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ProvenceWinesKnown for le rose’, producers from Provence are also making some fine red blends. Two that we like are Chateau Real d’Or, 2013, a blend of Cabernet, Syrah and Grenache, and Monaco Le Rocher, 2014, from the same producer.

Wines-MaitreDeChaiFrom a recent tasting, two that got our attention: Maitre-de-Chai, Sonoma 2015 Carignon Poor Richard Vineyard and Bellwether, Finger Lakes 2014 Pinot Noir Sawmill Creek. Both are medium-bodied, single-varietal wines, with distinctive terroir.

Wine-Patel1Wine-PatelRaj Patel presented his 2013 Napa Valley wines at DAG Modern in NYC, 4/6.

After just 10 years of making wine, Mr. Patel has joined the elite ranks of California wine producers — with his winemaker Luc Morlet from Champagne, and grape contracts from some of California’s best vineyards (including Rutherford).

The Patel 2013 Malbec succeeds on all cylinders; the Red Blend and Cabernet Sauvignon are distinctive and satisfying new interpretations of familiar grapes, terroir, and style.

Wines-SpainClosLentiscusWines-SpainMinatoIncreasing numbers of wine producers from Spain are innovating in the right direction, which means cleaner wines (with fewer or no additives). The results are joyful for mind, body, and soul. From a recent tasting Manel Avinyo’s Clos Lentiscus (Methode Champenoise) sparkling wines were superb, with no sulfites. Also of note were two Mencia blends: Nanclares Minato de Rana 2014, Ribeira Sacra and Cobero Tinto 2013, VdT Valle de Liebane. In the Minato, Mencia is blended with Garnacha. In the Cobero Tinto, Mencia is blended with Palomino.

There’s more to good wine than ‘just good taste,’ and these wines from Spain embody that.

vinitaly2017vinitaly2017cvinitaly2017dvino17At this year’s NYC stop on the annual Italian Wines Americas Tour, one of the talks was on rare varietals, including the recently rediscovered Recontina grape in Veneto. Recontina wine, made by Montelo Colliasolani, was sampled with other rare varietals — and was especially noteworthy.

We learned that the rare Italian varietal, Grignolino (a personal favorite), will become more rare as producers in Piedmont dig up Grignolino vines and replace them with Nebbiolo. Sorry to hear that.

Some of the best wines presented at Vino 2017 are not available in NYC (although producers are seeking representation), including from Apulia: Caiaffa Vini and Agrinardella.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

slowwines2017dslowwines2017eslowwines2017fThe slow wine movement has been underway in Italy for seven years now, with its adherents practicing what they term “virtuous agriculture.”  Today, that means no use of chemical weedkillers in the vineyard. Many slow wine producers are certified organic and are using natural fertilizers and organic plant protection. The results, when the stars line up, are vital great tasting wines.

At a recent tasting in NYC, wines from 98 slow wine producers were presented. None that we tried was undrinkable. Most were superb. Among our favorites: Barale Fratelli, Piedmont; Ciabot Berton, Piedmont; Brandini, Piedmont; Mossio Fratelli, Piedmont; San Gimignano Sono Montenidoli, Tuscany; Frecciarossa, Lombardy and Vallone, Puglia.

bordeaux17lbordeaux17mbordeaux17eTo help chase away the melancholy, Bordeaux Grand Cru producers, with their precise wines from the “classic” 2014 vintage, are barnstorming America.

With the world awash in bold and exciting wines, Bordeaux producers are making adjustments to  stay in the game, and attract younger wine enthusiasts, including (on the left bank) blends that are heavier in Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon — and drinkable when they are released.

Our favorites from a recent tasting of 2014 Grand Crus: Chateau Lynch-Bages, Chateau Kirwan, Chateau Siran, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Chateau Phelan Segur, Chateau Beau Sejour Becot, and Chateau Canon.

wineglass“Like the best wine…that goeth
down sweetly, causing the lips of those
that are asleep to speak.” Song of Solomon VII, 9

Some wines that we especially liked this year:

Y Rousseau Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder, California 2013
Big Basin Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz, California 2013
Detert Family Winery Cabernet Franc, Oakville, California 2014
Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir, Shea Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon 2013
Quinta de Chocapalha Castelao, Lisboa, Portugal 2014
Chateau Ka Source de Rouge, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon 2013
Dr. F, Weins-Prum Riesling Spatlese Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Mosel, Germany 2013

Wine, with its biblical references to the kingdom of God and man’s renewal, is a reminder that ultimate reality is found in living sacramentally — as an offering.

wine-naturalwine-natural4Years ago, innovations in wine making included the addition of chemicals and inorganic substances to the process, in an effort to increase grape yield, alter taste profiles and stabilize the wine—with unhealthful consequences for humans. Today’s innovations are going the other way as wine consumers and producers pursue honest and clean wines, with some even attempting to avoid any added sulfites. The results range from swill to sublime wines—rising to the level of art. Producers we recommend: Donkey & Goat, California; Montebruno, Oregon; Vinca Minor, California; Franz Strohmeier, Austria and Quantico, Italy.

wine-menciaribeirasacraRecently became acquainted with wines from northwestern Spain, made with the Mencia grape. The combination of grape and place in this case leads to righteous wines that make a person feel like they’ve experienced goodness. Haven’t had a bad one yet. Enjoyed “Vel’uveyra” with Thai chicken and pumpkin — made with ginger and coconut milk. The Mencia was in full-voice.


Ribeira Sacra (DO)
Adega Ronsel do Sil “Vel’uveyra” 2014

Bierzo (DO)
Bodegas Paixar “Paixar” 2011
Vinedos y Bodegas Pittacum 2010