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Down by the Sea: Mediterranean

How does the Mediterranean sea influence its wines? Will we taste salt? The aromatic scrub-land of the landscape? The ripe fruit of the region's sun-bathed vineyards? Hopefully all those things and more!

Triennes Viognier 'Sainte Fleur' 2016 Triennes has always been an interesting property. In 1989 it was co-founded by two of Burgundy's biggest names: Aubert de Villaine (runs a little place called Domaine de la Romanee Conti) and Jacques Seysses (of the eponymous Domaine Dujac). As of the 2014 vintage things have become even more interesting. Jacques' daughter-in-law, Diana Snowden, the great talent behind Napa Valley's Snowden Vineyards, took over winemaking at Triennes and the wines have soared to new heights. Their 2016 Viognier is a classic take on this delightfully aromatic grape, redolent of stone fruits, ripe citrus, honeysuckle and white flowers. Rich and fruity upfront but fresh through the finish, it is easy on its own, thus will make a great aperitif, but it will also go wonderfully with lightly spicy dishes: carrot and squash korma, Thai green curry with seafood, chicken with saffron, ginger and lemon.... Maffini Fiano 'Kratos' 2017 Just about as good as Fiano gets, and Fiano has been spoken of as Italy's single greatest white grape... you might want to make it down here tomorrow to taste with us. The warm 2017 vintage yielded a wine that is a bit fuller and fruitier than usual, but this is a good thing. The 2017 Kratos is immediately exuberant as well as long on the finish, exhibiting an array of flavors from tropical and stone fruits to saline minerality, with lots of citric, herbal and floral nuances in between. If you don't yet know Fiano, this wine could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship; if you already love this fabulous grape, you owe it to yourself to try Kratos. Ampeleia 'Kepos' 2016 Only established in 2002, Ampeleia has quickly become an icon. Source of several of the Tuscan coast's most interesting wines, one might say they make Super Tuscans... but nah, we'll say they make Supernatural Tuscans. All the vineyards are cultivated biodynamically, fermentations are wild and use of sulfites is kept to the absolute minimum; the point here is to make wines that are unmanipulated and more delicious for it. Kepos is a blend of Alicante Nero (aka Grenache, Garnacha, Cannonau...) with Alicante Bouschet and Carignan, aged in concrete and bottled young. The 2016 vintage is a banger for Tuscany and Ampeleia took full advantage; their 2016 Kepos is spectacular. Super fruity and primary, it is deceptively structured and serious, with a delectable umami background to its intense juiciness. Gorgeous today, we imagine that in 5 to 10 years it will be singing a different but equally beautiful tune. Chateau de Pibarnon Bandol Rouge 2013

It is often true that a good vintage in Barolo is a good vintage in Bandol; the regions are not so close to each other, but geographical features make it so they share a lot of weather. That 2013 is a great vintage for Barolo is no secret, but how many people are talking about Bandol's success? Not enough. A bit cooler than usual, with dry weather through the end of the season, the 2013 vintage allowed the late-ripening Mourvedre to hang a few extra weeks without getting close to over-ripe. Though 2013 may not be the most consistent vintage for Bandol, Pibarnon killed it and made a monumental wine that can compete with the best from any region. We'll decant this little dear first thing in the morning tomorrow... it's gonna be a fun one for sure.

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