Andrea Occhipinti ‘Alea Viva’ Lazio Rosso IGT 2014

Estate: Passionate, progressive winemaker Andrea Occhipinti purchased 4 hectares of vineyards planted in the 1990’s, on the north-western shores of Lake Bolsena, in the heart of Gradoli, after falling in love with the area. Located in central Italy, Lake Bolsena is the largest volcanic lake in Europe, and provides a unique microclimate in addition to the distinctive terroir. Whilst studying at the Agrarian University of Tuscia, he devoted his master thesis to the vineyards of Gradoli.

Philosophy: To preserve and promote the characteristics of the two native grape varieties of Gradoli: Aleatico and Red Grechetto, to “produce wines with the flavor of tradition and the effervescence of innovation”.

Winemaking: Grapes are farmed organically and hand harvested. Spontaneous fermentation with only native yeasts in small cement bins, without the use of chemical additives and oenological agents, except for a small amount of sulphite added just before bottling. Aged for 18 months in steel and cement barrels and at least 2 months in bottle.

Tasting Notes: Transparent red in colour with floral aromas [rose and violet] underscored by salty minerals and funky earth. Candied cherry, pomegranate, red grapefruit and rose petal are given a drizzle of salty caramel in the light to medium body. A wisp of smoky, earthy minerality compliments the dry, fruity finish. An amazing fusion of fruit/flowers/minerals, expressive and engaging, so light on its feet, each glass will empty quite swiftly.

100% Aleatico
Lazio Rosso IGT
Italy
Estate Bottled by Andrea Occhipinti
12.5% Alcohol
$20 [average price]
Bottle N° 4700

Gérard Bertrand ‘Cote des Roses’ Rosé Languedoc 2016

Estate: Gérard Bertrand grew up assisting his father on the family’s estate in the sub-appellation of Corbiѐres in the Languedoc Roussillon. He took over the domaine upon his father’s death in 1987, and today presides over nearly 1000 acres of vineyards across the varying Languedoc Roussillon terroirs. He also heads a négociant business that partners with local growers and co-ops. A well-known proponent of sustainable farming, he is one of the largest producers of organic wine in Southern France. His flagship estate Château l’Hospitalet is carbon neutral, and many of his vineyards follow biodynamic practices and are certified by DEMETER. In addition to being recognized for his fantastic wines at excellent prices, Wine Enthusiast bestowed him with the European Winery of the Year award in 2011, stating “He fully understands the movement toward expressive, well-balanced and elegant wines that remain accessible and affordable.”

The cross on the label is a Visigoth cross dating back to the 7th century, which evolved into the Languedoc Cross. For a detailed explanation of its iconography, click here. Cote des Roses is the name of the coastal area near the village of Gruissan.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from varied soils, but predominately hard limestone and schist, “but also gravel transported by the rivers of the Languedoc region”.

Tasting Notes: Coral pink in colour with aromas of strawberry, cherry and rain washed slate. Mineral driven, with red fruits and a hint of spice, finishing zippy and dry. Simple and summery, accented by a fun rose cut into the bottom of the bottle. {The bottle is an original design created by a young designer from the Ecole Boulle.]

Enjoy at 50°F [10°C]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Ideal as an aperitif or with subtly spiced dishes and shellfish.

Blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah [I could not verify varietal percentages.]
Languedoc
France
Shipped and Bottled by Gérard Bertrand
12.5% Alcohol
$15
Enjoy now

 

Stratus Vineyards ‘White’ Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA 2013

Estate: Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, Stratus Vineyards was the world’s first fully LEED-certified winery in the world in 2005. The 62 acres of vineyards “are divided into 44 distinct blocs. Each one, its own small ‘somewhereness’.” The soil consists of layers of mineral-rich earth, resting on a limestone foundation, resulting in a “clay-loam mosaic” of individual soil types. The sustainable estate grows 10 varieties of red grapes and 6 varieties of white. In 2009 Stratus enlisted famed winemaker/viticulturist Paul Hobbs “to bring additional international perspective to its operations”.

Philosophy: “The wine we grow is dependent on the health of the land on which it is grown. We farm our vineyard and guide our winemaking as though our children’s future depends on it. Each vintage bottled is a reflection of this ongoing commitment.”

Winemaking: Aged for 562 days in French oak, 20% new.

Tasting Notes: Light gold in colour, highly aromatic with honeysuckle, pineapple, green vegetation, caramel with a pinch of sea salt and petrol. Layers of apple, pineapple and peach glide atop bright acidity, orange and caramel shine on the nutty finish. Complex and engaging, I found this best on its own, as food tends to overpower the intriguing nuances of flavour.

Blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon & Viognier [I could not verify variatel percentages.]
Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA
Canada
Estate Bottled by Stratus Vineyards
13.8% Alcohol
$38 [Canadian Dollars]
Enjoy now thru 2020

Maison Noir Wines ‘Love Drunk’ Rosé 2016

Winery: Maison Noir Wines was founded by sommelier André Hueston Mack in 2007.  The unique and distinctive wines were initially created for some of the New York’s best restaurants for whom Mack was a sommelier, now they are available for home enjoyment. The Garage Wines [Garage d’Or] focus on specific terroirs in Oregon, sourcing the best fruit possible from the Willamette Valley region, producing wines which express the individuality of their respected sites.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from “100% single vineyard from McMinnville AVA Vineyards. The varietal combination and percentage was inspired by the Champagne region in France.

Tasting Notes: Light coral pink in colour with inviting aromas of cherry, strawberry and clean minerals overlaying an herbaceous streak. Tasting similar to the aromas with tart cherry, wild strawberry and light minerality complimented by lively acidity. Silky smooth, finishing dry and fruity. Almost delicate in character, and incredibly easy drinking, just fantastic.

75% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir
Oregon
Bottled by Maison Noir Wines
13.3 % Alcohol
$15
Enjoy now

Sea Pearl Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2016

Brand: Sea Pearl is a brand of acclaimed importer Winesellers, LTD. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the family run company was awarded “2015 Importer of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Sea Pearl takes its name from the unique abalone found in the shallow waters of New Zealand. Considered to have the widest color spectrum of any abalone in the world, they can also produce stunning pearls.

Winemaking: Certified sustainable, with minimal intervention. Grapes are sourced from vineyards close to the sea, in the southern Wairau River valleys of Marlborough. Grapes were pressed with minimal skin contact; the resulting juice was cool fermented in stainless steel to retain freshness and aromatics.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in colour with vivid aromas of pineapple, melon, lime and tomato leaf. An explosion of flavour, with lemon, pineapple, passionfruit and lime laced with herbaceous tomato leaf and complimented by racy acidity. Citrus peel and clean minerals linger delightfully between each sip. Classic Marlborough, refreshing and bright!

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Great on its own, pairs well with a variety of dishes, including summer salads, spicy Asian cuisine or grilled fish and seafood.

100% Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough
New Zealand
Imported and Bottled by Sea Pearl, Healdsburg, CA
13% Alcohol
$12 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2018

Rated 88 points by Wine Spectator

 

Sample submitted for review purpose.