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Wine — France

Email Newsletter: French Wine Tasting Tonight!

Posted by Tom Kisthart on

Hello everyone,

Hope you're having a great week so far. Anyone notice that the water in the neiborhood smells like chlorine this week? That probably is a pour excuse for me to substitute with wine. Starting to catch up to me. 

I really hope you can make it to the tasting tonight. The lineup is solid. We'll have 11 wines open with some cheese so the cost is $10 per person tonight. Stop by between 6:00 and 8:00. More on tasting below.

New beer arrivals

Funky Buddha Strawberry Shortcake has arrived, it's a wheat ale with strawberries and vanilla added. Also new from the mighty FB is the return of Nib Smuggler which is their cocaine themed chocolate milk porter. We're also supposed to have some barrel aged goodness from Anderson Valley Brewing and Weyerbacher arriving either later today or Friday, not sure. Boy are we making a killing selling our pulp wine shipper boxes to what appears to be hardcore beer nerds for whatever reason. Have no idea what you guys are doing with them but we have them. A fresh shipment of the following bottle sizes will be arriving tomorrow: 1, 2, 3, 6 and 12. Hope you all have permits for sending yeast samples around the country or whatever it is you're doing.

Back to the tasting

We're starting off with two Muscadets (I know you now know that these are anything but sweet) both single vineyards one from 2015 and the other from 2012. It's interesting to see how the acidity has softened on the 2012 compared to the sharp acid of the 2015. I can see the 12 aging great for another five years (it's $12.99!) and the 2015 for over a decade. Branger 'Terroir Les Gras Moutons' 2012Landron 'Clos la Cariziere' 2015

One of the most slept on wines in the store is Gros Noré Bandol Blanc 2014. You can't buy Bandol Blanc like this anywhere for fifteen dollars except at Craft & Curd. Bandol is a region within Provence that's mostly known for their rosés but also reds and whites which can be exceptional. This is made up mostly of the grape Ugni Blanc which goes by Trebbiano in Italy. It's also used as one of the main grapes in Cognac production.

The last white is a Chardonnay that I think most people can appreciate: Domaine Cordier Saint Veran 'En Faux' 2013. It comes from the more southern part of Burgundy called the Mâconnais where other value wines like Macon Village come from. A wine from the village Saint Veran will typically be better than your average Macon Village because it's a more specific place. Remember in Burgundy it's all about narrowing down the place as much as possible.

We're starting off the reds with a beautiful cru Beaujolais from the appellation of Fleurie. This one from Clos de la Roilette is not as floral as some other wines from the appellation, it's actually pretty big and dark fruited for a Beaujolais. It's from one of my favorite importers Louis Dressner. Heading up to Burgundy proper we're pouring the great steal of 2016 from Domaine Lecheneaut. Their Morey-Saint-Denis (that's the village where it comes from) for just $35!

So Wine Spectator magazine puts out their top 100 wines of the year list around this time every year. Saint Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone 2015 made the list at #43 with a 91 point rating. It's a really solid Cotes-du-Rhone for $13.99. It's not a really complex wine (maybe more so with time) it's all about the structure - the tannins, acidity and sleek mouthfeel are all well balanced. I highly recommend picking some up.

Warning: three out of four of the remaining reds may have some herbaceous / green pepper notes. Some people find this appealing, others may tolerate and some will despise it. We've come to rely on our reds always being ripe and devoid of these flavors. They exist. The first being a Cabernet Franc from Chinon which is a region in the Loire Valley known for this grape. This is what a typical Chinon will taste like, appreciate it for that if nothing else. Then we're pouring the first of two Corsican wines. The 2011 has some of those green notes while the 2012 is riper. This is vintage variation, it's natural. A wine like Meiomi Pinot Noir doesn't vary much from vintage to vintage because it's an industrial product. It has no soul and will chip away at yours. [Yes, we do carry Meiomi at the amazingly low price of $16.99]

The Antoine Arena 'Carco' Patrimonio 2012 which is a bit riper probably due to a slightly warmer, dryer year is also really savory and a bit earthy. It's made with native Corsican grapes that I proudly have no idea how to pronounce.

We're finishing up with a Bordeaux from the right-bank appellation of Fronsac. The Kermit Lynch website says it's all Merlot but it seems like it also has some Cabernet Franc in it which is typical of wines from this area. Drinking great with six years age on it now. Château Haut-Lariveau Fronsac 2010

Thanks for reading especially today. I struggled to write this email - not feeling my best. Hope to see you tonight after my third caffeinated beverage of the day.
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New Burgundy Arrivals

Posted by Tom Kisthart on

We've just gotten in some excellent Burgundies at unheard of prices.

Robert Kacher has built a reputation for being one of the top importers of French wine over the past several decades. Last year he sold his company to Domaine Select who will continue to maintain the portfolio under his name (minus a few estates) but within their umbrella. Typically when there's a major shift like this, the individual distributors in some markets will offer discounts in order to clear out the inventory that they'll no longer be representing. That was the case here. 

It's not common nowadays to be able to get a village level Vosne-Romanée or Nuit-Saint-Georges from a good producer and good year for just thirty-five dollars. That's more like bad producer and bad year money.

If you live in Tampa, most of these wine will be available to taste at the store on 10/26/16 (link to Facebook event). 

Cordier Bourgogne Blanc 'Vieilles Vignes' 2014 $12.99
Domaine Cordier Saint Veran 'En Faux' 2013 $16.99
Domaine Cordier Pouilly Fuissé 2013 $16.99
Domaine Marc Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets 2013 $49.99
Domaine Lecheneaut Nuits-St-Georges 2013 $34.99
Chauvenet-Chopin Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru 'Les Murgers' 2013 $39.99
Domaine Lecheneaut Vosne-Romanee 2013 $34.99

Incredible Deals on Super-Tuscan & Bubbles

Posted by Tom Kisthart on

Two new arrivals:

2011 Querciabella Mongrana $14.99 (compare online at $23.99) is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot that was rated 90 points by the critic James Suckling. This is a great alternative to Bordeaux yet with an Italian twist. It has a lovely subtle perfume that includes cedar, sandalwood, cherry and spice box. The palate is really dry with a pleasant mineral streak and acidity that makes your mouth water a bit. This is the type of wine that is great at the table or can be savored on its own. Querciabella is recognized as a top winery in Tuscany with an eccentric owner who is an outspoken animal rights activist, art advisor to billionaires (owns advisory firm based out of Dubai) and is in the process of bringing a vegan restaurant chain to the US. They farm their grapes beyond organic in what is known as Biodynamic which treats the vineyard as it's own ecosystem and vineyard work is coordinated with the solar system. I'm oversimplifying. It's way weirder than that ;-). The vineyards that produce the grapes that make up this wine are from the premium southwestern coastal area called Maremma. I highly recommend giving this wine a shot while we have it.

Langlois Brut Rose Cremant de Loire NV $14.99  (compare online at $26.99) I fell in love with this Cabernet Franc sparkler back when I used to work at Bern's Fine Wine & Spirits. I eventually came to distribute it and my friends (also BFWS alum) who opened the wine bar Bianchi's Enoteca were selling nearly a case a week of it at one point. It is a really pretty rosé with restrained berry flavors, perhaps a touch of rose petal and with the slightest suggestion of the herbaceous flavors that Cabernet Franc should have. The alcohol is fair at 12.5% it is perfect for spicing up a Sunday afternoon. Maybe throw some in your water bottle and hit Bayshore as I'm found of...Wait think I just broke multiple laws with that last sentence...Anyways, you probably should drink more bubbles (Unless you absolutely detest them. Then what you should do is to at least take a sip with an open mind anytime someone offers you some, you may not realize the pleasure you're missing. Just make sure it's not Cook's, Korbel or something else nasty like that which may be the reason you don't like bubbles in the first place).

Gros Noré Bandol Blanc 2011

Posted by Tom Kisthart on

Bandol is a high quality appellation within Provence that makes rose,
white and red wines. The reds and roses are dominated by the grape
Mourvèdre and the whites are made up of Clairette, Bourboulenc and
Ugni Blanc (known in Italy as Trebbiano). The French specialist
importer Kermit Lynch imports some of the best Bandols such as Domaine
Tempier, Terrebrune, Tour du Bonne and this one Domaine du Gros 'Noré.
The family used to just sell their grapes to famous wineries such as
Domaine Ott but since 1997 they started bottling their own wines. They
quickly gained a lot of respect for the quality of wines they've been
putting out. This Bandol Blanc is made up of 70% Ugni Blanc and 30%
Clairette. They allow the grape skins to macerate with the juice for
24 hours which is uncommon for white wines. The wine has a lovely
perfume but nothing like the cloying scent that Viognier often has.
The acidity and minerality are both firm and balanced with the other
components of the wine.

We're able to offer this wine at a discount of nearly 50%.

Buy now: Gros Noré Bandol Blanc 2011

Domaine Chignard Fleurie

Posted by Tom Kisthart on

Most of the best Beaujolais comes from what are called the 10 crus of Beaujolais. The term cru translates into 'growth' but think of it like a small area or village. You typically won't even see the term 'Beaujolais' on the label of one of these wines but instead the cru which it comes from. Cru Beaujolais often has very little in common to their more generic counterparts besides sharing the same grape variety: Gamay. The best wines made in one of the 10 Crus will have more in common with Burgundy proper to the north (Beaujolais is considered part of Burgundy). 

Fleurie is often described as producing the most feminine wines out of the crus. Yet, right to the northeast of Fleurie sits the cru of Moulin-à-Vent, which is said to produce some of the region's sturdiest, most masculine wines. The lovely producer Domaine Chignard has their main vineyard, Les Moriers, running directly into Moulin-à-Vent. The vines in this vineyard are on average over 60 years old so their extensive root stocks run deep into the granite soil imparting greater structure and (in my opinion, although it's debated) minerality into the wine.

When you taste their principle wine Domaine Chignard Fleurie Les Moriers it has the beautiful floral nose you would expect of Fleurie but on the palate the wine is much sturdier than you would think. There is something else fascinating about the nose, perhaps a whiff of potting soil that is sometimes associated with the much more illustrious Burgundy village of Chambolle-Musigny whose entry level wines sell for three times this price of this gem.

 I've said it before, the cru of Beaujolais are not only phenomenal wines, they're undervalued wines. Given that the prices are already too low for what they are when distributors come with additional deals on these wines, I jump on them. I know what I'll be drinking on Sunday afternoons especially once we get into the fall.