All of Billard’s vineyards are farmed organically with no chemical insecticides, fertilizers or herbicides. In four vineyards, plowing and mowing are done by horse, rather than tractor, to limit soil compactions. The vines are tightly pruned to limit fruit set and bunches are dropped while green to keep yields low.

Focus on Freshness: Jerome loves ripe fruit – but not over-ripe fruit. He picks each site to achieve fine balance of fruit flavors and acidity and then full destems and sorts grape by grape to ensure that only perfect berries make it into the wine.

Gently, Gently: Chardonnay is pressed slow and gently to extract pure juice with no bitterness from the skins or seeds. Pinot Noir goes into the fermenters as whole berries, and then are trod by foot to release the juice and extract color and structure with soft, supple, tannins. As much as possible, the young wine moves through the winery via gravity or air pressure to minimize harsh pumping.

Judicious Oak: Great Burgundy needs time in barrel and the finest, most concentrated, wines need at least a little new oak to achieve balance, finesse and complexity. But Jerome knows that too much wood flavor means that the unique signature of site and vintage can easily be overwhelmed. The whites all ferment and age in barrel, while the reds all see barrel for aging. But the quality of barrel is very high, the toast levels low, and the percentage of new oak kept down so each wine’s character and fruit can shine through.

Generosity, Drinkability, and Unmistakably Burgundy
Folks, these are seriously good Burgundies that you don’t have to be “serious” to enjoy. Highly recommended. Get ’em.

Billard Justice and santenay les hates

Beaujolais Nouveau? – Yup – for Easter!

jean-paul-brun-beaujolais-nouveau-vv-l-ancien_1Here’s a little peek inside the wine business.
Jean Paul Brun’s “regular” bottling of l’Ancien Beaujolias is always a favorite, so when we came to the end of the 2018 vintage recently, we asked Margaret Perry of Williams Corner Wines – home of all things organic, authentic, and sometimes a little weird – to suggest a replacement.
When she recommended the l’Ancien Beaujolais Nouveau I had my doubts. But here, word for word, is how she convinced me to try this:
“From JP Brun Terre Dorées — all we have is the Nouveau — but hear me out! His nouveau is in the exact same wine as the regular Villes Vignes “L’Ancien” — only he bottles this wine right at the end of fermentation, instead of aging it in tanks with the regular cuvee.
 
“At this point, it’s essentially bottle aged, and it is just so damn good. 40-60 year old vines (when do you see that in Nouveau?!); organically grown, hand harvested, rigorously sorted, fermented without carbonic (he calls it the “Burgundian style”). As it happens, I had a bottle in my cellar and opened it up this week. It reminds me of eating Santa Rosa Plums off our tree when I was a kid — and spilling juice everywhere but still reaching for a second one. Warm, sun-ripened fruit (black cherry, tart red plum, black raspberry), nicely lift from the acidity, elegant tannins, it’s lush and refreshing all at once. 
You may still be skeptical, so here’s the deal. If you normally love Beaujolais and/or that description sounds good to you, buy some. If you don’t love it – and I mean go over the moon with eye-rolling delight from first sip to last glug of the upside-down bottle as you struggle to get one more drop into your glass … well, I’ll buy back any unopened bottles from you!
Jean Paul Brun’s Beaujolais Nouveau VV l’Ancien 2019 is decidedly and decisively different from what you may have come to expect from this fading rite of fall. From $14.98 per bottle, this is gloriously delicious, vivid, enlivening, joy- and thanks-producing Gamay that you’ll struggle not to gulp.

Petra Toscana: ‘The Fascinating Story of a Feminine Trip’

Francesca MorettiFrancesca Moretti likes to say that the entire Petra project is “the fascinating story of a feminine trip.”

Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, Napoleon’s sister and Grand Duchess of Tuscany, was the first to plant vines in this part of the Tuscan Coast. Her original five-hectare plot of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese is planted to those same varietals today and her herb and flower garden, now called the “Princess’s Garden,” has been restored using the 19th Century map prepared by historical botanist Paolo Tomei from the University of Siena.

The vineyards had been long abandoned with then 19-year-old Francesca Moretti took a break from her studies towards a veterinary degree to drive to Bordeaux with her father. Upon passing through the rolling hills and seaside vistas of the Suvereto district in Maremma, she fell in love. The rest, as they say, is history.

Matching Soil to Grapes
The vineyards were meticulously planted at the foot of Maremma’s Colline Metallifere hills, the “metal-bearing hills” mined from Etruscan times through the 19th Century. Francesca Moretti and her father, Vittorio, analyzed each plot of the 300 hectare estate for soil type, exposition, and exposure to the cooling breezes coming off the nearby Tyrrhenian Sea.

Where appropriate, the red, iron-rich soils were matched to both French grapes – Syrah, Cabernets, Merlot, Petit Verdot – and Tuscany’s own Sangiovese. The remaining two-thirds of the property was planted to olives or left wild to support the natural population of deer, boars, porcupines, hedgehogs, badgers, foxes, kestrels, buzzards and owls.

A few years ago, then Wine Advocate Italian critic Antonio Galloni wrote that

“Petra is one of my favorite properties for intense, flavorful wines from the Suvereto district in Maremma,” and he later added, “I rarely hear Petra mentioned in a discussion of the best wines and wineries from the Tuscan coast, but year after year the wines are reliably outstanding and fairly priced. … The house style is one of bold, exuberant wines.”

Many of you loved the 2015 Petra Toscana Zingari we featured last year, taking it home by the box-full when we first offered and then coming back for more and more while it lasted. When the huge ratings and Wine Spectator Top 100 award for the 2017 came out late last year, the 2017 was still awaiting release in Italy and demand soared (and the winery took a price increase, too). Last year, we brought you 52 cases of the 2015. And 52 cases is all we were allocated for this even more stunning 2017 vintage.

The 2017 edition of Petra Toscana Zingari is pretty much everything you’d hope for in a $50 prestige bottling. At $17.98 by the bottle or $16.98/ea by the case, this is an order all you can and then rush down to pick it up via our contactless curbside pick-up or enjoy our expanded free delivery service to addresses in Arlington, Falls Church, Vienna, Tysons, McLean and Great Falls.

Moving Toward the South Pole: Malbec from Patagonia

Today’s featured Malbecs from Bodega Noemia give us a chance to continue our exploration of Argentina, but from a new perspective, moving from Mendoza down to Patagonia.

Differently Delicious!
Bodegas Noemia A Lisa and EstateThese Malbecs are also delicious, but differently delicious from the traditional Mendoza Malbec you’ve come to know over the years. In part that’s about place, specifically the Rio Negre region of Patagonia, about 525 miles to the south of Mendoza.

As you’d expect, moving so much closer to the South Pole brings cooler temperatures here than you’d find in Mendoza, although the drop in altitude from 3,000+ feet to around 800 feet elevation and copious amounts of sunshine means that the grapes still get plenty ripe. But the cool days and limestone rich soils match Malbec’s ripe raspberry and cherry fruit with a brisk and freshening dose of acidity. At just 13.5% alcohol and with only 40% seeing barrel (all old), it’s vibrant, juicy, and supremely food friendly.

Bodega Noemi’s Hans Vinding Diers
Hans Vinding-DiersThe other secret here is a truly great winegrower. Hans Vinding-Diers learned his craft with his cousin, Peter Sisseck of Pingus fame and while making benchmark Brunello di Montalcino at Argiano. He and Argiano’s then owner, Contessa Noemi Marone Cinzano, fell in love with the Rio Negre’s climate, beauty and chalky limestone soils when Hans came to the region to consult for another winery in 1998.

In 2000, Hans found a small plot of Malbec planted in 1932 and jumped at the chance to purchase it and found Bodega Noemia.

Hans has expanded his vineyard holding beyond that tiny plot and purchases some fruit from organically farming local neighbors and uses that plus his younger vines of Malbec plus 9% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot to make A Lisa.

And the original, pre- phylloxera, 88 year-old vines? Those go into the Estate Malbec. We have a little of that available, too, and it’s the most delicious and compelling Malbec I’ve ever tasted. Splurge a bit on a bottle or two (you can mix/match with A Lisa for best prices) and get ready to be thrilled.

Wines of a Pope: Clement siblings from Bernard Magrez

Pope's castle CdPAs you probably know, the history of the Southern Rhone’s Chateauneuf du Pape is tightly connected to the history of the Papacy. Or is it the other way around? Which drove some papal decisions: politics, religion, or just love of good wine?

“Chateauneuf du Pape” translates as “the Pope’s new castle” and refers to the summer home build by the second Avignon Pope, John XXII on the top of a hill about 30km south of Avignon. Today, after scavenging for building stones by the local villagers and a partially successful attempt by German soldiers to blow up the building in 1944, only one wall of the Chateau remains. But the name carries on and applies to what are clearly the greatest Grenache vineyards in the world.

Pope and Wine Lover Clement V
Pope ClementEven more important to our story than John XXII, though, was one Bertrand de Goth, a long-time wine lover as he moved up in his career in the Catholic Church. When de Goth was made Bishop of Bordeaux in 1297, he was presented with a vineyard that had been farmed since 1255. He improved this estate and built a winery in 1300, and winemaking as continued there non-stop until today, making what is now called Ch Pape-Clement the oldest Chateau in Bordeaux.

In 1305, de Goth was elevated to Pope and took the name Clement V. But he decided that life in Rome was too dangerous for his taste. Or was it that the wine there wasn’t tasty enough? So Clement and the Papacy moved to Avignon, in Provence. At first they drank Bordeaux, but Clement ordered the planting and improvement of vineyards on the rocky soils to the north of Avignon. And, by his death in 1314, the local wine was already called “Vin de Pape.”

A CdP Sister to Clement Bordeaux
This wine was created to honor the first “Pape” in the southern Rhone by today’s owner of Ch Pape Clement in Bordeaux – wine magnate and millionaire Bernard Magrez.

Although Margrez has owned top estates in Bordeaux, Provence, Argentina, Chile, even the USA for years, Pape Clement Bordeaux has always been the group’s most important wine. And Magrez has long dreamed of creating a sister wine to his Bordeaux, one that honored Bertrand de Goth’s second winemaking career in Avignon.

It’s taken many years, but with the first US release of La Destinee de Clement V, his dream is now a reality.

Clement V CdP and castle

Mt. Etna’s Terre Nere: Pinot Noir Meets Brunello and Nebbiolo

nerello-mascalese-1727-1-1Have no idea what Nerello Mascalese is? Or never had a wine from Mount Etna before? And think “Sicilian red wine” means “fat, flabby and jammy” and that “Marco De Grazia” means “oaky and international styled”?

Let’s fix that, shall we?

We’ll start with the grape. Here’s how Jancis Robinson, Master of Wine and author of the world’s most comprehensive book on wine grapes describes Nerello Mascalese: “Noble, late-ripening Sicilian variety that retains its acidity well and is responsible for some dense and haunting reds on the slopes of Mount Etna.”

Grown on the poor, fast-draining soils of active volcano Mount Etna and blended with softer Nerello Cappuccio, Nerello Mascalese tastes like a cross between mature Barolo, warm-vintage red Burgundy, and classic leather and fruit-laced Brunello. Think ripe strawberries, sweet cherries, expensive leather, and dark flower aromas and flavors in a texture that has Pinot Noir’s silkiness, Sangiovese’s power, and great Nebbiolo’s stunning blend of acidity, tannin and perfume.

An Italian Icon on Mt Etna
mount-etna-volcanoNobody does a better job of pulling out all of Nerello’s delicious charm than Marco De Grazia. Best-known for introducing Americans to the joys of great Italian wines as an importer, Marco and his brother purchased a swath of old vine vineyards on the steep slopes of Mount Etna 30 years ago and have lovingly nurtured them as they used classic Burgundian winemaking techniques to make simply stunning wines.

Since moving to Sicily and founding Terre Nere, Marco has established himself as Mt Etna’s “benchmark” producer. The winery’s approach is straightforward. First, they have acquired old vineyards up and down the volcano’s slopes, giving them sites with a variety of exposures, slopes and soil types. Then they farm each site organically and to low yields. And make their wine simply and naturally, bottling each vineyard – or “contrada” – individually to showcase Mt Etna’s varieties of terroir.

The results have been spectacular from the beginning. As Wine Advocate reports, “Marco de Grazia-s influence on the wines of Etna looms as large as the massive volcano that dominates the landscape in this very special corner of Sicily.” We have a selection of the best of this fabulous set of wines. All are very limited and all very much worth your attention and space in your cellar.

Terre nere Mt Etna

It’s an Egg! The Advantages of Fermentation in Concrete “Eggs”

Concrete EggsThe other day, some friends of ours were surprised to hear that wine is sometimes aged in concrete.

But it turns out that this is nothing new: The Greeks and Romans used concrete fermentation and aging vessels from ancient times, but Northern European winemakers quickly turned to their abundant forests and oak casks as the industry developed there.

In the mid-20th Century, winemakers in the south of France returned to concrete for fermentation and aging, but they usually lined the tanks (first with epoxy and later with fiberglass) to make it easier to keep things clean. Since lined concrete is a neutral vessel, it’s not surprising that even easier to clean and control stainless steel tanks gradually took over from concrete as the 2oth Century drew to a close.

Dom Fleuriet concrete eggGoing Back to Raw Concrete. Modern winemakers – like Bernard Fleuriet in Sancerre – are going back to the future by returning to the use of raw concrete for fermentation and aging. Because of its mass, concrete naturally stabilizes temperatures. And because it’s very slightly porous, it allows a tiny bit of air to very slowing mix in with the maturing wine, allowing it to soften a bit and gain some extra complexity.

And when the raw concrete vessel is shaped like an egg, something else magical happens. The egg shape promotes a slow, gentle, natural circulation of the wine. As the wine moves, it picks up the powdery, fine, lees – the spent yeast cells from fermentation – and keeps them mixed with the wine as it flows. The lees give the wine still more complexity of flavor, bringing out minerality to match the ripe grape fruit flavors, and making the texture of the wine a touch more creamy and deep.

Great Sauvignon fruit, raw concrete, and a funny egg shape all come together with the terrific Cote de Marloup vineyard and the outstanding 2016 Sancerre vintage to produce something pretty darn magical in today’s featured wine: the Fleuriet Sancerre Cote de Marloup! What must have been an almost painfully intense white wine at first has gained some roundness and richness of mouthfeel, but lost nothing of its vibrant cut and juicy, mouthwatering, acidity and minerality.

The 2016 Fleuriet Sancerre Cote de Marloup is certainly a brilliant seafood wine and will shine brightly with Sancerre’s classic Crottin de Chavignol goat cheese. But it’s also a mouthwatering solo sipper and will pair up nicely at table with salad, cold poultry, or pretty much any dish with a touch of citrus freshness. It’s ready to drink now – the extra year in bottle really shows! – and will keep on delivering delight for 3-4 years to come.