A follow-up to Gugiarolo, more Picada 15 and Peyrassol Rose.  

Thursday, May 17:

Pezzalunga, Vercesi del Castellazzo, Oltrepo Pavese 2011- $15.99/btl ($12.79 by case or mixed case): After blasting through several cases of Vercesi del Castellazzo's Gugiarolo last weekend, we figure everyone will also fall in love with their flagship red, the Pezzalunga. It's a blend of Bonarda, Barbera, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon (trust us...it works!) that is silky, aromatic, sneakily concentrated and 100% fun to drink! This is one to enjoy all summer long with pizza, fast pastas, birds off the grill, sausages and chops. We suspect this will be terrific with a lot of the menu items at Thirty Acres, too. The Oltrepo Pavese (just south of Milan) is becoming one of our favorite Italian regions for wines that drink above their price and pedigree, so stop by today for a taste of affordable greatness.

Anthony Road Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes 2011- $16.99/btl ($13.60 by case or mixed case): Please indulge us while we again proselytize for some of the best, most serious Riesling being made anywhere on the planet. This time, it's the new vintage of the dry cuvee turned out by Finger Lakes pioneers, the Mariani family, at Anthony Road Wine Company, on Seneca Lake. Just like their 2010- which sold out in just a couple of weeks- the 2011 is pure Dresden Shale (the prime Riesling-growing slope along the west shore of Seneca Lake), featuring aromas of wet slate, acacia and honey and a taut, nervy backbone that brings to mind top German dry Rieslings from the Rheinhessen and Pfalz. You've probably tasted Mariani fruit in some of the great Riesling bottlings from Ravines and Red Tail Ridge, but their own bottling takes a back seat to no one's!

Friday, May 18:

Picada 15 Red Blend, Bodega NQN, Patagonia 2011- $10.99/btl ($8.79 by case or mixed case): If you were here on Saturday night, chances are good that you probably have a few bottles of NQN's Picada 15 White in your fridge right now. And if you think that little gem is the bees' knees, stop by today and taste their equally-wonderful red blend, which is based on Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) and also features Merlot, Malbec and even a dollop of Pinot Noir! Often, such blends strike us as soupy and diffuse, but the cool Patagonian climate and rocky terroir give this wine tremendous lift and focus. There's also impressive balance, length on the palate and complexity that we rarely encounter in wines that sell for well under $10 the bottle in case lots. We bought lots of this, and we think you should, too!

Cotes-de-Provence Rose, Commanderie de Peyrassol 2011- $17.99/btl ($14.40 by case or mixed case): Once upon a time, it wasn't cool to drink rose. Only a few serious, dry versions ever reached our shores from Europe (often at prices that were a complete gouge), and we were awash in oceans of sickly sweet white Zinfandel...a wine that seems to have finally met a timely and deserved death. Back in those dinosaur days, one of the few great and reliable roses available was the sprightly, fraise-scented, bone-dry version from the Commanderie de Peyrassol, and the newest version doesn't disappoint; it is all fresh fruit and sea salt, literally begging for some fish stew, rouille, oysters, or even a steamed lobster. 

Saturday, May 19: 

Rioja Crianza, Ramirez de la Piscina 2007- $14.99/btl ($11.99 by case or mixed case): We were honored last week to receive the proprietor of this great Rioja estate, Pilar Ramirez de la Piscina, with samples of her new releases. And, even though she poured several stunning Reservas and Gran Reservas (we have both her 1999 and 2001 Gran Reserva, at $31.99 the bottle), we were most taken by the overachieving 2007 Crianza. It is impeccably-balanced, fine and just seamless on the palate. The American oak, so traditional to Rioja, is well integrated to the point of being imperceptible, and we found ourselves evaluating this the same way we would a great Bordeaux. To be honest, it's not a Ducru or a Pichon-Lalande, but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying what might now be the best $15 bottle of red in the store!

Semillon, Carmine Granata, Mendoza 2010- $17.99/btl ($14.40 by case or mixed case): We had no idea anyone grew Semillon in Argentina. In fact, none of us had ever seen or heard of such a thing- and maybe there are no other Semillon plantings in Mendoza- but what a wine this is! Sourced from 60-year old vines, it is raised in barrique (although it shows only in the dense, unctuous texture and not in the nose) and is in every way a top-class wine, with electric acidity, an exotic overlay of aromas and flavors on top of Semillon's tell-tale waxy/lanolin thing and a lengthy grip on the palate and persistence that can only be described as Grand Cru. Seeing as how many top Semillon-based white Bordeaux go for upwards of $80-$100 the bottle these days, it's fair to say this is quite the value. If you stop in on Saturday, you might also want to pick up a bottle of Granata's equally-impressive 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, also $17.99.


We get to catch our breath a bit this week, as the tide of new seasonal arrivals abates somewhat. However, on Friday, we have this year's batch of Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale (22 oz) arriving, which is a terrific, wheat-based Strong Ale in the Barleywine style. While there's a lull in the action (and Memorial Day dead ahead), you may want to stock up on some warm-weather favorites, such as Troegs Sunshine Pils, Great Divide Colette, River Horse Summer Blonde, Weihenstephaner Hefe Weizen and Sixpoint Crisp. And, if Imperial Stout is your kind of thing, we've just received a painfully small amount of North Coast Old Rasputin. Needless to say, it's first come, first served.

Brenna Wine Queue

This week, we once again put our little ambulance-chaser through a meat grinder of classic beverages. Is she up to the task?

Happy Canyon "Chukker" (Cab Franc/Cab Sauv/Merlot), Santa Barbara 2009- $16.99
Gessami Blanco (Gewurz/Moscatel), Gramona, Penedes 2011- $16.99
Rossese di Albenga, Massaretti 2010- $23.99
Salia (Syrah/Garnacha), Finca Sandoval, Manchuela 2008- $15.99
Domaine Drouhin Chardonnay "Arthur", Dundee Hills 2009- $29.99
Ribera del Duero, Maria Alonso del Yerro 2005- $44.99