Santa Julia Malbec Rose Mendoza 2017

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 Santa Julia Winery was established in the 1990’s in honor of Julia, as she is José’s only daughter. The family is committed to achieving the highest quality wines through sustainable practices, working to protect the environment, wildlife preservation and developing the community. Expanding to the Uco Valley, the family opened Valle de Uco Winery last year, where winemakers focus on research and development, while studying the variables that influence wines throughout the Uco Valley.

Philosophy: “To be natural, environmentally friendly and grow in harmony with the community of which we are part.”

Winemaking: Vineyards are farmed sustainably and are certified organic. Hand harvested grapes are from the Santa Rosa and Maipu vineyards in Mendoza.

Tasting Notes: Light coral pink in colour with a savory wisp highlighting aromas of white pepper, chalky minerals and geranium. Silky strawberry and cherry are accented by sea salt minerality and bright acidity. Citrus zest leads to the dry, zippy finish. A subtle, refreshing sip to accompany a wide range of snacks and light dishes. [It was fantastic with soft, fresh pecorino cheese and avocado toast.]

100% Malbec
Mendoza
Argentina
Produced and Bottled by Bodega Santa Julia
14% Alcohol
$11 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2019

Sample submitted for editorial consideration.

Boschis Francesco ‘Vigne in Pianezzo’ Dolcetto di Dogliani DOCG 2015

Estate: The estate’s winemaking history began in 1919 when Francesco Boschis planted the first vines. Located in Dogliani, just south of Barolo, in Piedmont, northern Italy, and headed by Mario and Simona Boschis with their sons Marco, Paolo and Chiara. The estate consists of 11 hectares of vineyards along with beehives for making honey. Outside of the family, there are no other employees. “The family prefers to keep their property small and to concentrate on the vineyards that are most suitable for Dolcetto and for the other varieties that are grown, such as Grignolino, Freisa and Barbera.” The family is known for their complex, powerful, age worthy wines. Gambero Rosso, an Italian food and wine magazine stated: “What sets the wines from this lovely farm estate apart is their consistency, and on occasion rusticity, with intense, vigorously flavoursome fruit”.

The watercolors and engravings on the labels are from local artist Teresita Terreno. Each label depicts a particular season and distinctive feature of the family’s land. The strawberries on the label of Dogliani Vigne in Pianezzo represent its release in Spring [the first wine of the range released].

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from environmentally friendly farmed vineyards located on Pianezzo hill, planted in 1985 and 1997 with calcareous, clay soils. Fermented on the skins for 6-7 days in stainless steel, aged 8-10 months in fiberglass lined cement and steel tanks, unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with raspberry, cherry, dusty earth, soft spice and floral aromas. Tart, juicy, berry fruit is complimented by fresh acidity and dry tannins. Black cherry fuses with almond skin on the distinctive finish. Fantastic with a wide variety of dishes.

100% Dolcetto
Dogliani DOCG
Italy
Estate Bottled by Azienda Agricola Boschis Francesco
13.5% Alcohol
$13
Enjoy now

Caravaglio Malvasia Bianco Secco Salina IGP 2016

Beginning with only his family’s 2 hectare farm, and a goal of producing quality wines that respect the land, Nino Caravaglio established his family winery in 1989. Over the years he was able to slowly acquire additional plots; currently the estate consists of 20 hectares divided into about 30 plots, stretching across the islands of Salina and Lipari. Certified biological by the French organization, Nature et Progres since 1989 [long before most certifications existed], the estate has also been certified organic by Ecocert since 1994. Following in the footsteps of generations before him that respected the land as a source of life, he is “starting from an excellent raw material”. Respecting and preserving the land is an “ethical imperative”.

Philosophy: “Wine is made first of all in the vineyard, then in the cellar.”

Winemaking: All wines are made with minimal intervention and indigenous yeasts. Technology is used “to control temperatures, decantations and nothing else”. Grapes are from 20 small plots of land with sandy, volcanic soils.

Tasting Notes: Gold in colour with aromas of lemon, apple, wildflowers, saline minerals and a trace of brioche. Bright lemon, apple, pear and a nutty hint are accented by sea salt minerality and fresh acidity. Citrus zest shines on the zippy, clean finish. Creamy, silky and fresh, each glass will empty rather swiftly.

90% Malvasia di Lipari, 10% indigenous varieties
Salina IGP
Italy
Estate Bottled by Azienda Agricola Caravaglio Antonino
12.5% Alcohol
$18 [average price]
Enjoy now

Carlos Serres Crianza Rioja 2013

Estate: A pioneer in Rioja, Carlos [Charles] Serres left Bordeaux and founded one of the first wineries in the Haro area of Rioja in 1896. Fleeing phylloxera, Serres, an already famous French wine consultant, “found in Haro the perfect terroir to make Bordeaux style wines, with a climate and terrain which reminded him of the best terroirs in Bordeaux”. Merging French winemaking techniques with the Rioja terroir, Serres’ visionary approach focused on international export and was a phenomenal success. Forever changing the way wine was understood in the area, he remains “one of the key personalities in Rioja’s winemaking history”. Family owned and operated, with 150 acres of vineyards with an average vine age of over 30 years, it stands out as one of the few estates in the Rioja region that has been producing wine for over 100 years.

Winemaking: Grapes are handpicked from vines 10-20 years old. Aged 14 months in a combination of American and French oak barrels, followed by a minimum of 6 months ageing in the bottle.

Tasting Notes: Transparent garnet in colour, highly aromatic with black currant, black cherry, forest floor, vanilla and a trace of pencil lead. Layers of blackberry, plum, cherry and crushed black peppercorn are framed by silky tannins and fresh acidity. Fruit, spice and a hint of toasted oak linger between each sleek sip. Easy drinking and easy to pair with just about any dish. [It was fantastic with Mexican spiced roasted sweet potato, onion, pinto beans, soy chorizo, mole sauce and cilantro crema over a bed of pepper and lime wild rice.]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Extremely versatile. A perfect match for Mediterranean cuisine such as vegetable or fish dishes, rice, pasta, beans, red and white meats, cheese.

85% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha
Rioja
Spain
Estate Bottled by Carlos Serres S.L.
13% Alcohol
$12 [average price
Enjoy now thru 2019

 

Sample submitted for editorial consideration.

Chateau Maris ‘La Touge’ Minervois La Livinière 2015

Estate: Named the “The Biodynamic Apostles of the Languedoc” by Wine Spectator, Chateau Maris is located at the eastern edge of the village of La Livinière at the foot of the Montagne Noire Mountains, in the Languedoc region of southern France. With a goal of “creating “grand cru-level” wines from La Livinière in the Minervois appellation, winemaker Robert Eden took over the estate in 1996. Eden converted the entire estate to biodynamic farming after trying different methods to revitalize the soils that had been rendered unusable due to the previous owner’s overuse of chemicals. Over the years his green approach and biodynamic processes have gained much recognition. He has built “the world’s first hemp cellar” that functions carbon neutrally. The hemp bricks not only capture carbon dioxide, but also maintain temperature and humidity so that heating or cooling is not needed.

Winemaking: Certified Biodynamic by Biodyvin. Grapes are sourced from vineyards with “hard and soft limestone and alluvial soils”. Only natural compost from the free roaming cattle is used as fertilizer. Fermented with natural yeasts, aged 16 months in a mix of concrete eggs and tank, unfined and unfiltered. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Both the bottle and label are from recycled sources.

Tasting Notes: Inky red-violet in colour with inviting strawberry, black cherry, pepper spice and meaty aromas. Pepper spice driven, with layers of black currant, cherry, strawberry and smoky earth supported by fresh acidity and silky tannins. Baking chocolate and fruit linger on the plush, dry finish. Sumptuous, yet agile, fantastic on its own or with hearty and/or spicy dishes.

70% Syrah, 30% Grenache
Minervois La Livinière
France
Bottled for Domaine des Comtes Méditerranéens by F-11160-315
14.5% Alcohol
$12
Enjoy now thru 2019

Rated 93 points by Robert Parker