It’s happened yet again: the first hot wind of the season has arrived. No one dreads a hot wind like I do, but even if you dread it half as much as I, you need a reprieve. One theoretical reprieve comes in the form of a vacation to someplace where the mercury only reaches the 75-degree mark, but failing the ability to physically escape, one can at the very least begin to look at the choices we make when it comes to beverage. As Tucsonans, we usually drink Cabernets and Syrahs well into the high eighties and the low nineties, but now even some of the most committed red drinkers I know are considering crisp whites, and the absolute most committed red drinkers are least considering Gamay or the like instead of huge, oaky mosters. On Sunday, June 25, Mike Galkin joins us with two whites, two reds and two vermouths, all of which are suitable for your summer consumption. The tasting begins at 3:30, food pairings accompany each wine, and it promises to be both educational and delicious. And if you’re like me, you’ll be leaving with a few bottles to keep chilled and handy for the summer months. If you’d like to join us, make a reservation by calling 326-9363 (web and email reservations won’t hold you a seat) and bring along $30 plus tax and tip. Also bring your thirst, both for wine and for knowledge, and an appetite for snacks as well. We hope you can join us.
NV Ransom Dry Vermouth, Orgeon (500 ml) $24.00
A blend of organically farmed aromatic white varietals and Pinot Noir blanc. Alambic pot distilled in house from a blend of wines from Pacific Northwest grapes. Barrel aged in mixed French oak. Infusion: Wormwood*, Rosehip*, Scullcap*, Chamomile*, Orange Peel*, Verbena*, Spearmint*, Star Anise*, Cinnamon Bark*, Coriander*, Arch Angel Root*, Burdock Root*, Fennel*, Cardamom*, Lemon Peel*, and Vanilla Bean. (* denotes Organic ingredient) “Made from organic wine and mostly organic botanicals, this straw-colored dry vermouth layers notes of golden raisins, citrus peel, cardamom and vanilla on a base of fresh apple and pear. Recommended for classic cocktails, or to sip alongside a cheese plate.” 94 Points – Wine Enthusiast (11/1/2013).
2014 Getränk Grüner Veltliner, Weinland Osterreich $17.00
For the “Getränk,” our friends at Dürnberg in the village of Falkenstein are using younger vines at higher altitudes. Approximately two-thirds of the grapes come from Dürnberg vineyards, with the remaining from two growers in the same village who closely follow the same rules of certified sustainable farming. The grapes preserve well-balanced natural acidity, and are collected and processed at cool internal temperatures, helping to avoid oxidation and any disagreeable aromas or flavors. Fermentation is done in temperature-controlled steel tanks, after which the wine rests for two months on the lees, followed by filtration and bottling. Brilliant freshness compliments the crisp, dry flavors of grapefruit, apple and white pepper.
2014 Schug Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast $21.00
100% Chardonnay. 14% neutral oak cask fermented; 76% cold-fermented in stainless steel tanks; 10% in new French oak (fermentation only). 14% aged “sur-lie” for 5 months in 132 gallon neutral oak puncheons. Schug’s Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is produced with the minimal use of new oak, to allow the bright varietal character to shine through. It was harvested from select vineyards located in the Sonoma Coast appellation, including the cooler microclimates of western Carneros, southern Sonoma Valley and the Petaluma Gap. It has a spicy apple aroma with hints of nutmeg and cream. Silky textured, it has delicate flavors of fresh fennel, pear and ripe apple.
2015 Hervé Villemade Cheverny Rouge, Val de Loire $20.00
All Hervé’s vines fall within the Cheverny and and Cour-Cheverny AOCs and are planted in a mix of clay and sandy soils with silex (flint) stones in many of the parcels and a limestone base. Hervé farms organically (certified) and does most of the vineyard work on his own. In the cellar Herve works with native yeasts for all fermentations. Elevage is done in a range of different vessels: concrete tank, foudre, tronconic vats, neutral barrique, and even amphora. Very little SO2 is used. Cheverny Rouge is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Gamay made entirely in concrete tank.
The Gamay contributes its lively freshness and its fruit (red berries), while the Pinot Noir provides its silky texture and its hint of liquorice, with sometimes just a smoked touch. Together the two vines create a red that is both gastronomic and precise, with its shades of plum and black cherry, the flavoring depending upon the vintage, but always refreshing.
2008 Domaine Olga Raffault, Chinon “Picasses” $23.00
Since Olga’s death a few years ago, Domaine Olga Raffault is currently run by her granddaughter Sylvie and her husband Eric de la Vigerie. The winemaking is most traditional. The grapes are, of course, handpicked and fermented in stainless-steel. The wines are then aged in larger, neutral oak and sometimes chestnut – a traditional barrel wood in the region. Les Picasses is an exceptional vineyard with 50-year-old vines planted on a steep slope of alluvial clay and chalky limestone. The ‘Picasses’ spends two to three years in oak, to reduce the wine and soften the tannins, and is usually released abo ut 4 years after the vintage. In the glass, this wine offers up layers of dark fruit, cherry and green bell pepper. On the palate, it shows concentrated dark cherry, blackberry, clove, granite with earthy, smoky notes. Ripe tannins and great acidity mean this will age beautifully.
NV Lustau Red Vermut, Jerez $23.00
Lustau now enters the vermouth category with a red vermouth based on two sherry wines selected by its enologist Manuel Lozano. One is a sweet and velvety Pedro Ximénez and the other a dry and nutty Amontillado – aged separately in their own soleras for 10 years. The wines are then used to macerate more than ten botanicals and aromatic herbs like gentian, sage, absinth, coriander and orange peel. Each botanical macerates separately for optimal aroma extraction. The master blender then expertly combines the infused wines to obtain a perfect blend. The wine starts with notes of orange peel and coriander seeds in the foreground. A fragrant whiff of old roses. Then darker notes, like mature red fruits. Cinnamon as well. Very round, it’s only after some time that you get hints of gentian or absinth. In the mouth it is very velvety, with a great balance. Definitely on the sweet side – the bitterness of the Cinchona bark is rather delicate here. Citrus peel again, hints of plums and red grape juice. Smooth finish, bittersweet with a touch of toasted oak.