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SUMMERS NAPA VALLEY CHARBONO   Sale $23.99

Charbono 2010  750mlJim & Beth Summers have been great practitioners of the art of Charbono.

Jim passed away in 2018...far too young and unexpectedly.  He was a great guy and we have a number of good, heart-warming "Jim Summers Stories."


Summers grows their own Charbono and they grow it near the winery in Napa's Calistoga.

This is dark in color and it'll stain your teeth...lots of beautiful boysenberry/olallieberry/blueberry aromas to this fairly full-bodied red.

The tannin level is fairly modest and we enjoy this wine served at cool cellar temp.  It pairs well with SO MANY foods...from picnic fare to Chinese food to roasted or grilled meats to chicken, pork, ribs, etc.

We've described it as gentle like a Pinot Noir but fuller than a Merlot (typically).


What a delightful wine!

 


We were visiting Napa with Marianna Pojer from Italy's "Pojer e Sandri" winery.
Jim met us at Taylor's Refresher/Gott's Roadside in Saint Helena for a burger and fries.
We brought a lightly chilled bottle of Summers Charbono and some stemware to show off the wine.
It was a wonderful visit.


Our dear friend Luciano Sandrone (famous Barolo winemaker) and the late Jim Summers.
We were in Calistoga and had a few minutes to visit Summers before an appointment at Chateau Montelena.
Jim told Luciano's grandkids to get their swimming suits and come have a dip in the pool while Grandpa and Zio Gerald were looking at wines and tasting.
Jim drove them and Mrs. Sandrone over to Montelena a while later to have lunch.
He was a sweet guy and we miss him.

 

ERMES PAVESE 2016 "BLANC DE MORGEX"  $32.99

Pavese founded his little winery in 1999, so unlike so many wineries in Italy that have hundreds of years of history, this guy's goes back just in the last century.

The vineyards are high elevation, as high at 1200 meters!  The grape of the area is a white variety called Prie Blanc and this grows in the shadows of Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc if you're on the French side of the hill).

The vines are quite old and they're planted on their own roots...and they trained them fairly low to the ground because ages ago they were often picked by little people:  the children of growers were often enlisted to pick the grapes during the harvest, so the vines, trained in a pergola style of cultivation, were kept low to the ground.   
Of course, the other benefit of this is what modest level of heat retained by the rocky soils would keep a bit of warmth for the vines in the night.

Pavese vinifies this wine in stainless steel and it nicely retains a minerality we find quite enchanting.  It's bone dry, low in alcohol (typically around 12.5%) and nicely crisp.  

You can serve this as an aperitif, but we've also enjoyed it with light seafood dishes (got clams?)... 

It's a wonderful wine and one your friends are not likely to know since denominazione  of Blanc de Morgex as there are but 30, or so, hectares of vineyards in this region.  Pavese owns two of them.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOMITIA PICPOUL DE PINET  $12.99


In the local French dialect, Picpoul translates to "lip stinger."  The wine tends to be light in body, modest in terms of alcohol level and reasonably crisp, hence the 'lip stinger' designation.

Close by to the vineyards, you'll find the Bassin de Thau, a marine area where there's quite an oyster farming production.  And, happily, this wine pairs beautifully with oysters, clams, mussels, crab, shrimp and many white fish dishes...

No oak.  Dry.  Crisp.  Light.  

Some California winemakers are producing what might be called "knock-offs" of this French wine.  We tasted a few while visiting various wineries in the Paso Robles region.  We did not find a single one as light and crisp as the French versions, for one thing.
For another, the French Picpoul bottlings tend to be less than $15 on average, while the California bottlings routinely went for $29/bottle.

 

 

JEAN-FRANCOIS QUÉNARD  2018 CHIGNIN $14.99

This is a remarkably good wine made from a grape known in the French Alps as Jacquère.  

The Quénard family has been making wine in the village of Chignin for several decades and theirs is a top example of the variety and, thanks to an honest importer, it arrives here at an attractive price.

Our friend Lettie Teague, who writes wine articles for The Wall Street Journal,  sent a note saying she thinks wines from France's Savoie region are going to be the "next big thing."

We asked her where she's been the past decade?  We've had a number of seriously good wines from the Savoie and the quality/price rapport is exceptional.

This wine comes from vines averaging about 40 years of age.  Chalky/clay soils in mountainous vineyard sites...the wine is done in stainless steel and then left on the lees for a brief period before bottling.  It's not terribly high in alcohol (another feature we find refreshing!) and there's a mildly minerally note with a touch of a hazelnut quality.  

It's a nice aperitif wine, but really shines when paired with seafood.  Dungeness Crab is a great partner, but so are Sea Scallops, prawns or white fish filets.  A bottle served with some Rex Sole was really enjoyable, too.

 

 

ALMA MORA ETNA BIANCO  $29.99

This is one of our favorite white wines in the shop.

It's made of a grape called Carricante that's particular to northeast Sicily and the environs of Mount Etna.

The wine comes from the Cusumano family who are headquartered on the western side of the island.  
They make both a red and white and the red, to this point, is nothing to write home about.

This white, on the other hand, is remarkable.

It's got notes reminiscent of spiced peaches and you can almost sense the volcanic terroir on the nose and palate.  

We've often had a bottle open in our tasting room and it gets a nearly unanimous approval rating from tasters.

If you're a fan of crisp, snappy Loire Valley Sauvignons such as those from Sancerre, this is worth trying.

We love it.

 

 

 

 

 








 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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