Sette Vigne

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It really is all about the wine.  Is the Setta Vigne a wine for the ages?  Probably not, and I find that to be such an overworked expression.  Now, if you asked if this is a wine so good you should go out and buy a bottle sit down with a good meal–I mean something better than pizza or burgers–then I would say yes, definitely!
 
The wine Sette Vigne, which is Italian for Seven Vineyards, is a unique red blend of the seven famous grapes of Italy: Corvina, Primitivo, Barbera, Nebbiolo , Montepulciano, Aglianico and Sangiovese, all in equal amounts of about 14% of each grape variety.
 
The grapes are selected from low-yielding vineyards in the respective areas of production: Corvina from the heart of the Valpolicella Classico region in the province of Verona, northern Italy; Primitivo from the Salento area, in Puglia, southern Italy; Barbera from the province of Pavia, in Lombardy, northern Italy; Nebbiolo from the prized Langhe area of Piedmont, northern Italy; Montepulciano from the province of Pescara, in the Abruzzo region of central Italy; Aglianico from the province of Avellino, in the Campania region of southern Italy; Sangiovese from the province of Florence, in Tuscany, central Italy.
 
So what do you get with this mix?  You get intense ruby red color (it’s beautiful in the glass), with a Griffy-class bouquet; big and bold with lots of fruit and a hint of coffee.  If French wines are your favorite, you might want to take a step back, the aroma might put a crease in you slippers!  The Sette Vigne is full-bodied, unapologetic for its fruit flavor, contains hints of spiciness and has a nice, long finish.  This wine was great all by itself, but put it with a filet mignon or strong cheeses, and fasten your seatbelts for a memorable experience.   I’m getting another bottle just to try it with a cigar!
 
I am surprised as how few places have this wine.  I got my bottle at Center Street Wine and Spirits in Wallingford.  I’d start looking for your bottle today if I were you.
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Summers Charbono

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Summers Charbono Villa Andriana Vineyard

 

It’s hard to describe the satisfaction at having found, and now to be drinking, this wine.  I have been trying to locate a Charbono wine since Christmas, when I learned of the venereal.  I feel like a wine archeologist that’s just made an unbelievable historical find.  As one reader of Griffy On Wine who is in the wine business asked, “Where the hell do you come up with these Varietals?”  This one’s for you, Steve. 

If you don’t know about Charbono, I hope me telling you about it will prompt you to go out of your way to sample it for yourself.  It’s not that Charbono is rare or particularly expensive—it isn’t—but it is hard to find here in the United States.  In Argentina, however, it is the second-most commonly grown variety, and is called Bonarda.  No, the appeal of the Charbono is that it’s incredibly unique, so much so that it may be the new cult wine on the shelf.  So remember, you read about it here first. 

This wine is incredibly dark, even inky in color, like a deep purple limousine.  It emits aromas of black fruit (think plums) accompanied by pepper and hints of barnyard or leather.  Yeah, I’m addicted to the barnyard aroma from wines.  The taste was full on the palate, heavy acidity and tannins mixed with a blackberry taste and a better-than-average finish.  Producers of Charbono wine tell me it will cellar for at least 20 years. 

It is difficult to compare this wine to anything else because it is so distinctive.  It’s probably just because I like it so much, but I first thought of Zinfandel.  Italian immigrants brought the grape to the West thinking it was Barbera; I can both see and taste why.  Others say it’s related to Dolcetto, and I can taste that too.  You’ll have to try it for yourself and see what it tastes like to you. 

The maker of my wine, Jim Summers, describes the Charbono as the Rodney Dangerfield of wines, “It don’t get no respect!”  Summers, who is king to Charbono producers, says in Nappa everyone grows Cabernet.  His goal is to be known for something rather than just another Cab-maker, and is very proud of his Charbono, even if it’s only 10% of his sales. 

I love the wine, and even if I had to work hard at finding it, it was well worth the search.  The Charbono is the type of wine that makes you want to drink wine in the first place.  Now that 20 vineyards are now producing Charbono maybe more of it will get back here to the East coast.  I can’t wait! 

IMG_0542If you feel inclined you might try the Argentine version called Bonarda.  My bottle “Lancatay” from Huarpe Wines had great character, same midnight color, and same dark fruit flavor; though you could tell it wasn’t as crisp as the Summer’s.

Either Northern Hemisphere of Southern Hemisphere versions are both worth the effort of finding and enjoying.

Barossa Valley – Australia

Nice fallow on to the Peter Lahmann story. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Travelling with Lyn

The Barossa valley is one of Australia’s top wine making regions.

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The Barossa is about 60 k’s North east from Adelaide. It is a beautiful drive up through the hills and in to the valleys with its many vineyards. It is famed for its European heritage and its legendary wines and is the wine capital of Australia.

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The Barossa valley apparently has the oldest grape vines in the world which originally were brought to Australia from France.

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Wine isn’t all that tastes great in the Barossa. The Barossa is also known for its food and history. The secret ingredient is the dirt. The fertile soil of the Barossa is home to some of the world’s most lauded vineyards

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While there we visited Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop which offers tastings of local seasonal produce which you can purchase. Maggie is one of Australia’s most loved cooks. You can purchase one of…

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Peter Lehmann “Layers” 2008

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Recently, I was fortunate to receive an e-mail where there were several Peter Lehmann wines at ridiculously low prices, so I decided to stock up.  All were 2008’s, mature by retail standards, and thus needed to be consumed.  I was certainly willing to help.
 
I first learned of Peter Lehmann when I read a review and purchased a bottle of “Clancy,” to-date one of the best wines I have ever tasted.  It was so good I went 50/50 with a friend on a case.
 
For me the most notable attribute of a Lehmann wine is the nose.  The term bouquet is appropriate here, because the aromas are just as beautiful as that of a floral arrangement.  With Layers’, I got the aroma of plum.  The time I invested with my nose in the bowl of the glass was time well spent.  The color is a dark cherry, very pleasing to the eye, and demonstrated that nothing got past the vintner on this wine.
 
The wine itself is a Mediterranean blend of 40% Shiraz, 20% Mourvedre, 15% Grenache , 17% Tempranillo and 2% Carignane.  They must have used a shoehorn to get all that into the bottle, but it’s when you taste the blend that you understand the name Layers.  You literally experience each Layer;  Shiraz delivers big fruit flavor and the plum aromas, Grenache gives the wine it hint of spiciness, the Mourvedre gives the wine it’s earthy flavors and the Tempranillo and Carignane deliver the taste of black cherry blends while mellowing everything into a wonderful harmony of a well-balanced, multidimensional wine.
 
Peter Lehmann, the “Baron of Barossa,” passed away on June 28th, 2013, at the age of 82.  He was a member of a very select fraternity of wine-makers that really opened the world to wines from California and Australia.  When talent finds terroir, magic can happen.  Peter started working in vineyards when he was 17 at Yalumba Winery, which, by the way, is another outstanding vineyard.  He was chief wine-maker at Saltram in 1960 before beginning his own shop, originally called Masterson, in 1979.  His primary motivation for opening his own vineyard was to  give local grape growers a place to sell their fruit.  The 70’s were a hard decade in Barossa, and Peter lead the charge  for the area’s rebound as a wine-growing capital.  In 1982, the vineyard changed its name to Peter Lehmann Wines.  Peter retired as chief wine-maker in 2002, and in 2003, sold the vineyard to the Hess Family of Switzerland.  In his 66 years of producing wine, Peter had 50 wines rated 90 or better by Wine Spectator.  The 2008 Layers scored a 91!  
 
So look for Peter Lahmann wines.  Bring home a Clancy, Layers, Chardonnay, or Shiraz and I promise you will enjoy whatever you buy.  And when you do, lift a toast to Peter.  And tell him Griffy says thanks!

Lapostolle Canto De Apalta

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Not since June 4th 1940 has anything been carried out with such urgency.  My wine chiller failed!  As I looked in horror the temperature rose to 77 degrees and, like Dunkirk, the evacuation was on.
 
The cooler contained about 28 bottles or approximately 1/3 of my cellar.  Worse yet, they were the more expensive bottles, the bottles I’m “collecting” or aging.  So, while evacuating my treasures to the cooler environment of my basement, I was reading the labels like a philatelist lovely studying the pages of his collection.
 
The Lapostolla did not make the long trip down to the basement, I ran out of room.  So instead it went to my office and was opened.  Don’t judge me, evacuations are stressful and make you thirsty, and after having to pull all the paper work to find the receipt and warranty on the cooler I needed refreshment.
 
I had purchased the Canto months ago after reading a review in Wine Spectator.  I just never had the reason to pop the cork.  The wine was every bit as good as the review said it would be.  With a blend of 45% Carmenere, 25% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Syrah, that’s pretty powerful chemistry.  Even better, it was rated a 91!
 
The color was a royal purple, and I mean King of King’s purple, which was absolutely beautiful in the glass.  The nose was big, even Josephine, when she came into the room to make sure I hadn’t popped a vein, mentioned the wonderful aroma.  On the palate, the Canto was full red fruit, a good, fulfilling taste.  It was like the leather binder on a good book that makes you want to settle in for a long read.
 
The flavor was great: full-bodied with a character that said “I know I’m a power wine and I’m not shy about it.”  Wave after wave of red and black fruit came flowing from my glass, yet this wine was still elegant, not a bully.  At that moment I thought, “Cooler, what cooler?”  It was now all about just relaxing and enjoying the Canto.
 
Lapostolle is owned by Alexandra Lapostolle, and I bet everyone has drunk the other beverage she makes, Grand Manier.  Alexandra is French but like so many other French wine makers she saw the terroir of Chile and move there.  This is one of my favorite producers in Chile as the company has just been amazing at producing several outstanding, but incredibly affordable, wines.
 
Carmenere is the main fuel in this mixture.  Originally from France, in the Medoc region of Bordeaux, it’s considered one of the Grandparents of the Cabernet family.  Wiped out in France during the 1867 Phylloxera plague it somehow managed to  get to Chile where, until the early 90’s, it was thought to be Merlot.  A similar story can be told in Italy where for years they thought they were growing Cabernet Franc.  The grape is beginning to gain acceptance in Washington State, South Africa, and Australia, but ground zero for Carmenere is differently Chile.  Lapostolle has a full Camenere offering that I am now anxious to try…after I get the wine cooler fixed!