“Drinking & Knowing Things” Tasting Notes

“Drinking & Knowing Things” By Michael Amon

Chapter 36, Wine #25 of 2022- 2016 Westrey Pinot Gris  -2016 Westrey Pinot Gris – Westrey Wine Company was founded in 1993 by co-owners and winemakers Amy Wesselman and David Autrey in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Amy and David focus on crafting elegant Pinot Noir wines, fruit-driven Burgundian-style Chardonnay and crisp, refreshing Pinot Gris. The wines are designed to be balanced and age-worthy, and excellent complements to the fare with which they are served. This Pinot Gris from The Dundee Hills appellation is made from fruit exclusively from Westrey’s Oracle Vineyard. This wine displays a variety of floral aromas, combined with white peach, a subtle hazelnut character, and a dollop of fresh ginger. On the palate there is beautiful robust fruit and lively citrusy acidity, fleshed out with a talc/mineral note. A classic Willamette Valley Pinot Gris, the wine has plenty of weight on the palate from exceptional fruit concentration and crisp, refreshing acidity, with a long, clean finish.

Chapter 17, Wine #26 of 2022- 2020 Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko– Paris Sigalas comes from a winemaking family in Santorini, Greece. Like most Santorinians, the future mathematician spent his summer holidays on the island. Together with friends, he helped out with grape-picking and in the production of the family’s wine, a process that increasingly fascinated him. In 1991, Domaine Sigalas had their maiden vintage of Assyrtiko. As Paris took over the reins of his grandfather’s vineyard and started crafting wine by his own guiding principle: “the dynamic evolution of tradition”. It is the belief that innovation and technical savviness can coexist in a creative relationship with the ancient winegrowing traditions of the island. As Paris Sigalas has said, it was his passion for tasting and evaluating wine that eventually set the high bar for his own wines. This wine is unoaked and dry. It shows notes of ripe apple, pear skin, sea salt and quince with a rich minerality and pleasing acidity.

Chapter 38, Wine #27 of 2022- 2021 Domaine Francois Crochet ‘Les Perrois’ Sancerre– The son of a vigneron, François took over the estate in the Loire Valley of France in 1998 and together with his wife Carine works 10.5 hectares of vines, encompassing all three of the principle Sancerre terroirs. François Crochet is an innovative winemaker with experience far beyond Sancerre. Although well travelled, having spent time in New Zealand, his heart is in the Loire Valley and here he produces his own distinctive style of this classic wine. Now a victim of his own success, François cannot keep up with demand, making only limited, hand-crafted quantities. These wines are some of the most precise and refined Sancerre around; intensely flavored with crisp, refreshing acidity and great length. This is textbook Sancerre which has fruit and minerality in perfect proportions. This wine has fresh citrus fruit acidity that supports stony fruit and minerality on the palate. With power and elegance and purity this wine really stands out.

Chapter 39, Wine #28 of 2022- 2021 Chateau Briot Bordeaux Blanc- Imagine a country lane passing through woods that are perfect for hunting and mushroom picking, a lake with a couple of fishermen, and of course vines covering the gentle slopes to complete this idyllic countryside scenery. This is Château Briot, a peaceful haven at the heart of Entre-Deux-Mers, carefully preserved by the Ducourt family since 1980. This wine is a pale yellow with greenish tints in the glass showing notes of citrus, peach and honey on the nose. On the palate, it is well-rounded, supple, fruity, easy-drinking and agreeable with a lasting finish.

Previous month’s wine selections and tasting notes:

Chapter 13, Wine #20 of 2022- 2020 Clos La Coutale Cahors  -Deep in the southwest of France, amidst dramatic rock formations and cliffs, the Lot River slowly snakes its way along the valley floor, coiling covetously around the charming town of Cahors. The diversity in architecture serves as a proud historical mark left by many previous generations of inhabitants. Once a former Roman town, Cahors was also as a center of commerce during the Middle Ages that served as an important crossroads for pilgrims on the trail to Santiago de Compostella. Among the many specialties that have brought pride to the region, the constant has been its wine. A.O.C. Cahors is known as the “black wine” of the Southwest–the deeply inky, earthy wines that seem to complement the regional fare of duck (and duck fat!) so wonderfully. Cahors is also the birthplace of Cot, the grape more commonly known as Malbec. The Bernède family is an intricate part of this tradition, watching over one of the region’s oldest domaines that was founded before the French Revolution. Philippe Bernède, continues the family tradition farming sixty hectares of land along the alluvial terraces of the Lot Valley. The blend consists of 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot from 25 years old vines. 

Chapter 16, Wine #21 of 2022- 2021 Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino di Sardegna– Sardinia might produce the greatest Vermentino in the world. It’s a grape stuffed to the gills with character, and you’ll find it all over Europe. According to Italian wine guru Ian d’Agata, in Italy alone 50 different Vermentino wines are produced, bearing a dizzying array of local names and made in 22 DOCs and one DOCG. But in Sardinia, it’s something special.The island’s climate results in a gloriously crisp take on the grape. Transposed between continents, Sardinia is a place where beauty arises from a meeting of extremes. Picture ocean-sprayed, rocky coasts and long, flat plains, plus hot southern winds from Africa that collide with cool gusts funneling down from France. It is crisp, mouthwatering, and succulent, packed with stone fruit and orange zest. It’s the perfect summertime white!

Chapter 29, Wine #22 of 2022- 2017 Dirk Niepoort Rotulo Tinto– Dirk Niepoort was born in March 1964 in Portugal to a family who owned a small Port shipping business, the van der Niepoorts. After a spell away studying, working in a wine shop and making wine, Dirk returned to the family firm in 1987, and was determined to do something different. With fruit from two newly purchased Quintas—Napoles (in 1987) and Carril (in 1988)—he decided to try making table wine. The Rótulo was born from his commitment to producing traditional wines whose freshness and lightness make them ideal food partners for any occasion. His dream to create Dão wines dates back to 2012. Since then we have been procuring vineyard blocks – including some very old sites – which express the unique character of the region. Its mountainous microclimate and granitic soils have been the birthplace of great wines for a very long time. This wine is comprised predominantly of Touriga Nacional, with small percentages of Jaen, Tinta Pinheira and Alfrocheiro. It is ruby red in color, with elegant aromas, freshness and fruit. On the palate, minerality and great finesse come to the front, with predominant notes of fruits of the forest and aromas typical of the terroir. Its beautiful acidity balances out the wine’s fruit. 

Chapter 35, Wine #24 of 2022- 2020 Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio- Founded in 1848, the Tiefenbrunner Castel Turmhof Winery owes its name to the ancient castle known today as the home of the Tiefenbrunner family. The winery is in the hamlet Entiklar, in the town of Kurtatsch, which is in the South Tyrolean province of Bozen amid the awe-inspiring Italian Alps. Tiefenbrunner produces over 20 types of quality wines, and each bottle receives the attentive care of expert winemaker and owner, Christof Tiefenbrunner. This wine is made from 100% Pinot Grigio. It radiates youthfulness and purity of fruit. This is achieved through stainless steel fermentation and the use of a cork-free closure. It is straw yellow in color with lemon reflexes. This Pinot Grigio is youthful and lively. On the nose this wine has aromas of citrus, white blossoms, pears, apples and grass. There is a fresh, crisp minerality and a clear finish. 

Wine #21 Rare Wine Company Historic Series ‘Charleston Sercial’ Madeira NV – In 1998, The Rare Wine Company began a project to create a series of Madeiras unprecedented in the marketplace: moderately priced wines with the aromatic fingerprint and quintessential texture and flavors of far more expensive vintage Madeiras. It took years of work, but in 2003, they began releasing the wines which are named in honor of American cities with strong ties to Madeira. New York Malmsey, Boston Boal, and Charleston Sercial all eerily resemble vintage Madeiras — thanks to the inclusion of wines ranging in age from 30 to 60 years old in the blends. Working with Vinhos Barbeito, which possesses one of the great libraries of legendary 19th century Madeiras, each wine represents a style of Madeira popular in the cities they’re named after. The Charleston Sercial is the driest of the collection, offering nutty aromas tinged with honey, caramel and maple syrup. Dried figs, honey and candied citrus flavors mark the palate, which is wonderfully smooth. The long finish features racy yet balanced acidity.

Wine #22 2020 Barone di Bernaj Nerello Mascalese– This wonderful red wine from Sicily is imported for us by Sam Spina Importing out of Birmingham, AL. This is a light-bodied red wine that grows on the slopes of Mount Etna. This grape is indigenous to the area and is not really found anywhere else. The wine offers amazing value and a taste profile that’s often likened to fine Pinot Noir. It hits your mouth with an explosion of red fruit flavors that leads into spice notes of cinnamon and floral dried desert herbs. It finishes long with tingly acidity, a rustic black volcanic earthy note, and medium weight fine-grained tannins.

Wine #24 2015 Cune Reserve Rioja – The first wine made by family-owned CVNE (founded in 1879) was named after the winery’s initials, but a mistake – the ‘V’ was written as a ‘U’ – led to the creation of the Cune label in the Rioja region of Spain. This Reserva is 85% Tempranillo, with 15% Garnacha Tinta, Graciano and Mazuelo, aged for 18 months in French and American oak. There’s a savoury edge to the attractive black and red fruit aromas, plus sweet spice from the oak. The layered palate has a silky black fruit attack, spice and leather notes, with medium tannins. Nicely judged oak. A great food wine.

Wine #27 2021 Vietti Arneis- Located in the heart of the Langhe hills in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, at the top of the village of Castiglione Falletto, the Vietti wine cellar was founded in the late 1800s by Carlo Vietti. The estate has gradually grown over the course of time, and today the vineyards include some of the most highly-prized terroirs within the Barolo winegrowing area. Although they have been making wine for 4 generations, the turning point came in the 1960s when Luciana Vietti married winemaker and art connoisseur Alfredo Currado, whose intuitions – from the production of one of the first Barolo crus (Rocche di Castiglione – 1965), through the single-varietal vinification of Arneis (1967) to the invention of Artist Labels (1974) – made him both symbol and architect of some of the most significant revolutions of the time. His intellectual, professional and prospective legacy was taken up by Luca Currado Vietti (Luciana and Alfredo’s son) and his wife Elena, who have contributed to the success of the Vietti brand – universally recognized today as being one of the very finest Italian wine labels – by continuing along the path of the pursuit of quality, considered experimentation and working for expansion and consolidation internationally. The grapes to produce this wine were sourced from selected vineyard sites located in the heart of the Roero winegrowing area, around the village of Santo Stefano Roero. Brilliant straw-yellow color. Refined, quite pronounced, fresh nose with aromatical notes of ripe yellow fruit (melon), citrus, floral and mineral nuances, with a hint of almond. Medium-bodied on the palate, is has good intensity and crisp acidity. Well-balanced, elegant, with good complexity and a lingering aftertaste with a distinct hint of salinity.

Wine #15 2018 Joguet ‘Cuvee Terroir’ Chinon – This 100% Cabernet Franc out of the village of Chinon in the Loire Valley of France is another wine brought to us by Kermit Lynch. This wine is fresh, aromatic and just downright delicious. Initially your palate is hit with blackberry, plum, and black cherry. Then secondary notes of bell pepper, pine, dried oregano and wet gravel appear adding complexity and depth to the palate.

Wine #17 2019 Perrin ‘La Gille’ Gigondas – From the Famille Perrin, La Gille 2019 is a full-bodied red blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah produced from grapes sourced in the village of Gigondas in the Rhône Valley of France. After the fermentation and blending, the wines were aged in oak foudres and barrels for one year. It shows notes of violets, anise, dark cherry, blueberry, rich dark fruits and cracked pepper flavors with velvety tannins.

Wine #19 2017 Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol Rouge – This red blend of 85% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache, 5% Cinsault out of Bandol in the south of France is yet another Kermit Lynch selection. It is a benchmark of what Bandol reds should be. On the nose it has aromas of blackberry, cedar, leather, bramble, licorice, and tilled earth. It’s tightly packed tannins are perfectly integrated with ripe black fruit, savory spice, earthy flavors, and it’s rounded and supple finish.

Wine #20 2019 Henry Fessy Moulin-a-Vent Domaine de La Pierre – This selection from Henry Fessy is from one of the most prized Beaujolais Cru’s. Moulin-à-Vent is nicknamed “The Lord of Beaujolais wines” because of its noble bouquet. Its cellaring potential varies depending on the estate, but certain crus can be kept for over ten years. This wine has an intense red and purple color, with aromas of red fruits and blackcurrant on the nose. It is round on the palate, with mellow and intense tannins. Black fruits, such as blackberry and blackcurrant, mingle with spicy notes on the finish with a beautiful length.

Wine #1 2018 Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco – Located in the heart of the Langhe hills, at the top of the village of Castiglione Falletto, the Vietti wine cellar was founded in the late 1800s by Carlo Vietti. The grapes for this wine are grown in various selected vineyards sites mostly in the Barolo area and a minor part in Barbaresco. This wine has a medium deep ruby color. It has an intense and generous fruity nose (red berries) along with floral and spicy notes, a hint of menthol and hard candy. On the pallet it is medium bodied, showing notable intensity while retaining an essentially mid-weight style.  The tannins are harmoniously integrated in the fruit structure of the wine. This wine finishes with a long lasting aftertaste with tremendous freshness.

Wine #2 2020 Champalou Vouvray Sec– Catherine and Didier Champalou both came from families that farmed grapes for the purpose of winemaking, yet their mutual sense of independence prompted the couple to brave it on their own right after completing viticultural school in Saumur. Since starting the domaine in 1983, they have not only grown their business, but their label is one of the most highly-acclaimed in the appellation. Imported by Kermit Lynch, this 100% Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley of France is made in the Sec style meaning it is dry and crisp. It is gentle and refreshing on the palate. It boasts a delightful balance of stony minerality with luscious, almost honeyed fruit and flowery notes.

Wine #3 2019 Terredora di Paolo Aglianico– Established in 1978, with 200 hectares of privately owned vineyards in the best sites of the Avellino province, Terredora is one of the largest wineries in southern Italy. Aglianico is a native Italian varietal. This wine is ruby red with violet reflections. It shows notes of black cherry, blackberry, and plum fruit with a spicy toasted overtone. It is soft and elegant, and long in the mouth with notes of mature red fruits.

Wine #4 2020 Stolpman ‘Combe’ Trousseau– While the book calls for a selection from Jura, this region in France lost nearly 85% of it’s fruit last year due to terrible frost in April, hail in June, and a colder and wetter than normal Summer that caused disease in the vineyards and rotted the grapes. With that being said, wines from Jura are not plentiful at the moment, and the ones that are are quite expensive. So, we are using a grape that is one of the more popular grapes used in Jura, Trousseau Noir. Peter Stolpman is producing some very cool wines out of the Ballard Canyon AVA in Santa Barbara County, California. The 2020 Combe Trousseau is a playful expression of the Trousseau grape, and is aged in a mix of steel and concrete. Almost foggy in the glass, the wine hits the nose with brisk and fresh raspberry and pomegranate aromas, as light herb and eucalyptus cut through the haze. There’s an earthy, gravel-like grip to the palate, where the fresh fruit flavors are sprinkled with herbs and soil.

Wine #5 2018 Laurent-Perrier Champagne Brut ‘La Cuvee’ NV – 91 pts WS “A crisp Champagne, with a fine, lacy mousse and a pretty, finely meshed range of flavors, showing hints of crushed cherry, toasted almond, fleur de sel and pink grapefruit pith, followed by a smoke-tinged finish.”

Wine #6 Andre Clouet ‘Grande Reserve’ Champagne NV – 93 pts JS “The effusive nose of candied citrus, ripe pear and brioche pulls you into this fresh and creamy champagne that hits all the pleasure buttons for a non-vintage Brut. Then the chalky freshness at the finish pulls you back for another sip. Excellent balance! 100% pinot noir.”

Wine #7 2019 Frago do Corvo Mencia  Fraga do Corvo Mencia from Galicia, in Northwest Spain is fermented and aged in a combination of stainless steel and oak casks. The vineyards here are a mix of granite and slate primarily, with some sandy soils as well, so the underlying soil tones are quite complex. The wine offers up a fine, youthful nose of dark berries, pomegranate, graphite, a fine base of minerality, a touch of meatiness, chicory and a smoky top note. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and tangy, with a superb core of fruit, excellent soil signature, ripe, modest tannins and a long, complex and intensely flavored finish.

Wine #8 2019 Abbazia di Novacella Kerner  -This wine from Alto Adige, Italy scored 91 pts WE. “Enticing aromas suggesting ripe yellow stone fruit, dried Alpine herb, eucalyptus and white rose waft out of the glass. On the linear palate, a smoky mineral note accompanies ripe apricot and grapefruit while vibrant acidity gives it great tension.”

Wine #9 2019 Halter Ranch C.D.P– Halter Ranch is a vineyard and winery that dates back to the 1880’s and is located on the west side of Paso Robles in California’s Central Coast. The estate spans over 2,700 acres with 200 acres of vineyards, 15 acres of walnuts, 10 acres of olives, and, fun fact, the house from 1990 film, Arachnophobia. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Tannat, and Mouvedre. It shows aromas of raspberry, wild strawberry, and dark cherry. This wine showcases bright, crisp flavors of bramble fruits, blueberry, and Asian spices. The palate is seamless and low in tannins. Great by itself or paired with a variety of food.

Wine #10 Tsantali Rouge NV-The Tsantali family is one of the oldest wine families in Greece. This red blend from Macedonia, Greece is a blend of Xinomavro and Moschomavro. It has a rich aromatic bouquet of wild berries, ripe dark cherries and spicy notes. The nose is intense and complex. On the palate it has chewy and textured tannins.

Wine #11 2020 Karthauserhof “Bruno” Kabinett Riesling The historic Karthäuserhof estate in Germany is located just before the joining of the Ruwer and Mosel rivers, in a side valley near the small village of Eitelsbach. The location is said to have practiced viticulture since Roman times. This wine is so crisp and refreshing. It has an ideal balance of citrus fruit aromas, uplifting lightness and natural acidity along with a clean, dry finish.

Wine #12 2018 Monchof “Mosel Slate” Spatlese Riesling -The Mönchhof (the “Monks House or Monks Court”), formerly a possession of the Cistercian Abbey at Himmerod, is one of the oldest wine estates in the Mosel Valley in Germany. As early as 1177, documents from Pope Alexander III show the abbey owned vineyards in and around the village of Ürzig. The wine has an elegant bouquet of citrus and flowers and on the palate it shows vibrant apple and herbal notes and perfectly balanced sweetness.