Violin Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2015

WILLAMETTE VALLEY, FRANCE

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Winemaker Will Hamilton has done it again with his 2015 Willamette Valley Cuvee!  This delicious bottling is more red fruit-centric than his 2014 vintage.  Freshly cut strawberry, ripe cranberry, and savory tarragon spice meet your nose first.  The body is medium in weight with a bright underlying acidity, subtle minerality and a firm tannin structure.  The finish is savory, spicy with tart cranberry notes. A pleasant silkiness sticks around for a bit. Drink over the next 4-5 years.

KEITH’S PICK

 

 

Abbazia di Novacella Schiava 2015

ALTO ADIGE, ITALY

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My favorite Italian region is Alto Adige, situated on the Northern Italian border with Austria and Switzerland. Also known as Sudtirol, this heavily German-speaking area steep hillside vineyards and views of the Dolomite Mountains. Crisp Alpine air and Mediterranean air give this region an extreme climate. The winery is part of an abbey, Abbazia di Novacella, constructed in 1142 as a meeting point on pilgrimage routes. The relatively unknown varietal of Schiava is the most widely planted grape in this region. Moderate acidity, modest tannins and tastes like ripe strawberry and smoke. Pair with a charcuterie board and impress all your friends!

-STUART’S PICK

Damiano Ciolli ‘Silene’ 2015

LAZIO, ITALY

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Named after the Silene flower in Lazio, this wine is pretty but not floral. 100% Cesanese is a light bodied grape previously used for inexpensive wine for Rome’s trattorias. Fifth-generation winemaker Damian Ciolli is changing the perception of Cesanese by working the vines by hand. The careful viticulture work is paying off, Cesanese is becoming my new go-to light red wine. Juicy black cherry with a hint of pepper. Super refreshing and an excellent aperitif.

-JOANNA’S PICK

Ovum ‘Toro y Scorpio’ Riesling 2016

Willamette Valley, Oregon

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Ovum lives life to produce old fashion wine in a modern world. This stony and tart Riesling hails from a tiny parcel just south of Beaux Freres. Four acres of marine sedimentary soil in the Ribbon Ridge AVA is responsible for this complex and delicious wine. Let’s praise this winemaker who brought us this close to a true German Riesling here in our very own backyard. Make sure to stop into Les Caves in Alberta to meet the winemaker. Grab a case and cellar some up to 2030.

-Stuart’s Pick

Mas des Brousses ‘Chasseur des Brousses’ 2016

Languedoc, France

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The Combes family has been making wine in the Languedoc for over three hundred years. Just south of Pic. St. Loup, the area is now part of the Terasses du Larzac appellation. Géraldine Combes works with husband Xavier Peyraud, grandson of Lucien and Lulu Peyraud of Domaine Tempier. ‘Chasseur des Brousses’ is a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Grenache and 10% Syrah. The estate has escaped the reach of modern winemaking practices. Géraldine bottles without filtering to preserve the garrigue aroma. Garrigue is the collection of shrub plants that grow on limestone-rich soils on the Mediterranean coast. Rosemary, lavender, lemon verbena and thyme are just a few of the herbs in garrigue. Flavors of blackberries, lavender and a hint of earthiness coexist peacefully in this full-bodied red.

 

JOANNA’S PICK

Bernabeleva Camino de Navaherreros 2016

MADRID, SPAIN

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This elegant wine has been my go-to sub $20 Spanish red for years, and the 2016 vintage is another gem! Bodega Bernabeleva is certified biodynamic; all fermentations occur in large oak barrels with native yeasts. An incredible value, considering most of the vines are 80 years old, and the youngest vines on the estate are 30 years old! The wine is a beautiful light ruby color with a nose of dried red flowers, strawberries, rose hips and dusty cherries.  The palate is lively with fine tannins, every few minutes another expressive layer reveals itself. Red fruit, savory herbs transition into a silky and robust finish. This easy-drinking wine is fruit forward and a bit juicy; the perfect pairing for pizza, tomato based pasta or spicy rice dishes.

KEITH’S PICK

Kabaj Ravan Tocai Friulano 2015

Goriška Brda, Slovenia

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The village of Goriška Brda lies on the border of Italy and Slovenia. Italians call this grape Friulano. In Slovenia, this grape goes by a few names:  Sauvignon Vert, Sauvignonasse, Jakat, and Ravan. I love Kabaj’s Ravan because of its crackling acidity and elegance. The region’s hills of limestone give the wine a mineral note and protect the vines from the Adriatic Sea winds. Flavors of honeysuckle, peach, and pear temper the stony quality of this wine. Check out winemaker Jean-Michel’s amphora project, inspired by neighbor and mentor Jasko Gravner.

-Joanna’s Pick

Maison Crochet “Cuvée Crochet” Brut Méthode Traditionnelle

Lorraine, France

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Maison Crochet is a tiny domaine tucked away in the Lorraine about halfway between Champagne and Alsace. An often-overlooked region, Lorraine’s northern latitude and unique terroir make it ideal for sparkling wine.  A fascinating methode traditionnelle Gamay (+ 5% Pinot Noir). It casts a beautiful salmon, pink color with delicate bubbles. Aromas of fresh red apples and peach skin are pleasing and savory. On the palate, the wine focuses on energy and nerve, at once high-toned and refreshing, yet fruit-driven and just plain delicious! A must purchase for lovers of bubbly, pink wine, and value. A case or two will serve nicely this winter and carry through to summer patio days ahead! Serve through 2018 as an aperitif, or with many seafood dishes; linguini and clams, fish with cream sauce.

-NEIL’S PICK

I Custodi ‘Pistus’ Etna Rosso 2015

Sicily, Italy

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The grapes for this wine grow an active volcano! The lava and ash from eruptions create an extremely fertile soil. The vines are located on the northern face of Mt. Etna, 650 meters in elevation. The high-altitude and volcanic soil result in a full-bodied wine with balanced acidity.  Harmonic with floral aromas, pleasant tannins, and fresh fruit. Lively & balanced with an almost smokey, mineral note. The savory yet elegant finish makes it a perfect pairing for roast beef, beef stew, and spaghetti. Drink over the next five years.

-KEITH’S PICK

Domaine Jean-Pierre Samuel Baron Old Vine Malbec (Cot) 2015

ANJOU, LOIRE VALLEY, FRANCE

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France’s Loire Valley is where the Malbec grape achieves its greatest complexities. Often malbec is obstructed by and jamminess or oak.  Domaine Baron’s old-vine bottling is a pure example of the grape in all of its glory. Tart red berries explode in the nose and attack. Purple fruit lies in the lush mid-palate alongside savory notes of freshly ground tellicherry peppercorns and spicy red peppers. Partner this old-vine Malbec with all manner of fowl, mushroom, and hearty soups and stews. The classical sheep’s milk cheeses of the Loire Valley will also accompany this wine seamlessly. Enjoy now through 2022.

NEIL’S PICK

Domaine du Cayron (Michel Faraud) Gigondas 2014

Southern Rhone Valley, France

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The Faraud family produces the most famous, savory, and controversial wines of the southern Rhone valley’s famed Gigondas region (considered the greatest appellation after nearby Chateauneuf-du-Pape). The Faraud family still hand bottles and corks this small production, flagship wine. There are no second bottlings or “super” cuvees. The controversial part comes in where natural winemaking is concerned. There is no more natural a wine than this. Consuming this beauty is like running through the damp forest, taking in aromas of soil, mushrooms, and dried leaves. Tart red pie cherries, tart cranberries, and even some blue/black plum flavors smooth it out some. But it’s the raw power of this wine that has us swooning. Pair now through 2030+ with lamb leg roast. Also with stews featuring mushrooms, onions, red meats, and any meat dish in a heavy reduction. Fantastic wine!

Neil’s Pick

Bott-Geyl Crémant d’Alsace ‘Paul Edouard’ Extra Brut

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Alsace, France

$26 bottle / $156 half case / $266 full case

It’s not the holidays without a bottle of bubbly! Sparkling wine is magical: brightening the room and elevating the level of festivity and cheer. Circumstances may call for an affordable bottle. I turn to Alsace for ethereal sparkling wine made in the traditional method at a fair price. Bott-Geyl’s ‘Paul Edouard Extra Brut’ is a stunning expression of Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The two years spent on the lees lends a brioche note to counter the tart green apple and almond flavors.