1997 Terre del Grico, Monstyronum
We don’t think Josh Hanson of Small Vineyards is exaggerating when he calls this wine “the most ambitious wine ever attempted in the South of Italy.” That was exactly the intent of Massimiliano Apollonio when he created this beautiful and opulent “monster” that is very different from all other Southern Italian wines. It’s a blend of spicy Primitivo, dark fruit Negroamaro, and Aleatico, a red relative of the sweet Muscat grape. Massimilano chose to age the wine (from one of the great vintages of the last century) in new barriques for nearly seven years, producing Amarone-like flavors and textures. The nose shows aromas of steeped plums, raisins, brambleberry, cocoa, and chocolate liqueur, and the body of the wine is very smooth, with a velvety mouth feel and long finish. It’s just coming into its prime, and could age for another fifteen to twenty years. Like Amarone, it would be a great match with rich foods like Waygu beef or pork bellies. It is currently $71.50 (reduced from its original price of $175) and still in very good supply in Seattle, the only market in the U.S. where this wine is available.
2007 La Bastide Blanche, Bandol Blanc
Tempier is certainly the name that everyone associates with Bandol, that sunny appellation on the French Riviera, but there is also no doubt that the next name in Bandol is Bastide Blanche. Like Tempier, the Bronzo brothers of Bastide Blanche also produce a world class rosé (under the Chateau des Baumelles label) and some wonderful single vineyard reds, all at considerably lower prices than Tempier. However, the hidden gem in the Bastide Blanche portfolio is this white wine. It consists of 47% Clairette (providing great acidity), 32% Ugni Blanc, 14% Bourboulenc, and 7% Sauvignon Blanc. The aroma includes notes of flowers and exotic fruits, with a touch of smokiness, the signature note of Bourboulenc. It’s fresh and concentrated, ready to drink, and rounded out by a mineral and floral finish. This wine will perfectly accompany roasted fish or shellfish, as well as rustic cheeses. It’s $28.50 and in surprisingly good supply here in Seattle, since the estate only makes 1,000 cases in total.