A spicy Spanish Red at a great deal…just in time for Easter!

Bodegas Avante ”Tineta” 2012, Ribera del Duero, $12.50 (originally $16.50)


If you’re meal planning for a big holiday feast, “Tineta” Ribera del Duero 2012 is a great pairing partner for Easter lamb and it’s now available at a special price. Formerly $16.50 a bottle and worth every penny, this versatile Tempranillo is drinking beautifully and is now only $12.50 as the distributor makes way for the next vintage. When we discovered its new pricing, we snatched up what remained of the wine, so we could offer you this exciting deal.

Travel the world in your glass: Less than 2 hours north of Madrid, you’ll find the spectacular, high plateau sites (2400+ ft. elev.) of Ribera del Duero. The extreme altitude of this region creates significant temperatures fluctuations between night and day, allowing relief for the vines and gradual ripening. Winters bring snow and ice, while summers are long, hot, and very dry (think 104°F). The Tinta Fino clone of Tempranillo seems to love this harsh climate and the particular soils of the region, turning out powerful, yet elegant wines. 

Perhaps you have heard of Vega Sicilia at $350 a bottle? Wines from Ribera pack quality, character, depth and finesse in the bottle and can be offered at premium prices. Bodegas Avante’s bush vines do a noble job at a workaday price, deftly meshing ripeness with minerality.

Our Tasting Note: The aromas of this wine are generous and intense. Blueberry pie, cherry liqueur, charcoal, Indian spices, and hints of wood spice jump from the glass.  Lively, juicy and spicy on the palate, it offers exotic flavors starting with crème de cassis, black and blue fruits, and bitter chocolate underscored by zesty minerality.  Medium-plus to full in body with fine, integrated tannins, Tineta ends with a long, warm, spice-laced finish.

Tineta and Food:  From roasted lamb chops or savory, herb-crusted leg of lamb, grilled portobello mushrooms, and olive-based dishes, you’ll find food and wine bliss.  For something a bit more casual, create a Spanish platter with tapenade, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, Manchego or Zamorana cheese, and Jamón. 

____________________________________

Stock up on wines for Easter from home! Bodegas Avante ”Tineta” 2012, Ribera del Duero and many other fantastic Easter wines are available for purchase online.  Shop our selection from the comfort of your home. Place your order and we’ll gather and pack up your wines for you.  Pick them up or have them delivered to your doorstep!  (Certain restrictions apply for delivery, please read our delivery guidelines here.)

California Dreaming

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, March 3, 2016…

Today’s tasting isn’t a tribute to the Mamas and Papas but rather to the Golden state itself—the number one wine producer in the US, with the most acreage under vine, largest number of grape varieties planted, greatest volume of juice. There is a wine for every palate.

We’ll start with whites.  Cambria Viognier Tepusquet Vineyard 2014 is a single-vineyard bottling from this sustainable family-owned estate winery in the cool Santa Maria Valley.  Viognier is drought tolerant and a fragrant grape when fully ripe, well suited to recent California vintages.  This example offers bright citrus and floral flavors and aromas with balanced acidity; it was aged in oak, giving it spicy roundness and weight. Pair with seafood, salads, and bright veggie stir-fries.  California Chardonnay is a “category,” but in reality, there are a variety of styles. The Bread & Butter Chardonnay 2014 is aptly named—the “bread” comes from the use of toasty oak, the “butter” from full malolactic fermentation.  The cool climate fruit is not overripe; its peachy, creamy, lemon meringue pie, papaya, and honeysuckle aromas and flavors join toast, vanilla, and butter notes.  This is a great partner for gnocchi in cream sauce, lobster ravioli, or shellfish.

Our reds today represent mostly cool climate fruit, expressing elegance and balance rather than sheer power.  Pennywise Petite Sirah 2013 includes Barbera (for acidity and cherry notes) and Tempranillo (for raspberry and complexity).  The result is a ripe, easy drinking wine with a silky mouthfeel rather than a heavy, brooding Petite Sirah.  Pair with BBQ, mole chicken enchiladas and jicama slaw, or creative flatbreads.  Robin K Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 is named for winemaker Bill Knuttel’s wife and is intended to be a “feminine” wine.  The blend includes some Malbec and Merlot; it sees long skin contact and spends over a year in French oak.  This is a balanced wine with black cherry, blackberry, plum, violet, and strawberry on a frame of supple tannin and elegant acidity.  Pair with cheeses, roasted vegetables, or red meats.  Merlot is returning to popularity, and the Roth Estate Merlot 2013 will show you why.  This family-owned estate has been producing wine for about 15 years, working with Bordeaux varieties.  This is all Merlot, fermented in steel, then aged in American oak for 17 months.  Its cassis, blackberry, blueberry pie and spice aromas lead to a velvety palate offering similar flavors, with the addition of chocolate cake and vanilla.  Pair with blue and bold cheeses, lamb or beef, mushroom risotto, or tuna.

–M.P. Rouse

 

Passionate Argentina

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, February 25, 2016…

South America, unlike its northern counterpart, did not have native grape varieties; instead, European colonizers brought vinifera cuttings.  The first vines came from Spain in 1541; they were planted on the Atlantic side with little success.  Expeditions from Peru carried dried seeds and cuttings to present-day wine regions east of the Andes, but the major source of vines was a Chilean expedition in 1556, just two years after grapes were established in that country.  Jesuit missionaries found the foothills of the Andes ideal to grow grapes for sacramental wine. The city of Mendoza, founded in 1561, and San Juan province to its north, saw commercial-scale production by 1589. Early winemakers adapted Inca irrigation techniques (necessary in this arid region) and produced robust wines able to endure long transport to consumers in the more developed east.  Argentina’s dry heat means there are almost no pests or diseases, so there’s no need for fungicides, pesticides, or herbicides, and the only fertilizer comes from animals.  Even though they are not certified, many wineries farm organically.

Following Argentina’s independence in the 1820s, waves of European immigrants from France, Spain, and Italy brought new grape varieties, new techniques in vineyards and cellars, and a strong wine-drinking culture. The result was an exciting mix of grapes, wines, and styles.  Political and economic decline worldwide in the 1920s crippled wine production and consumption, and domestic political and economic conditions remained shaky until the mid-1990s. Then winemakers began to look abroad for new consumers and hard currency.  Drawing on their strengths, producers replanted heavily with high-quality varietals and developed a strong export market.  The warm, dry climate, long growing season, well-developed irrigation, sandy soils, and ungrafted vines all played a part in the rebirth.

Although best known for its reds, Argentina produces striking whites from the Torrontés grape.  The wines are highly aromatic (think spicy and floral) with pronounced acidity, a bit like Viognier or Gewürztraminer.  Crios Torrontés 2014 has good structure, minerality, and enticing peach and pear fruit that invite another sip. Pair with Asian cuisine or spicy empanadas.

Cabernet Sauvignon also does well here.  Maipe Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, named for the native Lord of the Winds, is a ripe, fleshy wine with blackberry and fig notes, powerful and layered.  Most of the wine is aged a year in French oak.  Pair with grilled meats and chimichurri sauce.

Argentina’s signature red grape is Malbec, and the country produces an array of wines in different styles. Lunta Malbec 2012 is made from vineyards worked by hand and bottled unfined and unfiltered.  Explosively fruity, with raspberry, plum, and blackberry, it also offers spice and a meaty undertone.  Try this with well-seasoned pork loin.  Gouguenheim Malbec Reserva 2013 is another Mendoza gem made from estate fruit and aged in French and American oak.  It’s darker than the Lunta, with black cherry, chocolate, and coffee notes, a good partner for grilled foods.  Malbec also blends well.  La Posta Tinto 2013 includes Syrah and Bonarda.  Raspberry and red cherry, mocha and baking spice combine to produce a delicious mouthful.  Pair with a roasted pepper frittata or glazed ribs.

–M.P. Rouse

Weeknight Wines

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, February 18, 2016…

A weeknight wine is one for everyday drinking, no special occasion, just a partner for dinner or an evening at home.  It has to be versatile and food friendly, tasty and affordable.  We’ll taste five wines from five countries, one for each weeknight.

We’ll taste two whites.  Who doesn’t like Pinot Grigio?  It’s not a challenging wine, and goes with so many things.  New to Red Feet is the Cortenova Pinot Grigio 2014, from the Veneto in northeast Italy.  It has more body and flavor than many, offering floral, pear, and apricot notes, along with citrus and a hint of almond on the finish.  It’s a good aperitif and pairs with risotto, scampi and other seafood, or spaghetti with clam sauce.  On the richer side, we suggest Angeline Vineyards Chardonnay 2014, another newcomer to Red Feet’s shelves.  This is the second label from famed Martin Ray Winery and continues its tradition of over-delivering. Hand harvested grapes are fermented in barrel and go through malolactic fermentation, resulting in deft touches of toast and a buttery mouthfeel while retaining crispness and fruit.  Even those who think they don’t like Chard might enjoy this balanced California beauty.

On to the reds!  Domaine de la Guicharde Côtes du Rhône Roube 2014 is the work of husband and wife team Isabelle and Arnaud Guichard, who work alone except for the manual harvest.  This biodynamic wine is a blend of Grenache and Syrah, with earth and other savory notes as well as dark, spicy fruit.  It’s quite supple and flavorful and pairs well with food.  Try with herbed meats and stews, aged cheeses, or roasted root vegetables.  Another new arrival is Comoloco Monastrell 2014, from the southeast of Spain.  Made from dry-farmed 30-year-old vines, this is a spicy, robust wine that offers cherry, plum, and cracked pepper notes with good lift and soft tannin.  Pair with barbecue, roasts, or full-flavored Tex-Mex food.  Very food friendly, it’s also a good wine to have in hand when food indecision hits! Great flavor, label, and price.  Yalumba The Y Series Shiraz Viognier 2014 hails from South Australia; Shiraz provides the power, Viognier gives the lift.  Yet another wine new to Red Feet, this is made by the oldest family-owned winery in Australia.  The nose is an interesting mix of violets, blueberry, plum, and white pepper; the palate provides dark cherry and spicy fruit cake flavors with fine tannins.  This is a good partner for a seared duck breast or pork as well as dried tofu or seitan dishes.

—M.P. Rouse

Cocchi Americano Spritz

Do you like Lillet?  If so, try Cocchi Americano!  Lillet is a softer, sweeter aperitif, while Cocchi Americano has a delighfully bittersweet palate to complement the orange peel and floral notes.

Add a splash of soda water and an orange wheel for the perfect afternoon aperitif, or for a sparkling refresher, try the Cocchi Americano Spritz (recipe below).

COCCHI AMERICANO SPRITZ

Ingredients:
60ml Cocchi Americano
20ml white grapefruit juice
2 slices of fresh orange
Prosecco
Sprig of mint

How to Prepare:
Pour all the ingredients (except for the prosecco) into a highball glass with ice cubes. Stir, top up with prosecco, and garnish with a mint sprig.

Green Wines (Environmentally Friendly)

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, March 17, 2016…

Around March 17 each year, Red Feet does a tasting of green wines. It’s not a nod to Portugal’s vinho verde; rather, it’s a focus on sustainable, organic, and biodynamic production. Red Feet marks these wines with green tags.

Sustainable is an unregulated term in most cases, though some regions (New Zealand; Lodi, CA) have rules in place. It refers to social, environmental, and economic practices that keep the land and its people going strong.

The term “organic” in the US market is regulated by the National Organic Program, whether products come from home or abroad. Wines labeled “Made from Organic Grapes” must contain at least 70% organically grown grapes (most contain more), and agrochemicals may be used in the vineyard. The certifying body must appear on the label. In addition, no more than 100 ppm of sulfites may be added. It takes three years of “clean” to certify a vineyard. It’s an expensive process, and many producers balk at the cost and the paperwork. In marginal climates (like ours), growers may face the choice of losing certification or losing a crop, so they don’t certify, even when they use organic practices.

When a wine is certified organic, 95% of the content is organic, there are no flavoring agents and no sulfites are added. Pop tarts are easier to certify organic than wine is!

Organic production is about what a grower doesn’t do; biodynamics focuses on what a producer does. It’s based on the 1920s writings of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner (founder of the Waldorf movement), who laid out principles and practices. The vineyard is seen as a living entity; when it is healthy and balanced, it produces living wine. What might be called agricultural homeopathy awakens the plants, soils, and microorganisms. Cosmic rhythms, variously favoring roots, leaves, flowers, and fruits, determine the best times to perform certain tasks; tinctures and composts are applied to soils and plants. The European organization Demeter is the primary certification agency, though others exist.

Our white wines are made from organically grown grapes. Domaine des Hautes Noëlles Les Parcelles Muscadet 2014 comes from the Loire Valley near the Atlantic Ocean. Made from certified organic Melon de Bourgogne grapes, this is a wine for seafood. MAN Family Wines Chenin Blanc 2015, made from free-run Steen (as the grape is known in South Africa) comes from unirrigated bush vines grown in vineyards using organic practices. Its fresh stone fruit, apple, and tropical notes are framed by refreshing acidity, making it a great partner for vegetable dishes, poultry with an Asian flair, or seafood.

Two of our reds use biodynamic viticulture. Hammond Pinot Noir 2013 hails from Germany and uses a Swiss clone to produce bright tart cherry and plum flavors with a silky texture. Enjoy with sockeye salmon. Domaine Filliatreau Château Fosquet Saumur 2014 is a Loire Cabernet Franc with both brambly and floral notes and good complexity. Pair with pork or bean dishes. Argentina’s organic Durigutti Bonarda 2014 is spicy and rich, with cherry, plum, blueberry, mushroom and mineral notes held together by fresh acidity. Pair with homemade cream of mushroom soup and meatloaf.

– M.P. Rouse

Europe in a Nuthshell

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, February 4, 2016….

Four countries provide the wines for today’s tasting, showcasing the variety of wine typical of regions within a nation.  Some of the grapes and places may be unfamiliar, but getting to know these wines is like making new friends.

France and Spain provide the whites.  Domaine Beausejour Les Grenettes Sauvignon Blanc 2014 comes from Touraine in the Loire Valley.  This is a fragrant wine in the Loire Sauv Blanc style: lime, lemon pith, green melon, kiwi, wet stone, spearmint and a touch of flower.  The palate is also loaded with lime and mineral, and apricot, lychee, and gooseberry join the party. Think of this as a Tuesday night Sancerre and you’ll be on the right track; grab some goat cheese or pair with white fish or shrimp.  On the rounder side, there’s the Gaba do Xil Godello 2014 from Galicia in northwest Spain.  Godello is the grape, and its finest expression comes from Valdeorras, where stony, granitic terraced vineyards are the norm.  It offers pear and herb notes, apricot and ginger, flower and mineral.  It’s polished and elegant, with moderate but firm acidity; it doesn’t miss a beat from the bright attack to the long spicy finish.  Pair with scallops, crab, or sea bass; try cannellini beans or creamy pasta.

Let’s sample an Italian red from the northeast part of the country: Tenuta Sant’Antonio Scaia Corvina 2013.  The grape here is Corvina, usually seen as the star of the blend in a Valpolicella, Bardolino, or Amarone.  It’s fruity and flowery on the nose, with cherry-berry-plum on the palate and a nifty sour cherry twist on the finish.  Pair this with typical Veneto dishes like gnocchi with cheese, pasta and bean soup, sausage risotto, or polenta.

Portugal makes her appearance known in our European tour.  Most of us know the country for its wealth of flavorful inexpensive wines, but what happens when you move up a notch?  You get something like the CARM Reserva 2011, a blend of traditional Portuguese grapes from terraced vineyards in the Douro region.  The grapes enjoy a lot of skin contact, resulting in dark color and concentrated, intense aromas and flavors.  Expect wild black fruits, black cherries, wood, bacon, and a kiss of licorice embraced by firm tannins. Pair with hearty, boldly flavored Mediterranean dishes.

France reappears with a wine from the Herault River valley in the Languedoc.  Domaine des Trois Fontaines Cabarel 2013, a typically ripe south-of-France blend (with a label reminiscent of Grandmother’s wallpaper.)  The wine comes from a co-op covering 45 villages and 7,500 hectares of vineyards.  This is a clean, full-bodied, well-made wine whose dark fruit and savory leather notes go equally well with a cold night or a grilling session.

–M.P.Rouse

Wines from the Finger Lakes

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, January 28th, 2016…

    Our first offering is a local white from Aurora, NY. Bet the Farm Traminette 2014 is made from a cross between a French American hybrid grape and Gewürztraminer developed in the ‘60s at the University of Illinois by Herb Barrett.  He sent cuttings to the Experimental Station at Geneva, where staff found it also made good wine, and was cold hardy, fungus resistant, and productive.  Bet the Farm is the brainchild of Nancy Tisch ably assisted by husband-partner Kit Kalfs. They make less than 1000 cases of wine a year, but that’s enough to let them sell both food (local) and wine in the same charming shop.

Three reds are in the lineup.  Silver Thread Pinot Noir 2013 comes from a small winery on the East shore of Seneca Lake founded by organic enthusiast Richard Figiel in the late ‘80s.  Sustainably farmed from the get go, the property also boasts an energy-efficient gravity flow winery as well as solar panels.  Paul and Shannon Brock acquired the property in 2011 and continue the tradition.  This is a plush Pinot made from estate fruit, hand harvested from 18-year-old vines and aged nine months in older oak.

Seneca Lake is also home for Ryan William Bossert, whose Ryan William Cabernet Franc 2011 is a stellar example of what this grape can do in the Finger Lakes.  Ryan’s 20 acres of vines are very close to the lake, providing protection from harsh weather, and he integrates cattle and goats into his vineyard practices.  Hand harvested grapes were fermented in open bins and aged in both new and used oak.  Morten Hallgren is the winemaker behind Ravines Keuka Village Red 2014. It’s a blend of Cabernet Franc and the hybrid Noiret (developed here at Geneva), both spicy, peppery grapes.  The Cabernet Franc is sourced from Anthony Road and the Noiret Gridley Bluff Point Vineyard in Keuka Lake.  This is a great partner for spicy chili!

Cider has become a major part of the liquid landscape here, and demand exceeds supply for many cideries.  Good Life Farm has an answer—Cider Nouveau, an early bottling from the 2015 crop.  Brothers Garrett and Jimmy Miller released their first ciders in 2015; Garrett and Melissa Madden are the driving force behind the Finger Lakes Cider House, well worth a visit.

M.P. Rouse

Hearty Red Wines

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, January 21, 2016…

Winter started off fairly mild, with unseasonably warm weather and abundant sunshine, but Mother Nature is making up for lost time, giving us gray skies, snow, and below-freezing temperatures.  If this makes you see red, you’re in the right place at the right time: today we’re pouring a handful of red wines to raise your spirits and chase away the blahs.

Two of our offerings are from the Old World and present different styles and grapes.  Clos de Coutale Cahors 2013 comes from the Southwest of France. Cahors is the birthplace of Cot, aka Malbec; here the grape produces an inky, earthy wine that contains a little Merlot to soften its rustic edges.  This wine is quite firm now and will age gracefully; pair it with cassoulet or steak and potatoes, or try it with hearty vegetarian fare such as a thick stew of root vegetables and mushrooms.  Castello Monaci Pilùna Primitivo 2014 hails from the heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia; the grape is the same as our Zinfandel, but the Italian expression is lighter and not as jammy as its American counterpart, showing a certain restraint while offering ripe black fruits, spice, and licorice with firm structure and good concentration.  Its home is hot and sunny; grapes are harvested at night to keep them fresh. Pair with Cheddar or blue-veined cheese or spicy Tex-Mex fare.

Our New World wines are from the West Coast of the USA.  Washington provides Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon 2013.  The grapes come from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, a sweet spot for Cabernet in the Columbia Valley. Washington Cabs have a quality all their own, a silky elegance that reflects their balanced acidity, black fruit, and hints of black olives.   The wine spent a year in oak, some new, some older, accenting its black fruit and softening the tannins. Pair with pot roast, braised lamb shanks, or pasta with a mushroom sauce.

The next two wines are from California.  Project Paso Lonely Oak Red 2012 is a blend of five grape varieties, with Zinfandel and Merlot dominant.  Think wild cherry and strawberry, Mexican chocolate, spice, black raspberry, sweetened cranberry, and a kiss of toast and vanilla, and you’ll have a good idea of this wine.  You could pair it with teriyaki salmon or aged cheeses or light up the grill for ribs or beef. The Grifter Napa Valley Red Blend 2015 is a new friend; it’s a Cabernet dominated blend with some Merlot and Zinfandel.  It is one of several projects of Rainier Wine, and the brand includes a Carneros Chard as well.  This is a classic Napa fun wine: highly aromatic, loaded with fruit and mocha, and nicely structured.  It’s vibrant and generous, and is sure to chase away the winter blues.  Pair with a friend or a party!

–M.P. Rouse

Richer Whites to Send off Winter

Even as we get a respite from colder days, we still cling to cool evenings.   Uncork one of these full-bodied whites to satisfy your palate and keep you cozy in the last days of winter. 

Cambria Viognier Tepusquet Vineyard 2014
 Santa Barbara, CA
Sustainably Farmed 

Aromas of guava and ripe mango combine with vanilla and almond paste. This perfumed white presents flavors of chamomile and lemon zest along with a kiss of toast.

Pair this gently-oaked Viognier with crab, lobster, and salmon, or dishes with cashews or macadamia nuts. 

Elegant aromas of apple and mineral lead to a round, soft,  texture with notes of melon and pear.  The wine is powerful and intense with both minerality and sweet, vanilla toast.
This lush French Chardonnay is the perfect partner for creamy, rich chowders, risotto, or pot pies.


Chateau de Saint Cosme “Le Poste” Blanc 2013
–Rhône Valley, France

LIMITED AVAILABILITY
This is a very rare find – only 8 bottles are available at this time.

Layered and complex aromas of mulled pears, lemon curd and a kiss of flinty minerality permeate the nose and palate.  Lively acidity mingles elegantly with citrus and floral notes.

Made of 100% Clairette, this wine is well-suited to pork with fruit chutney and buttery shellfish dishes.

Bodegas Avancia Godello 2013
–Valdeorras, Spain
Tropical fruits with minerals and citrus peel are evident on the nose.  The palate is rich and full with baked apples, vanilla, stone fruits and pineapple. This has more density and complexity than one normally finds in Godello.  It comes from steep cliffs in the best region for the grape.
Godello pairs harmoniously with a variety of seafood, pasta with Alfredo sauce, or squash soup.