2015 Vina Ijalba Maturana Blanca ($16). Vina Ijalba is an excellent Rioja producer to discover because of their diverse offering of rare varietals. Maturana Blanca is an obscure grape from Rioja that many enthusiasts of the region are even unaware of. The grape almost became extinct but luckily has a few remaining hectares. The organic and golden-colored wine has subtle herbal notes with pronounced tropical and citrus fruits. It finishes dry and thoroughly refreshing.
2014 Fredi Torres ‘Cepas Centenarias do Salnes Finca Maruxa’ Albarino ($45). All of the vines Fredi Torres farms are organic and biodynamic. This albarino from Rias Baixas is truly one of a kind. There is only a tiny amont produced from these 100+ year-old vines. There is minimal winemaking intervention (minimal sulfur at bottling), allowing the grapes to fully express the site. The result is truly impressive balance, minerality, delicacy, and aromatics.
2011 Avinyo Cava Brut Nature Reserva ($22). This cava is produced in Penedes and contains the three common grape varieties: Xarel-lo, Macabeu, and Parellada. We love this cava’s vibrancy and acidity. It was made traditionally with no dosage - making it bone dry. This is far and away one of the most refreshing sparkling wines in the shop.
2015 Marc Isart La Maldicion Tinto de Valdilecha ($15). This proptery is farmed bio-dynamically and is located just 30 minutes outside of Madrid in the warm D.O. of Vinos de Madrid. The vineyards are challenging to farm due to the rugged terrain, but it is Marc’s passion to represent purely terroir-driven wines from this area. Tinto de Valdilecha is one of the more unique blends in the shop containing around 80% Tempranillo and 20% Malvar. Malvar adds beautiful lift and freshness to the Tempranillo, giving it a “friendly drinkability” factor while still maintaining Tempranillo’s darker fruit and earth tones.
2015 Oriol Artigas Mas Pellisser Vi Vermell ($25). This organic bottling is produced in Alella, located near Barcelona, which is currently the smallest D.O. in all of Spain. The region has an impressive history with winemaking dating back to Roman times. The wine is a unique blend of Garnacha tinta, Syrah, and Sumoll. Sumoll is a grape variety native to Catalunya that nearly went extinct due to replanting of more commercial grapes and its difficulty to farm. This is a young and exciting winemaker who is successfully bringing new enthusiasm to this ancient region.
2012 Dominio Do Bibei Lalama ($36). Mencia is one of the most exciting red grape varieties in Spain because of its quality, appeal, and versatility. This bottling is composed mostly of Mencia along with tiny amounts of Brancellao, Mouraton, Souson, and Garnacha from the mountainous and sometimes harsh sub-zone of Ribeira Sacra. This polished wine has generous dark fruit, mineral, and herbal characteristics.
With the Holiday season upon us, it probably comes as no surprise that the PMW team is ready once again to play food and wine matchmaker. Thanksgiving--arguably the most gastronomically significant day of the year--brings an energy to the wine industry not dissimilar to the stereotypically feverish preparations leading up to the Super Bowl! With so many new and exciting selections arriving in the shop daily, it can be downright impossible choosing only six bottles to take advantage our seasonal six-pack promotion. So, amidst much discussion and debate internally, we have decided to extend the promotional allocation to seven bottles! Now, while making your selections from the below, don't forget to check out a special offering at the very end (and here is a hint: it comes in a 1.5 liter bottle and goes "pop" when you open it!).
WhiteA dry Riesling will pair beautifully with each and every dish on your menu. Tatomer's 2014 Vandenberg Riesling ($29) from Santa Barbara County is no exception. This particular bottling is unique because the grape clusters have rot, otherwise known as botrytis or noble rot. This positively concentrates flavors in the berries. The wine has complex and opulent stone fruit and rich honeyed notes, and is a dry bottling with great acidity and balance.
The 2015 Hofgut Falkenstein Niedermenniger Herrenberg Weisburgunder Spatlese ($22) from the Mosel is dry in this particular vintage. This Pinot Blanc has some similarities to an unoaked chardonnay. We love the light, refreshing and slightly tart nature of this wine.
That's right--rosato makes the list, not least because we love to drink pink all year long. The 2015 "Le Cince" Cerasulo d'Abruzzo Superiore from de Fermo ($29) is 100% Montepulciano Cerasuolo. This is not just another rosato from Abruzzo, rather a complex and truly excellent bio-dynamic wine in its own right. It has serious richness and expressed flavors, and yet is fresh and vibrant. Dusty earth, freshly picked cherries, and dried flowers add depth and complexity. Best to consume with the meal and be sure to decant ahead of time.
Last week we tasted the 2015 Division Gamay Noir Nouveau ($21) from Oregon. It was only bottled the day before the tasting and was already in perfect form. The wine is so fresh and vibrant, with crunchy red fruits and subtle aromas of beef broth, dust, and barn funk. Partial carbonic maceration--a winemaking technique used here--gives the wine an extra pop of freshness. This is the perfect compliment to turkey, and even many of the richer dishes found at the table.
Elsewhere, over the last few months, we have been cellaring the 2014 Joseph Voillot Bourgogne Rouge ($30). This Pinot Noir bottling from Burgundy is continually a favorite for many of us and is drinking beautifully now. Those extra few months in the cellar really paid off for this vintage! As such, be sure to decant this for around an hour before enjoying with the meal.
Another unique bottling in the shop is the certified organic 2014 Vaillant L’Aubinaie Anjou Rouge ($18). This producer has been making wine in the Loire Valley since the 18th century and is known for their bio-dynamic farming. We love this Cabernet Franc because of its earthy characteristics and the way it combines structure and lifted freshness.
Finally, what could be better than a magnum of NV Billiot Brut Reserve Champagne ($115) at the table? Sure, even one bottle of Champagne is great; but a magnum? Undoubtedly and outrageously fantastic! This gorgeous bottling is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and one of our favorites, with seamless texture, finesse, and toasty richness balanced perfectly. With nuances of baking spices, citrus fruits, red berries, and chalky minerality, this one is perfect before, during, and after the meal.
Total price of promo pack is $245.72 (including tax)
Vintages ago, on the first day of my first job at a wine shop in Oregon, the manager raised his eyebrow and asked if I prefered Pinot Noir or Cabernet. Syrah, I told him, just to be smart, and I was right, and then I was Rhone, and then again, right, North. I didn’t really know what I was talking about even though I’d twice dirtied my hands with batches of what I considered a thick-skinned tooth-bruiser. Like the grape which, when opportunity presents itself, will ripen beyond its environment, I have come anew to appreciate the virtue and variability of Syrah, marked specifically by a dinner with the PMW staff and Sacred Thirst crew at Chez Panisse last autumn where we shared a magnum of 2011 Chamberyron-Manin Cote Rotie, a wine we currently have in stock.
With the onset of September, we’ve organized a collection of domestic and French Syrah to pair with the waning hours of summer and the welcome depth of autumnal food and temperatures.
Starting with that magnum ($150), the vines of which are grown on a tiny half-hectare parcel on the Cote Brune, in the Northernmost appellation of the Rhone Valley, this example of Syrah shows high tones and bright violet aromas paired with a deliciously long, iron-like finish. Also, from the Cote Brune, we are featuring the 2014 Barruol Lynch Cote Rotie “Neve” ($68) , a lieu-dit vineyard on the exceedingly steep roasted slope that gives the wine an intensity and concentration matched by the traditional focus of fourteenth-generation winemaker, Louis Barruol. Moving South, we’ve selected the 2014 Andre Perret Saint-Joseph ($38) to represent this village known for producing Syrah with a spicy nose and brambled red fruit. Perret’s wine is 100% destemmed before fermentation to ensure a fruit depth and rounder texture. The 2012 Combier Crozes-Hermitage “Clos des Grives” ($48)comes from a 62-year-old enclosed parcel planted on red clay, chalk and alluvial stones which impart a riper, richer, texture and flavor to the wine. This bottling also receives a heartier barrel-treatment than many Syrah in the neighborhood, giving it breadth, width, and density on the palate. Furthest South in the classified region of the Northern Rhone, the village of Cornas produces Syrah based on granitic soils. Vincent Paris, a biodynamically-oriented vigneron offers up a series of wines we carry here at PMW. Specifically the 2013 Paris Cornas “Granit 60” ($53) exudes an animalistic, leathery aroma that couples with a lean, finely-structured tannic finish to show the rustic complexity typical of wines from this region.
Of course, Syrah has spread across the globe, notably to Australia and California, where winemakers have experimented and tinkered with myriad possibilities of terroir and technique. In California, a loosely-organized group called the Rhone Rangers helped to popularize and disseminate Syrah and other Rhone varieties throughout the state in the 1980s which has resulted in several surges of interest in the grape over the past several decades. On our domestic front we’ve included an array of some favorite producers, starting with 2009 Baker Lane Estate Syrah ($30) from Sonoma Coast, a wine from our recent staff blind tasting, which almost universally we agreed was from the Northern Rhone. As well, our friends Jared and Tracey Brandt made a 2013 Donkey & Goat Fenaughty Vineyard Syrah ($37), which they source from the El Dorado Hills and produce in North Berkeley. They came up learning about viticulture in the Rhone Valley and have made “natural wines” since 2004 with particular focus on Syrah. 2010 saw the start of Enfield Wines, a small-production winery in Santa Rosa. Their 2013 Haynes Vineyard Syrah ($48) is grown in the cool-climate area of Coombsville in Napa on a bed of alluvial cobblestone, loam, and volcanic ash, giving the wine a taut vibrance and natural acidity, fine tannin, and high-toned fruit. Planted in 1993, making it the oldest Syrah vineyard on the Sonoma Coast, 2014 Arnot-Roberts “Que Syrah” Syrah ($84) shows what marine influence and sandy loam soil can do for the grape. The wine is bright and aromatic and will undoubtedly cellar for several years as well as perform admirably in youth, whatever it will be. In this series, a return to the north, where first I learned about wine is only appropriate. One of my favorite (and I argue the finest) in Oregon is the 2013 Cristom Estate Syrah Eola-Amity Hills ($50), the only vines planted to this grape in the entire Willamette Valley. This wine smells and feels like a dusky autumnal evening with brilliant fruit and spice qualities that return me to campfires, barbeques, a redwood sauna, raspberry bushes in the backyard, stained hands, and the security of rain.
Syrah is on at PMW. Come get yours because many of these bottlings are very limited won’t last long on our shelves.
Now in the midst of summer, it comes as no surprised that our patrons generally gravitate towards whites and rosé. After all, what can be more ideal than enjoying a crisp glass of rosé outside, while the warm weather lingers into the late afternoon. However, this summer, I would like to challendge that old adage. Personally, I also find myself inclined to drink certain red wine
varieties (served with a slight chill) as we progress through this warm season, as a direct result of their ability to be more multifaceted.
When choosing a summer red, I naturally look at grape varieties grown primarily in cooler climates, as they generally reflect a lighter overall style, with typically lower alcohol content. My ideal summer red wine is refreshing and quaffable, yet complex, satisfying, and also versatile with foods (especially ubiquitous grilled meats and vegetables). Pinot Noir is one of the first varieties that comes to mind, and as such, I encourage you to explore those from Burgundy and the Loire
Valley. Somewhat further afield, other excellent, albeit lesser-known grape varietals invite, namely Zweigelt, Lambrusco, Pineau d'Aunis, Gamay, Pais, and Carignan!
The region of Sancerre in the Loire Valley is unquestionably one of the best places to find Sauvignon Blanc bar none. Flinty minerality and nervy acidity are associated trademarks thanks to the chalky limestone and clay soil profile, but what about one of the most popular red grape varieties? Vincent Gaudry's 2014 Sancerre Vincengetroix Rouge a.k.a. Pinot Noir ($30) is an excellent example of a Pinot Noir with structure, elegance, seamless texture, and vibrant red fruit.
Another red variety in the Loire Valley that is coming to the forefront is Pineau d'Aunis. Emile Heredia's 2014 Montrieux Vin de France ($23) can be characterized as a lighter style with lift and leanness. It reminds us of Beaujolais with its crunchy fresh fruit, but it is unique for its slightly funky and spicy aromas. The 2014 Nathalie Gaubicher 'Patapon' Pineau d'Aunis is excellent as well, offering up more richness of fruit and body then the previous.
Denny Bini's Lambrusco ($16) is from the region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy and has a charming rustic style with fizziness on the palate. This often under-appreciated grape seamlessly blends fruit, earthiness, and a tinge of bitterness, while finishing in a clean, refreshing, dryer style. A must-try with cured meats.
Mathieu Paquet's 2014 Chiroubles "Les Crozets" ($15) consists of Gamay coming from the southern end of Burgundy in the area of Beaujolais. Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau may be fitting for Thanksgiving, but this grape should also be a summer staple. Light tannins and fresh fruit make them incredibly approachable. Chiroubles is one of ten Beaujolais Cru and is uniquely situated at the highest point in elevation, resulting in the coolest climate in the appellation. Delicious Beaujolais Cru for this price is becoming harder and harder to find. Another superb and more serious Gamay not to be missed is the 2014 Ludovic Mathon Morgon ($21). This is also an outstanding deal for a Beaujolais Cru with darker and richer red and black fruits followed by a soft, velvety texture on the palate.
Over in Austria, Berger's 2014 Zweigelt ($15), pronounced "tsvye-gelt", is bottled in liter format, perhaps by necessity since it is so easy to drink! Its fresh acidity is the perfect compliment to richer grilled meats. The variety is uniquely known for its aromas of pepper, baking spices, and delicate floral notes.
Lastly, leaving Europe, let's direct our attention down to Chile. Pais and Carignan are the grapes included in Maitia's 2015 Pipeno Aupa ($12). This rustic and slightly funky light red is simply refreshing and fun. It combines red fruit, spice, and dusty earth notes. I confess, I have had a bottle or two in the fridge at all times during this past month! It really boosts morale around the house on weeknights.
Chenin is a high-acid grape, meaning that even off-dry wines can be very refreshing. Texturally, many Chenin Blanc feel “glossy” or broad on the palate. Like Chardonnay, another “weightier” white wine, Chenin is very responsive to terroir, and is generally classified by region. Nearly all of the bottles we offer come from the Loire, but variability in subregional climate and soil type illuminate the unique expressions of each selection.
Most famous are the wines from Vouvray, a clay-heavy mid-valley appellation on the right bank of the Loire which often show a rich or botrytized (noble-rot) element. On the opposite hills and plateau, the limestone and tuffo clay that tipifies Montlouis sur Loire often show a gritty, grainy minerality and greater fruit freshness, making them a bit “harder” wines on the palate, but (at least at PMW) preferable. Established producers like Francois Chidane make wines year to year that exemplify the vineyard sites regardless of final sugar levels, depending on flavor and acidity to vinify wines that represent their place, rather than a style. Many younger producers like Xavier Weiskopff of Rocher de Violetes (who made the move from Rhone to Loire for love of Chenin), or Lise and Bertrand Jousset, make lean, and crisp wines from Montlouis ranging in styles from dry and fresh, to intense and age-worthy, to bright and naturally petillant for a delightful spritz in mid-June.
Farther west in the valley are the appellations of Saumur and Anjou where broader, somewhat more viscous wines are made. Dominique Joseph of Petit St. Vincent, with whom we hosted a recent dinner to show his red wines, also makes a brilliant Saumur Blanc from 120 year-old vines grown on clay and limestone over silex soils which highlight the texture and palate-lingering quality of serious Chenin Blanc. Zippier, and with a higher-toned tensility, Francois Boudignon’s Anjou and Savennieres respond to the sand, schist, and volcanic rhyolite in the ground to produce rich, but linear wines with great varietal focus alongside terroir.
And though we don’t have much in California, Krater Cellars' beautifully opulent Monterey Chenin Blanc leaps from glass to nose with rich tropical fruit aromas and a long, clean finish: a product of cool-climate growing conditions and loamy sand acting on this slippery and malleable grape.
We love Chenin, and you should too! Give it a try at 11% off our entire selection, and don’t forget to share with your digital acolytes via #drinkchenin on instragram.
Six-pack promos at PMW are back! Each quarter we will select and discount six unique wines. These are wines we are excited about and eager to share with you!
2015 Domaine Du Bagnol Cassis Rosé $28
Provence rosé blend of Grenache (55%), Mourvedre (31%) and Cinsault (14%).
2015 Domaine Philippe Gilbert Menetou-Salon Rosé $26
100% Pinot Noir rosé from the Loire Valley, France.
2015 Podere Ruggeri Corsini Rosin Langhe Rosato $15
Nebbiolo based rosato produced in Piedmont, Italy.
2012 Domaine de la Tournelle Les Corvées sous Curon $34
One of the most obscure and excellent chardonnays in the shop from Jura, France.
2015 Chateau Pegau Lone Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc $18
An aromatic white from the Rhone Valley comprised of 40% Clairette, 30% Bourboulenc, 20% Grenache Blanc, and 10% Ugni Blanc.
2010 Molino del Piano Bunello di Montalcino $45
This delicous Tuscan Sangiovese has juicy fruit and is approachable now.
Over the last month, our staff has been introduced to several new producers in Spain. They are all making noteworthy wine and are located outside of Spain's most recognizable wine region, Rioja. In addition, we have included in this newsletter some producers you may have also seen in the shop already, which we are excited to revisit. Cheers!
Region: Ribeira Sacra, Galicia
Laura Lorenzo is a perfect example of a winemaker (outside of Rioja) transforming Spain’s wine industry. For a number of years, she was at the helm of one of our favorite Ribeira Sacra producers, Dominio do Bibei. Recently, she started her own project in the same region, which is an undertaking due to the often neglected condition of the vineyards in the area. With such a long history of viticulture in the region, it’s a pitty that so much of the land was used as large scale commercial viticulture. Laura’s meticulous dedication in the vineyard is paying off and showing the true essence of this excellent region’s terroir. Her approach to winemaking is minimal which is beneficial in showing a clear, vivid, fresh, yet rustic expression of the land.
EnvíntateRegion: Canary Islands, Galicia, Extremadura
Some of you may recall our Envínate newsletter last summer. These wines are not widely exported but have been a huge success in the shop because they are stunning and exciting wines. We were drawn to their energy, balance, and freshness, and complex minerality which can sometimes be deficient in such warm, southern, and harsh climates.
Envínate–which means “wine-yourself”—is a collaboration of four friends Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos and Jose Martínez (Almansa) from the Canary Islands, Ribeira Sacra, Murcia, and Almansa, respectively. They met at the University of Miguel Hernandez where they studied Enology and, a decade ago, began producing stunning wines with clear expressions of uniquely chosen terroirs. Many of the vineyards are farmed organically with untrained vines and are located in, generally speaking, rough continental conditions at high-elevations with an Atlantic climate - some of the vines on the Canary Islands are sitting on extremely steep cliffs peering directly over the Atlantic!
Region: Allela, Catalunya
Allela is a microscopic D.O. unknown to most but only a stone’s throw from the city of Barcelona. The history in Allela alone is impressive enough, with records of viticulture since the 1st century. What sets Quim’s vines apart from so many others in the country is the truly unique terroir. The vineyards reach around 1,000 ft in elevation, on steep terraces, with cool Mediterranean sea breezes. The vines would struggle to ripen without its atypical white colored granite soil, Sauló, which simultaneously traps heat and redirects sunlight. Quim organically farms Xarello, Picapoll, and Garnatxa Blanca. These are special wines because you really do find a salty sea Mediterranean characteristic.
Vinos Ambiz - Fabio Bartolomei
Region: Sierra de Gredos, Avila and Madrid
Fabio is from an Italian family and worked in the world of finance in Scotland,
but has resided in Spain for two decades, essentially teaching himself how to make wine. He produces very little in way of production and is truly an artisan compared to his neighbors. Fabio believes in as little interferences with winemaking as possible by farming organically and using native grapes and yeasts. This allows for the wines to show the true character of their place. Fabio’s curiosity is one of his best assets because he has fun making several wines as opposed to a few. There is a playfulness yet completely unconventional approach to his wines. We guarantee you have not tried anything like them – they will push your palate’s boundaries, challenge the status quo, and make you think outside the box in terms of what Spanish wines can be. You can’t help but jump on Fabio’s train of curiosity, which makes them incredibly fun to drink. He produces Garnacha, Tempranillo, Malvar, and Airén.
Luis A Rodriguez
Region: Ribeiro, Galacia
Luis, a local of the region, has a reputation of being a leader and craftsman winemaker in Ribeiro since 1988, all the while being incredibly kind and modest. He helped steer the charge of returning winemaking and viticulture to its once former capacity by being heavily involved in the D.O. for several years. Historically, the region has suffered events beyond its control, leading to mass farming and wine production, which has done little to boost its status as a desirable wine region. Luis has acquired excellent vineyards and planted many of the vines himself, some up to 50 years old. He uses minimal sulfur and herbicides, native yeasts, and new oak, so the wine can speak for itself.
Region: Ribeiro (Arnoia), Galacia
New to the Spanish wine scene is Bernardo Estevez, car mechanic turned winemaker. His wines are now just beginning to trickle into the U.S. market. His dedication is undeniable – he spent years studying biodynamic and natural viticulture in the region, as well as outside Spain. When choosing vineyards, Bernardo was extremely selective - some reach up to 100 years old. His white blend, Issué, is one of the most intriguing Galacian whites we’ve come across. The importer, Jose Pastor, describes it as a “multi-grape blend of Lado, Treixadura, Silveiriña, Albilla, Godello, Loureira and Verdello Antiguo, from different (younger and older) vineyards on granite and clay soils in the Arnoia valley.”
The season for Morel mushrooms is typically from March through May. Some of the better local spots for foraging these gems are found in the areas surrounding Santa Rosa and Palo Alto. If you don’t feel like committing your time to foraging for this seasonal delicacy, then you certainly will pay a premium for these wonderful mushrooms at your local grocery store or farmers market. Nevertheless, wherever you might acquire them, their earthy and meaty flavor will be an unrivaled and decadent treat. One method to prepare them is to simply sauté in butter to release their fantastic aromatics. As far as pairings go, in general, I tend to lean towards Pinot Noir as a classic selection for mushrooms. In addition, because of their richness, I would also recommend both white and red wines for pairing options--my top choices being either a white Burgundy, or an Italian red, such as a Rosso di Montalcino.
Elsewhere, the season for fresh Fava beans is considerably shorter, so it’s best to stock up on these wonderfully meaty legumes as soon as they appear. They are typically available in April and May, and generally may not be as common place as other beans in many kitchens, perhaps due to having a waxy shell around the beans in addition to an outer pod. As a result, they do tend to take some extra time and effort to prepare; however, their buttery, sweet, and starchy texture make them totally worth it. A simple and excellent way to incorporate them into a tasty appetizer is to combine with burrata and lemon zest over grilled rustic toast. Sancerre is the perfect compliment for this unique legume.
Lastly, common knowledge traditionally holds that asparagus and wine can not be paired together effectively. The combination of vegetal characteristics and acidity can all too often leave a downright disturbing metallic sense of taste in your mouth. On the other hand, faced with the abundance of asparagus around this time of year (the stuff is currently growing like wildfire in my Oakland garden), the chances of having wine and asparagus together can seem rather inevitable. So, the trick is to be selective with your pairing, and to avoid the always convenient option of simply drowning your asparagus in a rich and flavorful sauce. For me, the golden ticket for success here is to go with either a Gruner Veltliner from Austria, or the beautifully aromatic Kerners, from Alto Adige in Northern Italy.