Prior to joining Candid Wines, Jordan Warners spent time on the floor at Alinea where he assisted with service as well as the wine program. A few weeks ago, I received an email from him along with a proposal and the following note, “Attached you will find a presentation from Candid Wines with consideration to your upcoming program at The Boarding House. I tried to draw on the strengths of the catalog: food wines, Loire, Rheinhessen, and regional Italy. Older vintages are also listed.” Jordan was clearly speaking my language and when we met for our tasting, his selections truly lived up to the sommelier code: interesting regions and grapes, wines that speak of a sense of place, unique or old-school winemaking methods and quirky winemakers (especially the ones who wear leather pants, drive recklessly, listen to Bob Dylan or preferably all of the above).
Here are my notes on the wines we tasted during our meeting:
NV Pierre Moncuit Brut Champagne RM, Mesnil-Sur-Oger -- In Champagne a Récoltant-Manipulant (identified by RM on the label) is a grower who makes his/her own Champagne. These smaller houses don’t have the advertising budget of the bigger houses but the quality of what they produce is often outstanding and many of them are worth seeking out. Pierre Moncuit established his Champagne house in Mesnil-sur-Oger, at the heart of the Chardonnay dominated Côte des Blancs, in 1889. His daughter Nicole now runs the property and is training her daughter Daphne to eventually do the same. The NV is 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay and features notes of crisp, green apples, lemon zest, very fresh in style with faint toasty quality on the nose. Spent 3 years on the lees.
2002 Pierre Moncuit Mesnil-Sur-Oger –- with five years on the lees, it’s far nuttier in the nose than the NV but still maintains a core of freshness. Notes of marzipan, lemon curd, citrus rind, green apples and buttery brioche. Still a baby!
2010 Domaine de la Louvetrie "Fief du Breuil" Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maines -- Jo Landron is the mustached winemaker at Domaine de La Louvetrie. He took over the family estate in 1990 and has carried on the tradition of producing marvelous wines bottled according to the soil types found in his vineyards. The Fief du Breuil is made from south-facing old vines planted in harder, silica-veined orthogneiss soils. With notes of tropical fruits, apricots, mango skin, ripe peaches, honey and hay, the Fief du Breuil bears a faint resemblance to the Chenin Blanc based wines from Savennieres or one can even make the argument for Alsace Pinot Gris.
2010 Domaine du Petit Coteau Les Grenouilles Sec, Vouvray, Loire Valley -- This Domaine is the certified organic arm of the well-known Château Moncontour estate, located in the heart of the Vouvray appellation. Pale gold color, green guava, green apple and lime zest on the nose. Moderate+acid, light-bodied and dry on the palate with Sauvignon Blanc like fruit notes. Intense lime flavors would be a good match for Thai dishes. Grenouilles means frog in French.
2010 & Co Supernatural Sauvignon Blanc, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand –- I met winemaker and owner Gabrielle Simmers a few years ago during her market research tour of the US. I was immediately impressed by her passion, drive and business acumen - she was clearly a woman on a mission! Gabrielle has an interest in design and the packaging of her wines, which includes a crown cap (the kind you see on beer), reflects her ability to think differently. The winery was recently awarded the coveted Gold Pin at the New Zealand Best Design Awards, recognizing the most innovative product and brand design. Pale straw color, nose shows honeysuckle, passion fruit, slight hint of gooseberries, moderate+acid and dry on the palate with fruit forward notes of tropical fruits and green herbs.
2010 Tommasone Biancolella, Isola d'Ischia -- La Pietra Tommasone is a historical Ischia island winery that had ceased to operate when Tommaso Monti died in the 80's. Antonio, Tommaso's son at the time was in Germany running a small hotel and restaurant. In 2000 he decided that it was time to spend his efforts on the land and vines he inherited. Biancolella grows almost exclusively on the island of Ischia and this was my first experience with the grape. Gold color (reminds me of Gewurtztraminer), nose shows grilled pineapple, vanilla, mango and banana, aging on the lees lends richness on the palate, silky texture, moderate acid, notes of tropical fruits but the finish is fresh. Needless to say, I live for wines like this.
2004 Domaine Schaetzel Riesling Cuvee Reserve, Alsace -- The wine list that I oversaw at Everest featured one of the largest selections of Alsace wines in the world. The smell of older wines from this region always brings me home. Domaine Martin Schaetzel is located in Ammerschwihr (ahm-er-shh-weer) in the southern part of Alsace, near the picturesque city of Colmar. The winery dates to the decade following WWII when Jean’s uncle Martin Schaetzel rebuilt the cellars following the destruction of Ammerschwihr at the end of the war. Jean took over in the 1980′s and promptly set out to convert the estate to first organic and then biodynamic farming. This is a classic example of an older Alsace Riesling – deep gold color, nose shows aromas of crème brulee, honey and banana, dry on the palate with moderate+acid and a nutty, oxidative finish.
2007 Domaine Schaetzel Riesling Rangen de Thann, Alsace -- Jean farms parts of the Grand Cru vineyards of Kaefferkopf (Kaff-er-koff), Rangen de Thann, Schlossburg and Mackrain. The Grand Cru wines have a much greater capacity to age and this wine is still quite youthful. Deep gold color, botrytis-esque aromas of honey and apricots, mango. Palate is off-dry, moderate acidity, rich, fat texture. We’re almost in Vendanges Tardives territory here.
2005 Domaine Guiberteau Breze Saumur, Loire Valley -- Romain Guiberteau oversees the organically farmed vineyards and winemaking of his family estate that began around the time of World War II. The estate is dedicated to two grapes: Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc (50+year old vines). The Breze Blanc is gold in color, barrique fermentation, and aromas of smoked minerals, honey, caramel, crème brulee crust and lemons. Palate is dry with fresh moderate acidity, gunpowder like flintiness, lemon curd and Puligny-Montrachet like finish on the back end. Remarkable wine given the appellation and age.
2006 Bressan Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia, Italy -- The Bressan family owns about 20 hectares in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia appellation in North-Eastern Italy on the border to Slovenia. They deal with indigenous varieties such as the Schioppettino, Pignol and Verduzzo Friulano and their wines have a propensity to age well beyond the established norm. This is not your momma’s Pinot Grigio! At over six years old it’s showing a Sauternes like gold color, aromas of mineral, smoke, banana peel, citrus marmalade, palate is dry and still fresh with umami-like savoriness. Shows more of the Pinot Gris side of the grape. Wine was aged in large, neutral oak casks. Richer style that could easily handle red meat. This is your answer to people who say Pinot Grigio can’t be taken seriously.
2010 Domaine des Cedres Cotes du Rhone -- Domaine des Cèdres winemaker, Dominique Pons has been into organic winemaking for at least 20 years, and was one of the first in the Côtes-du-Rhône AOC to go organic. In addition, he's been studying and applying the principles of Biodynamic farming at Domaine des Cèdres for several years. This wine is made from 60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 10% Carignane and 10% Cinsault grapes from St. Nazaire. Black cherry color, magenta rim, aromas of blue fruits, black pepper and smoke. Palate is dry, moderate acid, firm structure, moderate+tannins, flavors of purple flowers, dried herbs and smoked plums. More of a steak wine versus burgers.
2005 Bressan Schioppettino, Venezia-Giulia, Italy -- Schioppettino is a red grape grown predominately in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy. Also known as the Ribolla Nera, Schioppettino literally means “gunshot” or “little crack”. Today, Bresssan is one of the few winemakers making wine from the Schioppettino grape. Garnet color, slight bricking at the rim, nose shows tertiary aromas of roasted earth, beets, dried cherries and spice. Palate is dry, moderate+acidity, moderate tannins, licorice and a slight menthol flavor with a long finish.
2009 Turner-Pageot "Carmina Major" Languedoc, France –- Australian Karen Turner and her French husband Emmanuel Pageot, a former Sommelier own Domaine Turner-Pageot. They have five hectares in three different plots around the village of Gabian. All their vines are north facing, except for their Grenache Noir and are biodynamically farmed. Carmina Major is a blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Mourvedre grown on cooler north facing slopes. Opaque blue-black color with magenta pink rim, nose shows leather, game, and underbrush. Palate is dry with more animal driven notes of game and leather with additional floral notes coming through. Concentrated intensity, moderate acid, moderate+tannins, and firmly structured, high complexity with a long finish. Ideal wine for venison and game.
2004 Domaine Guiberteau Les Arboise Saumur, Loire Valley -- garnet color, aromas of charred and roasted meant, game, smoke and leather. Palate is dry, moderate acidity, moderate tannins, slight medicinal component, ripe black cherries and green bell pepper. Muscular and massive, this is a serious Cabernet Franc.
2001 Schaetzel Kaefferkopf Gewurztraminer Grand Cru* Vendanges Tardives, Alsace -- deep gold color, luscious and exotic aromas of peaches, apricots, rose petals, pineapples. Palate is sweet with exotic tropical flavors, honey, nutmeg and cloves. Finishes with a slight oxidative note. This is one of my favorite wines to pair with excessively pungent cheese.
*Kaefferkopf is particularly well suited to Gewurztraminer and Riesling but was not classified as a Grand Cru until 2006.