Thursday, April 21, 2016

Pure Flavor Pure Finesse - Firriato Nero d'Avola "Chiaramonte" 2011

As I've become more and more enamored of Italian wines in general, I've also become more and more a fan of the offerings of Sicily. As Italy's southernmost wine region, Sicily is hot, make no mistake about it, but it also receives adequate rainfall and cooling ocean breezes that help slow ripening. In addition, because of the dry conditions, mildew is less of a problem so chemical fungicides are rarely needed. Nero d'Avola is the most important red grape on the island and wines made from it are now quite prominent on retailer's shelves.

Firrriato is a very large and forward thinking operation with six different estates producing wine. All their vineyard holdings are certified organic. In addition, their philosophy revolves around producing wine that is true to each individual terroir. There is no "house" style of Nero d'Avola, nor of any other varietal that they work with.

Vines of Firriato's Dagala Borromeo Estate
The 2011 "Chiaramonte" Nero d'Avola is not the most current vintage - 2013 is. As such, the '11 has been sitting no my retailer's shelf for a bit and the label for the current vintage is now different than it was for the '11. This bottling comes from Firriato's Dagala Borromeo estate in Northeastern Sicily. The soil here is silt and clay with a layer of stones on top. This wine has beautiful aromatics led by black cherry with black pepper, brown spices and licorice. It's medium-bodied in the mouth with soft cherry fruit, iron and coffee elements. It finishes medium-long with a note of cloves. Firriato is imported by Soilair Selection, a small company out of New York that has a very nice portfolio. This beautiful everyday Nero d'Avola cost me $13.99. Bottoms up!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Still Kickin' 2014 Rosés - Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence

The 2015 rosés will be starting to hit our shores in the coming weeks while many stores still have quite a few 14s on the shelves. There's a perception out there that rosés are fragile wines that need to be consumed within their first year of life and that after that, they start to fall apart quickly. As it turns out that isn't necessarily the case according to Jeff Krietzman, the owner of Maximum Wine Company, an importer and distributor doing business here in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"Everybody wants their roses right away so they can get them on the shelf when the reality is that most of them will be better when they've had three to six months in the bottle to come together" says Mr. Krietzman. And as for rosé longevity he says, "it really depends on the individual producer. Most producers rosés will be meant for consumption within the first two or three years while a smaller number will be able to age for five, maybe even 10 years, like Lopez de Heredia for example. But they really are no more fragile than white wines, it depends on how they are made."

During a recent trip to my favorite store, I noticed that there were still quite a lot of 2014 rosés still on the shelf. I've always been a fan of Mas de Gourgonnier, a producer from the Les Baux de Provence AOC that is repped by Michael Skurnick. Both the red and the rosé are produced from organically grown grapes, which is something that is becoming more and more important to me. I'm trying to get as many of the toxins out of my life as possible.

The Mas de Gourgonnier is usually one of the earliest releases of the everyday rosés and I remember how wonderful this bottling was when I tasted it last year. But based on how this 2014 rosé is drinking now, it appears that Mr. Krietzman is correct in his assertions regarding rosés. This wine still has all those beautiful light red berries in the aromas and flavors that it had when it was released, as well as the floral notes. But it is both better and different now. It's not just pure pink in color anymore as it has moved slightly toward a coppery hue. Aromatically it is more complex, having taken on additional notes of orange peel and honey. Those elements repeat in the flavors as well and the lush, creamy mouth feel make this everyday rosé a pure pleasure to drink.... and ponder. This beauty cost me $13.99. Try it with some grilled salmon or shrimp, or a simple roast chicken. Cheers.