In-Store Tastings Thursday-Saturday!
Erbaluce di Caluso "La Torrazza", Ferrando 2009- $16.99/btl ($13.60 by case or mixed case): Italy's Piedmont is rightly famous for Barolo and Barbaresco, but some of its greatest treasures lie further north of those vaunted appellations. An excellent case in point is the Caluso district, near the industrial town of Ivrea; here, the climate is much cooler than in the Langhe or Serralunga, and the combination of brisk atmosphere and mineral soils is perfect for cultivation of the noble white grape, Erbaluce. If you've never tried it before, you're in for a treat, as there is possibly no greater wine in the world for pairing with freshwater fish (especially trout) or any kind of risotto or pasta based on spring vegetables; one sip of a top bottling is a sensory overload of wet stones, blossoming flowers and electric acidity. Better yet, this particular wine is crafted by the consensus master of the upper Piedmont, Luigi Ferrando, whose Carema reds and single-vineyard Erbaluces sell out almost immediately upon release, as top restaurants all over the US have discovered the impeccable balance, refinement and character of his offerings.
Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Fabre Montmayou (Mendoza) 2010- $13.99/btl ($11.20 by case or mixed case): We at JWS are keen observers of the South American wine scene and the progress of Argentina's best growers. However, we've noticed a huge difference in quality between the wines of growers who are fixated on rapid progress and those who are determined to patiently adhere to the rigorous, time-tested path to success. And, among the most fiercely traditional growers, Bordeaux native Herve Joyaux-Fabre stands apart from the pack. From the time of his arrival in Mendoza in 1992, he chose to purchase- and painstakingly restore- existing vineyards, rather than simply purchase land and plant new vines in the hope that the selected locations would be suitable for top-quality winegrowing. Now, 20 years into operations, it's safe to say that Herve's plan has paid off, as he simply vinifies nothing but exceptional wines from what are now superhealthy, old-vines parcels. His 2010 Cabernet Reserva is as striking a wine as anything we've tasted this year in the $12-$15 range from any other top Cabernet district in the world. There is a harmony, balance and understatement- countered by an intense core of fruit and lush mouthfeel- that speaks more to modern Bordeaux than Mendoza. It'll be hard to resist drinking this right now, but we suspect that moderate aging will reward those who are so inclined.
Friday, April 27:
Riesling, Weingut Christmann (Pfalz) 2010- $19.99/btl ($15.99 by case or mixed case): If you were fortunate enough to stop by for a taste of some of Daniel Hubbard's excellent German and Austrian selections a couple of weeks ago, here's yet another bell-ringer: an intense, full-bodied, dry Pfalz Riesling from young Steffen Christmann's meticulously-tended organic vineyards near Gimmeldingen. To our taste, the legendary 2010 vintage in Germany- with its rare combination of super-ripeness and super-acidity- reaches its apogee in the Pfalz, and the basic Riesling cuvee of Christmann rivals that of the legendary Pfalz estate, Weingut Keller. Yes...it is THAT good!
Langhe Rosso, Vajra 2009- $15.99/btl ($12.80 by case or mixed case): Fans of Barolo and Barbaresco recognize Giuseppe Vajra as one of the great young talents of the region, and his top crus are justifiably in constant, heavy demand. However, Giuseppe is also a master of making excellent, reasonably-priced wine that's great for daily drinking. In our opinion, none are better than his Langhe Rosso, a juicy, satisfying blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto (and, allegedly, a dollop of Freisa and Pinot Noir!) that offers a lip-smacking, thirst-quenching quality that would do justice to anything from a grilled chicken sandwich, to dinner at Thirty Acres (this is one of our top red picks for Kevin's menu) to a stylish ragout of porcini, sweetbreads and truffle.
Saturday, April 28:
Cotes-du-Roussillon Blanc "Effet Papillon", Roc des Anges 2011- $11.99 ($9.60 by case or mixed case): Marjorie Gallet is, without a doubt, France's young rock star winegrower of the moment, as the bottlings of her excellent Domaine Le Roc des Anges grace starred Michelin boites such as Le Crillon and Pierre Gagnaire. However, the recognition hasn't gone to her head, and she has always reinforced her critical success with superior entry-level wines for everyday consumption. And, we cannot recommend highly enough her stunning first effort of a basic white Roussillon, the spicy, dry, orange peel-scented "Effet Papillon"...a glassful of hand-harvested joy from the difficult, schistous soils near Maury. We predict that this will become our #1-selling dry white wine at JWS, as it is simply the best value white wine we offer AND one of the best, given its incredibly moderate price. This could well be the wine that triggers a "tipping point" moment for the underappreciated wines of the Roussillon, and we think you'll agree this is one for laying in by the case.
Beaumes-de-Venise "Cuvee Yvon Soard", Domaine de Fenouillet 2009- $20.99/btl ($18.90 by case or mixed case): Brothers Patrick and Vincent Soard work just over the hill from Gigondas, in the combes and shadows of the imposing Dents de Montmirail, turning out multiple organic cuvees of incredibly concentrated, wonderful, old-vines Beaumes-de-Venise reds and dessert wines. In only the best of vintages, they also vinify a special cuvee of red Beaumes-de-Venise from a parcel of 75-year-old (FYI, vines this old don't really yield commercially-viable amounts of juice!) vines that we rate as one of the southern Rhone's greatest reds...especially given the incredible price of $21! This heady and unusual mix of 50% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 15% Mourvedre certainly has a long road of development ahead of it, but the fat, precocious nature of the 2009 vintage makes it irresistable now.
New Season, New Beer
New releases of wheat beers, fruity beers, saison, lagers and even summer ales are in full swing now. Time to drag out the Weber!
The following will arrive by Friday, April 27:
Dogfish Head Black and Blue- 750 ml
New Planet Off the Grid Ale (gluten-free!)- 4 pk
Sly Fox Royal Weiss- 6 pk
Brooklyn Summer Ale- 6 pk
Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager- 6 pk
Anderson Valley Summer Solstice- 6 pk cans
Flying Dog In-Heat Wheat- 6 pk
Brenna Wine Queue
So, Brenna got to meet Kermit Lynch this week, while the rest of us toiled at stacking cases. Now, we're gonna get even with her.
Oltrepo Pavese Pinot Nero (vinified white) "Gugiarolo", Vercesi del Castellazzo 2011- $16.99
Tinto Negramoll, Carballo (Canary Islands) 2009- $21.99
Rosso di Toscana "Il Leccio", Oliveto 2005- $29.99
St. Joseph, Andre Perret 2006- $28.99
Chateau Turcaud Rouge, Entre-deux-Mers 2009- $11.99
Meurasult, Domaine des Terres de Velle 2010- $47.99