Vermentino i Fiori 2013 – Sardegna, Italy

The nose of this one hits you with a mossy, salty note reminiscent of craggy rocks splashed clean by ocean surf.  The front of the palate echoes the same notes, smoothed with an almost creamy mouthfeel.  This is a minerally, slate and clay, white with a body that is at the same time fresh and summery, but not as light and forgettable as a languid Summer afternoon.  She plays well with all manner of seafood and well into the crushed leaves of autumn.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: i Fiori Vermentino 2013
  • Winery: Azienda Agricola PALA di Mario Pala & C.
  • Region: Sardegna
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: 100% Vermentino
  • Price: $17
  • Where to Buy: Whole Foods et al.

La Suerte de Arrayan 2011 – Méntrida, Spain

Fresher than expected on the nose:  notes of grass, strawberries, and wood.  Front palate of red fruit, blueberries, and faint vanilla notes.  Chewy and rich with tobacco, cocoa, and more vanilla rounding into a wall of warm tannins red fruit.  A soft, berry-laden finish that melts away quickly.  Lovely.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: La Suerte de Arrayan 2011
  • Winery: La Verdosa, S.L.
  • Region: Méntrida
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: Garnacha
  • Price: 25
  • Where to Buy: S&R Liquors

Champs Pentus – Faugères, France

This one starts with a ripe, bright explosion of cherries and blackberries on the nose, rounding out with some grassy notes.  The fruit fades into tree bark, woody/mossy scents and flavors, with just the right amount of tannin to back it up.  This is how I imagine the wet woods tasting when you wake early from your tent on a camping trip.  The finish is short, but clean, with a faint saltiness and a whisper of the original cherry bomb.  Stylistically, the bright and medium-to-light body isn’t really my favorite, but if it were I would consider this more than worth the price-tag.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Champs Pentus 2013
  • Winery: Frédérico Brouca
  • Region: Faugères
  • Country: France
  • Varietals: 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 30% Carignan
  • Price: $23
  • Where to Buy: S&R Liquors

Monica i Fiori 2013 – Sardegna, Italy

Starts with a woody, mossy nose, with background notes of red fruit.  The front pallet has a fresh red fruit and grass character, though not necessarily like the thinness of a young wine.  A certain fresh, green quality closes out with light tannins and a fascinating strawberry-balsamic after taste.  We tasted this one after the Corash, so the tasting could have been impacted by the bold fruit and toughness of its Sardinian cousin.  Both were had with Osso Buco and played stunningly well with it.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Monica i Fiori 2013
  • Winery: Azienda Agricola PALA di Mario Pala & C.
  • Region: Sardegna
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Monica
  • Price: $17
  • Where to Buy: Litteri

Corash Riserva 2013 – Sardegna, Italy

This wine practically jumps out of the bottle at you.  Aggressive cherries and vanilla attack the nose, backed with scents like freshly hewn wood and green orchid.  (Yes, I know what these smell like – grew up in Kentucky, where I chopped more than I wanted to, and lived in Miami for a number of years, where you might just mow over orchids in your lawn.)  Many of these same flavors repeat on the front palate, with a burst of blackberries and chewy raisins.  A little acid and leather come as it glides across the tongue, with abrupt tannins that bring the finish up tight, with a slight floral after taste.  This one’s an adventure that was magnificent with the tender richness of home-made Osso Buco.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Corash Riserva 2013
  • Winery: Cantina Della Vernaccia Oristano
  • Region: Sardegna
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Cannonau
  • Price: $20
  • Where to Buy: Litteri

Gilles Barge Cote Blonde 2013 – Cote-Rotie, France

So Georges dos Santos explained to me that Cotes Blonde is an indication that the winery chose only the best of the best fruits to produce a selection.  I have to take his word for that, and you should too.  Red fruits and thyme (yes, thyme) on the nose.  Light peppery notes, more red fruit, and a strong tannin finish.  I could have let this one lay down for a while – wish I’d known (OK, 2013, I should have known, but was too excited and jet-lagged to think about it please stop picking on me, thanks).  Spice, white pepper, and green herbs on the finish.  A lovely full bodied wine that, yet again, belies France’s reputation for almost exclusively producing finesse wines.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Gilles Barge Cote Blonde 2013
  • Winery: Gilles Barge
  • Region: Cote-Rotie
  • Country: France
  • Varietals: Rhone blend, certainly including Syrah?
  • Price: 50 Euros
  • Where to Buy: Antic Wines, Lyon, France

12 Volts 2013 – Mallorca, Spain

I admit to expecting something different when I popped this one open.  Bright red fruit on the nose, gave way to elegant, silky vanilla flavors and bright sour cherries.  This was definitely a lighter wine than I had expected, but the bright (notice the theme) and luscious notes on both the palate and the nose made for a lovely little wine.  I picked this beauty up in San Sebastian or Barcelona some time in 2015, but it appears that T. Edward New York is bringing it in to the U.S.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: 12 Volts 2013
  • Winery: Apol-lonia Viticultors S.A.T.
  • Region: Mallorca
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: 50% Callet; 30% Syrah; 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; 10% Merlot
  • Price: 30 Euros
  • Where to Buy: Edward New York

Arenes Sauvages 2010 – Cornas, France 

Another Georges dos Santos selection.  Complex, intense nose of roses, vanilla, old wood, and fig.  An acidic kick to the front of the palate, with more wood, intense florals, with a hint of cocoa.  I find myself reaching for the name of a flavor that just eludes me.  Tannins come in with hints of slate and red fruits, in a deep, powerful attack.  Just wow.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Arénes Sauvages 2010, plot selection
  • Winery: La Cave de Tain
  • Region: Cornas
  • Country: France
  • Varietals: Syrah
  • Price: 30 Euros
  • Where to Buy: Antic Wines, Lyon, France

 

Emmanuel Darnaud 2014– Crozes-Hermitage, France

So here’s a wine I was not going to review.  I picked this up on Georges’ recommendation, from Antic Wine.  Georges is, in a word, the man.  I talk about Georges more in the Antic Wine entry, but much of what you need to know about Georges you can pick up from the way he marked this bottle in the photo.  antic-pricingWhen I first opened this wine, I shouldn’t have.  But I came back the next day and found that she is a delicious beauty of blackberry pie, cherry tart, autumn leaves, moss, and dusty dried flowers, with a perfectly balanced tannic closing, to boot.  Wow.  I haven’t had a French wine do this for me in a while.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Emmanuel Darnaud 2014 Crozes-Hermitage
  • Winery: Emmanuel Darnaud
  • Region: Crozes-Hermitage
  • Country: France
  • Varietals: ?Syrah?
  • Price: 15 Euros
  • Where to Buy: Antic Wines, Lyon, France

Clos Signadore – Patrimonio, Corsica

The crispness of apples with cherries, grass, and a dank cocoa note.  More dried cherries, musty walnuts, moss, and vanilla on the front end.  Powerful tannins come in with pepper, red fruits, and an echo of cocoa and cinnamon.  This is a wine with a story:  I picked this up from Georges dos Santos of Anti Wines in Lyon, France.  Georges is an interesting character, a real personality that styles himself as “the flying sommelier” which, as far as I can tell, is pretty accurate.  According to Georges, after a few glasses, he had to plead and cajole his way into getting his hands on just a few cases of this wine.  Apparently, the Corsicans prefer to consume it all at home, the world be damned!  If you can place hands on a bottle, I suggest you do so.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Clos Signadore
  • Winery: Christophe Ferrandis, Clos Signadore
  • Region: Patrimonio
  • Country: Corsica
  • Varietals: Nielluccio
  • Price: 40 Euros
  • Where to Buy: Antic Wines, Lyon, France