Summer is in full swing and we're prepared to have some fun with fresh fermented grapes. No particular theme, just four delicious wines perfect for a sunny day.
Cincinnato, Lazio IGT Bellone, 'Castore' 2018
What? You don't know Bellone? Figures, as it is a rare grape that only grows in Lazio, which is far from the first region one thinks of when considering the finest wines of Italy. Bellone is, however, in the words of Ian d'Agata, "a magical grape", and we are rather obsessed with Cincinnato's entry-level rendition of this distinctive cultivar. We often compare Cincinnato's Bellone to Viognier, as it is floral and spicy, quite fruity, peachy and vaguely tropical, but it has beautiful cut and focus, something than cannot be said of the average inexpensive Viognier. Get to know a Bellone, you will not regret it... that's all we have to say.
Domaine des Huards, Cheverny AOC Rosé, 'Prose' 2018
This pink wine might be in a dark bottle, but the liquid inside is quite pale. A blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay from Domaine des Huards' organically cultivated estate vineyards, this rosé is built for speed.... huh? It's crisp and fresh, certainly fruity but also full of stony and earthy flavors, but most importantly it's eminently gulpable.
Bruna, Riviera Ligure di Ponente DOC Rossese 2018
This wine does not fit neatly into the red or pink category. It's somewhere in between, and we love it for this. Either a very dark pink wine, or a very light red wine, it doesn't really matter, just throw it in the fridge and enjoy its unique personality. There are two unrelated grapes in Liguria that go by the name Rossese. The Rossese of the Riviera Ligure di Ponente DOC makes a light style (as opposed to the darker Rossese di Dolceaqua) and Bruna kills it every year with this uncommon cultivar. Their vineyards are farmed organically and their Rossese is grown on plots with sandy soils, which tend to produce wines with lighter and softer tannins. Fermented and raised in stainless steel tanks, and bottled early, the goal is to preserve fresh fruitiness and bright flavors. With notes of red berries and herbs, a lively acidity and pure finish, it is exactly what you want if you're craving red wine but it's too hot for something heavy.
Vagli, Agrelo Malbec, 'Chacra' 2016
Small-production (550 cases) sustainably-grown hand-harvested high-altitude single-vineyard Malbec raised in Taransaud barrels (40% new) should probably cost a bit more than $20, but we'll take it, and you might take notice. One might also note this wine's moderate 13% abv, which is uncommonly low for a 21st-century Argentine Malbec destined to be imported to the USA. It has a typical (for Malbec) dark, spicy and juicy side, but it is nonetheless fresh, and shows herbal and earthy nuances that are rather unusual for the region. It is, quite simply, a marvelous and wonderful take on a category that has become entirely too predictable. Although it is dark and spicy, it is not so heavy as to preclude its enjoyment at a sunny cookout, though we might prefer to enjoy it as dusk unfolds and temperatures drop. We should add that it will be perfect for a large piece of red meat grilled to perfection, a top sirloin cap done over wood coals sounds ideal.
....and one more thing.... it's back!
Day Wines, Chehalem Mountains AVA, 'Tears of Vulcan' 2018
Back, for a limited time, and in extremely limited quantities. Just like last year's version, it is spectacular, and we are not sure if there is a better introduction to the world of "orange" or "amber" wine. A blend of 44% Viognier, 36% Pinot Gris (n.b. a pink-skinned grape) and 20% Muscat, fermented on the skins for three weeks and raised in old French barriques, it is a masterpiece of contemporary American wine. A tawny pink color and gorgeous wild aromatics (with all that Viognier and Muscat, it'd better be aromatic) entrance the beholder (what of the besniffer?) before the first sip. Notes of tangerine, grapefruit, apricots, tropical fruits, roses and resinous herbs are lifted and intense. It is extraordinarily complex and flavorful; one might say kaleidoscopic. It is dry and tangy, combining all its sweet and savory flavors with subtle salinity and tannins, gripping and coating the palate without any heaviness. We love it and you probably should too.