Monday, November 10, 2008

LeDom's Selection of the Month: November 2008, Bodegas Estefania 2001 "Tilenus" Mencia Bierzo Spain

Despite the fact that this wine has been on the market for quite some times now, I thought that it will be a good idea to talk about it and put it back in your mind. 

2001 Tilenus Pagos de Posada Bierzo

2001 Bodegas Estefania "Tilenus" Pagos de Posada Mencia Bierzo Spain
Suggested retail price $42-46
Distributed / Imported by  Ibanez Pleven in NYC 

The winery Bodegas Estefania is located in Bierzo, between the village of Dehesas and Posada del Bierzo, roughly 6 km west of the main town Ponferrada

Situated west of Rias Biaxas, less than 100 km from the northeastern corner of Portugal (northwestern part of Spain), Bierzo is a wine region, part of the province of Leon (Castilla y Leon), which has been officially recognized as a DO (Denominacion de Origen) in 1989.

Nestled in the middle of a mountainous area, Bierzo benefits from a special climate and diverse micro-climates influenced by three important factors: the high altitude with steep slopes; the proximity with the humid, oceanic climate of Galicia and on the other side the proximity with hot, dry climate of Castilla. These factors complement each other and create an ideal climate with enough rain fall and hours of sunshine per year for growing healthy robust vines and achieve great ripeness.  

The mountain soils consist of a few feet of humid, dark earth on top of layers of quartz, schist and slates of the Licorella type (similar to the Priorat region). It is the perfect soil and climate to enable the indigenous red grape variety "Mencia" to flourish and ripen evenly on these high altitudes, somewhat cool climate, steep slopes planted vineyards. 

Mencia represents 70% of the red grape planted in Bierzo and taste a bit like a Cabernet Franc. It seems to have some of the same aromas and flavors characteristics. Some vineyards are between 50 to 100 years old. Nearly forgotten and practically instinct until the 70's, a few producers revived it and in the same time put Bierzo back on the map. 

Bierzo produces mainly red wines predominantly with the Mencia grape and a bit with Garnacha Tintorera too. It also produces some white made with the Galician grape Dona Blanca, Godello and Palomino, and sold more locally some rose.

Fairly unknown with only a few labels available in the US market, the red wines of Bierzo gained a bit more recognition over the last few years and Tilenus surely helped to convince consumers of the high quality of this appellation. Bierzo wine prices range from low $10 up to $60+, the former tend to be light, smooth, well rounded and the later are complex, rich, earthy, with a good tannic structure and balance which confer them ageing potential. 

Bodegas Estefania produces some of the most sought-after wines in the area, mainly as a result of their spectacular vine holdings that have been in the family for many years. these holdings include 36 hectares of vineyards, the majority of which are over 70 years old, and are planted on pure schist. Despite the richness and the complexity brought by the age of their Mencia vines, they still have to lower the yield and need to harvest at full ripeness to avoid the green notes, hints of bitterness and high acidity (which are some of the particularities of the grape).   

2001 Bodegas Estefania "Tilenus" Pagos de Posada Mencia Bierzo is a medium bodied yet rich and well rounded wine with good acidity and ripe raspberry notes, great for Fall season. It was produced with grapes from 80-100 years old vines. The fermentation occurred partly in stainless steel tanks and partly in oak barrels. It was then aged for 18 months in 70% new French oak barrels, and 30% older barrels. 

On the nose, fragrant aromas of raspberry, cherry fruit and red currant intermingled with hints of black pepper, spice and floral notes. The palate, somewhat rustic and earthy yet enjoyable and balanced, exposes great minerality as well as soft tannins and touches of bitter chocolate and mocha. It combines the structure of a Cabernet Franc, the soft, bright texture of a Pinot Noir and some of the spicy character of a Syrah.  

It will be ideal with a rack of lamb cooked with herbs and garlic and served with wild mushrooms and green beans. 

LeDom (du Vin) 


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Home Drinking: 2004 Bodegas JC Conde "Neo" Ribera del Duero Spain

Hi everybody,

About 2 years ago, I went to Ribera del Duero (like I use to do every year in my previous job) to visit many wineries and taste wines at the barrel from the newest vintage and re-taste some of the newly bottled wines from the previous year and older vintages.

Amongst many other wineries visited over 2 or 3 days, I went to Bodegas J.C. Conde, Delgado y otras. Javier Ajenjo received me and my colleagues and gave us a little tour of what was, at that time, still a work-in-progress winery.

Bodegas J.C. Conde is somewhat a fairly new project founded in the late 90's by Julio Cesar Conde, Javier Ajenjo and Jose Luis Simon.

The vineyard-driven project was started without a vineyard by this small group of friends with 3 goals in mind: respecting the region traditions, aiming for high quality rather than quantity and producing great Ribera del Duero wines by searching the essence of wine.

They aim to produce wines with a balanced harmony between the ripe fruit aromas and flavors for early consumption and the oak influence for good ageing potential and structure.

The first few vintages were made out of purchased grapes and farmed grapes from local 50 years+ old vines. They slowly bought some vineyards and built a winery with the suggestions and winemaking expert knowledge of their winemaker, Isaac Fernandez, former cellar-master of Vega Sicilia.

Isaac's philosophy is:

"I try to make wines of the highest possible quality based on each year and look to be able to offer them to the world with reasonable and competitive prices. I try to respect to the maximum the identity of the vineyards and of the grapes with which I work, despite this is not an impediment to be able to develop my wines and to equip them with an elegance that differentiates them from the rest." Isaac Fernandez

Quite a few months later, Javier Ajenjo gave us a surprise gift for supporting his wines, to each of us, a bottle of Neo 2004 with our name on the label. It was very nice of him and I'm hoping to go back to the winery within the next few years.

2004 Bodegas J.C. Conde "Neo" Ribera del Duero Spain
Suggested retail price $55-$60
Distributed / Imported by Grapes of Spain in NYC (see also Aurelio Cabestrero)

Production: Produced from 50-60 years old vines planted in clay-limestone soils, located near the village of la Horra, this wine is a great example of the quality and the density that can be achieved in Ribera. Coming from vineyards managed with a specific intent to produce low yields of ripe, healthy fruit, the Tinto Fino or Tinto del Pais grapes (a synonym for Tempranillo in Ribera) were sorted and destemmed before being macerated-fermented for 20 days. The wine was then aged for 15 months in 80% French and 20% American new oak barrels (medium-plus toasted). It was finally bottled without fining, clarification or filtration. They produce about 16,000 bottles of this great 2004 vintage.

Tasting Note: I made a terrible mistake, 2004 Neo wasn't meant to be open two years after bottling. It was definitely long enough for this wine to really express itself. I decanted it twice and left it to rest for about 2 hours in the decanter before trying to drink it over the dinner.

The robe was really sombre. At first, the nose was a bit closed and discreetly delivered aromas of "opaque" dark fruit, earth, smokiness and hints of alcohol. The palate was very rich, opulent and dense yet tight and tannic with dark ripe fruit, earth, garrigues and smokiness. Even the finish seemed strong, oaky, and alcoholic. So we left the wine to rest in the closed decanter until the next night. My wife and I found it much better, open and in better condition than the previous day, but still tight.

Time will tell for this wine. It is way too soon to open it and really enjoy it. It needs to settle down and relax. Let's hope that time will tame this dark beast and that within the next 3-5 years, the tannins and the alcohol will be more integrated and in harmony with the fruit.

The wine was a real expressive, powerful and structured fruit bomb at the winery when we visited it. Maybe the wine just entered a sleeping phase and will reopen within the next few months or years. We will see.

Enjoy! (but not now!)
LeDom (du Vin)

Info partly taken from: and

Monday, November 3, 2008

Antic Wine: the wine store of a passionate, travelled wine and food lover (JoJo)

Hi everybody,

Recently, I met more and more French and non-French winemakers, producers, Domaine or Chateau owners or simply customers/travelers that seems to all know the same person. A store owner of the old city of Lyon who goes by the name of JoJo.

To my surprise, I give them the same answer everytime: "You know JoJo. I know JoJo too. We used to work together and I followed his adventures for many years before he settled in Lyon. He is a great guys...etc" and usually what was supposed to be a short meeting become a long discussion about wine, food and JoJo.

JoJo (aka Georges de Santos aka The Flying Sommelier) is in fact one the most knowledgeable guy I know in the wine industry. He is also the owner of a small yet overloaded-with-rare-wines-ports-spirits-and-other-gems-from-all-around-the-world store called: Antic Wine.

Often mistaken for TinTin (due to his somewhat resemblance to the famous little reporter from Herge), Georges is funny, super friendly, curious, stubborn in some ways and his personality mixes craziness with ingenuity. Very generous with a big heart, he has many passions and a life-long entertaining relationship with fine wine and food. He knows every single restaurant in Lyon and beyond and eat out in one of them each day, probably more than 360 days a years.

I met JoJo for the first time in 1997 when I landed my first job as a commis-Sommelier at Monte's Private Club in London. JoJo (at this time) was a waiter carrying the trays from the kitchen to the table under the supervision of his Chef de Rang and Maitre D'. The weird thing about this situation is that JoJo did have surely more knowledge about food and wine than any other staff members. He was also the most energetic person I knew but the management wouldn't give him a higher position.

During his break of a few hours (before going back to the restaurant for the evening service), he used to spend most of his time flirting with the best wine store in town in order to find some rare gems and old vintages of wines, ports and even brandy and spirits (from Colheitas and other vintage ports to Cognac and Armagnac, Jerez Sherry, Tokaji Aszu to TrockenBeeren Auslese, etc..), and anything else that could excite his mind and his palate. He was also reading a lot about wine, food and cultures from around the world.

I must say that Georges often enjoyed cooking for his many friends and we spent great times opening dozens or more bottles and smoking Cuban cigars each time we met with the bunch of food and wine lovers that we were back then (most of us were working in the restaurant business as Sommelier, Waiter, Bartender or Chef). These endless lunches or dinners were always memorable moments.

Somewhat frustrated after working as a Waiter, a Cook, a Bartender and a Sommelier in many places around London, he decided that he was time to travel the world in a quest of meeting with some of the most famous Domaines, Chateaux, winemakers, owners, producers, chefs and more. He took him four years to do it but he did it, alone with his backpack, his friendliness and his insatiable need to learn, discover and share mostly everything with people.

JoJo is the only person that I know that, during his trip, just knocked on the door of some of the most famous wineries and was welcome with open arms (without appointment). He also be-friended the owner and the winemaker in many estates that he visited. And many times, instead of just accepting to have lunch or dinner with them (like most people will do), JoJo had his own way: he offered them to cook for them and to prepare the lunch or the dinner for them...Who will dare do such thing except JoJo?...

JoJo came back from his trip and finally settled in Lyon, the Gastronomic Capital of France. He found a small semi-basement in the old part of the town (Le Vieux Lyon) between the 2 most reputed hotels of Lyon: "La Tour Rose" and "La Cour des Loges", and he transformed this little hole in the wall into one of the most soughtafter wine cellars in France with some of the oldest vintages of port available.

There, in his cellar, he opens bottle after bottle everyday. And I'm not talking about your everyday under $10 bottle of wine, I talking about the real deal, worldly famous labels that even collectors dream of opening but keep jealously in their cellar for unique occasions. For JoJo, everyday is a good occasion to open a few of those rare gems and share them with his customers for a more than modest tasting fee, and trust me, people are lining up at the door.

JoJo de-snob or unsnob the myth of ultra recognized labels and unaffordable wine brands. How he does it? First, he buys as much of these difficult-to-find gems everywhere he can, then bring them back to the store and start to open bottles after bottles for his everyday customers. Why he does it? Because he wants to experience each wine himself and share them with friends, connoisseurs and amateurs and especially all the people would will normally not have any access to these bottles.

It is not a question of money for JoJo, it is a question of sharing and enjoying the opened wines and the moment, that's it. No more than that. No fuss, No bullshit, No manners, No bourgeoisie, No aristocracy, No pretension. It is just about the pleasure of opening a very good bottle of wine, taste it and appreciate it for what it is. Ask him about Domaine de La Romanee Conti La Tache, Domaine Leflaive Monrachet, Petrus, Le Pin, Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Penfolds Grange Hermitage, Vega Sicilia, and much more... Ask him, you will see, he tasted them and drink them all, and share them all.

And in my opinion, there should be more people like JoJo to teach the world that wine is an earthy nectar produced by men and women that spend all of their energy, knowledge, patience and skills to craft the best elixir that they can make from the land and terroir that they love, nurture, observe and respect.

In 2006, I was one of the first fan to write a little note in French in his Livre D'Or on his website and to this day, this is one of my favorites notes that I wrote about someone in the wine industry:

"Georges, dit JoJo, il est de ces fous que l'on adore. Curieux, espliegle, bon-vivant et toujours une bone dose d'humour pour epicer le tout. Il est a l'extreme de l'extraordinaire et ivre de passion pour la bouffe, le bon vin, les voyages, les amis et les plaisirs de la vie en general. Avec un coeur gros comme ca et debordant d'energie, ce petit bonhomme vous accueillera dans sa caverne d'Alibaba pour une voyage autour du monde des vins sans precedent. Il vous contera surement certaines de ses aventures et ouvrira pour vous la porte cachee derrriere chacune des etiquettes de sa collection. Merci pour ta joie de vivre, ta generosite et la curiosite qui t'anime. Pleins de bonnes choses et encore Bravo pour avoir accompli l'un de tes plus beau reves. De la part d'un vieux copain Sommelier de Londres." Le Dom (10/06/2006)

It will be difficult to translate it literally, but I think it resume well the man and his passion.

Two years later, I'm still a big fan of Georges and continue to hear about him weekly via the many people that met him and went to his store to share a tasting session with him and his crew.

I will definitely recommend any wine and food lovers to travel to France, forget about Paris and go to Lyon, book a room at "La Tour Rose" or at "La Cour des Loges" and knock on the door of Antic Wine to meet Georges and his knowledgeable crew. You won't be disappointed, and especially you won't regret it.

The shop, Antic wine, is located at 18 Rue du Boeuf, 69005 Lyon France.

You can find more info on his website at:

If you go to Lyon and see JoJo, say hello from LeDom (du Vin) de New York.

LeDom (du Vin)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tasting Session: Joe Dressner, Savio Soares and Blake from Rosenthal (1st part: Joe Dressner)

Today was my lucky day, work-wise, 3 of my favorites importers / distributors came to the store. 

The first one was Joe Dressner, famous in the US and in France for years for bringing exclusive, small, artisanal, esoteric, and mostly true to their Terroir of origin, organic and biodynamic French wines in the United States. It was the first time that I met him and the guy matches the legend and especially his website writings (go to his website and you will see what I mean, to verify it, if you don't believe me, go to 

I could write a few pages about him, but it will be boring and some people already wrote a lot about him... so let's just say that he is a great guy, and I wish that more people in this industry could follow his example by bringing great wine discoveries that could be enjoyed by everybody (connoisseurs and non-connoisseurs). 

I should probably write this in an other post, but along with Dressner, other people like Kermit Lynch, Rosenthal, Savio Soares, Jenny & Francois, Liz Willette, Wineberry, Fruit of the Vines, Village Wine (to name a few) and about 4 dozens more under the radar small importers/distributors are proudly filling the New York market with incredible rare gems from Europe at very good price (see my post on my favorite wine importers/distributors). 

However, let's go back to the tasting. Just about a week after celebrating Louis/Dressner 20th anniversary with a big tasting last Tuesday, October 21st, Lee Campbell (his sales rep. for the store) and Joe Dressner (the man himself) introduced us to the following wines: 

1)     2006 Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet-de-Sevre-et-Maine-sur-Lie "Clos des Allees" Loire Valley France 
Suggested retail price $13-$16
Imported or Distributed by Louis/Dressner in NYC

Joe Dressner was explaining to us that, along with Marc Olivier from Domaine de La Pepiere (which is another one of my favorites Muscadet imported by Louis/Dressner and distributed by Polaner Selections in NYC), Pierre Luneau-Papin is surely one of the top best producers of Muscadet. 

"Clos des Allees" has a very distinctive green label (you'll will understand when you'll see it). The wine is organic, made from 60 years old vines (with no clones) planted on schist soils. The wine is bottled with barely no filtration which explain its slight dull aspect. 

Made from hand harvested 100% Melon (de Bourgogne) grapes (like all Muscadet wines for those of you who may have thought that Muscadet was also the grape... not to be mistaken with Muscat or Muscadelle),      

2006 Clos des Allees Muscadet de Sevre et Maine sur Lie has a slightly cloudy robe. The nose exposes fresh notes of apple, oranges zest and citrus. The palate is fairly round yet refreshing and light, with easy balance and fairly good length. It is very lemony, almost like a soft citrus juice with a bit of the pulp. Somewhat raw, this organic wine is like a good soft lemonade during a warm summer day. I like it a lot. Drink it as an aperitif and with light appetizers.   

2)     2007 Les Champs Libres "Lard, des Choix" white VdT de L'Ardeche France
Suggested retail price $19-$23 
Imported or distributed by Louis/Dressner in NYC 

Ok, before anything else, here are a few things that will (or may) help you (or even confuse you more) to understand the label of this wine. 

So, at first, you may have some difficulties to make the relation between the pigs, the names on the label and the wine. Well, to translate it, "Les Champs Libres" means "The Liberated or Free Fields"; "Lard, des Choix" refers to the pigs because "Lard" is the French word for pig's fat and "des Choix" means "of choices" or "the choices" (Fat pig of choice), somehow "Lard, des Choix" is also a play-on-words which really means "L'Ardechois" (which is the name for the peolple living in Ardeche: the area where the wine come from, located within the Rhone-Alpes region). 

Basically, the owners must have had a good time and a good laugh putting that label together. No wonder why Joe Dressner chose a wine with such a label.   

Les Champs Libres is a partnership between Rene-Jean Dard (from Dard & Ribo: famous producer of St. Joseph, Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, etc...) and Herve Souhaut (Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet and Sainte Epine, wines available from Jenny & Francois Selections -World Wide Wine-, also another one of my favorite small importers of organic and biodynamic wines from France). 

2007 Les Champs Libres "Lard, des Choix" white Rene-Jean Dard and Herve Souhaut managed to create a great VdT (Vin de Table) made predominantly of Grenache Blanc. Here again, the wine is cloudy and even more dull in aspect than the previous the above described Muscadet. The nose is even more expressive and zesty. The palate is raw, fat, dense, rich and intense yet super bright, balanced with vivid acidity and marked flavors of citrus, lime zest and unripe white peach, and hints of minerals. With an excellent texture and length, the refreshing acidic finish is exceptionally crisp with a likable touch of bitterness (almost like a freshly squeezed lemon juice). 

This organic wine is raw, pure, untouched and somehow fascinating. I loved it. Pair it with raw shellfish and unseasoned grilled fish, you will not need any lemon, it is already in the wine.  

3)     2007 Les Champs Libres "Lard, des Choix" red VdT de L'Ardeche France
Suggested retail price $18-$21
Imported or distributed by Louis/Dressner in NYC   

Here again like the white previously described above, this Syrah and Gamay blended wine is raw, unfiltered and organic, with a dull, cloudy color. The nose is clean, fruity and discreet (compare to the white) with red and dark cherry aromas mixed with hints of spice and a smoky touch. The palate is fairly fruity (and no, I do not mean sweet for the 100th times), earthy, juicy and spicy with a good tannic structure, interesting texture and length. 

Overall, I liked it but was less impressed than I was by the white, especially at this price. The downsides are the slightly disjointed acidity and a slight trace of green bitterness in the finish. Somewhat esoteric, this wine needs food to round up some its angularities. Wine-geeks to your glass!

4)    2007 Thierry Puzelat "La Tesniere" Touraine Pineau D'Aunis Loire Valley France
Suggested retail price $19-$23
Imported or distributed by Louis/Dressner in NYC 

First, I need to say that I'm a huge fan of Loire wines (whites and reds), but I'd also like to stress that Thierry Puzelat has been one of my favorite Touraine producers for the past 6-7 years. 

Pineau D'Aunis is a red grape variety, referred to as a red version (or red sibling) of the Chenin Blanc also called by some wine growers Chenin Noir. Once popular during medieval times and largely planted in the region of Touraine, Saumur and Anjou, and bottled on its own, this grape variety is now often uprooted to plant more financially attractive grapes. Often blended with Cabernet Franc and other Loire red grapes (or even with white grape like Arbois, not to be mistaken with the region of the same name in the Jura, to make rose in Cheverny) it adds sharpness, spiciness and light esoteric character like pencil lead notes. 

Only a few temerarious winemakers and growers like Thierry Puzelat continue to dare exploring the limit of this unique grape variety. 

2007 Thierry Puzelat "La Tesniere" Touraine is made of 100% Pineau D'Aunis, planted on clay mixed with silex stones. It is raised and vinified with Organic and Biodynamic methods, then ageing occurs in regular oak barrels (225L / 59.43 Gallons) and demi-Muids (large oak barrel of 600L / 158.50 Gallons) for better homogenization and integration. The wine was bottled without filtration. The best nature can do (with Thierry's touch of course) is in the bottle.

Due to no fining nor filtration before bottling, the color is light, slightly amber, dull and cloudy (do not panic, it is normal and in this tasting, all wines were unfiltered...). The nose is peppery and spicy, with unripe dark wild berries, touch of minerals and dry pencil lead hints. The palate is light, smoky, spicy, juicy, somewhat funky and slightly bitter with rustic edges, yet it is clean, balanced and intriguing, with great acidity. 

A nice discovery in my opinion, that will excite the taste buds of my fellow wine lovers and wine-geeks. Definitely far from the over-ripeness-jaminess-in-your-face of some Californian and Australian wines, this wine is a must taste and a food friendly gem from the Loire. Somewhat rustic for some palates, it may not please everybody but some people may venture with pleasure in this nearly forgotten red grape variety. 

(also try, if you can, an other lesser known red grape called Counoise from Domaine de Monpertuis, distributed by Rosenthal. The 2005 is definitely worth it). 

5)    2007 Olivier Riviere "Rayos Uva" Rioja Tinto Spain 
Suggested retail price $14-17
Imported or distributed by Louis/Dressner in NYC

Olivier Riviere is a french winemaker, Bordelais (let's say that he studied in Libourne on the right bank near St. Emilion, so I assume that he is a Bordelais), expatriated in Rioja, making fantastic, organic (tending towards Biodynamic methods) value wines from Rioja Alta. It is pure juice, organic and unoaked (in the case this wine).

As Joe Dressner will say: "That's right, no yeasts, no enzymes, no fake concentration, no Parker points!"

He founded the winery in 2006 and this 2007 is his first vintage. He decided to start this project after learning his winemaking methods from renown winemakers like: Elian da Ros (Chante Coucou, Cotes du Marmandais, Southwest of France), Domaine Leroy (Burgundy, France) and Telmo Rodriguez (Spain). 

He produces different cuvees from 35 to 100 years old vines and ages some of his wines in partly used Burgundy oak barrel to minimize the wood taste. He mostly concentrates all of his efforts in the vineyard to obtain high quality grapes and to produce great, healthy wine with minimal intervention in the cellar. 

2007 Olivier Riviere "Rayos Uva", his first attempt, is a Rioja Tinto made with 79% Tempranillo and 21% Garnacha raised and vinified in stainless steel tanks to keep the maximum expression and the freshness of the fruit aromas and flavors. The color is quite dark and vibrant. The nose is clean, fruity and engaging. The palate is medium bodied, with good ripe red and dark cherries and juicy texture. Notes of cherries, earth and spice characterize the dry, fruity finish. 

Overall, this is a nice, balanced and rounded wine which encourages me to taste the next step-up cuvees. I've been a Rioja lover for the past 10-12 years and visited Rioja each year for the past 6-7 years, and I hope to be able to visit this winery during my next trip. I think Rioja's drinkers should keep an eye on Olivier Riviere's wines. 

LeDom (du Vin)

To be continued... for the other 2 wine importers/distributors Savio Soares and Rosenthal tasting session.       

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tasting Session: Domaine Select 10.21.08 with Zarate Albarino


The second winery that we tasted with Alison from Domaine Select was: Zarate.

Eulogio Pomares Zarate, the owner / winemaker, was here to introduce his wines and explain what differentiate his Albarinos from one to another.

Founded in 1920, by Eulogio's grand father, Don Ernesto Zarate, Bodegas Zarate was one of the pioneer estate in Rias Baixas to elaborate high quality Albarinos in the Valley of Salnes.

Located in Galicia, in the north-western part of Spain and directly north of Portugal. Although it only received the DO status in 1988, Rias Biaxas has always been producing wines. The wine presence date approximately from the XII century and came in part from the presence of the Cistercian monks and the pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela.

Val do Salnes (or Valley of Salnes) is the largest and one of the oldest of the 5 sub-zones that constitute the appellation. The other ones are: O Rosal, Condato de Tea, Soutomaior (since 1996) and Ribeira do Ulla (since 2000, not to be mistaken with its neighbors Ribeira Sacra DO or Ribeiro DO, also in Galicia). Due to its proximity to the coast and oceanic climate, Val do Salnes is one of the coldest areas of Rais Baixas, with high rainfall and wet winter.

Although O Rosal and Condato de Tea were making very characteristic Albarino wines in their own styles before, Val do Salnes has become, somewhat recently, the capital of Albarino and the benchmark reference for the appellation. Although most of the white wines of Rias Baixas are made with 100% Albarino grapes, other white grapes like Treixadura, Loureira Blanca and Godello are also authorized (but in small quantity). The blend of those different grapes is more current in the DO of Ribeiro.

Zarate is now an estate of 7-8 hectares owned by the same family for the past 3 generations. The average age of the vines is 35 years old. Some of their wines are produced by parcel selection or single vineyard selection in order to improve the quality and offer different types of Albarino, reminiscent of their terroir, exposition and micro-climate of origin, at all price level. They do not buy any fruit from other producers.

Eulogio perfected the vineyards, the cellar and some of the technics but overall continues to follow his grandfather's winemaking tradition and convey the same passion.

We tasted:

2007 Zarate Albarino Rias Baixas Galicia Spain
Suggested retail price $12-$16
Distributed by Domaine Select in NYC

It is the entry level wine from Zarate. 40,000 bottles were produced. The wine is bright, zesty and mineral on the nose. The palate is clean, very balanced with beautiful length and a lot of mineral through out the attack and the mid-palate due to the granite soil of the area.

Overall and despite the fact that I love Albarino wines and most Galician whites, it is a very good wine for the price and also for an entry level. The rare long established family business like Zarate make usually greater wines that the newer, bigger wineries or even the cooperatives that sell in bulk, and Zarate is no exception to the rule. This wine is great.

2005 Zarate "Tras da Vina" Albarino Rias Baixas Galicia Spain
Suggested retail price $16-$20
Distributed by Domaine Select in NYC

This wine made out of grapes coming from vines planted on sandy soils. It was fermented then aged in stainless steel tanks for 30 months on its lees (yes, that's right, 2 years and a half). Like for a Muscadet sur Lie from the Loire Valley, the lee ageing brings complexity and depth without altering the sharpness and vivacity of the wine.

The wine is very expressive on the nose. Here again, one can smell a lot of mineral with more distinctive notes of golden apple, yellow-white fruit, white blossom. The palate conveys the same kind of flavors with more unripe peach, citrus and hints of grass (slightly vegetal but in a good way). The mid-palate and fairly long finish boast great, vivid, high acidity with sharp edges.

Overall, it is a lovely wine, wine geeks and Sommeliers oriented. The freshness and slightly esoteric attitude of this wine should excite more than one taste bud in a connoisseur palate. A great discovery for a passionate Sommelier like me (even if I'm not working in restaurant no more..).

2006 Zarate "El Palomar" Albarino Rias Baixas Galicia Spain
Suggested retail price $38-$42
Distributed by Domaine Select in NYC

Coming from the oldest parcel of their vineyard, El Palomar is almost what we call in France a "Monopole" wine (one winery, one parcel, one wine). Eulogio pays a lot of attention to this wine and the resulting nectar is quite delightful, I must say.

After being carefully selected and hand harvested, the grapes and the juice are gently put into used, somewhat neutral, large oak "Foudre" of 1,500 liters (396,26 gallons). The wine stays on its lees in the same Foudre for approximately 6 months without any racking, then suddenly the malolactic fermentation occurs (yes, yes, 6 months later...and this is no BS). Once the Malo is finished, the wine is finally racked (and somehow naturally fined in the same time) then put back into the Foudre for another 6 months before bottling.

The resulting wine is (in my opinion) one of the finest Albarino that I tasted over the last 2-3 years. It boasts aromas of white peach, white blossom, hearty golden apple and loads of minerals. The palate shows lovely concentration and depth with the same intense flavors as on the nose and excellent balance with vivid acidity. The oak touch is barely noticeable and really integrated, adding some complexity to this awesome wine.

Overall, this wine is somewhat reminiscent of a high quality Bordeaux or even a Great Burgundy in therms of density, weight and length but with higher acidity, brighter attitude and fresher finish. I love it and will recommend it on Lobster dish or Galician fish in sauce.

Thank you for your wines Eulogio and see you at the winery during my next trip in Spain.

LeDom (du Vin)

For more info, visit the following website: and

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tasting Session: Domaine Select 10.21.08 Belondrade y Lurton Clarisa and Apolonia 2007

Hi everybody, 

Alison from "Domaine Select" (the importer) came to introduce me to two of her portfolio's producers from Spain: Didier Belondrade Lerebours from Belondrade Y Lurton (Rueda) and Eulogio Pomares from Zarate (Rias Baixas); both producers of great white wines. 

With Didier Belondrade Lerebours, I tasted:

2007 Quinta Clarisa Tempranillo Vina de la Tierra de Castilla Y Leon Spain 
Suggested retail price $19-$22
Imported & Distributed by Domaine Select in NYC

Name after Didier's daughter, Clarisse, this wine is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes planted on stony, clay and sand soil and subsoils. It was hand harvested on 7-10 years old vines from a vineyard called "La Seca" located next to Valladolid (Ribera del Duero). It was vinified in stainless steel tanks to preserve the characteristics and aromas of the fruit. 2000 was the first vintage for this wine. They produce roughly 7,000 bottles a year. 

The color is light to medium, clear and bright. The nose is quite expressive and fruity with notes of raspberry, ripe cherry and earth in a very mellow way. The palate has very good fruit and balance. It is pretty well rounded, light to medium bodied and fruit-rich yet balanced with a long finish and a lovely texture.

Overall, the wine is pleasant experience from end to finish, with good earthy tannic structure. It is not the most complex wine, but it is very versatile and will sure withstands any kind of everyday food: from charcuterie to tapas to grilled meat. 

2007 Quinta Apolonia Verdejo Vino de la Tierra de Castilla Y Leon 
Suggested retail price $20-$24
Imported and Distributed by Domaine Select in NYC

Made from 100% Verdejo, this wine was vinified and ageing for a short period of time in stainless steel tank. It also received 20% of the first wine (if I can call it a first wine, because both of those wines are totally different...) called Belondrade Y Lurton Verdejo Rueda which is aged in 1/4 new French oak barrel (Radoux, Francois Freres, etc...) of 300L (66 gallons) to minimize the oak influence and enhance the wine complexity without affecting the fruit flavors. They produce 35,000 bottles of this wine while they produce about 80,000 bottles of Belondrade y Lurton.

The color is clear, pale yellow with light golden reflects on the rime. The nose is rich, mineral and floral, with ripe lemon and white peach aromas. The palate is very well rounded, clean, integrated, rich, medium to full bodied and unctuous with hints of spice. The finish has a slight touch of oak yet it adds length and weight to this wine.    

Overall, this wine is round,rich and quite lush. I liked it very much but I think that the price could be a bit lower (same for the Clarisa by the way, although I can understand because the red is a small production).  It will pair well with grilled fish or in sauce. 

LeDom (du Vin)

To be continued...

2006 Chateau de Gaudou 1733 "Gaudou" Malbec Cahors France (Fabrice Durou)

2006 Chateau du Gaudou "1733 Gaudou" Malbec Cahors France (Fabrice Durou)
Suggested retail price $8-$12
A Vinotas Selection distributed by USA Wine Imports in NYC

Fabrice Durou's family has been making fine wines in Cahors at Chateau de Gaudou (southwest of France) since 1733, hence the date on the front label as a tribute to his family's tradition and passion for winemaking. The Burge were the first landowner with vineyards history going back to the 17th century. By marriage, the owner's name change to Durou et remained until today.

At the begining of the 60s, Rene Durou perfected and extended the family vineyards to its present size. 86 acres (approximately 35 hectares) of Malbec planted on gravel-rich hillsides with great exposition and ideal micro-climate to obtain full ripeness of the grapes. Rene's vineyards management techniques and winemaking passion subsisted through Fabrice, his son, who is now in charge of the estate and making the wine.

FYI: I was surprise to discover that on their website the label of this wine has nothing to do with the label above. Therefore for some of you who may have tasted this wine in France or UK, and didn't recognized the label in the US market, I can confirm that it is the same wine but with a different label (much more modern and appealing in my opinion, the old one is definitely old fashion).

2006 Gaudou 1733 Cahors Malbec is a nice full, rich, earthy wine. It boasts a quite expressive nose of ripe blackberry, blackcurrant, earth and hints of tar. The palate is dark, medium to full bodied, with lots of ripe black fruits and raspberry notes and mellow, present yet integrated tannins that add great structure to this very approachable Cahors. The finish is fairly dense, earthy and long.

Overall, I loved this wine. It is a fruity, quite dense, well rounded, pleasing Cahors that has very good acidity to balance the fruit and non-astringent, earthy tannins that nicely frame the palate.

A pretty versatile wine to drink with grilled meat, pasta, pizza and cheese. As a French guy, I will drink it over a "Cassoulet" from Castelnaudary or a "Saucisse de Toulouse et lentilles cuitent dans la graisse d'oie" (two of my favorite wintery recipes in the world).

LeDom (du Vin)

Check out their website for more info:

Monday, October 20, 2008

2007 Pietra Tagliata Grillo IGT Marsala Sicilia

GRILLO - Pietratagliata

2007 Pietra Tagliata Grillo Bianco IGT Marsala Sicilia (Sicily)
Suggested retail price $10-$13
Imported and Distributed by Monarchia Matt International in NYC

Located in Marsala, western part of Sicilia, Casa Vinicola Manzo is a family business that benefit from more than 50 years of experience in producing high quality Sicilian wines. The Manzo family always believed in the tremendous potential of their land. They've been producing expressive wines that reflect the Terroir and the true character of the grapes.

In 2000, Vito and Giacomo Manzo launched a new project called Pietra Tagliata, based on the old historical family cellar in Marsala. They produce wines out of nearly 50 hectares of vineyards near by, planted on gently rolling hills a few kilometers inland from the Port of Marsala and the Mediterranean Sea. They produce 2 whites with Grillo and Insolia, and 3 reds with Nero D'Avola, Merlot and Syrah.

Grillo (along with the Insolia and the Catarratto grape) is a white grape variety which withstands the high temperatures and harsh growing condition of Sicily. It is wildly planted and used in Sicilian winemaking, especially for Marsala. The indigenous grape Grillo and Insolia are the most appropriate grapes to grow on the limestone soils an subsoils of Marsala and Trapani.

2007 Pietra Tagliata Grillo Bianco IGT Marsala Sicilia (Sicily) is made out of 100% Grillo grape, cold fermented in stainless still tank to enhance the fruit, keep the freshness and preserve the aromatics of the grape. It has a pale golden yellow color. The nose is clean, fresh, earthy, somewhat minerals with ripe, stony, yellow fruit aromas enlightened by a light oxidative touch reminiscent of honey and nut. The palate is medium to full bodied yet crisp and balanced with a persistent mouthfeel. Ripe yellow fruit and nutty flavors linger in the finish.

Overall, it is a very good discovery, the wine is rich yet bright with a lovely wintery attitude. Try it with fresh fish baked "a l'etouffee" with herbs and other aromatics or "en Sauce". It will also be an ideal companion to cheese.

LeDom (du Vin)

More info on their website at

Sunday, October 19, 2008

2006 Fratelli Alessandria Verduno Pelaverga DOC Piedmont Italy

Fratelli Alessandria Verduno Pelaverga 2004

2006 Fratelli Alessandria Verduno Pelaverga DOC Piedmont Italy
Suggested retail price $16-$19
Distributed by Artisan Wines in NYC

The estate of Fratelli Alessandria is a charming XVIII century house boasting a simple, elegant yet imposing architecture, located near the historic center of the hill-top village of Verduno, north of Barolo and southwest of Barbaresco and Alba.

The winery was created by the beginning of the XIX century and received 2 gold medals "for improvement in the wine making ...method.....and for the successful expedition of their wines overseas."

Today, the owner Gian Battista together with his wife Flavia, his brother Alessandro and his son Vittore proudly carry on their ancestors' tradition and passion for winemaking.

The estate stretches over 12 hectares owned by the family over some of the best crus in Verduno and Monforte. Most of them yield Nebbiolo grapes, but the family also concentrates on all local grape varieties such as Dolcetto, Barbera and the rare, indigenous red grape Pelavegra which is only to be found in Verduno. They also have two white grapes: the local Favorita and the international Chardonnay.

They produce about 12 wines: Barolo, Barolo San Lorenzo, Barolo Monvigliero, Barolo Gramolere, Langhe Rosso Rossoluna, Langhe Nebbiolo Prinsiot, Barbera D'Alba, Barbera D'Alba Superiore Priora (not to be mistaken with the village of Priora located east of Turino and especially not with the DOC Priorat in Catalonia, Spain), Dolcetto D'Alba, Langhe Favorita, Langhe Chardonnay Buscat, and our focus of today, Verduno Pelaverga.

Verduno Pelaverga is made of grapes harvested from 7 years old vines spread out in 4 different vineyards planted on the slopes surrounding the hill-top village of Verduno: Galleria, Sut Jort, Semolino and Buscat. The total planted area with this particular grape is 1.8 hectares of vineyards with roots in calcareous slimy limestone.

The grapes were hand harvested, then macerated-fermented for 6-8 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The ageing process took place partly in stainless steel tanks and partly in cement tanks for 6-8 months before bottling (no oak at all), the wine rested for another 1-2 months in horizontally laid bottles. They produce about 9,000 bottles (or 750 cases of 12 bottles) which makes this wine even a better value when you see the price for the number of bottles produced.

2006 Fratelli Alessandria Verduno Pelaverga expresses the unique typicality of this rare grape and the quality of the Terroir it come from. It has a bright, light ruby color. The nose boasts aromas of bright red cherry, raspberry, hints of green and minerals. The palate is medium bodied, bright, sharp with a vivid acidity and some non aggressive yet slightly green tannins. Not as complex or structured, and lighter than a Burgundian Pinot Noir nor as fruity or expanding as a Barbera, Pelaverga seems to be a good compromise between these two grapes.

A bit too sharp for my palate, I will have loved to see a bit more fruit, length and complexity, and even balance. However, it was the first time I tasted a Pelaverga, and the overall experience was quite interesting, but I need to taste more of them to be able to appropriately judge the quality of this wine. It will definitely please amateurs of slightly esoteric, light red with racy acidity (winegeeks to your glass!)

LeDom (du Vin)

Info taken from Fratelli's website:

LeDomduVin: 2006 Domaine Fichet Bourgogne pinot Noir "Tradition" France

2006 Domaine Fichet Bourgogne Pinot Noir "Tradition" Maconnais France
Suggested retail price $14-$17
Distributed by T-Edward Wines in NYC 

Finally, a good Burgundy Pinot Noir for less than $20 is on the shelves. One can find affordable, enjoyable, fruity Pinot Noir from the Languedoc or even light, fresh, earthy Pinot Noir from the Loire. However, finding a good Burgundy in this price range became quite difficult over the last 3-4 years. 

Nestled in the commune of Ige, northwest of Macon, Domaine Fichet was created in 1976 by Francis and Christiane Fichet. It is now run by their two sons, Pierre-Yves (winemaker) and Olivier (vineyard manager), who took over in 1988. They have since increased the size of the vineyard from 11 to 20 hectares and significantly raised the quality level of their wines. 

Well known for their white wine "Macon Ige Chateau London", one of the oldest and most reputable Terroir in Maconnais, they also produce great reds blended with grapes coming from 30 years old vines planted by Francis and from 15 years old vines planted by Pierre-Yves in 1994. Francis was one of the first pioneers who planted Pinot Noir in a highly dominant Chardonnay region.        

Pierre-Yves and Olivier Fichet bottled a nice, fresh little wine full of earthy, red cherry notes on the nose. The palate is really approachable for a 2006, somewhat simple yet quite inviting, well structured and balanced. The acidity plays a key role here and enhances the Burgundian Terroir quality of this wine. Even the tannins are well integrated. Overall, the fruit is soft, rounded, making this light bodied wine a pleasant surprise. To drink on simple dish with white meat: chicken, turkey and pork.

Cheers! Santé! 


Dom (aka LeDomduVin)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My music evolution over the last 35 years..

Today, I woke up with "Music" (John Miles, Jazz/Rock) in my head. Suddenly, I wanted to listen some old songs, bring back some memories hidden somewhere in my brain. 

"True" song (Spandau ballet, slow rock) and other songs by some of my favorite 70s and 80s bands and singers like: 

Rock: U2, Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Doors, Rolling Stones, Toto, Chicago, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Police, Joe Cocker, Eagles, Kiss, Aerosmith, Eurythmics, Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, Guns N'Roses, Steve Miller Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Bowie, Robert Plant, ZZ Top, Van Halen, Yes, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, and more....       

Rock/New Wave/ Neo romantic: Depeche Mode, The Cure, OMD, and more... 

R&B/Soul/Funk: Sade, Prince, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Kool and the Gang, Earth-Wind and Fire, Gill Scott-Heron, Isaac Hayes, Barry White, Terence Trent d'Arby, Marvin Gaye, Commodores, Bobie Brown, Lionel Richie,  The Jackson family, Bobby McFerrin, Donna Summer, Soul to Soul and more...   

Pop/Rock: Simple Minds, Beatles, Tears for Fears, Simply Red, Frankie goes to Hollywood, The Smiths, Queen, John Lennon, A-Ha, Talk-Talk, Beach Boys, Blondie, Culture Club, Elton John, B52's, Genesis, Cutting Crew, Peter Gabriel, Duran Duran, Fine Young Canibals, R.E.M, Murray Head, Simple Minds, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, Supertramp, Soft Cell, Paul McCartney, Madness, INXS, George Michael, Huey Lewis and the News, Madonna, Paul Young, Mr. Mister, Sting, Level 42, Midnight Oil, Erasure and more...  

Hard Rock/ Metal: Metallica, Iron Maiden, ACDC, Trust, and more... 

Rock/Reggae: Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, UB40, Alpha Blondy, Burning Spear, and more...    

Jazz from various times: Miles davis, Herbie Hancock, Max Roach, Charlie Mingus, Dizzy Gillepsie, Telonious Monk, Fats Navarro, George Benson, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Art Blakey, Stan Getz, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, John McLaughlin, Keith Jarrett Trio, Michel Petrucciani, Sinatra, and more...       

As usual, I put my Ipod on and started listening to some of my favorites tunes on my way to "Take the A train" (Duke Ellington, Jazz). 

The train arrived, I set down and all of us were going "Somewhere only we know" (Keane, Pop/Rock). All trying to avoid the looks, "Eye in the sky" (The Allan Parsons Project, Rock), or should I say down in our book, playstation, Ipod or up on the advertisement and the ceiling of the wagon. 

Everybody trying to "Enjoy the Silence" (Depeche Mode, Rock), lost in their thoughts, squeezed and surrounded by too many people, and somewhat already disturbed by the smells while "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" (U2, Rock) on my Ipod. 

Switching through the many songs and artists, I thought about the early 90s and how I came to fall into the Electronica / Dance movement growing up rapidly in the heart of this rebel teenager that I was. Computers started to urge the pace and were spreading around the world. 

A new method of communication and information was born, somewhat accelerating the beat of our everyday life and the rhythms on the dance floor evolving from Punk, Grunge, Hard rock, to Rock, to New Wave, Gothic New Romantic, Alternative, then Acid House, House, Dance, Ambient, Chill-out, Techno, Dance, Atmospheric to be finally known up until now as electronic or electronica. 

A band has really marked my life by the mid 90s and remains one of my favorites bands of all times: Faithless (thanks to the lyrics of Maxi Jazz, the music of Sister Bliss, and the mix/production of Rollo, and of course all of the great artists that worked with them). So many of their songs and beats have inspired my life and my actions in many ways. This band kept me going strong and somehow influenced me physically on the dance floor and spiritually every day of my life. It brought me energy.    

Amongst my favorites bands of the 80s, quite a few continued to please me during the 90s (U2, Depeche Mode, etc...). However, there were quite a few other bands and singers that I loved. 

They are still very important for me to this day and bring back a lot of memories to my mind (good and bad): 

Massive Attack, Radiohead, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Nirvanna, Simply Red, Eagle Eye Cherry, Garbage, R.E.M, Duran Duran, Seal, Lenny Kravitz, Fat Boy Slim, Chemical Brothers, The Verve, Oasis, Beastie Boys, Finley Quaye, Travis, Everything but the girl, Foo fighters, Moby, Prince, Jamiroquai, Bjork, Cardigans, Limp Bizkit, Chicane, Aaron Neville, Groove Armada, Jeff Buckley, Jestofunk, Keziah Jones, Royksopp and surely a few more...

The end of the 90s and early 2000s marked the beginning of a new era for me, first because I met my future wife and because it was the opening on a new millennium full of "Hopes and Fears" (Keane, Rock). 

The last 8 years brought a lot to my life in general and personally, because I moved to the United States in 2002 after nearly 5 years in England; I married my wife twice (2004 in New York, USA and 2005 in Bordeaux, France) and it resulted a beautiful child born in 2006. 

All these events were "rhythmed" by all sort of musics, sounds and beats...and the most memorable were and still are from bands like: 

Faithless, Keane, Depeche Mode, U2, Coldplay, Radiohead, Bowie, Simply red, John Legend, Daft punk, Nouvelle Vague, Air, Blur, Beck, Blue States, Blue Six, Ben Harper, Bob Marley, Buena vista Social Club, Erykah Badu, Estelle, Gabrielle, Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz, Green Day, Jack Johnson, James Morrison, Michael bubble, Jehro, Korn, Mark Ronson, Mary J. Blige, Kanye West, Morrissey, Muse, Norah Jones, Queen Latifah, Seal, Sade, Scissor Sisters, Telepopmusik, Thievery Corporation, and many more...

I nearly forgot the french singers, bands and actors that inspired me over the last 35 years: 

Serge Gainsbourg, Henri Salvador, Cali, Benabar, Calogero, Manu Chao, Sinclair, MC Solaar, Alain Souchon, Sebastien Tellier, Charlelie Couture, Etienne Daho, Claude Francois, Yves Duteil, Jacques Dutronc, Raphael, Jean Gabin, Lino Ventura, Gerard Depardieu, Alain Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean-Jacques Goldman, Arthur H, Michel Jonaz, Eddy Mitchell, Jeanne Moreau, Yannick Noah, Pascal Obispo, Florent Pagny, Jean-Louis Murat, Patricia Kaas, Julien Clerc, Telephone, Paul Personne, Gilbert Becot, Charles Aznavour, Leo Ferre, Yves Montand, Georges Brassens, Francis Cabrel, Jean-Michel Jarre, Laurent Voulzy, Edith Piaf, Charles Trennet, Bourvil, Fernandel, Maurice Chevalier, Boris Vian, Ray Ventura, Luis Mariano, Francis Lemarque, Claude Nougaro, Daniel balavoine, Coluche, Antoine, Carlos, Barbara, Guy Beart, Bobby Lapointe, Alain Bashung, Michel Berger,  Jacques Brel, et tellement d'autres....

Here are most of my favorites singers, bands and music artists of the last 35 years, I probably forgot quite a few and didn't necessarily wrote the name of some that only had one good songs through a short period of time. 

And I didn't mention Classic music, but I love: 

Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy, Vivaldi, Carl Orff: Carmina Burana, Chopin, Handel, Bach, Wagner, Brahms

As you can see, like when I buy wines for the store or for myself, I like to be eclectic and open minded with my music and in my life in general.     

I hope you agreed with me on some of the above artists, singers and bands, and if you didn't, it is fine too, because after all music is like wine, everybody has his own taste for it

LeDom (du Vin)           

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tasting Session: Savio Soares Selections 10.10.08 with Savio

Hi everybody, 

Savio came the other day with a few German wines, 3 that I found quite good:

2005 Weingut Ernst Clusserath "Emma Marie" Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken Trittenheimer Altarchen Mosel (former Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) Germany
Suggested retail price $14-$17 
Distributed by Savio Soares Selections in NYC

Clean, mineral and discreet nose. A bit lean in the palate but soft, refreshing and thirst quenching. Enhanced by a great acidity through out the attack and the mid-palate, the finish is fairly dry with a light touch of sweetness. Overall, interesting, not too long or too short, nice for the price. Good as an aperitif with appetizers.   

2006 HahnMuhle Riesling Traminer Spatlese ** Nahe Germany
Suggested retail price $14-$18
Distributed by Savio Soares Selections in NYC

Quite expressive on the nose already, this wine is full, rich, complex, ripe with a touch of spiciness. The palate shows flavors of yellow fruit, apple and pear, minerals and hints of spices. Balanced, medium to full bodied, expansive, this Spatlese** (almost like a declassified Auslese) will be an ideal match with your Thanksgiving's Turkey. 

Overall, good if you like the richness of it, personally I like my Riesling lighter, fresher, with more minerals and acidity.  

2004 Weingut Georg Muller Stiftung Spatburgunder Trocken Hattenheim Rheingau Germany
Suggested retail price ... 
Distributed by Savio Soares Selections in NYC

FYI: Spatburgunder (or Blauer Burgunder) is one of the many synonyms used for the various types of Pinot Noir clones mainly planted in Germany (Rhein and Baden), Austria and Switzerland. It is supposed to have come originally from Egypt where it was probably planted along the banks of the Nil river, spread out in most western Europe by the Romans and probably imported in Germany from Burgundy, hence the name. Compare to its sibling in Burgundy, Spatburgunder is usually lighter in color, fruitier and softer in style, with less tannins.     

Description: 2004 Georg Muller Spayburgunder has a light pinkish, red color. The nose is quite distinctive, reminiscent of bitter almond, red ripe cherry, touch of blackberry and hints of green. The palate is soft, well rounded, medium to light, somewhat elegant yet earthy and a bit green but on a pleasing way. Not as bright nor complex or as long as a good Burgundy in this price range, this wine still offer a very good palate experience and seems riper than the color or even the nose suggested. There again, I think that it will be great with Thanksgiving's Turkey. 

LeDom du Vin   

2006 Gerard Villet Arbois Chardonnay Jura France

2006 Gerard Villet Arbois Chardonnay Jura France
Suggested retail price $19-$23
Distributed by Savio Soares Selections

Savio Soares, this always smiling, easy going Brazilian-living-in-Germany wine lover constantly brings great wines and his portfolio is as fun as eclectic. It is always a great pleasure to see his face because he has a great sense of humor and at least I know that (with him) I'm going to taste good to very good to excellent wines (which is not always the case with many other salesmen... no comment).

I used to buy his 2004 Gerard Villet Arbois Chardonnay (that I loved by the way), but he ran out of it. So a few days ago, he passed by the store with the new vintage (2006) that I really enjoyed (even more than the 2004 vintage) and immediately bought.


2006 Gerard Villet Arbois Chardonnay (Jura France) is in my opinion better than the 2004 vintage. It still offer the same slightly oxidative, nutty notes with great minerals and earthy golden apple aromas on the nose and on the palate, but on a somewhat brighter, fresher style. The palate is slightly rustic, earthy, Terroir driven, harmonious and balanced by a great acidity. The finish is quite long and inviting. Overall, one will find substance, body, length, minerals and dry, earthy yellow fruit in this well rounded, medium bodied, autumnal white wine.

The wine is 100% organic, aged in old big oak barrels and didn't have any filtration prior to bottling. To discover absolutely this Fall or Winter with Fish in creamy sauce and veal stew with baked apples.

LeDom du Vin

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Nouvelle Vague and Bande a part: just before Hollywood, Mon Amour

Hi everybody, 

FYI, listening to "Hollywood, Mon Amour" led me to discover two other great albums recorded prior "Hollywood, Mon Amour" by the same team, including the mastermind Marc Collin behind the concept. 

If you liked "Hollywood, Mon Amour", you should listen to "Nouvelle Vague: Nouvelle Vague" and "Nouvelle Vague: Bande A Part". Here again, the concept is to reconstruct and reinvent old classic Punk, Rock, New Wave, Indie, and more from the end of the 70's and the 80's with a zest of Bossa Nova, detached yet seriously involved female vocals and a hints of Chillout, Ambient,retro-house and a big touch of posh 50's and 60's lounge, cocktail party music.     

LeDom du Vin

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hollywood, Mon Amour: beautiful female voices sing some of the 80's classic

Hollywood, Mon Amour

Hollywood, Mon Amour is a great compilation of some of the best songs from the 80's, reinvented and sang by some of the most talented female artist voices of the moment: Yael Naim, Skye, Nancy Danino, Nadeah, Leelou, Katrine Ottosen, Juliette Lewis, Inga, Dea Li, Cibelle, Bianca Calandra (with of course the ingenuity and talent of Marc Collin).

This album delivers outstanding vocals complemented with tender, soft, ambiance music on some classic Rock, New Wave, Funk, R&B and more from the 80's.

People of my generation will surely appreciate it and recognize great songs of their youth: When Doves Cry - Prince; This is not America - David Bowie; Don't you (forget about me) - Simple Minds; and more...

It is a must buy in my opinion. It will bring a cool ambient atmosphere where ever you play it and will softly enhance a dinner with friends or a warm night with your partner and a good glass of wine.

For more info, go to their website at:

There is also another website that you should pay a visit to. It is link with the above website and speaks about the original precursors and pioneers behind this new trend of transforming classic songs with new sounds and voices (orchestred by Marc Collin):

LeDom du Vin

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Home Drinking: 10.08.08

Tonight, I brought home 2 wines that I just discovered and really enjoyed.

2007 Capestrano Passerina Marche IGT Italy
2005 Lucie et Auguste Lignier Morey Saint Denis "Les Sionnieres" Burgundy France

When I went to the VIAS tasting at the Marriott Marquis last September, I unfortunately didn't have much time to taste (because that day I went to Jenny & Francois Selections / World Wide Wine, Martin Scott Wines, then VIAS just before ending the day at a Laboure-Roi tasting on the terrace of the China Club...). However, Donato from VIAS showed me a few things including a delightful little white made with an indigenous grape that I didn't know: Passerina (also known as Biancame).

FYI: Passerina (or Biancame) is an ancient white grape variety mostly planted on the east coast and central part of Italy. Capestrano is the name of a little village located in the mountainous province of L'Aquila, part of the Abruzzo region where they also produce wines with the Passerina grape.

Fact: Capestrano is (in the case of this wine, I think) just a name (that may or may not correspond to the village, I do not know), because the Passerina grapes used to make this wine come from the Marche region (the region above Abruzzo on the Adriatic coast). Strangely enough, it has been bottled in a winery called Peperoncino located in the village of Ripa Teatina, also located in Abbruzzo but closer to the coast than Capestrano...?!!?

So, to resume the situation, I think that this wine is made out of grapes harvested in the Marche region, but it has been vinified and bottled in Abruzzo.


2007 Capestrano Passerina Marche IGT Italy
Suggested retail price $9-$11
Imported and distributed by VIAS Wine imports

This is a fun little wine. The color is super light, ultra pale yellow, kind of transparent almost like water. On the nose, one can enjoy discreet (but expressive enough) fresh aromas of pear, apple, lemon with minerals. The palate is dry and light bodied. However, a light touch of fruitiness, a mix of ripe pear with peach and lemon mixed with minerals and balanced by a great acidity, make this wine very enjoyable, well rounded and quite versatile. Overall, it is simple, clean, crisp and fruity white wine (just a bit short in the finish). A good value for money and an ideal wine for thanksgiving as an aperitif with appetizers.

The 2nd wine was a fantastic

2005 Lucie et Auguste Lignier Morey Saint Denis "Les Sionnieres" Burgundy France
Suggested retail price $57-$62
Distributed by Liz Willette wines in NYC

The nose expresses ripe aromas of red cherries, raspberry with floral and earthy notes, somewhat rustic and quite characteristic of red Burgundy. The palate is elegant, medium bodied to light, really smooth with lovely ripe red cherry flavors, a good grip of acidity and some firm, present yet very integrated tannins. The finish is a bit dry and earthy somewhat adding texture and length. Overall, it has a good harmony and a balanced attitude between the fruit, the minerals and the acidity which make this wine a really enjoyable mid-range Burgundy. I personally liked it a lot and will definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good example of red burgundy in this price range.

I could tell you more about the property and its history, however I rather just suggest you to check this great, very informative website
or cut and past this link:
LeDom du Vin