Sparkling Refošk Saignée 2018
Certified organic, dry farmed, environmentally friendly & energy efficient wine cellar
Truške, Istria, Slovenia
Winemaking family: Rodica, founded by Marinko Rodica
Cranberry with white/very light pink bubbles. Looks like your Thanksgiving cranberry out of the can or homemade sauce with a little doily dancing on top. Letting the first bit of funk dance in and out, then strawberries, tiny roses that float in and wander back and forth, and sweet fresh cut grass that works it’s way in. Next there’s blend of coriander and cinnamon but mellow and not too in your face. For some reason when I hit the roses, all that kept popping into my head were a swirl of Frida Kahlo’s work full of beauty and strength. Sipping strawberry fizz (reminds me of mom’s homegrown not over sweet strawberry jam), raspberry and blackberry smash (seeds and all), and lemon/lime squeeze. Refreshing! A little strawberry Starbust as I get to the end of the glass. Don’t over think it like I have been and just enjoy it like I will the next glass or two. Dancing berries left…dancing berries right….dancing berries in the middle…shake your tail feather!
When I found out this wine/winery was created by a car mechanic that wanted a change in life (1998)…well as you can see, I just had to buy it. As you read above, this is no motor oil but a bottle of dancing love. Marinko Rodica and his family have a great care for their beautiful land, the vines, the creatures, and the world around them. They also mostly work with indigenous grapes such as this Refošk, and as I read more about this beautiful grape, it has health advantages too. Supposedly some part of it can help with atherosclerosis, has a component of aspirin, and can help digestion. Who knew? Evidently the Slovenians do and they have a yearly festival in Marezige celebrating the wine and all the great foods, etc. to go with it. It’s on hiatus till next year due to well, you know the world we’re still living in, but you can still check out the experience and plan next year’s trip.
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Domaine Julien Prével
Sec Machine 2019
100% Chenin Blanc
Organic and hand-harvested
Winemaker: Julien Prével
Cheery gold with a fun and fine foam. Right on the tip of my nose is a little malt yeast (like what you’d find at an Athens, GA bar popcorn machine, and if you haven’t tried it…do!), Meyer lemon, mellow apples, grass, and wet rocks after a good hard rain. Sipping and still a pinch of that malty yeast, apples, pears, hay, and baking spice blend. Ooh next there’s a good lemon squeeze to wake it up and smack me in the face alive and vibrant. So, there is also a banana bit, and I have a love/hate relationship with that flavor. It’s a Bavarian weissbier banana, so it’s a love for me. This sparkler is made for all sorts of beer lovers, and as it opens it’s a massive easy drinker. Oh, one more note all of a sudden…on the back end there is some yellow cake (not uranium). Who doesn’t love cake?
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Yes! Everything heightens and it’s a party!
I’m so glad Julien Prével didn’t go into the academia/teaching realm as a profession and ended up in wine. We wouldn’t have this lovely “Sec Machine” if life had taken a different route, and I wouldn’t have this classic stuck in my head for days! Let’s all get up and “Shake your money maker”!
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Pío, Pío 2018
Natural, minimal intervention, and hand harvested
Cambados, Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain
Winemaker: Constantina Sotelo
Glimmering gold color. First scent that bounces out is Lemonhead candy, and next creeps out orange hint, spring flowers including a butterfly lilac, slate and grows into pear brandy. Sipping and there’s a tart start of citrus blend that heads into apples, pears (fresh and baked), as it blooms there’s honeysuckle delight, salt, baking spice, sweet tarts, and a back end hint of Poire Williams. It’s clean, fresh, delicious and an adventure in a glass.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: meh no
Constantina Sotelo’s small garage micro winery (that wants to stay small), has set out to let the wine speak for themselves, or as is said on the site “Minimal intervention to obtain maximum expression.” They may differ over vintages or even bottles from the same year, but she would rather allow nature to choose the path for the final outcome. Diverse personalities are welcome here as long as they are honest representations of the land, the vines, and grown as hands off as possible. Pío Pío 2018, definitely has a lively and unique personality as you can see from what I previously wrote. The label is adorable, but what’s in the bottle is a distinguished beauty that would easily stand out at an upper crust black tie affair and make everyone do a double take. It honestly rocked my world.
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Old Westminster Winery
Franc Fizz 2020
Sparkling Cabernet Franc
90% Cabernet franc, 10% marquette
Handcrafted with minimal intervention, spontaneously fermented, unfined & unfiltered
Siblings: Winemaker Lisa Hinton, Farmer Drew Baker, GM Ashli Johnson
Hazy dark violet ruby natural bubbly. Let this fizz breathe and give it some space and your nose will be rewarded with strawberry, blackberry, that mellow smell of unwrapping a Jolly Rancher, and a walk through a fresh spring flower garden where someone has been digging in the dirt. Drinking in again strawberries, blackberries, and now plums (taking a big bite of the whole fruit and pit), a splash of cranberry freshness, a drop of balsamic reduction, tingle tangle fun, and as it opens more there’s a green sprout, and a pinch of dark earth, and late in the game smoke.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: Brings more tarty to the party
This is more than a family winery, it started as empty nester winery. Jay & Virginia Baker started their family farm back in 1985, but it wasn’t till 2008, when the kids were all at college that they decided to turn it into a winery. The kids thought this was a fab idea and are now all in and in charge and their parents get to enjoy watching them work together. Note that none of this was realized overnight. The family put their heads together and carefully researched and sorted the best way to make “chasing the dream” a reality, and the first vines were planted in 2011. This is my first wine from Maryland, and what a fool I have been for not trying one before. Or maybe I’m a fool for not trying one from Old Westminster Winery, that just as the Baker’s kids, was raised with love.
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Giró Blanc 2018
Pla i Llevant DO
Organic, native grape, hand harvested
Algaida, Mallorca, Spain
Owner/founder/creator: Andreu Majoral (dad); Winemakers: Mireia (daughter) & Andreu Jr. (nephew)
Deep gold with orange hues. Inhaling a mix of citrus, mangos, pineapple, melon with a little muskiness, a real French croissant or maybe one I had in Switzerland but definitely not a cronut, a whole big ol’ tied bunch of garden herbs, and a smidge of white pepper. Oh this is nice… flavors of peaches, honey (as it opens), mangos, pineapple, raspberry, lemon, Rainer cherry, a lick of slate, and cilantro. As lush and alive as the painting on the bottle by Maria Carbonero.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: smoothes everything out but honestly I like it better on its own
Andreu Majoral (and now his family too) set about in 1979, to create Can Majoral where they have two purely organic locations of vineyards. They love to work with native grapes especially like the Giró Blanc that was almost wiped out but thank goodness was rescued. I feel kind of special to be drinking an almost ghost grape. Over time there were people that thought that it was related to Grenache or the Giró from Sardinia, but NOPE, it’s all unique and Mallorcan.
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Collaboration between Andre Gomes-Pereira & Portuguese Story
Não Condenado 2019
Fernao Pires & Trincadeira
Organic, low intervention, hand harvested, and vegan
Encostas d’Aire, Lisboa, Portugal
Winemaking team: Andre Gomes-Pereira (Quinta do Montalto) & Portuguese Story
Stained glass ruby window. Breathing in dark cherry, plums/prunes, tobacco, allspice, and a little earth. First taste I don’t even want to dissect it. It’s a light juicy smooth sweet that grows into so much more. Here we go! Again cherries but not sure how dark, plummy tartness, tobacco tingly, and earth that turns into dark baking chocolate. It just keeps flying all over the place with each sip. I love thinking I’m drinking from vines 120 to 150 years old, and being touched by their history.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: brings out more sweet from the fruit.
Years ago, families often had backyard vines that they cultivated for themselves and family, just like your normal home garden. Nowadays, often these plots get forgotten or left behind when the kids moved on. As it says on the back of the bottle, “The vineyard has been tended by someone who is currently 89yo.” Here’s where Andre Gomes-Pereira & Portuguese Story come in. They decided to save some of these ancient twisted vines with deep roots that would have been condemned, hence the name Não Condenado (Uncondemned). They have also embraced the traditional Portuguese method, “palhete”, fermenting red and white grapes together. This really old way of winemaking kind of got left behind for a while, but is seeing a resurgence, to which I say WooHoo! What is the saying, what is old becomes new again or back in style again. I’m not saying we need to bring out our 80s acid washed jeans. No, no, no! Do you want those medieval rabbits from the label unleashed on you? This is an embrace to the natural ways of the generations past.
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vinho tinto 2019
Touriga Nacional 38%, Syrah 27%, Pinot Noir 12%, Aragonez 23%
Winemakers: Anselmo Mendes and Diogo Lopes
Cherry purple gothiness. Uncork and let it breathe…then exhale and breathe in deep cherry, plum, baking chocolate, and warm pepper. Another deep hug in a glass. Rolling around back and forth over my tongue and there’s cherries, strawberries, blueberries, fresh picked blackberries seeds and all, and fenugreek. Nice and juicy and a happy wine. Don’t over think it. Just enjoy and maybe order some bacalhau croquettes. Mmmmm.
Pairs with Cheez-It’s: makes it more velvet, sweet, glorious
Dory’s name comes from a nod to the small shallow boats the cod fishermen of old (not the cute Pixar/Disney fish). One would wonder, why that? Well, João António Alves founder of AdegaMãe, is also the founder of Riberalves which is the leader of cod in Portugal. He and his family now have a hand in two of the best of Portugal, wine and cod (bacalhau). The more I read on the history of how the fishermen used to travel so insanely far and believe me not in a luxurious quarters, I wonder at their amazing physical and mental strength and endurance. Once the home base ship ended up in Newfoundland they’d take off in the smaller one man boats (Dóris) into perilous waters and fish their fill, return to the main and immediately salt the fish. These guys make “Deadliest Catch” look like child’s play.
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