Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bodegas Viña Ijalba Graciano Rioja Spain

Bodegas Viña Ijalba Graciano Rioja Spain

On one of my previous post on introducing "CVNE Contino" (see my post of Sat. 03.28.09), I was talking about the fact that Graciano, which usually constitutes a minimal part of the blend with Mazuelo (also known as Carignan in France and Cariñena in Spain) in Rioja's wines, only complements Tempranillo to add color and aromas and part of the structure and texture.

Graciano is a late budding grape variety, with naturally low yield, that necessitates longer ripening season than Tempranillo and is usually rarely bottled on its own. Yet, quite a few property now possesses some old vines Graciano and the wine that this grape produces is characterized by its deep red color, strong earthy aromas and ability to age well, but only few are the wineries daring to bottle Graciano. Along with Contino led by skillful winemaker Jesus Madrazo, Bodegas Viña Ijalba is one of these few adventurous estates setting the example and the trend.

Viña Ijalba was founded in 1975 by Dionisio Ruiz Ijalba, with the planting of the first vineyard of Villamediana de Irega (near Logroño). Since then, the vines of Viña Ijalba have been cultivated strictly in accordance with traditional Rioja rules and, more importantly, organic methods: high density, in infertile and shallow soils, no use of chemical fertilizers (only dung), no irrigation during the growing cycle, and no use of insecticides or pesticides.

The entire vineyard is planted on abandoned opencast mines, which have been restored from an environmental point of view, having received several national and European prizes for the restoration undergone. As a consequence of the location of the vineyard, the soils are poor and limy, with little depth. The vineyards are planted on the sites of ancient quarries, which have poor rocky soils. Thus, the vine's roots have to grow very deep to find water and nourishment.

Viña Ijalba, which is also one of Rioja's leading Organic wineries, produces all of its wines under organic methods and processes. The wines of Bodegas Viña Ijalba, are the result of vineyards (viñedos) planted traditionally with the best bio-organic techniques. This fairly new bodega uses modern technology, and a totally original philosophy of wine making. The actual Bodega and cellar was constructed north of Logroño in 1991.

Viña Ijalba owns 70 Hectares (175 acres) of vineyards which are in a number of parcels surrounding Logroño, in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, and Valle del Najerilla. These vineyards supply 100 % of the production of the bodega. The grapes planted have been matched to the soil type and micro-climate of each vineyard site.

Viña Ijalba produces a fairly large range of fully organic wines:
  • "Genoli" Viura: a Blanco made from 100% Viura.
  • "Aloque" Rose: a young Rosado made from 50% Garnacha and 50% free run Tempranillo.
  • "Livor" Tinto: a young Tinto made from 90% Tempranillo and 10% Mazuelo.
  • "Solferino": a tinto made from 100% Tempranillo with fermentation using whole berries with traditional foot treading as practiced 100 years ago.
  • "Ijalba Graciano": a classic Tinto made from 100% Graciano. Apparently, in 1995, it was the first 100% varietal Graciano to be bottled on its own in the history of Rioja!
  • "Múrice": a crianza en Barrica made from 90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo aged for one year in new oak plus one year in the bottle.
  • "Ijalba Reserva": a Reserva made from 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano aged for two years in new oak plus two years ageing in the bottle.
  • "Ijalba Reserva Especial": a Reserva Especial made from 50% Graciano and 50% old vines Tempranillo aged for two years in new oak plus two years ageing in the bottle.

Ijalba Graciano's vinification: fermentation of the crushed and pressed grapes occurred in stainless steel tanks at a constant temperature of 25°C. The wine was then stabilized at low temperature, and lightly filtered, and was aged in oak for aproximately 12 months before bottling.

2004 Bodegas Viña Ijalba Graciano Rioja Spain
Suggested retail price $18-$21
Imported/Distributed by Baron François in NYC

At first, this wine strikes you with its deep red-lilac-garnet color, somewhat unusual purple with timid brick reflects on the rim. On the nose, intense aromas of ripe figs and dark wild berries mingled with underbrush, slightly mushroomy, earthy notes (in a good intriguing way). The palate is fairly intense too and Terroir oriented. Rich and well balanced with great acidity and somewhat raw textured, the wine is fruity, earthy, medium to full-bodied, may be esoteric for some yet well crafted, soft and inviting with present yet nicely integrated chewy tannins. Definitely a food friendly wine, ready to drink now after a bit of aeration yet showing some good ageing potential.

From the importer's point of view, it goes well with strong, heavy and spicy meals, red meat, venison (hare, boar, stag), but as well with fish like sea bream, tuna or cod (grilled or with a sauce) and all typed of risotto.

FYI: we also have the 2005 vintage at the store, which is also a very good wine, somehow less austere yet, in my opinion, not fully ready to drink now and somehow less open than the 2004 for the moment due to some tannins that will need a bit more time to settle down. Despite this last comments, I also love the 2005 Viña Ijalba Graciano. By the way, the label of the 2005 vintage is quite different from the one of the 2004 vintage, it has been revamped.


LeDom du Vin

Info taken and edited from the NYC Importer/Distributor website at and from the Pennsylvania Importer/Distributor at

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sancerre and François Crochet Sancerre Rouge


Sancerre is a village located at the eastern part of the Loire Valley in the upper central part of France. It is neighboring another famous village called Pouilly, making similar yet slightly fatter and rounder style Sauvignon Blanc wines.

Sancerre is also not so far from where the Loire River curve straight down toward the western part of Burgundy and meet the Allier river finding its source in the mountainous massif central, in Auvergne. The Allier River, by the way, which also gave its name to, the famous Allier forest, which provides the oak to produce some of the best quality barrels in France.

Sancerre produces some of the greatest Sauvignon Blanc based wines in the world, with characteristic flinty aromas and flavors due to the quite unique stony, slatey soil of the area. Some red(s) and rosé(s) are also crafted in smaller quantities. The Appellation was quickly confirmed in 1936 due to the long established reputation of its white wines and its unique Terroir characteristics. The AOC Sancerre Rouge was only established in 1959, permitting the production of red wine in Sancerre based solely on Pinot Noir grape. Since then, a small quantity of Rosé as always been produced.

Despite the fact that Sancerre is a small village, it encompasses a lot of producers and Domaines that are pretty much all good with their own styles and attractive features, thus it is difficult for consumers to make a choice. Therefore to help you a bit, here is a list of some of my favorites renowned and established Sancerre producers:

  • Edmond Vatan,
  • François Cotat,
  • Hippolyte Reverdy,
  • François Crochet,
  • Thomas-Labaille,
  • Pascal Cotat,
  • Paul & Jean-Marc Pastou,
  • Fournier,
  • Fouassier,
  • Roblin,
  • Lucien Crochet,
  • Domaine La Croix St. Laurent
  • Domaine La Voltonerrie.

As said above, Sancerre has always been reputed for its whites, yet there are beautiful rosés and a small amount of red wines made from Pinot Noir here as well.

A few days ago, we bought a few cases of a great Sancerre Rouge from a very good producers called François Crochet.

François Crochet Sancerre Rouge

It is quite difficult to determine how many Crochet(s) there are in Sancerre. Lucien and Gilles Crochet are amongst the leading producers of the Appellation and benefit of old roots in wine farming, growing and making since 1765. Lucien and Gilles began to estate-bottle their wines in 1934, which was not a common thing to do for small family run wineries at the time.

Most estates, in France in general, really started to bottle at the property by the mid-50s and beginning of the 60s helped by the passage of bottling-machine-mounted truck, going from cooperatives to small estates, etc… The presence and ownership of a bottling machine at the property itself didn’t really even occurred until the mid-70s, for the richest and most established wineries. And even nowadays, not every property possesses one and small property still continues to bottle their wines with a bottling-machine-mounted truck.

However, let’s go back to François Crochet. It seems that before the name of François was associated with Robert Crochet, his Father who now runs with his wife Solange, the Domaine Crochet, not to be mistaken with Lucien Crochet.

I'm a bit lost with all of the Crochet(s) and my research on the internet didn't lead anywhere regarding if Robert and Lucien were from the same family or not (may if they read this post they will explain it to me). You see the Crochet family has a long tradition of growers and producers attached to the history of Bué, a little village located southwest of Sancerre.

François Crochet is a young talented winemaker who trained in Bordeaux and New Zealand and brought back his enhanced skills, knowledge and experience back to his native land to run his own winery (or the old family winery, but I can not confirm it) with his wife Carine (may be I should give him a phone call one of these days).

François Crochet now produces some of the most refined, elaborated and exiting wines of Sancerre with a modern twist. And victim of his own success, he even has difficulty to keep up with the demand. The estate consists of some 10 hectares, mostly planted on the south facing limestone slopes surrounding the village of Bué. He only makes limited, handcrafted quantities, and most of his wines are available only on allocation. We were lucky to get a few cases of his Sancerre rouge.

To craft his gems, Francois Crochet pays a great deal of attention to the quality of the grapes and keeps the yield low. Grapes are handpicked and submitted to rigorous triage (or sorting in English), resulting in expressive and aromatic wines with the distinctively flinty characters, especially for the white that only the unique terroir of Sancerre delivers.

2006 François Crochet Sancerre Rouge Loire Valley France
Suggested retail price $19-$23
Imported/Distributed by Winebow

Made from 100% Pinot Noir partly aged in barrels (70%) and in stainless steel tanks (30%) for 12 months, the 2006 François Crochet Rouge is a concentrated Sancerre with great depth and well-balanced ripe cherry flavors with underlining minerality.

Bottled with no fining or filtering and no prior excessive racking during the ageing period, time on lees gives the wine a lovely textural mouthfeel while a straight line of crunchy acid gives structure and focus.

The palate is rich, velvety and textured with ripe, almost surprisingly opulent (for a Pinot Noir from Sancerre), earthy cherry flavors enhanced by a great acidity and beautifully framed by integrated tannins. The finish is quite vibrant, earthy and lingering. This is classic Sancerre with a modern, fuller twist, yet it reveals exceptional freshness and crunchy, aromatic ripe fruit and soft texture. An ideal partner to duck, poultry, grilled meat and cheeses.


LeDom du Vin

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Today's Free Tasting at the store

Today's Free Tasting at the store

I just realized that my blog will be a great way for me to share a bit more what is going on in the store and to promote the store by the same occasion. Things that I was already doing indirectly before, by describing and sharing my notes about the wines that I buy for the store.

However, every week we have multiple FREE tastings at the store. Usually every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday are reserved for Wine tasting only and Friday(s) is Spirits day (Scotch Whisky, Bourbon, Vodka, Tequilla, Cognac, Armagnac, etc..).

Importers and distributors come to help us to promote their products, and each tasting day, there is a different person coming to introduce you to some of the wines that we already bought for the store and that you can find on our shelves.

So, from now on, I will try to post most of the "Free Tasting of the Day at the store" ( on my blog to share with you the wines that we are tasting that particular day and may be to trigger your interest to come to the store to pay us a visit and at the same time, taste some wines.

Saturday January 10th 2010
(from 4.30pm to 7.30pm)

4 wines (2 whites & 2 reds) from

Maximilien Selections Tasting

2008 Reserve du President Vermentinu White Corsica $10.99

This 100% Vermentinu (also called Vermentino in Italy) is a clean, fruity, simple yet pleasant sipper for the summer and roughly any occasions. The nose is fresh and floral with aromas of white flowers and white peach. The light palate follows with pretty much the same features, balanced by a nice acidity and a very enjoyable way of coating the palate. Very easy to drink and versatile, this friendly little white should complement summer vegetable salads, white meats cold cut and simple fish dish. Also great as an aperitif.

2007 Monmousseau Vouvray Sec Loire Valley France $12.99

Bordering on off-dry, this Chenin Blanc has a rich, aromatic nose that offers aromas of citrus and honeysuckle along with touches ripe apple and almonds. Residual sugars on the palate are balanced by racy acidity into a fresh, clean finish. Though enjoyable as an aperitif, this wine will also pair nicely with poultry, shellfish, rich meats and creamy sauces.

2007 Domaine Laurent Saint Pourcain Auvergne France $12.99

From the Allier region in Auvergne, central France, Laurent Saint-Pourcain is an easy drinking, juicy, earthy wine made of Gamay and Pinot noir. Light to medium intensity ruby color, the nose expresses bright cherry and red berry fruit aromas with slightly green hints of smoke, earth and minerals. The attack has bright red juicy fruit. The mid-palate has a refreshing acidity and more vivid red berry flavors. The finish is clean and earthy with touch green, slightly vegetal, dry smoky notes. A perfect summer wine, to drink slightly chilled like a Beaujolais with simple dishes, cold cuts and charcuterie. Ideal for mid-afternoon breaks with red fruit and goat cheese.

2007 Mas des Flauzieres Gigondas Rhone Valley France $16.99

Often described as baby Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas offers better value made with the same blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre. This accessible Gigondas from Mas des Flauzieres is clean and light in the mouth with notes of plum, spice, earth and smoke mingling on the palate and leading toward a pleasant, round finish. Try pairing this food-friendly red with red meat, cheeses or spicy foods.


I hope you will be able to come and taste today. If not there will be plenty more occasions and free tastings for you to come to the store.

LeDom du Vin

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LeDom selection of the month: Dom's unsual Dozen, 12 of some of my favorite wines (under $15)

Dom’s Unusual Dozen
(12 of some of my favorite wines under $15)

Over my 18 years career as wine buyer, I realized many times that there is nothing more attractive for my customers than an already prepared mixed case of white and red wines, especially when at discounted price. It usually easier for them because they don't have to make a choice and for me because I can, in that case (literally and physically), easily promote wines that normally do not trigger their primary interest or thoughts.

So here is a selection of 12 of some of favorites wines (under $15) that you can get at the store at an already discounted price of $120 (before tax) instead of the regular price of $152 (before tax) at the store (, a reminder for those of you who didn't realize yet that I'm the Wine Buyer and Store manager of Heights Chateau, Brooklyn, NY).

New Year, new resolutions! Why not try some “out of the beaten path” expressive wines, made with rather unusual grape varietals from lesser known appellations. They will trigger your interest and open your palate to new tasting frontiers.

2008 Carrel Jongieux Savoie France
Suggested retail price $10-$13
Imported/Distributed by Martin Scott in NYC

Made from 100% Jacquere, an ancient local grape planted in the mountainous Alpine region of Savoie, this joyful, crisp and refreshing white is light, cleansing and loaded with minerals. Citrus peel, white blossom and white fruit with minerals almost add a sense of purity to this really appealing little Savoyard.

2008 Uby Colombard-Ugny Blanc Southwest of France
Suggested retail price $9-$11
Imported/Distributed by Baron Francois in NYC

Light-bodied with crisp, fruity sensations, it is a very fresh blend of 75% Colombard and 25% Ugni Blanc that are also the traditional grapes for Armagnac. Vivid in the palate, it bursts flavors of lemon, citrus peel and white peach enhanced by a great acidity leading into the food friendly and inviting finish, which makes it perfect for salads, grilled fish and white meat.

2006 Chamarre Viognier Grande Reserve France
Suggested retail price $10-$13
Imported/Distributed by Monsieur Touton in NYC

Usually very floral, fragrant, quite viscous and mineral, Viognier is the perfect white for winter and mid-seasons. The “Grande Reserve” combines Viognier grapes selected from Northern Rhone and parts of Languedoc where it excels under ideal conditions resulting in a fruity, balanced and gently toasted wine. Pair it with roasted garlic chicken.

2007 Monmousseau Vouvray Sec Loire France
Suggested retail price $11-$14
Impoted/Distributed by Maximilien Selections thru Fruit of the Vines in NYC

Quite versatile and docile, Chenin Blanc produces some of the most vibrant, complex and delicate whites of the Loire valley. Bordering on off-dry, this aromatic Vouvray offers aromas of citrus and honeysuckle along with ripe apple and almonds. Residual sugars are balanced by racy acidity into a fresh, clean finish. Pair it with poultry or shellfish in rich creamy sauces.

2008 Zaleo Pardina Ribera del Guardiana Spain
Suggested retail price $8-$10
Imported/Distributed by Blue Decanter (Justin Berlin) thru Brix Brands in NYC

Made with the rather unknown Pardina grape, indigenous from the Spanish region Extramudra, this little, friendly and refreshing white is a surprising versatile value. Soft and balanced with citrus, white peach flavors and good minerality, it also possesses great structure and length for the price. Enjoy is as an aperitif or with light salad, cold white meat and fish.

2008 Terres Falmet Cinsault Languedoc France
Suggested retail price $11-$14
Imported/Distributed by David Bowler in NYC

Finding a 100% Cinsault is a rare thing. Usually used in a blend, Cinsault produces rather light, earthy, slightly rustic wines, but this unoaked and neither fined nor filtered example features chewy red fruits and ample notes of wet stone and earth. Made from 40 years old vines, it has fruity attack and a crisp, juicy finish with great acidity and integrated structure.

2006 De Bortoli Petit Verdot Vat 4 Southeastern Australia
Suggested retail price $12-$15
Imported/Distributed by Opici in NYC

Normally blended with Cabernet or Merlot like in Bordeaux, this Australian Petit Verdot is a fine example of what this grape offers on its own. Exhibiting aromas of violets, concentrated plum and blackberry with spicy oaky notes, it is a delightful wine, balanced and rich, yet with good acidity, aged for 12 months in American oak barrels. Pair it with quail, veal and smoke meats.

2007 Miolo Pinot Noir Brazil
Suggested retail price $11-$14
Imported/Distributed by ...

This 100% Pinot Noir, from Bento Goncalves - Vale dos Vinhedos, is really well made, somewhat a cross between a Burgundy and a Languedoc Pinot Noir, but earthier and rustic yet juicy with lovely fruit texture and structure. Light to medium bodied, with great acidity, it is a great example of Pinot Noir from Brazil that shouldn't be overlooked.

2006 Perelada 3 Fincas Red Emporda Spain
Suggested retail price $10-$13
Imported/Distributed By Vision Wine Brand in NYC

3 Fincas is a juicy, earthy and dry blend of Carignan, Grenache, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from the north-east of Spain. Spicy and ripe fruit aromas translate well onto the palate, complemented by notes of cedar and rosemary. Deeply structured, moderate acidity runs through the mid-palate, fading into a lingering finish. Enjoy with cured meats and cheeses.

2005 La Roque Pic Saint Loup Coteaux du Languedoc France
Suggested retail price $16-$19
Imported/Distributed by Kermit Lynch thru Ibanez Pleven in NYC

One of the leading wineries of the Pic St. Loup region, La Roque is a beautifully maintained 41 hectare estate, with a distinctive lilac-shuttered Château. A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, the 2005 shows ripe flavors on the nose, with earthy and spicy notes. Terroir oriented, the palate is quite savory and warm on the palate with good density and structure.

2007 Marcato La Giareta Rosso Veneto Italy
Suggested retail price $11-$14
Imported/Distributed by Noble House Wines in NYC

100% Cabernet Franc from La Giareta estate in Veneto, this approachable red offers fruity cherry aromas with a touch of oak. Aged ten months in both oak and stainless steel, clean fruit flavors explode on the midpalate, supported by silky tannins and nice acidiy into a nice cherry finish. A versatile pairing wine, this works well with everything from chicken to lighter meats to creamy cheeses.

2008 Kanonkop Kadette Stellenbosch South-Africa
Suggested retail price $11-$14
Imported/Distributed by Lauber in NYC

Kanonkop’s Bordeaux-like style, blend and structure greatly appeal to most palates. Kadette presents very enjoyable fruit, a generous palate and a lovely balance. A blend of 45% Pinotage, South Africa’s pride, blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this wine was matured in Bordeaux barrels for up to 16 months. It offers rich, structured and juicy ripe red and dark berry flavors with hints of oak, spices and earth.

I hope that you will like this little selection. I'm open to comments so feel free to let me know what you think about it.


LeDom du Vin

Step into the Green! Drink more Biodynamic and Organic wine (and food) from sustainable culture and respect the environment! Support the right causes for the Planet and all the people suffering all around the globe!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Argentina and 2008 Conquista Malbec San Rafael Mendoza Argentina

Few short memories of Argentina

Writing about this little Argentinean wine remind me of a memorable trip in South America.

In 2001, my best friends and I went trekking in the South of Chile in the massif of “Torres del Paine” for a few days. We flew to Santiago, stayed a few days to visit Chile’s Capital then took a flight to the south to arrive at the bottom of the world in the village of Punta Arenas. Just arrived we had to take a bus the next day early in the morning to go to Puerto Natales and catch our boat to the Massif.

Despite its Captain and a "matelot" (or sailor if you prefer), the Pudeto Catamaran was empty of other tourists, so our boat-hosts offered us the local warming and comforting mixture as a reward for our genuine sympathy toward them. During this journey of a few hours before arriving to the massif, we end up drinking many shots of Pisco, mesmerized by the beauty of the surrounding mountains and enormous glaciers, and their reflections in the freezing water of the Lago Pehoe. Walking about 8-10 hours a day with heavy back packs, we trekked for 4-5 days in one of the most amazing trekking circuit of the world in this Park that was created in 1959 and was announced as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1978.

Over there, Nature still predominates and humans are like small and insignificant compared to the grandeur and the beauty of the landscape. I like Nature and try to respect it as much as I can and I guess growing up in a wine-producing region like Bordeaux, more precisely in the country side of Bourg-sur-Gironde (about 45 kilometers on the right-bank, north of Bordeaux) with a grandfather winemaker that grow everything in his own farm's garden, I have always been very close and respectful to the environment. However, Patagonia, the Andes and Torres del Paine reminded me how important and vital it is to pay attention and preserve our environment, and Nature in general with all the beings including plants, trees, animals, culture, traditions, art, etc. This trip was in 2001, but I feel that it is even more important, should I say crucial, nowadays.

Back in Santiago and after a few days visiting wineries in Maipo and along the road of Valparaiso (which is by the way an amazing city built on slopes literally falling in the Pacific ocean and renowned for its fish dishes), we decided to take the bus to cross the Andes and pay a visit to Argentina, more especially Mendoza, on the other side of the Mountain chains. What a mess when we were stopped at custom for more than 3 hours at 2.00am. Middle of the night, at the top of the mountain somewhere at nearly equal distance between Santiago and Mendoza, freezing and lining up against a wall waiting in the cold for them to verify all the passport of all the tourists the bus contained. That too was memorable!

We arrived by early morning on the other side of the Andes. Mendoza is like a little village with no high buildings. The center of the town is a huge pedestrian square (or rectangular I should say) area surrounded by small cantinas, bodegas and restaurants were you can eat some of the best steak(s) around cooked with the succulent and, in my opinion, totally underrated Argentinean mountain salt.

South west of Mendoza and Lujan de Cuyo, one can see quite a few wineries around Mendoza, but if you are a bit adventurous, drive south to San Rafael where you will find many more of the new comers. It was fun to do, almost like in a movie. At the end of the village of Lujan de Cuyo, there is a huge billboard that says something like: “Make sure to fill up your tank, ‘cause there is no gas station for the next 150 kilometers!”

There are about 210 kilometers between Lujan de Cuyo and San Rafael, and in between, like in most of the rest of the country in the south, you are in the middle of “La Pampa”, a real “no man’s land” of scorched earth, dust and stones and a few cactus…and not a soul for miles around on a very, very long straight road with the picks of the mountains in the far background on your right. Almost like if you were driving on a Monument Valley road between Arizona and Utah. However, if you make the journey, San Rafael and its wineries is quite worth the visit. Sorry I get carried away with my souvenirs, once again, so let’s back to our little wine of the day.

Argentina, and specifically its Mendoza region has become Malbec country. Mendoza is a narrow strip lining the foothills of the Andes from Cafayate Valley north to Patagonia south. The near-desert conditions are remedied by water from the snow-capped Andes that also guard the area from radical temperature shifts that would otherwise hurt the harvest, and instead account for better fruit flavor and maturation in the clean, pollution-free mountain air.

Resting on the San Andreas, Mendoza experiences near weekly small earthquakes that shift layers of sand, clay, and loam with gravel and limestone, providing Mendoza’s Malbec vines with superb root nutrients and variety.

Early Spanish conquistas settled Argentina in the 16th century. They considered this new land’s hot, arid climate ideally suited to wine cultivation. It wasn’t until the late 18th century when the Governor of Cuyo in Mendoza, an area 625 miles west of Buenos Aires, requested Malbec, a classic French grape that was struggling in the cooler climate of Bordeaux, France, be brought to Argentina for wine cultivation.

Argentina’s Spanish heritage and the Spaniards that, by virtue of their South American conquests, sparked what is today a spectacular heritage of Argentinean wine cultivation, with Malbec as the varietal king, inspired “Conquista”.

2008 Conquista Malbec San Rafael Mendoza Argentina
Suggested retail price $8-$11
Imported by Prestige Wine group

The 2008 Conquista is a blend of 88% Malbec mixed 6% Bonardo which offers soft, juicy fruit flavors; 3% Shiraz that adds richness and spice; and 3% Merlot for additional softness and fruit complexity. The grapes are hand harvested at optimum ripeness from the foothills of the Andes Mountains in the San Rafael region of Mendoza.

Conquista is a gentle, fruity Malbec showing layers of blackberries and blueberries, hints of mocha and spice aromas. The palate is fairly rich, medium -full bodied with good balance and enhancing acidity. The earthy and integrated structure of the tannins in the finish adds texture and dimension to this tremendous value wine. Pair it with rich and hearty foods, roasted meats and vegetables, grilled foods, stew and mature cheeses.


LeDom du Vin

For more info on the wine and the importer go to
Some of the above info were partly taken and edited from the importer website

Step into the Green! Drink more Biodynamic and Organic wine (and food) from sustainable culture and respect the environment! Support the right causes for the Planet and all the people suffering all around the globe!

2007 Casa Santos Lima "Aibyria" Tinto Vinho Regional Estramadura Portugal

Casa Santos Lima "Aibyria" Tinto Vinho Regional Estramadura Portugal

Surely an interesting derivative of the word “Iberia” from a marketing genius or, who knows, may be (or surely?) it was how Iberian spelled “Iberia” in an ancient dialect? However, “Aibyria” definitely means “Iberia” judging by the label which indicates it with an ancient Iberian map; and it is a great name for this little, friendly Portuguese wine.

On the west end of Iberia, in Portugal, the Estremadura region, stretching along the Atlantic coast and the Tagus River (or Tejo in Portuguese), northwest above Lisbon (Lisboa), consists of south Leira, North Setúbal and most Lisboa districts; with obviously Lisbon has the province’s capital.

Many centuries ago, even before the Romans, the wines of the southwestern Iberian Peninsula (Iberia) had already good reputation. However, things slowly changed and over the last 50 years, Estramadura was better known to produce inexpensive, bulk wines from the few cooperatives exploiting most of the vineyards of the area.

The 90’s brought a renaissance to this beautiful region full of grain fields, orchards, and vineyards, along wide plains bordering the fertile and heavily wooded Tagus River valley.

On the west end of Iberia, on north of Lisboa, the vineyards of Casa Santos Lima spread throughout gentle slopes of clay-limestone soils. With good sun exposition and needed protection from maritime winds from nearby hills, this region offers excellent conditions for the production of quality wines.

Near the town of Torres Vedra, located roughly 40 kilometers north of Lisbon, Casa Santos Lima is a big winery covering about 280 ha, including 160 ha of vineyards with more than half of the vines planted since 1990. Their first bottling happened in 1996 and they are now producing more than 1 million bottles a year under a wide range of labels, including "Aibyria".

Made in a more modern, extracted style, with long maceration and some ageing in new barrels made mostly of Portuguese oak, the wines have still kept a touch of their Portuguese roots and sense of Terroir.

2007 Aibyria Tinto Vinho Regional Estramadura Portugal
Suggested retail price $9-$12
Imported by Vintage Trading LLC

2007 Aibyria Tinto is produced from the local grapes varieties: Tinta Roriz, Alicante Bouschet (or Bouchet), Castelao and Touriga Franca, through traditional fermentation methods, long maceration and 3-4 month of oak aging.

The resulting wine is clean, earthy, and somewhat rustic in a good way. Beside its deep ruby-garnet color, the nose offers notes of ripe dark and red brambly fruit with earthy, spicy notes and slight hints of oak. The palate is quite fleshy with good richness and structure. The medium-long, persistent and earthy finish is very enjoyable. Pair it with Mediterranean food and grilled Lamb chops.


LeDom du Vin

For more info about the winery go to

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2007 Marcato La Giareta Rosso Veneto Italy

Marcato "La Giareta" Rosso Veneto Italy

Although Veneto, in northeastern part of Italy, is reputed for its bold, earthy reds like Valpolicella and Amarone made with the Corvina grape around Verona, the Venetian wine region also offers great whites with the sparkling Prosecco(s) and Trebbiano and Garganega which produces one of Italy's most popular white wines called Soave.

However, many wineries, like Marcato, are also growing international grape varieties atop of the local grapes. La Giareta rosso is a great example of the tremendous potential of wine diversity that Veneto has to offer despite its more acclaimed wines.

2007 Marcato La Giareta Rosso Veneto Italy
Suggested retail price $11-$13
Imported by Vintners Estates (in California)

100% Cabernet Franc from La Giareta estate, this approachable and refreshing red offers fruity cherry aromas with a rounded slight touch of oak. After alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tank, it was aged in oak for 10 months. Clean fruit flavors explode on the mid-palate, supported by silky tannins and bright acidity into a nice, inviting cherry finish.

A versatile, crisp and friendly red wine, it will pair well with everything from chicken to lighter meats to creamy cheeses.


LeDom du Vin

More info about the winery at

Step into the Green! Drink more Biodynamic and Organic wine (and food) from sustainable culture and respect the environment! Support the right causes for the Planet and all the people suffering all around the globe!