Diego Curtaz ‘Dï Meun’ 2014

Estate: Diego Curtaz took the reins of the family estate from his grandfather in 1981. Located in the central, northern area of Valle d’Aosta in northwestern Italy, the tiny estate consists of only 1.6 hectares of vines. He uses natural and organic methods in both the vineyard and cellar.

Winemaking: Grapes are from northern facing, hillside vineyards with stone and loam soil at 650 to 750 meters above sea level. Fermented with indigenous yeasts, unfiltered and vegan friendly. Crafted from Diego’s highest altitude vines, Dï Meun sees no oak in order to allow the fruit to be the star.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet with pink edges in colour, aromas of black cherry, blackberry, black pepper and mocha. Tart blackberry, black cherry and dried herbs glide over a backbone of fresh acidity and hearty tannins. Baked plum, soft spice and a trace of licorice span the lengthy finish. Charming and plush, fantastic on its own and super versatile at the table.

Roughly 50% Petite Rouge with the balance being a blend of local high altitude varieties such as Cornalin, Fumin, Mayolet, Vien de Nus and Gamay
Italy
Estate Bottled by Diego Curtaz
12.5% Alcohol
$25 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2019

Tasca d’Almerita ‘Regaleali Le Rose’ Terre Siciliane IGT 2017

Estate: The Tasca family has farmed their Regaleali estate since 1837. Today the 8th generation of the family, Count Lucio Tasca, oversees all of the nearly 600 hectares of vineyards [including the Capofaro and Whitaker estates] along with his sons, Giuseppe and Alberto. The family is committed to organic farming and sustainability; they are behind the ‘SOStain’ programme, an organization that guides companies towards increasing their sustainability. The name of the wine reflects the “thousands of roses, brought in from all over the world”, that flourish throughout the Regaleali estate.

Philosophy: Passionate about eco-sustainability, the Regaleali estate is nearly completely self-sufficient; all of their food is grown on the estate and they are working toward a carbon neutral rating. Their goal of achieving eco-sustainability “is a self-regulated, pro-active scheme to reach our goals through positive actions both in the short term and in the mid-to-long term” that they achieve using “science, technology and organization”.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from the Santa Rosa and San Giuseppe vineyards at the Regaleali estate from vines planted in 1986 and 2007. Soil is a mix of clay and loam. “Fermented in stainless steel tanks and partially macerated with the skins of Nero D’Avola.” Aged for 3 months in stainless steel tanks, then 2 months in the bottle before release.

Tasting Notes: Coral pink in colour with aromas of strawberry, raspberry, a squeeze of citrus, and clean sea breeze. Flavours reflect the aromas, with strawberry, cherry, watermelon and fresh citrus acidity. Fruit and saline minerals highlight the crisp, dry finish. Fruity and refreshing [especially with its moderate alcohol level], great on its own or with summer foods, always a fantastic value.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Perfect for tuna, salmon, poultry, pork, and flavorful pasta dishes, this wine is universally food-friendly.

100% Nerello Mascalese
Terre Siciliane IGT
Italy
12% Alcohol
Bottled by Conte Tasca d’Almerita SOC. AGR. a R.L.
$11
Enjoy now

 

L’opera des Vins ‘les années folles’ Vin de France 2015

Winery: A native of the Loire Valley, Jean-Pierre Robinot began crafting wine in 2002, prior to that he owned a natural wine bar in Paris and was the co-founder of the renowned independent wine publication: “Le Rouge et Le Blanc”. He has 10 hectares of vineyards in Jasnieres and Coteaux du Loire, and also purchases grapes from friends and neighbors that share the same winemaking philosophy and principles. His wines are known for their clarity of fruit, complexity and true expression of terroir.

Winemaking: All vineyards are farmed organically. Zero chemicals or additives of any kind are used. Only indigenous yeasts are used, sulphur is not added at all, no filtering or refining. Wines are not released until Robinot believes they are ready to drink.

Tasting Notes: Golden amber in colour with heady aromas of sea spray, seashells, honey, apricot and a trace of graham cracker. Delicate apricot, pear, peach and a shake of cinnamon are glossed by citrus acidity. Consistent, fine bubbles carry thru to the very end, chalky minerality and a squeeze of tangerine linger between each sip. Engaging, refreshing with an elegant edge, this is spectacular on its own, or with interesting foods. [I enjoyed it on its own, then with raw provolone and homemade bread and salty butter.]

Blend of Chenin Blanc and Pineau d’Aunis
Vin de France
France
Bottled by L’opera des Vins, Jean-Pierre Robinot
12% Alcohol
$32
Enjoy now thru 2019

Zuccardi ‘Serie A’ Malbec Mendoza 2016

Estate: The Zuccardi family has been making wine in Mendoza since 1963, when Alberto Zuccardi planted his first vines. Now in his 90’s, Alberto is known as a pioneering force in both Mendoza and the Uco Valley. Today, the multiple estate vineyards and winery are headed by Alberto’s son, José, along with José’s eldest son, Sebastián, and daughter, Julia [the 3rd generation].

The family believes in caring for the land and “using people rather than machines whenever possible”. Many of the families that worked with the company under Alberto’s leadership are still with the estate today. With over 800 hectares of vineyards, the family focuses on “coexisting with nature without damaging it”. Preservation of biodiversity is greatly important; more than 70 hectares are woods, over 1800 species of native flora are preserved, and biological corridors have been created. Chemical products are not used at all, the vineyards are farmed sustainably and organically, with 35% currently certified organic. Sustainable methods, including a comprehensive recycling program, composting of must and skins, and solar energy are utilized in the cellar.

‘Serie A’ stands for “Argentina Series” and was created as a means of expressing the “most representative grape varieties by recognizing the best growing regions specific to each and selecting top vineyard sites along the foothills of the Andes Mountains.” The Serie A line “demonstrates the richness and diversity of Argentina’s many micro-climates and soils”.

Philosophy: “The word ‘family’ is central to the way in which we have always run our business.”

Winemaking: Grapes are from different vineyards across the Valle de Uco, making “the wine more complete and complex”. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete vats, part of the wine was aged in used French oak barrels for 10 months.

Tasting Notes: Deep red-violet in colour with aromas of black cherry, plum, leather and crushed black peppercorn. Black cherry, blackberry, dark chocolate and a shake of white pepper are framed by bright acidity and black tea tannins. Baked berries and baking spice linger on the velvety finish. Fruity and lush, fantastic on its own or with a wide variety of dishes.

100% Malbec
Mendoza
Argentina
Produced and Bottled by Familia Zuccardi
13.5% Alcohol
$15 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2020

Rated 91 points by Wine Advocate

 

Sample submitted for editorial consideration.

Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo DOCG 2011

Estate: The Fenocchio family has been producing wine from their land in the heart of the Bussia in Monforte d’Alba since 1894. In 1964, Giacomo Fenocchio took over for the estate with the goal of crafting the finest wines in Barolo, so he purchased prime parcels in some of the best crus in the Langhe. Today, Giacomo’s son Claudio heads the estate and continues his father’s tradition of crafting character driven wines. Considered as one of the next stars in Barolo, Claudio’s is known for his minimalist, non-internationalist approach. He makes 11 different wines from 14 hectares of vineyards. His wines are renowned for their “level of terroir clarity that is only found in the top echelon of producers”.

Winemaking: Following agricultural practices passed on for 5 generations, the estate is both organic and sustainable. Grapes are from a 1 hectare, hilly vineyard at 350 meters in elevation with sand, clay and calcareous marl soil. Vines are 20 years old. Traditional method of long maceration with natural fermentation, 40 days in stainless steel tanks. Aged 6 months in stainless steel tanks, 30 months in large capacity Slavonian oak casks (25-35 hl) and successive refinement in the bottle.

Tasting Notes: Garnet with brick edges in colour with ever-revolving aromas of black cherry, candied violet, tar, roses, chocolate cherry tartufo and cherry pie. Layers of all the cherries [black red and a streak of sour] tarry earth, violet and orange peel framed by grippy tannins and fresh acidity. Licorice, crushed black peppercorn and earth line the lengthy finish. A bit of rustic charm to this Barolo, the complexity will only continue to increase with time. A lovely sip.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winemaker: meat, game and mature cheeses age which are so typical of the local kitchen, also goes very well with all the rich dishes of international cuisine.

Enjoy at 17-18°C [62-64°F]

100% Nebbiolo
Barolo DOCG
Italy
Estate Bottled by Azienda Agricola Giacomo Fenocchio s.s.
14.5% Alcohol
$30[average price]
Enjoy now thru 2026