I was invited by fellow Virginia wine blogger Dezel Quillen (myvinespot.com) to join a twitter tasting of carefully selected wines from around the country but not from the West Coast. As reported by Washington Post wine columnist and this year’s recipient of the Monteith Wine Trophy Dave McIntyre, the tasting theme was titled “From Sea to Shining Sea” and was hosted and wines selected by Aaron Epstein, a wine writer based in San Diego who partnered with Tina Morey, a Certified Sommelier of Protocol Wine Studio. Together they created a subscription service for direct-order wine called Le Metro Wine Underground that ships six carefully selected wines monthly.
The theme for July These tastings took place Tuesday evenings in July. I was impressed when I read the list, since I was familiar with every winery featured except for La Garagista in Vermont. I was also impressed that some of these wineries make non-vinifera (European) wines but still have a strong following due to high quality and consistency.
I brought the two rose/light red wine selections to a dinner with wine friends this last Tuesday but due to technical difficulties, couldn’t log onto Twitter. However, I made careful notes and there was no wine left over.
Last week was the first wine of the month, which was a “petillant naturel”, or sparkling wine whose fermentation finished in the bottle but was not champagne method. This was made by La Garagista Farm and Winery in Vermont.
This was most definitely one of the most original and bold wines I’ve ever had, but as with pornography, original and bold on paper is one thing but how you experience it depends on which end of the…but I digress.
The grape is brianna, a Swenson hybrid that is cold-hardy and also known for a strong grapey foxiness much like the white version of concord (similar to white grape juice from the niagara grape). due to native American grapes in its genes. While half of the grapes were destemmed and immediately pressed, while the other half were left to sit on the skins for 24 hours. With early-picked chardonnay and pinot noir, I could understand this, but with a very assertively grapey variety like brianna, this made a wine with a bouquet and taste the opposite of subtle and delicate. If I were making sparkling wine from brianna, I would process it to extract as few skin phenols as possible.
The wine was also fermented with native yeast, and the grapes were farmed by “organic conversion to biodynamic”. The native yeast character mixed with the assertively grapey varietal character to create a wine of much complexity. A chef friend commented that it tasted more like a Belgian wheat beer with a fruit flavoring than a standard sparkling wine, and he had a good point.
“Boldly original” leaves it up to you to decide it you’d like to try it yourself based on the above description. I think this wine (like many sparklers) will be best after 3 years of age when the yeast and fruit can integrate and mellow.
People who follow the Texas wine scene frequently acknowledge Kim McPherson as the most talented winemaker who knows how to blend Mediterrenean varieties into world-class wines in the Texas climate.
His McPherson “Les Copains” dry rose from Rhone varieties is one of the best dry roses I’ve ever had. The blend is 55% cinsault, 30% mourvedre and 15% viognier, Texas-grown and produced.
The color is medium-dark pink, the label is carefully Old World in style, and the wine is brilliant, with aromas and flavors of sour cherry, fine acidity and lingering fresh finish. The wine is full-flavored and dry but elegant and due to the high acid shows best with food.
Last in the first two weeks was Wollersheim Winery’s “Domaine du Sac” Lake Wisconsin AVA estate bottled 2013 blend of foch and leon millot. The vineyard & winery were founded by Agoston Haraszthy of Buena Vista fame in Sonoma, California but before he packed it in to follow the Gold Rush, he had established Wollersheim Vineyards on its present site above the Wisconsin River in a southwest-facing location.
Current proprietor Philippe Coquard (son-in-law of late owner Bob Wollersheim) has an estate mostly planted to the old French hybrid marechal foch but has added leon millot, St. Pippin and also buys lots of New York seyval blanc.
He makes a number of labels of wine based on foch, and this Domaine du Sac is made from the oldest vines from the best part of the vineyard, blended with the aromatic leon millot. The wine is aged in French and American oak.
The color is medium-deep ruby, and the aromatics are complex and changed every minute. At first there were ripe floral and fragrant cherry notes, and then the oak aromas emerged with vanilla and smoky coconut. The wine is fruity but dry with minimal wine tannins, but the oak adds some tannins and lots of smoky complexity.
Again, this wine is way too young at this point, typical for any top-of-the-line estate red and should age at least until fall 2015, but is very stylish and well-made for an old red hybrid blend.
I’m looking forward to trying a cabernet franc from Creekside Cellars in Colorado and hopefully a Finger Lakes riesling, always welcome here. some other fun and original wines later this month. For more information on Le Metro Wine, visit lemetrowine.com.