Jeff Carrel ‘Les Darons’ Languedoc AOP 2015

 

Brand: French winemaker Jeff Carrel is famous for crafting super tasty wines that are also excellent values. He has worked for a wide variety of brands, including Robert Mondavi and Stimson Lane. Most recently he has focused his expertise mainly in the Languedoc Roussillon region of southern France, resulting in international accolades for his lush, budget friendly wines. ‘Les Darons’ is derived from an “affectionate expression for “The Parents” in the Parisian suburbs where Carrel was born.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vineyards in the Laure-Minervois area northwest of the medieval village of Carcassonne in the Languedoc region. The vines are in clay and limestone soil and are sustainably farmed. The Grenache and Carignan vines average 40+ years in age. The 3 varieties were de-stemmed and crushed/vinified together. Fermented and aged in concrete.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of black cherry, blueberry, pink peppercorn and a trace of sour cherry. Tasting quite similar to the inviting aromas with black cherry, blueberry and a pop of sour cherry over a clean, flinty mineral core. Good acidity and silky tannins compliment pink peppercorn on the clean finish. A fantastic companion with a wide variety of everyday dishes.

60% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 15% Syrah
Languedoc AOP
France
Bottle by F.11200 for TOOWO The Way of Wine S.A.R.L Négociant in Narbonne
13.5% Alcohol
$10
Enjoy now

Rated 91-93 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Casaloste Chianti Classico DOCG 2011

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Estate: Founded in 1994, by Giovanni Battista d’Orsi, along with his wife Emilia, Casaloste is located in the Greve region of Chianti Classico in Tuscany. Casaloste, together with the other Wine producers of Unione Viticoltori di Panzano has strongly supported and financed The Experimental Station for Sustainable Viticulture (Stazione Sperimentale per la Viticoltura Sostenibile- SPEVIS). The institution aims to find environmentally friendly solutions for winemakers. Not only certified organic [since 1994], the estate also operates “off the grid”. They produce all of their energy needs thru its solar photovoltaic system and biothermal renewable plant fuels.

Winemaking: Aged in French oak barrels of 25 and 35 liters and in barriques “for a period of about 12 months”.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, earth and soft spice. Soft and velvety, with cherry and strawberry over layers of white pepper, leather and earth. Plush tannins, fruit and soft spice linger between each sip. A lovely, classical balance of fruit/spice/earth/leather notes Chianti Classico is renowned for.

90% Sangiovese, 10%Merlot
Chianti Classico DOCG
Italy
Estate Bottled by Giovanni Battista d’Orsi
14% Alcohol
$16
Enjoy now thru 2018

Marchesi Di Barolo ‘Maraia’ Barbera Del Monferrato DOC 2014

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Estate: Marchesi di Barolo consists of 430 acres of vineyards located in the distinguished Barolo region of Piedmont in Italy. Their vineyards are in some of the most renowned areas of Barolo, including the prestigious Cannubi cru. 185 acres are estate owned, with 245 acres farmed by long standing relationships with family and friends. The family estate has been passed down from parents to their children for over 200 years and is currently headed by 5th generation winemakers Anna and Ernesto Abbona. They maintain the work established by their ancestors and value the great heritage of knowledge and tradition that allows them to continue crafting quality wines.

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from sustainably farmed vineyards located in the community of Maranzana in the Asti area. The soil is calcareous sand, clay, and rich in quartz. Aged for 1 year in Slavonian oak barrels. The name Maraia refers to “a group of rowdy kids, or ‘little rascals’, in Piedmontese dialect, referring to the lively nature of this wine”.

Tasting Notes: Transparent garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, sour cherry, sweet wild flowers, and pepper spice. Rhubarb along with tart, sour and regular cherry interlace with silky tannins. Mouth puckering acidity backs tart blackberry and sour cherry on the dry finish. A bit too astringent for my personal taste, others may find it refreshing with fatty foods.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Pairs well with a wide variety of dishes, from antipasto to pasta with red sauce and light meals.

100% Barbera
Barbera Del Monferrato DOC
Italy
Bottled by Marchesi Di Barolo
13% Alcohol
$10
Enjoy now

Castello Monaci ‘Liante’ Salice Salentino DOC 2014

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Estate: Housed in a 16th century castle with medieval foundations once run by Basiliani monks with a long winemaking tradition, Castello Monaci is located along the Adriatic Sea in Puglia, southeastern Italy. The estate is owned and run by Lina Memmo, whose family has owned the property since the 19th century, along with her husband Vitantonio Seracca Guerrieri. The estate is dedicated to a sustainable philosophy of the cultivation of indigenous grapes such as Primitivo, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera.

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from certified sustainable estate vineyards. Fermented in stainless steel, followed by 6 months “in the cellar where 25% the wine will rest in French oak and the remainder in stainless steel”. The name ‘Liante’ is the name of the “wind of the Levant” which blows across the Adriatic region.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of dark berries with a shake of crushed pink peppercorn. Inviting blackberry, black cherry, a hint of bitter dark chocolate and smoky herbs culminate in a clean fruit finish with the distinctive bitter edge Negroamaro is renowned for. Rustic and easy drinking, super versatile at the table.

80% Negroamaro, 20% Malvasia Nera di Lecce
Salice Salentino DOC
Italy
Bottled in the own cellars by Castello Monaci
13% Alcohol
$11
Enjoy now thru 2019

Rated 88 points by Wine Spectator

Elena Walch Schiava Alto Adige DOC 2015

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Estate: Founded in 1869 by Elena’s husband’s Werner Walch’s great-grandfather, the estate is located in Alto Adige, northern Italy. Known as the “Queen Of Gewürztraminer”, Elena decided to blaze her own path when she arrived at the estate in 1985, rather then follow in the footsteps of her husband’s family label. She replanted vines in relation to soil types and prioritized sustainable, organic farming. A “strong, driven woman”, today she is known for shaking things up, while her wines are some of the most sought after in the region.

Philosophy: “The estate is dedicated to its terroir – the idea that wines must be the individual expression of their soil, climate and cultivation in the vineyard – and that this must be maintained according to principles of sustainability and passed on to the next generation.”

Winemaking: Sustainable and organic methods are practiced; no chemicals of any kind are used. 45% of the estates’ electricity needs are solar powered. Grapes were sourced from “rented vineyards in Tramin, Caldaro and Cortaccia”. Aged in Slovenian oak casks.

Tasting Notes: Transparent ruby red in colour with aromas of strawberry, herbs and wildflowers. Delicate wild berry and cherry flavours glide atop gossamer like tannins and mild acidity. White pepper and traces of bitter almond comprise the dry finish. Splendidly light and easy drinking, fantastic on its own or with a wide variety of dishes.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: An interesting wine for Mediterranean dishes and Pasta dishes, as well as antipasti.

Enjoy with a slight chill, 16 -18 °C [61-64 °F]

100% Schiava
Alto Adige
Italy
Produced & Bottled by Elena Walch SRL
12.5% Alcohol
$15 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2019