Blanc de Franc 2020
100% Cabernet Franc
Chinon, Centre-Val de Loire, France
Winemaker: Arnaud Couly Dutheil (4th gen)
Shining gold with a tiny warm blush. Scents of strawberries, cream or an Oreo center, and later green strawberry garden grassiness with the little smidge of lemon hint. Drinking in lovely strawberries (red and the whole range to green), raspberries, lemon/lime squeeze, and a touch of that Oreo cream…but is definitely dry. Elegant, smooth and like a magical kiss from a woodland nymph.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: pretty good. I was expecting to channel my inner Bill the Cat pfffft
Franc Blanc…huh? What a beautiful surprise! I know you may think beautiful an overused term, but truly it best describes what I see when I taste this wine. It’s a painting of delicate colors of rounded shapes woven within intricate lace and moments flecks of gold & magenta. Domaine Couly-Dutheil, a long time star of Chinon and Loire, celebrates their Cabernet Franc (it takes up 98% of their 90 ha of vines). They are so focused on just the right maturity for harvest which gives them only a few Goldilocks days (4-5). This is part of what makes them stand apart from so many other Cab Francs. “For many decades, a catchphrase has highlighted the vegetal notes or the green pepper taste of Cabernet Franc… we consider these notes to be a reflection of a lack of maturity. This is why we are convinced of the importance of a good maturity of the grapes which gives the wines notes of ripe fruit, silky and supple tannins while keeping a great freshness.” See…beautiful.
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Rince Cochon 2021
Organic, less is more
Labastide-Saint-Pierre, Sud-Ouest, France
Anne and Géraud Arbeau (sister & brother)
Ruby/cherry haze. Chill it a little, let it breathe and you’ll start catching scents of cherry, blueberry, green peppers/tomato leaves, strawberries with the caps too, young raspberries, and digging in the dirt. Sip and it’s very bright tart cherries, bell peppers, blackberries, green bitey strawberries, springy green flowers, and it’s popping full of life and light…and needless to say it’s piggy perfect! Sooie! Yes, I do actually know how to call a hog…even though I’m a city gal now. You probably don’t want to hear it though, it’s pretty ear shattering.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: good but rather have a fried pork rind
As with many wineries, this family has farming roots (theirs from 1878), but as they say, “already, back then, it was the vine that led the dance.” Géraud had known for a long time he wanted to be continue in these wine steps, and aligned his studies for it. Anne ventured a different path at first, receiving a PhD in Fluid Mechanics before returning to the family business based in their lovely town Labastide-Saint-Pierre, which I ❤️ their description of “where cassoulet and rugby form part of our DNA”. Sounds like my type of place! Soul warming food, a fun scrum, and damn good wines. Cheers to that vine that keeps on leading, or to quote Bryan Ferry, “Don’t Stop the Dance”.
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Weingut Georg Gustav Huff
Pinot Gris 2021
Organic, green fertilizer, grapevine moth pest control by sexual confusion
Nierstein, Rheinhessen, Germany
Wine family: Dieter & Helga Huff, their sons/winemakers: Stefan & Daniel Huff, daughters-in-law, & grandkids
Starlight with a little green shimmer. Scents of melons (of all types), grapefruit and tangerine enter the room (in a good way, not smack you over the head ultra IPA way) as it warms up, lemon zest, a little honeysuckle blooms joined by orange blossoms. Tasting Valencia oranges, followed by a citrus mix, a little really ripe English cucumber in the background that just flirts a little, lovely honeydew (like the ones we used to grow. More lovely on the inside than the natural sandy bottoms on the outside), mellow cantaloupe, golden delicious apple, an herby welcome bite, and Meyer lemons. It’s bright and mildly lip tingling.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: gives everything a ⚡️
Oh this is definitely a family affair, everyone pitches in with their own unique skills & specialties. These folks love and are devoted to their land, vines, and everything living in it…as any good vineyard parents would be. They make sure it’s healthy, organically well nourished and think about its future because to have the best outcome of their wine they have to prepare for whatever may come their way. One of these preps is getting ahead of the weather with green compost & straw since too much rain can spoil a good thing. Staving off some of the erosion can also help out our beneficial buggy & wormy friends that live below and are a major part of this winery’s circle of life. On a personal note, I have always been fascinated by earthworms since childhood. My great-grandfather used to have two garden beds of them that he’d cultivate & feed every day. These were his prime fishing friends…ok maybe they were more a dangling dinner for catfish. Oh those were the carefree days. Thanks to this Pinot Gris & the Huff’s for unearthing this moment with my my dear old Poppa. ❤️
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100% Melon de Bourgogne
Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine, Nantes, France
Owner & winegrower: Dominique Martin (4th generation)
Pale yellow green pour from the can to glass. Nose tickling melon blend of honeydew & cantaloupe. Ok I have to wait a minute. There’s someone upstairs smoking skunk so letting that disperse. When I get back to it there’s pears, apples that I would probably use for baking, and a citrus mix that gently sparks. Oh this can, can get you in trouble because it is so easy to chug since it’s beautifully fresh and crisp. Flavors of lemon & lime pop out with crunchy apple, pears of all sorts, and on the exhale there’s some limestone and my favorite bit of sea breeze salt. Where’s my fisherman’s sweater and cap?
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: mmm more rich
I know wine in a can is so trendy, but Dominique Martin’s decision to add “Océan” is pretty darn cool and not just for being hip. He’s looking at the environmental reasons and bringing all of us a truly fab wine. Check out this excerpt from his blog, “The wine industry is going greener, and cans can be almost indefinitely recycled (compared to only 15 times for a glass bottle). According to waste professionals magazine Circular, almost 70% of cans are recycled and when it’s done efficiently a beverage can can be back on the shelves in 6 to 8 weeks. Transporting and storing cans is also relatively energy efficient.” So y’all remember, every little thing we can do to help the planet, helps all of us. ♻️
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Riesling Dry 2020
No artificial fertilizers, no herbicides or pesticides, hand harvested
Wachenheim, Pfalz, Germany
Winemakers: Patrick Möllendorf & Claudia Fadda
Owner: Ernst Loosen
Interstellar yellow with green hues. Sniffing a breeze of peaches, apricot, orchard flowers along with honeysuckle, and river rocks like I used to flip over looking for crayfish, and a bit of mineral that reminds me of when I’d step into our spring house. All those scents are there in the taste but with a dry finish, and they’re joined with salt, granite, a blade of gentle green grass, and a zing of citrus blend with lemon and more. This glass has me craving yellow bbq pulled pork and deep fried onion rings.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: yum! Pears pop out
This is one beautiful villa with a longstanding history dating back to the 1700s as the J.L. Wolf estate. Ernst Loosen (Dr. Loosen) had the opportunity to acquire it (1996) and breathe fresh life into the now Villa Wolf. This Italian style villa is architecturally breathtaking and oh the interior is gorgeous! Quite honestly this place deserves to be on @accidentallywesanderson and don’t just take my word for it, watch this video.
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Wild Nature Wines
Veneto Bianco IGT
Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay
Certified vegan, 4 months skin contact, organic for more than 40 years, and biodynamic
Winemaker: Emilio Fidora
Rose amber streaked sunrise glow. Sniffing orange & pear blossoms, honeysuckle (from my childhood home, and I can just see those bee butts wiggling in them in delight), nectarines, strawberries that bring with them a bit of creaminess, raspberries, cherries, and a touch of mineral slate pops out. Oh baby it’s all here on my tongue with a kick of depth! Again those strawberries & raspberries, tiny slivers of peach & nectarine, cranberry zip, a small squish of pineapple, and mineral lick of a rock with a balancing bite of bitter herb (in the back) that’s not fragrant and will have me dabbing my finger through my Penzeys collection searching until I sort it out.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: delicious
I jumped for joy when I saw this bottle. My first one of theirs was Prosecco Rosé Brut DOC 2019. It was scrumptious and I love their label art and am still searching for the artist’s name. Wild Nature Wines are essentially that. They have two estates in Veneto (Venice and Verona) where they live in harmony with the all sorts of four-legged and winged neighbors such as owls, foxes, rabbits, pheasants, and this stately European fallow deer (Dama dama) that stole my heart. Each wine gets their own unique familiar drawn entwined with the environment and growing as one. This family truly cares about every aspect of their environment, so how can they not be making such impressive wines. BTW I know it may be a little early to be writing Santa, but I truly hope he will put a case of these deers in my stocking.
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American White Wine 2021
33% Gewürztraminer, 33% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Gris, 8% Auxerrois, 4% Riesling
Lacewing, Finnigan Hill, Zenith, & High Pass Vineyards | Columbia Gorge, Chehalem Mountains, Eola-Amity Hills, & Lower Long Tom AVAs
Organic, unfined & unfiltered, skin contact, indigenous yeasts, skin contact
Bottled & produced Newborn, OR
Winemaker/Proprietor: Joe Swick
Hazy warm orange delight. Whoa this is fragrant! There’s so many different flowers from all over, sweet pears & apples, orange whiffs with blossoms, mango, pineapple, a little smoke & salt, and right there on the back there’s coconut. Every single scent is right there in the taste and a bit more of a citrus tang. It’s got a tropical cocktail feel with white pepper & salt. A glorious bit of confusion, and as it opens, it’s the orange wine gift that keeps on giving.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: NOPE
Ok, who out there doesn’t love a good Swick. Every time you see that telltale label/font you know you’re going to have something delicious and even surprising at times like with this orange “Flood”. They say the name comes from the “Missoula Floods that shaped the Columbia Gorge and Willamette Valley 10 million years ago”, but in my mind it’s more of the flood or onrush of flavors and nose tickling scents that emerge from each pour. Oh and as it says on the back of the bottle “fbib.”, and sure enough, boy does it ever “bring it”. 🧡
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Rootdown Wine Cellars
2019 Red Wine
Touriga National, Tinta Cao, Tinta Ruiz, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Francisca
Grapes sourced: Mendocino County
Geyserville, Sonoma County, CA
Winemaker: Mike Lucia
Deep ruby rimmed purple that I can’t see through. From the get go I’m smelling buttery vanilla, a smidge of oak, dark plums and prunes, dried and fresh cherries, raisins, and black pepper. Reminds me of good old fashioned SC fruitcake…not the alcohol soaked British crap most know. Sipping and it’s juicy and fresh. There’s dried plums, dried cherries and fresh, golden and dark raisins, blackberry, a little dried pineapple and a pinch of black pepper. Seriously it reminds me of my mom’s fruitcake and that is such a happy, heart-warming memory that I’m going to share with you.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: absolute YUM
1 cup of butter
1 1/4 cup of brown sugar (firmly packed)
4 cups of flour (2 self rising , 2 plain)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup of raisins (mix of gold and dark)
3/4 cup of mixed dried fruit (chopped well: green and red cherries and pineapple)
1/2 cup of applesauce
1 cup of pecans (best if from my granny’s trees)
Cream the butter and sugar and add 1 egg at a time and beat well. Add raisins, dried fruit, and pecans. Then add the flour and applesauce & mix well. Grease and flour baking pan. Pour the mix in and bake on 270 for 3 hours. In the end it’s a recipe of love.
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Domaine de la Charbonnière
Côtes du Rhône AOP 2019
organic, sustainable, hand harvested and sorted twice
Rhône Valley, France
Family run winery
Winemaker: Veronique Maret
Shining ruby star. Give the glass a little personal time out and then scents of earth climb out along with cherries, blackberries, a bit of strawberries, black pepper, and a pinch of dried sage. First sip and it’s cherries and pits, then poof a big ol’ mix of berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries with caps & boysenberries), pepper (black & white), fresh farm grown red apple skin bite, prunes, and a little smoke exhale. This may be a medium but it’s as comforting as a plush robe. Fall has fully kicked in and it’s time to start snuggling up. Anyone want to join me?
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: smoooooth
Back in 1912, Eugene Maret bought what I think is one of the best presents ever for his wife which is this Domaine. How do you even put a bow on something like this! Sure beats out a Lexus (I’m sure you’ve seen their “December to Remember” ads) and so much better to pass down through the generations. Veronique and Caroline (4th generation) are managing the winery, and Veronique after working with her father, took over as winemaker in 2012. She also breathed in new life by initiating going organic and it sure looks like the critics approve.
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IGT Terre Siciliane Bianca
Organic, hand harvested, indigenous yeasts, unfined & unfiltered
Bivona (near Palazzo Adriano [where Cinema Paradiso was filmed]), Sicily, Italy
Owners: Gaetano & Nicoletta Gargano
Winemaker, architect, & artistic creative behind the label: Giampiero Bea
Deep skin contact orange copper. There’s scents of a warm baking spice, oranges and peel, apples, apricots and a nutty almondness. Tasting orange peel and blossoms, honey, puff of smoke, apricots fresh and dried, lemon, nectarines, Mom’s baked apples, ginger sprinkle, Marcona almonds, a smidge of dried sage and this glass has a smooth depth that I’m going to slow down, linger and let the flavors build.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: nice and smooth
I stared at this beautifully designed label for some time, not knowing what to truly expect, since I’ve had a few Catarratto wines this summer and each is so unique. Some flirt, others leave me wondering and this one leaves me enchanted. Il Censo is one of those stories that an old (some would say ancient) family property was rejuvenated, there’s some replanting, and loving it back to organic life. All it makes me want to do is listen to the stories from this historic estate. What were the tenants of old like? What historic architecture still stands? What was the one moment when Gaetano and Nicoletta knew this is it…it’s time to leave banking and return to the vines? I could go on all night, but I’ll stop. If I’m lucky, maybe one day someone will join me at the table, share a bottle and reveal the tales of long ago.
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